I’ve been to a focus group recently where they interviewed gay men and straight men (age 20-30) to better understand how to target these two groups in advertisements.

It was an eye opener for me.

They presented us with pictures and asked us for words that we would use to describe what’s masculine about the different pictures.

Straight men considered “masculine” a much wider variety of men, and couldn’t really come up with very specific words to describe their idea of masculinity. They just said things like “he looks like a normal dude”.

Gay men in comparison had a much narrower idea of masculinity, only macho men were considered masculine. I – personally – equate “macho” to caveman, not to masculine.

Some gay guys came up with things like “it’s masculine to take what you want”, or words like assertiveness to define masculinity. Basically, femininity just meant weakness to these gay men.

It made me feel a bit like gender stereotypes may actually be stronger with gay men, than they are with straight men.

Anybody has ever had the same perception elsewhere?

15 COMMENTS

  1. Hmm, that is actually interesting, what you can also consider is that maybe the gay men feel more attacked by the idea of masculinity (in the sense that gay men are not always considered masculine by others), and therefore feel more strongly about it, whereas the straight men didn’t really care or see a difference. Just a thought

  2. I’m not surprised. Gay men seem to be obsessed with labels with narrow definitions, which don’t actually serve anybody. If anything I think it creates animosity amongst the different groups. Not to mention misogyny is certainly present in this community, hence the hate of “femme” men.

  3. This has been a major point in my therapy sessions as of recently. I was never really given a definition or a role model as to what “masculinity” *is* when I was growing up, so my therapist has me on a search to define what masculinity is, *for me* at least.

    And currently, there’s all this talk in the media about toxic masculinity, and so it seems to me that when someone asks for a definition of healthy masculinity, they define it according to what toxic masculinity is not. But defining something according to what it’s not is a poor definition at best, and usually completely wrong. I mean stuff like “being courteous” “helping raise the kids” “not being misogynistic” are positive qualities, but that’s not exclusively masculine; it’s really just being an adult.

    Being assertive or “taking what you want” isn’t masculine either, women do that too. And “strength” and “weakness” are just biased perceptions, not definitions either.

    I have no answer at this time.

  4. The other day, I was on r/askgaybros, relaying my experience with racially charged conversations. I was immediately shot down and called a weak sauce victim. Narrowmindedness is strong in this community me thinks.

  5. This doesn’t really surprise me, TBH. Closeted gay guys have to be hyperanalytical about everything done and said to make sure they don’t come off as gay or even step close to that line. That includes not only paying attention to what they do and say but also to men around them and how they behave.

    I know, having spent most of my life in denial, I had a very clearly-defined set of do’s and don’ts that probably wouldn’t have even occurred to the typical straight guy. Partially because they just wouldn’t do some things because of their sexual orientation (stare at another guy for too long) and partially because there just wouldn’t be a concern about taking things too far and being perceived as gay (slapping another guy on the ass in sports, for example).

    There’s a vast difference between being straight and acting straight. Much in the same way there is a difference between being Freddy Mercury and playing the role of Freddy Mercury. I’m sure Rami Malek had observations about Freddy’s behaviors that would have shocked Freddy just because they were subconscious.

    Note, I’m drawing a parallel between “being straight” and “masculine” here for convenience sake. I realize the topic is much more complex than that.

  6. I’ve always seen extreme machismo qualities as a detriment. You being “a masculine gay” does not make you better, superior, or more intelligent than any other guy. What it does do from my observation is make a guy less interesting, curious, creative, sensitive, and well rounded. But props to you for getting brownie points for being masc on a dating app.

    I’ve always just been attracted to men who exemplify well roundedness, calmness, experience, things I would classify as positive masculinity.

  7. It doesn’t surprise me gay men would be more aware of masculinity than straight men and be more inclined to see it as a positive trait in others.

    Masculinity is a gender marker for the male sex which is what gay men are attracted to.

  8. I think gay men suffer from more toxic masculinity issues than straight men. We classify ourselves into all of these sub groups (bears, otters, thinks). It’s all so weird and unnecessary. The word “bottom” is often used as a slur to degrade someone. It’s so hateful. Like its a sin to be a bottom, or feminine, or passive. It’s all such toxic bullshit.

  9. As someone who was assign male at birth but finally escaped internalized masculinity issues and realized I identify more as nonbinary, yeah the gay community has some fucked up ideas of masculinity. The absurd hate that femme tops get? The TWO body types that mainstream gay culture finds attractive?

  10. In the gay community we see who the REAL masculine men are. In the straight community men and woman will find any reason to say a guy ISNT gay. That’s why there definitely is broader. Doing certain “gay” things in the straight community doesn’t clock you as not masculine as long as you fuck girls and dress according to your gender. Stereotypes don’t matter . Some guys like masculine men . Some guys like feminine men. Who cares . I personally believe gays can clock unauthentic masculinity better than “straights”

  11. 1. I always thought like gay men are feeling more masculine and are truly sure of themselves, while straight men and closeted men usually used to break and explode with true hysteria when their masculinity was put into danger and then you get wet from radioactive rain, because clouds of toxic masculinity emerge.
    2. The problem in our community is how closeted gays or narcissistic ones turn the tides of mentality, behaviour and definition of masculinity and people start to adopt that scheme of thinking. They have problems with their minds and we absorb it much easier, because we had them once too. Lots of us. Have you ever wondered why gay men have a hard time to create friendships? In my sincere opinion having great gay friends is so important. Not only because they understand you and they see things straigthies have a hard time to see, but also because they can help you in various life situations and vice versa. It’s the thing that I love LGBT for.
    3. Sadly, I’ve been observing community from another point of view and what I see is that gay men usually group or fall in love with their copies. Femmes with femmes. Muscles with muscles. Intellectuals with intellectuals. I feel that somewhere deep in people’s hearts is desire to also have contacts with other types of gays but the iron border is being put and is unable to remove. Sad how we yell for diversity while we cannot even have more diverse friends. I always thought like I am in the middle of this, I am myself alternative tattoo gay (just a simple label) and I had no problem befriending with muscled, femmes, intellectuals. I heard lots of their gossips about eachother so I know that some of these people can give a hand to another and destroy that shitty border, but then again come closeted b*ches who have problems with their idea of masculinity and they kill it for everybody.
    4. What I’d love to see is that people stop discriminating eachother inside of community. Having femme friends doesn’t make you femme and maybe some of their ways of thinking, and their definition of what masculinity is can help you in some areas of life, same with muscles, intellectuals or any other group. People should also chill with pushing it all into relationship/sex while you just have a friend to laugh or go downtown with.

  12. That makes sense. I should probably start looking toward marrying gender with evolutionary sex instead. I’ll play with that for a while…

  13. No, not sarcastic. I think I’m also divorcing gender from sex too much. I want to try my exploration in the opposite direction

  14. probably, as it seems also prevalent among transgender women, many (or most) of whom dress and behave in what would be traditionally considered very feminine clothing. for how prolific the lgbt community has been to raise awareness in areas of non-binary acceptance and the general understanding that gender is a social construct which shouldn’t define our sex, we also tend to be quite myopic when it comes to dogged reinforcement of traditional gender roles.

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