Butch, femme, or straight acting? Partner preferences of gay men and lesbians

J. Michael Bailey*, Peggy Y. Kim, Alex Hills, Joan A W Linsenmeier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

165 Scopus citations


On average, gay men are somewhat feminine and lesbians somewhat masculine, but there is variation within each group. The authors examined the consequences of this variation for gay men's and lesbians' desirability as romantic partners. In 2 studies the authors analyzed personal advertisements. Homosexual people were more likely than heterosexual people to mention traits related to sex typicality and more likely to request sex-typical than sex-atypical partners. In 2 studies the authors assessed partner preferences directly. On average, gay men preferred men who described themselves as masculine rather than feminine, but this preference was weaker among men who rated themselves as relatively feminine. Lesbians preferred women who described themselves as feminine looking but did not discriminate against women calling themselves masculine acting. The authors discuss implications of the results for theories of sexual orientation and the adjustment of sex-atypical homosexual people.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)960-973
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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