Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, representations of irresponsible gay men partying with little regard for viral transmission have circulated across social media; a construction of gay men that has a history that long precedes the coronavirus conjuncture. In this article, we draw on in-depth qualitative interviews with 43 queer men in London and Edinburgh, to investigate experiences of sexual and intimate practices during COVID-19 and use the concept of ‘biosexual citizenship’ (2018) to analyse the ethical frameworks these men used to navigate them. We argue that rather than being ‘good’ or ‘bad’ biosexual citizens, queer men have developed an array of ethically reflexive strategies in order to negotiate the difficult terrain they have had to face when trying to pursue their cultures of sex and intimacy during the pandemic. In so doing, they appear to enact biosexual citizenship through diverse sexual practices that both inevitably include and challenge both hegemonic imperatives of responsibility and well-being, as well as well-worn media representations of reckless, hedonistic gay men.


This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Cite as

Hakim, J., Young, I. & Cummings, J. 2021, 'Sex in the time of coronavirus: queer men negotiating biosexual citizenship during the COVID-19 pandemic', Continuum, 36(2), pp. 289-301. https://doi.org/10.1080/10304312.2021.1992350

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Last updated: 24 March 2023
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