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Coming Out and Losing Out: Gay Men in Emerging Adulthood and Family Support

Sat, August 11, 2:30 to 4:10pm, Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Floor: Level 4, Franklin Hall 3


This paper utilizes interviews completed on twenty homosexual, cisgender men who are in emerging adulthood to gain a better understanding of the ways in which family support functions, and can change during this life-stage. Unlike much of the previous research, this qualitative study argues that family support is not a question of simple acceptance or rejection, but is instead a complex combination of multiple forms of support, that can be lost or sustained for a multitude of reasons. Emerging adulthood is applied to show the benefits of family support during this life-stage, as well as to show the complexity of family support. This article identifies four main forms of family support: financial support, emotional support, romantic support, and social relationship support. Through analysis, this study shows that these forms of support can function independent of one another, and need to be studied in such a manner. Another aim is to show the need for taking the entire coming out process into analysis, and not to treat it as a single disclosure event. Examples are provided on how different steps of the coming out process affect different forms of support from these individual’s families. Many studies exist that show the effects that a lack of family support has for these individuals, but this work provides an understanding to the complex ways in which family support can be lost.