The Declining Significance of Homophobia

**Available in paperback**


The Declining Significance of Homophobia has received considerable press coverage, much of which can be found here. It has been covered by publications including The EconomistThe ObserverThe Daily Mail, The Sunday Times and New Internationalist, as well as on multiple radio stations including BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 1 and CBC Radio 1. A review of the book at The Independent is here, at THE here, in the journal Sexualities and one by Gay City News can be read here, as well as an interview with me at SoSoGay.


Research has traditionally shown high schools to be hostile environments for LGBT youth. Boys have used homophobia to prove their masculinity and distance themselves from homosexuality. Despite these findings over the last three decades, The Declining Significance of Homophobia tells a different story. Drawing on fieldwork and interviews of young men in three British high schools, Dr. Mark McCormack shows how heterosexual male students are inclusive of their gay peers and proud of their pro-gay attitudes. He finds that being gay does not negatively affect a boy’s popularity, but being homophobic does.

Yet this accessible book goes beyond documenting this important shift in attitudes towards homosexuality: McCormack examines how decreased homophobia results in the expansion of gendered behaviors available to young men. In the schools he examines, boys are able to develop meaningful and loving friendships across many social groups. They replace toughness and aggression with emotional intimacy and displays of affection for their male friends. Free from the constant threat of social marginalization, boys are able to speak about once feminized activities without censure. The Declining Significance of Homophobia is essential reading for all those interested in masculinities, education, and the decline of homophobia.

Praise for The Declining Significance of Homophobia

“Despite the remarkable changes in attitudes towards homosexuality in recent years, a continuing stream of homophobia has often been detected, especially among young men. This important book demonstrates vividly that this need not be the case… This is a heartening book that charts the profound and positive transformation now taking place in young people’s culture, and makes one optimistic for the future.”

— Jeffrey Weeks, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, London South Bank University, and author of The Languages of Sexuality (2011)

“The real value of this book isn’t the way is rescues gay teens from victimhood, but in the revolution in masculinity it documents, about which many oldies are still in denial.” –

Mark Simpson, The Independent

“One of the best books on male adolescents I’ve ever read, The Declining Significance of Homophobia documents a revolution, one in which gay youth are accepted and integrated alongside their heterosexual brethren, gay bullying is unacceptable, and heterosexual boys experience little fear about being emotional, soft, or non-violent.”

— Ritch C. Savin-Williams, Professor of Human Development, Cornell University, and author of The New Gay Teenager (2005)

“The term “groundbreaking research” is often bestowed too lightly, but it is richly deserved in the case of this book. Mark McCormack offers a pioneering and remarkably inspiring account of the declining significance of homophobia, and how teenage boys are redefining masculinity and heterosexuality (and homosexuality)…McCormack has captured this brave new world with conviction, resilience, honesty and a healthy dose of humour.”

Dr Allister Butler, Senior Lecturer in Social Work, Anglia Ruskin University, writing for Times Higher Education.

“The author masterfully fuses ideas from the sociology of sex and gender with developmental and educational psychology, grounding his argument about the “declining significance of homophobia” in rigorous empirical work within schools…McCormack’s book offers a fresh and compelling analysis of the lived experience of sexuality and gender in a particular setting, with profound implications for how we think about adolescent masculinity and same-sex desire in the twenty first century.”

— Phillip Hammack and Bertram Cohler, authors of The Story of Sexual Identity (2009)

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