Ever had a gay man criticize your appearance, or had your ass slapped in a gay club ‘as a joke’? Gay male sexism is alive and well
This article was originally published on Broadly.
“Some of the worst misogyny I’ve experienced has come from gay men. It can feel almost more gross than it does from straight men. It’s like, you’re not even trying to express sexual interest in me, you’re just asserting your dominance over my body just because you’re a man—you’re just doing it because you can.”
Victoria Sin is a queer woman living in London and a female drag queen. When Sin recently appeared in a Broadly documentary about drag artistry, some gay men on Facebook angrily accused her of “appropriation” of gay culture and drag. “What am I appropriating? It’s pure misogyny and so stupid on many levels,” she says.
The topic of misogyny among gay men is a difficult one to broach. In my experience, men either simply refuse to believe the phenomenon exists, or the conversation is quickly derailed (“yeah, but what about homophobic women?”).
I have a male body, I’m bisexual, and I’m also genderqueer. But I’ve also experienced misogyny from both straight and gay men on the basis of my apparent femininity. At a party attended mostly by gay men who worked in political consultancy, I was asked,”What do you do, darling? Something fun like a fashion degree?” At the time, I was wearing heels, red lipstick, and a sheer crop top. “No”, I replied, curtly. “I work as a commercial lawyer in the City and I’m also a freelance writer.” His reply: “Really?”
This misogyny can range from the insidious to the explicitly vile and provocative—as Breitbart columnist Milo Yiannopoulos recently demonstrated in an essay on feminism, where he describes women as “the unfuckable feminist fag hags who have for so long ridden on our tastefully embroidered coat-tails.” Last November, actress and singer Rose McGowan discussed the misogyny she experienced from gay men in the media, saying “Gay men are as misogynistic as straight men, if not more so. I have an indictment of the gay community right now, I’m actually really upset with them.”
PHOTO BY MATTIA PELIZZARI VIA STOCKSY
In reality, conflicts around misogyny have persisted as long as the gay rights movement itself. The Gay Liberation Front, which started the first London Pride march, was the flagship movement for queer emancipation in the UK. It formed in 1970, but by 1973 had largely splintered on several political lines—one of them being gender. An editorial in Issue 2 of Gay Left, a socialist journal published by gay men in 1976, reflects on its effects on the movement:
“When the split occurred between the women and the men in the movement… the gay men became more isolated into the new ghetto. After this, much of the serious questioning of gender roles disappeared… The male gay movement, instead of challenging and confronting sexism, became increasingly defensive.”