We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

Gay guys using gay language : friendship, shared values and the intent-context-effect matrix.

McCormack, M. and Wignall, L. and Morris, M. (2016) 'Gay guys using gay language : friendship, shared values and the intent-context-effect matrix.', British journal of sociology., 67 (4). pp. 747-767.


This article draws on in-depth interviews with 35 openly gay male undergraduates from four universities in England to develop an understanding of the changing nature of language related to homosexuality. In addition to finding a diminution in the prevalence of homophobic language, we demonstrate that participants maintain complex and nuanced understandings of phrases that do not use homophobic pejoratives, such as ‘that’s so gay’. The majority of participants rejected the notion that these phrases are inherently homophobic, instead arguing that the intent with which they are said and the context in which they are used are vital in understanding their meaning and effect. We conceptualize an intent-context-effect matrix to understand the interdependency of these variables. Highlighting the situated nature of this matrix, we also demonstrate the importance of the existence of shared norms between those saying and hearing the phrase when interpreting such language.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Download PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:This is the accepted version of the following article: McCormack, M., Wignall, L. & Morris, M. (2016). Gay guys using gay language: Friendship, shared values and the intent-context-effect matrix. British Journal of Sociology, 67(4): 747-767, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.
Date accepted:07 September 2015
Date deposited:11 September 2015
Date of first online publication:14 July 2016
Date first made open access:14 July 2018

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar