I recently asked my followers what topics were on their mind, and more than a couple mentioned issues of “toxic masculinity” in the LGBTQ+ community. Wikipedia explains “toxic masculinity” as “traditional norms of behavior among men in modern American and European society that are associated with detrimental social and psychological effects.” These “traditionally male” behaviors can include the hatred of women, violence, and of course, homophobia. It’s the idea that if all men hate the same things, they can create a global image of what is acceptable and rewarded as male and manly.
Toxic masculinity plays out in the gay community in a number of ways (which one post cannot cover), but here are a couple issues mentioned by followers. One follower finds an issue on hook-up apps like Grindr, where he is viewed as feminine by “masc alpha male” type guys. He states that these types of guys fetishize him for supposedly being feminine, but when he rejects their sexual advances, they treat him like he’s worthless. He sent in a Grindr screen cap where he rejects the “alpha male,” and the alpha male then calls him a “feminine bitch” and says that if he wanted to deal with this type of drama (being rejected, I guess), he would just hook up with a woman.
Another follower writes that so-called “twinks” in the gay community are always objectified and sexualized but are made fun of by other gay “tribes,” seemingly because they are the easiest to pick on. This type of behavior almost makes it seem like “twinks” are viewed as only being good for sex, and otherwise useless or not “manly” enough to hang when it comes to other activities. Some alpha men may even view them as the closest to women so the easiest way to try out being gay without having to cope with losing their own false feelings of manliness.
I’m sure there are many more stories along these lines. So why is this happening? Well, without cracking open a sociology book, it’s easy to see that generations and generations of men who did not accept homosexuality are partly to blame. Men have always been held to this old school “macho” standard, and things are only starting to change – very, very slowly. The media is barely starting to expose ideas like the “stay at home dad” and the female NASCAR driver. But what about the gay community? While we are getting more exposure in mainstream society, we are almost entirely stereotyped by media to be feminine or weak (as if those are bad things). So there is a whole sector of society that “accepts gays” as this completely stereotypical BFF to women, or almost half of a “classic man.” It will probably take more than our lifetimes for a new generation of humans to accept us just as regular people without labeling us in any way for it.
So how can we fight what’s happening today? Certainly we can do more than sit around and wait for people to change their minds. Here are a few ideas:
- Coming Out – I cannot stress this enough. The more different types of people that come out, the more ignorant people in the world will see there are all different types of people in the LGBTQ+ community and it is incorrect and improper to stereotype any of them. For every person that comes out, there is an ignorant uncle, cousin, boss, neighbor, or coworker that respected that person when they were closeted and will learn to respect them (and other) LGBT people afterward.
- Call It Out – It may seem pointless, but we need to call out behaviors as a community that are unacceptable. You notice how I called out racism on Grindr lately on my profile? Well even if I changed 5 minds about racism (which, by the way, I did after numerous inbox messages with people) that is a step. Those people will then hopefully start to call out the same behaviors and soon enough, we are making a change. Don’t be afraid to be hated on, don’t be afraid that it feels like the whole world is ignorant and against you. There are good people out there on your side who will defend you. So have those annoying Grindr conversations, tell people why they are wrong, get blocked. It seems pointless, but it builds an idea that turns into something.
- Use Your Allies – If you are dealing with someone displaying behaviors of toxic masculinity, try to talk to someone that person respects to convince them otherwise. With men, it is often a wife or girlfriend that can put them in check and tell them “it’s not ok” to say that or do that. Look at the way Hollywood has banded together (just now, in 2017) to end decades and decades of sexual abuse by men in power. We have to use any resources we have to call out and stop behaviors – so don’t overlook these allies in trying to do so.
This is an important topic and I hope to hear all of your thoughts and talk more about this in the future.
- Lex, Esq.