July 28, 2022
Narratives of demographic shifts overlook how societal changes shape the family trajectories of sexual minorities. Using sequence analysis, we describe how partnering and parenthood evolve over the life course of LGB women and men in the United Kingdom (n=455) and how the types, diversity, and complexity of these family trajectories changed across two birth cohorts (born before 1965 and 1965-1979). We find five distinct trajectories between ages 18 and 40, wherein two-thirds of the sample belonged to a family trajectory that did not involve living with children. We find that partnership-centered trajectories became more common across cohorts at the expense of trajectories characterized by singlehood among gay men and lesbian women but that parenthood trajectories became less common among all LGB groups. Furthermore, family trajectories became more complex across cohorts, i.e., including more transitions, which coincides with trends in the general population. However, we also find that family trajectories became less diverse among lesbian women and bisexual men in contrast to the trend among gay men and the general population. The results demonstrate the dynamic, complex, and diverse nature of LGBs’ family lives and why existing narratives of family-related demographic change should explicitly consider sexual minorities in demographic narratives.
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