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LGBTQ+ Marriage: Relational Communication Perspectives  

Pamela J. Lannutti and Hilary Wermers

Researchers have examined the relational, social, and communicative aspects of legally recognized marriage for LGBTQ+ people. Legally recognized marriage has been found to affect the experiences of and communication within the relational lives of LGBTQ+ people in a variety of ways. First, LGBTQ+ marriage has been found to have psychological effects for LGBTQ+ individuals and has been found to impact aspects of LGBTQ+ identity. Legal marriage has also been found to impact LGBTQ+ romantic relationships by influencing relationship-related perceptions, marriage-related deliberations for couples, and changes to couples as a result of marrying. LGBTQ+ people also report changes in their family relationships related to legal marriage that marriage has influenced relationships with family-of-origin members and family building for LGBTQ+ people. The current research is limited because of a reliance on samples that are predominantly cisgender and White and identify as gay or lesbian, therefore underrepresenting the experiences of marginalized members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Article

Social Support and LGBTQ+ Individuals and Communities  

Áine M. Humble

Social support is an important resource that can help reduce stressful situations or buffer the impact of stressful situations for LGBTQ+ individuals. Many definitions of social support exist, but researchers often focus on emotional, informational, or practical support provided to a person. Social support is communicated by people close to a person as well as through institutional practices and policies and in communities. General trends around the world show increasing support for sexual-minority individuals—and to a lesser extent gender-minority individuals—but there are many countries still hostile to LGBTQ+ individuals. A number of individual-level and country-level variables are related to positive attitudes toward LGBTQ+ individuals. Social support is operationalized in many ways in quantitative research on LGBTQ+ individuals, usually used as a predictor of health outcomes. Some quantitative measures look at general social support, whereas others study social support within particular settings, or very specific ways in which support is communicated. Measures of social support specific to LGBTQ+ populations have been developed, such as The Gay and Lesbian Acceptance and Support Index. Research also looks at support at the community level—the broader community (often referred to as community climate) as well as LGBTQ+ communities. Qualitative research is valuable for exploring what social support means to various groups and for understanding how different social identities interact with each other. Many factors influence expectations and experiences of social support; thus, research should be contextualized. Rather than studying LGBTQ+ as a group, subgroups can be studied, along with intersectional research. When this is carried out, unique findings can appear. For example, lesbians in adulthood can include ex-partners and ex-lovers in their social support networks, and Black lesbian parents describe complex ways in which they interact with their families and religious communities. Different life course changes such as same-sex marriage and LGBTQ+ parenting provide opportunities to explore if and how social support is communicated to LGBTQ+ individuals. Who support is received from is also a key area of interest—families of origin, chosen families, friends, work colleagues, LGBTQ+ communities and broader communities, and so on. Later-life circumstances of LGBTQ+ individuals need focus, as these individuals often have smaller social support networks due to lifetime discrimination and cumulative life course experiences. Political situations involving elevated anti-gay rhetoric are also relevant contexts in which to study how social support can ameliorate minority stress. Research is starting to look at social support in formal organizations, many of which have developed guidelines for developing inclusive environments for sexual- and gender-minority groups.

Article

Nonbinary Trans Identities  

B. Lee Aultman

Nonbinary trans identities have historically referred to a range of gender non-normative embodiments and self-making practices that stand on the outside of, or sometimes in direct opposition to, the Western binary classifications of sex/gender (i.e., man or woman, male or female). These identities include but are not limited to androgyny, genderqueer, genderfluid, gender nonconforming, and genderf*ck. Increasingly, nonbinary has become its own free-standing identity, without many of the historical connotations that genderqueer, for instance, might invoke. Nonbinary people identify themselves with gender-neutral pronouns or a fluid mixture of gendered pronouns in social practices. Some transition and take on embodiments that have a particular gendered aesthetic. This may or may not include sexual reassignment surgeries and other procedures that are body confirming. In short, nonbinary people have varied and robust social lives. The umbrella category of “trans” helps to situate some of the meaning and history of gender-non-normative identities. On the one hand, it can be a productive political vehicle that mobilizes communities of similarly felt histories toward collective action. On the other hand, it can limit the range of recognized embodiments and practices that have participated in the historically pertinent conventions that trans describes. The history of nonbinary identities is then a complex prospect. Such identities alter the categorical assumptions that underscore transsexual and transgender identities within binary terms. The complex narratives and histories of nonbinary trans identities raise some timely questions about the conventions of sex/gender in contemporary life. What constitutes one’s enduring sense of gender now that the binary itself has come under dispute? Should the gender binary be protected and for whom? In what varied ways do nonbinary identities alter a commonly shared imaginary of the bodily aesthetic? What role does desire play in the ongoing social changes in this long revolution of the body? The politics that emerge from these questions are becoming increasingly pressing as technology can now link otherwise isolated people across global boundaries. And finally, the reception of nonbinary identities offers important spaces of dialogue about the proliferation of identity politics, political movements, and the social divisions of labor these forces demand.