Nonverbal Behavior and Lesbian/Gay Orientation

  • Patricia Webbink
Part of the Springer Series in Social Psychology book series (SSSOC)


In societies like ours, where heterosexuality is enforced by a plethora of economic and cultural institutions, lesbians and gay men1 appear to constitute a minority. However, unlike other minorities that have easily identifiable features (e.g., skin color) to distinguish them from the dominant majority, lesbians and gay men are hidden. We come in all colors, ages, and sizes, and from all socioeconomic levels; we look like everybody else and we are everywhere. But, like other groups of people with a shared interest or shared oppression, we have developed our own subcultures. The lesbian and gay men’s cultures have their own language consisting of both verbal and nonverbal elements of expression and communication. The nonverbal cues range from general, more obvious ones such as dress, to specific, more subtle details of interaction such as eye contact and facial expression. These cues allow lesbians and gay men to recognize one another in a relatively unobtrusive manner necessary for a group whose identity has had to be concealed lest its members be endangered and ostracized. Using various kinds of clothing and jewelry has been an important way in which lesbians and gay men have made themselves visible to one another. Some gay men might wear an earring in one ear, or a colored handerchief in their back pocket. Recently, the “cowboy” and leathery, macho looks in clothing have become popular styles among many gay men (Fischer, 1977). Some lesbians wear two interlocking women’s symbols on a ring or necklace as a sign of their sexuality.


Nonverbal Behavior Lesbian Couple Interpersonal Attraction Electric Shock Therapy Nonverbal Element 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patricia Webbink

There are no affiliations available

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