Abstract: (WITHDRAWN) Repairing Intrafamily Cultural Dissonance - a Grounded Theory (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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165P (WITHDRAWN) Repairing Intrafamily Cultural Dissonance - a Grounded Theory

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

This study investigated the phenomena of gay men becoming fathers in Hong Kong and Taiwan, focusing on their rich personal experiences as they sought to realize the viability of their own procreative desires. Gay male parented families challenge the heteronormative and patriarchal ideal imbedded of family prevalent in the culture of Hong Kong and Taiwan. Eastern socio-cultural thinking, and specifically thinking on family relations, places a much higher focus on family duty and prescribed obligations, hierarchical relationships and filial piety. This is in response to Eastern cultural values which focus more heavily on the role of the family in an individual’s life, continued social harmony, and collectivism over individualism. Coming out gay, often perceived as a Western ideal, is considered selfish and individualist and runs contrary to the epitome of harmony and responsibility prized in Chinese families.


Using critical inquiry, practically guided by grounded theory, this study sought to understand the lived experiences of gay men in Hong Kong and Taiwan as they proactively move to become fathers. Through the complex analysis of their personal stories and experiences, this study developed a data driven theory about gay men becoming parents within the context of their Chinese family of origin. The data was compiled from 21 different informants who completed semi-structured interviews. Looking at the fathers (n=21), all were male; 11 were from Hong Kong and 10 were from Taiwan. This data collection was part of a PhD dissertation entitled Becoming Fathers: Family Formation by Gay Men in Hong Kong and Taiwan (defence June 2020)

Findings/Results: The grounded theory developed from this study centers on the interplay of paternal relationships, cultural values, and the negotiation of obligations and role fulfillment. A theory addressing the dissonance caused by their ‘coming out’, and subsequently repaired by their becoming a father. The study results confirm a reconciled gay-father identity is possible and acceptable. This identity is not an attempt to ‘pass’ or be excepted as a sub-category of the heterosexual male identity, but one that exists in tandem with other accepted and celebrated male identities. Also at play in the reconciliation is understood designs of masculinity, specifically Chinese masculinity and gay-male masculinity, and their contrast with socially constructed heteronormative ideals of masculinity.

Conclusions and Implications:

The grounded theory presented describes a dissonance created when a son cannot fulfill required cultural obligations as dictated by filial piety. However, this dissonance can be minimized or resolved leading to personal and familial harmony. The family formation actions of the gay fathers included in this study change the normative view of the institution of the family; however, this action is not assimilationist in nature. The political act of family formation by gay man seeks to define a new family, one that is normal and acceptable, and not a diminished version of an existing family definition. The theoretical contributions by guiding service delivery and engagement techniques for reconciling parents and their gay sons.