“I Don’t Want to Be Seen as a Screaming Queen”: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of Gay Men’s Masculine Identities


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Abstract

It has been argued that gay men who live in Western societies must negotiate masculine identities against a cultural backdrop where the most desirable and locally hegemonic masculinity is heterosexual. However, contemporary masculinity theories conceptualize masculinities as increasingly inclusive of gay men. The purpose of this study was to use a discourse-dynamic approach to studying masculine subjectivity to identify how gay men in England and Wales negotiated masculinity discourses to construct their masculine identities. One-to-one, semistructured interviews were undertaken with 6 younger gay men aged 20–24 years and 11 older gay men aged 30–42 years. Participants were asked to describe their subjective experiences of masculinity. The results of an interpretative phenomenological analysis indicated that discourses of hegemonic and alternative masculinities had implications for lived experiences of masculinity. Older participants in particular emphasized the attributes they associated with masculine dominance, including anti-effeminacy attitudes. The majority of younger participants did not feel masculine. Irrespective of age, many participants resisted hegemonic masculinity by highlighting the value of “gayness” at times. The findings suggested that hegemonic masculinity was the most readily available discourse for conceptualizing masculinity but that lived experiences of masculinity were not necessarily located within this discourse.

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