From Visibility to Relationality: Changing Socio-Gender Structure and Lesbian Parent-Child Negotiation in Contemporary Taiwan
Yu-Ying Hu (Graduate Institute of Gender Studies, Kaohsiung Medical University)
This article analyzes the ways in which middle class lesbian women in Taiwan negotiate parent-child relations. It focuses on the complex and dynamic relationship between their sexual identification and relations with family of origin in order to challenge the privileged status of the concept “coming-out” in understanding Taiwanese tongzhi identity formation. Starting with scholarship on transnational sexuality, this article first traces how “coming-out” and “Chinese family” are opposed to each other through binary dimensions of “global-local” and “modern-traditional.” This article is also informed by recent reflections on the collective desire of Chinese tongzhi for “being normal,” which not only displays multiple meanings of and historical transformation in family as a heteronormative institution, but also elucidates how tongzhi subjectivity formation is inevitably entangled with kin relations and responsibility. This article further highlights a feminist perspective, as gendered division in the Chinese patriarchal family makes marriage pressure and women’s changing kin responsibility and status the principle concern for lesbian women who wish to live their family life in concert with their sexuality. Building on this scholarship, this article intends to further explore how Taiwanese middle-class lesbians develop unique strategies of confrontation and negotiation according to their status of gender (woman) and kin (daughter). It emphasizes the possibility of understanding the relationship between lesbian identification and heterosexual familial norms through the framework of relational interactions instead of confrontational coming-out. This is placed in the context of drastic and continuous change in the social-familial structure in contemporary Taiwan.
coming-out, patrilineal family, marriage pressures, women's kinship roles, lesbian identification