Homosexual Fathers Face Difficulties Despite Positive Changes
Being homosexual and a father in Swedish society has become easier and more accepted over the years, yet many obstacles remain. This is the main finding of a new study from the University of Gothenburg and Linnaeus University.
Thomas Johansson, professor of education at the University of Gothenburg, and his colleague Jesper Andreasson, associate professor of sport science at Linnaeus University, interviewed 14 homosexual men to find out how they experience being a homosexual dad in Sweden today. The study shows among other things that it has become easier to be open about their fatherhood.
‘When we talked to the men, who were in their 40s and 50s, they talked about how much harder it was to be open about it for example in the 1980s. Back then, there was never any public discussions about gay dads. Today, it isn’t a problem at all for some of them. Where we are today is a result of decades of development,’ says Johansson.
However, homosexual fathers still face some difficulties. Negative attitudes in society at large and also in some cases from the men’s parents and siblings still exist. But the main challenge concerns practical issues they face when trying to become a parent.
The men in the study talked about problems they have encountered when trying to adopt a child through an adoption agency abroad due to the fierce resistance against homosexual parenthood in some countries. They also shared many accounts of having to deal with negative attitudes to surrogate parenthood in Sweden – experiences that made them hesitant to consider it a viable option.
‘These are the main problems they have to solve. There are many ways to go about it, and some of the men had chosen to form rainbow families with four parents. Tensions remain common, and so do people who think critically of departing from the idea of the heterosexual nuclear family,’ says Johansson.
The research on homosexual men and fatherhood in Sweden remains scarce. The increased diversity in family constellations in Sweden has added some flexibility to the norm regarding what a family ought to look like. The researchers hope that the study will help increase people’s awareness of what modern family life may look like.
‘Hopefully, the study will help increase people’s awareness of what modern family life may look like, and that it is okay that not all families look the same. A heterosexual nuclear family is just one type,’ says Johansson.
The findings of the study have been published in Journal of GLBT Family Studies, in an article titled It All Starts Now! Gay Men and Fatherhood in Sweden.