The lack of competence-building resources for Toronto gay fathers and their families has a tendency to push the Toronto gay father out of his nuclear family and away from his gay community. The Toronto gay father himself may have found the development of a positive self-image difficult enough in his hometown, but if family and others provide no strength or actively reject the gay father, the tendency to migrate to Toronto solves a multitude of problems for all concerned.
Relocation to Toronto with it’s gay-affirmative reputation may meet the gay father’s needs for short-term and long-term support and encouragement as well as his family’s need to resolve an emotionally complex psychosocial dilemma. Over time this process may lead to a gradual erosion of close family ties as the development of the gay father’s new Toronto gay social identity is weakly synchronized with ongoing life changes in his nuclear family.
Gay fathers who have moved to Toronto which is assumed to be gay-affirming have less daily contact with their nuclear families. Their nuclear families may become less salient forces in their lives, and the traditional image of family life (which has a gay counterpart) yields to the stereotypical single Toronto gay image.
The stereotype that gays are not involved with their nuclear families is then partially induced by geographical distance, in addition to the conflicts their nuclear families feel about their offspring’s situation. Gay fathers who remain in rural areas assume low visibility; those who depart are literally invisible.
The rural community remains nonthreatening; the nuclear family has ejected its problem, lessened its conflict by being “helpful,” and avoided appearing deviant in the eyes of others; and, the gay father, having made a major and often disruptive transition to Toronto, feels supported by their nuclear family in seeking a gay “identity.
Yet, the long-term consequence of this subtle psychosocial scenario of well-intended expulsion is the continued misunderstanding of the diversity of gay lives and the perpetuation of problems of rural gay families.
In sum, rural living poses distinct frustrations for people personally at ease with their sexuality, people who aspire to develop a rural life openly integrating their sexual interests into other important aspects of their lives, and for families and friends who would want to be as involved and encouraging as they would be with any significant other.
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