Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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“Why don’t you have the sex that you want to have?” Investigating how homonormativity shapes queer men's sexual attitudes, behaviours, and representations.

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Version 2 2023-03-09, 23:00
Version 1 2022-10-24, 19:33
posted on 2023-03-09, 23:00 authored by Taylor Hunt, Robbie

Queer men’s social integration into mainstream heteronormative culture has led to a rise in homonormativity. Homonormativity affords basic gay tolerance but dampens liberated queerness while maintaining systems of hetero-masculine dominance. This study aims to determine the ways that homonormativity has impacted queer men’s attitudes to sex, their sexual behaviours, and their sexual representation on screen. Specifically, it scrutinises sexual positioning roles as a key locale of insight into the social construction of sex for queer men. Sexual positioning roles determine which behaviour is adopted in anal sex: the sexually-insertive position (top), sexually-receptive position (bottom), or both (vers).

To discover the impacts of homonormativity on sexual positioning roles, semi-structured one-on-one interviews were conducted with ten queer men and non-binary people in Aotearoa New Zealand. Participants were asked about their experiences of topping and bottoming, about total tops (men who exclusively perform the sexually-insertive position during anal sex), and about their reactions to three queer male sex scenes from television and cinema. Exploratory data analysis unearthed key themes associated with facets of homonormativity.

The results show how hetero-masculine hegemony is maintained by queer men’s conceptualisation of sexual positioning roles. The queer men in this study seek and have sex within homonormative terms, where assimilation to expected masculinities prevails above actual desire when determining topping or bottoming behaviours. Furthermore, sex between men on screen is constructed in adherence to homonormativity’s preference for mainstream heterosexual acceptance over diverse queerness. The future of queer male sex must be interrogated within the growing influences of a homonormative landscape.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Sociology; Gender and Women's Studies; Film

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Arts

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

280123 Expanding knowledge in human society; 280122 Expanding knowledge in creative arts and writing studies; 130199 Arts not elsewhere classified; 139999 Other culture and society not elsewhere classified

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

1 Pure basic research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Social and Cultural Studies


Harrington, Carol; Molloy, Missy