From homelessness to cyberspace to marriage and health, Brandon's research centers the lives of LGBTQ people to examine social inequalities today. This work contributes to the fields of gender and sexualities, race and ethnicity, health and HIV/AIDS, urban poverty and homelessness, and new media.
Brandon's sole-authored book, tentatively titled Coming Out to the Streets: Gender, Sexuality, and LGBTQ Youth Homelessness, is under contract with the University of California Press. This project received external support from the National Science Foundation and the Equality Knowledge Project.
Brandon's co-authored book Race & Sexuality is published with Polity Press. Brandon has also published in a variety of peer-reviewed journals, including articles in Journal of Marriage & Family, Gender & Society, and Sociology of Race & Ethnicity. In addition to these articles, Brandon has a few book chapters and other writings, including essays for HuffPost.
Race and Sexuality
The connections between race and sexuality are constant in our lives, however race and sexuality are not often linked together in productive, analytical ways.
This illuminating book delves into the interrelation of race and sexuality as inseparable elements of our identities and social lives. The authors approach the study of race and sexuality through an interdisciplinary lens, focusing on power, social arrangements and hierarchies, and the production of social difference. Through their analysis, the authors map the historical, discursive, and structural manifestations of race and sexuality, noting the everyday effects that the intersections of these categories have on people’s lived experiences. With both US-based and transnational cases, this book presents an empirical grounding for understanding how race and sexuality are mutually constitutive categories.
Providing a comprehensive overview of racialized sexualities, Race and Sexuality is an essential text for any advanced course on race, sexuality, and intersectionality.
Robinson, Brandon Andrew. 2018. “Conditional Families and LGBTQ Youth Homelessness: Gender, Sexuality, Family Instability, and Rejection.” Journal of Marriage & Family 80(2): 383-396.
Existing research on LGBTQ youth homelessness identifies family rejection as a main pathway into homelessness for the youth. This finding, however, can depict people of color and/or poor people as more prejudiced than white, middle-class families. In this 18-month ethnographic study, I complicate this rejection paradigm through documenting the narratives of 40 LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness. I examine how poverty and family instability shaped the conditions that the youth perceived they were rejected because of their gender and sexuality. This rejection generated strained familial ties within families wherein the ties were already fragile. Likewise, I show how being gender expansive, more so than sexuality, marked many youth’s experiences of familial abuse and strain. This study moves beyond the family rejection paradigm by proposing the concept of conditional families to capture the social processes of how poverty and family instability shape experiences of gender, sexuality, and rejection for some LGBTQ youth.
Robinson, Brandon Andrew. 2018. “Child Welfare Systems and LGBTQ Youth Homelessness: Gender Segregation, Instability, and Intersectionality.” Child Welfare 96(2): 29-45.
This study presents qualitative findings from youth who are LGBTQ to document their child welfare system experiences and their perspectives on how these experiences influenced experiencing homelessness. Youth detailed incidents of gender segregation, stigmatization, isolation, and institutionalization in child welfare systems that they linked to their gender expression and sexuality, which often intersected with being a youth of color. The youth described these incidents as contributing to multiple placements and shaping why they experienced homelessness.
Pollitt, Amanda, Brandon Andrew Robinson, and Debra Umberson. 2018. “Gender Conformity, Perceptions of Shared Power, and Marital Quality in Same- and Different-Sex Marriages.” Gender & Society 32(1): 109-131.
Research on gender inequality within different-sex marriages shows that women do more unpaid labor than men, and that the perception of inequality influences perceptions of marital quality. Yet research on same-sex couples suggests the importance of considering how gender is relational. Past studies show that same-sex partners share unpaid labor more equally and perceive greater equity than do different-sex partners, and that lesbian, gay, and bisexual people are less gender conforming than heterosexuals. However, studies have not considered how gender conformity might shape inequalities and marital quality within same- and different-sex unions. In this study, we analyze dyadic data from both spouses in same- and different-sex marriages to explore how sex of spouse and gender conformity influence perceptions of shared power within the relationship, which, in turn, influences marital quality. Results show that greater gender conformity is related to stronger perceptions of shared power in different-sex and male same-sex couples but not in female same-sex couples. Perceptions of shared power are positively associated with marital quality in all union types. Our findings suggest that maintaining hegemonic masculinity and power inequalities may be salient to marriages with men. In female same-sex couples, gender and its relation to power inequalities may carry less meaning.
Robinson, Brandon Andrew. 2018. “Doing Sexual Responsibility: HIV, Risk Discourses, Trust, and Gay Men Interacting Online.” Sociological Perspectives 61(3): 383-398.
This study draws from interviews with HIV-negative gay men to show how they are doing sexual responsibility online and how their actions uphold moralizing discourses around HIV. The analysis shows how gay men often engage in boundary work through stating their HIV status and “safe sex” practices on their online profile and through screening other people’s profiles for similar information. The gay men also avoid interactions with HIV-positive people, maintaining the stigmatization of HIV-positive people and constructing an HIV-positive serostatus as a status distinction. However, although the HIV-negative gay men are often invested in doing sexual responsibility, they eschew condom use with people they trust. This study then demonstrates the limitations and unintended consequences of discourses that often focus on risk and individual responsibility. These discourses ignore the relational and emotive components of sexual interactions, and hence fail to capture the complexities of people’s lives.
Robinson, Brandon Andrew. 2016. “The Quantifiable-Body Discourse: ‘Height-Weight Proportionality’ and Gay Men’s Bodies in Cyberspace.” Social Currents 3(2): 172-185.
The majority of gay men are now meeting online; however, little is understood about how body presentations in cyberspace affect gay men’s intimate contacts. In this article, I develop the concept of the quantifiable-body discourse to illuminate how a dating Web site’s infrastructure measures the body, impacting how gay men interact with one another. Through in-depth interviews and analyzing profiles on a top gay personal Web site, I show how gay men numerically discuss and compare bodies online. Bolstered by Connell’s concepts of hegemonic masculinity and cathexis, I reveal how this quantification of bodies leads to the valuing and desiring of fit bodies and discriminating against fat bodies in cyberspace and off-line. I also illuminate how dating and “hookup” Web sites perpetuate hegemonic norms around bodies, beauty, and biopower.
Robinson, Brandon Andrew. 2015. “‘Personal Preference’ as the New Racism: Gay Desire and Racial Cleansing in Cyberspace.” Sociology of Race & Ethnicity 1(2): 317-330.
In this article, I examine how race impacts online interactions on one of the most popular online gay personal websites in the United States. Based on 15 in-depth interviews and an analysis of 100 profiles, I show that the filtering system on this website allows users to cleanse particular racial bodies from their viewing practices. I use Patricia Hill Collins’s concept of the “new racism” and Sharon Holland’s ideas on everyday practices of racism within one’s erotic life to explain how these social exclusionary practices toward gay men of color in cyberspace are considered not to be racist acts. Specifically, I show how the neoliberal discourse of “personal preference” effaces the larger cultural assumptions that are influencing people’s interpersonal and psychic racial desires, furthering an erotic new racism in this digital age. By also turning to a queer of color analysis, I posit that the practices that gay users engage in lead to the remarginalization of all nonheterosexual individuals, though in qualitatively different ways.
Robinson, Brandon Andrew. 2014. “Barebacking with Weber: Re-enchanting the Rational Sexual Order.” Social Theory & Health 12(3): 235-250.
Sexual health discourses have become a defining part of many gay men’s sex lives. These discourses have effectively linked gay identity to HIV/AIDS discourses through telling most gay men how to rationally have sex and how to routinely get tested. However, some gay men who bareback – the choice often made not to use a condom – engage in condomless sex despite these larger discourses. Through using Weber’s theories on rationalization, I explicate how sexual health and HIV/AIDS discourses are calculable, efficient systems that are about protecting the public good. I show how this rationalized sexual health system disciplines pleasure and intimacy. Through this disciplining, I illuminate how sexual public health has disenchanted sex, specifically for some gay men, where some of these men who bareback may be attempting to find re-enchantment in this disenchanted sexual world. Through this Weberian framework, barebacking may be seen as an act that can allow for the re-exploration of personability, intimacy, eroticism and love.
Robinson, Brandon Andrew and David A. Moskowitz. 2013. “The Eroticism of Internet Cruising as a Self-Contained Behaviour: A Multivariate Analysis of Men Seeking Men Demographics and Getting Off Online.” Culture, Health and Sexuality 15(5): 555-569.
Most studies on men seeking men and who use the Internet for sexual purposes have focused on the epidemiological outcomes of Internet cruising. Other research has only focused on online sexual behaviours such as cybersex. The present study examines men who find the acts of Internet cruising and emailing to be erotic as self-contained behaviours. We surveyed 499 men who used craigslist.org for sexually-oriented purposes, and ran an ordinary least squares multiple regression model to determine the demographic characteristics of men seeking men who found Internet cruising erotic. Our results showed that younger compared to older men seeking men found the acts erotic. Likewise, men seeking men from mid-sized cities and large cities compared to men from smaller cities found Internet cruising and emailing to be erotic. Most notably, bisexual- and heterosexual-identifying men seeking men compared to gay-identifying men found these acts to be more erotic. Our results suggested that self-contained Internet cruising might provide dual functions. For some men (e.g., heterosexual-identifying men), the behaviour provides a sexual outlet in which fantasy and experimentation may be explored without risking stigmatization. For other men (e.g., those from large cities), the behaviour may be an alternative to offset sexual risk while still being able to ‘get off’.
Robinson, Brandon Andrew and Salvador Vidal-Ortiz. 2013. “Displacing the Dominant ‘Down Low’ Discourse: Deviance, Same-sex Desire, and Craigslist.org.” Deviant Behavior 34(3): 224-241.
This article troubles the “down low” (DL) discourse by focusing on an Internet forum—Craigslist.org—where people on the “down low” post. The advertisements, gathered from seven cities in two U.S. regions, reinforce some of the “down low” discussion in the previous literature, as they show a pattern of seeking “masculine” men. These ads also depart from general perceptions such as the DL being a term used predominantly by black men. The authors discuss methodological implications in research with posts, and suggest advancing analyses on the relationship between race, sexuality and power, and gender and sexuality in DL research.
Robinson, Brandon Andrew. 2012. “Is This What Equality Looks Like? How Assimilation Marginalizes the Dutch LGBT Community.” Sexuality Research & Social Policy 9(4): 327-336.
Using the Netherlands as a case study, this article explores how increased social acceptance of and legal protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people impact their lives. The author draws on in-depth interviews with nine LGBT people to argue that the danger of acceptance is invisibility for those who assimilate and marginalization for those who do not conform to assimilationist discourses, such as transgender individuals and other gender nonconformers. Utilizing Butler’s theories of normalization and Goffman’s theories of stigmatization, the findings also show that assimilating into homonormativity can generate feelings of shame and fear. The author concludes that new approaches in dismantling heteronormativity and seeking equality are needed in order to achieve genuine acceptance for LGBT people.