Getting out in the real world: Young Men, queer and theories of gay community
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A recent opinion piece published in the Sydney Morning Herald expresses a widely held perception that, among young same-sex attracted men in Australia, queer has well and truly supplanted gay as the language and lens through which self and practice is generated. In this article, I discuss findings from a qualitative research project that studied notions of community among young gay men, and argue that this assumption should not be taken for granted. The article explores participants' understandings of the concept of gay community, arguing that the young men studied share a common definition of community: one based on a conventional liberal model which prioritizes sameness and the cooperation of individuals to achieve common goals. This is of particular importance in that problems around fitting in with these understandings are also raised. In examining the potential place for queer alternatives to these formulations, however, the article finds that queer attracts little support among participants, raising questions about the bind young men may find themselves in if they prioritize sameness as fundamental to community, yet feel themselves to be excluded from community by their own or others' perceived difference.
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