Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Jerry Leger, Martha Copp, Scott H. Beck


This study examines how and why parents of gay and lesbian children come to join a support and advocacy group when same-sex attraction and sexuality are still considered deviant and immoral by the majority of society. Based on participant observation of and interviews with parents in two separate support and advocacy groups this study examines how parents come to define themselves in terms of the issues they are fighting for, in this case gay and lesbian acceptance, inclusion, and equality. This research also examines how parents formulate new religious convictions to satisfy their new parental role as supporter and advocate of their gay or lesbian child, all the while maintaining that they are normal, moral, and good parents, replacing this courtesy stigma with exemplary parenting. In addition, this study explores how parents re-tell stories from their child’s past, using “retrospective interpretation” that foretell their child’s gay or lesbian identity in adulthood. These stories rely on any deviation from culturally accepted and expected gender roles and norms, which are then interpreted as “evidence” or “indicators” that the child was always gay or lesbian and would be in adulthood as well. Furthermore, the parents create a new self based on their religious alterations and the location of artifacts in the child’s past that predict a gay or lesbian identity.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.