A response to a newbie, “straight actor”

This quote is from a guy responding to my post (link here) about a Blendr profile using homophobic language.

Now, I want to start this off by saying that I have nothing whatsoever against the person who posted this, but my first time reading this I felt somewhat personally insulted. I figured it had to be because of the remark about this man being bisexual, since I identify as bisexual myself, and so I replied saying that he may very well be bisexual. The poster told me he meant no harm and would clarify the language, etc. so it’s all perfectly alright. I know the poster meant no harm whatsoever.

But I realized what about this post was really getting to me, and I feel like it’s something that’s kind of “taboo” to say in the gay community. I myself do not find extremely feminine men to be attractive.

Let the hate mail commence. I personally enjoy men who express mostly male qualities, who don’t use makeup, etc. and I feel extremely uncomfortable to really admit that in most gay settings since a lot of people I ever tell that to accuse me of being a ‘self-hating gay.’ There’s two sides to this weird undercurrent I notice in the gay community, where some people are so extremely proud of being in the LGBT community and are involved in drag, use an excess amount of makeup, and can be classified as extremely feminine; the other side tries to stay as far away from the community as possible and complains about how “gay” they act and how stupid it is, and it’s bad for our reputation. 

Honestly, I don’t fit in either. I’m extremely active in the gay community, and I have a lot of respect and appreciation for men who display those feminine qualities, but I wouldn’t date any that do. This isn’t because of a hatred for them, or because I secretly dislike being gay or how they make the gay community look – it’s just because I’m attracted to masculinity. I feel like, although it is extremely harmful for people to say “hey, we’re not ALL girly and flamboyant, don’t judge us,” like the person who posted this said in a previous post, I feel like it is also not doing any good by attacking those who are honest and upfront about not being attracted to that, so long as they do it in a respectful way. 

I myself will openly say that I am somewhat straight-acting, I’m not attracted to very feminine men, and because of that, I more than likely will not be attracted to drag queens. This isn’t because I dislike them or I’m ashamed – in fact, some of my favorite people in the gay community are drag queens – it’s just that what I’m the most attracted to about men is their masculinity. By saying that “anything outside a straight spectrum is obviously too gay for him” – or me, for that matter – seems sort of unfair, because if I really did like someone and they so happened to be a drag queen, I would give them a chance, but as a general rule I let people know that the odds are low if they are. It’s not fair for someoneto be rude about it and say something along the lines of, “God, I hate queens, they’re such fags, I’d never date them” or something, but I feel like it’s equally rude to attack someone for what they’re attracted to. I can’t help the fact that I don’t find femininity in men attractive, just like how some women might not (or might) find it attractive in straight men that they’re dating. Honestly, by saying “I’m not attracted to feminine qualities or over-flamboyancy,” it’s the same as someone who states “I’m not attracted to overweight people” or something along those lines. 

There’s a wide spectrum of attraction, and just because a person is vocal about what doesn’t fit into their realm of attraction doesn’t mean they’re doing it to openly harm someone or be homophobic; it just means that they’re being upfront about what doesn’t suit their interests. This man could very well be homophobic, but I just wanted to get that off my chest because it’s been bugging me for quite a while. 

Ok, so firstly, you write “Let all the hate mail commence”. I’m not going to do that to you, because it’s clear you are using your brain, whether or not we agree, and that’s more important than anything. It’s brainlessness that’s the real problem anyway.

Secondly, I am aware of the importance to be delicate when it comes to discrimination against bisexual and trans* individuals, and perhaps in my post I’ve been less than delicate today, for which I apologise. However the guy in my post just doesn’t come across in any way as bisexual to me – I guess we will never know.

Thirdly, my site, as per a recent post, is not about calling men homophobes if they do not find feminine traits in other men attractive. It may be unfortunate that we have all been subject to heavy duty conditioning our whole lives to find the hyper-masculine, straight white man more attractive than anything else, but as I’ve said many times before, I do not expect anyone to behave outside of what they have been conditioned to behave – I just expect people to be aware and acknowledge that behavioural conditioning exists and is a real thing affecting their sexual choices.

Fourthly, what my site IS about is educating people to be careful in the language they use when discussing what they are attracted to. It’s about using a language that respects others and doesn’t make them feel like shit. You say people are just being “honest and upfront about not being attracted to [fems, queens, girly boys, asians, blacks, hispanics, etc]”. Yes, they are just being honest, but they are also being disrespectful. In a community that has suffered so much psychological damage thanks to overt, systemic homophobia through so many centuries, we need to rise to a higher level and realise that when you say NO ASIANS or NO FEMMES you do psychological damage to people who are Asian or effeminate, because you are basically saying to them “You are not attractive, you are not desirable”. Which is why the whole focus is on educating people to say what they are attracted to instead, not what they don’t want. Be honest about what you LIKE, not about what you DISLIKE!

Fifthly, you used the term “somewhat straight acting” to describe yourself. Anyone who follows this blog knows that if you use that term to describe yourself around me, its like waving a red flag at a bull. But again I will restrain myself. Let me be clear: This term is the most insidious self-hating term in use right now. It’s no different to a black guy or an asian guy calling himself “White Acting”, as if to say that blacks who “act black” or Asians who “act Asian” are something to be despised. Every single time you use the term Straight Acting (and it is always used to describe what the user considers to be positive traits such as masculinity, “manliness”, strength, something good) what you are implying, by extension, is that “gay acting” is something negative, undesirable, and bad. People argue about this all the time, saying things like “it’s just a preference, I’m just describing myself the way I am”. This is bullshit. The word they’re looking for is “masculine”. The word “masculine” means what they are trying to say. The words “straight acting” means they think, on some level that to be gay is to be something they wish they weren’t. You state you are very active in the gay community, and that you have a lot of male friends who do not embody masculinity. If that is the case, then you would be doing the community no end of good to NEVER use that term again, and to check people who use it, because they are, in every single instance, using a term that damages our community as a whole, and states loud and clear that Straight=Great, and Gay=Nay.

Lastly, I agree with you that a lot of people do not use language to harm others. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean they don’t harm people. When language is used unconsciously it can do a lot of harm. Take it from all the Asians, African Americans, Polynesians, Drag Queens, Effeminate Guys, Trans* Individuals, and all the others who follow this blog – your words can and do hurt. It’s time to take ownership of them and be awesome!