Getting married was like I had killed her”: same-sex couples negotiating the wedding announcement with their families

Working paper number:454
Author: Lwando Scott
Unit: CSSR

Abstract:
This paper focuses on how same-sex couples negotiate and navigate the wedding announcement to their families of origin, particularly their parents. Throughout their relationships, and perhaps through the coming out process as well, same-sex couples, both individually and together, are engaged in a cognitive labour process where they prepare their parents for same-sex relationships. Same-sex couples live in a heteronormative world, which means that their relationship milestones are often hurdles to be overcome rather than joyous occasions with their families of origin. This paper demonstrates how families of same-sex couples harbour prejudice towards same-sex couples, even those parents that seemingly are accepting of their children’s sexual orientation. Same-sex couples have to negotiate and navigate the announcing of their impending marriage and figure out how to deal with the negative reactions from family members, as they prepare to marry. Heteronormativity is inescapable and it ensures that families of same-sex couples are prisoner to normative ideas of sexuality, and therefore marriage. The hostile reactions of families towards same-sex couples who desire to marry are a reflection of the heteronormative culture that governs South African society. The hostility from families, as narrated by same-sex couples, also demonstrate that while the legislation in South Africa is progressive, and permits same-sex marriage, there are limits, in that ordinary people do not embody the law in ways that fully accommodate same-sex couples. 

Publication file: scott.pdf

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