Queer Women in the Hookup Scene: Beyond the Closet?

Leila J. Rupp, Verta Taylor, Shiri Regev-Messalem, Alison Fogarty, Paula England

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


The college hookup scene is a profoundly gendered and heteronormative sexual field. Yet the party and bar scene that gives rise to hookups also fosters the practice of women kissing other women in public, generally to the enjoyment of male onlookers, and sometimes facilitates threesomes involving same-sex sexual behavior between women. In this article, we argue that the hookup scene serves as an opportunity structure to explore same-sex attractions and, at least for some women, to later verify bisexual, lesbian, or queer sexual identities. Based on quantitative and qualitative data and combining queer theory and identity theory, we offer a new interpretation of women's same-sex practices in the hookup culture. Our analysis contributes to gender theory by demonstrating the utility of identity theory for understanding how non-normative gender and sexual identities are negotiated within heteronormatively structured fields.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-235
Number of pages24
JournalGender and Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank Alicia Cast, Shaeleya Miller, and Jan Stets for reading drafts of this article; Sanidbel Borges, Gloria Schindler, Carly Thomsen, and Shannon Weber for research assistance; the Academic Senate and Institute for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Research at the University of California, Santa Barbara, for grants supporting this research; and the editors and anonymous readers for constructive criticism of earlier drafts.


  • bisexuality
  • hooking up
  • queer women
  • sexual fluidity
  • sexual identity


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