Language Appropriation Practices of Gay Men after the Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage

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Journal of Homosexuality






In the United States, legal marriage has found itself simultaneously serving as a pact made by two individuals, an agreement under the state’s control, and a legal status with social implications. The influences of legal marriage on social levels are not monolithic, as a result, there is not a comprehensive definition of marriage that supports the diverse relationships that exist, including same-sex marriage. Moreover, explicit attention to verbal communication in reference to these relationships has rarely been documented. Utilizing a qualitative framework and semi-structured interviews, this study investigated the relationship between marriage equality and its impact on language appropriation for 28 gay men living in various parts of the United States. Results of analysis situated in grounded theory via the constant comparative method indicated that for many in this sample, access to legal marriage facilitated unapologetic use of language associated with marriage, irrespective of one’s own marital status. These findings are in stark contrast to studies exploring adoption of marriage language by lesbian women. Implications across private and public arenas are discussed.