I develop a conceptual approach to changes in masculinity that emphasizes the dynam the gender order as a whole. Homosexual masculinity is an important locus of these d ics. After a critique of conventional discourses of masculinity I develop a theorized life- history method for researching gender. Analysis of eight life histories from an Australian gay communityfinds (1) initial engagement with hegemonic masculinity, (2) sexuality as the key site of difference, and (3) gradual closure based on relationships or on bodily experience that eroticizes similarity. Conventional masculinity is an aspect of the object of desire, yet is subverted by this object-choice; a contradictory masculinity is produced. Though the men in this study do not directly contest the gender order, the reification of "gayness" provides a social basis for sexual freedom, and the stabilization of a dissident sexuality opens possibili- ties for change in the social structure of gender.
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