Stuff Gay People Like: Masculinity
January 6, 2010 | 10:00 am
(Updated: February 22, 2013 | 4:04 pm)
We hear the gay man is lispy, stylish and effeminate; if your mom ever said “I always knew you were gay,” it probably doesn’t mean you got caught drawing hearts around a magazine photo of Mario Lopez.
Instead, it would be because of some girly thing you did as a kid, like playing with Barbie dolls or screeching to get away from footballs like they’re swarms of bees.
Little do straight people know what a contentious topic masculinity is in the world of a gay men, who mostly do not cross-dress on an everyday basis and are sometimes hard to pick out on a street. We’ve all seen gay online profiles announcing: I like guys who act like guys – not fem, and most of us work out three times a week or instinctively modulate our voices to sound as butch as possible when we’re meeting someone new.
Whether we individually do those things or not, we all try to convince ourselves (and other people) we’re just a teeeeny bit more manly than we really are. “Most of my friends are guys,” we lie, along with, “my friends were so shocked when I came out to them!”
The definition of “masculine” we idealize probably doesn’t include skipping showers, fistfighting in the bar parking lot or having the ability to belch the whole alphabet while balancing a six-pack of beer on our gut – yet all things that are undoubtedly considered all-American manly male habits. For gay guys, who want to be a bro while looking classy, it’s more complicated, maybe even a little sneaky.
Yet masculinity seems to be one of the most persistent categories by which gay men segregate themselves and their love interests, which places it in the privileged spot of being the very first item on our list of Stuff Gay People Like.
There is no direct link between gender-bending mannerisms and same-sex attraction – queer people fall all across the spectrum, from you-wouldn’t-guess to I-saw-that-coming-a-mile-away – but there is definitely some relationship between effeminate behavior and gay men. Alternately, gay people probably talk about masculinity more than anybody else. Thus is the gay man’s torture and obsession of masculinity.
A popular term to denote masculinity is the self-identification “straight-acting,” commonly seen in its written form, “str8-acting,” indicating that the user allowed to dickishly hold his nose at everyone else who is more visibly gay.
What’s ironic is that “str8-acting” probably the gayest possible word in the English language, followed by all other words replacing syllables with numbers; be4, 2day, 4get and sk8r among them. If Tinkerbell ever flitted across the word “straight,” the last five letters would become 8.
But we’ve never been the kinds to let a little thing like general perception stop us.
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