Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Where's the Mother? A Phenomenological Study of Gay and Queer Fathers and Community
by Ferguson, Maura A., Psy.D., California Institute of Integral Studies, 2017, 178; 10682278
Abstract (Summary)

In recent decades, there has been a significant rise in the prominence and visibility of gay-identified men choosing to become fathers. The rise in planned gay fatherhood may be partially due to young gay men’s radically evolving views of fatherhood (Berkowitz, 2011a). The current research is a phenomenological investigation in to the lived experience of gay fathers and community. Research questions include: How do gay men re-orient to evolving sources of social support over the transition to parenthood? How does the experience and quality of social support affect the process of becoming a father for gay men? Do gay fathers experience a sense of inclusion or exclusion in various social settings? How do gay fathers experience social milieus differently than before having children? Data collection consisted of interviews with 12 gay identified cisgender men who became fathers in the context of a previously established gay or queer identities. Interviews were in-depth and semistructured. While some fathers have described the process of becoming a parent as a second coming out process that allows a casting off of internalized oppression, others have described feeling alienated from previous social networks. Participants did not describe a distancing from a gay community, nor did a majority appear to feel embedded in a gay community describing diverse group of friends before and after having children. Participants experienced varying levels of family support in which future parenting identity became paramount to maintaining connections and approval from family members. Several fathers described interactions, particularly in public, that fall under the category of microaggression laden with stereotype threat. Such intrusions were disorienting and threatened to undermine an emerging sense of competence at critical stages of establishing a new fatherhood identity. Suggestions for further research and implications for therapeutic interactions are considered.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Atlis, Mera
Commitee: Bach, Lee
School: California Institute of Integral Studies
Department: Clinical Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 79/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Psychobiology, Social psychology, LGBTQ studies, Individual & family studies
Keywords: Father, Gay, Identity, Parent, Queer, Transition
Publication Number: 10682278
ISBN: 9780355654189
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