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Sex for LifeFrom Virginity to Viagra, How Sexuality Changes Throughout Our Lives$
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Laura Carpenter and John DeLamater

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780814772522

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814772522.001.0001

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The Symbolic Power of Civil Marriage on the Sexual Life Histories of Gay Men

The Symbolic Power of Civil Marriage on the Sexual Life Histories of Gay Men

Chapter:
(p.146) 7 The Symbolic Power of Civil Marriage on the Sexual Life Histories of Gay Men
Source:
Sex for Life
Author(s):

Adam Isaiah Green

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9780814772522.003.0007

This chapter analyzes how gay and straight men's sexual life histories are powerfully shaped by the combination of early-life expectations about marriage and social structures that make marriage differentially available. Both access to and exclusion from civil marriage have powerful effects that resonate throughout the life course of heterosexual and homosexual men, respectively. Heterosexual access to and homosexual exclusion from civil marriage have produced the institutional backdrop against which a gay sexual subculture has emerged with a value system concerning intimate life forged in direct opposition to its heterosexual counterpart. Whereas the predominant, heterosexual, romantic meaning-constitutive tradition is anchored to the institution of heterosexual marriage, the queer meaning-constitutive tradition is anchored to the institutions of sexual sociality, including bars, nightclubs, and bathhouses.

Keywords:   civil marriage, heterosexual marriage, civil marriage, heterosexual men, homosexual men, gay sexual subculture, meaning-constitutive tradition, sexual sociality

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