Gay Parenthood and the End of Paternityas We Knew It

An exclusive excerpt from Unhitched:  Love, Marriage, and Family Values from West Hollywood to Western China (pp. 50-55), a book by Judith Stacey, released from NYU Press last month.

by Judith Stacey

Gay fathers were once as unthinkable as they were invisible. Now they are an undeniable part of the contemporary family landscape. During the same time that the marriage promotion campaign in the U.S. was busy convincing politicians and the public to regard rising rates of fatherlessness as a national emergency,1 growing numbers of gay men were embracing fatherhood. Over the past two decades, they have built a cornucopia of family forms and supportive communities where they are raising children outside of the conventional family. Examining the experiences of gay men who have openly pursued parenthood against the odds can help us to understand forces that underlie the decline of paternity as we knew it. Contrary to the fears of many in the marriage promotion movement, however, gay parenting is not a new symptom of the demise of fatherhood, but of its creative, if controversial, reinvention. When I paid close attention to gay men’s parenting desires, efforts, challenges, and achievements, I unearthed crucial features of contemporary paternity and parenthood more generally. I also came upon some inspirational models of family that challenge widely-held beliefs about parenthood and child welfare. Continue Reading →