This week, guest blogger Thane Pullan muses on masculinity and femininity in the queer community.
As a neither particularly masculine nor feminine gay man (I prefer to identify as “nerdy”) I have observed that some gay men can be quite hostile towards other gay men, whom they perceive as being more “feminine”. I wonder why this is and why these gay men emphasise being masculine, or acting straight. Perhaps it’s to fit in with their straight mates, but shouldn’t mates accept you for who you are, regardless of your level of femininity? If not, maybe you should consider getting new mates.
I think there are definitely security issues and shame associated with this, which is influenced by social ideas about who men are supposed to be. Men are supposed to act like MEN and be manly, not feminine. I don’t think this attitude is particularly useful. Perhaps it’s been ingrained in you, or your family members or friends, and acting like anything other than a masculine man attracts shame and ridicule. Or perhaps the people ridiculing you have issues with their own sexuality.
If you find yourself in this position, with people ridiculing you for who you are, I personally think that you should say something. If they are a genuine friend your relationship will probably be better for it.
I’m aware that there are studies that show the brains of gay men look more like women’s brains, and the brains of gay women look more like men’s. So perhaps femininity in gay males and masculinity in gay women is actually biologically determined. I think that acting hostile towards something that is completely natural is intellectually bankrupt. Even if it isn’t natural or biological, people should let people be themselves – as long as they’re not harming anyone else.
Masculine gay men may think feminine gays are harming them by creating the perception that they’re just as camp. But I think even if you are, so what? How you want people to perceive you is your own responsibility, not someone else’s.
If you’re a gay man and you really want people to perceive you as a masculine or straight man, that’s your business. But don’t punish others for acting the way they do. You’re only being harmful, and we have enough discrimination already from people who are homophobic.
Do you think there is hostility towards feminine gay men from more masculine gay men? Let us know in the comments.