Sexual orientation and professional dance

J. Michael Bailey*, Michael Oberschneider

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


The stereotypical professional male dancer is a gay man. However, little if any systematic research has investigated the validity of this stereotype, much less the reasons why male sexual orientation would be associated with interest in dance. We interviewed 136 professional dancers about the prevalence of homosexuality among dancers, the dancers' own sexual development, and relationships between dancers of different sexual orientations. Dancers estimated that over half of male dancers are gay, but that only a small minority of female dancers are lesbian. Gay men recalled more intense early interest in dance compared to heterosexual men and women, and were more feminine as boys than were heterosexual men. Gay men's homosexual feelings typically preceded their dance experience, and only one gay man felt that his dance experiences may have influenced his sexual orientation. Heterosexual men voiced some mild complaints about gay male dancers, but these were balanced by positive sentiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-444
Number of pages12
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1997


  • Careers
  • Dance
  • Gender identity
  • Sexual orientation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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