In opinion piece for The Huffington Post, Tyler Curry comments on how the image of what a gay man can be is growing. But as more and more athletes and actors come out, and as people get to know their gay service members, construction workers, ranchers, etc., he finds that we are beginning to marginalize some of our more effeminate brothers:
A girl can only take so much. I have learned to embrace and enjoy my feminine qualities just as much as my masculine ones. If masculinity is paramount, something that all men must strive for to be considered “real” men, then gay men, by definition, will always be considered lesser than their straight counterparts. We gay men know that there isn’t one definition of what a “real” man is. Hell, we are living proof. So discounting or stifling any feminine characteristics that we may have is a slap in the face of our own culture and an admission to others that there is something to suppress. The gay men who couldn’t help but shoot glitter out of every orifice were the ones who propelled gay rights into the mainstream. As we get closer to becoming fully integrated in the larger society, it is important that we not allow any segment of our own community to suffer in the process.
The measure of a gay man’s femininity in a heteronormative society is much like the measure of an African American’s skin color in a society of white privilege. The most feminine of gay men are the equivalent of the darkest-skinned of African Americans, while the gay men who exhibit the most masculine qualities enjoy privileges like fair-skinned African Americans do. These phenomena are the result of expectations placed on both groups by segments of society who demand that we be like them. Those who fail these litmus tests are least valued by the ruling party. As proud gay men, we should demand within our own community that masculinity not be an indicator of worth, and that we respect each other regardless of our differences.
To the queens who have been beaten up, marginalized and mangled for refusing to cave in to the norm, you are the true heroes of the gay movement. It is these men to whom we owe our freedom to be the exact type of gay man that we were made to be, and nothing else.
Curry is correct in making the association that the more masculine you are the more accepted you are. Masculinity is associated with competence and capability, but within our community it is also associated with something more; the stereotype. We have spent so much time trying to change the stereotype that any time it comes up again, we cringe for fear that it will remind folks of why they didn’t like us in the first place.
But we shouldn’t allow our own fears to push these men to the sidelines. Equality for all means equality for all. As we want society to understand that a gay man can look like a Jason Collins or Darren Young, we need not to forget that gay men are also Johnny Weirs and Adam Lamberts. Show tune singing or baseball bat swinging or both, we are all part of the gay community. We all deserve the respect and recognition of the heterosexual world and, especially, of each other.