Parents of Gay Sons Redefining Masculinity

Joanne Cassar, Marthese Grima Sultana
2017 Open Journal of Social Sciences  
Becoming a man often signifies adherence to social dictates that expect men to be physically strong, self-reliant, resilient, tough and emotionally detached even if this is achieved at the expense of close and meaningful relationships. Dissatisfaction with this type of traditional masculinity has mounted pressure to reevaluate what defines masculinity in efforts to address gender equality and assert the diverse needs of men and women. Perceptions around the masculinity of gay persons and the
more » ... persons and the discourses that associate homosexuality with a "weak" manhood are also being questioned. We present a study that examines perceptions that Maltese parents of gay sons hold on masculinity and how these might affect their relationship with each other. The inquiry focuses on whether coming out has affected the perceptions of parents of gay sons on masculinity, as described by them. We deem this research question important because parents' perceptions on masculinity might affect their relationship with their children. The findings that conveyed through qualitative interviews indicate that the embodiment of masculinity norms was accounted for in various family dynamics and relations and shaped how the parents reacted to their son's coming out and eventual acceptance of his sexuality. Although some aspects of traditional masculinity were held in place even after coming out, the parents were able to shift their perceptions to include a more comprehensive idea about what "being a man" means. This implies that conceptualizations on lived masculinities are moving away from social constructs that define it as unitary, stable and uncontested.
doi:10.4236/jss.2017.58014 fatcat:6u6isx3dgzadtfm625brdrbu4u