Setting 1: A House Party
A DRUNK CONVERSATION ABOUT CONVERSE SHOES AND SHROOMS
Person 1 (unprovoked): I am straight, by the way.
Person 2: Cool, okay.
They proceed to have a conversation about the construct of masculinity where Person 1 feels the need to state, again, that he is straight.
Setting 2: The Gym
Person 2, approaching a different Person 1, unsure of whether they were using a bench to work out
Person 2: Hey, sorry, just wanted to ask if you were using that bench?
Person 1 (avoiding eye contact and dismissively): NO, NO, NO… You can use it
These two scenarios provide a very limited snapshot of what it is like being a feminine gay guy trying to navigate extremely heteronormative spaces. Person 2 in both scenarios is a feminine gay brown man.
From the unprovoked incessant reiteration from Person 1 in the first setting about them being straight to the rather dismissive response from them in the second setting, it is important to understand that these reactions do not exist in a vacuum. They are all informed by stereotypes about gay men, especially feminine gay men; specifically, the extremely harmful narrative about them being predatory, or their alleged attraction to straight men. These reactions also provide a stark commentary on the fragility of masculinity and the frailties of heterosexuality; that they feel threatened at the mere presence of a non-conforming identity.
Over the years, social media has popularised the rhetoric of, “straight men only understand consent when they are in the presence of gay men.” This statement deconstructs not only the entitlement straight men traditionally have around/over female bodies, but also the projection of a normalised predatory mentality (under heteronormativity) onto those they consider a threat. This rhetoric also highlights the extreme cultural indoctrination of homophobia. Further examples are party settings where a gay man simply talking a straight man is assumed as having ulterior (sexual) motives, or the reluctance to be publicly seen with a feminine gay guy.
This piece is not designed as an attack on straight men. Its target is the parochial patriarchal mindset that entraps straight men into a constant state of insecurity of having to defend their virility, masculinity, and heterosexuality. Often through demeaning and ostracising gay men. I constructed this piece as an articulation of how it feels to be repulsed, chastised, and stigmatised for simply existing – as feminine gay man.