Studies of Homosexuality Volume 13 Introduction
[March 15, 1992] [vol 13: Sociology]
Sociology is the study of human social interaction, relation¬ships, and institutions (whether informal groups or organized associations). Enclosed by fluid boundaries, its subject matter ranges from the behavior of couples, where it touches on psychology, to that of nations, where it merges into political science. Auguste Comte introduced the term sociologie in 1836. Since then sociology has grown into a major discipline, flourishing particularly in English speaking countries where the dominant empirical tradition fostered its later developments.
Programs for scientific comparison of the evolution of social arrangements responded to reports of "exotic" social structures—markedly different from European ones—which became known during the Age of Discovery (1492 1780). Major European shifts, especially the Indus¬trial Revolution and the French Revolution, augmented this stimulus. Among those trying to make sense of those revolutions and their place as part of a process of social evolution were the three architects of sociological "grand theories": Karl Marx (1818 1883), Emile Durkheim (1858 1917), and Max Weber (1864 1919).
In practice, despite the attempts of the "grand theorists" to describe the engines of social change, most sociologists have addressed their own times and their own (industrialized) cultures, leaving past societies to historians and the study of less highly organized cultures to anthropologists. This academic division of labor can promote parochialism and theorizing about contemporary phenomena as though they were universals, a particular danger in the study of homosexuality.
Classic Sociology: The Chicago School
In the view of Stephen O. Murray, the central concern of sociology elaborating the grand theoretical legacy, is world-historical changes in systems of domination or power (Social Theory, Homosexual Realities, 1984). The aim of sociology, then, is to show how one system or structure (e.g. capitalism) functions at a particular time and how one system arises from another (e.g. capitalism succeeding feudal¬ism). To those stationed at what they see as the discipline's pivot, eccentrics chronicling the ways of life of "deviants"—including homosexuals— have seemed to be engaged in a dubious enterprise unlikely to assist the building of a unified theory of society.
The creators of the American sociological tradition, who focused on specific social units over limited periods of time, expected contrasts of race, ethnicity, and gender to wane—an academic version of the "melting pot" ideal. The classic work of William I. Thomas and Florian Znaniecki (1917 18) followed Durkheim's conception of the (necessary) breakdown of traditional society with accompanying individual pathology reflecting social disorganization—both of which were expected to disappear with integration into the modern world. Empirical work in the Chicago School tradition (1915 1935) treated ethnic subcultures under this rubric of "social disorganization," and regarded them as anomalies destined to disappear as contact with dominant American society reduced differences.
Happily, this process—variously termed assimilation, acculturation, accommodation—was to eliminate hostility and, by the same token, conflict. Since conflict was due to individual attitudes and values and not to structured inequalities, theorists expected it to diminish as contact dissolved stereotypes and cultural differences—the ostensible sources of inter¬group conflict.
Ascribed characteristics (such as race, gender, and possibly sexual orientation) have, however, taken on an importance quite out of keeping with the confident expectations of those in the "grand tradition" that these would decline and eventually disappear. Reality has proved quite different. The emergence of a group consciousness and the subsequent political mobilization of a "people"—homosexuals—whom no one would seriously have designated a "group" three decades ago contrasts markedly with the general erosion of class consciousness and the waning ability of organized labor to speak for what sociologists for so long regarded as a fundamental given: the working class.
"Social Problems" and Anomic Groups
An older strain in classical sociology, going back to the nineteenth century, laid a better foundation for research into homosexual social phenomena. This was the attempt to stake out a new subject area for the embryonic discipline, not yet attained to academic respectability, in the poor, the peasantry, the outcasts, the debtors, derelicts, and criminals of modern societies: in short, the peripheries of society (the "social problems" to the nineteenth century mind), or what some would later call the "anomic elements." Much seminal research inquired into the social habits of prostitutes, immigrants, unmarried mothers and their illegitimate offspring, suicides—all subjects existing disciplines such as political history, ethnology, and economics had ignored. Here was an attempt to discover laws of society other than those promulgated by kings and parliaments, and in a large measure the early sociologists succeeded in making the seamy underside of modern civilization a legitimate subject for scholarly inquiry for the first time.
It is in the light of this comparatively venerable tradition, which at the same time both considered these matters under the rubric of abnormal "problems" to be rationally solved, and also sought (if not always successfully) to address with value free objectivity phenomena which the dominant sectors of society often considered loathsome, that we can understand how Albert Reiss was able to publish a nonpejorative study of male prostitution (included herein) as early as 1961. Indeed, sociology ranks as the first discipline to endorse the value free study of homosexuality, at a time when psychologists were debating the causes of a supposed illness and moralists affirmed its condemnation as a sin in their own religious traditions, while other disciplines remained largely uninvolved.
One of the major concerns of sociologists has been the formation, development, and internal dynamics of groups and communities which have arisen in mass industrialized societies to provide for certain human needs, many of them psychological (such as affection, solidarity, and mutual support), which the mass society could no longer adequately meet. Thus the phenomenon of the "gay subculture" or "community," which has risen to prominence in Western industrialized nations, has intersected with a major body of sociological theory, revealing gaps in the latter. Many of the contributors to this volume have looked at the functioning of this largely informal social structure.
Another early interest of sociologists was the "social movement," a theme prominent in French, Italian, and German sociology from the late nineteenth century onward, beginning with the labor and socialist movements. While one would expect the current homosexual movement to inherit some of this interest, at least since it became a mass phenomenon around 1969, relatively little work has been done in this area.
Sociobiology or Social Construction?
While sociology is a highly diversified field lacking in any agreed synthesis or (despite the efforts of its founders) grand theoretical structure, sociologists do exhibit certain similarities of perspective. Perhaps the most important for the study of homosexuality is the assumption that human beings are the product of their environment—their society—and hence their social behavior must be explained without reference to biology. In the 1970s this reluctance to deal with biological factors contributed to the establishment of a separate discipline, sociobiology, which challenges sociology by attempting to explain social behavior, including homosexuality, in terms of Darwinian evolution and using the language of the "hard sciences."
Many sociologists look instead with favor on theories such as "social construction" (formulated about 1981) which insist that one can understand the nature of homosexuality only in terms of the environmental influences, especially the conceptual structures, of a particular society, rather than as a universal phenomenon of human nature. Whether this approach has become a conceptual trap or is still a valid postulate will become more apparent as the debate continues, social constructionists move beyond abstract theory into actual cross cultural studies, and more inquiry is directed toward possible biological substrates.
Does Same-Sex Behavior a "Homosexual" Make?
The structuralist functionalist tradition in sociology included a sense that moral consensus requires some target: "normal" individuals need the frightening example of negative role models. To be certain that average citizens remain within the bounds of propriety, condemnation to obloquy outside the boundaries must be someone else's lot. In this view society can tolerate blatant specimens of inadequate masculinity as a butt for jokes (among other things), because such persons serve as a horrible warning of what boys must avoid becoming. Whether such theoretical considerations constrain potential queer bashers remains unproved, however.
The landmark study that showed, according to some theorists, how homosexuality could reinforce rather than challenge a moral order was that of Reiss, cited above. For "straight trade" teenage male prostitutes who remained in the penetrative role during oral sex, masculinity signified inserter behavior, a common view among the lower classes in America and elsewhere. In the hustlers' view, the receptive fellators alone were the "queers," and their own sexual penetrations, however pleasurable, were not "queer" and did not make them "gay," so their own participation did not erode their masculine status (in this system, a "masculine queer" was a contradiction in terms). Such a system could persist only with the collusion of clients willing to enact the role of the "queer" by not challenging the sexual role, valuation and heterosexual self image of the "trade" boys. So long as this system's script for the dominance of the masculine boy and the submission of the "queer" remained unchallenged, "deviant" acts actually validated masculinity (which was rewarded) and deprecated "homosexuality" (which had to pay). The "queers" kneeling to worship the symbols of trade's masculinity quarantined the stigma, protecting the masculine self conceptions of their sexual partners. The boys had learned this conceptual system from their gang peers, but its origins lay far back in history. To whatever extent those playing the "queer" role appeared to endorse this conceptual system, they reinforced the moral order in general, according to some interpreters of Reiss' study, and the superiority of heterosexual males in particular.
This system seemed odd to most American sociologists, who at the time were familiar only with psychiatric and middle-class folkloric models of homosexuality. It certainly deviated from the androphilic mode of homosexuality (featuring two supposedly equal-status adults, both identifying with the same gender, in reciprocal sexual relationships) which dominates the conceptualization of homosexuality in the middle class of contemporary American society. Today, however, we can recognize the pattern documented by Reiss as an instance of ephebophilia: (usually passive) adult males attracted to macho active teen boys, a model which mixes elements of both gender¬ differentiated and age-differentiated homosexuality, two conceptual systems which have been more common worldwide than the androphilic model. From that perspective, the interact¬ion of Reiss' "queers" and "peers" seems less like the upholding of the moral order than simply another type of same-sex relationship. In this case the stratification of sexual encounters (with the "masculine principle" on top in every sense), along with the "consent" to stigmatization of those seeking "real men" as partners, both characteristics of European-derived gender differentiated homosexuality, was consistent with the Durkheimian vision without necessarily implying a causal connection.
From a scientific perspective, neither androphilia nor any of these other models (nor other types as yet unmentioned) has a better claim to being a "truer" or more normative conceptual scheme. Whether the boy who is fellated is committing a "homosexual" act is not a scientific question with a right and wrong answer but rather a semantic one depending on a specific typological perspective—and in the USA, often the class background of the discussant. (Laud Humphreys, in his 1975 book on toilet sex, Tearoom Trade, in observing the preponderance of married men demonstrated how far men could venture into same-sex activity without considering them¬selves or being labeled "queer.") Reiss was remarkably value-free in his 1961 paper, but most subsequent writers have unreflectively applied the concepts and values of androphilia as though these were universal truisms.
Labeling and Identity
In the period of relative neglect most sociological research dealing with homosexuality occurred, however, within another, indigenous tradition which challenged functionalism for hegemony in postwar American sociology: symbolic interactionism. The Chicago model of socialization focused on something called "identity," a concept which was to become central to gay activists in the industrialized Western world after 1970. These sociologists held that an identity (i.e., a self) is an internalization of the views of significant others. If others (e.g., parents) interpret a behavior (say a boy playing with dolls) as instancing a conceptual category (say, sissy), they will treat the boy as if he were that kind of person. By recognizing their conception, the boy will learn who (what) he is, and if this self is credible to him (a critical, if generally uninvestigated, component), the behavior will become a stable pattern (conduct) and a defining feature of self.
According to symbolic interactionist theory, the self is a product of social definition. What transforms behavior into "conduct" (or identity) is labeling by others. "Trade" behavior avoids transformation into homosexual conduct (or identity), because neither the "queers" nor the peers (nor, in other countries, the society at large) so label it.
But who labeled the "queers?" The extension of "labeling" from the pronouncements of officialdom (the original focus of labeling theorists) to the internalization of everyday epithets (and these days also perspectives propagated in the mass media) creates a broader, more realistic perspective. Even so, some do not report this experience. Still, labeling theory must be one of the ingredients of a comprehensive explanation of gay identity (not to be confused with an explanation of homosexual behavior), and it has served to throw light on the psychology of those labeled. The discipline of psychology has also shown a keen interest in the process of identity formation.
In recent times, writings about homosexuality have tended to focus on those who accept a gay or lesbian identity, as if that were the whole of the phenomenon rather than a part of it. This tendency narrows and distorts both the description and the theorizing and has the further effect of reinforcing politically based concepts devaluing and hiding the reality of widespread non-identity-based homosexuality.
Resistance to Stigma
Erving Goffman (1922 1982) examined how individuals manage potentially discrediting information. For Goffman, feeling oneself discredited does not require labeling by anyone else. Moreover, Goffman set forth a strategy of accepting that one is indeed an instance of a discredited category, while discounting the legitimacy of that category's opprobrium. See the 1978 articles by Brian Miller and Barry D. Adam, included herein.
Goffman, like homosexual spokespeople going back to the end of the nineteenth century, glimpsed the possibility of organizing to challenge the very stigma that is the common feature of a group. "Normalization" of deviance can be a group strategy, but that requires a group, while stigma easily elides from stigmatized acts or attitudes to stigmatized group.
Continuing in the old tradition of studying social movements, Humphreys set out in his 1972 Out of the Closets to analyze the gay movement, then at the height of its "liberation" stage. Organization of a movement, in Humphreys' view, had two prerequisites: recognition that present treatment of one's kind is intolerable, and conviction that social change is possible. Both conceptions now seem so obvious that we are tempted to forget they were once widely unrecognized, society at large and homosexuals themselves perceiving the sinfulness or sickness of homosexuality to be inevitable and their consequences just. The formation of a critical mass of people who viewed themselves as defined to some extent by homosexual desires was the central precondition for change. Even tiny organizations disproportionately facilitated this process of delegitimizing the dominant picture of homosexuals. Moreover, they generally could count on the cooperation of their enemies in the critical first step of disseminating the broadest possible definition of the stigmatized group (one that did not recognize "bisexuals" or "trade" as separate groups, for example, but tended to see any amount of involvement with the same sex, in any role, as sufficient to label the person "a homosexual"). The heady atmosphere of the late 1960s then provided the belief that radical social change was not only possible, but even inevitable.
The Gay and Lesbian Subculture
One of the topics attracting considerable sociological attention in the past few decades has been the proliferation on the American scene of subcultures. While a large body of work of a theoretical nature exists, conceptual problems remain. Early social science discussions of the "homosexual community" treated it as static, rather than a historically recently development. Since at least the mid 1970s, sociologists writing about North American gay and lesbian culture and communities have given nominal recognition to changes, particularly more assertive demands for social respect and the diversification of institutions catering to an open, self accepting gay market. In some ways these tendencies found their culmination in the geographical segregation of the urban "gay ghetto," the subject of a 1979 article by Martin P. Levine, included herein.
Of late observers have noted a tendency to splinter further into sub subcultures. According to subculture theory, the more hostile the larger society, the stronger the subculture, but historically the gay subculture's experience has often been the opposite. (Though it is possible that a future decline in homophobia would accentuate the splintering tendency to the point of bringing the commonality of the whole into question and thus weakening it.)
Another major problem, especially for those who like to generalize from their study of the subculture, lies with the subculture's focus on its gay and lesbian self identified members. This focus neglects those (such as bisexuals and "straight trade") who are actively involved with the subculture but do not identify themselves as homosexual. It also overlooks large numbers of people who participate frequently or only sporadically in same-sex acts and relationships, but whose involvement with the subculture is either peripheral or nonexistent. The subculture is the subject of a pioneering article herein from Maurice Leznoff and W. A. Wertley.
Bars, Baths, Brothels, and Bookstores
The gay bar was the first modern institution of androphilic homosexuality, and for most members of the "pre Stonewall generation" it was the only one. Before gay people demanded acceptance and created their own institutions, profitable gay bars provided a modicum of anonymity and protection from official and unofficial interference with gay association. Meeting places were needed, they had to be profitable so something had to be sold, and bars (along with coffeehouses, which were more popular in Europe) had the advantage over restaurants and baths of allowing easy, cheap, and uncommitted entrance while encouraging indefinite lingering and mobile socializing.
What is striking about bars being the first androphilic gay institutions to develop is that this holds true in other cultures (e.g. Latin America, Thailand, the Philippines) in which challenges to the gender-differentiated model of homosexuality are only beginning to be made. (Since in a gender-differentiated culture, almost any male is a potential partner for the "queens" and the latter are easily identifiable anywhere, there is less imperative to gather them in a segregated cruising institution such as a gay bar.) In cultures where homosexuality is age differentiated, neither gay bars nor gay identity have developed. Boys are everywhere but in bars, and solidarity with peers is what is important, not alcohol dissolving inhibitions and generating addiction. Another reason to consider the (historical) primacy of gay bars is that, given the generally higher prices of drinks, undesirability of locales, and poor service, gay bars are also the prototype of businesses commercializing and promoting the gay subculture as a cash cow. Nancy Achilles' 1967 article, included herein, looks at this history.
An institution with a much longer pedigree, going back to the Indus Valley civilization and independently invented in ancient Greece, is the "public" bath. Until the late nineteenth century in Europe and America, the baths were (and elsewhere still are) single gender sites where considerable homoerotic "cruising" took place, but in establishments frequented by the general public, a situation congenial to other types of homosexuality but not to androphilia. Specifically "gay" baths flourished after World War II, but declined in America with the spread of the AIDS epidemic. In their heyday, the gay baths displayed an elaborate culture which facilitated relaxed and often impersonal and multiple-partner sex for homosexual males. Martin Weinberg and Colin J. Williams examined this situation in a 1975 article, included herein.
Following Reiss, other sociologists have looked at the varied and highly stratified world of male prostitution. Here androphilia's reach has barely been felt, the dominant paradigms being age differentiated (usually ephebophilic, the sellers being most commonly between 17 and 22, whether "straight trade" or gay, and the customers older homosexuals; pedophilia may also be encountered) and gender differentiated (typically involving gay transvestite prostitutes and heterosexually identified customers). Although a major part of the gay subculture, many of the participants on both sides are not gay-identified. David J. Pittman's 1971 examination of a male brothel and Edna Salamon's 1989 piece on an escort agency join the Reiss study herein.
For the aging homosexual prostitution is often the only avenue to sexual gratification. Social science had neglected the older lesbian or gay man until the 1980s, but Raymond M. Berger's 1984 article may be found here. Towards the other end of the age spectrum lie numerous issues involving homosexuality and youth which need further exploration, among them the role of socialization in the "coming out" process and youthful identity formation, and the features of adolescent sexual experimentation.
Another major facet of the subculture which evidences the large number of ephebophiles is pornography, which has grown from clandestinely circulated typescripts to a very large international business with outlets (most of them in sections of stores devoted primarily to heterosexuality, hence accessible to the closeted and non-gay-identified) even in places too small for a gay bar. Little sociological attention has been given to pornography, but it may offer the best available barometer to changes in such areas as bisexual identity (male explicitly bisexual films and books, virtually non-existent a decade ago, are now selling steadily), gender-differentiated homosexuality (matter featuring "he/she" and transvestite figures), sadomasochism (which is subject, however, to more intense censorship), interracial homosexuality, and numerous others themes.
Traditional Social Divisions Largely Ignored
Class and race have long ranked as objects of sociological analysis, but little adequate research has dealt with the homosexual aspects of these social divisions. Yet a consider¬able body of anecdotal evidence suggests that homosexuality is far more likely than heterosexuality to cross these lines. Furthermore the phenomenon of the eroticization of the male working class, not as the economically vulnerable submissive but rather as the apotheosis of virility and controlling male power, while well documented in literary, artistic, and pornographic works if not in many sociological surveys (Reiss again being the pioneering exception), has few heterosexual counterparts. Alfred C. Kinsey's groundbreaking studies of white American sexuality, published in 1948 and 1953, did break down his statistics by educational status (in lieu of a better objective criterion for defining class), finding considerable differences in sexual behavior and attitudes. Androphilia dominates the middle class, but the gender differentiated concept of homosexuality still has a strong following among the industrialized world's working class males, including blacks and ethnic groups derived from the Mediterranean world or its Latin American offshoots.
What little study has been done of ethnic groups has focused on black Americans, primarily a 1978 Kinsey Institute study of the San Francisco Bay area, which found significant racial differences.
Roles and Couples
An area in which the concerns of sociology interface closely with those of psychology and social psychology is that of interpersonal roles and the often related dynamics of couples. In sociological usage, role is more transitory and related to particular situations than is identity, a more stable element. Sometimes such distinctions seem problematic, as is the case with stable "gender roles" or, for the many (especially outside the androphilic orbit) who do not alternate them, the active and passive roles. The distinctions may be more useful, however, in analyzing situational, experimental, adolescent, dominance enforcement, and non exclusive homosexuality.
Mary McIntosh' often cited (and often criticized) 1968 article, included herein, posits a "homosexual role" in contrast to a heterosexual one, but her conclusions drew sharp criticism from Frederick J. Whitam, whose 1977 article is also reprinted. Subsequent discussions have steered away from such uniform conceptions to examine a multiplicity of roles within the homosexual context. They also look at the various ways in which socialization of entrants to the (androphilic) subculture away from the roles they had picked up from the stereotypes of the dominant heterosexual culture and towards the variety of interactive roles actually found in the subculture takes place.
Many of these roles appear in the literature in the context of the dyad, where they include butch/fem, mentor/initiate, hustler/john, trade/queen, gentleman/street tough, brave/berdache, wolf/punk, adult/boy, and others, but role functioning within long term androphilic couples has drawn more attention. In 1983 Philip Blumstein and Pepper Schwartz studied a wide range of couples and suggested that a division into work centered and relationship oriented roles was typical. Other researchers have looked at social pressures against ongoing couple relationships, economic disparities, power distribution, sexual frequency, and duration, but much research remains to be done. Major pieces included here are a 1979 article by Joseph Harry and Robert Lovely and a 1980 paper by Sharon Raphael and Mina K. Robinson.
Sociological studies in the area of homosexuality have had to confront a number of serious methodological problems. Empirical research here (as in psychology) is seriously handicapped by the inability to retrieve a truly random sample. Even the landmark Kinsey study of incidence, drawn from thousands of subjects, ran into problems interviewing a sufficient number of working class males, and that was a broad survey of sexual behavior, not one focused specifically on homosexuality. Today most subjects of sociological research come from the gay and lesbian subculture, which as we have seen is not typical of all or even most homosexually involved people, or even derive from the membership of gay organizations; the more "out" a person is, the more likely he or she is to be the subject of a study. This situation, which perforce emphasizes the gay identified, tends to magnify the visible element of the subculture and obscure what may be vaster currents underneath among such as suburban and rural dwellers, the working poor and the underclass, adolescents, sex segregated institutional residents, bisexuals, heterosexually identified trade, and of course that majority of the world's population which still lies outside the domain of the androphilic model of homosexuality.
Some attempts to surmount these problems, such as Laud Humphreys' successful study of married men who engage in homosexual acts in public toilets, have elicited questioning based on ethical or privacy perspectives.
Funding for sociological research in the subject has also been a major problem, as traditional sources shy away from such an emotionally charged domain as homosexuality.
Prospects for Future Research
In the historical context of the evolution of the discipline, sociological research into homosexual behavior has been a latecomer. In comparison with other disciplines, however, it is well established in the field, and may even have reached a plateau. As the societal taboo investing the subject continues to recede, one must hope that sociological research will maintain its established momentum, while exploring new frontiers of research in parallel with the general growth of gay and lesbian studies.
Some areas needing further research have already been noted. As the United States evolves into a more multiethnic society, scholars are certain to do more detailed work regarding ethnic differences, including sexuality. Western Europe, where significant immigrant populations have settled, is likely to see parallel endeavors. The combined effect of this work will also lead to further investigations of differences with and within Third World countries, very few of which are ethnically monolithic. Moreover, class and gender differences have by no means disappeared, and this theme is also likely to attract renewed interest, perhaps assisted by new methodologies stemming from current trends in "cultural criticism."
Examination of the relationship between homosexuality and same sex friend¬ship (homosociality) has suffered from reluctance to consider it on both sides. Scholars of homosexuality resist "diluting" their concerns with research into nongenital relations—though lesbian scholars have been less restricted by this division—while traditional explorers of friendship have had a horror of "confusing" their respectable subject with homosexuality.
Until mid-century, the mass media imposed a taboo on discussion of homosexuality, and it was not uncommon for homosexuals and lesbians to spend a lifetime believing their same sex attraction was very rare. Today, however, images of gay life and culture and lifestyles abound in the media, and these images now play crucial roles in the socialization process; in the legitimization of the "minority group" concept of homosexuality with all its political, cultural, and behavioral ramifications; in the international spread of androphilic concepts; and in the sustenance (through the gay press, which has evolved from small circulation journals and newsletters to include major circulations and even publishing houses) of the subculture itself. These media roles have remained virtually unexplored by sociologists.
One of the major developments in sociological research in this century has been an ever increasing reliance on attitude and opinion surveys. This trend has begun to apply to the study of homophobia, or public opinion and tolerance or discrimination. Empirical studies of homophobic practices such as discrimination and queer-bashing, however, have been rare. One may expect that under the impact of gay rights laws and "hate crimes" legislation, these subjects will come under increasing attention from government agencies, grants in hand.
Situational homosexuality would appear to be a prime subject for sociological study, dependent as it is on the social environment, and it should prove an apt testing ground for sociological theory. Indeed, the widespread incidence of homosexual behavior among those who by usual standards are considered heterosexual, without the mediation of a gay subculture's socialization, and in defiance of the mores of the wider culture, poses challenging questions to sociology as well as calling into question many of its agreed postulates on sexual orientation. The survival in institutions of the industrial world of non androphilic patterns should arouse further interest. Yet very little research has been done on homosexuality in same sex environments such as prisons, boarding schools, summer camps, monasteries and seminaries, ships and military bases. (All but the first, it should be noted, are showing increasing gender integration in the United States, but the explosive growth in the number of prisoners has more than compensated for the decline in the other categories.)
The factors which go into career selection have long been a choice theme of sociological inquiry, but little has been made of the supposed prevalence of male homosexuals in such fields as hairdressing or acting or of lesbians among truck drivers and soldiers.
No doubt other areas will also open up as fruitful subjects for sociological inquiry: perhaps the conflict of models of homosexuality, the stresses between political loyalty to the goals of the lesbian and gay community and to those of other groups, the development of affinity groups among lesbians and gays, or even the emergence of a bisexual community to match a bisexual self identification which already exists in defiance of sociological theory without such a socializing community. Perhaps also, a new "grand theory" of sociology bringing together the diverse strands of empirical research across the field will add its own renewed impetus to the study of homosexuality in human society.
Note: The authors wish to acknowledge their debt to Stephen O. Murray of the Instituto Obregón, San Francisco, who originated a number of ideas central to this essay.
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