Gay Macho: The Life and Death of the Homosexual Clone / Edition 1

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Before gay liberation, gay men were usually perceived as failed men—"inverts," men trapped in women's bodies. The 1970s saw a radical shift in gay male culture, as a male homosexuality emerged that embraced a more traditional masculine ethos. The gay clone, a muscle-bound, sexually free, hard-living Marlboro man, appeared in the gay enclaves of major cities, changing forever the face of gay male culture.

Gay Macho presents the ethnography of this homosexual clone. Martin P. Levine, a pioneer of the sociological study of homosexuality, was among the first social scientists to map the emergence of a gay community and this new style of gay masculinity. Levine was a participant in as well as an observer of gay culture in the 1970s, and this perspective allowed him to capture the true flavor of what it was like to be a gay man before AIDS. Levine's clone was a gender conformist, whose masculinity was demonstrated in patterns of social interaction and especially in his sexuality. According to Levine, his life centered around the "four D's: disco, drugs, dish, and dick."

Later chapters, based on Levine's pathbreaking empirical research, explore some of the epidemiological and social consequences of the AIDS epidemic on this particular substratum of the gay community. Although Levine explicitly refuses to pathologize gay men afflicted with HIV, his work develops a scathing, feminist-inspired critique of masculinity, whether practiced by gay or straight men.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This book seems destined to become a eulogy for the important contributions that Martin Levine made to the sociological study of sexuality, gender, and AIDS.”

-Men and Masculinities

A sociological study of the emergence of the gay male culture from the explosion of gay liberation in the early 1970s through the beginning of the AIDS crisis of the mid-1980s. The first half of the book is the dissertation of Levine, who based it primarily on field work conducted in Greenwich Village's growing gay community in the late 1970s. He looks at the sociology of gay masculinity, hypermasculine sexuality and gender confirmation, and the birth of the "gay clone." The second half of the work is made up of essays which chronicle the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, examine the myth of sexual compulsivity, and look at the implications of constructionist theory for social research on the AIDS epidemic. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814746950
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/1998
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 274
  • Product dimensions: 0.62 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Martin P. Levine (1950-1993) received his Ph.D. in sociology from New York University.

Michael S. Kimmel is Professor of Sociology at SUNY, Stony Brook and author of Manhood in America.

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Table of Contents

Editor's Preface
Pt. I The Birth of the Gay Clone 1
Introduction: "So Many Men, So Little Time": Toward a Sociology of the Gay Male Clone 3
1 "It's Raining Men": The Sociology of Gay Masculinity 10
2 "Y.M.C.A.": The Social Organization of Gay Male Life 30
3 "(I Wanna Be a) Macho Man": The Masculinization of Clone Social Life 55
4 "(You Make Me Feel) Mighty Real": Hypermasculine Sexuality and Gender Confirmation 77
5 "Midnight Love Affair": Gay Masculinity and Emotional Intimacy 100
References to Part One 111
Pt. II The Death of the Gay Clone 125
6 Bad Blood: The Health Commissioner, the Tuskegee Experiment, and AIDS Policy [1983] 127
7 Fearing Fear Itself [1984] 138
8 Men and AIDS 143
9 The Myth of Sexual Compulsivity 158
10 The Motives of Gay Men for Taking or Not Taking the HIV Antibody Test 178
11 Unprotected Sex: Understanding Gay Men's Participation 205
12 The Implications of Constructionist Theory for Social Research on the AIDS Epidemic among Gay Men [1992] 232
Epilogue: Martin P. Levine, 1950-1993 247
Index 251
About the Editor 260
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Good, but...

    Part One was an excellent overview of gay male life in the big cities, especially New York City, in the 1970s up to the advent of AIDS in the early 1980s. However, Part Two gets bogged down in all the surveys, questionnaires, statistics and numbers the author compiled for his research. In my opinion it was dry, boring, and didn't add much to the overall tone of the book. If the book just consisted of Part One, I would've rated it 5 stars. Part Two dragged it down to 3 stars.

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