Are Modern Gay Men Obsessed With ‘Seeming Straight’?

Are Modern Gay Men Obsessed With ‘Seeming Straight’?

How many times have you seen the words “No Fems” on a guy’s Grindr profile and wondered if that applied to you? And how many times have you tried downplaying your “gayness” even when in the company of other gay men?

According to writer Jack Rushall, it happens far too often.

“For a lot of modern gay men, a big part of being gay is still seeming straight,” Rushall opines in a new Washington Post op-ed. “It’s likely that we entertain this demeanor in the hopes of attracting it, as if we’re part-time actors waiting for our big break: meeting a masculine dude who will accept our effeminate properties.”

Rushall says he often struggles with how he presents himself.

“I have always grappled with identifying as a ‘fem’ or a ‘masc,’” he writes. “Today, some people absolutely know I’m gay. Other people, usually gay men I’m dating, tell me that they weren’t immediately sure of my sexuality.”

Rushall recalls a recent relationship with a guy he describes as very “masc.”

“During the honeymoon phase of this relationship, I felt I’d hit the jackpot. My boyfriend was a suave, Topman-draped journalist with a Kennedy-inspired cowlick,” he writes. “But things got weird.”

A month into things, his super “masc” boyfriend gave him an ultimatum: “I was going to have to bottom (and only bottom), or he would end things.”

Rushall wasn’t opposed to bottoming, he says, but “the problem … was that there was no equilibrium. He decided that he was older and felt more masculine, and I would have to accept this fixed position.”

Rushall acquiesced, but he says it felt more like “a sacrifice to keep my boyfriend around” than anything.

Months later, his boyfriend suggested they move in together. But because of the dynamic that had been created over the whole masc=top-fem=bottom-thing, Rushall turned down the offer.

“I couldn’t shake mental images of me in an apron, placing a hot pot roast on the table while he demanded a refill of his gin and tonic,” he writes.

Soon after, the couple broke up.

“I admit that refusing to let my ex move in with me was a fruitful conversation to have with myself,” he reflects. “The takeaway from our break-up was that I am comfortable inhabiting my own space … I deserve a voice, regardless of how it sounds.”

In conclusion, Rushall says, “I can’t promise that I won’t compromise myself for a relationship again. In fact, I hope I do. Love should mean middle ground.” But, he adds, “love itself is not gendered. In case we’ve forgotten: that’s why some of us are gay to begin with.”

What do you think? Are modern gay men obsessed with seeming straight? And what are your thoughts about “masc” and “fem” roles?

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22 Comments

    • Lorde
      July 10, 07:40 Reply

      Lol! “Well….” is right, it depends on the setting, for eg. most gay men here have to be obsessed with “seeming” straight, because of our country n their beliefs on homosexuality, I try to seem straight in school, but then there’s alwz the occasional hand gestures that may come out at least once a day (idk how it happens, it just does) and then my defence on gay rights n stuff, so I just gotta keep t being straight, to avoid suspicion.

  1. Mandy
    July 10, 07:48 Reply

    Blessed is he who is straight acting, for they shall see God.

  2. Lorde
    July 10, 07:49 Reply

    Concerning the “masc n fem” roles, I think a couple can agree on keeping their gender roles in a relationship “fluid” (so to speak), OR a “strict top” (which I totally don’t believe in) and a bottom who get into a relationship cn decide to keep to their gender roles. There are people who are into that sorta thing… (infact, my frnd says hs boyfriend encourages him to act like a lady). That’s why we should find time to actually have a conversation with our “intended” boyfriends on topics like these, early in the relationship

      • Kasper
        July 10, 08:55 Reply

        We go soon hear strict versatile. Abeg all these ‘strict’ they attach with roles ehn! Everyone has his price oh! You can play any role as long as you have a dick and an ass!

      • Delle
        July 10, 09:40 Reply

        I don’t know about ‘strict’ (why this prefix in the first place sef?), but I know there are guys that do not know what to do with a hole or an ass (except grabbing and spanking it of course). But I guess preferences change, so…

        • Kasper
          July 10, 10:02 Reply

          They do not need to know what to do. There are guys that would do it for them.

  3. Delle
    July 10, 09:37 Reply

    ““I couldn’t shake mental images of me in an apron, placing a hot pot roast on the table while he demanded a refill of
    his gin and tonic,” he writes.”

    This got me rolling.

    “Are Modern Gay Men Obsessed With ‘Seeming Straight’?”
    Yes.
    Everyone wants to be macho-looking. The muscles and its definition, the masculine stance. I don’t know, prolly it’s what majority crave for and as such, everyone is trying to fit into the bill. If you are naturally masculine, fine. But there’s a problem with wanting to ‘blend in’ especially amongst the effeminates. The artificial need to be seen as straight-acting to me is hypocrisy in its heights. Many a time, we get it wrong. Being masculine is quite different from being macho-looking. This is the reason we have effeminate body builders and the likes.

    As for the masc and fem roles, that’s just balderdash. For the umpteenth time, your physical disposition shouldn’t be made inflexible and restricting. I know very masculine guys who love the kitchen, the apron and what have you. There are fem guys who do not even know what to do with a pot. All of these stem from the ancient ideology that the females should be domesticated and submissive. Well, it doesn’t have to be that way.
    We have effeminate tops and manly bottoms now, what’s more redefining? Besides, being top or bottom has nothing to do with one’s physical disposition. It ends on that mattress.
    I think it’s just sickening for one to be seen as ‘less’ of a man because of his femininity and vice-versa. Makes no sense.

  4. Peak
    July 10, 10:39 Reply

    The few times I have thought about this subject, I always come down to one word…EVOLUTION!

    Like any specie that is facing serious threat from the outside environment, new methods of ensuring survival are developed and adopted.
    The general idea while growing up (some ppl still hold to that ideology till date) that effeminate guys are gay guys. So overtime, a large majority of us have invested our time and energy into blending into the general population. We were raised to believe that being different, attracts attention, attention brings about scrutiny, scrutiny leads to revelations and answers. To reduce the weight of our already heavy burden, we become obsessed. With honing our craft as great actors to blend in.
    In the early 2000s, when gay characters started making features in films, the characters were largely effeminate. Over time, we started having more masculine and Disney prince inspired characters. Giving gay men the world over a character or look to replicate and aspire to. Some people nail these roles perfectly and avoid detection or simply reduce it to the barest minimum others struggle to keep up (for a lack of better words).

    However, we should equally note that not all gay men were born effeminate. To some being masculine came/comes naturally. To others, it was shaped from years of trying to prove to society that being gay is not a disability and they can match any straight man strength for strength, wit for wit. It wasn’t necessary a conscious effort to blend in, but a need to prove their selves, gain validation, prove their worth or burst a myth.

    As for all that role nonsense, I find it a very reductive subject. No role is cast in stone (even in acting), but people should keep in mind that there is such a thing as area of specialization, what comes naturally to you, what u are most comfortable with. Area where u excel with flying colors. Asking people to do what they are not comfortable with, just to satisfy ur ego and insecurities says a lot about how comfortable you are with ur sexuality. If you are insecure about being a bottom, or think because someone identifies as a top which makes them superior to you. Then that is ur problem, not the problem of the world.
    The world is allowed to have strict bottoms and verse, but can’t afford to have strict tops, aye? What a progressive way of thinking.

    • ambivalentone
      July 10, 11:32 Reply

      “SEEMING Straight” is not not “BEING straight” so your evolution theory is crappy. Its play-acting and you revert to your default setting in unconscious moments. Evolution brings about A NEW and DIFFERENT species to adapt to an unfavourable situation NOT an unfavourable situation resulting in the same genera. Rather being gay is THE evolution trend, a mutation (if you will) in most definitely unlooked-for places (Karma I would say)
      The topic refers to the heteronormative roles we are trying to adopt in our gay relationships. So don’t get it twisted.

    • Delle
      July 10, 12:05 Reply

      “The world is allowed to have strict bottoms and verse,
      but can’t afford to have strict tops, aye? What a
      progressive way of thinking.”

      How you came up with this still confuses me…

    • Peak
      July 10, 12:41 Reply

      I was almost tempted to accept ur argument on the subject matter, but can’t seem to get pass ““SEEMING Straight” is not not “BEING straight” . So besides having same sex attractions, are you saying homosexual men and women are suppose to have a strictly prescribed model of mannerisms and behaviour that sets them apart from their straight counterparts? Homosexual men are suppose to be effeminate? And if they are not, then they are “play-acting”? Because that is what I got from ur hasty attempt to trash a simple view. Like I said earlier, “(some ppl still hold to that ideology till date) “.
      Before you extend another hasty and poorly thought out reply, keep in mind how I gave 3 different scenarios in which some gay men might appear more masculine than other. Try and think diversity, that might help too.

      Regarding ur second paragraph, the article is in two parts (from My understanding)
      1. The need to aspire to a more masculine demeanour
      2. How it plays out in relationships. (Author using his relationship as a case study of the masc-fem dichotomy)
      I maybe wrong, but until proven otherwise, that was/is how I see/saw it.

      @ Delle, if you think that paragraph was addressed to you, please it was not. Roles happens to be an element of this discussion and I don’t think I strayed far when something like “: “I was going to have to bottom (and only bottom), or he would end things.” formed part of the article. And the you can’t think of hiw things played out in this relationship without having to think how the prefix “strick” has a way of soiling relationships.

      • ambivalentone
        July 10, 13:53 Reply

        I wonder where I implied that gay or lesbians have to exhibit a particular mannerism to pass off as either. And I am the one guilty of hastily generalizing?
        As very unexact a science it is, why does any gay guy’s ‘gaydar’ tingle? Even in the presence of a ‘seeming’ ultra- straight guy? Ever thought to ask yourself that question? There’s that stench that no amount of straight-acting will hide. Call it whatever; intuition, an evolved sense of smell to detect same sex,… so ‘seeming’ straight is just that. SEEMING

        It may be your explanation, but how do you explain where the author, who doesn’t fit into a particular assigned mannerism spectrum but because of a conflict of interest in a budding relationship is ‘made to bottom’ because of something as ridiculous as age or degree of masculinity???

    • Pink Panther
      July 11, 05:49 Reply

      “No role is cast in stone (even in acting), but people should keep in mind that there is such a thing as area of specialization, what comes naturally to you, what u are most comfortable with…. The world is allowed to have strict bottoms and verse, but can’t afford to have strict tops, aye? What a progressive way of thinking.”

      This is exactly my point of view too!

  5. Frank_Einstein
    July 10, 12:06 Reply

    I have made up my mind to be myself; boo has got to love me anyhow.

  6. DarkSide
    July 10, 14:21 Reply

    I think d author it mixed up. Gay men could either be obsessed with “seeming straight” or with “being masculine”. A person cud be obsessed with being masculine without caring to be seen as straight. Some are sexually attracted to gay men not becos they “seem” straight but becos they are masculine. Yes maybe the majority who act masculine want to be seen as straight, but it’s not necessarily the case. And let’s face it, many straight or gay guys are not masculine or feminine. They are just…well…themselves.

  7. Wiffey
    July 11, 04:03 Reply

    Honestly I find this subject very sensitive in the fact that being an effeminate guy in Nigeria is no joke, it’s either you are rejected by society or family but it’s more painful when your fellow HOMOSEXUALS label you sheletic, you hear bullshit like “do you bitch” even before a conversation takes root because they don’t want to be associated with guys who are effeminate in public so they won’t be “Kitoed”.

    As for gender role I for one think people should do what they are comfortable with. If you feel more comfortable as a top then by all means remain a top, truth is you’ve got nothing to prove to anyone. I know I love to cook, clean and take care of my man but that doesn’t make me the woman in the relationship.

  8. geeluv
    July 11, 18:24 Reply

    I’m strictly versatile…… lolzzzz

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