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Gay Men’s Friendships

Invincible Communities

Based on surveys and interviews of two hundred gay men, Peter Nardi’s new study presents the first book-length examination of contemporary urban gay men’s friendships. Expertly weaving historical and sociological research on friendship with firsthand information, Nardi argues that friendship is the central organizing element of gay men’s lives. Through friendship, gay identities and communities are created, transformed, maintained, and reproduced.

Nardi explores the meaning of friends to some gay men, how friends often become a surrogate family, how sexual behavior and attraction affects these friendships, and how, for many, friends mean more and last longer than romantic relationships. While looking at the psychological joys and sorrows of friendship, he also considers the cultural constraints limiting gay men in contemporary urban America—especially those that deal with dominant images of masculinity and heterosexuality—and how they relate to friendship.

By listening to gay men talk about their interactions, Nardi offers a rare glimpse into the mechanisms of gay life. We learn how gay men meet their friends, what they typically do and talk about, and how these strong relationships contain the roots of larger cultural forces such as social movements and gay identities and neighborhoods. Nardi also points out the political and social consequences when friendships fail to provide support against oppression.

An intimate and informative look at gay life in urban America, Gay Men’s Friendships ultimately shows how these relationships challenge the gender order of our society by questioning how masculinity is constructed and by offering a model for a more creative blending of gay and heterosexual masculinity.

Click through a flowchart of Scenarios of friendship and sexual activity among gay men.

264 pages | 5-1/2 x 9 | © 1999

Worlds of Desire: The Chicago Series on Sexuality, Gender, and Culture

Psychology: General Psychology

Sociology: General Sociology, Social Psychology--Small Groups

Table of Contents

1. "Friends Take You Places You’ve Never Been": Gay Men, New Modes of Relations, and Heroic Friendships
2. "A Major Wall of Noninvolvement": Contemporary Men’s Friendships and Cultural Limitations
3. "A Chance to Choose My Siblings": Friendship as Kinship
4. "And We Never Mentioned It Again. Ever": Friendship, Sex, and Masculinity
5. "The Magic of Sympathy and Identification": Profiles of Gay Men’s Friends
6. "All the Gold and Gems of the World": The Meaning and Maintenance of Friendships
7. "Where I Go to Know I’m Not Crazy": Developing Social Support, Achieving Identity, and Confronting Conflicts
8. "A Vicarious Sense of Belonging": The Politics of Friendship and Gay Social Movements, Communities, and Neighborhoods
Appendix: Research Methodology

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