Queer Sociologist and Writer


My book, Boystown, is under contract with University of Chicago Press. Based on three years of ethnography in Chicago’s gay neighborhood, Boystown examines the changes to neighborhoods and sexual life as gay men are assimilated into straight society. Boystown is trading its radical sexual culture for normality, transforming into a “gay disneyland” through heritage commodification by business owners. The “sexy communities” that embody radical sexuality foster racial diversity by building sexual kinship and intimacy through ritual moments of collective effervescence. I advance a number of theoretical reconsiderations of sociological theory, such as agency and consumption within Bourdieuian habitus. I wrote Boystown in a creative nonfiction style that allows sociologists, their students, and lay readers to learn from Boystown’s transformation.

I am also a qualitative methodologist and teacher. I am lead author on a co-authored textbook on qualitative methods, An Invitation to Qualitative Fieldwork, published next year from Routledge. Unlike many qualitative methods books, we bridge the “how-to” and “why-to” with exercises to actually show how to create key documents like interview guides and practice skills like participant observation. We focus on the interacting logics within projects: the voice of participants, the voice of the academic community, and the researcher’s voice. I’ve used these exercises and frameworks to consult on qualitative projects around University of Wisconsin-Madison.

As scholar of identity management, my theory of strategic outness–the continual contextual management of queer identity–is a sociological alternative to developmental coming out theories. The latest articulations can be found in Sexualities and The Sociological Quarterly 

You can find me also at my ethnography blog, Queer Metropolis

For a description of my current research in nontechnical language–using only the 1000 most common english words–see here.