Faeries, Bears, and Leathermen
Men in Community Queering the Masculine
Hennen’s colorful study focuses on a trio of groups: the Radical Faeries, who parody effeminacy by playfully embracing it, donning prom dresses and glitter; the Bears, who strive to appear like “regular guys” and celebrate their larger, hairier bodies; and the Leathermen, who emulate hypermasculine biker culture, simultaneously paying homage to and undermining notions of manliness. Along with a historical analysis of the association between effeminacy and homosexuality, Hennen examines how this connection affects the groups’ sexual practices. Ultimately, he argues, while all three groups adopt innovative approaches to gender issues and sexual pleasure, masculine norms continue to constrain members of each community.
“There is an artistic elegance to Hennen’s ability to provide a playful and ethnographically rich glimpse into the social worlds he travels through while at the same time adding to important theoretical debates in the sociologies of gender, sexuality, and queer theory.”
“Hennen is the first to examine systematically the relationship between effeminacy and gay male culture and to show how this has influenced the collective identities and sexual practices of gay male communities. His history of the social construction of homosexuality as effeminate is absolutely brilliant, while his rich ethnographic account of the cultural and sexual practices of these three communities is vivid and raw, providing powerful evidence of the author’s rapport with his subjects.”
1. In Their Natures: Gay Men, Queer Men, and Gendered Strategies of Resistance
2. Girlymen: Cultural and Historical Perspectives on Effeminacy
3. Fae Spirits and Gender Trouble: Resistance and Compliance among the Radical Faeries
4. Bear Bodies, Bear Masculinity: Recuperation, Resistance, or Retreat?
5. Feeling a Bit Under the Leather: Hypermasculinity, Performativity, and the Specter of Starched Chiffon
6. Fielding Questions, Fielding Possibilities