The predominant framework used to conceptualise the relationships of gay men and lesbians is based upon the notion of ’choice’. This framework provides a narrow and limited theoretical perspective for understanding the lives of gay men. A more complex understanding of gay men’s affiliations has the potential to illuminate spaces where action can be taken to improve their wellbeing. As a result, the notion of ’personal communities’ is employed to understand the lives of gay men of South Asian descent in Sydney, Australia. The concept of personal communities acknowledges that people have multiple affiliations, which exist in their lives in complex ways. Interviews with gay men of South Asian descent, drew upon personal communities as both a methodological tool and theoretical framework, to highlight that attachment to ’blood’ family is an important source of connection for gay men. However, some gay men explained that their parents were confused or uncertain about homosexuality and what this means, causing dissonance within the relationship. As a result, these findings indicate that it is crucial to provide support not only to gay men, but also to the significant people in their lives. The maintenance of connections to ’blood’ family members has the potential to enrich gay men’s wellbeing, by enabling them to continue relationships that are important to them.
Shiva Chandra is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology and Social Policy at The University of Sydney. His research interests include the sociology of family, friendship and community. He is interested in gay men’s personal relationships, including the implications this has for their identity.