“Straight-Acting Gays”: The Relationship Between Masculine Consciousness, Anti-Effeminacy, and Negative Gay Identity
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Some gay men are preoccupied with traditional notions of masculinity and express negative feelings towards effeminate behavior in gay men. Various scholars have speculated that such attitudes by gay men reflect internalized negative feelings about being gay. Thus, we sought to assess the importance of masculinity among gay men, to compare their ideal versus perceived masculinity–femininity, to ask how gay men assess masculinity, and to test whether masculine consciousness and anti-effeminacy could predict negative feelings about being gay. Results from an online survey of 751 gay men in the United States (M Age = 32.64 years, SD = 11.94) showed that the majority rated masculinity for themselves and in a same-sex partner as important, and they ideally wished that their behavior was more masculine (Cohen’s d = .42) and less feminine (d = .42) than they perceived it to be. Furthermore, one’s behavior was more important than how one looks when assessing masculinity. A multiple regression analysis showed that the degree to which they were preoccupied with masculinity and expressed anti-effeminacy accounted for 30% of the variance in negative feelings about being gay. These finding further support the idea that masculinity is an important construct for gay men and that masculine consciousness and anti-effeminacy are related to negative feelings about being gay.
KeywordsSexual orientation Femiphobia Sissyphobia Internalized homophobia Internalized heterosexism
We thank Jim Buzinski, Benjamin Locke (PsycData.com), Kristine Palma, and Jonathan Suhre for their assistance on this project. Portions of this data were presented in a poster at the University of Lethbridge Workshop, “The Puzzle of Sexual Orientation: What Is It and How Does It Work?” Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, June 2010.
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