Coming out and going home: A family ethnography

Lisa Tillmann, Rollins College


The author, a heterosexual woman, and Gordon Bernstein, a gay man, have been friends and research collaborators since 1995. In 2004, the author accompanied Gordon on a trip to his hometown of Philadelphia to conduct fieldwork and interview family members. This project ethnographically explored personal and relational opportunities and challenges associated with coming out in a family system defined by avoidant communication, hegemonic masculinity, and terminal illness.