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Durham University

Department of Sociology

Completed Projects

Understanding the Gendered Experiences of Mostly Heterosexual Men

A research project of the Department of Sociology.


There is a growing body of research on the life experiences of people who identify as bisexual (e.g. Anderson and McCormack forthcoming; Russell 2011), charting both the experiences of discrimination and oppression as well as significant social and attitudinal trends related to sexual morality and civil rights. Indeed, the body of research documenting the complexity of the experiences of bisexuals has developed alongside a significant liberalization of sexual morality in the US (Keleher and Smith 2012; Loftus 2001). While the visibility and public discussion of bisexuality is still limited (Rust 2009), there is increasing recognition of its legitimacy as a distinct sexual orientation and identity (Anderson and McCormack forthcoming).

Significantly, much of the research on sexual minorities has been critiqued for its sampling procedures (Savin-Williams 2001), with the difficulties of recruiting bisexual participants particularly noted (Hartman 2011; McCormack, Adams and Anderson 2012). Indeed, Savin-Williams (2001) argues that by only recruiting participants who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender (LGBT), research ignores large groups of people who maintain same-sex desires. Much of this argument rests on people who identify as ‘mostly heterosexual’ (Vrangalova and Savin-Williams 2012)—or those who would rate themselves as ‘Kinsey 1s’ on sexuality surveys. Savin-Williams and Vrangalova (2013) argue that these ‘mostly heterosexuals’ constitute a unique sexual orientation as they exhibit a distinct set of sexual and romantic characteristics that distinguish them from other sexual orientations.

While there is growing evidence for mostly heterosexual as a sexual orientation (see Vrangalova and Savin-Williams 2012), scant research examines the gendered experiences of mostly heterosexuals, and there is little understanding of the lived experiences of this group.


Drawing on my expertise in researching the gendered experiences of heterosexual (McCormack 2011, 2012) and bisexual men (Anderson and McCormack forthcoming; McCormack, Anderson and Adams forthcoming), this research project will study the gendered experiences and lived realities of men with non-exclusive sexual identities (from mostly gay to mostly straight). It will be the first of its kind to develop a qualitative understanding of the complexity of non-exclusive men’s lives, and how they make sense of their sexuality and gendered identities. 


In-depth interviews with 50 men who identify as sexually non-exclusive.


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