How to know if a girl is gay – how to tell if a girl is a lesbian, bisexual or queer

„I casually come out to her and if she immediately reciprocates, that’s a good sign.“

Figuring out if someone you’re chatting to (maybe flirting with, who the fuck even knows?) is also queer can be a goddam minefield. Sure, some people may have the guts to just say it, but not everyone does OK?!

Here, 10 lesbian, bisexual and pansexual women explain how they know if someone’s potentially into them

Flexisexual: girls who kiss girls, but like boys

Researchers say women are more open-minded than men in their sexuality.

Feb. 23, 2011— — Ever since Madonna planted that wet kiss on Britney Spears in front of millions of television viewers at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards, women have been loosening up sexually with other women.

These so-called flexisexuals say that although they are not gay or even bisexual, they enjoy flirting and kissing girls — but they still enjoy having sex with men.

One female senior at Hofstra University in New York said she is apt to turn to women when she’s had too much to drink.

„I just kiss girls because it’s funny and entertaining to do when under the influence,“ she said. „When you just kiss a guy, you deal with the pressures of feeling like you have to go further, and with girls that is never an issue.“

The student, who declined to give her name for fear a future employer might Google her sexual escapades, is one of many young women who are more flexible in their attitudes about sex.

Experts say they may be influenced by the growing visibility of same-sex couples and more open attitudes about sex in general.

Pop culture, itself, seems to celebrate that flexibility in songs like Katie Perry’s, „I Kissed a Girl [and I Liked It],“ a song that 19-year-old Alisha Garrison said „made girls be more free to do whatever they want.“

„It’s not really experimenting, but maybe trying to get some attention,“ said Garrison, an urban planning student from Simi Valley, Calif.

Perry admits in her lyrics, „I got so brave, drink in hand, I lost my discretion.“

Flexisexual is also known as heteroflexible, pansexual or queer, all subtle variations that mean they are not closing any doors.

Women say it has has more to do with their view of the world than their practice in the bedroom.

„When I was younger, girls bounced around in high school about sexuality,“ said Jamilla Wright, a public relations major at the University of Texas. „I think the older we get the more comfortable we are with it being based more on the individual than either-or as far as sexuality is concerned.“

Hollywood has its own examples: Lindsay Lohan, 24, who dated Samantha Ronson, denied she was a lesbian and „maybe“ bisexual. She has since returned to men.

Angelina Jolie, 35 and now happily ensconced with Brad Pitt, had a sexual relationship with Jenny Shimizu. And Drew Barrymore, 35, has reportedly said, „Being with a woman is like exploring your own body, but through someone else.“

There is even a dating site ? Flexisexual — where women can find „sexy, open-minded women looking to explore their sexuality, chat, hook up with and more.“

„This is where straight women who feel curious about bisexual passion or romance, start out,“ it says. „The common interest makes it easy for like-minded individuals to connect with each other and find someone compatible, compared to leaving it up to chance.“

For many of today’s women in their late teens and 20s, openness to intimate physical relationships with either gender has become a way of life, rather than an „experiment.“

This relatively new phenomenon is likely a product of a generation unconcerned with labels. Often, it begins in the enlightened college cocoon, where women can explore their sexuality, though a recent ABC report from San Antonio, Texas, said flexisexuality is also part of the high school culture.

Experts say more sexual experimentation occurs when people have not yet found a partner, before they settle into monogamous relationships. College is also a safe cocoon for self-discovery.

‘i was a 4-year queer’: 15 straight(ish) people on their gay time in college

A straight woman I know was asked by her boyfriend if she’d ever made out with a girl. “Uh, yeah,” she said. “I went to .”

The LUG — Lesbian Until Graduation — is a long-standing cliché, but no one’s story is as simple as that. Collegea chance to learn about yourself. And part of what you learn is that you can’t always predict whom you’ll want to sleep with.

Here are 15 men and women whose college experiences took them away from heterosexuality and (sometimes) back again.

I fell head over bear-magazine.com college boyfriend had moved away and I was really missing him. Over the summer, I went to work at a New Age conference center and I met this woman there and totally fell head over heels in love with her. She was charming and gentle and fun. She ended up moving back to college with me and living with me in my off-campus housing. I really enjoyed sex with her, so I thought, “I’m a lesbian!” But then … nope. I’d announced to my parents that I was gay and everything. My mom told me it was just a stage. That made me dig in my heels even more. I really thought I’d be with women from then on. But after we broke up, my next serious relationship was with a man, and I’ve just never fallen in love with another woman. I did go on one really bad date with a girl. We were hiking and she kept trying to read lesbian erotica to me — those things don’t go together! I’m married to a man now. The women I’ve been attracted to — except for my girlfriend, who was very feminine — have all been super-hard-core butch. I like really butch guys, too. I know that after an apocalypse, my husband could go into Prospect Park and kill dinner for us and we’d be fine.

Early 20s, late in college. I had been to a feminist conference in Eugene, Oregon, where I met several lesbian women. Joanne was a carpenter. She was hot! I’d call us both pretty feminine. I have scarcely ever been as excited by the thought of making love with someone as I was with her. We made love the first time in our friend’s house on the floor. We spent one night with our tops off and one with our bottoms off, then the third time was the charm. We lived in different places and visited each other and traveled around Oregon. We had a nasty fight, threw dishes, and broke up. Crazy young women! I knew that I wasn’t a lesbian for life. I had been fascinated by the idea of bisexuality. I was attracted to both sexes. I can still see and feel this about myself, although I haven’t had sex with a woman since then.

I was invited to a New Year’s party weekend at a Tahoe ski resort. I knew there would be a guy there who liked me and I liked him. I invited another guy, who was just a friend. Then that situation became confused because I hooked up a little with the second guy. So I was really nervous about the upcoming weekend. Which guy should I hook up with? I couldn’t decide. Thankfully, the guy I invited brought another girl, and I ended up hooking up with her! When we arrived, she tried to learn to snowboard and fell and broke her wrist. I was in med school and knew her wrist was broken. Instead of going to the ER and ruining the NYE party, we splinted it with cardboard and went on partying. She was a trooper! I really appreciated that, plus she was hot, with brown hair and blue eyes. We all took ecstasy. Pretty epic. I think she kissed me first. I’m very shy with that, with guys too. She and I had a really good connection. We’re still friends years later. She’s married with kids. It was hands down the best New Year’s Eve ever.

I felt like the straight asshole.I knew lesbians and gay guys as a youngster because my mom was an art professor. It was the ‘80s, and we were all listening to queer British music like Frankie Goes to Hollywood. This girl and I had a make-out thing in high school, and I also feel like I was sort of involved with my best friend at 14. We never did anything, but I wanted to kiss her. I fooled around with a couple girls in college. Then in grad school I went to a dance party at a gay friend’s loft in Alphabet City and I saw this woman. She was really hot — tall and very butch, short hair. I was wearing a cute dress. My hair was up in, like, a twist. We just started dancing, and it was electric. We had a couple of fun dates. We kissed on a bench in Union Square, but I don’t think it went much further. She was a seducer, for sure. And then there was this very nice older woman. We fooled around at my place, but I never went down on her. I held her while she masturbated. I felt sort of like an asshole. Then I blew her off to go to an art opening with a German guy. I had strong feelings for those women, but I had a hard time reciprocating sexually. I just like cock better! But I still feel a little queer in my heart.

I had a really strong sense from family and the outer world that being out would be punished, that male homosexuality was such a failure. The message was that bi women could be hot, or just experimenting, but that bi men were weird. When I went to Oberlin I still had the sense that I really had to be straight. Then I completely drunkenly went home with a really queen-y, silk-bathrobe kind of guy. It was great, but … I just couldn’t wear that relationship in the daytime. I wasn’t comfortable with it. We stayed friends, and I told myself that my feelings about men were just sexual, not about closeness or affection or romance. I’ve wondered how much my own anxiety — my fear of being socially vilified — affects the way I recall that period. I did have a clandestine cruising phase, but I’ve mostly dated women since then. I’ve never tried to have a relationship with a guy, and since I’m in a committed relationship, I’m not gonna find out. I’ve been married to a woman for ten years. That we’d both had same-sex involvement was part of our initial attraction. I have it so easy as a middle-aged white guy married to a woman. I would never tell anyone I’m straight, though. I lived that lie too long.

I grew up in the South then went to Washington State in Olympia. Sleater-Kinney went there. It was the riot-grrrl phase. Lesbianism was thought of as being really powerful. A lot of women I knew were strippers by choice. I probably didn’t experiment with girls until I was 20 or older. The first time I kissed a girl was in the backseat of a taxi. We ended up going home together. There were guys in the car, as well. People think girls do this to titillate guys, but I actually think it just made us feel safer, acting as if we were doing it for them — and we definitely had an audience — but we were really doing it for ourselves. Romantically, I’m more aligned with men, but I find women’s bodies more beautiful. For a while, that made me wonder if I were gay. But mostly, it didn’t affect my identity. It didn’t scare me. I was very curious, sexually, and had like a hundred lovers before I was 20. I probably fooled around and made out with around six women in college. I’m still friends with these people and still find them attractive, but we’re not at that point in our lives. I’ve been married for 18 years and have two kids. My husband and I have never strayed, but we did have a hot-tub party where I kissed girls. We had three other couples over and one couple wanted to go further, but the rest of us were like, “Uh-uh. That’s far enough.”

Very drunk. Evening out dancing and going home, regrettably sans-female companionship. My buddy was giving me a ride. One of our group’s inside jokes was “Lick me raw.” It was our go-to insult. I cannot remember the conversation up to that point, but I told him to lick me raw. He replied, “I would.” After a second or two of shock, sexual frustration took over. So we went into a house under construction and traded oral sex on a large bolt of insulation (still wrapped in plastic). No hugging, no kissing, nothing like the companionship stuff I’ve had with the females in my life. Just going at it. He started on me first. I kept trying to imagine it was one of the girls I was interested in at the time. Working the fantasy. Instead, too much teeth. Also razor stubble was a fantasy breaker. My turn: Not as gross as I thought it would be; rather, I thought I did a very good job, trying to reproduce what I like. My one and only experience. Just not for me. We remained friends. He approached me a couple of times more but took the rejection well. He told me later that, after that, when he went out dancing, he didn’t care if he went home with a girl or boy.

— they’re into the ego boost of the hunt, and all that — and I’m socially just much more attuned to women. So then I dated both men and women, and now I’ve had two long relationships with women. For me, a long-term, live-in relationship with a woman is like the ultimate sleepover for the chatty, sensitive little boy I was. I’m basically a gay best friend to my girlfriends. I’m not entirely monogamous with my current girlfriend. I sometimes kiss guys at clubs and trade videos with gay friends. My girlfriend and I talk about it. It’s such a strong impulse — for all men — to go out there and tally up conquests. I’ve found it better to look for a strategically optimal relationship, like the one I’m in, since I can be so honest with her.

I was the token straight girl.I was a serious feminist and lefty at Harvard, and I thought it would be so great if I were a lesbian, too. I had a lot of political and theoretical interest in it. I did get a lot of crushes on power dykes in the lefty community. In my senior year, I was the token straight girl volunteering for a sexual orientation support group and ended up having a fling with a lesbian there. But I more or less concluded that I preferred boys. When I tried dating girls after that, I would end up sleeping with their brothers and stuff like that. I dated a lot of men and eventually married a man and had children. But I wasn’t very in touch with my emotional life. A lot of my sex with men felt like play-acting. Then, in my 40s, I fell in love with my best friend and we left our husbands for each other. Sexually, being with a woman is way better in every possible way for me. At this point in life, I’m just so much more connected to my desires. Maybe that’s just me growing up.

I went to one of the Seven Sisters schools, and had all these powerful female professors — some of them nuns. Half the bathroom graffiti was about dykes. When I was 20, I met Lanie. I thought she was fantastic. So funny, smart, and beautiful — a tall, lanky, dark-haired Italian beauty. Our first kiss was in the rain, so romantic. I think she walked me home that evening and we kissed in a doorway. I can remember the light above. I’d had a steady boyfriend in high school who was older (and I would later have two husbands much older than me), but Lanie was my age. I liked her so much. My feeling is that Lanie could have been male or female — or in any skin at all — the gender doesn’t matter. Everyone should have a first love like that. Part of me thinks that, even now, at 52, it could still happen with a woman. It just never did again. She ruined me for life.

She taught me how to put on bear-magazine.com grad school, I had a friendship with a lesbian that veered into romance. She had a fantastic sense of humor and literary talent, and that was appealing. Also, she was very slim, which has always been an elusive goal of mine. I remember that she taught me how to put on lipstick, and when I do so today I still hear myself thinking, “Don’t try this at home!” She made me feel beautiful, and I loved how soft she felt. It wasn’t that we were actually lovers but shared more of a dalliance, I think. A fun game that we shared.

I was the top of the food chain.I bartended at a couple women’s bars in San Francisco when I was in college. That community felt very comfortable for me. Sisterhood and all of that. And bartenders were at the top of the food chain, so I got a lot of attention I might not have otherwise gotten. I dated a few women and then had a girlfriend. We danced together a lot. Those women have stayed in my life as friends, but I had a really chaotic childhood and my main desire then was to have a “normal life,” which I pictured as being married to a man and having kids. It was the ‘80s. I’ve definitely had attractions and temptations over the years — I’ve been married for 25 years — but I’d never act on them. Women live longer than men, though, and my friends and I joke that we’ll be the Golden Girls and end up living together when we’re old.

I was boy crazy in high school, but I went to U.C., Santa Cruz, a very liberal school, and would sometimes dirty-dance with girls or make out with them on E. I didn’t want a relationship. I was the girl you don’t want to fall in love with. But then I decided I wanted to pursue women. I met Sara at the Clit Club in New York. We danced for hours and went home together. We ended up moving in together. For a good year, I was totally convinced I was a lesbian. I still find myself attracted to women, but I’m married to a man now so I’m not going to do anything. One guy I dated after Sara knew about my past with women and kept proposing threesomes. I said, “Trust me. You’re not going to like it. I’ll get emotionally attached.”

, but I wasn’t even that curious about lesbian sex. The women around me would be talking about fisting or whatever and I’d be like, “Why do we have to talk about this?” So that was an awkward transition, starting to go out with this guy. I had to backtrack, big time. And my lesbian friends at Oberlin — we’re still friends now — were a little miffed that I’d left the tribe. But coming out as straight was easier than coming out as a lesbian, for sure. And my first college boyfriend was a great guy. We were the goofy art dude and the ex-lesbian. We were intimate, but we had this kind of stoner relationship. We were drunk for a lot of it. And then he came out as gay! We joke that we passed each other at the closet — I was on my way in and he was on his way out. I’ve been married to a man for a long time and have kids and it’s all good. I still definitely cross paths with butch lesbians I think are insanely hot. It’s still in my sexual lexicon.

She was an ice skater dating a trapeze artist.I went to Smith, so I couldn’t help noticing all the visible, active women-loving women around me. I didn’t really think about it for myself until I got a crush on my RA. She was a Big Dyke on Campus, really butch. I remember scheduling a visit with her in her little office to tell her about it. She turned me down. I’d also had my eye on Michelle, who lived in my dorm. She was an ice skater dating a trapeze artist. They were just beautiful, playful, smart. And then Michelle and I got together. She was a perfect first girlfriend. I remember having to learn some of the techniques, though. What worked and what didn’t with women. Hands were so important. Even now, if I’m with a guy, he can have the most beautiful cock on the block, but I still want the hands. Maybe that’s just Michelle’s magic. After college, I dated mostly guys, then had casual sex with a guy and got pregnant. We’ve never been a couple, but we co-parent our daughter really well together. I’m dating a couple now. They found me online. I’m the proverbial unicorn.

The girls who use grindr

For women who are interested in men, online dating can often suck. This is a fact that’s been documented extensively in articles, in blogs, and in wildly popular social media accounts. It’s also one that several new dating apps have pledged to solve, including HingeSiren. For Adriana, who requested that we not use her last name, the solution was far simpler than that: just download Grindr.

Grindr bills itself as „the world’s leading social app exclusively for gay, bi, and curious men.“ It is a geosocial networking app, or, more succinctly, a convenient way for men to find nearby men to fuck. At first blush, it seems like a terrible place for a woman to look for sex—but Adriana insists her time using Grindr has been very fulfilling.

Adriana is no stranger to online dating; according to her, she has been using OkCupid for about twelve years. In that span of time, she estimates that she’s met over 300 men in person. „I noticed that every time I looked at a dude’s profile, if it said he was bi it was like way more alluring than if he was just straight,“ she told Broadly. „‚Cause I’m queer and, you know, I’m into that shit.“

Eventually, Adriana downloaded Grindr after hearing that her friend—who is genderqueer, into the fetish scene, and tattooed with the phrase „NO REGRETS“ under both of her butt cheeks—had had a good experience on it. She started out by messaging guys who caught her eye („I’d be like, ‚You’re so hot, sorry I’m a girl.'“) and then decided it was better to wait for potentially interested men to come to her. To date, she said, she’s met up with three men from Grindr in person.

One of the men she met on the app identifies as straight, just very enthusiastic about giving blowjobs. „He doesn’t have sex with men; he doesn’t kiss men; he doesn’t do anything with men except exchange fucking oral, like crazy deep-throating oral,“ said Adriana, noting that she was confused by this designation at first. „I was like, Really? If you like a dick down your throat, you’re obviously not straight.“ Now she sees his sexuality in a more nuanced light: „Like, yo, I realized that that was my internalized trying to classify people, and it defies classification. The dude is straight.“

At one point, the straight blowjob enthusiast invited a friend over, also straight and a blowjob enthusiast. Adriana recalled their time together with glee. „I was like, ‚Oh my god, I’ve waited for this moment my whole life.‘ I’ve always wanted to have like a two man three-way,“ she said. „So he brought the dude over, and I watched them give each other head. It was my first time watching a dude do anything with another dude, and it was so hot that I had to look away. It was like looking into the sun. I could not watch. It was, like, white-hot, and I had to look away. I missed the whole thing. I missed the entire show. It was like an eclipse.“

Adriana got an MFA in poetry at Sarah Lawrence, which becomes quite apparent when she describes her Grindr trysts using elaborate metaphors. She and her two Grindr dates went on to have a threesome, she said, which was great because being double penetrated is „like being in a warm bed made of men, and it’s also plugged into your nether regions like an electric blanket that’s like electrified by you… It’s like you’re the outlet that provides the electricity, and they plug into you and become warm and soft, and you lay between them, and it’s, like, amazing, bro!“

For the most part, Adriana said, she’s had good experiences on the app—although her profile was removed once for violating the site’s terms, which she assumes was because she’s a woman. Now, she only refers to her gender obliquely: Her description reads, „i’m a [girl emoji] tryna get with bi guys. men who [heart emoji] [eggplant emoji] are my sh8.“

She also said some men have messaged her, annoyed by her profile, but they’ve been mostly understanding after she explained that her intentions are true. „I’ll be like, ‚Uhh, listen man, gender and sexuality are super complicated. I’m not on here to find, like, a gay best friend. I’m not on here for any reason other than I like what you like.‘ And they’ll be like, ‚OK, I’m sorry.'“ She also gets a lot of supportive messages: In a folder of screenshots she shared with us, there are several pictures of Grindr users messaging her, saying things like „I appreciate your lifestyle,“ „Don’t worry about trying to label yourself as one thing or another,“ and „I liiiiiveeee for u !!!“

Adriana’s profile, along with some messages she’s received. Grindr screenshots courtesy of Adriana.

When we first spoke with Adriana, we considered her somewhat of an anomaly. There has been limited coverage of women using Grindr, but most of it focuses on clueless straight girls looking for „gay best friends.“ We shared some of Adriana’s quotes and screenshots in our Slack chat, an internal online group chat, and one of our straight female co-workers—let’s call her Liza—said she had used Grindr as well.

Her reason for downloading Grindr was far less sexy than Adriana’s: Her friend, who is gay, was planning on writing an anthropology dissertation on the app. One day, Liza decided to create her own Grindr account with him. According to her, she was fascinated by the „geolocation aspect“ because she had studied geography in college. „[My friend and I] would just both nerd out, looking at it through anthropology and geography,“ Liza said. „You just forget what you are and what you’re doing. It was a little bit taboo, because I was in a space I wasn’t supposed to be in.“

„Basically, I came for a study on the despacialization of cruising, stayed for the hot pics,“ she added.

Some straight girls, however, make Grindr accounts for decidedly less academic purposes. As the San Francisco Examiner reported last year, some women create Grindr accounts to „experience ‚gay for play,'“ catfishing men with fake shirtless photos in order to explore the „relaxed norms of queer male culture.“ For some women, the article states, making a fake Grindr profile is alluring for two reasons: It’s taboo because it can never result in a real-life meet-up, and and most importantly, gay sex apps are much more straight-forward (no pun intended) than heterosexual dating apps.

„I was getting something from it as much as I wouldn’t want to admit,“ Liza explained. „It’s so much more satisfying for me flipping through Grindr. It’s a bigger turn-on than looking at—good god—Tinder.“

I’m not offended by Grindr serving as a place for all types of LGBT people to hook up—especially because I know similar hookup apps targeted toward women have been failures to launch.

Where heterosexual couples tend to use the pretense of a date even though they downloaded Tinder to hook up, Grindr lacks subtext. (Adriana called the interactions on the app „so transactional.“) Men on Grindr tend to be extremely forthright: Typically, they message one another, describe what they’re into—top or bottom or vers, whether they’re into oral and/or rimming—and then send photos, followed by geolocations and the arranging of a hookup.

In Bushwick and other Brooklyn neighborhoods filled with liberal arts graduates indoctrinated in the cult of social constructionism, many gay men expect to find women’s profiles on Grindr. A 24-year-old copyeditor—we’ll call him Craig—says he regularly sees girls‘ profiles. The girls are as much a part of his life as gay sex apps. He casually checks his Grindr and other sex apps, like Scruff, whenever browsing his more PG aps (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat), but only hooks up with guys a few times a month. (He prefers Scruff.) Although Craig identifies as gay, he does pursue women who message him in the rare situation where he finds himself attracted to them. He believes that being surprised by Grindr girls is odd.

„I don’t know if it’s as cut-and-dry as ‚Grindr and Scruff are gay male spaces,'“ Craig explains. „Most of the girls I’ve chatted with on there have been bi or trans, and I’m not offended by Grindr/Scruff serving as a place for all types of LGBT people to hook up—especially because I know similar hookup apps targeted toward women have been failures to launch.“

Craig’s observations point to a larger phenomenon: Women turning to gay male sex culture for a form of sexual release. In the last five years, women have bought tons of gay male erotica. According to Crackdoubt, the former head of marketing for a leading publisher of LGBT romance/erotica in New Jersey, male/male (or m/m) erotica attracts readers of all ages, but women primarily write and read the content.

„Even Grandma loves the gays!“ Crackdoubt said. „Many women recognize that if one naked man sounds good, two could only be better. In other words—it’s hot!!“

Crackdoubt pointed to larger sociological reasons behind women’s interest in gay erotica. M/M romance, she said, defies stereotypes perpetuated in heterosexual erotica and romance novels. She explained, „M/M romance is able to break down a lot of the tropes and stereotypical gender roles fed to us in the mainstream—Alpha Males, for example, or Sexy Loner Bad Guys—and explore the sexuality of male characters more thoroughly.“

These more complicated motivations have coincided with teenage girls watching gay porn and running gay sex Tumblrs. And, as we’ve previously reported, teens said they love gay porn because, unlike much straight porn, gay sex doesn’t mistreat women.“I like seeing people receive pleasure,“ one teen said. „I don’t want to think about pain, unless it’s the immediately gratifying kind.“

For Adriana, her time on Grindr has really shown that gender and sexuality are incredibly complex and difficult to define clearly. „Everything being a spectrum it’s like, yo, where I’m at right now is like I fancy myself a gay man,“ she said.

Americans have perceived gay culture as for and by gay men, but recent trends show gay culture serves many groups, and the definition of gay culture and even the gay sexual identity is more complicated than previously perceived. For the most part, gay men have welcomed women’s interest in watching and participating in gay sex. As Craig says, „Not all the guys who use these hookup apps are exclusively homosexual, so it’s not like there isn’t a place for women [on Grindr], yanno?“

10 pretty-boy problems

After my May 28 post „12 Cold Facts About Being Super-Hot,“ some of my good-looking, male, professional friends said, „It is difficult being a hot professional guy too.“ These were their chief complaints.

1. Women are too easy. Noah, a young cardiac surgeon who looks like he walked into the O.R. off the cover of GQ, said, „Men like to hunt. Chasing a chick is a chess match, and it is a big turn-on. There is no fun in easy women.“ This is understandable in terms of the brain, because dopamine encodes on the anticipation of reward, not the actual reward.

2. They’re blamed for everything. „I am a handsome, straight, white guy with a good job,“ explained Tim, a former college quarterback turned Beverly Hills plastic surgeon. „Everybody hates me, and everything is my fault. So if it rains tomorrow, I am sorry. Seriously, dude.“ Then he joked, „Take us, for example. I am a nice guy, and you are an obnoxious, arrogant, black queen, yet people love you and hate me.“

3. Other men are threatened and overly aggressive. „Guys are competitive,“ said Tim. „The reality is I am bad news for most guys. I make more money. I am taller and better-looking. I drive a more expensive car. I dress better, have a bigger house, and a bigger….“

4. People think they are gay. „People always think really good-looking guys are gay, ‚cause usually they are,“ said a network TV star who asked to remain anonymous. „The other problem is gay guys refuse to believe I am straight, and that can be tedious sometimes.“

5. Women become more hostile when rejected. „No woman likes getting flushed,“ said Noah. „However, when a good-looking doctor does it, they go ape. It is crazy. They read way too much into it.“

6. Being the dream guy is a nightmare. „Women take one look at me, find out what I do, and think they are in love with me,“ said Noah. „Actually, they are in love with the idea of that dream guy they’ve had in their heads all of their lives. They don’t know anything about me other than how I look and what I do for a living.“ 7. Women presume they are players. „I am not a player,“ said Parker, a powerful agent who packages TV shows and films. „I know the rep this business has, but that is not me. I am a good Catholic boy from South Boston, and I want to marry a good Catholic girl. I am a young dude, so, yeah, if I forget to turn my swag off, I wake up knee-deep in honeys. That’s a given with my job and my looks. But just because that’s what I can easily have does not mean that is what I want.“

8. Women resent their looks. „I am prettier than most of the women I date,“ said the actor. „They resent that. They always feel like they have to look their very best when they’re with me, and they resent it after a while.“

9. People think they should only date supermodel types. „When I want a hookup with a super-hottie, I go to the gym and wait five minutes,“ said Noah. „But what I want in a hookup and what I want in a girl I seriously date are very different. Of course, I want her to be attractive, but when you connect with someone, she becomes beautiful, because you see things no one else does. Like my current girlfriend. She is not technically beautiful, and she says she needs to lose a few pounds, and I guess she is right. I just do not see her like that. She is brilliant, kind, strong, interesting and passionate woman. I can feel her energy when she walks into a room, even if my back is turned. That is so incredibly hot to me. But when people see us together, they do not get it. Not only that, it bothers them. I have overheard people say, ‚Why in the world is he with her?'“ He added, with a smile scampering across his face, „The question is: Why is she with me? It really pisses me off when these model types see me with her and think that the power of cute is stronger than the power of love. It is incredibly arrogant and insulting.“

10. People are less accepting of interracial dating. „I prefer darker girls over blonde chicks,“ said Parker. „I am blonde, and opposites attract. But people wig out when they see a white dude like me with a black girl or a Latina. They do not have the same reaction when they see some pudgy, balding white guy with a black girl. It’s similar to the Germans‘ reaction when Boris Becker was with that smoking-hot black girl.“

Most men think they would welcome these problems. However, the emotions these problems engender are generically human. It does not matter why you feel something; what matters is that you feel it. Men are typically more open to recreational sex than women generally are. However, recreational sex is not a substitute for love. Likewise, it does not matter if you can get a zillion people in your bed if you cannot find that one who gets in your heart and your head. There are only so many buttons on the dial of human emotion. Yes, my handsome, successful, young Jacks of Heart, your problems are very real, just different. However, take it from someone who rises in the shadows of life compared with you: It does not matter what people think about you. What matters is what you think about yourself. Remain fabulous and phenomenal.

ruined! – can straight men turn gay? a gothic style, homosexual romance, set in nineteen-fifty. kindle edition

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You don’t have to label yourself as gay or straight, but the reasons why matter

What does it mean to put a label on your sexuality, to assign a category to your own existence? And where does it come from? Does it result from your actions, or how you feel inside?

There’s no denying labels can be very important, to help people forge a sense of identity in a world where they may feel more marginalised – every letter in the growing LGBTQIA alphabet has fought for and earned its place. But just as labels can reassure, they can also confine or confuse, or seem like a restriction to those terrified of being defined by it for ever.

You can’t blame some for not feeling any desperate need to “belong” – with reported crimes against LGTBQ+ people on the up and a political atmosphere that feels increasingly likely to push back on the community’s hard-won freedoms. Although coming out is a huge part of your life as an LGBTQ+ person and can be a liberating experience, it’s not for everyone, and some men are rejecting this what you might call traditional journey to forge their own path when it comes to exploring their sexuality.

If you’re a man who has sex with men on occasion, but identify as straight, who’s to stop you? You are who you are. But what does it mean for those guys who do embrace their label but have sex with guys who don’t? Does it mean their lovers are any less available to them because they won’t pick a side? Of course, nobody needs a label, but for gay and bi guys who worked hard to establish their identity, how does it feel when the man they’re sleeping with won’t do the same?

It depends how things play out, whether it’s out in the open or “our little secret”. Clandestine relationships or regular hookups with one straight and one gay/bi guy sometimes exist in a mutual state of insecurity and fear. The straight guy is worried his “secret” will be uncovered while the gay or bi guy fears he’s being used or unworthy of a relationship in public view. It also depends why the guy doesn’t want to label himself – there’s a big difference between eschewing norms as a form of self-expression and hiding who you are to manipulate the advantages available to you as a straight person.

If you’re in a down-low relationship with a straight guy, you can find yourself going backwards

James identifies as gay, but his first proper relationship was with a man who did not. „It’s crushing during the relationship and after,“ he says. „Being with someone who doesn’t want to accept the possibility they’re bisexual is difficult on a relationship, especially if they’re still happy at the time to pursue one.“

Coming out can be a euphoric experience in a way, and make formerly closeted people feel they’re finally moving forward after years of stagnation. But if you’re in a down-low relationship with a straight guy, you can find yourself going backwards. James continues: “When we spent time together, generally indoors, everything was happy. Outside, there’d be moments: going to LGBT spaces and not feeling comfortable at contact; him being hit on by a group of girls on the Tube, and not acknowledging me; not even introducing you to their friends.” James was plagued by insecurity. „[He set] the boundaries enough to let me think, hope, there’s a chance, it just needs time; but there was always that nagging feeling, the dread it could end.”

Out guys are likely to feel sympathy for the straight guy in these situations – they’ve been there – and it’s common for gay or bi men to believe those who don’t come out are not living a full life, even if the straight guy feels that’s not the case.

As a fresher at university, Robin, then 18, fell into a relationship with Dom, 24. “The first year was strictly a bedroom thing,” he tells me. “The whole time he wasn’t comfortable holding hands or kissing outside.” Even though PDAs were kept to a minimum, it didn’t take long for word to get out. “Friends said they saw the way he was with me, and started assuming he was gay so adjusted their behaviour accordingly.” When Dom found out, things regressed further. Says Robin: “I thought he was going to have a heart attack. He absolutely had 100% control over things; the code of conduct imposed on us was coming from him, not me.” Robin admits that while Dom’s behaviour made him feel lousy he still felt a responsibility to him. „He always said he wasn’t gay, but he didn’t believe in bisexuality, either, and he said it so many times over the years.“

Fluidity of any kind has been a difficult concept for the mainstream to get its head round

Although gay pornography sells the idea that fun with your “straight mate” is the ultimate fantasy, the reality can be very different. Simon was 17 when his hitherto straight best friend made a move on him. „It was purely sexual for him, mainly receiving oral, but because he was the first person who’d ever shown an interest in me, I fell in love,” says Simon, now in his late 20s. “It was a tough time. He would always tell me he wasn’t like me, and couldn’t be, because he ‚had his whole future ahead of him‘. The idea my future was irrelevant and that in some way admitting he was with me would ruin his, made me feel worthless. Gay men aren’t toys to be practised on.”

Fluidity of any kind has been a difficult concept for the mainstream to get its head round – we really do love to pigeonhole – and it’s had a bad rap from people who don’t understand it. Bisexuality is historically as adventurous as many people’s imaginations would allow, and even then it’s either dismissed as “greed”, totally erased as a phase en route to a more established label – “fully gay” or “totally straight” usually the end result – or seen as a fetish, especially when it’s straight guys gazing upon gay or bi women.

But straight men with sleeping with other men isn’t just a horny trope or a filthy secret – men willing to be open about their sexuality and commitment to identifying as straight do exist. And, coincidentally, Robin again found himself entangled with one.

“Luke was a few months out of an eight-year relationship – his only – with a girl,” says Robin. “He admitted he found me interesting and wanted to hang out, and eventually we slept together.

When Luke battled depression no other pals were on the scene, Robin stepped up top help out and ended up catching feelings. “I’d visit, listen to him, we’d cuddle, and usually have sex. Before long, we were hanging out three nights a week, and on weekends we’d go for long walks and nice dinners and be out – ‘out out’ – in public.” On the surface of it, then, a gay relationship – but Luke didn’t see it that way.

Perhaps it’s not the label that’s important, but the openness and the willingness to commit to a relationship, whatever your sexuality.

Says Robin: “Every time I asked if he was straight or gay or what, he said the whole experience was teaching him not to ask questions anymore. I thought that was adorable, and sensible, and kind of romantic.” Luke was demonstrative in public and Robin discovered he was telling people he was dating a guy. But he didn’t label himself.

“He’s now dating a girl, but because he was so honest and caring and genuine, with never a hint of torment about his sexuality, I took it in my stride. When someone’s that relaxed, and unguarded, it kind of rubs off on you.”

Perhaps, then, it’s not the label that’s important, but the openness and the willingness to commit to a relationship, whatever your sexuality. Maybe straight men who have sex with gay or bi men should question their motivation, whether their rejection of labels reinforces the idea homosexuality or bisexuality could damage your reputation, or are a “lifestyle choice”. Perpetuating, shame, fear, and discomfort – already engrained in much of the LGBTQ+ experience – under the guise of being chilled and progressive is not acceptable.

Labels are something we come up with to make sense of our own feelings, or a reaction to biology, and you could argue it doesn’t matter what sexuality you are as long as you’re respectful about how other people choose to label themselves based on their own experiences. It’s worth remembering that even refusing to choose a label or identifying as straight because it’s the “default” is still a form of categorisation – nope, there is no escape – and you should support the men and women who live under the LGTBQ+ umbrella for their part in your freedom to live as you do. The world, and your sexuality, are there to be explored, and you must make the most of it – just make sure whatever you’re doing, whoever you’re with, you acknowledge their right to be who they are. Inside, outside, wherever you go.

We all know „straight guy turned gay“ porn but…

Is there the reverse category of „gay guy turned straight“ or str8 for pay? It’d be funny to see that kind of stuff so if anyone knows something, feel free to tell.

Huh. Never heard of it and I doubt that it does. Primary audience for straight porn are straight men, and I don’t think that type of scenario would be particularly popular.

But at the same time, there’s definitely “lesbians” who “go straight” for men’s enjoyment, so I’d say that’s the closest example

Idk, maybe straight men would get turned on by a woman so attractive she can get gay men to sleep with her.

That title would not turn me on one bit. It’s safe to assume I would never search that kind of porn lol.

I never even thought about that till I read this bear-magazine.com I am interested as well if I find something I’ll let you know

As a bi guy, hot guys fuck is a lifesaver. Finally both the man and woman are attractive.

There’s plenty of stuff on the internet titled that way. Some of its real. It’s usually not though. Try watching ’shifting gears‘ there’s a gay guy in there who gets his dick wet in the final scene.

It’s not common, but it exists. Mainly it’s done by studios as a one-off for the sake of publicity by way of controversy.

What’s more common is studios producing both heterosexual and homosexual scenes featuring the same guys, along with mmf threesomes. A couple have been doing that for a long time.

Well, there are some weird straight women who are into that, as well as the weird straight guys who think they can convert lesbians.

Gay porn pays more than straight porn does, so no way would a gay guy make the switch.

Study finds gay men are attracted to cues of fertility — just like their straight counterparts

Homosexual men view both highly fertile women and men as more attractive compared to women and men who are less fertile, according to new research published in Personality and Individual Differences. The findings suggest there are basic evolutionarily-rooted mechanisms that influence men’s perception of potential partners, regardless of their sexual orientation.

“Research from evolutionary psychology shows that people who fall into one’s mating scheme might be attractive. For example, women prefer a man with a high compared to a low status, even when their financial prospects would not suggest that they need a high status man,” explained study author Robin Rinn, a PhD student at the University of Wuerzburg.

“Scientists argue that this is because this was useful for women in the evolutionary history to survive. Compared to that, men appear to appreciate a woman’s fertility, because men are thought to have a high drive to reproduce with many different women who show cues of fertility. These cues are congruent with the male mating strategy, namely to maximize their offspring.”

“My colleagues and I noticed that research about the mating behavior of groups other than heterosexuals is lacking and decided to do a study about it ourselves,” Rinn said.

In the study, 64 homosexual and 60 heterosexual male participants were asked to view a purported profile of a woman from a fertility clinic and rate a variety of her characteristics, including physical attractiveness. The profile included information about her level of fertility along with information such as age, blood type, personality and a black and white photo. All the participants rated the same woman. But the profile varied in the level of fertility displayed.

“We used a profile-paradigm where we displayed a picture of a person and the alleged high or low fertility status of that person. The advantage of this approach was that we were able to keep many variables in the experiment constant,” Rinn explained.

Heterosexual participants rated the woman as more attractive compared to homosexual participants overall. But the researchers found that both homosexual and heterosexual participants rated the woman as more physically attractive when the profile claimed she had a high level of fertility.

The researchers replicated their findings in a second study with 124 homosexual and 100 heterosexual male participants. In addition, they found that homosexual men, but not heterosexual men, rated a man to be less attractive when his profile claimed he had a low level of fertility, compared to when information was provided that pointed to his high fertility or when no information was given.

The findings show that “homosexual people are not much different from heterosexual people,” Rinn told PsyPost.

“In fact, when we look into the research about that topic, it can be assumed that there are greater differences between men and women than there are between hetero- and homosexual people (e.g. Howard & Perilloux, 2016; Lippa, 2007; 2012). Personally, I hope that our research can help to reduce stereotypical views of homosexual people in showing that there are more similarities with heterosexuals than there are differences.”

But future research is necessary to generalize the results, Rinn added.

“It would be interesting to use real-life pictures of people who have already been rated in a previous research as highly and lowly fertile and see whether the results remain the same. If this is the case, this would be strong evidence for evolutionary psychology theories that assume that there are at least some fundamental psychological mechanisms that are inherited over centuries,” he explained.

The study, “Fertility as a cue for attractiveness in homo- and heterosexual men“, was authored by Robin Rinn, Fabian Kirsch, Maria Agthe, and Daniela Niesta Kayser.

Study: many women prefer gay male porn because it’s ‚authentic‘

Gay porn performers seem to actually enjoy their work, according to a study of female porn watchers.

Research confirms that more than half of women who consume same-sex male pornography are watching it because they feel it is more authentic than other genres, according to a new study by London’s Middlesex University.

„Male gays in the female gaze: Women who watch m/m pornography,“ by researcher Lucy Neville, drew research from a recent survey from adult film site PornHub. 

Women appear at a physiological level to find gay male sex just as arousing as heterosexual sex, according to Neville’s research. The study detailed in the book investigated why exactly women are aroused by watching male-on-male sex by surveying 275 self-identified women who watch gay male porn.

The sample included straight, bisexual, lesbian, queer, asexual, pansexual, and demisexual women; 68 percent of participants also watched heterosexual pornography, and 53 percent also watched lesbian pornography. However, 82 percent of participants preferred gay male pornography over other genres.

The overwhelming reason the women watched gay male porn was that they felt it was more authentic than other genres. „Respondents were more able to believe that both actors were enjoying the experience and that the sexual desire and pleasure between them, therefore, felt more ‘authentic,’“ according to the research.

Participants felt that because men on screen had very visual cues that indicated sexual desire such as erections and ejaculation, the actors „weren’t faking it.“ They also felt male adult film stars as opposed to female performers were „enjoying each other more rather than simply playing to the camera.“

The women also said that they felt they shared a more common gaze with the target audience as opposed to heterosexual and lesbian porn, which is predominantly made for heterosexual men, and they felt gay men’s point of view was more in line with their personal preferences and desires. 

By watching same-sex male porn, women also enjoyed that they could avoid seeing female bodies used as powerless sexual objects under the control of men. They perceived the rough sex in gay porn as more tasteful than behaviors displayed in heterosexual and lesbian porn, without it feeling „non-consensual.“

Some also appreciated that they were not presented with a female porn star they would „be jealous of“ or „subconsciously compare themselves to „causing them to feel „uncomfortable about their own bodies.“

Other participants simply enjoyed the taboo of gay sex and the idea they would never experience what was happening on their laptops.

​gay men have a unique view of the straight man’s world.

Gay men also tend to form deeper friendships with straight women, so they get the inside scoop on what they really want from relationships.

According to a recent question posted on Reddit, gay men and straight women often want the same thing: a guy who’s emotionally available and reasonably well-dressed.

To help straight men with their relationships and life in-general, Reddit user OurOhnlyHope posed the question “Gay Men of Reddit, what advice do you have for Straight Men of Reddit?” on the online forum. Since it was first posted, the thread has received over 11,000 responses.

That’s a lot of advice, so here’s here’s 12 of our favorite gems.

Causes

Gender identity is how you feel and identify, it can be as a female, male, or both. Gender is typically assigned at birth, based on a baby having the outward appearance (genital organs) of either a male or a female as per a social construct of a binary system of two genders (male or female).

If your gender identity matches the gender assigned to you at birth, this is called cisgender. For example, if you were born biologically as a male, and you identify as a man, you are a cisgender man.

Transgender refers to identifying as a gender that is different from the biological gender assigned when you were born. For example, if were born biologically female and were assigned a female gender, but you feel a deep inner sense of being a man, you are a transgender man.

Some people express their gender in ways that do not fit into traditional binary social norms of male or female gender. This is called non-binary, gender non-conforming, genderqueer, or gender-expansive. In general, most transgender people do not identify as non-binary.

It is important to mention that the anxiety transgender people may feel due to having the body of the wrong gender is deeply distressing. As a result, the transgender community have higher rate of mental health problems and risk of attempted suicide.

No one knows exactly what causes gender dysphoria. Some experts believe that hormones in the womb, genes, and cultural and environmental factors may be involved.

Treatment

The main goal of treatment is to help you overcome the distress you may feel. You can choose the level of treatment that helps you feel most comfortable. This may include helping you transition to the gender you identify with.

Treatment for gender dysphoria is individualized, and may include:

Not all transgender people need all forms of treatment. They can select one or more of the treatments listed above.

Before making a decision about surgery, it’s likely you will first have had gender-affirming hormone therapy and have lived as your chosen gender for a minimum of one year. There are two main types of surgery: one affects fertility, the other does not. Not everyone chooses to have surgery, or they may choose only one type of surgery.

Societal and family pressures and lack of acceptance can cause anxiety and depression and other mental health issues. This is why it’s important that you receive counseling and support throughout and even after your transition. It is also important to have emotional support from other people, such as from a support group or from close friends and family.

Outlook (prognosis)

Recognizing and treating gender dysphoria early can reduce the chance of depression, emotional distress, and suicide. Being in a supportive environment, being free to express your gender identity in a way that makes you comfortable, and understanding your options for treatment can help relieve anxiety and depression.

Different treatments can relieve symptoms of gender dysphoria. However, reactions from others to the person’s transition including social and legal difficulties during the transitioning process can continue to create problems with work, family, religious, and social life. Having a strong personal support network and choosing providers with expertise in transgender health greatly improve the outlook for people with gender dysphoria.

References

American Psychiatric Association. Gender dysphoria. In: American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th ed. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. 2013:451-460.

Bockting WO. Gender and Sexual Identity. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 133.

Garg G, Elshimy G, Marwaha R. Gender dysphoria. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island, FL: StatPearls Publishing; 2020. PMID: 30335346 bear-magazine.com

Hembree WC, Cohen-Kettenis PT, Gooren L, et al. Endocrine treatment of gender-dysphoric/gender-incongruent persons: an Endocrine Society clinical practice guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2017;102(11):3869-3903. PMID: 28945902 bear-magazine.com

Safer JD, Tangpricha V. Care of Transgender Persons. N Engl J Med. 2019;381(25):2451-2460. PMID: 31851801 bear-magazine.com

Shafer LC. Sexual disorders and sexual dysfunction. In: Stern TA, Fava M, Wilens TE, Rosenbaum JF, eds. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 36.

White PC. Sexual development and identity. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 220.

Why do gay men idolize female pop stars?

Pop culture is the gay religion and pop stars are our goddesses… By Bobby Box Every gay has his icon, and I am no different. Mine? Victoria Beckham, the fashion-savvy Spice Girl with resting bitch face and the fewest verses on any of the girl group’s iconic, coming-of-age tracks. Whenever she’d seductively point her finger at the camera – her signature move – I’d squeal. Truth be told, Posh was my first crush, and when she married David Beckham I was genuinely hurt, because I loved her. I even followed her devastatingly short-lived and substandard solo music career. To idolize a female pop star is nothing new for queer-identifying men. Cher, Madonna, Ariana, Taylor, Gaga, Kylie – you name her and she’s got legions of hard-stanning homosexuals who’ve assembled shrines immortalizing her in their bachelor apartments. Admittedly, I am not as hard of a “stan” as others. Since Posh, I haven’t experienced the same level of hopeless devotion towards a pop artist. But, fortunately for me, I’ve got Gay Twitter to consult – and its users never disappoint. “Gay men use women as avatars for themselves,” one Twitter user said, and this perspective quickly collected several Likes. “Female pop stars often are strong in their femininity or redefine it and are not ashamed. Personally, I often feel empowered in my femininity through their music and it’s helped me feel comfortable in it,” said another. Philip Petro, a staunch Madonna fan, took the time to passionately describe why he has dedicated much of his life to stanning one of pop culture’s most distinguishable figures. “I always get asked why I love Madonna so much,” he began, no doubt a response to his consistent and fanatical online devotion to the musician. “Is it about her, her music, her message? I love Madonna for all of it. For being the only constant in my life since the day I was born. For being a familiar face and voice when I was having a horrible day. For entertaining me with endless songs, videos, interviews and films and making me forget my problems. For teaching me to express myself and for loving me regardless of how much I hated myself. For being a voice for the Gay Community when no one else would even associate with us. For letting me know that my confusion about Catholicism and God and the universe was valid and that we can piece together every part of what makes us feel good about them until we think it’s right. For being my best friend. That’s why I love Madonna.” Many queer men have an almost obsessive connection to their pop stars – one that is deeply passionate and emotionally layered. This gay fascination is something that Jeff Larsen, a psychotherapist and sexuality expert in San Diego, calls “reactive projection.” “We as gay men often see female pop stars – especially when the star has been perceived to have had to really fight or struggle for her dominance or longevity, like Taylor, Madonna or Cher – with our own struggle for full acceptance regarding our sexuality,” Larsen says. “This struggle and the perceived victory over the struggle – think Britney [Spears] – only adds to the perceived ‘fabulousness’ of our female icons.” The concept behind reactive projection is that gay men often ex-peri-ence a strong reaction with pop stars as we relate their tribulations to similar struggles we feel we face in our own lives – the need to be embraced or validated, for example, or the struggle to either be “relevant” or stay relevant as we age. This reaction can intensify to the point where we project an alliance and attachment onto or with the pop star with whom we most identify. Larsen says reactive projection often leads to such a strong attachment that we may even want to emulate or “be” that artist. Because let’s face facts: Every adolescent gay boy has sung into a hairbrush in front of the mirror emulating a strong, sassy lady. “I see this a lot with gay men,” Larsen assures. “You are not alone!” Beyond the loud stanning and unwavering support, our fascination with female pop stars stems from the basic need to relate and to feel seen and understood. It’s something gay men have a difficult time sourcing in a heteronormative society. The pop star struggles to be taken seriously; it’s a very familiar sentiment experienced by queer people. According to Larsen, like a Buzzfeed personality quiz, the pop stars we choose to idolize are often the ones we feel most connected to. Whether you’re a Mariah, a Beyoncé or a Janet – the relationship is the same, but the identity is unique to whoever we emulate or idolize. I liked Posh because she was never the centre of attention and almost seemed to steer away from the spotlight. As a shy, introverted child, I related to her. More than that, Posh was mysterious and beautiful. She wore high heels and fancy black dresses. She was femininity personified and she was fabulous. Gays have long sought acceptance, and pop divas have taken us in with open arms when no one else would. They shared their struggles, talents and tail-shaking bops with us. In return, we’re unwavering in our devotion and support, and will fight for them as hard as, if not harder than, they’ve fought for us. Want to talk smack about the Spice Girls? Come at me, sis. — BOBBY BOX is a prolific freelance journalist in Hamilton, Ont. He currently works as contributing editor at bear-magazine.com and has had the privilege of speaking with the world’s most recognized drag queens, including Trixie Mattel and Alaska Thunderfuck. While proud of his work, Bobby is not above begging. He asks that you follow him on Twitter at @bobbyboxington. 

Studies say women are more fluid in their sexuality

Many scientific studies have also confirmed that both heterosexual and lesbian women tend to become sexually aroused by both male and female erotica or have a bisexual arousal pattern.

A 2003 study from Northwestern University found that compared with men, women’s sexual arousal patterns may be less tightly connected to their sexual orientation and more „flexible.“

Some girls say this has nothing to do with their sexual identity. They just like to live up to the ménage-a-trois fantasy of the men they seek to please.

„I think girls kiss girls to draw attention from guys, who think it’s sexy and seductive,“ said Lauren DeGiorgi, a senior majoring in psychology at East Carolina University. „But we’re usually drunk when it happens.“

„Current generations are more open-minded and may promote that lax attitude by making this behavior more acceptable – probably among younger, easily influenced girls,“ said Heather, a college junior from San Diego, Calif., who did not want to use her last name.

And some think it even „indirectly mocks“ the gay community, according to Caleb Fox, a 20-year-old from the University of Texas.

„Straight men really like the idea of two ‚hot‘ girls making out,“ he said. „And because I don’t think these ‚flexisexuals‘ are really lesbians, it doesn’t seem that they’re actually seeking a romantic relationship with another woman — it’s more about a show. And from a feminist standpoint it continues the objectification of women.“

Lisa Diamond, associate professor of gender studies at University of Utah, has been studying the topic for years, and confirms women are, indeed, more flexible in their sexuality and for a variety of cultural, and perhaps biological, reasons.

„I think there is a growing awareness of the fact that you don’t have to be 100 percent gay to have the capacity to enjoy same-sex contact,“ said Diamond, who is author of the 2008 book, „Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women’s Love and Desire.“

„In the old days, any instance of same-sex attraction was automatically put in the category of bisexual or lesbian and now we realize women are more complicated than that,“ she said. „There are more examples floating around in popular culture, and the term reflects that.“

Claire, the sister in the HBO series, „Six Feet Under,“ had a sexual dalliance with a female friend, but decided it wasn’t her thing and returned to boys.

Diamond said women’s capacity for fluidity has always existed, but only now has society had a cultural understanding after collecting data from around the world.

„We had a pretty rigid view of the way sexuality and orientation works,“ she said. „But sex researchers have been aware of it for many years. It has taken folks awhile to realize you can have a periodic attraction, but that does not make that sexual identity legitimate.“

Men appear to be more „rigid“ in their sexuality but that may be because society is more judgmental, according to Diamond.

„Although we find it titillating when girls kiss girls and see images of same-sex sexuality being marketed to a heterosexual male audience, it’s not viewed as threatening and alarming,“ she said. „We don’t see the same cultural permission for men.“

If HBO had a narrative with a heterosexual man having an encounter with another man, „no one would believe it,“ she said. „You never see that kind of a plot for a male character.“

Genre: straight men turned gay / first time gay experiences

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Genre: super hero gay erotica / first gay experience erotica

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Sexual content follows… obviously.

This answer, may actually be closer to the truth than one might expect.

Some would simply say of men sleeping with men that ‚They’re not straight, they’re gay‘.

This is a topic that sexologist Dr Nikki Goldstein explored for NewsAU.

Sexual pleasure not sexual attraction

This is one of the reasons Goldstein found for why straight men are sleeping with men.

While her research and interviews did find some men were in fact gay or bisexual.

Goldstein reports that one gay man she spoke to, Max*, often found it easy to find a straight man interested in sex.

It’s pretty easy to find if you know where you are looking. Probably any toilet you go to is a beat.

The fact the man was also married was later confirmed by a text to Max that claimed ‚You give head as good as my wife does‘.

Another described a ‚glory hole‘ set up in their apartment, where anonymous men could come to get off, without knowing the gender or identity of the person on the other side.

In this instance again, the point is pleasure rather than attraction.

The majority of straight men who are going to a glory hole are going because they don’t want to see who is on the other side. It is about just getting off.

Is it that easy to find another girl who is just willing to give a blow job and say nothing more? Guys know what other guys are like. Guys just want to (get off). It sounds harsh, but it’s true.

‚a different sexual experience‘

Goldstein said it was much easier to find gay men who had slept with straight men, than it was to find any straight men who would admit to sleeping with men.

He had an occasional urge to have a different sexual experience, one you can have with a guy

Try to understand it and embrace it. I think there are so many more men out than the world realises, than woman realise, that enjoy a different type of stimulation.

I would think that society would be amused by the number of men that are out there that seek a slightly different adventure and it doesn’t necessarily mean in any way shape or form that they are gay or bi. They are just wanting to experiment and have a bit of fun just like we see girls out there on the dance floor.

Paul used the analogy of trying a different ride at a theme park.

But does even wanting to ‚try a different ride‘ make you bisexual rather than a straight man having sex?

Or are we too obsessed with labels?

In 2015, Dr Jane Ward explored the phenomenon for her book ‚Not Gay: Sex Between Straight White Men‘.

She found that homosexual contact is ’normal part of the male experience‘.

Ward also spoke about the disparity between how we treat women who experiment with the sexuality, and men who do the same.

If you look at this belief that women’s sexuality is more receptive – it’s more fluid, it’s triggered by external stimuli, that women have the capacity to be sort of aroused by anything and everything – it really just reinforces what we want to believe about women, which is that women are always sexually available people.

With men, on the other hand, the idea that they have this hardwired heterosexual impulse to spread their seed and that that’s relatively inflexible, also kind of reinforces the party line about heteronormativity and also frankly, patriarchy.

Race was another factor which Ward thought was key to understanding ’straight‘ sex between two men.

I would argue that because white men have been understood as the idealised, most normal, sort of exemplars of normal human sexuality, there’s a lot of work and attention that goes into excusing anything they do or rationalising anything they do that might disrupt that view, and that’s not the case for women or for men of colour.

*Goldstein altered the names for the purposes of her News AU article.

abstract

Women who associate with gay men are often portrayed as physically unattractive and lacking in both self-confidence and attention from straight men. However, many women report enhanced self-esteem and feelings of attractiveness as a result of attention from their gay friends. It is well established that body esteem can be negatively impacted by certain peer processes, yet there is a dearth of quantitative research on positive peer influences on women’s body esteem. We tested two hypotheses: (a) women with gay male friends have poor body esteem and are rejected by heterosexual men, and (b) more contact with gay men is positively related to body esteem. Participants were 154 heterosexual women, who completed measures of their friendships with gay men, straight men and women, body esteem, relationship involvement and break-ups. Results supported the hypothesis that women’s body esteem, specifically feelings of sexual attractiveness, is positively associated with friendships with gay men.

Reviews

For years gay men’s lives have been profoundly touched by intimate friendships with women. offers a lively and beautifully written account of how, why and when these important relationships began to matter socially as well as politically. Here is a poignant story pitched to readers of all kinds-gay and straight, young and old-interested in learning more about queer survival in times of struggle as well as queer networks filled with unexpected pleasures and happiness.

Laura Doan, author of Disturbing Practices: History, Sexuality, and Women’s Experience of Modern War

John Portmann’s is a clearly written exposition on how gay men and women, whether straight or lesbian, have forged enduring friendships and solidarities, despite some frictions. From Elizabeth Taylor’s attempt to rescue Montgomery Clift to the alliances forged in the ravages of the AIDS pandemic, Portmann writes with insight and ethical thoughtfulness and engages with a broad literature. A long-overdue treatment of a potent aspect of gender reflexivity.

Though at first glance, it looks like a little nugget of a book… there is a tremendous amount of history, social change, absolute love and bravery to be discovered within.

Abstract

This exploratory study used consensual qualitative research methodology (Hill et al., 2005) to analyze what gay men associate with masculinity and femininity, how they feel masculine ideals affect their self-image, and how masculine ideals affect their same-sex relationships. Written responses were collected from 547 self-identified gay men in the U.S. via an Internet-based survey. Findings supported previous reports that perceptions of gender roles among gay men appear based on masculine and feminine stereotypes. Additionally, more adverse versus positive effects on self-image and same-sex romantic relationships were reported including difficulty being emotional and affectionate, pressure to be physically attractive, and pressure to appear masculine in order to be accepted by society and to be seen as desirable by other gay men. While research on gay men’s experience with masculinity continues, psychologists should consider the possible influence of traditional masculine ideals when conceptualizing their gay male clients.

Reported effects of masculine ideals on gay men

Societal conceptions of masculinity affect the self-image and relationships of many gay men in the United States (U.S.). The topic of how and why gay men are affected by this repeatedly appears within the popular gay press (e.g., Alvear, 2004Cummings, 1999Rice, 2006) and sparks controversy within the gay community. For instance, Bergling (2001) reported on gay men who rigidly enact traditional masculine ideals and experience a “fear” of effeminate gay men. Frontiers Magazine—a Southern California gay entertainment magazine—featured a cover story entitled “Butch is Back,” which explored how the repackaging of a Los Angeles leather-themed gay bar was redefining masculine ideals in the local gay community (Cullinane, 2007). bear-magazine.com—“A site for [gay] guys that like sports, can change their own car’s oil, or just don’t fit the effeminate stereotype” (text taken from Website’s homepage)—offered an on-line discussion area where many posting revered traditional masculine ideals and expressed hostility towards effeminate gay men (see Clarkson, 2006).

These real-life examples and the suggestion that masculine ideals significantly affect many gay men may surprise people who are not intimately familiar with the gay community—a community that is often perceived as accepting of individual differences. Yet, the reality is that traditional masculine ideals affect how gay men feel about themselves (Szymanski & Carr, 2008) and their same-sex relationships (Wester, Pionke, & Vogel, 2005). While many gay men struggle with these issues, scientific research on the effect of masculine ideals on gay men is lacking. Although many scholars have written about the topic (e.g., Humphries, 1985Kleinberg, 1978/1989Levine, 1992Nardi, 2000) and dissertations have offered tentative results (e.g., Ervin, 2003Sánchez, 2005Shepard, 2001), empirical studies published in peer-reviewed journals are hard to find. Thus, this exploratory study sought to appraise what gay men in the U.S. associate with masculinity and femininity among gay men and how they feel masculine ideals affect them.

Discussion

This exploratory study illustrates what some gay men may believe are commonly accepted descriptors of masculinity and femininity among gay men and how masculine ideals in the U.S. may affect gay men’s self-image and their relationships. Although not all gay men may feel restricted by traditional masculine ideals, many gay men in this study indicated that portraying a masculine image is important to them. Furthermore, the current analysis suggests that there may be a variety of ways in which gay men are affected by traditional masculine ideals.

These exploratory findings seem to reflect previous studies that have looked at how people assess masculinity and femininity in others (e.g., Lippa, 19832005). Similar to past findings, the gay men in the current study associated stereotypical interests, attitudes and behaviors as descriptors for masculine and feminine gay men. Thus, gay men who self-describe as masculine in particular situations (e.g., on-line personal advertisements and chat rooms) may in fact be suggesting an overt exhibition of stereotypical traits that are typically associated with traditional masculinity ideology (Pleck, 1995). Although this seems rather obvious, the current study adds support to the small-scale studies that have attempted to measure what gay men mean by “a masculine gay man” (Halkitis, 2001Halkitis, Green, & Wilton, 2004). Furthermore, this exploratory study offers some initial data on what gay men associate with femininity in gay men.

The more informative part of the analysis came from the responses related to the effects of traditional masculine ideals. Although some positive effects were listed, far more negative effects were given—many which have been previously associated with adverse effects among heterosexual men. For instance, one characteristic that has traditionally been associated with masculinity in heterosexual men is the restriction of emotions and affection (David & Brannon, 1976O’Neil, 1981a1981bPleck, 1981). In the current analysis, some gay men noted that masculine ideals restrict the expression of emotions and affection between gay men as well.

It has also been demonstrated that heterosexual men who feel they do not meet some internal ideal of masculinity experience significant psychological distress (Liu, Rochlen, & Mohr, 2005). Likewise, some gay men in the current study suggested that if a gay man cannot meet the “masculine ideal,” he is likely to question his self-worth.

One final parallel example relates to men’s sexual attitudes and behaviors. Regardless of sexual orientation, men are more interested in casual sex, have a stronger preference for youthful looking partners, and place a greater importance on the physical attractiveness of a mate when compared to women (Bailey, Gauin, Agyei, & Gladue, 1994Bailey, Kirk, Zhu, Dunne, & Martin, 2000Hamann, Herman, Nolan, & Wallen, 2004Kenrick, Keefe, Bryan, Barr, & Brown, 1995Lippa, 2007Meston & Buss, 2007Schmitt, 20032005). Many gay men in the current study noted these patterns among gay men and some felt that these sexual tendencies may interfere with gay men’s ability to intimately connect with one another. Consequently, even though gay men may defy society’s traditional masculine ideals in a considerable way—by being romantically attracted to other men—it seems that they may nevertheless be affected by the same rigid rules that affect heterosexual men.

These preliminary findings fit with theories regarding the effects of traditional gender role socialization. Like their heterosexual counterparts, gay men have been socialized in a culture that pressures boys—and subsequently men—to adhere to rigid masculine ideals (Harry, 19821983Martin, 1990Newman & Muzzonigro, 1993). Sometimes this socialization process consists of extensive shaming and bullying of individuals who violate society’s unwritten gender rules (Kimmel, 1997Pascoe, 2005). Consequently, traditional masculine ideals become central to boys’ developing identity, and these ideals affect how they view others (Krugman, 1995Pleck, 1981).

During this socialization process, many gay men may have been particularly targeted. As children, gay men typically exhibited more gender atypical behaviors and interests (e.g., avoiding rough-and-tumble play, playing house and kitchen, and playing with girls versus boys) as compared to heterosexual men (Bailey & Zucker, 1995Green, 1987). Researchers have repeatedly found that gender atypical boys elicit strong negative reactions and behaviors from both peers and adults (Blakemore, 2003; Carter & McCloskey, 1984; Lamb, Easterbrooks, & Holden, 1980Martin, 1990Young & Sweeting, 2004). Furthermore, gay men recall having been bullied and abused to a greater degree than heterosexual men (Corliss, Cochran, & Mays, 2002Harry, 1989Tjaden, Thoennes, & Allison, 1999Wyss, 2004). It may be no surprise, then, that many gay men adopted traditional masculine ideals during childhood, which continues to guide their everyday lives as adults (Harry, 1983).

At the same time that gay men may be confronting internalized traditional masculine ideals, they may also be confronting some of the consequences of gender oppression that women face. For instance, many heterosexual women report feeling sexually objectified by men and subsequently feeling pressured to have an “ideal” body figure in order to be attractive (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997). Likewise, some of the gay men in this analysis suggested that masculine norms pressure them to have an “ideal” body as well in order to feel attractive to other men. While there is evidence that heterosexual men also experience body image concerns (e.g., Frederick et al., 2007), gay men report more body dissatisfaction than heterosexual men (Kaminski, Chapman, Haynes, & Own, 2005Morrison, Morrison, & Sager, 2004Tiggemann, Martins, & Kirkbride, 2007). Furthermore, similar to heterosexual women, gay men feel more pressure to maintain an “ideal” body for others when compared to heterosexual men (Yelland & Tiggerman, 2003) given that men generally place a greater importance on physical attractiveness when compared to women (Bailey et al., 1994).

Altogether, traditional masculine ideals may to some degree amplify the adverse effect that some gay men experience when compared to heterosexual men. In other words, gay men may feel pressured to live by the same expectations and restrictions that heterosexual men—whether it be as a defensive reaction or because it genuinely reflects their personality—while simultaneously experiencing some of the adverse effects of misogyny and sexual objectification that heterosexual women feel.

While scientific research continues to reveal how traditional masculinity ideology affects gay men, psychologists should consider how masculine ideals impact their gay male clients. For instance, it has been hypothesized that gay men who overcompensate by being hyper-masculine and who voice a strong discomfort with effeminate gay men may have internalized shame regarding their sexuality and may consequently “project…their own fears of female identification” on to other gay men whom they demean (Schwartzberg & Rosenberg, 1998, p. 270). Furthermore, it has been suggested that as a result of traditional masculine gender role socialization, many gay men did not develop the skills necessary to intimately connect with other men (e.g., openly expressing emotions and affection with romantic partners). Consequently, some gay men may use sex as a substitute for intimacy (Haldeman, 2001). Haldeman (2006) also proposed that because many gay men were victimized by heterosexual men for violating traditional masculinity ideology while growing up, some gay men may experience a form of heterophobia—or a fear of interacting with heterosexual men and a degradation of heterosexuality.

Thus, while scientific research tests these and other hypotheses generated by practitioners, psychologists should remain aware of the possible role that masculine ideals and gender role socialization play in the presenting issues and concerns of their gay clients. If masculinity is an important construct for a client, then it may be helpful to explore how this may be affecting his psychological well-being. For instance, Pleck (1995) proposed that one source of masculine gender role strain is rooted in the perception that one is failing to fulfill some internalized notion of masculinity. Traditional masculinity ideology excludes gay men because they violate fundamental criteria for being masculine: they are being “sissies” (David & Brannon, 1976) and they are affectionate with other men (O’Neil, 1981a1981b). Consequently, gay men who value traditional masculinity ideology may experience stress, shame, or guilt because being truly “masculine” is unattainable due to their same-sex romantic attractions.

Yet, even if a gay man is not concerned with traditional notions of masculinity, he may nevertheless feel the oppressive effects of this dominant ideology. For instance, one proposed component of traditional masculinity ideology is that men should be hypersexual and sexually objectify others (Mahalik et al., 2003). Sexual objectification of people—be it by a person or through media images—negatively affects the self-esteem and self-image of those who are objectified (Fredrickson, Roberts, Noll, Quinn, & Twenge, 1998Martins, Tiggemann, & Kirkbride, 2007). Gay men and advertising targeted to gay men have been found to sexually objectify other men (Siever, 1994). Consequently, gay men who present in a clinical setting with disordered eating or dissatisfaction with their body may have internalized this objectified perspective that is perpetuated by other men and traditional masculine ideals.

Description

Friendships between women and gay men captivated the American media in the opening decade of the 21st century. John Portmann places this curious phenomenon in its historical context, examining the changing social attitudes towards gay men in the postwar period and how their relationships with women have been portrayed in the media. As women and gay men both struggled toward social equality in the late 20th century, some women understood that defending gay men – who were often accused of effeminacy – was in their best interest. Joining forces carried both political and personal implications. Straight women used their influence with men to prevent bullying and combat homophobia. Beyond the bureaucratic fray, women found themselves in transformed roles with respect to gay men – as their mothers, sisters, daughters, caregivers, spouses, voters, employers and best friends. In the midst of social hostility to gay men during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 1990s, a significant number of gay women volunteered to comfort the afflicted and fight reigning sexual values. Famous women such as Elizabeth Taylor and Barbra Streisand threw their support behind a detested minority, while countless ordinary women did the same across America. Portmann celebrates not only women who made the headlines but also those who did not.Looking at the links between the women’s liberation and gay rights movements, and filled with concrete examples of personal and political relationships between straight women and gay men, is an engaging and accessible study which will be of interest to students and scholars of 20th- and 21st century social and gender history.

Gay masculinity ideology

Masculinity and femininity are descriptors commonly used in everyday language. These terms are often associated with physical and biological differences between men and women (e.g., body shape and size; Lippa, 19832005). However, most of the characteristics that are associated with masculinity and femininity are socially constructed. That is, social groups define what is and is not masculine and feminine. More specifically, scholars have noted that the dominant group typically defines what are appropriate behaviors for a given gender, and that subordination and marginalization of those who violate these norms are used to sustain the constructs (Connell, 2005). Furthermore, several scholars have illustrated how these two constructs vary over time and cross-culturally (e.g., Mead, 1949Roy, 2001).

In the U.S., there is a dominant traditional masculinity ideology rooted in a subjective and dated image of what men should and should not be (Pleck, 1995). In describing this traditional masculinity, David and Brannon (1976) suggested that this ideology is dictated by four main rules: men should not be feminine; men must be respected and admired; men should never show fear; and men should seek out risk and adventure. Similarly, O’Neil (1981a1981b19822008) posited that traditional gender role socialization leads men to struggle with four main factors of traditional masculinity: men should be successful, achieve power/status, and readily compete against others; men should restrict their emotions; men should restrict their affectionate behavior with other men; and men should be work/career driven.

Even though there may be specific ideals associated with traditional masculinity, Thompson and Pleck (1995) proposed that there is no singular type of masculinity. Rather, many masculinity ideologies exist within the U.S. varying between cultural and ethnic groups. Thus, different groups of individuals may define masculinity differently and hold different standards for men (Connell, 2005Edwards, 1992Messner, 1997Thompson & Pleck, 1995).

One group that may have a distinct masculinity ideology is gay men. Gay men are seen to break from traditional masculinity ideology mainly because of their affectional and sexual orientation. Consequently, the general perception is that gay men are not masculine (Kite & Deaux, 1987Madon, 1997). While such perceptions regarding gender roles are of little consequence to many gay men (Riggle, Whitman, Olson, Rostosky, & Stron, 2008), there are gay men who do not perceive themselves to be feminine at all and who value traditional masculinity (Harry, 1983Hennen, 2005Kurtz, 1999).

The importance of masculinity for this latter group of gay men is particularly evident in the realm of interpersonal relationships. In fact, numerous studies have repeatedly shown that gay men who place personal advertisements tend to stress exhibiting masculine interests and behaviors, and they tend to seek masculine mates (Bailey, Kim, Hills, Linsenmeier, 1997Laner & Kamel, 1977Lumby, 1978Phua, 2002Taywaditep, 2001). For instance, in a study of 2,729 gay men’s personal advertisements, Bailey et al. (1997) found that gay men who chose to use gender specific self-descriptors were significantly biased towards stereotypically masculine traits (e.g., dominant, muscular, and athletic) and labels (e.g., “a masculine man,” “straight-acting,” and “jock”). Furthermore, most advertisers explicitly requested masculine mates and they expressed that stereotypically feminine traits were undesirable in a potential mate.

These studies do not exclude the possibility that a gay man would find femininity and submissiveness attractive in a mate. Moreover, studies focused on personal advertisements are limited due to the potential selection bias of gay men who choose to advertise. Nevertheless, the published empirical studies on gay men’s partner preferences suggest that masculinity is generally a desirable trait and that femininity is not. Yet, how exactly are gay men defining masculinity and femininity?

If we accept Thompson and Pleck’s (1995) proposal of multiple masculinity ideologies, then how gay men define masculinity may vary from the dominant notion of masculinity. While scholars have written about gay masculinity (e.g., Connell, 2005Clatterbaugh, 1997Nardi, 2000), few empirical studies published in peer-reviewed journals have investigated how gay men define masculinity. In one qualitative study consisting of 15 HIV-positive men in New York City, Halkitis (2001) found that the majority of the participants associated masculinity among gay men with physical appearance and—to a lesser degree—sexual adventurism. Physical appearance included having strong physical features (e.g., a big frame and being muscular) and enhancing one’s masculine appearance (e.g., tattoos and body piercing). Sexual adventurism consisted of a high interest in casual sex and multiple sexual encounters. Two subsequent studies supported the previous findings that HIV-positive gay men closely associate muscularity and sexuality with masculine ideals (Halkitis, Green and Wilton, 2004), and that some gay men may use anabolic steroids to increase their muscle mass and appear more “masculine” (Halkitis, Moeller, & DeRaleau, 2008). Thus, the limited scientific literature suggests that particular groups of gay men may associate appearing tough, strong, and sexually adventurous with masculine ideals.

Although we have limited qualitative data on what ideals gay men in the U.S. associate with masculine gay men, we are not sure what may be associated with feminine gay men as no empirical study has asked this question. Thus, one aim of this study was to add to our understanding of how gay men define both these roles.

The effect of masculine ideals on men

For men, traditional masculine ideals seem to play a significant role in their psychological well-being. In particular, many men experience negative consequences when these ideals are threatened by feelings of insecurity, inadequacy, and inferiority. For instance, men who experience greater conflict with traditional masculine ideals report more symptoms of psychological distress (Good, Heppner, DeBord, & Fischer, 2004Liu, Rochlen, & Mohr, 2005Sharpe & Heppner, 1991), higher degrees of shame (Thompkins & Rando, 2003), and are less likely to seek out help (Good, Dell, & Mintz, 1989Good & Wood, 1995) than men who experience less conflict. Furthermore, men who are concerned about fulfilling traditional masculine ideals report greater interpersonal problems including engaging in high-risk behaviors (Cohn & Zeichner, 2006Jakupcak, 2003Liu & Iwamoto, 2007) and experiencing more difficulties within romantic relationships (Blazina & Watkins, 2000; Burn & Ward, 2006; Jakupacak, Lisak, & Roemer, 2002) than men who are not as concerned.

Why are men so adversely affected by traditional masculine ideals? In reviewing studies on the adverse effects of traditional masculinity, Pleck (1995) believed that men’s distress is rooted in one of three types of gender role strain: 1) strain due to beliefs that one has failed to live up to an internalized notion of masculinity; 2) strain due to the tendency to persist in dysfunctional behavior because of traditional masculine ideals (e.g., denying physical pain and neglecting to see a doctor); and 3) strain due to trauma experienced during early gender role socialization (e.g., shaming, bullying, and forced separation from primary caregivers). Overall, the strain due rigid adherence to traditional masculine ideals is detrimental to men’s psychological well-being.

Although a large number of empirical studies published in peer-reviewed journals exist on the effect of masculine ideals on men, few of these studies have focused on the experience of gay men. The limited empirical data suggests that greater conflict with certain masculine ideals is associated with lower self-esteem and greater depression and anxiety among gay men (Simonsen, Blazina, & Watkins, 2000Szymanski & Carr, 2008). Furthermore, gay men who are concerned with conforming to traditional masculine ideals are more likely to experience body dissatisfaction if their bodies do not meet the “physically powerful masculine ideal” as compared to gay men less concerned with adhering to masculine ideals (Kimmel & Mahalik, 2005, p. 1188). Beyond these few empirical studies, the effect of masculine ideals on gay men’s self-image and their relationships is less certain.

Given that masculinity seems to be important to many gay men, psychologists may encounter gay men in session whose presenting concerns may be tied to masculine ideals in the U.S. As these concerns are explored with the client, it may be helpful to understand the various traits that gay men associate with masculinity and femininity among gay men and in what ways they feel impacted by traditional masculine ideals. To supplement Halkitis’ findings, we offer a preliminary qualitative descriptive analysis of perceptions of masculinity and femininity among gay men based on a large national sample. Furthermore, we offer exploratory themes on how gay men feel they are affected by traditional masculine ideals. The remainder of this article will focus on the three major themes explored in this study: characteristics perceived to be associated with “masculine gay men” and “feminine gay men”; the effect of traditional masculine ideals on gay men’s self-image; and the effect of traditional masculine ideals on gay men’s relationships.

Participants

The participants were 547 men who self-identified as gay. The average age of the participants was 36.89 (SD = 10.50), with an age range of 18 to 80 years-old. The average number of years since openly identifying as gay was 15.67 years (SD = 10.16; range 0–63 years openly gay). Most of the participants identified as White (Non-Latino; 83.0%), while 6.8% of the participants identified as Hispanic/Latino, 4.4% identified as Asian American, 2.0% identified as African American, and 1.1% identified as Native American. The median individual income bracket was between $45,000–54,999 per year with 79.0% of the participants having at least a bachelor’s degree. All participants identified as U.S. citizens currently living in the U.S.: West (42%), Midwest (28%), South (22%) and Northeast (8%). A majority of the sample (53.4%) reported currently being in a significant romantic relationship with two-thirds of this subset currently living with their same-sex partner.

The questions

A set of six open-ended questions was used to elicit responses for this study. These six questions were derived for the current study and came after a series of demographic questions. Participants were asked how they would define a masculine/“butch” and a feminine/“femme” gay man; in what ways they felt gay men’s self-images were positively and adversely affected by the ideals of masculinity in U.S. culture; and in what ways they felt gay men’s relationships were positively and adversely affected by the ideals of masculinity in U.S. culture. Out of the 547 participants, 70.0% answered all 6 questions, 5.7% answered 5 of the questions, 7.9% answered 4 of the question, 4.2% answered 3 of the questions, 11.9% answered 2 of the questions, and 0.4% answered only 1 of the questions. A comparison was made to determine if the response rate was related to age, years openly gay, race/ethnicity, and educational level. No significant difference was found.

Procedures

bear-magazine.com, an Internet based research company, was used to collect the data. The survey design was based on published suggestions (Kraut et al., 2004) and bear-magazine.com housed the data within their secure data facility. As suggested by Gosling, Vazire, Srivastava, and John (2004), IP addresses were monitored to prevent multiple submissions.

Participants were recruited via electronic mailing lists managed by various groups, organizations, university centers, and community agencies related to the gay community. Electronic mailing list managers were contacted and asked to send an e-mail announcement regarding the study to their lists. The e-mail announcement detailed the study and inclusion criteria: Participants had to self-identify as gay, they had to be at least 18 years of age, they had to be U.S. citizens, and they had to reside in the U.S. The announcement also provided a link that would lead them to the survey housed at bear-magazine.com

Once at the site, participants were first presented with an informed consent screen. At the bottom of that screen, participants had to click a link to indicate they consented to participate in the survey. At the end of the survey, participants were offered a chance to participate in a drawing for one of three $35 bear-magazine.com gift certificates. A separate database was used for the drawing in order to separate participants’ identities from their answers.

Data analysis

Given that this study was exploratory and descriptive in nature, we chose to apply an adapted version of Consensual Qualitative Research (CQR; Hill, Knox, Thompson, Williams, Hess, & Ladany, 2005Hill Thompson, & Williams, 1997). CQR is a team-based approach for analyzing qualitative data. This method involves several independent judges who evaluate participants’ responses and develop themes through a consensus process.

The use of CQR for this study may seem unusual given the modality of data collection and the sample size. While most of the published studies employing CQR have used either telephone or face-to-face interviews to collect data (Hill et al., 2005), several studies have analyzed written responses that were collected through paper-and-pencil questionnaires (e.g., Dillon et al., 2004Kempainen, Bartels, & Veach, 2007Schultheiss, Palma, & Manzi, 2005) and via email (e.g., Kim, Brenner, Liang & Assay, 2003). In regards to sample size, published studies using CQR have typically consisted of 7–19 participants (Hill et al., 2005); however, some large scale studies have used CQR (e.g,. Robertson et al., 2002). Thus, as use of this method has grown, researchers have adapted CQR to address different research needs.

The team of judges for this study consisted of one doctoral student in counseling psychology and two undergraduate students of psychology. These three these judges were European American, heterosexual females. The internal auditor for the team was an Asian American, heterosexual, male faculty member in counseling psychology; he reviewed the categories and coding to ensure that they adequately captured the essence of the data. The external auditor was a Latino, gay identified postdoctoral research fellow at a different institution; he provided feedback to the primary team and helped to contextualize the findings within the existing peer-reviewed literature.

The three judges independently evaluated responses for each participant. While the total possible responses was 3,282 (547 participants responding to each of the six questions), only a total of 2,859 responses were evaluated given that some participants did not answer all six questions. The raters then convened as a team to present their suggestions for categorizing the data. Using a consensus approach, they created core categories and labels that emerged directly from the data. Only when all three raters agreed on a category would it be included.

For each category under each question, the raters agreed on an exemplar response to illustrate the category. For instance, for the question “How would you define a masculine/“butch” gay man?” the majority of responses fell in the category of “Stereotypically masculine personality and physical traits” and an exemplar response was “A man whose personality traits and mannerisms follow what society has defined as manly: little emotion, lots of control, in charge, does well under pressure, strong.” Every answer that was assigned to each category was then compared to the exemplar responses. If all the raters agreed, the statement was then counted within that specific category. Disagreements were discussed until consensus was achieved and each of the 2,859 statements was placed into the most appropriate category. The raters continually re-evaluated each category and individual response (i.e., constant comparison) to account for any possible drift in the content of the categories.

Once all the data had been categorized, the judges then counted the number of responses assigned to each category in order to create a frequency count. Hill et al. (2005) had suggested that frequency labels (i.e., general, typical, variant, and rare) be used instead of a frequency count. However, given the large amount of data, we chose to assign percentages. This method of characterizing the data has also been done by other large scales studies (e.g., Robertson et al., 2002).

Characteristics of masculine and feminine gay men

Participants responded to two separate questions in which they were asked how they would define a masculine/“butch” gay man and a feminine/“femme” gay man. For both of these questions, participants mostly indicated personality and physical traits that were stereotypically masculine (e.g., restrictive emotionality, competitive, and muscular body) and feminine (e.g., affective/emotional, passive, and small framed). For instance, one individual wrote that “[a masculine gay man] is tough looking, wears plaid and no colors, doesn’t act demonstrative in public” while “[a feminine gay man] is really fashion conscious and appearance conscious, over-done facial maintenance, hugs and kisses a lot, talks with a lot of gesturing.” The second most described theme for both questions related to the ability for a gay man to be “straight-acting” or to be able to pass as a heterosexual man in public. For example, one individual wrote that masculine gay men are able “not to arouse the assumption of ‘gayness’ from strangers,” and subsequently wrote that feminine gay men exhibit “characteristics that are easily noticed [as gay] by many people who do not know the person intimately.”

The impact of masculine ideals on gay men’s self-image

Participants were asked in what ways they felt gay men’s self-images were positively and adversely affected by the ideals of masculinity in U.S. culture. Many participants (24%) were unable to list how masculine ideals positively impacted their self-image. A typical response was “I am not sure there are any positive effects” and “I can’t think of any.” Of those who did identify positive impacts, the most cited benefit was that masculine ideals promote physical fitness and athleticism (15%). Consequently, many gay men exercise regularly and remain physically active throughout adulthood. Masculine ideals were also cited as helping gay men succeed—especially in their careers (13%). Some also suggested that traditional notions of masculinity are expanding to include more diverse representations including gay men and “metrosexuals” (12%).

The question on the adverse impact of masculinity on gay men’s self-image elicited a relatively larger amount of varied responses. The most cited theme was that masculine ideals make many gay men feel compelled to adhere to traditional enactments of masculinity even if it is not who they truly are. In other words, some gay men may feel pressured to behave “super-masculine” or to “butch it up” in order to be accepted. Yet, other gay men suggested that trying to be masculine may be a futile attempt as simply being gay negates one’s masculinity (10%) and makes achieving “true” masculinity unattainable (13%).

Further themes pertained to the negative impact of masculine ideals on gay men’s well-being. For instance, because men typically focus on the physical attractiveness of mates, gay men may exhibit “obsessive gym/diet regimes,” use illegal substances (e.g., anabolic steroids and Clenbuterol), and experience body distortions (9%) as they strive to be and remain attractive. One participant wrote

I think gay men have difficulty with body image—with the six-pack abdomen, big muscle ideal of the ‘man’s man’—and with an obsession with the size of the male penis…Many average gay men may feel shame if their own bodies and ‘members’ don’t match the ideal.

Masculine ideals were also implicated in restricting gay men’s emotional expression (7%) and in making gay men concerned about appearing feminine and feeling uncomfortable with effeminate gay men (7%):

Many gay men are hypervigilant about every gesture, movement, or sound that comes out of their mouths, for fear of somehow falling below the ‘ideal’ that has been set by this culture. For those gay men that are not bothered by this, and live freely as a gay man, other gay men may try to force the ‘ideals of masculinity’ upon them by ridicule or even violence.

The impact of masculine ideals on gay men’s relationships

The final set of questions asked participants in what ways they felt gay men’s relationships were positively and adversely affected by the ideals of masculinity in U.S. culture. As with the previous question on self-image, most of the responding participants (30%) could not identify any positive effect of masculine ideals on gay men’s relationships. Of the positive themes identified, some masculine characteristics reportedly helped gay men’s relationships including being a provider for one another (12%), allowing them to understand each other’s style of communication better (4%), and respecting the need for personal and sexual autonomy (3%).

On the other hand, the participants identified several negative effects. In particular, gay men reported that masculine ideals restricted the degree to which they could openly communicate and express themselves with one another (15%). Traditional heterosexual gender roles within a relationship were cited (13%) as influencing the roles gay men assume in their relationships (e.g., the husband vs. “wife” and the breadwinner vs. homemaker). It seems that for some gay men, the social expectations of traditional marriage roles between heterosexual men and heterosexual women affected how labor was divided in gay households and the degree to which gay relationships were egalitarian.

The premium placed on masculinity was a source of concern in relationships as well (10%), which included the idea that many gay men only seek out “masculine” partners and that they will lose interest in partners if the partner begins to exhibit “feminine” qualities:

I am a victim of this masculine/fem mystique…Go online and check out how many men in gay chat rooms aspire to be perceived as only masculine or straight acting or butch. And I challenge you to find any of those self-described he-men willing to meet a man who doesn’t define himself as such.

Participants also reported that men’s general interest in casual sex and physical attractiveness negatively affected their relationships (7%). Since sexual assertiveness and aggressiveness tend to be associated with masculinity, some felt that this made “sexual promiscuity normative within the gay community” and contributed to open/non-monogamous relationships. Furthermore, because men generally place a large emphasis on physical attractiveness, some gay men felt a constant pressure to maintain their looks in order to remain attractive to their partners.

Limitations

This study was exploratory in nature and any conclusions taken from this should be done with caution. Although there are advantages to conducting research over the Internet (Gosling et al., 2004) including fewer concerns on the part of the participant with disclosing sensitive information (Locke & Gilbert, 1995Richman, Kiesler, Weisband, & Drasgow, 1999Tourangeau & Smith, 1996), the convenience sampling likely contributed to the high representation of White, middle-class, middle-aged gay men, which limits the generalizability of the results. While the current sample demographics closely mirror other on-line studies focused on gay men (e.g., Halkitis, Green, & Wilton, 2004Szymanski & Carr, 2008Wester, Pionke, & Vogel, 2005), different sampling techniques should be employed in the future to draw a more diverse sample. The use of the Internet may have accessed individuals who would not have presented in-person for an interview; however, participants may not have provided full responses because they had to type their responses. Finally, the six questions used to solicit these answers may have been too “academic” and too restrictive in nature. For instance, the pairing of the words “butch” and “femme” with masculine and feminine may have influenced the patterns of responses. Thus, this may account for some of the individuals who did not respond to particular questions and affected the types of responses.

Future research

Many intriguing themes arose from this exploratory analysis that warrant further study using different research methods. For instance, more traditional qualitative research methods similar to Halkitis’ (2001) approach could be used to explicate the adverse impact of masculinity on gay men. Additionally, quantitative methods could be employed to investigate the relationship between many of the variables that emerged in this study. For instance, the relationship between concerns over masculinity and gay men’s difficulty in expressing emotions could be studied with measures such as the Gender Role Conflict Scale (O’Neil, Helms, Gable, David, & Wrightsman, 1986) and the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (Bagby, Taylor, & Parker, 1994). Finally, future research should extend beyond the adverse affects of traditional masculinity and explore what aspects of masculinity are beneficial for gay men and their relationships. For instance, does male camaraderie feed into life-long companionate love within gay men’s romantic relationships?

In the end, we may never fully understand the degree to which gay men are affected by traditional masculine ideals. However, empirical evidence is beginning to shed light on how gay men enact masculinity and how it does and does not affect them. As one participant wrote

I have a personal vendetta against the concepts of ‘straight-acting’ and ‘masculine only’ in the gay community. My personal feeling is that masculinity, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder; and I refuse to let someone else dictate to me what is and is not masculine.

Nevertheless, traditional masculine ideals continue to play a prominent role within the gay community. This article offers a hint at some of the ways in which gay men are affected by traditional notions of masculinity in the U.S. and provides possible themes to pursue in the therapy room and in future research.

Ask a question about their past relationships/crushes

„I’m bisexual. I find that I can tell when women are into me through things like body language, like how close they’ll sit next to me, or how much they might touch my arm. By flirtatious conversation, and hints/references to previous girlfriends, or female dates. I have no idea how scientific something like ‚gaydar‘ is, but I found that I would often have this intuitive feeling that another woman was gay/bisexual just through my opening conversations with them (and picking up subconscious cues in their body language).

„And, people have claimed to have the same sense about me as well. So when I suspect it, I might just ask a question during the conversation that could help determine it, like asking about previous relationships they’ve had, or if they have any funny stories about sex, etc.“ [via]

Observe how they mention their exes

„Difficult to tell if she is not outwardly gay or bisexual. Usually most of my ‚gaydar‘ goes at things like not typically feminine or basic. They either talk about their GF or female ex, or they don’t talk about relationships at all. Seriously, every straight female I’ve talked to lately either talked about their boyfriend, or their husband, or a male ex.“ [via]

They’ll give you an appreciative look

„I can’t define it, but there’s this look that gay women give out, an appreciation if you will. I’ve seen women on the train like this. Straight women NEVER look at other girls like that sober. I would say even something like their face structure, but that might be just me.“ [via]

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You are not alone. Most people identify strongly with the gender they’re expected to grow up as. But it’s not uncommon for a person to identify strongly with the other gender. Sometimes the desire lasts only a brief time. Sometimes it lasts a lifetime.

The desire to be another gender occurs when one’s sexual anatomy is in conflict with one’s gender identity. It may be about an erotic desire to be in the role of the other gender, to play the roles and have the privileges of the other gender, or it may be related to a feeling that one was born into the “wrong” body. Or it could be all three.

People who want to live the role of the opposite gender are called transgender. Transgender people feel that the body type and sex organs they were born with (a penis or vulva) are different from the gender they want to be (being a guy or a girl).

Some transgender people choose to live the role of the gender they identify with, and some don’t. Some transgender people choose to become transsexual by having their gender reassigned through hormone treatments and/or surgery.

Many people, including teens, have non-traditional feelings about gender roles and sexual identities, and that is normal, too.

It’s important to talk to someone you can trust, and who understands gender identity issues. To find a support group in your area, check out bear-magazine.com have a database of thousands of support groups and other resources for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning youth.

Planned Parenthood delivers vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of people worldwide. Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit under EIN 13-1644147. Donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowable under the law.

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