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Homomasculinity

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Homomasculinity is a term used to describe a subculture of gay men who self-identify with the imagery, culture, and gender role of what is normally seen as "traditional, straight male masculinity". Homomasculine men may demonstrate traits that include, but are not limited to, an interest or participation in physical team sports such as American football, having a body type in contrast to the often stereotyped gay ideal of thin and boyish, pursuing a traditionally masculine career (such as soldier, police officer, firefighter, construction worker or other blue-collar employment), enjoys listening to or performing alternative rock music, heavy metal music, and/or country music, or having masculine/non-effeminate mannerisms and preferences. When taken to extremes, homomasculinity is often described as being hyper-masculine. At times, some within the LGBT community deride homomasculine gay men as either being in denial of their sexual identity, being unwilling to challenge mainstream culture, or of perpetuating traditional gender roles. Others accept homomasculinity as being one of the many possible ways of being within the LGBT sexual spectrum. Many also see homomasculinity as a sign of countering gay stereotypes.

History Edit

Homomasculine subculture as a distinct modern entity only developed with the rise of Western masculine mass culture in the mid-20th century and the process of gay liberation in the 1960s and 1970s; its roots, however, arguably stretch back to ancient Greek culture.

Notable influences on homomasculinity are the sport of bodybuilding and the influence of the biker culture, both of which set definable masculine archetypes for both straight and gay males in postwar popular culture. Gay culture at this time was defined, both from outside and within, as largely effeminate in nature; gay males were expected to follow gender roles that did not stress masculine elements. Following the Stonewall riots and the rise of the gay movement, homomasculinity began to assert itself as a legitimate gender role within the LGBT community, and was referenced early on by the musical group The Village People and in the erotic works of artists George Quaintance, Tom of Finland, and The Hun, and writer Jack Fritscher, although a "masculine" gay subculture in many places did exist long before Stonewall, mostly independently of the "mainstream" gay culture. This could include the leather subculture, which largely existed apart from the broader gay community until the publication of Larry Townsend's The Leatherman's Handbook in 1972 brought it into the open. However, it can be argued that those communities such as the were/are very masculine, but not necessarily in the traditional heterosexual sense of masculinity.

On the other hand, blue collar, working class culture with its largely normative style has been an equally big influence, without resort to the more extreme expressions of masculinity such as bodybuilders, bikers, or the leather culture.

In the 1980s, the AIDS epidemic brought new attention to the homomasculine subculture, albeit mainly in reaction to images of gay men suffering from the wasting effects of AIDS. Some gay men sought homomasculine identities during this period as a way of reasserting vitality; others, such as the Bear community, asserted themselves as a legitimate gay community as a counter-reaction to stereotypes of gay males as thin and permanently boyish.

Present-day Edit

As of the early 21st century, homomasculine culture is well-established within the larger LGBT community. Some homomasculine traits, such as working out to develop a muscular physique, are now part of the gay mainstream, while homomasculine subcultures such as the Bear community have established a growing role as trend-setters. The development within the mainstream culture of hyper-masculine offshoots of bodybuilding, such as powerlifting and World's Strongest Man, have further expanded the limits of homomasculinity to include even larger and powerful body-types.

On August 11, 2004 The Guardian published an article about fetishes amongst gay football fans, which said that gay sexuality was absorbing straight masculinity based on football. It argued that gay men have turned the ordinariness of the football fan and turned it into a fetish for "hypernormality", where fashion is flowing from straight to gay. [1]

A term coined to identify with this trend is "sporno" - the turning of athletes into sexual performers and sports itself into a sort of pornography. Supported by such photographers as Bruce Weber with the entire Abercrombie & Fitch gay-straight phenomenon, gay men are now opening themselves up to viewing such sports as Ultimate Fighting, NCAA team sports and rugby. Though they may not play sports themselves, gay men are identifying with athletes by wearing athletic dress (many gay men purchase A&F clothing), looking for "SAGs" (straight-acting gays) as boyfriends, and producing websites that feature "straight" men having sex with each other.

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. The Guardian: You don't have to play it straight

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