The Unbearable Straightness of Gayness

I’d like to talk about male sexuality, straightness, and gayness. I won’t be addressing female sexuality in any detail as I’m a straight cisgendered white guy. Gonna write what I know.

Anyway, ever notice how there’s something very . . . gay about aggressively straight guys?

You know what I’m talking about. Guys being manly with guys about guys doing guy things. The bros that seem to be so into bros you wonder why they aren’t deeper into bros if you know what I mean. The guys so big on guyness your gaydar melts down because there’s so much guy you wonder if you got a vowel wrong . . .

And you’re speculating someone’s closet is used for more than socks.

There’s something very gay about guys being really, aggressively straight. I call this The Tom Of Finland Phenomena, after the artist who drew very gay scenes of super-masculinity.

And I’ve got a Theory On That.

Signals And Actions

So let’s talk humans and signals. Humans are social creatures, creatures of communication, even moreso than other creatures. With words and glances and actions and tone we’re constantly communicating. We’re often not aware of it (which explains many a social faux pas), but we do it.

Sex is all about communication.  If you think about it, life and reproduction is transmission of information, so sex and communication are impossible to disentangle.  Sex involves a lot of forms of communication.

When it comes to sexuality, we need to send signals to attract a mate. What makes us desirable? What do we offer? What’s good about us? What are you doing Friday?

Sex is about communication with mates. But that’s not the only form of communication.

We also warn off rivals. We show how great we are. We show we got there first. We ward someone off with a glance or a snarky comment. We have a talk with our best friend that maybe he should back off.

So we’ve got to warn off people, be it by an aggressive display or making them realize who’s with who. There’s a “warding” aspect to sexuality.

We also bond with people over sex. Not the people we have sex with, but the people we relate to – our friends, our group, our mentors. We learn from them or teach them about finding mates (or one-night stands). We share war stories and funny tales or brag or ask where we can get that rash looked at.

Sex is about finding someone, about warding off rivals, and something we bond over.  At no point does this seem to matter if you’r gay, straight bisexual, or whatever. These are basic human traits.

For that matter “sexual preference” and “sexual identity” can be pretty damn fluid. I’m straight, but let’s talk Chris Evans for a moment.

Because Woof.
Because Woof.

But at some point straight behaviors, as noted, seems . . . kinda gay.

And when you break down the different ways people communicate, I know why.

Let’s Talk Bros Before Knows

Let’s take a look at stereotypical hyper-masculine behavior. The stuff that is so straight male that we’re thinking it’s gotten a bit gay. Or a lot of gay, no matter how many claims of “no Homo” are made.

Stereotypical hyper-masculine (and indeed toxicly masculine behavior) is aggressive. It’s posturing. It’s often angry. It’s bragging. It’s a constant kind of showing off.

(It is also, to judge by many straight women I know a turnoff if that’s all there is).

We know people like this. We’ve known them in real life, and see it in Internet Tough guys and forum-bragging. And we wonder about them because there’s just something . . .  off here.

Let’s unpack this.

These are guys bragging and showing off. Their behavior is macho posturing. They’re either warding off rivals or forming social bonds with others who act like them.

What’s not in there is mate-seeking. Oh sure they talk about it, they talk about it a lot, but there’s a lot of talk and very little long-term growth. It’s talking scores like a video game – it’s bragging.  Talk of mate-seeking is really about showing off how great you are or warding off rivals to look tough.

These are people engaging in two of the three social behaviors, but not actual mate seeking or fitness for mates.  It’s a bit hard to believe from the average macho posturer that women really want a self-centered “alpha male stud” whatever who’s managed to take the worst parts of metrosexuality and retrograde behavior to create an unholy fusion of annoyance.

Also, when you look closer at hyper-masculinism, the female is often excluded. One is to avoid femminine behavior. One is to be “a man.” In some further spheres of pick-up artistry and political extremism, women are downright degraded (by the people who want to sleep with them, whichseems weird).

An extreme posture or position inevitably leads to exclusion. Hyper-masculinity excludes the feminine.

When it’s guys being guys around guys to get the interest of guys, while excluding women and female traits, it seems pretty damn gay.  It’s so about men that it becomes kind of a mobius strip of suspected closeted behavior.

Looking A Bit Further

So in a nutshell I think that hypermasculinity seems gay as it’s all aggressive performances for other men in a way that is so exclusive of women you wonder. When you’re showig off for your bros, we wonder if that’s really where your mate-seeking behavior is directed.

I’ve also wondered if part of this is the appropriation of macho steretypes by gay culture (again, Tom of Finland). Gay people in cultures with hypermasculine elmenets could adopt them out of mockery, parody, or commentary – certainly I’ve seen that in gay culture over the decades, from the village people to macho-themed bars out here in the Bay Area. Much as history is replete with sexually ambituous mystics like the Berdache, maybe you can play Holy Fool in order to kill some Sacred Cows.

This explanation helps me finally grasp what I was getting to. Straight men who are obsessed with other men, showing off for other men, and excluding the femminine are going to give people the impression they’re kind of closeted or confused.  Maybe they are.  Even more ironic because most “hypermasculine” types I meet are homophobes, since they’re so big on being manly.

Maybe the best way to be manly, whatever that really is, is to remember women.

– Steven Savage