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Queering cross-sex friendships: an analysis of gay and bi men’s workplace friendships with heterosexual women

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Nicholas M Rumens
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)955–978
Number of pages24
JournalHuman Relations
Volume65
Issue number8
DOIs
DatePublished - Aug 2012

Abstract

Organisational research on cross-sex friendships frequently normalises heterosexuality by excluding lesbian, gay and bisexual people. Challenging this heteronormative bias, this article mobilises queer theories to examine how UK gay and bisexual men reproduce and contest heterosexist norms in the construction of workplace friendships with heterosexual women. For bisexual study participants, interview data reveals how their friendship experiences can be rendered epistemologically invisible, especially within work environments where bi-negativity is anticipated. In contrast, gay study participants appear to adopt discursive strategies in order to create friendships with women that are normatively accepted. This article develops a concept of ‘queer friendship’, as it relates to the opportunities that arise within workplace friendships for transcending heterosexist norms. It is argued that sustaining the queer aspects of workplace relationships can be challenging but worthwhile, with implications for disrupting gender binaries and developing open-ended organisational policy definitions of ‘acceptable’ workplace relationships.

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