Queerly Familial: Canadian Histories of Queer Reproduction, Parenting, and Activism

Erin Gallagher-Cohoon

Award: 2023 Doctoral Research

Erin’s dissertation analyzes Canadian histories of queer parenting and queer family formations in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Drawing from psychological, legal, media, policy and oral history sources, my research questions sociocultural constructions of the categories of “family” and “parenthood.” This dissertation sits at the intersection between histories of medicine, histories of sexuality, and histories of the family.Erin isinterested in how, for example, popular understandings of the etiology of homosexuality were taken up in family courts as a justification for depriving queer parents of custody; and how, in response, supportive psychologists and social scientists undertook research on the psychosexual development of children raised by lesbian mothers and gay fathers. Histories of queer families complicate medical, social and legal assumptions about sex, procreation and biological parentage. As a result, studying queer families brings into stark relief histories of the normative, idealized, and “healthy” family.