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Articulating Sexuality, Desire, and Identity: A Keyword Analysis of Heteronormativity in Taiwanese Gay and Lesbian Dating Websites

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This paper discusses how the so-called social construct, i.e., the frame of heteronormativity, can be maintained, reproduced and enacted by language within same-sex dating communities in the twenty-first century. That is, we examine heteronormativity in discourse collected from two popular same-sex dating websites in Taiwan in order to analyze how heteronormative ideologies influence the linguistic construction of homosexual desires, dating preferences, and queer relationships. By scrutinizing the keywords in the corpora through the lens of Critical Discourse Analysis and Corpus Linguistics, we argue that there are still power relationships among Taiwanese gay men and lesbian women seeking romantic love online that are informed by heteronormative ideologies around gender within the scope of homosexuality. On the one hand, the keywords contain many binary roles providing conventional interactional modes for Taiwanese homosexual couples that show great similarity to those in heterosexual relationships. On the other hand, the analysis indicates that heteronormative constructions of masculinity and femininity are related to anxieties over mainstream preferences for dating on the two target websites.

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Fig. 1
Fig. 2


  1. 1.

    This website was valid while we collected our data for this research; however, it was found closed on Aug 30, 2018.

  2. 2.

    Our data are parsed and segmented into smaller lexical units, or so-called ‘words’, by System for Chinese Segmentation, which is currently managed by National Digital Archives Program in Taiwan.

  3. 3.

    According to the manual of WordSmith Tools 6.0, the keyness of an item is computed through Ted Dunning's Log Likelihood test, which measures keyness in terms of statistical significance and is considered more appropriate than using Chi square, especially when contrasting long texts or a whole genre against your reference corpus. See UCREL's log likelihood site (http://ucrel.lancs.ac.uk/llwizard.html) for more on this.

  4. 4.

    All the examples provided in this paper are originally in Mandarin Chinese, but are presented only in English due to length limitations (except for the key terms discussed) and privacy considerations.


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We are immensely grateful to Prof. Roberto Refinetti and two anonymous referees from Sexuality and Culture for their insightful comments on earlier versions of this paper. The usual disclaimers apply.

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Correspondence to Chia-Rung Lu.

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The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

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This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors. All data were processed under the Ethics Guidelines for Linguistic Studies (Linguistic Society of Taiwan 2011) and the Ethics Guidelines for Internet-mediated Research (BPS 2017).

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Li, P., Lu, C. Articulating Sexuality, Desire, and Identity: A Keyword Analysis of Heteronormativity in Taiwanese Gay and Lesbian Dating Websites. Sexuality & Culture (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-020-09709-5

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  • Heteronormativity
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Language and identity
  • Critical Discourse Analysis
  • Corpus Linguistics
  • Dating websites
  • Gay and lesbian
  • Cultural frame
  • Taiwan