Gender Differences in the Use of Gay Clubs: A Place to Resist Gender Norms for Gay Men and a Place of Diffusion for Lesbian Women

Kimberly Eichenberger


This article is based on an ethnographic study of the gay dance club subculture at Flames, a popular gay dance club in a Northwest city. I spent approximately 18 hours in the field making observations and interacting with subculturalists. Utilizing the known researcher role and the participant observer role on different occasions, I conducted informal interviews using the guided conversation method. Through observing the behavior of gay men, expressed mainly through dance, I tried to understand the ways in which gay males perform gender. By engaging in feminine forms of dance to female pop music artists and openly expressing their sexuality, gay men in the dance club subculture resist hegemonic masculinity norms of the dominant culture. Gay dance clubs function as important spaces of acceptance for gay men and lesbian women. However, female heterosexual diffusion has helped push lesbian women to the periphery of the subculture, leaving them with little space of their own. This aspect of my study branches out from previous literature in the United States, which has mainly focused on gay men’s experiences in gay clubs.

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The JUE is a peer-reviewed online journal that publishes original ethnographic research by undergraduates working in a variety of disciplines. Submissions are welcomed. Contact the Editor, Karen McGarry.

ISSN 2369-8721