Separation Experiences of Lgbtiq People

Monday, 16 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Annukka LAHTI, University of Jyvaskyla, Finland
In this presentation, I introduce my postdoctoral research project, which explores relationship break-ups of Finnish sexual and gender minorities. According to the demographic research divorce rate is higher among same-sex couples than among other-sex couples. Female couples are likelier to break up than male couples are. Yet, there is a paucity of research on the causes and separation experiences of LGBTIQ persons.

There are some distinguishing characteristics to LGBTIQ break-ups. Non-heterosexual couples’ path to legal recognition have been long and complex. In the long and heated media debate on registered partnership and later on gender neutral marriage law in Finland, same-sex couples’ right to legal recognition was defended by emphasizing their equal worth and similarity to heterosexual relationships within the discourse of romantic love. The long battle for equal rights has placed LGBTIQ people’s relationships under a lot of pressure to succeed and to be as ordinary and happy as possible. It is thus difficult to discuss publicly that problems occur also in these relationships. Consequently, the partners in LGBTIQ relationships might keep silent of their problems.

The data of the research project consist of both qualitative survey and interview data of LGBTIQ persons who have experienced recent relationship-break up. The research questions are the following: What kind of matters have strained LGBTIQ people’s relationships and led to the break-up? How do break-ups look like when approached as processes? How are these processes experienced? What kind of support the partners have got from relatives, friends and authorities in the break-up process? How do the continuously changing social positions of LGBTIQ persons and their relationships, entangle with the affective processes of break-ups? The presentation will discuss further the research questions, the data and outline some preliminary findings of the project.