Abstract: (WITHDRAWN) The Intersection of Gender, Sexuality and Culture in Taiwan for Gay Men Seeking to Become Parents (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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320P (WITHDRAWN) The Intersection of Gender, Sexuality and Culture in Taiwan for Gay Men Seeking to Become Parents

Tuesday, January 19, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Marty Forth, MSW, Phd Student, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Background and Purpose:

In May 2019 Taiwan became the first Asian nation to legally permit same-sex marriage, changing the outlook for many local gay men had about options to form families and become parents. By investigating their experiences, through an intersectional lens this study sought to identify how constructed systems of oppression and privilege may facilitate or hinder the ability of other gay men to achieve their procreative goals of fatherhood. Even in Western culture there exists a perception a gay identity is incompatible with a procreative identity. This incorrect assumption is made even more intriguing when you factor in filial piety and deeply embedded cultural expectations that put heavy pressure on sons to procreate.


Using a mixed method design this study uses survey data and qualitative interviews to understand the factors influencing the decision to become parents by gay men in Taiwan. Quantitative data for this analysis came from a dataset of a self-reported online survey on reproductive issues and mental health among Taiwanese gay and bisexual adult men. Collected online between 11th – 27th May 2019, 2,525 potential participants showed an interest in the survey, with 1,422 submitted completed responses. Qualitative data is gathered from semi-structed interviews (n=14) with four professionals working in LGB fields in Taiwan, and ten Taiwan based ‘fathers’ who achieved parenthood via co-parenting, adoption and surrogacy. These interviews were originally conducted as part of a PhD dissertation (defence June 2020)


Those who opted for surrogacy-only tended to be older and have higher socio-economic status than those who selected adoption-only and both options. For those who elected both adoption and surrogacy envisioned the ideal family having a greater number of children. Filial piety and internalized homophobia were positively associated with the acceptance of surrogacy-only over adoption-only and both. Surrogacy was the most popular choice, and is the most direct means to achieve the outcomes required by the dominant culture - a biologically related son, with the prospect of desirable features, to continue the family lineage, appease ancestors and ensure a grandparent role is fulfilled. The influence of family and culture on the development of a procreative identity can be partially explained through the concepts of filial obligation and face.

Conclusions and Implications:

This study sought to understand the phenomena of gay men becoming fathers, in a socio-cultural setting initially averse to such endeavours. This phenomena is juxtaposed with traditional requirements of role fulfillment and local hegemonic masculinity and creates notable discord in family structures. While a gay man’s sexual orientation may impede his goal of achieving parenthood, his social location as an educated economically privileged male will create opportunities for him to more easily overcome obstacles, which would derail the actions of other less privileged men. This research contributes to theory development on gender and culture scripts, at the unique intersection where gay men and Chinese culture meet.