As we watch cultural trends shift away from binary gender roles, the gay community is experiencing its own shift away from the same masculine ideals that have plagued straight men. We, as a community of men, are starting to ask the tough questions.
What have we been doing wrong? Have we been following antiqued ideals of masculinity to gain acceptance? If so, what happens when we are accepted? Do we continue to follow something that was never truly indicative of who we are? If we allowed ourselves the freedom to truly be, who we wanted to be, without worrying about fitting into cultural norms, who would we be? Ultimately, are we happy following our straight male counterparts notions of what it means to be a man?
With the rise of movements like Me Too and Times Up, straight men are having to look in the mirror, and ask these tough questions, which means that we, as gay men, no longer feel as much pressure to be like them. Add to the fact that younger generations are no longer so caught up on labels, and the perfect storm for self-expression emerges. Words like queerness, fluid, pansexual have taken rise and inclusion has become more important now, than ever.
Yes, we still have a long way to go in terms of equality. Yes, our LGBTQIA brothers and sisters are facing their own battles in acceptance, visibility, and rights. However, as things like Ru Paul’s Drag Race, Queer Eye, and Adam Rippon become staples in not just queer homes, but all homes, it feels like a new type of gay man is emerging out in the public. Someone that is unapologetically himself, whether you like it or not, although it looks like majority of our world not only likes him, but loves him.
He is someone you might see taking the latest fitness class, but also who isn’t afraid to wear nail polish to work. He is a scruffy Olympian, who’s vernacular consists of words like, kween, gurl, and yaaaaaas. He is someone who is masculine, but also not afraid of his feminine side, and it is refreshing, exciting, and important.
Never before have we had so many out and visible different types of gay men. More athletes, actors, politicians, and public figures across the board are out and proud, and we needed this. While there still is a huge focus on the gay white male, we are slowly seeing our brothers of all different creeds, colors, ages, ethnicities, socio-economic backgrounds, etc take the stage they too, have long deserved. We needed this badly.
Young gay boys no longer see just Jack McFarland or Will Truman as the two types of gay men that they could possibly grow up to be. They now have movies like Love, Simon or Call Me By Your Name, which simply show young men figuring out themselves and who they want to be. They are young men, who happen to be gay, not solely gay young men. They are multifaceted human beings experiencing life lessons and struggles that all adolescents go through. It’s heart-warming, tear-inducing, and more than anything, human.
In the movie, Love, Simon, there is a powerful and thought provoking scene that shows all of Simon’s peers coming out to their families as straight. While it’s cute, charming, and funny, it’s also poignant, in that it addresses an absurd idea that straight is the norm, and only gay children need to have a sit down with their friends and families to express their sexuality. What a beautiful thought to think that all children have an opportunity to connect deeper with their families by “coming out,” and further debunks some wild notion that normal equates to straight.
Lastly, the idea that these types of men aren’t just the gay best friend, but leading roles and role models means that real progress is on the horizon. While the “Fab 5” from Queer Eye are all having an incredible moment, Jonathan Van Ness, seems to be the shows stand out as he is literally everywhere at the moment. With that said, each man from this show is truly doing something beyond important, both culturally and historically.
Adam Rippon stole the hearts of nearly everyone who watched him skate his way to a bronze medal at the Olympics, and as someone who never “passed,” it’s soul healing to watch. While the numbers are still few and far between for these type of standout roles, or the platforms to create them, I think we are on the verge of a real shift happening, and I’m proud to stand with all the men doing the hard work, so that future generations won’t have to think twice about any of this.
And yes, even I think it is fun to say yas. However, ladies please remember just because we are gay, doesn’t make us fabulous. We are fabulous for the hard work we put into being better humans, for the fact that we still have to face an incredible amount of stigmas and hate, yet face it with class and grace, as well as an insane amount of other reasons. So please, get to know us before you throw that fabulous word at us. I definitely don’t speak for everyone when I say this, but it makes a lot of us feel like your pet, when that’s the first thing that comes out of your mouth. Finally, pretty please don’t assume that just because you have a gay bestie, he’s perfect for us, or that we will click right away. We get that you’re coming from a good place, it’s just not fully appropriate. Just follow the golden rule, to assume anything, makes an ass of you and me.
Ultimately, being gay never meant we were destined to be one specific way, and while so many of us had to experience this through countless ups and downs, hardships, and confusions, it’s truly a gift to see so many men, especially younger ones, understanding that living authentically is truly the best way to simply be you, gay or straight.