"It Feels Like We're Together as a Team": Communal Orientations among Married Gay Men and Lesbians

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Although a body of literature on same-sex marriage has begun to develop, it remains unclear how gay men and lesbians approach their marital relationships, what these approaches look like in practice, and what challenges, if any, gay men and lesbians experience with respect to these approaches. Separately, a well-established body of literature shows that gay men and lesbians tend to be individually-oriented in their non-marital relationships, but scholars have yet to examine whether they approach marriage in the same way. It is possible, after all, that gay men and lesbians may be more communally-oriented to marriage given the still-dominant construction of marriage as a companionate relationship. In this chapter, I draw upon in-depth interviews with a sample of 28 currently married gay men and lesbians to explore how they approach their marriages. Results indicate that many gay men and lesbians hold communal rather than individual orientations in that they see themselves as part of a larger unit or “team,” which is reflected in the ways they arrange housework and decision-making. However, many also recognize that a communal orientation can be challenging and so invoke the marital work ethic to handle these challenges.


Sociology and Corrections

Publication Title

The Social Science of Same-Sex Marriage: LGBT People and Their Relationships in the Era of Marriage Equality