Critical Criminology

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 99–111 | Cite as

Better Left Unsaid? The Role of Agency in Queer Criminological Research

  • Vanessa R. PanfilEmail author


In this article, I review the scant literature on gay men’s involvement in violence, gangs, and crime, which characterizes gay men as having little opportunity for agency. In discussing the popular culture, academic, and political reasons why this population has been neglected from study, I identify existing stereotypes that have shaped representations of gay men. I challenge our societal and disciplinary assumptions by presenting examples from my interview-based and partially ethnographic study of 53 gay gang- and crime-involved men, who both respond to and actively resist stereotypes about them. I also critically reflect on whether a continued lack of attention to queer populations in the criminological and related literatures is desirable today, but conclude the article by providing suggestions for scholars looking to conduct research with LGBT populations, especially within criminology and criminal justice.


Intimate Partner Violence Sexual Identity Gang Member Violence Perpetration Gang Membership 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This study was supported in part by two awards from the University at Albany’s Initiatives for Women. I sincerely thank Matthew Ball, Carrie L. Buist, and Jordan Blair Woods for their thoughtful comments on an earlier draft of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Criminal JusticeRutgers UniversityNewarkUSA

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