In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Sexual Identity

  • Introduction
  • Journals
  • Edited Volumes
  • Online and Popular Sources
  • Theoretical Foundations
  • Studying Identity: Research Methods
  • Personal Identity
  • Sexual Identities in Relationships
  • Sexuality and Religion
  • Political Economy

Sociology Sexual Identity
Clare Forstie
  • LAST REVIEWED: 26 February 2020
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 February 2020
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756384-0245


Sexual identity research within sociology has largely examined the social contexts of sexuality as a central part of how we think about ourselves. While much of this research focuses on the experiences of marginalized people (gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, and other identities), critical attention has also been paid to the social construction of heterosexual or straight identities. Theoretical perspectives from fields like queer theory and psychology have informed this thinking, and activism and research specifically from queer theory has significantly influenced how researchers understand sexual identities. Intersections with other identities are also critical to understanding sexual identities, and much forward-thinking work on sexual identities examines gender, race, class, and ability simultaneously. This bibliography outlines research on sexual identity, beginning with key sources like Journals, Edited Volumes, and Online and Popular Sources. The Theoretical Foundations section includes classic works, best for those seeking an introduction to the field. The Studying Identity: Research Methods section addresses how sexual identities might be best studied, as well as ongoing methodological challenges. Also included are sections discussing how sexual identities have been defined, including histories of sexual identities, intersections with other identities and changing identity categories, research on sexual identity and the self, research that examines the relationship between sexual identity and behavior, and works discussing how sexual identities are understood in relationships and religion. Sections addressing collective sexual identities and identities in spaces examine how identities are used in social movements and how sexual identities shape and are shaped by communities. Finally, a section focused on the political economy of sexual identities addresses the relationships between sexualities, nations, economies, and policy. While the bulk of this bibliography focuses on sexual identities within the United States, sources examining sexual identities in a variety of national and transnational contexts are included in a number of sections.


Although there are currently no sexualities-focused sociology journals, several primarily interdisciplinary journals examine sexual identities and their intersections with other identities, such as Sexualities and GLQ. Some journals focus on specific sexual identities, like the Journal of Homosexuality, the Journal of Lesbian Studies, and the Journal of Bisexuality. Sociology journals emphasizing gender also feature research on gendered sexual identities, such as Gender & Society, and others address sexuality’s intersection with aspects of social life such as culture, disabilities, families, and policy. Of particular note is Contexts, a peer-reviewed sociology journal that features short discussions of timely research and policy issues accessible to a general audience. The journals listed here focus explicitly on sexuality and its intersections; however, a number of discipline-specific journals also feature work on sexuality and identity.

  • Contexts.

    Contexts is a peer-reviewed sociology journal published by the American Sociological Association. It is written accessibly for a general audience, briefly summarizes timely research, and reads and looks like a magazine.

  • Gender & Society. 1987–.

    Among the most widely read sociology journals, research and theory articles in Gender & Society address a variety of gender-related topics, some of which also focus on sexualities.

  • GLQ. 1993–.

    GLQ is an interdisciplinary journal focused on providing scholarly queer critical and theoretical perspectives.

  • Journal of Bisexuality. 2000–.

    The Journal of Bisexuality publishes both research and reflective essays on bisexual identities and communities.

  • Journal of Homosexuality. 1976–.

    The interdisciplinary Journal of Homosexuality emphasizes research on gender and sexuality, with a particular focus on lesbian and gay identities. In recent years, its focus has expanded to include LGBTQ identities more broadly.

  • Journal of Lesbian Studies. 1996–.

    The Journal of Lesbian Studies publishes an array of disciplinary and interdisciplinary research focused on lesbian communities, identities, and experiences.

  • Sexualities. 1998–.

    Arguably the most well-known journal focused on sexual identities, Sexualities is an interdisciplinary resource for peer-reviewed research on sexual identities, cultures, and communities.

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