Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Gender & Society 26:6 (December 2012), pp. 825-848; doi: 10.1177/0891243212458361


Copyright © 2012 by Emily Kazyak. Published by SAGE Publications on behalf of Sociologists for Women in Society. Used by permission. A subscription version of this article is found online at


Research suggests a gendered dimension to the geography of sexual minorities, as gay couples are more likely to live in cities than are lesbian couples. Using data from 60 interviews with rural gays and lesbians, this article employs an intersectional analysis of the mutually constitutive relationships among place, gender, and sexuality in order to assess how acceptance of gays and lesbians in small towns is gendered. Findings indicate that femininity aligns with gay sexuality but not rurality. In contrast, masculinity underpins both the categories “rural” and “lesbian.” Furthermore, both lesbian women and gay men gain acceptance in rural areas by doing masculinity. This analysis indicates that masculinity is not something to which only male bodies are privy. In contrast to prior work, it shows one form of female masculinity that is normative rather than transgressive. The analysis also reveals that the meanings of gender presentations vary by geographical context.