Queens, divas, twinks – gather ‘round; it’s time for us to have a little discussion about perpetuating the gay male stereotype. Leave your Pink sweatshirts and body glitter by the door, ‘cause you’re in for one helluva ride.
Somewhere between the massive HIV/AIDS pandemic of the mid-1980s and the initial airing of the pilot episode of “Queer As Folk” in 2000, the “G” of the GLBT community has evolved to mean more than just “fudge-packer” or “sissy boy.” In today’s world, being gay comes with a hefty price tag – that price tag being, of course, physical flawlessness.
Now, I’d be lying to you if I said that I didn’t have my own moments of vanity, let alone if I said that I didn’t appreciate a well-groomed man. But, as I’ll elaborate on throughout this article, the level of upkeep and preening that’s currently the norm among gay men is extremely ridiculous.
Before I go any further, I’d like to put this into perspective. During the AIDS outbreak, the GLBT community became something more of a single unit; one big happy family, if you will. Since the stigma surrounding AIDS bore the face of a hypersexual, homosexual male, the community as a whole was affected by the resulting phobias. Since gays weren’t often depicted in the media at this time, the stereotypes surrounding them weren’t as readily apparent as they are today.
Fast-forward to 2011, and it’s hard to escape the stereotypical, “Hey gurrrl, hey!” when you’re talking to people. As if painted across your face is that six-letter expletive that gay men, for the most part, take offense at.
A disconnect has risen between ‘gay’ and ‘human’ that has never been seen before in our modern, gay-friendly society. Much like the make-up ads and housewife-centered campaigns that corporations have been spoon-feeding women now for centuries, telling them to look their best at all times and to be submissive, to never rise to the level of their husbands – be it in intellect, strength or “manliness” – the modern homosexual is told to be flamboyant, blonde, and toned.
The inclusion of gays in the media in recent years hasn’t been any help in the matter, of course.
As I mentioned previously, the Showtime series “Queer As Folk” was a fore-runner for the world of the ‘modern gay.’ It depicted a group of five gay males, each of whom slept around at varying levels of consistency. Some of them maintained long-term, monogamous relationships, but ultimately the show’s characters stand as a stereotypical group of gays that someone would expect to be the poster children of HIV/AIDS. They headed to clubs almost nightly, struggled to maintain both a professional job and their private, sexual lives, and ‘the other F word’ was frequently shouted at them with harmful intent.
In today’s world, though, where do you see the unorthodox gay? Where is the man that is neither obsessed with sleeping around, nor subject to one too many “twinkle- toes” jokes? Where are the men that don’t take offense at the utterance of ‘that other F word’ by default, and who instead view their sexuality as merely one aspect of themselves?
When I look at the gay culture of today’s world, I always expect to see a less-tanned face, a less-sexualized and less-manicured individual – someone that truly embraces their sexual orientation, but does so without giving in to the media biases and cliches.
Personally, I’m not the type of person that makes his orientation known to anyone and everyone. I don’t broadcast my personal life as if it’s everyone’s business. It’s my mission in life to steer clear of these stereotypes, and to open others’ eyes to the fact that this ‘gay world’ has more than just millions of flamboyant, outspoken boys in it.
There should be a point in the lives of gay men where they stop allowing themselves to be the typecast gay best friend.
It’s time that we take back the word “gay” and make it stand for something more than just “an effeminate and obnoxious guy that sleeps with men.”