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Fam Process. 2000 Summer;39(2):257-66.

"Lesbians, gay men, and their parents": a critique of LaSala and the prevailing clinical "wisdom".

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Alternative Family Project, California School of Professional Psychology, Alameda 94501, USA.


This article challenges the popular assumption that coming out to family of origin is important for lesbians and gay men's mental health and couple relationships. First, I present theory emphasizing the unique position of lesbians/gays in families of origin and the significance of "families of choice." Second, I review the quantitative research on social support received by lesbians/gays from family of origin, friends, and other social network sources. Third, I demonstrate how the dominant clinical opinion about coming out to family is based on an unwarranted use of theory developed for heterosexuals and on overgeneralization of findings from studies of white, upper-middle-class, North American lesbians/gays. Fourth, I propose five determinants of lesbian/gay persons' decisions to come out to family-of-origin members. Fifth, I argue that such decisions are constrained by "realistic" costs/benefits in various sociocultural niches rather than being a simple function of individuals' levels of differentiation. Lastly, I offer an expanded contextual stance for the family therapist working with lesbian/gay clients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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