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JoelR
JoelR

Some Gay Men Are Excluding Other Gay Men From Our Community

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When I first read that Attitude was carrying out a survey to look at masculinity within the gay community, it made me think about some of my own experiences. I’m aware that others around me perceive me as being “camp” or “effeminate”.

These words were banded around when I was growing up, before I even had the words to express who I was and embrace my differences. Then I came out and, perhaps naively, thought that I would be welcomed by a new community, where being camp was celebrated. Unfortunately, this simply was not the case.

More than 5,000 readers took part in the survey, with 71% stating that they would be turned off by a prospective partners if they showed any signs of femininity. This, coupled with the idea that effeminate gay men give the community “a bad name”, was a reminder of the institutionalised rejection of certain groups within the gay community – effeminate men being one of them.

att290_001-JAKE-SHEARS-150dpi-782x1024.jpgIt had taken me a long time to become comfortable in my own skin, but here was another reminder coming towards me like a knife, puncturing the bubble I had been happily inhabiting.

I had a very tangible perspective of what it meant to be “a man” when I was growing up. I attended an all-boys school in the north of England, and whilst it wasn’t all bad, I witnessed first-hand the toxic effects of masculinity.

During my time there, I saw friends suffering from depression, self-harming and contemplating suicide. They felt unable to talk about how they were feeling, because society had deemed it ‘unacceptable’ for them to open up. Others gave up studying Creative Arts, to focus their careers on more ‘male’ subjects like Maths and Sciences, only to find themselves hating every second of it.

This notion of masculinity also manifested itself into homophobia.

The only out gay guys I knew at school were all effeminate (myself included) and we were easily spotted amongst the crowd, given that we didn’t follow the socially imposed norms of masculinity. None of us changed the way we acted or attempted to fit the mould, despite the homophobia we encountered, and for that I will always be grateful. We showed each other that it was time to throw the rule book out of the window.

Today, the scars of masculinity are all too apparent. Phrases like “masc4masc” and “no femmes” litter hook-up and dating apps, further perpetuating the notion that being anything other than ‘masculine’ is reason for exclusion. We may have left the school gates, but the same attitudes engulf the dance floor in G-A-Y. Gay men excluding other gay men from a community – a so-called safe space for all – being influenced by the memories of who faced homophobia at school or in the workplace today.

Certain gay men are clinging to a false sense of security found amongst other masculine men, at the expense of their mental health, self-esteem and relationships with others men.


Masculinity is a socially constructed concept, which means that we as a society can change it. Living openly as gay and bisexual men, we are already pushing the boundaries of an archaic view of masculinity, but our work is far from over. The level of discrimination faced by gay and bisexual men that do not fit into the “masc” pigeonhole is something we should all be ashamed of. We all need to consider our language and behaviour towards others within our community – the consequences of current trends are damaging to say the least.

For anyone else who felt the results of this survey puncture their bubble, I felt it too. If you’ve ever wondered why some members of our community wish to outcast us, they simply feel threatened by our ability to re-write the rules. We’re paving a new path for men in society, so watch the “masc4masc” brigade tremble in our shadows.

We are igniting the conversation and changing attitudes, allowing those after us to express their sexuality and gender however they wish – we should be celebrating this, instead of fighting it.

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I have no problem with effiminate men who go around calling each other gurl but don't lump me in that group and refer to me as such. I'm a man who likes men. I think that's why a lot of men have trouble coming out is because ot the whole effiminate sterotype and they don't see themselves as that at all.If anything we are made to fill out of place if we hate show tunes,don't like to shop, etc and are told to turn in our gay card,so both sides are at fault. Just except the other as is and quit trying to degrade them.

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4 hours ago, wolfe said:

I have no problem with effiminate men who go around calling each other gurl but don't lump me in that group and refer to me as such. I'm a man who likes men. I think that's why a lot of men have trouble coming out is because ot the whole effiminate sterotype and they don't see themselves as that at all.If anything we are made to fill out of place if we hate show tunes,don't like to shop, etc and are told to turn in our gay card,so both sides are at fault. Just except the other as is and quit trying to degrade them.

I don't see how an effiminate group of men automatically means you're lumped in with them? If anything, I think gay culture (and porn) glorifies and idolizes the complete opposite: hyper-masculine men such as the straight guy, the jock, the athlete ... So I'm curious as to why you would think that being gay automatically casts you in with the effiminate crowd? 

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11 minutes ago, JoelR said:

I don't see how an effiminate group of men automatically means you're lumped in with them? If anything, I think gay culture (and porn) glorifies and idolizes the complete opposite: hyper-masculine men such as the straight guy, the jock, the athlete ... So I'm curious as to why you would think that being gay automatically casts you in with the effiminate crowd? 

Please correct me if I'm wrong @wolfe, but I think the point was that because the sterotype, some guys fear coming out because they fear being thought of by others as effiminite if they let their true selves be known.  I too am a fairly masculine guy who finds himself attracted to other maculine men.  It's just who I am.  I have nothing against guys who are effiminate.  As a matter of fact, the first person I came out to is an effiminate gay man I've known since grade school.  We grew up together, and he came out in college. I think of him as a brother.  But I totally agree that we need to accept each other as we are, for who we are.

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29 minutes ago, tbill said:

Please correct me if I'm wrong @wolfe, but I think the point was that because the sterotype, some guys fear coming out because they fear being thought of by others as effiminite if they let their true selves be known.  I too am a fairly masculine guy who finds himself attracted to other maculine men.  It's just who I am.  I have nothing against guys who are effiminate.  As a matter of fact, the first person I came out to is an effiminate gay man I've known since grade school.  We grew up together, and he came out in college. I think of him as a brother.  But I totally agree that we need to accept each other as we are, for who we are.

Interesting. So you equate the gay norm as being effiminate? 

I wonder if that's a personal fear that one projects onto the gay community as a manifestation of one's own concerns and insecurities? I'm really not trying to go all psychobabble anyone, but I don't think coming out as gay lumps you in with the sashaying, artsy, gurl crowd.  I think you can retain your own individuality (and masculinity) even if you like cock.  I've watched enough porn to realize there are incredibly masculine men who like it up the butt, but I doubt anyone would question their virility.  

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33 minutes ago, Doug said:

I have to admit, I am not one of the world's most handsome men nor am I built like Mr Universe, however, I am ashamed to say that although I never ever picked on effeminate guys, I did give them the cold shoulder.  In those days when I was a bit younger than I am now, I would go to gay night clubs and always make a point of avoiding the "queens" 

It wasn't until one day I was approached by one of them and if I remember correctly I was somewhat churlish to his advances.  That being said, I was horrified at the reaction I had caused in him. He was almost in tears and I was far from feeling proud of myself. 

The next week he was again there, and I can still see the dread on his face as I walked over to him to apologize for my disgusting behaviour. He listened very politely and told me it was ok not to worry about it.  But I did worry about it, and I told him so, and that I wanted to make amends in any way I could. The conversation is imprinted on my brain. As set out below.

"You want to make amends?" 

"Yes I do. I am so sorry." 

"Then give me a hug and a kiss."

"In front of all these people?" 

"In front of all these people!" 

"Alright." 

And so I did and we spent most of the time talking and I also know we cried a bit too. 

The point of all this is that I didn't see him (or others) as effeminate ever again. He had taught me to look past the surface and see the person within.  I suppose the point is that I had learnt to dislike and distrust the effeminate men because my own gay friends had taught me to do so. That, I think, is one of  the sad parts of this story; that I let my friends and acquaintances influence my thoughts so much as to exclude others. 

The moral of this story; We are who we are, not what our friends and acquaintances want us to be.

(as an afterthought and without further discussion, let me just say that the moral of that story as printed above was brought home to me a short while ago.  And I am sorry).

 


 

 

 

A very heartwarming read indeed about how you made amends with this man, @Doug!  I'm sure you left a very positive impression with him as well, that he too learned a lesson about not being so quick to judge others.

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