My best friend and I used to joke about how much tension there is between gay men. We could be kiki-ing and walking down 8th Avenue, but as soon as another pair of gay dudes walked past, we got silent, almost like we were ready to rip out they lace front, or maybe we were comparing ourselves to them in some way. It wasn’t that we hated them necessarily, but there was a palpable sense of judgement, like the four of us were thinking our own sassy thoughts about the other person being all, “Child, boo. Did you see that train wreck?”
We spend so much time talking about homophobic violence aimed at gay people from straight people, and the situation is so bleak for some gays that they think the only way out is for them to take their own lives. There are NO H8 campaigns and It Gets Better projects and marriage equality is winning. But when are we going to have a serious conversation about hatred towards gay men within the gay community? When are we going to talk about gay homophobia? Why are we so afraid of GAY?
In case you didn’t know, gay homophobia is rampant. There are gay men who avoid the gay “scene” altogether. There are gay men who say they don’t like black guys/guys of color and claim to not be racist. There are gay men who don’t like fat guys. There are gay men who can’t stand fabulous gays AT ALL, the same gays who spend all their time at the gym getting totally MASC, so U B 2. Whatever — I can’t be bothered with the gym because I, like Victoria Beckham, do not wear flats.
Bruce Pruitt, a New York-based filmmaker, made a fascinating documentary about New York gays and the assumed hatred towards other gay men in the gay community. Not only is it a fascinating question — why do gay men often hate each other — but many of their responses were captivating if problematic. Some spoke about being embarrassed by certain aspects of the gay world, like unconventional sex that would be totally faux pas in the straight world. Others talked about only being attracted to masculine men and “not liking” stereotypical gay men or the stereotypical definitions of “gay,” which is probably why those people spend hours and hours in the gym working to be as masculine as possible so nobody will ever know they just sucked 25 dicks.
One thing that stood out to me about the video is that everybody kept talking about THE gay community, when in reality there is no such thing. There are gay communities, not a gay community. I know I tend to hang out more with artists and creative types, many of whom might be gay, but the gay is not what links us together. Ideas are what link people together. As with any social group there are always subcultures within subcultures, because that’s how we learn to make a place for ourselves in the world. We go where we are wanted, where there are people just like us.
Part of living in the social world is knowing what works for you and making your own place for yourself. You go where you’re wanted, not where you’re going to be teased or feel rejected. You hang out with people who like you, not people who are constantly ready to bitch slap you — unless you’re being a hot ass mess, in which case you probs deserve what you got coming. That’s why I largely avoid big, mainstream gay clubs like the freaking plague. I never have a good time, and it’s hard to explain that to people without sounding like some kind of jerk. It’s not just because I don’t want to hear any Top 40 music. It’s more that I don’t feel at home or welcome there. It’s a gay space, sure, but maybe not MY kind of gay space. Perhaps Not every gay space is a safe space.
I don’t know why some gay men hate other gay men, but it’s definitely a question we should spend more time talking about.