Disclosure as family practice: Changing family dynamics in Hong Kong after a gay son comes out. By: Kong, Travis S. 2024. Sociology Compass. Vol. 18 Issue 1, p1-15.

This paper examines the family dynamics between parents and gay sons after the latter’s disclosure of their sexual orientation. Situated in the “doing family” and life course literature, the paper offers a sociological account of coming out and family dynamics in Hong Kong that presents the narratives of both gay sons and their parents, examining the changing moral and emotional economies of family life across two generations. Thirty‐five in‐depth individual interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of gay sons (n = 15) and their mothers (n = 14) and/or fathers (n = 6). The findings revealed that heteronormative family life, as part of the moral economy of family life, is challenged after disclosure, with parents forced to admit or accept the queer component of their family. Yet, both parents and gay sons work hard to accomplish a “correct” version of sexual normativity that views homosexuality as inborn (sexual essentialism) and conforms to the “good homosexual” image. Sons’ disclosure also shifts the burden of the closet, as part of the emotional economy of family life, to their parents, especially mothers, on whom that burden often takes an emotional toll. The paper concludes that disclosure is a contested site of negotiation of the meaning of male identity, parenthood, and homosexuality, as well as a key family practice that changes the moral and emotional economies of families, eventually leading to the formation of new family forms. By viewing disclosure as family practice in a culture where intergenerational closeness and family co‐residence are prominent, this paper rethinks coming out, arguing that in the Chinese context it should be understood not only as identity politics, as it often is in Western contexts, but also as relational politics, thus revitalizing the coming‐out debate across cultural contexts and offering new insights on the relationship between homosexuality and contemporary family life.