Accepted Paper:

Invisible families - imagining relations in families based on same-sex partnerships  

Author:

Aivita Putnina (University of Latvia)

Paper short abstract:

The paper examines the paradox of persistence of heteronormative values in same-sex partner families. Prevalence of heteronormativity does not allow re-conceptualising the family relationships in gender neutral terms and solve the inner tension created by conforming to norms and structural inability to do so.

Paper long abstract:

The paper addresses the paradox of the sudden Latvian societal revolt against homosexual community resulting in hostile talk and action throwing human excrements at homosexuals. At the same time the Constitution was amended with a norm of a family as a heterosexual union. However, the statistics show that almost half of children are born out of wedlock and at least one third of families is single parent headed. The paper is based on research on same-sex adult families with children, involving homosexual partnerships and mother-daughter tandems. All families involved declared themselves families and raised children. These families allow examining the real and declared relationships, strategies of positioning themselves within heteronormativity. Heteronormativity makes both kinds of families structurally invisible. While homosexual couples utilise traditional family roles and kinship networks through sexuality relations, mother-daughter relations tend to negate the actual parental role structuring their daily routine and duties "normalising" their family through symbolic and temporal absence of the father-husband figure. Both families live in a "closet" and tend to conceal their relationships in public. Prevalence of heteronormativity does not allow re-conceptualising the family relationships in gender neutral terms and solve the inner tension created by conforming to norms. Their relations embody the paradox of simultaneous approve and negation showing the depth of gendered perception of person and his or her position in family.

Panel W065
Routing knowledge through persons