Working at intimacy: Gay men's workplace friendships

Nick Rumens*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Despite scholarly efforts to challenge the dualistic stereotype of men as rational and women as emotion experts, academics have paid little attention to the issues that arise when gay and lesbian sexualities are introduced into such debates. This article highlights the heterosexist content of much of the research on gender, emotion and organization, and argues the relevancy of investigating the largely neglected topic of intimacy and friendship in the work lives of gay men. Engaging with feminist, queer and sociological research that examines friendship in the lives of individuals who belong to sexual minority groups, I explore in this study the diversity in the way gay men find and work out intimacy in the context of workplace friendships with other gay men and with heterosexual men and women. The data for this article are drawn from in-depth interviews with ten gay men employed in one UK National Health Service Trust. Study findings problematize conceptualizations of friendships at work as being bereft of intimacy, of little value and clearly distinguishable from business relationships. Dichotomous modes of thinking about the impact of gender and sexuality on intimacy and friendship are also challenged.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)9-30
    Number of pages22
    JournalGender, Work and Organization
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2008


    • Gay men
    • Heteronormativity
    • Intimacy
    • Sexuality
    • Work place friendship


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