This essay analyzes the affect of entitlement in two memoirs by gay men about their experiences as adoptive parents. Although to lay claim to the role of the “selfish father” can be seen in these texts as a way to resist the presumptive privileges of motherhood, it is ultimately presented as a positive new construction of fatherhood, a way to reclaim paternity on new emotional and social terms. This development represents a shift in the dynamics of gay assimilation: by drawing on the discourses of competitive individualism, these narratives reveal the complex politics of gay familialism within the larger production of the American family in neoliberal terms. Arguing that the performance of “homonormativity” makes visible the dynamics of assimilation and material self-formation that are at work in all forms of advanced capitalist parenthood, the essay demonstrates how analyzing the more general contemporary organization of the family as a heteronormative economic unit enables us to understand the ongoing movement of gay politics into the private sphere.
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Alison Shonkwiler; The Selfish-Enough Father: Gay Adoption and the Late-Capitalist Family. GLQ 1 October 2008; 14 (4): 537–567. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10642684-2008-004
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