Gay Male Masculinity: A contradictory label or an expansion of identity?

Guest post by Tristan Lee-Wright.

What does it mean to be gay and masculine?

Can a male be considered masculine, while also self-identifying as being gay?

In a hetero-normative society (see hetero-normativity article) where male and female relations is the standard for normalcy and strict gender roles are enforced, a gay male on his sexuality alone is an outcast or derivation from the established rules.  If you include the fact that some gay men exhibit feminine gender expressions, again, by a strict standard of hetero-normalcy, than the gay male community is further isolated from what could be considered masculine or how men are supposed to act.

How does the gay male then fit in and by extension define his masculinity in a hetero-normative world?

The gay male defines it for himself.

Since the gay male doesn’t fit in to the strict standards of that society, he is given the option to either assimilate or define his own masculinity, or identity.  If he assimilates he is a contradiction by definition because he pretends to be something he is not.  If he exercise’s his freedom he expands what could be considered masculinity for himself and for the men of his society, this includes heterosexual men.

Since I reject the notion of hetero –normativity and see homosexuality and heterosexuality as both normal variations of sexuality, the masculine gay male becomes not a contradiction but a variation in one sense and an expansion in another, of masculine expression.

You can be a gay male and be masculine.  A gay male is still a male even if he is effeminate.

I define masculinity in terms of expressive gender characteristic choices rather than a biological inherence.

As a black gay male, I consider myself a mix of masculine and feminine qualities; I bring out each when the situation calls for it.  I’m more butch (gay slang for masculine) when I need to be assertive or I want to show I’m upset.    I’m more fem (gay slang for feminine) when I am more relaxed and want to be approachable.  Masculinity and femininity exist on a spectrum not separate islands and most people are a mix of both of these identities, to varying degrees.

This guest post was authored by Tristan Lee-Wright. He is a Black, openly gay male who studied African American Studies, and Psychology with a minor in Social Welfare at Syracuse University.  He was introduced to activism during his attendance at Syracuse University and more specifically through the organizations Pride Union and A Men’s Issue.  Already a passionate, insightful, and observant person, the introduction to these organizations furthered his understanding, as well as curiosity, to the issues of gender, sexuality, and human rights.  He is a writer, graphic designer, singer, dancer and overall creative person.  

2 thoughts on “Gay Male Masculinity: A contradictory label or an expansion of identity?

  1. All people contain the capability to characteristically act androgynous. But as far as androgyny is concerned in regards to biological characteristics such as hypothalamus and hormones, estrogen and testerone, much research needs to be done.

    Anyone identifying as feminine or masculine as well as a gay male should consider the basic fundamental that they both are physically attracted to men. And I think that is a portion of this subject matter that often gets looked over. Great post btw!

    • Awesome piece Tristan. I especially appreciated this:

      “I define masculinity in terms of expressive gender characteristic choices rather than a biological inherence.”

      I feel like we can take this and apply it to all aspect of gender equality and its particularly relevant here. Great work

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