Desire and intention to parent among gay men: internalized heterosexism and locus of control

Harris, Jeffrey Bart
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Texas Woman s University

Large numbers of gay men express desire to parent and intention to parent. However, among gay men, there is substantial gap between the report of wanting to parent and the reported intention to parent, which is a significantly larger chasm than what heterosexual men have reported. Gay men who have parenting desires are faced with a variety of barriers if they actively pursue parenthood, including those that arise out of the heterosexist contexts within which gay men are located (e.g., antigay parenting laws; bias of adoption agency personnel). Internalized heterosexism has been reported retrospectively by gay men who later became fathers as a barrier in the path to parenthood. Locus of control, the degree to which outcomes are attributed to their behavior, has rarely been studied among gay men, though the construct has otherwise been studied widely. No study has explored possible relationships between locus of control and desire or intention to parent among gay men. However, gay men have reported that accepting challenges and actively coping with them were necessary to their parenthood achievement success. In the current study, the researcher investigated the possible relationships among desire to parent, intention to parent, internalized heterosexism, and locus of control among gay men. One-hundred forty-five nonparent gay men between the ages of 30 and 50 were recruited via Internet communities to respond to an online survey, which consisted of items measuring desire to parent and intention to parent, as well as instruments measuring internalized heterosexism and locus of control. As was expected, desire to parent was strongly and positively related to intention to parent. Though predicted, internalized heterosexism and external locus of control were not observed to suppress the impact of desire to parent on the intention to parent, nor were internalized heterosexism or locus of control observed to be related to intention to parent in separate analyses. And, no relationship was found between internalized heterosexism and external locus of control. Theoretical, research, and practical implications for the findings from this study are discussed.