chapter  5
28 Pages

Heterosexuality versus Moving Toward Women

As the institutional culture has constructed it, heterosexuality is the polar opposite of homosexuality. Whereas homosexuality results, by implication, from "gender nonconformity,"} heterosexuality has simply been regarded as the natural unfolding of feelings by men for women or vice versa. However, it is clear from what both women and men have revealed that, for many, heterosexuality-as we know it in this culture-is the net result of a combination of inner conflict and conscious, self-protective concealment. The concept of masculine identification seems aimed at buttressing this one-sided version of heterosexuality while denying the potential for same-sex feeling in the male self. Thus, heterosexual men are supposed to have achieved a state of masculine identification that results in their exclusive attraction to women. In fact, masculine identification-both as core gender identity and as value placed on one's own sense of maleness-is characteristic of the great majority of gay as well heterosexual men, just as it was for the men in this book who disclosed their same-sex feelings to me.2 But the stereotypes about heterosexual men help to perpetuate those about gay men. Looking at the feelings and thoughts of individual heterosexual men is a step toward the deconstruction of both sets of stereotypes.