Communication and Identities Characterized by Male Sexual Orientation

Authored by: Christopher Hajek

The Handbook of Intergroup Communication

Print publication date:  May  2012
Online publication date:  June  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415889643
eBook ISBN: 9780203148624
Adobe ISBN: 9781136513619


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Significant efforts have been made over the past few decades to research identities characterized by sexual orientation (e.g., Cox & Gallois, 1996; Hajek & Giles, 2002; Herek, 1988). That prior work notwithstanding, this chapter attempts to answer the call for more research from intergroup perspectives, drawing on approaches such as social identity (Tajfel & Turner, 1986) and self-categorization (Turner, Hogg, Oakes, Reicher, & Wetherell, 1987) theories to enhance understanding of the development and negotiation of such identities. Early in the chapter, mechanisms at the core of these theories are used to explain discrimination between gays and the heterosexual majority—discrimination at the root of social comparisons among members of social subgroups characterized by sexual orientation. The chapter subsequently guides the reader through a number of these subgroups that have not been explored in previous edited volumes on intergroup communication (see Giles, Reid, & Harwood, 2010; Hajek, Abrams, & Murachver, 2005). These subgroups include those based on age, the gay gym aesthetic (in the forms of “muscle boy” and “POZ jock” identities), as well as “bear,” “muscle bear,” and “leather” identities. The chapter also explores the effect of identity on sexual risk-taking behavior among gays who identify as “feminine,” “sensation-seeking,” “POZ,” “alternative,” and “leather.”

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