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Not GaySex between Straight White Men$
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Jane Ward

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781479860685

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479860685.001.0001

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Here’s How You Know You’re Not Gay

Here’s How You Know You’re Not Gay

The Popular Science of Heterosexual Fluidity

Chapter:
(p.83) 3 Here’s How You Know You’re Not Gay
Source:
Not Gay
Author(s):

Jane Ward

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9781479860685.003.0003

This chapter examines the rapidly multiplying and often bizarre techniques used by contemporary experts to distinguish the “truly gay” from the “merely heteroflexible.” It focuses on the three main explanatory discourses offered by popular experts: (1) homosexuality is sometimes circumstantially necessary; (2) homosexuality is sometimes a feature of homosociality, or an extension of (white) male bonds; and (3) homosexuality is sometimes accidental, unexpected, and out of one's control. White fear of men of color, paired with the imagined necessity of white male bonds and the strong desire for access to white male space, runs through each of these narratives, imbuing them with additional normative power. These explanations function to simultaneously exceptionalize and normalize the homosexuality of straight white men, treating as surprising and meaningless what seems to be a fairly predictable and significant feature of white heterosexual men's lives. The chapter concludes by suggesting that, in attempting to elaborate the reasons that people do not always behave in accordance with their “true nature,” such approaches lend support to the notion of fixed sexual personage, a concept at odds with queer resistance.

Keywords:   homosexuality, gay men, heteroflexible, homosocieality, straight white men, sexual personage

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