Every one of us gay men born in the United States of America cannot escape the powerful influences of American culture and society. We each are capable of choosing how we as gay men speak and behave. While choice is possible when it comes to gay male speech and behaviors, making that choice is never simple nor easy, especially if you’ve lived within American culture and society for more than 20 years or so.
Discussing making such a choice about how we speak and behave as gay men can often be considered highly controversial and may even offend some people. If you are a gay man and you are around age 20, you will have had less time being impacted by American culture and society compared to gay men who are older. That’s reality. Regardless of how many birthdays you’ve had, if you’ve never stopped to examine how American culture and society has influenced gay male speech and behaviors, this discussion and commentary may challenge how you perceive of yourself and other gay men around you.
Butch vs. Femme
Discussions about whether gay men are butch or femme (as if those are the only two options) often generate strongly-held feelings. This commentary looks at whether gay men are uncomfortable around feminine guys. My perception is that gay men who want to be successful in business relationships in the everyday world we live in need to consider how their speaking and behaviors are perceived by straight people. If you happen to work in a predominantly gay male setting, then you would not have to spend much time thinking about this. But, if you work in the straight-dominated world, you would do well to consider whether your speaking and behaviors are affecting your professional success.
Learn more about butch vs. femme. I also highly recommend that you watch the 2014 documentary Do I Sound Gay?. Two Hollywood movies are worth renting that deal in comedic terms with prevailing gay male stereotypes of speaking and behaving: I recommend The Birdcage starring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane (1996) because it is a hilarious look at gay men stereotypes that you will not soon forget. I also want to mention In and Out starring Kevin Kline (1997) because it is as fun to watch as it is instructive. The 2001 book Sissyphobia: Gay Men and Effeminate Behavior by Tim Bergling is worth considering. It examines how “masculine gay men often find sissies as distasteful, if not more so, than do straight men” and also looks at other reactions gay men have to behaviors in other gay men considered to be feminine.
My recommendation is that if you are a gay man, you should find ways to become aware of how you are perceived by others (not just gay men) around you. If you as a gay man are choosing speaking and behaving that come across as effeminate, you may need to dig deeper to find out why this is happening in your life. Any gay man can modify how he comes across to others. It takes a lot of work and energy, but modifying your speaking and behaving is possible to accomplish if you identify strong motivations within yourself for making such modifications.