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“I Love You, Guys”

A Study of Inclusive Masculinities among High School Cross-Country Runners

Luis Morales and Edward Caffyn-Parsons

Keywords: adolescence; athletics; high school; homohysteria; inclusive masculinity theory; tactility

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.

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