Gay Stereotypes

As I said last month, I will be doing a series addressing stereotypes for LGBTQ+ people—talking about people who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer, as well as people who are intersex and asexual. I look forward to continuing through this series.

Even though I said that I would do a part in this series about once a month, I decided that I would make an exception for the month of June, which is LGBT Pride Month. But not only that—I felt that on June 28, 2019, the 50th anniversary of the start of the riots at a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn, it was extremely important to write about and confront stereotypes with gay people that has been brought to my attention by friends, writers, celebrities, and others, so that we don’t see those stereotypes (or other stereotypes associated with being gay) morph into another Stonewall tragedy.

With all that clear, a gay person is a man who is only attracted to other men. They are never attracted to women—a man attracted to both men and women is not gay but bisexual.

Now that we’ve talked about what it means to be gay, here are a few stereotypes associated with being gay:

  1. Gay people are and/or look feminine. Some gay people may look feminine, but I also know of gay people who look quite masculine. And, I must add that given this stereotype, a gay man who looks masculine is no less valid than a gay man who looks more feminine.
  2. Some people just “look” or “act” or “seem” gay. See what I said for the previous stereotype. Yes, there are some people who fit into the stereotype of what it means to look, act, or seem gay, but I also know openly gay people who look or act or seem straight. There is sometimes the thought that gay men “sound” a certain way, or walk a certain way, or dress a certain way. However, the way that gay people look, act, and sound is probably as diverse as the way people in general look, act, or sound.
  3. Gay people just haven’t found the “right woman.” And since gay people are only attracted to other men, gay people will never find the right woman, as far as marriage is concerned. That being said, maybe some people who identify as gay will be one day able to find the right man (if they haven’t found him already).
  4. In a parenting duo with two men, one of them has to be the “mom.” If one were to follow the dictionary definition of a mom and a dad, this is impossible—as a dad is a male parent, a parenting duo with two men is a parenting duo with two dads. If one of the men in a same-sex parenting duo wants to do more of the dad things while the other one wants to do more mom things, that is completely up to them. Ultimately, though, such a parenting duo has two dads.
  5. Gay people like all men. This derives from the thought that gay people are somehow sexually promiscuous. However, the gay people I know (as well as many other gay people have standards, just as anyone else has standards. So just as heterosexual people are not attracted to all people of the opposite sex, gay people are not attracted to all men.

These, of course, are just a few of the harmful stereotypes associated with being gay. If there are other stereotypes about gay people that should be discussed and/or if anyone wants to expand upon the gay stereotypes mentioned here, please feel free to post a comment below!

Note: If you want to catch up on previous posts in my LGBTQ+ Stereotypes Series, feel free to read my posts on lesbian stereotypes and stereotypes associated with people with same-sex relationships, as well as my post introducing the series.

Second note: I will not publish a new post next week, as that is the week of July 4th.

The Ableism of Western Masculinity

When I, and others, read definitions of what it means to be “masculine” in the western world, we get words like: active, aggressive, ambitious, analytical, assertive, athletic, authoritative, blunt, certain, competitive, decisive, dominant, forceful, independent, individualistic, physical, protective, self-reliant, self-sufficient, strong and tough.

Some of these meanings of masculinity are perfectly okay—being active, ambitious, analytical and certain, for example, can be positive traits in many circumstances.

Other traits are, in my humble opinion, traits that contribute to gender inequality and so many sexual assaults against mostly women—being aggressive, authoritative, dominant, and forceful come to mind. The topic of how some ideas of western masculinity contribute to gender inequality and sexual violence may very well be the subject for a future post, but I won’t cover this in my current one.

And then there are other “masculine” traits such as: active, athletic, independent, physical, self-reliant, self-sufficient, strong, and tough. These traits are ableist, or discriminating in favor of able-bodied people, at least to some extent, because men who have disabilities are then viewed as completely unable to fit these traits of what it apparently means to be a “true man” or “manly enough.”

Consider the following:

  1. If you are a blind person, you don’t fit into some people’s ideas what it means to be masculine. The definition of masculinity includes independence, self-reliance, and self-sufficiency, yet you need to depend on other people, animals or things to guide you.
  2. If you are deaf person, you don’t fit into what some think it means to be masculine. You need to depend on sign language from others or closed caption coming from a machine, so you therefore don’t have the independence, self-reliance, or self-sufficiency associated with masculinity.
  3. If you need a cane to get around (let alone if you’re in a wheelchair), you don’t fit into our society’s idea of what it means to be masculine. Regardless of what your level of activity is (and I know my share of people who are on a cane or in a wheelchair AND are actually quite athletic), you are often viewed as inactive, unathletic, dependent on others and weak if you use a cane or are in a wheelchair.

The bottom line is that if you are a man with some form of disability, that person likely does not fit the definition of masculinity. In fact, because masculinity is ableist, the very ideas associated with modern western masculinity completely exclude men with disabilities the “manliness club.”

So when I hear someone talk about “toxic masculinity,” I agree—masculinity is toxic. The ableism of masculinity makes masculinity inherently toxic.

Note: I want to thank the blog Me, Myself and Disability for bringing this issue to my attention. When I first discovered that blog, I read a post about the author’s own experiences with the ableism of masculinity. If you want to get a more personal perspective on the ableism of western masculinity, I highly recommend that you read his post on the issue.

The #MeToo Campaign

As readers of mine probably know by now, there has been a #MeToo campaign which has put a spotlight on how big of a problem sexual violence, particularly sexual violence against women, really is.

As such, there are a few things that I feel led to say about the organizers, participants, survivors who decided to not participate, male and nonbinary survivors of sexual violence, and men.

To the organizers of this #MeToo campaign, most especially activist Tarana Burke (who created the original movement) and actor Alyssa Milano (who helped make the hashtag viral)—thank you. Your goal was to make others aware of how much this nation and world has a serious problem with sexual aggression and violence. I think you all succeeded. Hopefully this awareness can turn into ending rape culture. But all of you, as the organizers, took a big step in this much-needed journey. As a result, “thank you” frankly feels like an inadequate thing to say.

To participants in the #MeToo campaign—thank you. Everybody involved in this of was extremely brave and vulnerable. Every one of you made others more aware of how enormous this problem is and all of you did that at the risk of everything from potential backlash to potential flashbacks. Once again, thank you.

To survivors who didn’t participate—your story is no less valid because you didn’t participate. To the contrary, maybe some of you didn’t participate at least in part because your story/stories is/are so fresh and raw. I hope that others who hear your story in the future (if you do ever decide to share your story) will not make your stories any less valid because you emotionally were not able to participate in the “me too” campaign.

To male and nonbinary survivors—your story is no less valid, either. Just because you don’t fit into the most common story of sexual violence (a man committing violence against a woman) doesn’t mean that your story is somehow less true, or that you are any less of a survivor than anyone else.

To fellow men—we need to hold ourselves and each other accountable. We need to realize how our own actions and the actions of those around us contribute to rape culture. Whether it be not always listening to others (an area I realized I was weak at) or making so-called “rape jokes” (not funny, by the way), whether it be the way many of us have been conditioned to be controlling or the way some of us may turn a blind eye to the aforementioned “rape jokes,” we need to improve. So let’s start thinking about how we can get ourselves and others completely away from rape culture and the toxic masculinity which contributes to rape culture.

Finally, to people who got to this point in my post—thank you for at least taking this issue seriously enough to get to this point. I just hope that we can also take this issue seriously enough to start actually addressing it.