Gender and Language, Vol 13, No 1 (2019)

‘Straight-ish’: agency, constraints, and the linguistic negotiation of identity and desire in online personal advertisements among men seeking men

Chris VanderStouwe
Issued Date: 8 Apr 2019


Despite a robust literature on agency in language, gender, and sexuality research, constraints on agency as seen through multiple layers of identity, conflict, or construct are less clearly discussed. Through an analysis of straightidentified men seeking other men on a popular internet personal advertisement forum, I examine the language that individuals posting in men-seeking-men online personals employ to balance a self-presentation as a straight male while simultaneously seeking same-sex partners. To do so, I build upon current conceptualisations of agency to focus on the linguistic manipulation and negotiation of the constraints to their agentive abilities to construct identities and desires. These discursive negotiations serve to separate one's identity from one's desires in terms of space, time, and agency and create a nuanced understanding of these men's sexuality.

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DOI: 10.1558/genl.30939


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