An Open Letter to Misogynistic Gay Men
By Hope Taylor
I’ve known one of my best friends since we both moved to the same town in 7th grade. I rode with him on his bumpy path of discovering his sexuality, first coming out as bisexual to me on Facebook, then announcing he was gay less than a year later. I regularly hear about the guys he dates, his struggle and heartbreak. I sit on the sidelines of his life, watching him grow into his sexuality and identity, and I love him like a brother.
I thought his identity couldn’t possibly effect me.
My mind goes back to a distinct time in high school when he would smack or punch me, as friends do. A little roughhousing here and there was not a problem for me, but I remember this was the kind of behavior that made me stop in my tracks and tell him to stop, that it hurt, that it wasn’t nice.
He said, “It’s okay. I can hit you because I’m gay.”
In his head, I’m sure he meant that his punch did not hold the same metaphorical weight as it would if it was from some tough, straight man that I was dating. Sure, I don’t really classify it with the same heated misogyny I would if I were being attacked by a straight spitfire male, but it still hurts. And it’s not excused.
Many gay men seem to feel excused from the trappings of misogyny because they are gay--which, somehow, doesn’t make them like other men who execute the same behavior. The preface to this NewNowNext opinion piece stuck out to me: “Gay men, first and foremost, are men.” Yes, gay men and the LGBTQ+ community have faced incredible discrimination and heartbreaking struggle. But, many gay men still benefit from some of the same privileges that straight men do, and can still fall to the trappings of misogynistic culture. Sorry, gay men, but not being attracted to girls doesn’t mean you can treat us like trash. You would think that a group who has faced discrimination based on who they are would understand the concept of respecting others and not treating women the way straight men might. Sorry gay men, but abuse is abuse, harassment is harassment, and rudeness is rudeness, no matter whose mouth it comes out of. It’s strange how lesbians are branded as man-hating, but gay men are not assumed to be woman-hating, and can often get away with saying sexist things under the guise of humor or endearment.
I am all for gay men expressing themselves, being confident, and being proud of who they are. However, there’s a thin line you’re toeing when it plays into casual sexism that can turn into superiority. There’s a certain culture with some gay men, where they exhibit stereotypically feminine behavior and use terminology that has traditionally belonged to women, invoking words like “bitch” as friendly greetings. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, we have to think about where the words come from, and why it’s seen as more acceptable when gay men do it . Why do gay men get a pass on certain behavior while straight men don’t? While some gay men might bond with each other and their female friends by turning words like “bitch” and “slut” into funny, harmless names to each other, there’s a different context when you speak to women, straight or otherwise. Parading around how much you hate women isn’t very awesome either. Sure, you can express how you’re not attracted to women, or that you might not get along with them, but to be vocally disgusted and repulsed by them, to say they’re whiny bitches, hormonal monsters, etc. is the same old misogyny just rebranded by a non-straight man.
Whether everyone likes it or not, women are everywhere. A woman gave birth to you, taught you, befriended you. Trans women kick started the Stonewall Riots that gave birth to modern LGBT activism. Just because you are attracted to men doesn’t mean that you can touch women without their consent, be violent toward them, or be just plain ole rude. Not being attracted to women does not give a free pass to exhibiting elitist, sexist behavior. It’s not a competition. We are allies, not enemies.
And NO, just because you have female friends who don’t mind being called a cunt by you doesn’t mean that the argument is invalid, unimportant, or that you’re the patron saint of gay men who can do no wrong.