This empirical study examines sixteen- to seventeen-year-old heterosexual male
cross-country athletes from a diverse, middle-class high school in California and
how they express physical tactility and emotional intimacy in a culture of diminished
homohysteria. Using participative and non-participative observations of the
team, coupled with ten in-depth interviews, we find acceptance of gay men, and
note a range of homosocial behaviors including bed-sharing, cuddling, hand holding,
hugging, and emotional intimacy. We discuss the ways in which heterosexual
boundaries and identities are maintained, and the process by which normalizing
heterosexuality as the assumed sexual orientation contributes to heterosexism.
Despite the reproduction of heterosexism, the relationships these high school athletes
form with each other are not predicated on homophobia or hypermasculinity.
Finally, we discuss adolescent expressions of masculinity in the transition to manhood
and in the face of diminishing homohysteria.