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Unsettling relationships

a talk given by Jacqui Gabb on sexuality and family lives over a generation (1990-2015)

In June, 2015, Jacqui Gabb gave at talk at a the Queer Kinship and Relationships conference organised in Poland (Zalesie, Masuria, Poland, 8th-11th June 2015).

She presented the following paper: Unsettling relationships: critical reflections on sexuality and family lives over a generation (1990-2015)


The UK is recognised as one of the most progressive countries for LGBTQ rights in Europe. In this article I explore how advancements in equality rights and positive social attitudinal changes have been experienced and also how, in this context, we understand and make sense of queer kinship and lesbian motherhood. Methodological, epistemological and theoretical imperatives are therefore interwoven. I reflect on moments where sexuality and relationships become meaningful and in doing so draw attention to both the residual factors that shape motherhood and also the need to problematize the conflation of temporal progression, progressive rights and narratives of progress. Looking back over a generation (1990-2015), I focus on momentary points of departure to open up discussion on where we are and how we got here: to think again about the ‘rights, wrongs and rules’ of queer kinship in the 21st century. My desire to re-focus the analytical lens in this way is because where we start from defines who and what gets written into accounts of kin. To restate well-worn and familiar territory, what we know and how we come to know it are shaped by researcher subjectivity, and perhaps more than ever before, informed by intersecting socio-legal, historico-cultural and techno-scientific milieu. Contemporary understandings of LGBTQ kinship have, I contend, become stuck in the symbolic and material quagmire of blood and genes. In this paper, therefore, I want to query/queer the discursive–amniotic waters.


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