Gay fathers coming out to their children: Reaching for integrity

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Vervoort, Dave
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University of Guelph

This research project explores gay/bi fathers' reports of their disclosure of their sexual identities to their children and their children's subsequent adjustment. The sample consisted of 75 gay and bisexual fathers and their reports on 158 of their children, 69 mothers and 43 partners--recruited primarily through on-line gay listserv groups, and through Gay Fathers Support Groups. A survey instrument was developed to investigate family demographics, and custodial/care arrangement, and also the gay/bi fathers' perceptions of the coming out experience, family relationships, and experiences that threatened or were believed to have favoured their children's adjustment. It was found that children's responses to their father's disclosure was more positive than anticipated by the fathers, and became even more so with the passage of time. A large proportion of the fathers had children reside with them by way of joint or sole custody, and overall they spent a considerable amount of time with their children. The fathers were generally successful despite the variety in the particulars of their experiences, in retaining and even strengthening their relationship with their children, and also in providing a family environment which supported the need and best interests of their children. Implications for clinicians working with gay fathers and their children are considered briefly.

gay, bi-sexual, fathers, disclosure, sexual identities, children, adjustment