They don't say when you're beating them yams up tho. Feminine gay men are giving the community a bad rep, a new study reveals – at least if you believe their ‘straight-acting’ counterparts.
Authored by Cal Strode, the survey interviewed 280 gay men.
It found that those who described themselves as ‘straight-acting’ were less likely to have direct experience with homophobia.
Of the respondents saying they never experienced homophobia, 56% also identified as ‘straight-acting’, compared to 26% of those who had experienced it.
But that’s not all: 37% of men who identified as ‘straight-acting’ also said they agreed with the statement that ‘Feminine gay men give gay men like me a bad reputation’.
And they’re not just acting the part of a straight guy, they’re also more likely to identify with the straight community, according to 35% of survey respondents.
‘Feminine gay men are caught in the crossfire of a battle that self described “straight-acting” gay men are having with themselves,’ Strode said.
‘The way gay men market themselves is more visible than ever before because of the rise of apps like Grindr.
‘This brings things like femphobia to the surface, and we need to take every opportunity to challenge that.’
Challenge to these misconceptions comes from within the community, the study shows – especially those know what it feels like to suffer homophobia and discrimination, as they are less likely to disassociate from their group.
‘It’s not helpful to demonise people who use the term “straight-acting”, but we should challenge them to realise when they’re speaking from a place of internalised homophobia or a position of “pass privilege”,’ Strode said.
‘We can’t expect everyone to have an academic understanding of oppression, privilege and the role they themselves are playing in things, so we have to find constructive ways to start conversations and challenge people in ways that brings them along with us.’
For Fernando Lopez, LGBTI history expert and Director at San Diego Pride, ‘straight-acting’ men not identifying with the gay community doesn’t come as a surprise.
Describing it as identitiy migration, Lopez said it was common among socially stigmatized groups.
‘If people expressing these views can pass as straight in their day to day lives, then they don’t have to deal with that same kind of discrimination,’ he said.
‘But for the people who live a different kind of life and have more of a struggle for standing out as not masculine, it means more to them to become activists and to do something: they have seen the oppression in a way that somebody who can pass as straight never does.’
According to Lopez, femphobia and chauvinism often lay at the base of homophobia, as being feminine is considered weak.
‘This isn’t a new thing, but it’s certainly more visible and pervasive than ever before because of the rise of apps like Grindr and other dating apps where we can see the way people are marketing themselves,’ he said.
‘The trend of some gay men excessively using hyper-masculine language is symptomatic of this – terms like “dude” and “bro” etc.’
It’s rooted in the media’s overly effeminate, caricature-like depiction of gay men, Lopez said, which in the 70s gave rise to the bodybuilding movement as well as the ‘grungy men’ wearing flannels and work boots.
‘That style was very much an intentional decision to hyper-masculinise the gay male community, so as to push-back against the heterosexual male run media,’ Lopez said.
‘Today it seems that more people are pushing back against themselves.’