Although the overwhelming majority of male prostitutes work through agencies or by placing their own ads, most studies of male prostitution focus upon young men who work on the street. Remarkably, these studies seldom identify the dynamics of poverty and street-level violence as important elements of their examination. Investigations of male sex work-few though they are-focus almost exclusively upon sexual aspects of “the life.” Despite the importance of these networks in shaping the contours of street life, and often in enabling one’s very survival, the primary research focus has remained on questions of sexual identity, sexual practices with clients, and sexual abuse as a causative factor. Meanwhile, studies that do examine the dynamics of male street life typically do not examine questions of prostitution or other issues related to sexuality. A dominant theme within this literature consists of specifying the social mores of the most aggressive and socially problematic participants within street society, particularly gang members and drug dealers. The dissimilar nature of these images relates directly to the political projects of the dominant culture, which, in a very general way, seeks to “rescue” (reintegrate) deviant white youth, while controlling and excluding deviant youth of color. The political aim of reintegrating runaways into middle-class trajectories has the effect of authorizing certain discourses regarding their behavior on the streets, while marginalizing or completely disallowing others. This article seeks to examine and challenge these trends of representation.
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