• Thu, Apr 18 - 12:00 pm ET

Have We Created An “Acceptable Gay Man?”

acceptable gay man

We’re supposed to live in an era where all gay people are acceptable, right? Well, obviously not everywhere, but among most forward thinking people? So it’s a bit disconcerting to see the divisions between different “types” of gay people that still exist among homosexuals.

One man recounts his story in Congrats magazine and says:

Peter is a gay man I slept with once. I met him in a gay bar when I was living in New York, and I thought he was perfect. He worked with homeless queer youth. He had a dog. He was a little taller than average, and stocky, wearing jeans, a T-shirt and Puma high tops. He was bearded. He said things like “you’re so unlike everyone your age” (he was 11 years older than I) and “I never go home with anyone the night I meet them.” When he did come home with me and we were naked in my bed, he kissed my neck, and I moaned, high-pitched and breathy. He stopped, looked me in the eye and said, “Don’t do that. It’s faggy.”

 

Now, this was several years ago, and I hadn’t yet learned that people like Peter are to be either ignored, laughed at or taught, so I became a caricature of “not faggy”: I grunted (no more moaning), I pretended that I wasn’t hurt by what he said (feelings are for girls, as I recalled learning during childhood), and I tried to act as masculine as possible, because that is the opposite of faggy, the opposite of the femme gay man who gestures, speaks quickly in a high-pitched voice and says “darling.” I became that silly thing because I wanted Peter to love me.

Ugh, wow, Peter sounds like a jerk. I have been with some not great men who have tried to change basic parts of me. However, none have wanted to change anything as basic as the fact that I made noises in bed. In this case, that seems like it points to some problems with the culture in general.

The author goes on to explains:

Assimilation was successful in that discrimination against LGBT people is now illegal in many forms, but it also created an “acceptable gay man,” and he was white and masculine and certainly did not say “darling.” It also created and validated a favorite excuse for anti-gay bigotry, “I’m fine with gay people as long as they don’t flaunt it,” because suddenly there were gay people who were not “normal.” “Normal” gay men today ape that heterosexual excuse for bigotry by blaming “abnormal” gays for the the maltreatment of gays as a whole.

Peter is a “normal” gay man, so when my behavior started to drift outside “normal,” he reprimanded me much in the same way that police officers, gym teachers or parents might have done in the ’50s (and today, to be fair). And although the ’50s were over 60 years ago, that attitude remains pervasive: Look at any on gay dating website or smartphone app and you’ll see our twisted heritage as “preferences” based on a hierarchy of who can pass as a successful straight man: “Looking for masc, musc, no femmes, white only.”

To some extent people always love people who represent extreme stereotypes of their gender. That is why women go for hyper-masculine action stars, and men go for Playboy bunnies.

However, accepting people really means treating people within a community as individuals, and not saying that there is a “right” or “wrong” way to be this or that. There is only a wrong way if your behavior is hurtful to people, and making moaning noises during sex is not hurtful. That’s as true for gay people as it is for straight ones. It’s not “okay to be gay” provided you look and act exactly like an action star. It’s just “okay to be gay”, period.

Picture via WENN

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  • Emily

    I just think that guy who called Peter “faggy” is a jerk, plain and simple. Straight people say awful things to each other as well. I don’t think this is a symbol of there being an unacceptable type of gay man – I just think it means some people are assholes who don’t know when to bite their tongue. The examples Peter gives of the shallow preferences prevalent on gay dating sites? Those aren’t exclusive to gay men. Straight men and women have shallow preferences regarding the opposite sex as well.

    • Judy

      I agree. I think that Peter’s guy was a jerk. It says a lot more of his insecurities than it does Peter. My first boyfriend at first seemed to accept me but then told me my stomach was “too big” and reminded him of sitting on his dad’s lap as a child (he had been a bigger guy). I was a big girl but he knew that when he met me and I had too much hair on my arms and other various ways that I was “unsuitable” months after starting to date me. He now identifies as gay (not that those were indications he was gay but he was certainly insecure with his masculinity. Jerks come in all forms. Usually the jerks are insecure themselves.

  • Cee

    Thanks for this. There sometimes is a lot of division as to what is acceptable within the lgbtq community. As someone who is a very girly lesbian, I get very confused when my own community chastises me for it, or when gf hears it for being too boyish. As if there is guideline as to what is needed to be gay aside from just being gay.
    Of course, I hear things like “its okay if youre gay, just dont cut your hair” from heteros, but its expected (sad truth). Its a bit more hurtful coming from your own kind.

  • Lastango

    “Don’t do that. It’s faggy.”

    That’s hilarious! Reminds me of a gay guy’s personal ad that said he wasn’t interested in socializing on the “tacky gay scene”.

    Discuss, girlfriends!

  • Eli

    Asking your partner to try something new in bed, including these kinds of mannerisms, should be about the exploration of it all. Nothing wrong with asking your partner to be more gender conforming now and again, provided that you’re equally willing to be more gender nonconforming. Masculinity, androgyny, and femininity are all fun to tap into from time to time, irregardless of your sex/gender.

    It sounds like Peter didn’t want to explore, but rather wanted to control his partner. That’s too bad. Makes for bad sex, too. Glad this guy moved on with his life.

  • Robert Alvarez

    No matter how gorgeous, Loving, selfless another man is, any man that would have issues with my sex noises, needs to go! Clearly, my Self-Love is much stronger than I thought it was.

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.j.foster.9 John Jay Foster

    Its one thing to be masculine, another thing to be cocky, to be a jerk…its one thing to be feminine, but another to be in-genuine, superficial, over-dramatic or hyper-feminine. I don’t think gay people should be treated differently bc of their orientation….but if thats what you want…and your a gay man…then go ahead and display that unconvincing personality, stick out like sore thumb, but don’t expect to be taken too seriously though. Personality is developed, and can even be changed over time. If your not getting along well with others because they say your “too flamboyant” then you probably are…u can change your mannerisms, your personality to be a more palatable individual to everyone…even if you cant change your sexual preference. I know some people won’t like this comment but its the truth.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kquartey Kwei Quartey

    We might be moving in that direction. “Bromances,” homoerotically tinged close friendship between regular “guys” is I believe one end of the spectrum that is acceptable to many, but the preferred “type” in bromances are unmistakably masculine and/or rugged.

  • Cori

    Anyone lucky enough to be having sex with a person should be thrilled to hear any kind of sex noises. To insist on a certain kind is insincere and trying to make the other person into a fantasy.

  • Phillip

    Real men (gay or straight) don’t feel need to validate their own narcissistic egos by trying to forcefully change someone else’s identity, even if its just a request in the most intimate and tender of settings. I would have told that guy to get the f*&% off me and I’m a butch jock of a man.

  • James Hagerty

    This is bullshit! Acceptable gay man my ass! I have a great job, I am self supporting and educated! I own my own house. I have six cats and 2 dogs. I have several cocksuckers who do me on Friday nights. I take gay vacations and love being single! I go to the bars to pick up a trick on Saturday night! I like my life and don’t care if you accept me or not!