ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

Back to Paper Details

'Straight-Acting'': An Empirical Study of Gay Male Advice Columns

Ken Searle
University of Birmingham
Ken Searle
University of Birmingham
Open Panel

Abstract

In the study of sexuality and identity politics, authors compare gay and straight masculine identity, arguing perceived cleavages in sexual identity are less apparent. This is demonstrated through Baker’s study of personal advertisements in gay magazines (2003), which argues men identifying as “gay” aspire to a straight identity. However, this paper argues that gay men take an increasingly “hyper-straight” approach. Several gay men attempt to appear more masculine than straight men, attempting to close constructed cleavages within straight identity. Therefore, it is necessary to empirically study how modern gay magazines comply with heterosexual “norms” in attempting to counter this binary. As such, it is important to primarily study language and specific signifiers within advice columns of gay male magazines. This contrasts with Baker’s earlier analysis by placing continued emphasis on appearing straight instead of adopting explicitly alternate gay, or even queer, identities. However, looking at advice columns will provide an insight into whether problems and issues raised by gay men are conducted and advised in a way synonymous with “straight” discourse, or problems unique to gay men indicative of a continued cleavage. This empirical study relates to arguments that, since the emergence of HIV/AIDS, gay men aspire to an explicitly “straight-acting” identity, particularly regarding muscular bodies. This identity has been undertaken, authors have argued, to avoid directly identifying with signifiers associated with HIV/AIDS. In doing this, gay men are frequently attempting to end sexual identity cleavages constructing them as apart from straight identity.