ANT11 Weston

Families We Choose

Research in San Fransisco on the creation of lesbian an gay relatedness.


‘...several elements that combined to make Thursdays feel like family occasions. The centrality of the meal—sharing food on a regular basis in a domestic setting—certainly contributed to our growing sense of relat­edness.’

Shared substance contributes towards making kin ---> Nuer and Mayan people.

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Conver­sation., while often lively, seldom felt obligatory. Also facilitating the developing family feeling was a sense of time depth that arose after the arrangement had endured several months, a dimension augmented by a ten‑year friendship between Liz and myself.

Time, committment and nurturing contributes towards relatedness, not just biology ---> Carsten's study of adoptive reunions. Also, Bodenhorn's discussion of the Inupiat: it's those who parent that are the parents.

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Emotional support

‘About the time that the three of us began to classify ourselves as family, we also began to provide one another with material assistance that went beyond cooking and cleaning up the dinner dishes… "Emotional support" ac­companied this sort of assistance, exemplified by midweek phone calls to discuss problems that could not wait until Thursday.’ 

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Fictive kin

‘Commentators who dispute the legitimacy of gay families typically set up a hierarchical relationship in which biogenetic ties constitute a primary domain upon which "fictive kin" relations are metaphorically predicated. Within this secondary domain, relationships are said to be "like" family, that is, similar to and probably imitative of the relations presumed to actually comprise kinship.'

Ilegitimising GL relationships because of the lack of 'natural order.' Biogenetics are not present in offspring. Some might argue that the relatedness is therefore imagined - there is nto biological connection and thus it is not legitimised. 

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Changing ideologies

Theoretically I have adopted a very different approach by treating gay kinship ideologies as historical transformations rather than derivatives of other sorts of kinship relations.

GL relationships are challenging the dominant ideology of the family. This quite shows that perhaps, the changing patterns of relatedness i.e. increased visibility of homosexuality, reflects not a derivative of kinship relations but a transformation of them.

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‘There was always a choice as whether or not biology was made the foundation of relationships.’

Rejection by the family signifies a cutting off of biological ties. GL forced to find / choose / create their own 'families' through other means than blood. 

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