"Ward’s book is confident and theoretically well-informed, and offers a rich, often counterintuitive and thought-provoking tour through straight white men’s homosexual activities and their shifting meanings – in history, in the military, in fan fiction, in French kissing among Hell’s Angel members, as well as in the accounts of pop psychological experts who assure straight men having sex with other men that they are not gay. In short, this is cultural studies at its best."
—Times Higher Education
“The title of Jane Ward’s book is not meant to be ironic. Her argument is that while sexual activity between straight white men does take place, it doesn’t mean that the participants are gay. The book is about exploring the circumstances under which this situation can be said to arise.”
—The Harvard Gay and Lesbian Review
“[…] Not Gay, an insightful treatise on the nature of heterosexual male interaction with other men, addresses many of the stereotypes and assumptions associated with straight and gay men. The book also skillfully analyzes the often fluid nature of sexuality, race, privilege, and the taboo crossover behavior between sexually active men of opposing preferences.”
—The Bay Area Reporter
"Ward's significant contribution to the current discourse on sexual fluidity lies in her deep reflection on how self-identified straight men construct an identity where context-specific, same-sex, sexual behavior can be incorporated into an otherwise white, straight, masculine identity."
“Ward presents a critical piece missing from GBLTQ studies: the examination of white homoerotic activity within heterosexuality...Ward exposes the cultural construct of heterosexuality as it applies to men and women, illuminating the patriarchal and gendered roles assigned to gay and not-gay men and women. […] A valuable study for those interested in gender and GBLTQ studies. Summing Up: Essential.”
"This fascinating book explores the worlds of white men who have sex with other white men and yet identify as straight.”
"[Not Gay] provides a compelling and intriguing argument, that, rather than erasing queer identities, complicates the concept of identity itself."
—The Society Pages
"Rather than focusing so much on sexual orientation, or trying to unmask the feelings of these men, who position themselves as heterosexual yet engage in same-sex sexual behavior, Ward turns her attention to the ways in which certain organizations use homosexual acts to further men's investment in heterosexuality, hypermasculinity and homosociality in order to build lasting, strong bonds and friendships and to reassert white manhood."
“With a lot of nuanced arguments and a provocative, corrective thesis, Not Gay is undoubtedly a book that demands to be read.”
—Gender & Society
“What I love about this book is that it expands our notions about what it means to be human.”
—Women’s Studies Quarterly
"A key contribution of the book is its documentation of the freedom and power enjoyed by straight white men to define what 'not gay' and 'real' homosexuality looks like and in what circumstances these terms are applied . . . well-written and direct in both its presentation and synthesis of a range of materials."
"Not Gay opens up a discussion of male sexual fluidity that is real and needed."
"Ward's idea that our cultural understanding of men's sexuality has been way too simplistic for way too long is fundamentally sound and refreshing. Ward's reach suggests she's well on her way to enacting the change she intended with her writing. Greater understanding of any cultural phenomenon is only a good thing for the world."
"Ward pays close attention to the ways in which white straight men justify their own sexual behaviors with other men. She neatly breaks down common defenses given to 'explain' such actions...Ward is not arguing that these men are 'really' gay or bisexual. Instead, her point is that what makes these men 'not gay' isn't their actions, nor the complicated and contradictory emotions that are involved in those actions, but rather, their commitment to straight, normative life."
Listed on Gift Guide 2015: LBGT Titles to Round out Your Holiday Shopping Lists: “Plenty of straight guys have sex with other men while protesting vehemently that they are ‘not gay.’ This provocative book is an attempt to understand that phenomenon.”
—Gift Guide 2015
“Not Gay is nothing less than a breath of fresh air. This book is certain to change the way that we think about heterosexuality’s relations with the homoerotic.”
—Roderick Ferguson, author of Aberrations in Black: Toward a Queer of Color Critique
“Clear-eyed and unsqueamish, Not Gay defiantly insists that sex between contemporary American straight white men is in fact meaningful sex that can't—and shouldn't—just be hand-waved away. Jane Ward provides a timely and convincing corrective.”
—Hanne Blank, author of Virgin: The Untouched History
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