Peacocks, Chameleons, Centaurs: Gay Suburbia and the Grammar of Social Identity

Front Cover
University of Chicago Press, 2003 - Psychology - 262 pages
0 Reviews
What does it mean to be a gay man living in the suburbs? Do you identify primarily as gay, or suburban, or some combination of the two? For that matter, how does anyone decide what his or her identity is?

In this first-ever ethnography of American gay suburbanites, Wayne H. Brekhus demonstrates that who one is depends at least in part on where and when one is. For many urban gay men, being homosexual is key to their identity because they live, work, and socialize in almost exclusively gay circles. Brekhus calls such men "lifestylers" or peacocks. Chameleons or "commuters," on the other hand, live and work in conventional suburban settings, but lead intense gay social and sexual lives outside the suburbs. Centaurs, meanwhile, or "integrators," mix typical suburban jobs and homes with low-key gay social and sexual activities. In other words, lifestylers see homosexuality as something you are, commuters as something you do, and integrators as part of yourself.

Ultimately, Brekhus shows that lifestyling, commuting, and integrating embody competing identity strategies that occur not only among gay men but across a broad range of social categories. What results, then, is an innovative work that will interest sociologists, psychologists, anthropologists, and students of gay culture.

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


Identity Peacocks
Identity Chameleons
Identity Centaurs
Gay Identity Disputes
Lifecourse Changes in and Structural Constraints on Identity Management
Identity Grammar beyond Gay Identity
Identity Stability vs Identity Mobility
Identity Purity vs Identity Moderation
Identity Singularity vs Identity Balance
11 Conclusion
Grounded Theory and Analytic Fieldwork
Subject Index
Author Index

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page vii - ... for gas chromatography and gas-phase infrared spectroscopy. This book will serve as a valuable guide not only for those who work with air pollution, analytical chemistry, and industrial hygiene, but also for anyone who simply wants to make standard multicomponent gas and vapor mixtures. I am greatly indebted to a number of people who helped make this book possible. The Technical Information Department of the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, Livermore, was particularly helpful, especially Wilma...

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2003)

Wayne H. Brekhus is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Bibliographic information