Gay Bros: A Unique Online Community for Men Struggling With Stereotypes

GayBros

On one of the internet’s most popular, and notorious, sites, a new community is bringing together gay men with old-fashioned tastes.

Gay atheists are two clicks away from trans hackers. Cross dressers occupy the same sidebar as gay gamers. A forum of same-sex parents shares the same website as a group of gay bros.

These are just a few of the myriad of queer subreddits that exist online; open equitable platforms for casual conversation and community construction. Anyone can become a moderator of one of these pages and anyone can contribute to the running dialogue. Subreddits have become refuges for people who often feel out of place in more mainstream LGBT conversations.

Last year, 23-year-old Alexander DeLuca launched Gaybros, a subreddit for gay men who gravitate “towards traditionally male interests,” as he described it to me.

“Some people think that the nature of creating a space that celebrates interests that society labels as ‘masculine’ is inherently misogynistic or exclusive. It’s really not the case, and I think a lot of people realize that when they interact with the community,” DeLuca said.

That community is comprised of close to 20,000 reddit subscribers, a sizeable base which he and web developer/co-moderator Jon Allen hope to increase with the launch of a new website.

“We know that Gaybros has helped a lot of people come to terms and take pride in their sexuality and masculinity. We want to accomplish that on a broader scale by developing a stand-alone website that offers original and user-submitted content,” Allen said.

They are in the early stages of developing the site and Allen says they hope to have it up and running by early summer. Currently, Gaybros is raising money through an Indiegogo account to fund the new venture.

Their prominence and fundraising campaigns, most recently one devoted to raising $10,000 for the Trevor Project this month, have caught the attention of reddit’s general manager Erik Martin, who revels in finding new subreddits at work.

Every morning, Martin goes on reddit and clicks ‘random’ on the top left corner of the page a few times. He’s stumbled across a strange and diverse set of niche communities, most recently one about people who work in wildlife rehabilitation.

“I wasn’t planning on spending an hour reading through it but I did and it was fascinating,” Martin said. But besides the novelty appeal of pages like this, subreddits can foster communities in the real world through various meet-ups ranging from organizing dates to planning sporting events.

“We hear stories all the time of people who meet their eventual spouse, or business partners, or just roommates,” Martin said.

These safe and open forums have become especially significant to the LGBTQ community.

“The internet changed everything. Everything. We can discuss how we feel and who we are in a nonthreatening space, without risking “real life” relationships,” Rachel Young said.

Young is a 36-year-old who identifies as a trans woman. She is one of the moderators of the cross-dressing subreddit, which has nearly 4,500 subscribers. Young reads posts ranging from conversations about gender-play to queries from friends and significant others asking about cross-dressers in their lives.

“It happens pretty frequently and really gives me faith that a lot of people are at least trying to be supportive, even if they don’t ‘get it,'” Young said. Sometimes, it takes an individual subreddit to point out the lack of support existing in online spaces.

Jamie K., 29, created the subreddit transphobiaproject to “identify trouble spots” throughout the rest of reddit where knowledge about trans individuals was limited.

“People post pictures or twitter posts of someone talking about a “man in a dress” or something every single day, and those posts often receive huge volumes or upvotes and the comments are then filled with horrible shaming comments and hateful jokes,” Jamie said. She identifies as genderqueer pansexual and prefers female pronouns.

While her subreddit fostered what she perceives as valuable conversations about gender identity, Jamie thinks that reddit has a long way to go before it becomes an entirely safe space.

“At the same time, it’s the place where the most change can be made. The internet is still young, and it will shape our world,” Jamie said.

There are queer subreddits founded in places ranging from India to the U.K.

Abbie Archer, 22, manages gaytheists from Edinburgh, Scotland. She is a transgendered woman and an “avowed atheist,” who calls herself “queer as a daffodil.” When she launched her subreddit two years ago, Archer wanted to include a mix of stories about LGBTQ people, atheism and religion. The subreddit has only 467 subscribers, but Archer values it as a vital intersection of two elements of her identity and a part of a larger conversation.

“The internet has helped link up the LGBT community world-wide and give us a safe space to talk openly and in confidence. You’re quite lucky to be a young queer person in the UK today because you’re at a point in time where acceptance of LGBT people as something normal and non-threatening has grown and you have the internet to talk to other people like you,” Archer said.

These shared interests, perceptions and identities create a meaningful support system that has guided individuals to embrace uniqueness and live without fear.

“We’ve had a number of guys say that Gaybros has helped them come out and even saved their lives based off of the support system our community offers,” Allen said. The subreddit helped him feel more comfortable in his own skin, years after he came out.

Moderators like Jon and Alexander, Abbie and Rachel, are members of the communities they created, sharing their experiences with the thousands subscribed to their pages. The dynamism and diversity of subreddits is derived from the contributions of individual storytellers, crafting new and undiscovered communities with the click of a mouse.

These virtual spaces are swelling to new and untenable sizes on a daily basis. And the general manager of reddit is just pleased to watch.

“It’s cool that [subreddits] can exist without us being aware,” Martin said.

They exist for those who know where to look, for those who may need them most.

 

For more on the emotional value of “bro” culture, check out “The GoodBro” by Stephen Mitchell.

 

Photo—Elvert Barnes/Flickr

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About Gideon Resnick

Gideon Resnick is a journalist originally from Cincinnati via Los Angeles. He is currently at Northwestern University and explores social issues, American politics and global terrorism in his writing.

Comments

  1. it should be noted that the vast majority (almost everyone) of readers of the Reddit page “gaybros” do not support Alex’s bid to turn their community into a separate website that will just line his pockets.

  2. testington says:

    Gay men who are masculine are cool, gay men who try to be masculine and shun those who aren’t are jerks. I have several gay friends that are more masculine and butch that most of my straight guy friends but they’re great guys who just be themselves and don’t make a big deal about it. But I have encountered far too many self-identified “straight acting” gay dudes who really seem like they’re suffering from internalized homophobia. Be yourself, be good to other people and don’t rule somebody out just because they don’t fit your idea of what a person should be or you’ll miss out on a lot of great friends in life.

    • If effeminacy were actually part of homosexuality then it could rightly be described as “internalized homophobia”. But it’s not.

      I can understand the standoffishness of masculine gay men who are constantly being derided for not “being true to themselves” (i.e. being more of a fairy) and being told that they should “stop over-compensating” when in fact they are just being who they are.

      I can understand how constantly hearing that “gay men are more sensitive and creative” (yes I’ve actually heard TV show hosts saying things like this) could make a masculine gay man end up with a chip on his shoulder.

      You see the same reaction, resentment and resistance from any other falsely stereotyped group.

    • It’s not about exclusion, it’s about celebrating the diversity within the gay community. Thing about homosexuality is A) it has a vibrant and distinct culture, B) it transcends culture. That’s why we rolled our eyes when Ahmadinejad said there’s no gay people in Iran. I’ve been to meetups based around these groups, and they’re fantastic people, and you don’t get kicked out for having a lisp or for wearing a pink shirt. But it’s understood that cattily joking about others’ clothes and taking away someone’s “gay card” if they haven’t seen the Les Mis movie are not allowed. I agree that you shouldn’t set arbitrary criteria for your friends; you’ll miss out on some great people. At the same time, though, wouldn’t it be great, if you don’t really resonate with queer culture, to find other gay people who you have a lot of stuff in common with? It’d be just as tragic to miss out on that just because you were pretending to like RuPaul’s Drag Race to fit in with the acquaintances you met at the club.

      • From 55yr old gay guy who is “masculine” but always supports the “fems”-were not going to take it. (The Who, Tommy 1969) Don’t like this kind of stuff. “We” who were masculine when I was a young man didn’t feel at all persecuted, at least I sure didn’t. I always felt I got a pass to move through society and that it was harder on effeminate guys. Sure didn’t need a group to validate it.

  3. I hate how these articles are always more about Alex DeLuca than about gaybros. All he did was type the name. The rest of us built the community. Now he’s trying to make money off it, which is something that 99% of the community does not support. Gaybros is awesome in spite of Alex DeLuca, not because of him.

    • It’s not really surprising. The authors only know what Alex tells them. If they did their research, and actually read what people are saying on gaybros, then they would realize how people really feel about his money grab. That’s why the fundraiser campaign for the website failed to raise the $8000; the majority of gaybros don’t want it. It’s funny reading “Gaybros is currently raising money”… no, Alex and his friends are asking for money to start their business.

  4. proud_bay_man says:

    I remember when this was called, “straight acting.” What’s the next label they will apply to it to make, ‘gay men’ fell safe in their own skin. Come on guys you’re gay men. Period. Butch, fem, blah blah. You’re gay men: period.

  5. George Greene says:

    Excuse me for being a flaming wimp but there is ALMOST NOTHING positive about this.
    It is closer to a safe space TO HATE ON people who are “MORE gender NON-conformant than WE are”
    than it is to anything else. I having nothing against anyone bonding with people of like kind but it does sort of MATTER that it NOT obscure what we have IN COMMON.
    The same thing happens WITH OTHER tribes that are under attack:
    Can you imagine what kind of coverage a club for black Republicans or black millionaires would get?
    There are some clubs of affluent or influential black people that bond socially, but they ALWAYS do it with sense OF MISSION and purpose toward the larger community — after all, pretty much no MATTER WHAT, you CAN’T forget that you are black. THIS, on the other hand….

    What will you be championing next? In the south, gay redneck klansmen?? “Yeah, Bro, WE hate TOO!”

  6. This is dumb — and I say that as a gay man who likes “traditionally male” interests. Being gay means both the ying and the yang reside within you. You can be athletic, but also be artistic. You can like football, but also enjoy art. You don’t have to choose.

  7. Go Kings!

  8. In seeking to create a space for gay men who think they don’t fit a certain stereotype because they have “other” interests or “act differently”…these same people fall into another ridiculous stereotype themselves. It almost seems like the gay community is now a sad circus of competing stereotypical characters all trying to define themselves in opposition to each other and superior to the other. Most “gaybros” I’ve met are self-hating gay guys who shun other gays they consider feminine or gays their cliques consider effeminate…making them not gaybros but gayjerks as another reader pointed out. There is a difference between facilitating a space for gay men who want to play sports and gay it up with other gays doing what they consider to be more “traditional” things….AND creating a space for a self-identifying group of self-hating gay jerks who define themselves in opposition to an abstract and pejorative sense of gayness.

  9. As a mid-to-late-20’s gay guy who’s lived in conservative suburbs, NYC, Boston, and DC, I must say that I find the GayBro phenomenon a little silly. When I came out all those years ago, I probably would have identified as a “gay bro” because I was an NCAA athlete and was embarrassed (ashamed maybe?) that I liked dance music and Clueless. I didn’t like going to gay bars because “I didn’t identify with the guys in tanktops” and “I wasn’t effeminate” like they were. But then, I got more gay friends and became involved in gay groups. I discovered that just because I like Robyn doesn’t mean I can’t drink beer. Just because I like guys, doesn’t mean I can’t still like working on cars. And now? I have some gay friends now who are the the most traditionally “masculine” men I’ve ever met (jeans and t-shirt, beer drinking, work construction, etc.) who know every Beyonce song and dance and can whip up to-die-for pastries on a whim. Straight men don’t have a monopoly on masculinity.

    Most guys I’ve met who have been involved with the GayBros movement are the ones who’ve never ventured out of their comfort zones to actually make gay friends or actually get involved in gay culture. My advice to GayBros: make more diverse gay friends. Go out and get drunk in a gay dance club, bear bar, lesbian bar, etc and talk to people. (Some of the nicest people I’ve ever met were when I stumbled into a leather man competition in Boston.) Push your own boundaries and remember the wise words of RuPaul, “What other people think of me, is none of my business.”

  10. Hello mates, how is everything, and what you would like to say concerning
    this piece of writing, in my view its genuinely awesome in favor
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  11. According to this, it pretty much wraps up what a gaybro is

    http://whatsagaybro.com/
    …. sounds about right/

  12. many thanks for this amazing share! , Liked Going Though
    It !!

  13. Sorry fellows, but this older gay guy has big reservations. I contacted them, went around and around with them, even got personal once (regrettably) Was told I was condescending abrasive, on and on. I see a couple things happening-a possibly necessary source of contact for younger gay men, a group of masculine gay guys trading on it, and Mr. De Luca running a slick pr show. Yeah, I cop to judgmental as hell, but does the gay movement need to show off good looking jocks to gain credibility? (Look around elsewhere in the media, its’ happening.) I’m from the generation of Harvey Milk when the gay community wasn’t completely obsessed into “fitting in.”

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  1. [...] Also read –  Gay Bros: A Unique Online Community for Men Struggling With Stereotypes  [...]

  2. [...] — for creating a space for gay men with “traditionally male interests,” as described by creator Alexander DeLuca on The Good Men Project. Many derided the group for elevating [...]

  3. [...] — for creating a space for gay men with “traditionally male interests,” as described by creator Alexander DeLuca on The Good Men Project. Many derided the group for elevating [...]

  4. [...] — for creating a space for gay men with “traditionally male interests,” as described by creator Alexander DeLuca on The Good Men Project. Many derided the group for elevating [...]

  5. [...] Good Men Project – Gay Bros: A Unique Online Community for Men Struggling With Stereotypes (7 Mar [...]

  6. […] Resnick, Gideon. (2013). “Gay Bros: A Unique Online Community for Men Struggling with Stereotypes.” The Good Men Project. Web. 3 Dec 2013. http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/gay-bros-a-unique-online-community-for-men-struggling-wit…. […]

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