Image by badjonni/Creative Commons
Dear Gay Uncle Joe,
Why, even in our community of gay men, is there a hierarchy between feminine and masculine men? It seems that gay men who act masculine are generally higher up on the totem pole of attractiveness. Our own jargon for identifying roles in a relationship are laced with ideas of submissiveness, with one being labeled top and the other bottom. These types of thoughts bleed into everyday life. For example, there are times when me and my friends will see two “masculine” men together and think “Huh, I wonder who is the bottom or maybe they switch roles.” On the contrary, when we see two “feminine” guys, for example guys who wear makeup, jewelry, etc, together it’s still odd to us. I wonder how their relationship works if there is no “masculine” presence. Is it because we as gay men are in general attracted to masculinity or is it because we are still members of a patriarchal society?
Attracted to Bro-mosexuals
Dear Attracted to Bro-mosexuals,
First of all I’d like to say thank you for asking what, let’s be honest, is on every gay man’s mind. Most of us like and want that young Clint Eastwood, masculine, sweat-running-down-your-face-after-a-workout kind of guy.
But let me take you on a magical journey around our heteronormative, patriarchal society. This ain’t all your fault. You’ve been socialized to believe these things by our society. Our society champions the “perfect” relationship as a strong, masculine man taking care of his (note the connotation of possession) docile, submissive woman. This is the root of the problem. But you know what? This. Is. Wrong. (slams palm on table on every word)
Let me break down everything that is wrong with this perception of a “perfect” relationship.
Number one: we ain’t hetero. This is inherently not for us.
We do not play by the hetero rules nor should we have to. This only leads to self-hate and constant disappointment. As queer men, we especially know what that feels like and its not something we should try and recreate.
Number two: recognizing that our society puts “masculine” over “feminine” is recognizing that our society is patriarchal.
We are socialized to believe that a man should be masculine and a woman should be feminine. Trying to circumvent these roles in any way will lead to rejection. If a man displays qualities that are even a little “feminine”, they are ridiculed and inevitably ostracized, because being a woman is seen as something that “deserves” ridicule.
Honey, at the end of the day everyone is going to have their preferences, whether they see them as products of socialization or not. All we can do is educate these people; awareness of the social construction of gender norms leads to critical thinking. You can lust after that muscle bro with the tank, be the “bottom” in the relationship, or be masc/fem; just make sure that whatever you do, you take into account all of these important factors.
When you’re struggling to tease apart these intricacies that is gay attraction, remember the 5 G’s : Good. God. Get. A. Grip. Girl. While there is at times overwhelming bitterness, that is the vodka of life. Don’t forget to remember there’s sweetness to it; just add some orange juice.
Gay Uncle Joe