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School of Applied Social Sciences

SASS Staff

Publication details for Dr Mark McCormack

McCormack, M. & Anderson, E (2014). The Influence of Declining Homophobia on Men's Gender in the United States: An Argument for the Study of Homohysteria. Sex Roles 71(3-4): 109-120.

Author(s) from Durham


Generations of scholars have examined the variety of correlates of attitudes and behaviors of heterosexual men toward gay men. There has also been substantial exploration of the impact of homophobia on gay men and its gendering of heterosexual men. However, less research exists into the effects of the liberalization of sexual attitudes on these groups. In this forum, we call for scholarly engagement with a relatively new arena of masculinities studies: the impact of decreasing homophobia on socially acceptable gendered behaviors among heterosexual males in the U.S. We offer homohysteria as a concept to examine the social impact of heterosexual male’s fear of being thought gay; suggesting that homohysteria is an effective heurism for investigating micro- and macro-level processes relating homophobia to masculinity. Our thesis is that as homohysteria declines, heterosexual males are able to engage in homosocial relationships characterized by a number of positive traits, including: the social inclusion of gay male peers; the embrace of once-feminized artifacts; increased emotional intimacy; increased physical tactility; the erosion of the one-time rule of homosexuality; and a rejection of violence. We focus solely upon heterosexual males and their attitudes toward gay males because these are the demographics of the participants in the empirical research in this area. We then highlight eight key areas where further research could both develop homohysteria as a concept and enhance understanding of social life.