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