From Drag Queens to Leathermen Language, Gender, and Gay Male Subcultures by Rusty Barrett
By: Rusty Barrett
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Print ISBN: 9780195390179, 0195390172
eText ISBN: 9780190675578, 0190675578
This book examines gendered language use in six gay male subcultures: drag queens, radical faeries, bears, circuit boys, barebackers, and leathermen. Within each subculture, unique patterns of language use challenge normative assumptions about gender and sexual identity. Rusty Barrett’s analyses of these subcultures emphasize the ways in which gay male constructions of gender are intimately linked to other forms of social difference. In From Drag Queens to Leathermen, Barrett presents an extension of his earlier work among African American drag queens in the 1990s, emphasizing the intersections of race and class in the construction of gender. An analysis of sacred music among radical faeries considers the ways in which expressions of gender are embedded in a broader neo-pagan religious identity. The formation of bear as an identity category (for heavyset and hairy men) in the late 1980s involves the appropriation of linguistic stereotypes of rural Southern masculinity. Among regular attendees of circuit parties, language serves to differentiate gay and straight forms of masculinity. In the early 2000s, barebackers (gay men who eschew condoms) used language to position themselves as rational risk takers with an innate desire for semen. For participants in the International Mr. Leather contest, a disciplined, militaristic masculinity links expressions of patriotism with BDSM sexual practice. In all of these groups, the construction of gendered identity involves combining linguistic forms that would usually not co-occur. These unexpected combinations serve as the foundation for the emergence of unique subcultural expressions of gay male identity, explicated at length in this book.
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