Who cares? UK lesbian caregivers in a heterosexual world

Hegarty, P. J. and Parslow, O. (2013). Who cares? UK lesbian caregivers in a heterosexual world. Women's Studies International Forum, 40 78 - 86.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wsif.2013.03.003

Abstract

Women undertake most caring responsibilities for older family members and models of family caregiving implicitly position women carers as heterosexual-by-default. This UK-based study examined the impact of eldercare responsibility on the “outness,” socialisation, and personal relationships of seven lesbians (aged 48–62) who provided care to elderly relatives. The women were interviewed and the resulting transcripts were analysed using the method of constant comparative analysis yielding four themes: 1) duty and obligation, 2) loss of lesbian identity, 3) connections with lesbian communities, and 4) boundary setting. Lesbians incorporate elder caring into the framework of their lives in diverse ways, demonstrating “normative creativity” (Brown, 1989) in the absence of clear models of lesbian familial caregiving. These lesbians highlight new understandings of caregiving that wrestle with hegemonic discourses, and extend understanding of the normative creativity of lesbian lives to the domain of elder care.

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