Homosexual sex in the service of heteronormativity

no one ever asks what’s going on in white culture or what it is about white masculinity that is making this kind of sex practice possible. But that’s really precisely the question we should be asking, because white men have engaged in — straight-identified white men have engaged in — intimate or sexual encounters with one another since the very invention of heterosexuality and homosexuality as medical terms in the late 19th-century

we don’t have language that circulates in mainstream culture that would help straight men make sense of or explain their sexual encounters with other men, whereas straight women, when they have sexual encounters with other women, have an array of socially acceptable narratives that they can draw on.

if straight people want in on queer life, that’s about something more than homosexual sex. That’s about queer subculture, which is anchored to a long tradition of anti-normative political practices and anti-normative sex practices and appreciation for a much broader array of bodies and kinds of relationships and so forth, and so I think most straight people don’t actually want to be part of it. I think straight people who engage in homosexual sex, what makes them straight is precisely that they have no interest whatsoever in being part of queer subculture, and so in the last chapter I’m making the point that they could if they wanted to, but they don’t, and that’s part of how we know that this is homosexual sex being enacted in the service of heteronormativity.

the language of the hetero-eroticism is — and I’m not talking about making love, but just the language of hot, hard core hetero-eroticism — a language that reveals to us this dynamic relation between desire and repulsion, that women are bitches, that you’re going to “hit that,” that you’re going to “slam that,” that you’re going to “kill that.” I cite another great book by a sociologist named CJ Pascoe who did this study of boys in a California high school, and she talks about how their accounts of sex mostly focused on what they found abjectly repulsive about a girl’s body — you know, I fucked her until she bled, I fucked her until she was shitting, I ripped her walls, that kind of thing. So there’s something in the very formation of hetero-masculine desire that can allow for both attraction to and repulsion by the person, the woman, being penetrated.

Well, why do some people want it more than others, or why do some people organize their life around it, and other people don’t want anyone to even know that they do it? To me that’s a more interesting question than Are you born gay or straight? and so I think that the solution, honestly, is to stop being so obsessed with sociobiological arguments about sexual orientation, which I think are a trap, frankly, and instead ask the question, Given that so many humans have homosexual encounters, what is it that makes some people understand their homosexual encounters as culturally significant, and other people understand it as meaningless or circumstantial?


From a very good interview with Jane Ward on straight men who have sex with men