This article examines the logics of self-identification among men who have same-sex desires and behaviours and consider themselves to be straight. We draw from interviews conducted in the USA with 100 straight-identified men who have same-sex desires and 40 partners of such men.
Our data allow us to reject two misconceptions. One is the idea that these men are actually gay or bisexual but refuse to accept those identities. We argue instead that these men see themselves as straight and therefore it is important to understand what specifically they mean by that.
The second misconception links straight-identified men who have same-sex desires and behaviours to the racialised discourse of the so-called down low (or 'DL') in the USA. While the DL typically is depicted as involving African American and Latino men, most of our participants are White.
Moving beyond these misconceptions, we propose that health educators must acknowledge flexibilities in the definition of heterosexuality and use an expanded definition as a starting point to envision, together with these men, how to more effectively engage them in HIV prevention and health promotion.
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- 1Department of Sociology (http://www.sociology.northwestern.edu/), Northwestern University , Evanston , IL , USA.
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