Discourses of friendship between heterosexual women and gay men: mythical norms and an absence of desire

Dan Shepperd*, Adrian Coyle, Peter Hegarty

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Gay men and heterosexual women may share some common interests in critiquing hetero-patriarchy. However feminism and gay liberationist politics do not always coincide and the role of individual subjectivities in recognising oppressive discourses of normativity remains debated. Interviews were conducted with seven friendship dyads of heterosexual women and gay men. Transcripts were subjected to discourse analysis, which suggested extensive management of heterosexist norms in the friends' accounts of friendship. The analysis highlighted ambiguity over the 'male' status of gay men, a concern with constructing the friendships as legitimately asexual, and the use of parody in the face of homophobia to disrupt normative assumptions. Although we primarily considered the role of heterosexist discourses, there is also evidence that other dimensions of non-normativity (for example, gender and ethnicity) are implicated in friendships constructed around shared otherness and mutual non-normativity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-224
Number of pages20
JournalFeminism and Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2010


Bibliographical note

© 2010 SAGE


  • discourse analysis
  • feminism
  • friendship
  • gender
  • normativity
  • queer theory

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