Homophobia and Heterosexuality: Implications for Research into the Construction of Male Identity
Pol Dominic McCann.
Since the term ‘homophobia’ was coined in George Weinberg’s (1972) ’Society and the Healthy Homosexual’, it has attracted a great deal of interest. However, this has mainly focussed on the impact of male homophobia on gay men. Its negative effects have been explored through the influence of homophobia at a societal level, and through individual attitudes and acts (Herdt: 2003, van der Meer: 2003), as well as the impact that internalised homophobia has on the physical and mental health of gay men (Allen and Oleson: 1999, Romance: 1990). Little research has examined the impact of homophobia on heterosexual or bisexual men. The work of Plummer (1999) shows that childhood and adolescent homophobia are more closely aligned with concepts of gender-transgression and “failed masculinity” (favouring adult approval at the expense of peer-group identification; being physically immature; being studious, creative or artistic; favouring solo sports over team sports) rather than solely focussing on sexuality.
This presentation will look at the absence of examination of male homophobia’s impact on heterosexual men: what are the reasons for this? What are the impacts on heterosexual men, both in relation to their interactions with gay men, but also in relation to their formation of self-identity? This will form the basis for an examination of how Australian male identity is shaped through and policed by homophobia. This work aims to move beyond the examination of homophobia and sexual orientation, looking instead on the interplay of homophobia on gender and the construction of male self.
Pol Dominic McCann (Australia)
The University of New England
(30 min. Conference Paper, English)