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“I’m Gay, But I’m Not A Faggot”

gaybroimage

(James Hildebrand)– I grew up around enough Y-chromosomes for me to know that every guy struggles with his masculinity. Gay or straight, at some point in our lives we’ve all surreptitiously scrutinized our testicles in a foggy bathroom mirror. Seriously, I’ve seen enough guys wear baseball hats inside the gym, carefully alter sleeveless shirts to the most flattering shape, and chant “no homo” like it activates some kind of penis missile defense system to know that masculinity issues are hardly just the purview of us sodomites.

And while I’m no psychoanalyst, or sociologist, or Amherst sophomore who thinks “#CarlJung like, totez got it right”, I think it’s pretty easy to see that guys police other guys’ masculinity too. Chad’s love of football and beer is safe, but he better hide that iCarly poster before his bros show up. Deviate from a constructed masculine ideal, and pretty soon you may find yourself grouped with the women – quite the insult, I know.

Of course, it’s easy to take this notion and extrapolate it to some grand struggle between the Haves and the Have-nots of masculinity. Playing for the Haves we have the letterman-clad high school jocks whose refusal to say please or skip leg day serve as indisputable proof of their supreme genital girth. As for the Have-nots, their sickly anemic bodies and collective inability to “spit game”, “get it in”, and “slay bitches” will forever prevent their masculine success. I said it’s easy to think of policing masculinity likes this, but I don’t think it’s actually correct in a wider context. I’ve seen gay, bisexual, and straight men both police and be policed, showcasing their masculine qualities and trying to quietly strangle their femininity. In whatever small way, everyone has been both the jock and the dweeb at some point. I think everyone understands the struggle for masculine identity, regardless of whether or not they buy into it.

That being said, I’ve noticed that many gay men have a uniquely salient perspective on issues of masculine performance and presentation. Again, not a trained psychologist, or sociologist, or professional Tumblr commenter, so it’s not like I’m qualified to pinpoint its origins. Maybe it’s because most gay men grow up actively hiding aspects of themselves that would be deemed “gay,” a feat which requires more careful observation of gender performance. Maybe it’s because we are attracted to our own gender and therefore can more easily identify and emulate the characteristics that make a man “attractive.” I don’t know. Regardless, issues surrounding masculinity are undoubtedly of special importance to many gay men.

As gay men, however, we often find ourselves excluded from mainstream masculine culture. In many people’s minds, gay men are somehow fundamentally less than male. Gay men aren’t generally expected to enjoy sports, enjoy typically “masculine” music, or even display courage in the face of danger. We get more screen time as villains and vapid assholes than as the heroes. Still, it seems more and more people are coming to understand how incorrect this stereotype is, which is great (though there’s absolutely nothing wrong with not enjoying baseball or getting swole/ripped/shredded/jacked/yoked at the gym). But what if, as a queer man, you really do love football, weight training, and barbequing? Where do you do to meet other like-minded queers?

Enter gaybros.

/r/gaybros began as a subreddit in 2012 and has quickly grown to nearly 30,000 subscribers. Its mission statement is pretty upfront: “Gaybros is an online men’s interest community that aims to build a brotherhood around shared interests, promote self acceptance, and bring people together. We talk about, well, guy stuff. Sports, cars, video games, military issues, working out, gadgets, gear and more.” It’s the ideal place for any queer man who enjoys The Four Gs: “gear, grub, guns, and guys.” And while Gaybros began as a simple internet forum, it’s come to represent an entire legion of homosexual men who previously felt largely invisible.

And you know what? I totally get it. The queer community contains people from every race, class, creed, and culture on the planet. It would be insane to assume that such a wide group wouldn’t contain at least 30,000 guys interested in more typically mainstream masculine culture. If our goal as members of the queer community is to take people as they are, then who are we to attack the young gay guy who is just looking to meet a skeet-shooting partner? After all, aren’t we all just looking for someone to skeet with?

But if there’s any problem with groups like the Gaybros, it’s this: it’s extremely easy to let your greater acceptance in mainstream masculine culture function as a gateway into malignant, internalized homophobia. I’m talking about when you hear a gay man insisting that he’s “gay, but not a faggot” to his group of straight friends. It’s an approach to assimilation that can unquestioningly accept mainstream masculinity to a fault, one that agrees that, yes, being feminine is not simply humiliating, but something that should be punished.

In the end, being able to “pass” as straight can be a slippery slope. If you’re not careful, you might find yourself on the right side of the wrong binary. A masculine gay is suddenly somehow “the good gay,” a guy who emphasizes to his straight companions that his particular approach to queerdom, that is, one that assimilates more readily into mainstream society, is somehow the correct way to be gay. Don’t get me wrong, we all want someone to bring home to mom, but gaining mainstream approval shouldn’t be an entry into backstabbing the queer men who challenge established gender roles.

The wrong kind of Gaybro will happily allow himself to be tokenized, to agree with his straight friends when they insist that flamboyant gay men are the worst. Rather than using his more widespread acceptance to educate an often disinterested crowd, the wrong kind of Gaybro will gladly throw his fellow gays under the bus for straight male approval. In a world where violent homophobia is still alive and well, I am comfortable calling this a betrayal. I understand that you may feel disconnected from “mainstream” gay culture, but that doesn’t give you the go ahead to turn around and enable homophobia that only narrowly excludes yourself.

You don’t have to march in Pride parades if you don’t want to. You don’t have to buy the next Lady Gaga album just because she actively supports our community. Being gay doesn’t require you to ride around on a rainbow unicorn named “NoH8” while handing out condoms and singing an acapella medley of “Born This Way”, “I’m Coming Out”, and “YMCA.” But like any decent, thinking member of society, you should at least consider the implications of your public presentation. Writing a lengthy post deriding gay men who aren’t as “straight-acting” as they describe over Grindr may seem like a simple way to vent frustration, but it falls on the low end of spectrum that culminates in outright hatred of the feminine.

Here’s my chance to talk about my personal experience with passing, but let me say that I’m not trying to turn this into a post like so many others, where a gay man talking about masculinity tries to subtly work in that he’s “totally masc” and “straight-acting,” and now “girls” flirt with him all the time. Yeah, sometimes people think I’m straight, and sometimes people think I’m gay. The important thing is not how often a woman asks for your phone number, or how surprised a bro is to hear about your passion for weiners. The important thing is how you respond, and the truth is, it’s really hard.

There was a time in my life where I’d hear someone express surprise at my homosexuality, and I’d just eat that shit up. Passing as straight was someone the pinnacle of my queer value system. To escape being considered gay was to rise above my fellow queers, to be fully accepted by the world. The internalized shame of being queer evaporates when the world validates your ability to successfully hide it.

It took a long time to unlearn that kind of internalized homophobia. It’s not easy. Being a young queer male can be extremely difficult. It’s unreasonable to expect a 17 year old to reach any deep philosophical conclusions about his sexuality. It’s a process. Still, you reach a point where it’s hard to consolidate your desire to be accepted and your willingness to attack more feminine queer men. It’s like saying “Accept me, not on philosophical or moral grounds or out of the decency of your heart, but simply because I’m just like you.”

So in the end, I say that the Gaybros of the world should enjoy their pulled pork, whey protein, and homemade stout, but keep in mind that passing the homophobic buck onto their fellow queers is Totally Not Bro.

About jhildebrand15

Thinking about family, Japan, and the homosexual agenda.

8 comments on ““I’m Gay, But I’m Not A Faggot”

  1. Little Kiwi
    September 14, 2013

    i can think of fewer things less masculine than being a gay man who does not stand up strong in complete support and solidarity with his gay brothers, regardles of how “masc” or “fem” someone chooses to perceive them.

    if you’re a gay man who denigrates or distances himself from the people one chooses to deem as “fem” then congrats, you’re no man at all. you’re a boy.

    http://littlekiwilovesbauhaus.blogspot.ca/2012/06/straight-is-not-compliment.html

    • GayBroCanada
      December 20, 2013

      Sorry, but overly effeminate gay men are annoying in the same way that over the top “manly” try-hard straight guys are. Your comment is typical of overly emotional fems.

      GayBro.

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  3. mike
    October 10, 2013

    “im gay but not a faggot” implying that fem men are faggots, you do nothing for the gblt community and you should stop writing this horrible gibberish.

    • jhildebrand15
      October 10, 2013

      We are on the exact same page, Mike. This entire post is critiquing that very notion. The phrase “I’m gay, but I’m not a faggot” is meant to represent some gay men’s anti-fem attitudes, not my own.

    • Anonymous
      December 22, 2013

      Did you read the whole thing? The point was how harmful statements like that are

  4. Sam Buddy
    January 30, 2014

    Oh, dude. This is an awesome post. Just wanted to add., so I am somewhere between fem & masc; I like sports, cars and all, but I’ve always valued the fem aspect of my gayness. I believe it has lead me to appreciate the finer things in life, its responsible for my love of art & design, my sense of style (clothing) and hygiene watch. Tom Ford!! I listen to all kinds of music and like chick flicks too. But Sci-fi & Fantasy kick ass., lol … its just … sometimes I feel like my straight friends missed out on all the benefits which come from having access to a little bit of femininity. Idk if I’m making any sense.. bleh., But I keep an ‘as-long-as-they-are-happy’ attitude about it. Just recently started playing sneaky ninja to get them to like cool things more on the fem. side.. mission accomplished! They love Florence + the Machine. Yes!! baby steps right? :) :D

    But do you get my prior point?

    Sorry for parable :)

    • I hear ya! I’m the same: somewhere between feminine and masculine. In fact, I’ve come to just see me as me. Others are free to label me however way they wish but I don’t need to be ‘fem’ or ‘masc’. I think embracing both sides of yourself is important. There are so many people out there who as Judith Butler pointed out ‘perform gender’. It’s actually something we can’t escape since we live in a gendered society but we can be aware of it. Next time somebody says I’m ‘butch’ or ‘camp’ I’ll reply ‘No I’m just yin and yang’. ;)

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This entry was posted on September 14, 2013 by in Queer and tagged , , , , , .
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