Friday, May 28, 2010


I shall be very interested to read your comments on this topic. I have lots of ideas rolling around my brain this morning. . . .roflmsao. Will you please share yours. I will 'let loose' later. . . .hehe. . . justin

Gay Relationships: Gay Men And Masculinity

Posted: 27 May 2010 04:08 AM PDT

4896804f8d731s Gay men have an ambivalent attitude towards masculinity. The word comes up all the time in personal ads – you know, “masculine guy seeks same.” We often equate masculine with sexy. At the same time, many gay men privately worry they are somehow deficient in the manliness department, no matter how much time they spend at the gym.

So what is masculinity, anyway – a hairy chest and the ability to change the oil in your car yourself? Being congenitally unable to ask for directions when lost? Can you be “too masculine?” Is being a top somehow more masculine than being a bottom?

One of the ways homophobes misunderstand gay men is in assuming we secretly want to be women. Gay men sometimes respond with camp humor, calling one another “girl” or “she.” This is a funny way of defusing hate directed toward us, but it can cause us to become confused in relation to how we feel about being men.

Growing up, gay boys are sometimes taunted with words like “sissy,” that imply they are deficient in the masculinity department. Many of the images of gay men in the media are unmanly in way that’s supposed to be funny – La Cage aux Folles, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.

Small wonder that one of the things that so upset the ‘phobes about Brokeback Mountain was the image of two virile men with their lips locked on one another. More than one right wing critic has speculated that John Wayne must have been spinning in his grave.

What characteristics do you associate with the word masculine? It’s easy to over-generalize about gender roles, but it’s clear that some qualities are positive and some are negative. On the plus side, being masculine is often associated with strength and competence, as well as secondary sexual characteristics like big muscles and lots of body hair. On the negative side, manly men often seem over-aggressive, stubborn, close-minded…perhaps not too bright.

Since gay men are attracted to other men – duh – a certain amount of testosterone is inherently attractive to gay guys. A gay man is a man’s man! Not a problem unless we fetishize hyper-masculinity. Many of the qualities that lead us to see a man as manly may make him a great sexual fantasy, but a questionable candidate for a flesh-and-blood relationship.

Successful relationships typically require an ability to empathize or support your partner when he needs it – qualities that are more often associated with women than lumberjacks or fighter pilots. Sometimes our first choice for a sweaty fantasy isn’t our best choice for a partner.

We gay men wound ourselves when we learn to think of masculinity as something that resides outside of our own selves when we see other men as masculine, but not our selves. This is more likely to happen when our view of masculinity has become too narrow and too focused on physical parts (the size of this or the amount of that).

A broader sense of what it means to be a man can allow us to cultivate other masculine qualities in ourselves: the ability to take action, for instance, to master tasks that are important to us (regardless of whether that task is changing a tire or cooking a fabulous coq au vin), to pay at least as much attention to developing our inner strength as to inflating our pecs.

Men are sometimes advised to get in touch with their “inner feminine.” Maybe gay men need to get in touch with their “inner masculine” instead. Identifying those aspects of being a man we most value and then cultivate those parts of our selves can lead to a healthier and less distorted sense of our own masculinity.

John R. Ballew, author and contributor to GAYTWOGETHER, is a licensed professional counselor in private practice in Atlanta. He specializes in issues related to coming out, sexuality, relationships and spirituality. If you have any questions or comments you can submit them directly to GAYTWOGETHERor John R. Ballew, M.S. -


pretty? is he masculine? need to see him in action. . . . .
Say! are ear rings coming back into 'trendy'? ;-)


J said...

I've always thought that a certain amount of androgyny is very attractive. Case in point: The ice skater Johnny Weir, who certainly displays his feminine side at all times. But when he gets on the ice the masculine element--a certain explosiveness--is quite apparent. The whole presentation is quite intoxicating.

Stew said...

I grew up in a house with 4 sisters and three brothers. The lines of feminine and masculine were blurred across the line completely. When we went to church, it was clear, these are boys in suits and these are girls in dresses. At home, we were all equals and could be anything we wanted.

In my adult life, I find myself attracted to both the more masculine and feminine types. And find myself somewhere in the middle.
It is true that if someone is very masuline, we tend to see them as not as bright.

Gary Kelly said...

Well, if that bloke in the pic said g'day he'd need to pick me up off the floor. Sheesh.

I think masculinity needs to be tempered with a dose of femininity. Like the ingredients in cooking... it can't be too sweet and it can't be too sour. You need a balance, but you also need to be able taste each element and know it's there. Yeah?

Anyway, if we blokes weren't supposed to have a feminine side, we wouldn't have nipples.

Jack Greenman said...

This may be kind of long.

I have always considered myself to be very masculine, and even at times to be a 'tough guy' without ever reflecting too deeply on what other's might consider masculine to mean.

I don't go to the gym, I have at times in my life been pretty damned strong (in a wiry way), and at other times pretty weak. I'm not a hairy fellow.

Steve McQueen wasn't a hairy fellow, neither for that matter was my father. I can think of quite a number of masculine men as well as tough guys who do and don't fit these various requirements.

To me, being masculine, well its just that, its not acting, anyone can act a certain way, its when you ARE more masculine than you are feminine. Yes yes, I know, using the word you are defining in the definition is a no no. *hangs head in shame*

But seriously. I work on cars, motorcycles, houses, I like working with my hands, I get along better with straight guys than most gay guys, I have trouble befriending girls because I have very little in common with them, I have a fairly deep voice, I don't easily fold under pressure, I handle myself well in pretty horrific situations.

To ME that is masculine. In perhaps a short sighted way, until I read this post it never occurred to me that someone might think simply having muscles and body hair was masculine.

JustinO'Shea said...

hmmm. . . .interesting point, mate. . .LOL Leave it to you to think of that!

Shall I ponder that today? hmmm?

Anonymous said...

For most of today I've been thinking on the various words I'd need to put across my ideas/reaction on this subject.....but tonight when I went back online to add my thoughts I read Gary's comment, and saw that he beat me to the punch and said about 80-90% of what I wanted to say, but only in one paragraph.

Sheesh! Thanks Gary.

But I will add, that I don't like acting...I view it as unfortunate that people adopt what they view as the outward appearance, voice and expressions etc that they believe to be 'necessary' to be 'gay'.

In other words I am not particularly attracted to people who permanently adopt those stereotypical lispy faggy voices, camp behaviour, appearance and 'gay-talk"

Sure, a bit of it in fun, as parody etc amongst friends is fine.

I view myself as masculine..hard at times, and equally as soft and caring, but I don't appear, talk or act as many believe 'gays' must/should be.

I've been long-winded again, sorry, but that's just me.

Interesting subject Justin.

Greg in Adelaide

Anonymous said...

Just after posting my comments I fell across this story here:

It says a lot.

Greg in Adelaide

JustinO'Shea said...

THANKS, ALL Y'ALL for your comments thus far. Seems to me we are kinda all in the same boat, as it were, [and not a boat called "Ship of Fools", by the way. . .LOLOL ]

And, to GREG of ADELAIDE, I did check it out in Adelaide, as you suggested but I didnt have an email addy for you so as to reply privately..NOICE! ;-)

Gary Kelly said...

Anyone who does dry walling and says 'noice' can't be all that bad.

JustinO'Shea said...

haahaaaa. . . .i like saying 'noice' ! You hear that along the coast, especially as y'head no'th to Maine. hehe

"NOICE" has a nicer sound. lol

Stew said...

I typically don't think about how I look to others.(typical guy) Today as I was getting ready to spend the evening with a 30 year veteran of the US Army, I wanted to wear the cloths that he helped me pick out on our shopping trip in Toronto. After getting dressed, I turned to the mirror and said "Is this too gay?"(Of course maybe a shopping trip in Toronto is too gay)
In this conservative town, I'm sure that it was. But in a more cosmopolitan area. Not so much.
I think it really depends on where you are and who you are with as to how masculine you look. And everyones perception is different.

I like to design and build things using power tools. But if masculine is a hairy chest and beer gut with a balding head, no offense to anyone like that, that's just not me.

Coop said...

Yes, I am following along ;-) This is an interesting tipic.

Everyone else is making too much sense here for this fool to add his $0.02

Okay... Okay... the whole Fake lisping/campy behavior routine drives me CRAZY.

Gary Kelly said...

Macho man? So why do women fall for a macho man, marry him, and then boss him around for the rest of his life?

Why do straight guys pay a madam dressed in leather to whip them to death in a dungeon?

For me, strength of character rules. Muscles are cool, but character is what it's all about in the long run - whether it's male or female.

In other words, macho ain't on the outside.