How Partnered Gay Men Do Relationships: Negotiating the Tensions Between Hetero- and Homonormativity
Walsdorf, Ashley Ann
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This study explored partnered gay men’s experiences of negotiating heteronormativity and homonormativity in their relationships. Twenty-six men involved in a current or past, gay intimate partner relationships participated in individual or focus group interviews. Findings suggest that gay men are constantly negotiating comparisons to and expectations of heteronormative standards, while also encountering expectations within the gay community and queering their relationships. Emergent themes embodied participants’ experiences of navigating heteronormative stereotypes, pursuing legitimacy through language and/or ceremony, constructing their own relationship ideals and rituals, and participants’ acknowledgement that the personal is political. Relationship therapists are encouraged to explore their heteronormative assumptions and how these biases may influence the therapy process, as this project helps to understand how those same constructs are experienced within the relationships of gay men, a population who is more likely to seek therapy. Further implications for therapy as well as suggestions for future research are also provided.