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Media Representation of Gay and Lesbian Parented


There are various relationship issues faced by couples in gay and lesbian parented families. The issues that arise are mainly a function of two major things. First, their family organization comprises of people whose values are different from the society and secondly the society in which they live has not yet learned to value their rich diversity. A nuclear family in which there are two parents, one from each gender, is assumed a baseline model fit for the optimal development of a child in our society, and all other organizations are said to have major deficiencies (Cooke, 2007). However, the family organization of a gay or lesbian-headed family is completely different from a normal heterosexually headed family. At a time, they have four parents or more, simultaneously, and sometimes the whole family is parented by a single parent who is either gay or lesbian. Such families are more or less faced with the same problems as single parented families do. Some of these families even contain close friends who are not physically involved with one other along with non-biological or biological parents. A major issue, which they also have to face, is that most of the people in our world do not accept or understand how these families function, their definition, and their commitment towards each other (Wilkes, 2004). However, it is alleged that the media often fails to represent their privacy and individuality. This study would perform a content analysis of several journal articles, books, and newspapers to understand the true nature of this allegation.

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Gay and lesbian parented families have to negotiate their relations between the larger community and with their family of origin. They are faced with issues of forging social connections and establishing limitations within themselves and with the outside world. They also have to deal with negotiating between different roles and relations by developing specific problem-solving actions that best suit their situation. Another issue which these gay and lesbian couples face in parenting a family is to decide who should do which thing, at what time, and how so that all the needs of the family are properly met, including those of the children. They have to deal with high risks as many times the individual interests of the family members clash with each other as there are no society-driven norms for the parents as in the case of straight families (Wilkesv, 2008).

Sometimes, due to the complexity in their family organization, they have to be especially deal with issues like child-rearing ideology, subordination, and authority, effects of aloofness and closeness, proper utilization of money, and division of work (Todosijevicv2008). Again, there are many issues where families headed by couples from the same gender are valuable for each other and help to enrich each other’s life. For example, these couples can handle conflicts between them in a better manner than heterosexual couples are. These families also have a considerably higher level of adaptability and cohesion among them than the heterosexual couple-parented families (Felicia, 2005).

One of the issues, which the couples in these families have to face, is the problem of fusion, which is a condition of psychic unity, which helps individuals to cross the boundaries of ego and develop a feeling of oneness among them. It is a prevailing relational feature among gay and lesbian-headed families (Martell, 2006). Although such an undifferentiating context is necessary among these families for emotional intimacy, it is one of the major causes of conflicts and tensions in the family too. Since society as a whole stigmatizes their relations and is unable to respect their boundaries, these gay and lesbian couples further rigidify their family restrictions, which ultimately turn out to be negative for them (Kurdek, 2007). Society, in a general sense, is represented by the media, and thus, it is important to evaluate the role of the media in representing their privacy and individuality.

Research question

The two people in the relationship feel that they are being threatened by the world and it happens in most cases where this form of marriage is not accepted by the law and this affects their families too. In the case of a lesbian-headed family, the women slowly tend to deny themselves which in turn diminishes their interest in each other making the relationship difficult and sometimes even leading to its termination. The emotional intensity among the relationship of two people in a family can be sometimes misinterpreted as it is based on equality, interdependence, mutuality, and intimacy rather than on power, thus creating problems among the couples. With a decrease in the intensity of their intimacy, they often find themselves at a disadvantage, which further decreases their trust and safety in each other. Families headed by gay couples face issues of other kinds. They are haunted by social image, which portrays them to be immoral and flamboyant making their couplehood a complete anomaly and much of it induced by media (Carpenter, 2006). Thus, it is essential to understand whether the media often fails to represent their privacy and individuality or not. Thus, the research question: Does the media influences society and create a negative impact on gay and lesbian families?


Children are of major concern in these gay and lesbian parented families. Some of these couples choose to be parents by adopting kids while others go for artificial insemination. Some of them even have kids from their earlier heterosexual relationships. The gay and lesbian couple is constantly faced with the decision of whether to come out with their sexual orientation. Their problems are coupled with the issue of having to consider the probable repercussions that the child may feel. They may be teased and taunted by others as still most people have negative feelings towards such families, particularly in the US (Kurdek, 2006). Thus, gay and lesbian parents have to protect their children from the abuses of society. Due to this reason, most of them (Kurdek, 2006) have to choose to live a secret life, which no one preferably wants. Since children must be brought up in an environment that is nurturing, safe, and warm, gay and lesbian parents should see to it that their requirements are fulfilled. They not only have to deal with society but also have to be concerned and consistent in their parenting. They are also faced with the challenge of finding a proper community for their family, which is modern and forward-thinking and accepts them as they are, to raise their family. Another major issue that they have to face is to make their children tolerant and just towards others. They constantly have to talk to their kids and teach them about consideration and kindness so that they can differentiate right from wrong. If the children in such families are spoken to openly about, the various situations then they do not feel confused, lessening the burden of issues and problems already present on their parents. In this context, it appears in the initial study, the media influences society in a negative manner about gay and lesbian families.

Objective of interest

Today any document or form regarding a child requires the names of its mother and father, which most of these families are not able to fulfill, rendering the couples in the family unable to identify them. If they choose total openness then most of them have to face the neighbors, doctors, and even their own family, who may not always support them. Another issue, which these families have to face, is that since most of the time they do not receive the services and support of society and family around them, a genuine and authentic intimate relationship is not developed among them and they do not receive any mutual help either. These insults sometimes even turn violent for them. These gay and lesbian couples most of the time have to face legal issues, like losing the custody of their child from previous heterosexual marriages. Just the notion that such a frightening prospect might happen in gay and lesbian parented families further creates a lot of tension and anxiety among the members, as it requires a lot of complicated decisions (Gaines, 2002).

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This issue creates a lot of stress in gay and lesbian parented families. They are not called upon if the child is in trouble or emergencies. They are usually under tremendous social pressure but manage to thrive even through these obstacles. They have to deal with custody issues and are quite aware that they will barely succeed in a court challenge. Sometimes in a gay or lesbian-headed family is supported by only a single parent, who does not come out with his or her sexual orientation openly. These elements often destroy self-esteem and end in suicide. The influence of media is so great that we cannot bypass it as a positive vibe could easily have altered all these mishaps. Thus, it is a major issue and should be evaluated properly.

Media outlet

Gay and lesbian parented families are exceptionally diverse and most of their issues are due to the noxious homophobic and heterosexist environment around them. If their couple relationship is not satisfying then they will not be able to facilitate the health, security, and gender flexibility in their children. These gay and lesbian parented families are also faced with the issue of having to teach their child how to deal with homophobic reactions and not just deal with the issue by avoiding it or being silent. Also due to the lack of official credibility for a non-biological parent affects their family dynamics creating anxiety among a gay or lesbian parent who gives their full effort in raising the child along with the biological parent. However, if the latter dies or the relationship ends then they have no right in the well-being of that child (Gaines, 2002).

The relationship between same-sex couples possesses a social level. Pro-same sex marriage lobbies have articulated that these need to be treated on par with conventional marriages. They believe that since most of the parameters that apply to heterosexual marriages, such as love, caring, commitment, fidelity, promiscuity, and so on apply to these marriages as well. They see it as the exercise of natural choice and refute the procreation aspect by claiming that they can have offspring, too. Testimony to this claim is the fact that no less than a quarter of the estimated 600,000 same-sex couples in the US has adopted children (D’Cruz, 2001).

They claim, with credibility, and backed up by facts, that when it comes to habitation, they go by the same set of conditions -they have the same commitment to their children as heterosexual people, live a life in which they cooperate in all major aspects of life, pay taxes and contribute to society. Thus, according to this segment, there should not be any moral exclusion by these people should be viewed as the mainstream of the society. However, they ignore the moral and religious grounds (Bepko, 2000).

The total percentage of the gay and lesbian population is about 10% (D’Cruz, 2001) of the population and their ways of life significantly ramify the normal ways, livelihood, religion, and beliefs of the rest 90% (D’Cruz, 2001). Thus, in the context of the US, it is recommended that the authorities should restrain from legalizing these minority populations in favor of the majority as it is expected of a democratic society. Measures should be taken to make the authorities understand the good of the greater mass. On a personal note, it should be noted that marriage should be defined in the constitution to be between a man and a woman but gay couples or those who chose this lifestyle should be awarded the same benefits as heterosexual couples and it should not be called marriage but maybe civil union since that is what these same-sex couples want. According to Carpenter (2006), this is the only possible way to help solve this same-sex marriage issue without hurting the social and religious sentiments (Carpenter, 2006).

By whatever names they were called, unions between people of the same sex have existed since ancient times in almost all parts of the world; some prominent examples are those of Greece, in which an elderly man would cohabit with a younger male, in a manner strikingly similar to heterosexual practice. As a result, there should not be any family or relation-oriented problem at all (Felicia, 2005).

Thus, it should be mentioned that they have to keep their relationship hidden not only from the outside world but also from their immediate family and children. They do not live with their partners, or openly show their affection for each other, or have any relations with one another’s families. They address each other as friends and tend to live in hiding as long as the child does not mature. However, to live like this creates a lot of stress in them, as they constantly deny themselves of their mental and physical needs and have to lie to their children about their relationship (Cooke, 2007).

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Content Analysis is the name of the process that is used in this report. (Krippendorff, 2004) In the simplest terms, same-sex marriage, as the term indicates, is the marriage between individuals of the same sex. There is disagreement over whether this term is analogous to gay marriage, since some people can be homosexual, and could still be in a heterosexual marriage. Those who oppose the usage of the term ‘gay marriage’ do so because they would like the genealogy to include what is called ‘LGBT’, or lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender relationships (D’Cruz, 2001). The basic idea of this report is to chalk out the specific terms against the community. Homosexuals are generally referred to as “abnormal”, “freak” and different other forms of degrading definitions in the US and other countries (Kurdek, 2005). The basic analysis of the report is based on three types of communicative connections. The three types are as follows:

  1. Use of manipulative texts, only to create a socially negative vibe for the community.
  2. Non-verbal communicative symbols, like exclamation marks, and also careful use of question marks in the reports made the reports more eyes catching.
  3. The importance of the reports and the messages were highlighted carefully by the precise use of upper case letters and different bold fonts.
  4. Use of strong adjectives to influence the readers.


From several texts, the study chose six texts. These are

  1. Bepko’s (2000) Gay and Lesbian Couples in Therapy: Perspectives for the Contemporary Family Therapist published in Journal of Marital and Family Therapy.
  2. Wilkes’ (2008) Purchasing decisions in non-traditional households: the case of lesbian couples published in Journal of Consumer Behaviour.
  3. Neal Drinnan’s (2001) Rough Guide to Gay & Lesbian Australia, published by Rough Guides.
  4. Jaye Zimet’s (1999) Strange Sisters: The Art of Lesbian Pulp Fiction, 1949–1969 by Viking Studio.
  5. BBC ruling on the use of the word gay”. The Times (London). 6 June 2006.
  6. Burr, Chandler. Homosexuality and biology. The Atlantic, June 1997.

All the coders knew about these variables and they were instructed properly about the use of the three elements. Colour markers were provided to mark important parts. The reader should read at the usual pace as fast or slow readers were eliminated. The benchmark that was set was a limit of 40 minutes. Three coders were finalized in the ultimate test.

Coding Scheme

1. Use of text
Manipulation of text (1-5) Yes/no Eg.
Specific symbols (1-5) Yes/no Eg.
Letter in Upper case (1-5) Yes/no Eg.
Bold fonts (1-5) Yes/no Eg.
Powerful use of noun (1-5) Yes/no Eg.
Powerful use of adjectives (1-5) Yes/no Eg.
2. Page contents
Heavy images
Heavy text
Heavy on image and text
Overall feel (objective and subjective)

Reliability test

This was prepared for the use of tabulation by the people who made the study. A chi square table was prepared to evaluate the fundamental units of analysis. But there were not much of difference between the results. The results are:

  • ChiSq-20.24
  • D.F.-09
  • P-0.128

The reliability test was reliable in the use of coding. As earlier said there was never much difference in the results. It was seen that manipulating the texts to create negative feeling show the stability of the process (ChiSq- 5, D.F.-7, P-.473). Conventional text based results are well balanced like (ChiSq-9.03, D.F. – 7.1, P-.243). The use of bold fonts along with upper cases show the importance of the message was the same like (ChiSq- 9.19, D.F.-7, and P-0.123).

Any initiative focused towards research can be viewed as a process of gathering data to find answers for specific questions and problems. In this case this is a realistic study which implies to discover new information and applying them to real world problems. Research like basic and exploratory both are applied in this case. New technology can be discovered in this process which can help the mankind in future in many aspects.


For any research data is the primary and the most important form of product that is needed. In this research, data resources are used to cumulate the fundamental information like the speeches of the respondents, the different scholarly journals on the specific subject, articles, other research initiatives, relevant journals for the topic, different text books on the subject, also thesis papers. Another very important aspect of the research data is the different international conference papers that generally are stored for future references. These data can be found after extensive search and so the understanding of these data can make a report very contextual in many a case. This also helps the media to clearly understand these troubled and challenging issues completely.

Reference list

  1. Bepko, C., 2000. Gay and Lesbian Couples in Therapy: Perspectives for the Contemporary Family Therapist. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 26 (2), pp. 409-419.
  2. Carpenter, C., 2006. New Evidence on Gay and Lesbian Household Incomes. Contemporary Economic Policy, 22 (3), pp. 78-94.
  3. Cooke, J., 2007. Migration of same-sex couples. Population, Space and Place, 11 (7), pp. 401-409.
  4. D’Cruz, S., 2001. Family and Sexuality the American Way. Gender & History; 13 (2), pp. 380-388.
  5. Felicia, D. M., 2005. Beyond the dominant narrative: Intimacy and conflict in lesbian Relationships. Conflict Resolution Quarterly, 18 (4), pp. 363-376.
  6. Gaines, O., 2002. Impact of attachment style on responses to accommodative Dilemmas among same-sex couples. Personal Relationships, 9 (7), pp. 89-93.
  7. Krippendorff, K., 2004. Content analysis: an introduction to its methodology. New York: SAGE.
  8. Kurdek, L., 2005. What Do We Know About Gay and Lesbian Couples. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 14 (2), pp. 251-254.
  9. Kurdek, L., 2006. Differences Between Partners From Heterosexual, Gay, and Lesbian Cohabiting Couples. Journal of Marriage and Family, 68 (7), pp. 509-528.
  10. Kurdek, L., 2007. Attractions and constraints as determinants of relationship commitment: Longitudinal evidence from gay, lesbian, and heterosexual couple. Personal Relationships. 3 (5), pp. 245-262.
  11. Martell, C., 2006. Treating infidelity in same-sex couples. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 61 (3), pp.1429-1438.
  12. Todosijevic, J., 2008. Relationship Satisfaction, Affectivity, And Gay-Specific Stressors In Same-Sex Couples Joined In Civil Unions. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 29 (4), pp. 158-166.
  13. Wilkes, R., 2008. Purchasing decisions in non-traditional households: the case of lesbian couples. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 6 (2), pp. 60-73.

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