Who cares? UK lesbian caregivers in a heterosexual world

Orla Parslow-Breen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-86
Number of pages8
JournalWomen's Studies International Forum
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Jun 2013

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