Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Sociology

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, v, 330 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Glenna Spitze

Committee Members

Katherine Trent, Christine Bose


Families, Intimacy, LGBTQ, Polyamory, Queer, Relationships, Non-monogamous relationships, Sexual minorities, Minorities, Intimacy (Psychology)

Subject Categories

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies | Sociology | Women's Studies


Polyamory is an intimate practice, identity, and philosophy that permits open and honest relationships with multiple partners and centers on values such as communication, trust, and egalitarianism. The limited body of existing research on polyamory has contributed important perspectives towards a sociological understanding of polyamorous relationship negotiations and family challenges; however, it has focused primarily on privileged groups, drawing participants from polyamorous communities that are largely comprised of white, middle-class, heterosexual cisgender men and bisexual cisgender women. LGBTQ+ (‘queer’) lives have been severely marginalized in this literature, reinforcing oppressive gender and sexual hierarchies and leaving many important questions unanswered. Moreover, the voices of queer people of color, of working-class/poor backgrounds, and of trans or gender-nonconforming identities have been virtually silenced in research on polyamory. The current study helps fill this gap in the literature by centering queer polyamory and offering special effort to voice the experiences and perspectives of queer polyamorists of diverse backgrounds and identities. I conducted 55 in-depth interviews with queer people who had experience with polyamorous relationships. I present my findings through the lens of queering intimacy, in which I emphasize processes of ‘practicing’ polyamorous relationships, ‘doing’ polyfamilies, and ‘queering’ sexual citizenship. I also question what queer polyamory means for contemporary lesbian/gay and queer politics, particularly its potential to disrupt assimilationism. This research informs the literature on the sociology of families, LGBTQ studies, and polyamory and contributes new and revised theoretical frameworks related to relationship dynamics, intimacy, and social forces of inequality.