Are gay men really men at all? Though it is the common understanding among many of the readers here that they indeed are, and infact a cornerstone of this sub, the argument for a masculine homosexual man must made in full. Just as easily as one might get caught up in side assumption that “of course all gay men are effeminate”, it is equally easy to get caught up in the countercultural rebuttal that “Gay men are just like any other men”. It has a nice ring to it, it feels correct to say, and most importantly it lets gay men formulate a culturally acceptable identity and distance themselves from all the fay-ass-faggots. But its not completely true if only for the fact that they do prefer men when others prefer women.
At the root of the question is the connection between sexual role and manhood. A man is sexually proceptive, penetrative, and dominant. A woman is receptive, penetrated, and submissive. Thats a fairly shallow manner of defining the genders, but this line of reasoning has governed thought for most of human history. In Greek and early Roman times the practice of same sex intercourse was common within certain constraints. The tradition of pederasty promoted adult men having relations with younger men, usually in their teens. It was seen as an acceptable arrangement for the adult because in being dominant and penetrative he retained his masculinity. The youth on the receiving end was assumed to be the less masculine or more feminine participant, but do to age this was not a huge knock to his social standing. There was no separate concept of homosexuality at the time, only that of power and masculinity.
It was only under Justinian rule that homosexuality became broadly defined as any sexual relations between two men and deemed “contrary to nature”. Punishments for homosexual acts were either death or castration. All male oriented males were cast in the same light and assumed to be effeminate and less than men. In both a figurative and literal sense this cultural shift stripped homosexual men of their masculinity.
The cultural attitude towards homosexuality never recovered from this change. In many ways gay culture adopted the mark of effeminacy as a badge of honor. It became widely assumed that attraction to men was due to deficient masculinity. Gay men became queens and twinks and sheltered themselves in theaters and hair salons.
Modern medical science dealt another blow to the masculine gay when the occurrence of sexually dimorphic nuclei was found. Particular structures in the brain were found to differ in size between normal men and women. It just so happened that gay men fit more closely to the female morphology of these structures than they did the male. Gay men were on a neurological level feminized from the start. Theories abounded about epigenetics and prenatal environments that were testosterone lacking. Gay physical morphology was discovered. Gay men looked to have on average rounder facial structures and their hetero counterparts. Smaller hands and shorter limbs got added to the list next. The only redeeming note was that gay men tended to have larger penises, which was a cruel joke surely as they were elsewise essentially just women and had no real use for such an appendage.
All of this would paint a very convincing picture of the feminine gay man if it were not for one glaring detail. Gay men are still biologically male. What ever level of feminization takes place during fetal development is still insignificant compared to the masculinization, otherwise that gay fetus really would just be female. Physiologically an adult gay male is indistinguishable from a heterosexual male. Variations between homo and hetero are within the boundaries of normal variation. Its only when you look at a large sample group of homos that you begin to see trends and those trends reflect only subtle markers in biology, not major morphological and neurological differences.
Its my suspicion that these differences and even the cultural impression of feminization are being distorted and exaggerated for political reasons. Its much easier to gain political protection for gays if indeed they are biologically and socially distinct from other men. Every move towards social integration is met with fierce resistance by the gay community because it would remove the bargaining power needed to become a protected class.
Masculine gay men are a silent demographic. They are not overtly distinguishable from other men and they tend not to actively differentiate themselves as gay. In fact their silence on the matter is just another facet of their masculinity, a sort of stoic honorable discretion that is non-existent amongst the flamboyant community. Its tough to tell just how many of these men there really are, but a quick dive into the dating market will show a growing distaste for flamboyant or effeminate males in favor of “A man’s Man”.
Classified ads (in the days when those were still in use) turned up a preponderance of “straight acting seeking same”. Gay sports leagues have taken off wildly within the past few years as gay men begin to look for masculine social outlets. Even within professional sports there are about as many gay (though closeted) players as you’d expect to see in the general population. Obviously being gay doesn’t have to mean you are deficient of masculinity. The masculine gay man is here to stay, and probably never left in the first place.
But the presence of the masculine gay man only further confuses the question of how anyone could end up gay in the first place. If homosexuality is not simply feminization of the male. If gay men are not essentially just “hermaphrodites of the soul” as Foucault put it, what are they? How can a man be physiologically and behaviorally masculine and still be attracted to men? Where does that attraction for the male originate and how does it not come with the behavior set of the female?
Turns out the answer lies in sheep. Studies of Ovine male-male sexual orientation have been integral to understanding neurological differences in the brains of straight and gay humans. One of the factors that they noted however was that, while mate selection was affected by these neurological differences, mounting behavior was not. Gay sheep still act like male sheep, they just choose other male sheep to mate with. There were no male sheep that displayed receptive (female) behaviors toward other male sheep.
The ability to be attracted to someone is distinct and uncoupled from the behaviors associated with that attraction. While the part of the brain that handles what stimuli are deemed sexually arousing may indeed be feminized, the other parts of the brain that govern sexual behavior such as dominance and penetration can remain pronouncedly masculine. Men can be sexually attracted to men while retaining their essential masculine self.
Because of this, the feminization of gay men is both unnecessary and detrimental. It is suppressing the natural masculinity they were born with much as homophobia would suppress their sexual orientation. All men are at liberty to experience their own masculinity. No social movement is necessary here save that gay men wake up to their masculine nature and embrace it.