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‘Only odd people wore suede shoes’: careers and sexual identities of men attending a sexual health clinic

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PRYCE A. Nursing Inquiry 2004; 11: 258 –270

‘Only odd people wore suede shoes’: careers and sexual identities of men attending a sexual health clinic

This paper is concerned with the ways in which men construct and explain their sexual identity. When attending a genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic the constraints of the system and the imperatives of the clinical encounter tend to be reductive, reinforcing the dominant constructions of male sexuality and masculinity. Interviews with men recruited as part of a study of the social construction of male sexuality yielded richly textured narratives of sexual experiences and explanations of sexual identity. The paper reports on the ethnographic study and, using extracts from these narratives, will address central themes of: (i) emotional labour of identity formation; (ii) an essentialist view of sexual orientation and corresponding identity; and (iii) role, social fit and the reformulating of the dominant social notions of partnerships within a new geography of desire transgression, ‘authenticity’.
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Keywords: Foucault; genitourinary medicine; homosexuality; male sexuality; narratives; sexual health; sexual identity

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-12-01

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