A researcher studying the relationships between fathers and their gay sons is looking for fathers in Gauteng who will be willing to share their experiences.

The doctoral research study is being conducted by Jacques Livingston, the Health and Well-being Manager at OUT Well-being, a non-profit LGBT organisation based in Pretoria.

The focus of the study is on the ‘Experiences and Meanings that shape Heterosexual Fathers’ Relationships with their Gay Sons’.

Livingston said that his interest in this topic is based on consistent reports and research findings indicating that:

  • most gay sons are more likely to disclose their orientation firstly, and in some cases solely, to their mothers;
  • most gay sons find it more difficult to come out to their fathers, and generally anticipate a more negative response from them;
  • many gay sons perceive their fathers as being less supportive than their mothers;
  • many gay sons describe their fathers as uninvolved, critical, conservative, rigid, autocratic, and homo-negative;
  • most gay sons are more likely to report that their relationship before and after coming out is more positive with mothers than with fathers;
  • very little is known about the full range of personal experiences of fathers of gay sons, and the role they play in the lives of their gay sons, especially before, during, and after the coming out process;
  • very little is known about the typical father who struggles alone, without the assistance of others; and
  • very little is known about the determining factors that distinguish fathers who react positively and those who don’t.

Given these consistent research findings, Livingston would like to conduct confidential interviews with heterosexual fathers of gay sons in and around Pretoria and Joburg, with the aim of better understanding the personal experiences of these fathers, in order to possibly bridge the emotional divide that exists between many gay sons and their fathers in South Africa.

This research project is a first of its kind in South Africa, and is aims to make a meaningful contribution to the lives of gay men and their fathers.

These fathers should ideally meet the following criteria:

  • They must be heterosexual and Caucasian;
  • Be Afrikaans or English speaking;
  • Be based in Pretoria or Johannesburg;
  • Be between the ages of 35 and 60 years;
  • Be the biological father of a gay son;
  • Be married or involved with the biological mother of their gay son;
  • Come from a dual-earner family; and
  • Demonstrate any of the following: acknowledgement, acceptance or rejection of their son’s gay orientation.

Interviews will be audio-recorded, and participants’ involvement will be completely voluntary, and kept strictly confidential in accordance with ethical guidelines. Interviews will be done at a convenient location for participants. Interviews may last between 90 and 120 minutes.

If you know of fathers who may be willing to share their experiences please pass this information onto them. They may contact Livingston on 012 430 3272 / 084 585 0248/ or Should you require any additional information please contact him directly.

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