Date of Award

Spring 2022

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Rebecca Glauber

Second Advisor

Cliff Brown

Third Advisor

Karen Van Gundy


This dissertation explores queer individuals’ participation within hookup culture, the goals and motivations of those taking part in queer hookup encounters, and the ways queer individuals make sense of their hookup experiences. I analyze data from 24 semi-structured qualitative in-person and online interviews to examine LGBTQ+-identified individuals’ experiences with queer hookup encounters. This dissertation offers several major contributions to the scholarship of LGBTQ+ hookup experiences. First, I find that participants talk about three discrete levels of intimacy: noncommittal hookups, “catching feelings,” and third, “real relationships” or emotional connections. Second, both men and women define hookups as noncommittal sexual encounters, but in practice many are worried about or have already caught feelings. Men and women were also similar in viewing LGBTQ+ hookups as distinct from heterosexual hookups. For example, most participants note that it is more difficult for them to find hookup partners on campus. Third, I also find gender differences among by LGBTQ+ participants. Most men did not talk about forging romantic relationship out of their hookups, whereas women are more likely to discuss moving from hookup encounters to relationships. Men also talk about their partners’ physical aesthetics, whereas women are more likely to value an emotional connection and are less likely to discuss their partners’ physical attributes. Finally, women are more likely to discuss difficulty in knowing how and when to initiate hookups with other women. The second part of this dissertation focuses on participants’ experience with hookups during the COVID-19 pandemic. Few have yet to explore LGBTQ+ hookup culture through a pandemic-focused lens. I examine how the COVID-19 pandemic has restructured dating and hookup experiences among LGBTQ+-identified college students. I find that sexual minority college students have begun to shift the type of connections they make on dating and hookup apps. These connections are less centered on sexual encounters and now focus on building relationships online that may not lead to a hookup or sexual experience. These findings suggest that dating apps have become a way for individuals to form social connections as opposed to merely a vehicle for organizing hookup encounters.