Are any of your imaginary friends gay?

Misogyny in the gay scene is a real problem

“I have seen the most misogynistic behavior from gay men so far. It's almost worse for me than straight men because it's not even about expressing their sexual interest in me. It's all about expressing their dominance over my body - simply because they are men. They do it because they can. "

Victoria Sin is a queer woman from London and a female drag queen. After Sin appeared in a Broadly documentary about female drag artists, some angry gay men on Facebook accused her of "appropriating" gay culture and drag culture. "What am I appropriating? That is just misogynist and just plain silly in many ways, "she says.

It is difficult to bring up the issue of misogyny among gay men. In my experience, men either simply refuse to believe that such a thing exists, or the discussion is quickly steered in a different direction ("Yes, but what about homophobic women?").

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I have a masculine body, I am bisexual and also genderqueer. And I, too, have experienced misogyny because of my feminine appearance - both from straight and homosexual men. At a party that was mostly gay men working for the same policy advice group, I was asked, “What do you do for a living, dear? Something cute, a fashion degree or something? ”At the time I wore high heels, red lipstick and a thin crop top.“ No, ”I replied gruffly. "I work as a business lawyer and also work as a freelance writer." The answer was an incredulous "Really?"

The extent of misogyny ranges from any veiled to openly mean and provocative statements. The latter demonstrated the Breitbart-Columnist Milo Yiannopoulos recently in an essay on feminism, in which he described women as "unfucked feminist gay mothers" "who clung to our tastefully cut skirt tips for a long time." In the past, actress and singer Rose McGowan has spoken publicly about the misogyny she has experienced from gay men. She said, “Gay men are just as misogynistic as straight men — if not more. I'm really blaming the gay community for that right now and I'm really angry with them. "

Indeed, discussions about misogyny have lasted as long as the gay rights movement itself. The Gay Liberation Front (GLF), which led the first Pride March in London, was the flagship of the queer emancipation movement in Britain. The organization was founded in 1970, but by 1973 it had largely split into several political lines — one of which was on the issue of gender. The editorial in the second edition of Gay Left, a socialist newspaper published by gay men in 1976, has shed light on the impact of the movement:

“When the movement split into women and men ... the gay men isolated themselves more and found themselves in a new 'ghetto'. After that, the gender roles were no longer seriously questioned ... The gay movement became increasingly defensive instead of fighting against sexism and dealing with it itself. "

In their 1995 pamphlet Lesbophobia: Gay men and misogyny writes the author Megan Radclyffe that many lesbians left the GLF by 1971. She quotes ex-member Janet Dixon as saying that “in the end, once again, women served men. Women wanted to create a new consciousness ... [and] sacrificed their energy to men. "

In the past, lesbian activism was inseparable from feminism. Ultimately, the liberation of queer women presupposed the dismantling of the classic gender roles and family structures through which all women were oppressed. Former GLF members like Dixon eventually realized that while some gay men wanted their sexual preferences recognized, they didn't want to give up their social position as men in a patriarchal system.

Male homosexuality has a diverse history — which has been largely demonized by Western Judeo-Christian society as a sexual deviation from the correct male gender norm. However, there are also stories from Ancient Greece that portray a more romantic and erotic notion of male connections. In Homer's poetry, these were considered even more important than the relationship with women. This parallel history is also evident in the portrayal of male beauty in Renaissance art, as well as in the works of Walter Pater, a 19th century critic who wrote mostly about the aesthetics of male beauty and "friendship".

"There is no doubt that there was such a thing," says Dr. Sam Salomon, English professor at the University of Sussex and co-director of the Center for Studies on Sexual Dissidence. "Though it was very social-class. It represented a kind of ideal of social ties and social advancement that could only be realized through wealth and educated men. Other men and women were excluded from it. "

When I was younger, there were times when gay men would touch me inappropriately and then say to me, 'That doesn't count. I'm gay!'

Indeed, the belief in the inherent superiority of gay men over women has existed since the 19th century. Dr. Salomon points to Edward Carpenter, an early socialist proponent of homosexuality. He believed that men who loved men “are not 'effeminate,' but rather have the best qualities that make them natural leaders in social progress.” Carpenter claimed that Uranians (as he called homosexuals) the embody the perfect blend of masculine honesty and feminine emotional sensitivity.

I've seen the social legacy of this notion myself in my work as a lawyer: At the bottom of the career ladder, the genders are roughly equal. At the top of the partners of British trading companies, on the other hand, there are only 24 percent women. In comparison, there are law firms like Freshfields or Simmons & Simmons that are touted as particularly gay-friendly by LGBTQ organizations like Stonewall UK and that most have gay lawyers and partners.

In some areas, gay men rise faster and higher than their female counterparts. This is hardly surprising when you consider that they do not question the prevailing gender status quo in the world of work that much. To a certain extent, they even strengthen the male-centered professional world, which means that issues such as childcare and maternity leave, which particularly affect women, are not given any further thought.

Perhaps the modern working gay man is guilty of benefiting from prevailing sexism rather than actively participating in it. However, sexism among gay men can take on more direct forms. Most of the women I've spoken to have spoken of totally inappropriate physical assaults on women, some in the guise of appreciation — like drunk gay men dancing in clubs or getting angry when they touch women they are criticized.

I was told that as a feminine looking woman, I was 'not a member'.

“When I was younger, there were times when gay men would touch me inappropriately and then tell me,“ That doesn't count. I'm gay!' That may be, but it still counts because I'm still a person who wants to be respected, "says Victoria Sin. I tell her that I often see things like" Vaginas are gross. I don't know how anyone can have sex with them would want to hear "get. Sinn nods. "When I talk about my period, gay friends often say, 'Ewww, stop it, this is gross!' No, it's my body and it's not disgusting. "With statements like this one can easily and thoughtlessly affirm one's own sexuality - but just because one wants to emphasize that one likes cocks, one does not have to pretend from women and their bodies to be disgusted.

The "gay scene" also shows signs of institutional problems with women. "Once when I went to GAY [a club in London] I was told that as a feminine looking woman, I was 'not a member' - whatever that means My male friends, on the other hand, were all considered gay and welcomed with open arms, "says Josie Thaddeus-Johns, an author from Berlin. “That was before I outed myself as bi. It's actually pretty sad when you think about the fact that women who may not be ready to be assigned to a certain group are already being checked before they even enter a queer room ... A male-dominated and hosted party tells me as Woman basically how I can present myself to 'belong'. "

When women are welcome in a club, they are often relegated to a completely separate room. “Even if an evening is just supposed to be lesbian or queer - if any gay shop is run by men, then there are always men there who have the feeling that you are stepping into 'their room'. A guy in a bar once interrupted me and my girlfriend in a conversation to say, 'Ugh, sorry, too much estrogen in this conversation, "says Sin.

Lyall Hakaraia, the owner of the queer venue Vogue Fabrics in east London, believes that comes from the history of gay clubs, which is similar in most cities. “It's always about sex somehow. There is this outdated thinking that men can only live out their sexuality when no women are around — some, but not all. That thought has been twisted so that it now means that women shouldn't be around at all and somehow spoil the mood when they are around. But there is a big difference between sex clubs that are solely designed to pick someone up, or whether you just want to party. That some gay men fail to see this difference is limited to say the least. "

It turns out that Sin's reference to the "women in the basement" is a pretty good metaphor for the attitudes of many gay men towards sex itself. In gay dating apps, one often encounters men who state their preference for masculine, straight-looking partners and make a very explicit note on their profiles: "No femmes", i.e. no feminine people. In addition, expressing one's own wishes often becomes a kind of fetish or often just looks clumsy and out of place. Just this morning a charm bolt on Grindr asked me: "Do you put on panties and stockings for me, dirty boys?" Another form of misogyny is also projected onto the active and passive role during sex: When I wear mascara in my profile photo , then I can expect to be told that my "hole" will be nailed, ruined or destroyed.

"I've never told anyone I've slept with how to behave or look - I don't think gay men are at all aware that they are robbing themselves of such a right," says Shy Charles. year old, genderqueer musician has long hair and a beard, and every day she wears artfully decorated nails and elaborate eye make-up.

I've heard white gay men joke about having a 'strong black woman' inside them. It's a cultural stereotype.

"Gay men don't realize that when they say, 'Don't look too feminine when we meet,' they're asking them to be someone else just to suit their sexual preferences," says Shy Charles A gay man once told me that the fact that I have no muscles and that my hair is long is a 'waste'. That I 'waste' my looks if I don't conform to the classic image of men. As if it were my only purpose in life To look attractive to men like him and just need some help! Like looking like some kind of accident. "

Not only do some gay men feel entitled to judge the appearance of non-binary or feminine-looking queers in romantic or sexual relationships, they do the same with women — especially women in the media. Female pop icons are often "glorified", but this can mean that it seems quite natural to "criticize" women in general, especially on the basis of some stereotypical, sexist criteria such as weight or external beauty. Women in the media don't have to sexually look attractive to gay men, yet there is a widespread expectation that they should look like glamorous icons without much effort — an unrealistic and idealized claim on strong, flawless women.

Many white men have a crush on black artists like Beyoncé and imitate the slang they use in the US TV series RuPaul's Drag Race hear what can promote appalling stereotypes about black women. For example, at Push The Button, a gay pop music event in London, a couple of gay men with Afro wigs and painted dark attended the annual Spice Girls party. Her appearance should be a supposed homage to Mel B.

“I've heard white gay men joke about having a 'strong black woman' inside them. It's a cultural stereotype that implies that 'black women' have no problems and deny us all of our experience, "explains Ava Vidal, a British stand-up comedian and writer." There are tons of situations like this: people who Mimicking ebonics and joking about their 'weaves' without realizing they are dehumanizing us completely. That's not particularly flattering. They want to enjoy all the positive aspects of our culture without experiencing the negative. "

But what if she criticizes such gay men? “They get mean and almost bully you about it. These white men don't listen to black women at all. How many times do you have to tell them that before they finally listen? "

Black women experience double discrimination in white, patriarchal society. Establishing a causal connection between the experiences of white homosexual men and those of black women is intrusive and not based on solidarity. Transgender women encounter similarly complex oppressive structures and - like black cis women - are often reduced to the stereotype presented in the media. Their experiences and how strong, combative and courageous they are are completely ignored.

In fact, cis gay men owe a great deal to trans women. For example, a trans woman led the Stonewall riots in 1969. But gay men (just like lesbian cis women and bisexual cis women and men) have a rather mixed history when it comes to political solidarity with transsexuals and especially trans women. Stonewall, the UK's leading LGBTQ organization named after the gay riot, only officially made its commitment to transgender issues in February of this year - 16 years after it was founded. It is clear that most large organizations have learned from past mistakes and are doing everything they can to better address transgender issues, but if the LGBTQ online petition "drop the T" is even taken as a clue then you can see that transphobia persists in the gay community.

In order to actually include trans women in the politics of the LGBTQ movement, gay men (meaning all LGB Cis men) have to start paying attention to the areas in which the community is still ignorant or unfair to the concerns of transsexuals. In any case, it is more difficult to be open to criticism than simply to speak of "acceptance" - a term that is often used in the media as well.For example, while Caitlyn Jenner's cover photo at Vanity Fair was definitely a milestone for transsexual visibility, the huge budget and fancy packaging matched the superficial portrayal of any other celebrity. The reaction of many gay men on Twitter was not long in coming: "Yessss Kween, great!"

Patriarchy harms us all, but in many ways gay men are in the best position to be seduced into fraternizing with it.

Yet Jenner's coming out and her powerful idea of ​​universally accepted femininity do not reflect the reality of the transition of normal trans women. Hari Nef, a transsexual actress who also works as a model, said in an interview with The Coveteur: “People see transsexuals as a kind of idea, a performance, and therefore see them as 'inauthentic'. Even if I wear a baggy sweatshirt and pajama bottoms, the comments still say 'Yeah!' and 'Show them!' "

It is important that loyalty to Jenner and her unknown trans sisters go beyond mere aesthetic recognition of their courage and cosmetic "success" and that it be made clear that the female body is not for evaluation, criticism, or consumption. The bodies of trans women are the scene of a cultural war — one that kills a large number of people.

Nick Adams works as a director for some programs of the transgender medium GLAAD and has been campaigning for the interests of transsexuals to be better represented in the American mainstream media for 17 years. Nick himself is also a transsexual and a gay man. "It is impossible to establish a scientific link between the increasing visibility of trans women in the media and the increasing number of trans women being murdered in the US," he says, "but we must be aware that there may be a link . " Worldwide, the TvT (Transrespect versus Transphobia Worldwide) project recorded 2,115 murders of trans people between January 2008 and April 2016, 117 of them in Europe and 146 in North America.

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Adams remains optimistic about the gay male community and their political support for trans women. He emphasizes the milestones trans women have reached in recent years in terms of representation and the increasing influence of online activism and communication. “If you look at the worldwide, angry reactions to Roland Emmerich's film Stonewall who put a white cis man in the foreground instead of Martha P. Johnson who was actually a colored trans woman, then you can see that the understanding of gay men is growing - which is pretty positive. "

It is indeed positive, but in order to keep making progress, it is important to keep looking critically at what could be done better. Homophobia isn't the little brother of misogyny, it's their son. The patriarchy hates gay men because they behave sexually "like women", it hates lesbians because they are women who "refuse" to sleep with men, and it hates transsexuals for exposing so many of these supposed truths.

Patriarchy harms us all, but in many ways gay men are in the best position to be seduced into fraternizing with it. Of course, this happens very subliminally and is often barely noticeable from a man's perspective. It is therefore crucial for all gay men to listen to the voices — and complaints — of women, feminine gays, and transgender, non-binary people. Otherwise, they may eventually find that a world in which one's own fragile freedom has been bought at the expense of others is in fact confusing and contradicting — and offers no real liberation either.

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