Thesis Title

Perceptions of Self-Disclosure and Family Communication: a Study of Gay Parents and Their Children

Date of Graduation

Summer 1991


Master of Arts in Communication



Committee Chair

Charlene Berquist


The increase in awareness of gay men and lesbians with children perpetuate a need for information concerning these families. Literature in this area covers only the disclosure of the parent's sexuality and family reactions of the disclosure as perceived by the parent. Perceptions of the parent's disclosure and family reactions have not been discussed from the family point of view involving both parents and children. The following research questions guided this study of gay men and lesbian parents: 1) What are the communication strategies used by gay parents to disclose their sexuality to their children? 2) How to gay parented families perceive communication within their family? Ten gay parented families from the Midwest region of the United States were used in this analysis. Family members were asked to assess their perception of the disclosure of the parent's sexuality and communication within their family using intensive interviews. The results of this study indicate that parents use either a proactive or reactive strategy in revealing their sexuality to their children. It was revealed that proactive strategies of disclosure were generally met with positive reactions from the children, while reactive strategies proved to have negative effects. Parents and children both perceived their family communication to be very open, in part, because of the parent's disclosure of lifestyle preference.

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© Deborah L Larson