The Influence of Declining Homophobia on Men’s Gender in the United States: An Argument for the Study of Homohysteria

Mark McCormack*, Eric Anderson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Generations of scholars have examined the variety of correlates of attitudes and behaviors of heterosexual men toward gay men. There has also been substantial exploration of the impact of homophobia on gay men and its gendering of heterosexual men. However, less research exists into the effects of the liberalization of sexual attitudes on these groups. In this forum, we call for scholarly engagement with a relatively new arena of masculinities studies: the impact of decreasing homophobia on socially acceptable gendered behaviors among heterosexual males in the U.S. We offer homohysteria as a concept to examine the social impact of heterosexual male’s fear of being thought gay; suggesting that homohysteria is an effective heurism for investigating micro- and macro-level processes relating homophobia to masculinity. Our thesis is that as homohysteria declines, heterosexual males are able to engage in homosocial relationships characterized by a number of positive traits, including: the social inclusion of gay male peers; the embrace of once-feminized artifacts; increased emotional intimacy; increased physical tactility; the erosion of the one-time rule of homosexuality; and a rejection of violence. We focus solely upon heterosexual males and their attitudes toward gay males because these are the demographics of the participants in the empirical research in this area. We then highlight eight key areas where further research could both develop homohysteria as a concept and enhance understanding of social life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-120
Number of pages12
JournalSex Roles
Issue number3-4
Early online date4 Mar 2014
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014


  • Gender
  • Heterosexuality
  • Homohysteria
  • Homophobia
  • Masculinities
  • Theory


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