I should preface this piece with the very-real fact that, by nature, I’m considered to be a masculine guy. While this fluctuates with alcohol and how comfortable I feel, usually I sound like the Marine I was trained to be. But don’t you dare tell me or any one of my queer friends to tone it down, and that includes you masc-for-masc dudes!
“I’m cool with gays having their rights and all, but why do they have to be so vociferous about it?” is a question I’ve received multiple times in my short life of 27 years. Another common observation I hear: “Pride should be about information and education, not flamboyant men in thongs shaking their asses.” And to that I have the following response: Go fuck yourself. We’re here, we’re queer — get fucking used to it.
These comments don’t just come from straight allies or straight people in general. I’ve heard similar sentiments from multiple gay men; specifically, more heteronormative gay men. A gay colleague told me he had a hard time fitting in with the community because he hates that some gays act so flamboyant and attract so much attention. He, being a masculine gay himself, has the privilege of staying silent in an era he was so lucky to be born in — an era in which homosexuality isn’t a synonym of pedophilia; an era when homosexuality is no longer considered a psychological illness; and to be born in the same generation of gay men as me, who’ve seemingly forgotten our turbulent rise to equality (and we’re not where we should be) and those who fervently fought to get us the rights we have.
Quite a few gay couples I know refuse to attend Pride parades because they feel that gays are taking things too far. They feel Pride parades are an excuse for gay men to get together, to be as loud and flamboyant as they want and to do a ton of drugs together. And look, if that’s not your thing, that’s fine. But let us be whom we want to be and stop spouting your unfiltered, unneeded and unsolicited advice. Let us be as queer as we want to be. If you don’t want to attend Pride, fine; just shut up about it.
Recently, I was in Seattle waiting for a friend to meet me at Diesel, a well-known bear bar in Capitol Hill (one of the most fun gayborhoods in the U.S.). I, being the socialite I am, made the acquaintance of two rather burly-looking masculine men. They commented that they loved how masculine I was and how “normal” I acted, but they were unaware how opposed I am to that sort of homophobic rhetoric. To their dismay, I quickly, and eloquently, dismantled their observation.
“I’m not normal, I still suck dick just like you do and just like all the loudest, most flamboyant and beautiful queens do. You’re not normal, and the term ‘normal’ is a way for you to find solace in the very-harsh reality that society has historically seen us, and that includes you, as deviant.”
Surprisingly, it struck a chord with them. They agreed and they apologized, which I feel is incredibly evolved and correct. While we may not want to believe that there is a hierarchy of oppression in minority groups, there is. To be masculine is to be seen as strong and competent; to be feminine is to be seen as fragile and weak. We must understand that the root of this is in society’s hatred of women, and we must fervently oppose this.
To my queens of Philadelphia: Limp those wrists and swing those hips! “Yaaas queen” everywhere you go. Wear the brightest and tightest shorts you own while you sip your pink martini. Let your freak flag fly! And while I’m fully aware that you can handle the criticism thrown at you by the masc-for-masc macho men, rest assured that most of us have your back.
To the macho men against flamboyancy: Stop hating yourself. Stop hating on your own community. Stop hating women, and stop feeling like your straight-guy friends will love you more if you act more like them. They won’t, and you’re not doing any favors for anyone by declaring your masculinity and opposition to queerness to the world. Have your opinions, have your preferences, but keep them to yourselves — or better yet, get to the root of your issue and spare us from your internalized homophobia. We’re waiting for you, you beautiful caterpillars!
Johnathan Gilmore is a formerly enlisted combat Marine deployed to Afghanistan who writes about masculinity, veteran awareness and LGBT issues. Gilmore graduated from Cornell University with a degree in communications. Read more on his blog: https://jtg237.wixsite.com/johnathan.