Masculine Gender Role Conflict and Negative Feelings About Being Gay
Francisco J. Sa
UCLA School of Medicine
John S. Westefeld and William Ming Liu
University of Iowa
UCLA School of Medicine
Professional psychologists who work with gay men have noted that traditional masculine ideals play a
prominent role in the gay community whereby some endorse these traditional ideals and stigmatize
effeminate behavior by other gay men. One hypothesis is that this behavior reflects negative feelings
about being gay. This article examined this hypothesis by reporting the results of an online survey of 622
self-identified gay men. Participants completed the Gender Role Conflict Scale, Lesbian and Gay Identity
Scale, the Social Desirability Scale, and questions related to the importance of masculinity. Results
showed that most participants valued the public appearance of masculinity; and they ideally wished to be
more masculine than they felt they were (Cohen’s
0.42). A multiple regression analysis showed that
the degree to which they valued masculinity and were concerned with violating masculine ideals was
positively related with negative feelings about being gay (Cohen’s
.67). These findings highlight the
importance of exploring the role that masculine ideals play in gay client’s lives given that negative
feelings about oneself can adversely affect psychological well-being.
antifemininity, straight acting, internalized homophobia, internalized heterosexism, self-esteem
What do you need to do to prove how much self-loathing there is
[among gay men]? Just pick up any newspaper that has personal ads
in it and look at how many say, “No Fats.
. .No Femmes.
Acting Seeking Same.
. .In the Closet.
. .Do Not Believe in the Gay
Lifestyle.” Do you ever see an ad for a heterosexual saying, “Please
Don’t Act Straight?”
—Harvey Fierstein (actor and playwright)
This Fierstein quote (as cited in Baim & Wockner, 1998) high-
lights a contentious aspect of gay male life: Many gay men endorse
traditional masculinity and deride effeminate behavior in other gay
men (Bailey, 1996; Taywaditep, 2001). Although this may surprise
professional psychologists who do not actively engage with the
gay community, it is a topic that has received substantial attention
in the popular gay press (e.g., Bergling, 2001; Cummings, 1999;
Rice, 2006) and among academic scholars (e.g., Levine, 1992;
Nardi, 2000). More importantly, practitioners who work with gay
men have noted that traditional masculinity plays a prominent role
in the lives of some of their clients (Haldeman, 2006;
Schwartzberg & Rosenberg, 1998).
RANCISCO J. SA
NCHEZ received his PhD in counseling psychology from the
University of Iowa in 2005. He is currently a psychology research fellow
in the Center for Gender-Based Biology and the Department of Human
Genetics at the UCLA School of Medicine. His major research interest is
the biopsychology of sexual orientation and gender identity.