Our Cookie Cutter Culture

Gay stereotypes are alive and well. Can’t we move past them?

There is a pattern of reaction I have picked up on when friends and family find out that I am gay.

My sister once confessed, “I always thought it would be fun to have a gay brother… but you’re not that gay…”

“You don’t sound much like a gay guy!” My brother has teased.

“You are the first gay guy I have met that I didn’t know was gay.” Gasped a gay friend.

One laughed, “it just never crossed my mind!

Some have smirked, “ahhhh… I don’t think you are…”

As funny as these conversations are, they expose an underlying problem.

The way I have always carried myself has been an honest reflection of who I am. Never have I been attempting to cover up an inner feminine soul nor have I tried to project a Herculean image. I am just… me. I can’t explain it any more than you can about why you are the way you are.

But sometimes, it seems like the world has more expectations for me once they find out I am gay, than they do for me just as a man. Like the script gets switched and suddenly I’m supposed to care about interior decoration and hair product.

But then again, what can you really expect in a society that specializes in one-size fits all clichés?

The media tells us that every gay man is flamboyant and fabulous. He is equipped with an eye for fashion, making him a trusted advisor from everything to shoes, hairdos, and picking out the perfect dress for that thing on Friday. In the kitchen he can whip up a decadent Creme Brulee that will leave you begging for copies of his cookbook. And each and every Friday you can find him at the Salon with his BFF Susie getting dolled up for a night of sipping champagne and dancing like a fool.

My apologies to every Susie out there, but I may not be the buddy you’re looking for.

Because I don’t shop until I drop. No girl should ever trust me with dating advice. I prefer Labs to Yorkies, and under no condition would I shame one by putting it in a purse. When I talk, I don’t use extravagant hand gestures or cute catch phrases. When my hair gets too long, I let my brother buzz it. Night Clubs of all sorts weird me out, and don’t define “a good time” for me. I fancy a Coors over a Cosmos and the Economist over Vogue.

But can I still be your friend… even if I’m not your idea of a gay one?

I know it sounds like I am tooting my own masculine horn, but don’t be mistaken. Like I said, I am no Joe Six Pack. Just ask me to throw around a baseball and you’ll see that.

Also, please don’t read this the wrong way, none of those stereotypes are necessarily bad things.

They just aren’t me.

Yet every time I see Cam and Mitch on Modern Family, or an episode of Glee, this is what I see. Gay men are fully feminine.

Every time the news plays tape of a Pride Parade, I cringe at the Go-Go dancers showcasing the most depraved elements of the LGBT community. All it tells me is that all gay men are promiscuous.

And all this does is reinforce a belief that I still don’t belong. It once again leaves me feeling like a man without a country.

Then I tap the brakes and think.

How true is this pigeonhole persona of the gay community?

My story suggests its not. Same with the stories of my other gay friends. So do the ones of my straight-male-effeminate friends. As do those of “tomboys” and boys who cry.

And let’s not stop here, because honestly, we do this all the time.

We know that…

Not every little girl plays princess and not every little boy plays baseball.

 Not all moms choose to be full-time homemakers, nor all dads dive into the corporate world.

 Most Muslims are not extremists and most Mormons are not polygamists.

 Not every Asian you meet is a Rhodes Scholar and not every African American can dunk a basketball.

 Some Californians are conservative and some Texans are liberal.

No one is a caricature.

 These superficial stereotypes based on gender, race and creed are just as detrimental as those dictated to gays and lesbians based upon their sexual identity.

We are a mosaic of tales that cannot be type-casted for the sake of conformity.

Diversity matters more.


This was previously published on Registered Runaway.

Read more on Smashing Male Stereotypes on The Good Life.

Image credit: Justin Cascio

About Registered Runaway

The anonymous blogger behind Registered Runaways: his battle cry is for community. For keepers. For safe people to show up. He calls on his readers to roll up their sleeves, trade tales of their bruises, and deny the lie that we’re alone. You can follow him on Twitter at @registeredruna1.


  1. Richard Aubrey says:

    You’ll note I referred dismissively to “half-wit”entertainment media. They do, I suppose. Wouldn’t know. I don’t watch the alphabets. Sitcoms have come and gone without my viewing a single episode.
    I was referring to the rest of the world.
    As should have been plain. However, if it is plain, you need something else, so you refer to that which I agreed dismissively did stereotype. I think.

    • Richard – you will have to forgive this Empiracle Queer for finding so much about cookie cutter stereotypes beyond half baked.

      I’m so out loud and proud people are shocked at the idea that I have ever been in a room with a closet. I have worked over many years over a number of settings. One involved Logistics and getting heavy kit round the planet – for 6 years the guys I worked with just thought I was straight, until my other half turned up to meet us in a Hotel in Bangcock and I sucked his face off in the lobby and then excused myself explaining we were off to my suite to get it on big style. The jaws on the floor were all crystal.

      The next morning my other half was gone – flight on to Australia – so I’m having breakfast and the guys are all looking. One was really shocked and said “But the other guy is as butch as you. Couldn’t you find a girlly one?”. After that you can imagine the joking, I blow someone a kiss and the other guys tell the guy he’s definitely gotten more girly!

      I’ve been on the front lines and seen too much to take a great deal seriously when it comes to stereotypes and queer land! I’m also not one for the Queer and gay and other Stereotypes. I’ve been on the front line for equality in UK/Europe since the start of the 1980’s – over 30 years. We used human rights as the fulcrum to move the seesaw and get laws and society changed. If I ever find a law promoting Stereotypes I’ll kill it stone dead, but until then I’ll just deal with the ones’ the promote error and prejudice … Butch or Brassy … and if necessary with a little glitter and spiked high heals size 18.

  2. Richard Aubrey says:

    Stereotypes again?
    Do we have any empirical basis for claiming there’s a stereotype.
    Sure, not all Californians are liberal, but that’s the way to bet until you find out he’s trying to leave.
    I had an Army buddy who’s not only gay but an activist in a big-city gay scene. Never had a clue. He was hard-core Infantry. I didn’t find out until thirty years later and a couple of other friends remarked we couldn’t tell even in hindsight.
    The half-wit entertainment media don’t tell you all gays are flamboyant. They tell you that effeminately flamboyant people are gay. That might be a stereotype, too.
    Since gays are not straight, it would follow there may be some differences. Some might even be noticeable.

    • Stereotypes again?
      Do we have any empirical basis for claiming there’s a stereotype.

      Yup – been there – seen it – done it – the sling backs were hell! P^)

      Failing that – just google – Will and Grace – Queer Guy With the Straight Eye – Sex In The City …. uhm do you need to get any more empirical such as an academic paper?

      There is a whole library of scholastic titillation and all for free on http://scholar.google.com and just search for gay+media+stereotype – my favourite is “Making the Ad Perfectly Queer: Marketing” Normality” to the Gay Men’s Community?” – and seeing how there is stereotype of how to make the stereotypical queer guy stereotypically straight … well it was a revelation!

      If that lot aint empirical enough you can find your own stereotypes and stick them where trial-and-error goes!


  1. […] of that group have failed to match the ideal of masculine manhood. Myths like “gay men all ‘act gay,’” or that gay men really want to be women, or that bisexual men are indecisive, closeted […]

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