Hooking up mildly or wildly
Linguistic interventions for the negotiation of gay male desires
This article explores a specific linguistic intervention ("mild to wild”) that occurs in online communication on gay internet hook up sites. It argues that despite supposed knowledge as to what “mild to wild” means, we must look at this linguistic intervention within specific socio-cultural contexts. Without context, the actual uses and meanings of “mild to wild” might be misunderstood while our knowledge of sexual communities of practice risks falling squarely into stereotypes. For this community of practice, “mild to wild” creates a linguistic opportunity for men interested in having sex with other men to be able to define their desires and further explicate how their sexual interaction will take place while also negotiating expectations and assumptions of male-male sex within increasingly homonormative strictures. Data was gathered from over four years of ethnographic research and is presented from a cultural and anthropological linguistics perspective. The phrase “mild to wild” is used by these men in order to: (1) contest supposed concrete categorizations of sexuality and desire; (2) to create highly contextual intimacies and organizations of desire through online-linguistic interaction; and (3) to alleviate detrimental social effects attached to specific unsafe and variant sex practices. The author argues that this community of practice is an example of how new socialities develop within homonormativities designed to control queer sex and desire.
Keywords: gay men, online communication, dating sites, homonormativity, desire
Published online: 07 March 2019
Adam, Barry D.
Berlant, Lauren & Freeman, Elizabeth
Brown, Graham, Maycock, Bruce & Burns, Sharyn
Campbell, John Edward
Champagne, John Gerard
Gaudio, Rudolph Pell
Gold, Ron S., Skinner, Michael J., Grant, Peter J. & Plummer, David C.
Levine, Martin P.
Markowitz, Fran & Ashkenazi, Michael
Moskowitz, David A. & Roloff, Michael E.
Povinelli, Elizabeth A.
Sobo, Elisa J.
Cited by 2 other publications
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