"There are too many gay categories now": Discursive constructions of gay masculinity

J.P. Ravenhill, R.O. de Visser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


“Masculine capital” refers to the social power afforded by the display of traits and behaviors that are associated with orthodox, stereotypical masculinity. Men who are concerned with their masculine identity may utilize these traits and behaviors to increase their overall masculine capital, and to mitigate “failures” in other domains of masculinity. However, their success at accruing and trading masculine capital may be limited, because different traits and behaviors are not equal in the capital they convey, and their value may vary depending on the social context in which they are deployed. Research suggests that heterosexuality contributes more to masculine capital than other stereotypically masculine characteristics: The possibilities for gay men to accrue and trade masculine capital may therefore be particularly limited, especially in heteronormative contexts. Focus groups were undertaken with gay men, straight women, and straight men living in a coastal city in the south of England to explore discursive constructions of gay masculinity, and to examine gay men’s possibilities for accruing and trading masculine capital. Discourse analysis identified constructions of gay masculinity in reference to hegemonic masculinity, where gay men may acquire masculine capital in similar ways to straight men. However, the meaning and value of this capital may also vary, because certain characteristics and behaviors may have different value for and between gay men than they do for straight men, and in heteronormative contexts. The analysis also identified discourses of gay masculinity where it was not constructed as a singular entity, but rather as complex, multiple, and diverse.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology of Men and Masculinity
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2017

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