The Gay Gatekeepers
I understand that I’m reacting. My reaction is in part disappointment due to feelings of not “fitting in”. It can be a tough feeling like you are always outside the gates of acceptance. Not feeling accepted in the heterosexual world. Cast out by society’s religious cults. My complexion viewed with suspicion or instantly as the enemy. My masculinity regarded as if it’s an outdated bondage that’s keeping me from living free. This existence at times seems like purgatory between groups beyond the fringes.
This feeling permeates when perusing the internet while viewing mainstream gay content. All of these mainstream websites, blogs and print publications proclaim they are all-welcoming; regardless of race, sexuality, gender, gender conformities (masculine / feminine), body types or age. Regardless of these statements, I don’t feel welcome. The overwhelming majority of gay content is not for me. It doesn’t speak to me or peak my interests. Outside of homosexuality, I have virtually nothing in common with this content, but why? I’m homosexual, so why doesn’t it appeal to me and men like myself?
I can’t identify with what I see. The majority of mainstream gay themed content is whitewashed and almost absent of color. There is very little imagery featuring African, Asian, Indian, or Black American men. I thought we were all a part of this rainbow? If you look at the contributing staff and/or board of directors of the top major gay websites, blogs and print publications they are all mostly white.
In many societies the racial and cultural experiences are different. This holds true for gay society as well. My concern is not fully with the differences, my concern is with not having different perspectives to discuss and thus write about those differences. Persons of color don’t even have a seat at the table or a voice in the discussion with many of the companies, so how can they properly comprehend or conceive diverse points of views relating to other’s experiences, entertainment, pop culture, music, etc.
A simple search of the top major gay media establishments returned few, extremely dated, or no results for The DL Chronicles: Episode Thomas, No Shade, Free Fall or The Life Atlanta. What about the Asian film Baek Ya (White Night) or the Latino film LA PARTIDA (The Game). They barely or don’t bother to mention fundraising campaigns for films like Naz and Malik and Pier Kids.
All of these were/are major web series or films in gay communities of color and have huge fan bases and followers but few or zero mentions within these major gay media establishments. However, they are free flowing with films and web series featuring white gays and lesbians. Why the omissions of web series and upcoming films featuring LGBT people of color? Do our films and web series not matter inside the white gay bubble? I think the evidence is clear.
For people of color, racism is a part of life’s frequencies. Regardless if it’s readily discussed or admitted to, white privilege exists. Just because they’re gay, gay white men are still white and benefit from white privilege. Our cultural experiences will differ; however why claim to be a manifestation of the colorful LGBT symbol which is a multicolored diverse flag if your site, blog or publication is predominantly white?
At one point, we had an article that was being discussed on a popular predominantly white gay website. A commenter questioned “why are there so many black men on their site?” Someone replied “why are there so many white men on ours?” With this one exchange, it brought to light what you see on many of these mainstream websites. They claim “diversity” and all are welcome but a simple scan of these gay media houses will show you their true colors.
The Gender Conformity, Non-Conformity
As stated above, many websites, blogs and print publications proclaim they are for everyone regardless of race, sexuality, gender, etc. This is false. If you look at a cross section of all gay media, there is one thing that is evident. The primary perspective is through the lens of trendy effeminate gay men. They hold a key position in the realm of the Gay Gatekeepers. This is the dominate prism in which all gay trends and content flow. The dominating topics include, Circuit Parties, Gay Marriage, Gay Pride, Fashion, Gay Clubs & Bars, Drag Queens, Musicals, Reality TV, Diva Worship, Homophobia, HIV/AIDS, Glee, Transgenders and Celebrity Gossip. Even their Travel sections consist of finding gay clubs, gay saunas and bath houses for possible hot sexy encounters. Barely anything mentioned about the actual culture of the target destination.
Is this it? Is this all that being gay consists of? Well according to the fabulously fem, perhaps, but in my opinion, this does nothing but to further the stereotypes and negative perceptions of all gay men. What about our interests sciences, technology, comic book and super hero culture, urban culture, geek culture, video games, cars and aeronautics, action movies, etc. I can go on and on about the non-gay interests the many gay men have in common but that are completely ignored by the gatekeepers of mainstream gay media outlets.
Unfortunately most of the time, homosexuals are not presented as well rounded individuals. There are so many homosexual men whose lives are not dominated by “Gay”. They exist with their sexuality being a part of their lives but not encompassing their entire lives. Gay people do non-gay things but you wouldn’t know it by the gay media and gay content that is offered.
Usually the language located in the about section, bio of a founder, editor in chief, staff member or contributor within these gay media groups have the same type of language, “all voices of the LGBT community are welcome and should be heard and not ostracized based on their femininity, masculinity, gender or sexuality”. Again this is false and misleading. That’s because there aren’t many masculine voices present within the gay media and its content, thus traditional male gay points of view are noticeably missing and nonchalantly ignored.
What the masculine homosexual male thinks doesn’t matter. A mere mention of the word “masculine” causes the gay mainstream to get defensive and get their gay pitch forks. A homosexual man being proud of his masculinity is scoffed at, rebuffed, ridiculed and marginalized. With most of the gay media content, the masculine image is present; however it exists as sexual objectification, desire and lust. It’s there to sell a product or event. It’s there to de-stress after fighting a long day against inequality. It’s there to fetch your slippers and run your bath water. Masculinity is degraded to equal TRADE to the effeminate Gay Gatekeepers.
There have been a handful of blog posts and articles in the mainstream gay media about Cypher Avenue (f.k.a. Discreet City), which were of course negative. These articles were from self-proclaimed gay queens or gay male feminists. When we contacted these “reputable” journalistic gay media outlets and requested an opportunity to offer rebuttals or offer our points of view, we were denied. This rejection personally troubled me for a short period of time. Here we are, the largest “safe for work” gay website in the world for men of color and “they” don’t want to hear our voice.
On the last day of my “troubles” I stared at the computer screen. Looking at the websites that rejected me, I realized; I don’t look like them, I don’t share their interests and I don’t exist in their gay realm. Just as I reacted to the religious community and to elements of the heterosexual community, I asked myself, “why do I fucking care”?
Yes it’s unfortunate I have to exist in the gatekeeper’s world by definition of being homosexual or gay; nonetheless my voice matters and my masculine points of view are important. If they won’t recognize masculinity as it pertains to the homosexual man of color, WE WILL. As it stands now, we are the lone voice and we will wear it with pride.
Sexuality & Body Image
I will not ignore that when it comes to gay sexuality, masculinity reigns supreme in the form of masculine privilege. Yes, masculinity is highly sought after regardless of the seekers gender conformity. But is it really masculinity or the masculine image? Maybe a little bit of both but in my opinion its more so the latter. Again if you take a cross section of all gay media, when it comes to sexual imagery the Gay Gatekeepers push forward certain trends. It seems like the three main trends for sexual observation are transgender women, twinks, and masculine men.
Transgender women are praised for the feminine sexiness. Their makeup, breast implants, hair and curves seem to be highlighted and applauded for their almost perfect resemblance to that of the biological female form. The thin twink is another example of a sexual trend but there is a caveat here. The usual image that is presented of the twink is that of the very young and naive. Many times they are objectified as a “play thing” to be used until they get of a certain age or gain weight. In addition to this, Asian men are not only viewed as twinks but also submissive undesirable bottoms. Many White gays are quick to get offended by the tag lines of No Fats, No Fems, Must Be HIV Neg but will unconcernedly say, No Blacks, No Asians.
The most dominate sexual trend of them all is that of the masculine man. The masculine male image doesn’t need to be masculine, it just has to look masculine. This means it has to have muscles or be fit with a six pack, possibly have a five o‘clock shadow or a beard and have tattoos. This image is used to sell gay centric products from mobile apps, party promotions and events, under wear, vacation cruises and travel destinations. As stated before, this image is highly sought after and sexually prized.
What you usually will not see displayed on these effeminate run websites are images of overtly effeminate and flamboyant men being displayed as sex objects. Its almost as if they attempt to save dignity for themselves and are above sexual objectification. It seems like it’s okay for the overall content to be in the form of feminine points of view; however this halts when it comes to being the object of the effeminate gay sexual fantasy.
Let me be blunt; fems don’t desire fems sexually. This would be like a gay male form of lesbianism. But what about the masculine men who view femininity in other men as sexy and desirable? Too bad because remember, masculine perspectives don’t matter and are not relevant to the gay narrative.
The Gay Gatekeepers
The White Gay Establishment, Queers, Feminists and Effeminates; these are the Gay Gatekeepers. They determine what “gay” means along with its culture in today’s society. They set the stage on what type of gayness is allowed. They give the marching orders on who and what to be outraged against. They block out any other gay points of view that go against their mainstream narrative. Many of the ilk wear the badge of Feminist proudly while questioning what masculinity is. The elitist white gay establishments are the curators of the gay lexicon and in turn dictate and mold the conversations. Pretentious intellectual Queer Studies programs teach you how to tap into your feminine powers and be better effeminates and queens while being intolerant to traditional male interests. Their expertise is telling you how you are “doing gay wrong.” As it stands right now, the image of the overall gay community is that of sassy flamboyancy, limp wrists, lisps smacking, diva worshiping fashionistas. For me its madding that the traditional gay male image hasn’t changed or evolved in decades.
These are the same people that want gender lines to be blurred so they can feel more comfortable in their skin. In my opinion this is a form of self-hate, intolerance and rejection of maleness. Gay men of color are used when they are needed to fight for gay causes; however when the goal has been accomplished, the Gay Gatekeepers regulate them back to their respective camps until their services are needed again.
Gay men of color are fighting for racial equality in addition to sexual equality. Gay men of color have more concerns besides getting gay married. Gay marriage is a luxury fight that can be afforded to white gays while Jim Crow and racism persists for men of color across the globe.
The Gay Gatekeepers view masculine men as knuckle dragging oafs that are good for dick but not conversation. Masculine men are viewed as self-hating effemaphobes while not being true to themselves. Black and Latino masculine gay men of color are automatically labeled DL regardless if they are out and proud. Because masculine gay men can blend into the hetero-normative majority, for queens this equates to “hiding”. This leads to the false perception that masculine gay men don’t face discrimination or can be possible victims of gay bashing. Remember via their own media outlets they have made known that masculine voices and perspectives of color are not relevant and don’t matter, but guess what…
We do matter and we are relevant. Cypher Avenue will continue to be unapologetic concerning issues of gay male masculinity and I will continue to do my part and be a voice for masculine gay men of color. Thank You.