Shelf Help: 'Not Gay: Sex Between Straight White Men'

Is it possible that, for white men, sex with other men can function as the ultimate re-affirmation of straightness and privilege?
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Not Gay. (Photo: New York University Press)

Not Gay. (Photo: New York University Press)

NOT GAY: SEX BETWEEN STRAIGHT WHITE MEN
Jane Ward
New York University Press

This fascinating book explores the worlds of white men who have sex with other white men—in military hazing rituals, in public restrooms, after meeting on Craigslist—and yet identify as straight. It is tempting to assume that, no matter what they say, most such men are, in fact, repressed or closeted: that they are “really” gay but are unwilling or unable to say so. Instead, Ward argues that for white men, sex with other men can function as the ultimate re-affirmation of straightness and privilege. It verifies their ability, denied to so many others, to do what they please, call it what they want, and still be “normal.” At first, the thesis sounds almost willfully counterintuitive, but it builds to a surprising plausibility, or at least an interesting confusion. This is oddly fitting: After all, what realm of human behavior wriggles free of our intuitions more reliably than sex?

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