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Durham University

Department of Sociology

Sociology Department Staff

Publication details for Max Morris

Morris, M. (2018). “Gay capital” in gay student friendship networks: An intersectional analysis of class, masculinity, and decreased homophobia. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 35(9): 1183-1204.

Author(s) from Durham


This article draws on qualitative interviews with 40 gay male undergraduates at four universities across England to explore the dynamics of participants’ friendship networks in the context of decreased homophobia. Describing their schools and universities as gay-friendly spaces, most participants developed close friendships with both straight and sexual minority peers in spontaneous ways, away from institutional venues such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender student societies. Building on Bourdieu’s conceptualization of the symbolic economy of class, I introduce a new concept to understand how having a visible gay identity can act as a form of privilege in inclusive, post-gay social fields: gay capital. Through shared knowledge of gay cultures, belonging to gay social networks, and having one’s gay identity recognized as a form of prestige, gay capital supplements cultural, social, and symbolic forms of capital. These findings trouble traditional generalizations of gay youth as victimized due to their sexual minority status. However, finding that participants’ experiences differed across the four research settings, this article also develops an intersectional analysis by highlighting that access to gay capital is limited by other forms of class, gender, and sexual hierarchy.