A discernible masculine gay identity?

Discussion on what it means to be straight acting, whether it's good, bad or indifferent.

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Is there need to establish a discernible masculine gay identity?

Yes.
22
50%
No.
22
50%
 
Total votes : 44

Postby Guest » Thu Feb 23, 2006 11:08 am

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Last edited by Guest on Sun Mar 26, 2006 6:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby RedKen99 » Sat Feb 25, 2006 12:17 am

There shouldn't be an exact definition of a masculine man, since society has dangerously repressed/apressed men with unrealistic gender qualities!!!
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Postby tigakub » Sun Feb 26, 2006 12:38 am

Wow. Where have I been? When I first created this thread it didn't seem to get much attention, languishing on page two. Now look at it. I've created a monster.

Great discussion guys! And yes, I did read all the posts from beginning to end. You know how I know it was an excellent debate? I can't remember how I voted, and after reading all these posts, I can't even guess how I voted.

Now I have a better feeling for what’s going on in a lot of heads here. Ain’t the net great?

Sorry about the long post, but it is a complicated topic.

I’ve tried to list the rough categories of thought that I’ve found here. Please don’t interpret this as an attempt to pigeonhole anyone. I’m fully aware that people may feel they fall into more than one category, or quite possibly none at all. If you feel left out, or inaccurately represented, I’d really be interested to read your take.
    A. Those who vehemently reject effeminacy, and feel that the stereotype of the effeminate gay man has made it more difficult for the mainstream to accept "gay culture."
    B. Those who are uncomfortable with “gay” because they feel that society has stereotyped gay men as effeminate. They don't see being effeminate as a negative, but express a desire not to be assumed to be effeminate simply because they are sexually attracted to men. They appreciate that gender-bending has been a powerful pro-active force in making the gay cause heard (regardless of the positive or negative effects) by the rest of the population, but wish now to extend the gay identity to be inclusive of those who don't want to bend their genders.
    C. Those who present a definite personal psychological (as opposed to physiological) gender preference but find no problem reconciling their personal preference with those of others. These people don't think that there is anything untoward with diversity in the gay community as it is.
    D. Those who maintain that psychological (as opposed to physiological) gender polarity is an illusion, and express an ability and preference to explore both, but respect that some don't feel the same way.
    E. Those who feel self-identified “straight-acting” men, are making too much of their preferences, too obsessed with differentiating the masculine from the feminine.
On another axis is another way of categorizing the trains of thought, which seem to hinge on positive/negative perceptions (some legitimate, some subjective, some misconceived but understandable) of the term "gay:"
    1. Those who feel no need to express their sexual identities, preferring to keep it private, only revealing it to a select few whom they trust.
    2. Those who do not express their sexual identities for legitimate reasons which range from fear of rejection to fear of violence, but nevertheless feel trapped, or frustrated.
    3. Those who do not hide their sexual identities, but also do not flaunt it, because they feel that it isn’t all that important.
    4. Those who have no qualms about expressing their sexual identities, do so regularly, and because they feel liberated and thrive on openly acknowledging their sexuality, wish that everyone could feel the same, and sometimes feel frustrated that not everyone can feel the same.
Again: all these categories are merely observations and are in no way intended to be a judgement on any particular point of view. I would like to emphasize that I realize it's up to the individual to judge which category he most or least identifies with, if any at all.

Do I feel there should be a discernible masculine gay identity? I suppose that I should try to clarify what I mean by "discernible," "masculine," and "gay" AFTER acknowledging that my views have been influenced by a lot of what has been said here and other parts of the board.

"Discernible" doesn't necessarily have to be loud and obtrusive, although, what is loud and obtrusive is a completely subjective and relative judgement. Is there a way to come up with a standard which would satisfy everyone? Probably not. Preferably it would be a range that could include those who were willing to put their lives (or at least their jobs and social life) on the line by pro-actively promoting the cause with banners, buttons, t-shirts and full-frontal male nudity on prime-time TV. But I wouldn't exclude those who want to just stand back -- like, a mile back -- and watch.
    ... God doth not need
    Either man’s work or his gifts; who best
    Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best, his state
    Is kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
    And post o’er land and ocean without rest:
    They also serve who only stand and wait.
"Masculine" is becoming harder and harder for me to define. There is the outward aspect: appearance, mannerism; and there is the inward aspect: forceful vs. pacific, assertive vs. protective, direct vs. indirect (please don't read any form of judgement into any of these labels, each has its value in different situations, and YES, I understand that if examined, none of these are inherantly masculine or feminine, only being so within subjective ideologies). I think that the PRIMARY difficulty that everyone is having is that the label is too vague and has way too many layers of meaning. Some may reject the idea that in order to be masculine, one has to categorically adopt everything that is masculine and reject everything that is "not masculine." Some may actually resent being stereotyped as masculine or not-masculine because of one trait or one act. For instance, I recently had the opportunity to arrange some flowers. I enjoyed myself tremendously. I also used to play street hocky until someone ground my face into the asphalt, nearly tearing both my nose and my upper lip off. But if anyone came up to me and said that by that act alone I was categorically either manly or womanly, I would bristle.

Other than it being difficult to define, should we really be validating masculinity or effeminacy at all, thereby encouraging hard-line gender differentiation and therefore the view that certain behavior in a man or woman is good, and other bad? On the other hand (jeez, how many hands do I need?), how can we force someone who is just not comfortable with overt masculinity or effeminacy to be accepting? And if we could, should we? Is it OK to be intolerant of intolerance? Can we be tolerant of intolerance to a degree?

I guess that I'm at somewhat of a quandry about masculinity, but will try to define it as "a tendancy to gravitate towards things (objects and interests), and exhibit behavior (mannerisms, problem-solving approaches, and methods of social interaction), which I subjectively associate with being a man within my own, admittedly limited, sociological experience." Ironically, I suspect many would view such a placatory, non-confrontational, and ass-covering definition to be a very feminine approach to communication. And I don't mind that. Just don't call me effeminate because of that one statement. Or ... you know what ... call me whatever you like. I don't care.

"Gay" is also a difficult one. Does it just mean being homosexual? Does it mean being a member of Act-Up? I'd say it has to be a spectrum ranging from the one who is still in the closet and just begining to wonder what it's like being out, to someone who's full-out-loud-sing-it-from-the-mountains-I'm-turned-on-by-my-own-sex-because-I'm-check-out-my-pierced-right-lobe-and-my-killer-fashion-sense-homosexual.

I suppose it ultimately comes down to this: can we create a visible space where all can come and feel welcomed, feel comfortable enough to voice their problems and find acceptance and friendship (if not life-long partners), which ... and this is crucial ... appeals to a certain type of homosexual who has been, or is presently, or, more significantly FEELS, excluded from society? BUT instead of being a place where people can hide away from, and point fingers at, the rest of the gay community, can it be a place that opens people's minds to the diversity (good or bad) that is the gay community, and thereby not only be a place for "masculine/straight-acting/whatever" gay men, but also a place WITHIN the gay community and society at large for such men who otherwise would not be there?

In other words, I feel we have no need for an identity that will end up turning people away or alienating others, gay, straight, fem, or str8-acting. But could we do with an identity that will encourage others to accept themselves for who they are and respect others for who they are and explain to others (in the gay community and beyond) that it's not a threat to other more established or visible groups, that we're not trying to detract from any other group, but only trying to carve out a space for ourselves in a spectrum where we feel we've been under-represented? Could we have a place where we can proclaim, we would like to have more role-models like us, and thereby create some of those role-models?

I would like to see such a place.

Someone in an early post pointed out that GLAAD was such a place. But judging from the fierce argument here, it's message doesn't seem strongly heard.
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Postby Ben » Sun Feb 26, 2006 11:21 am

Berg wrote:So Ben, my swede friend, what you're saying is don't question the need to have a more discernable non-stereotypical identity in addition to the already existing ones?


Yes, I guess that's exactly what I'm saying. Because there is really no need. There is a simple reason for this, but first I need to explain where I'm coming from:

The upside to the "community" thinking; unite to support eachother, to meet others, to meet the need to fit in somewhere, to create a voice in society etc etc...

All of a sudden a norm is formed. So wait a minute...! "Normal"...the most hated word in a minority such as this one... How contradictive it is that in a "community" that generally resents the word so much, there are now certain things you don't say or don't do. Certain views you should not have... or go against...........the norm!

Summery:
The gay community is not an institution, it's not a democracy. It exists simply because gay people embrace it. It is almost presumed that the Gay Community an institution in which we're all staff who should stick to the same policies and rules. Staff who should work in the same direction. Where everyone is of the exact same frame of mind.

This is of course not true. We do and think whatever we want.
So... the question "should" there be a more discernable masculine identity is almost redundant in itself because the answer is so obvious. Since nobody has the right to dictate any rules on how to be "yourself", (also one the the more popular mantras of the "community") since we all, each and everyone of us make up the "gay community"... the answer is yes. If gay people feel they should express themselves as masculine/butch/Straightacting/ whichever term you/they prefer, even if it's just a handful of people, then NObody has the right to criticize them. Nobody has the right to say "you shoundn't behave like that" etc.

Not while loudly preaching "be yourself..." Or could it be that some colors simply don't fit into your rainbow? (Not addressing anyone in particular)


Berg wrote: I'm not questioning that. I'm trying to think in different terms. I'm trying to toy with these concepts in a way that doesn't involve categorizing. I'm trying to see if there is a way outside the boundaries of langugage (that forces us to categorize) to give meaning to this construct of reality, that we as social animals, have found useful in order to communicate and make sense of the world.


I understand that, and I respect you for it. It's very thought provoking.
I also think you are right. Spoken language is a filter which our thoughts and ideas have to pass through, and much gets lost in the process.

However, my answer to your question was that I really don't think it's possible... - (unless we start theorizing on direct telepathic/empathic communication.)

The example I was stating was that of adjective words, descriptive words. It's been very popular on this site to put certain adjective words such as "masculine" and "straightacting" up for constant evaluation and re-evaluation when, in my mind, it's not really necessary. In a group of people, where the noblest thing is to "be yourself", there also seems to be a trend to put our very own meaning of choice to certain adjectives. (Especially if they describe popular traits that we feel we don't have.)

So... this means that you could easily find that to one person... let's stereotype it out by calling him something like "GurlyBoi343" ...the word "masculine" actually means wearing a pink dress and speak with a lisp - and own a penis. It's his own world, he is the ruler of that world and he is indeed very "masculine". The rest of society's image of what's masculine is really no concern of his, ...well screw it, society is his worst enemy anyway...

Whereas, to..."UltraButch343", masculine is pretty much everything that "GurlyBoi343" is not. Owning a penis is a given and therefore doesn't count.


Do you see where I'm going? Seen from this angle, it's really starting to get kinda ridiculous, no?

I'd say I belong to the "AverageJoe343" crowd... It's going on a feeling. I know I'm not attracted by either the physical or the mental attributes of Women... so I follow that feeling and search for guys that don't have so many of these. I know exactly what masculine is, and I know that most other guys who are like me knows it too. That's enough for me.

So by all means. I sincerely welcome the discussion. That's why I'm giving my 2 Kronor on it. :wink:
Last edited by Ben on Sun Feb 26, 2006 11:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Guest » Sun Feb 26, 2006 11:49 am

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Postby Ben » Sun Feb 26, 2006 12:04 pm

Berg wrote:I'm also having a very bad time trying to understand the concepts of community and nation. But that's another conversation...and now my coffee and croissants are ready.

Cheers.


No, actually I think you're doing great at it. Enjoy your coffee and croissants!
And also I sincerely hope and wish that you and your girlfriend will have a happy marriage! :wink:
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Postby tigakub » Mon Feb 27, 2006 3:36 pm

Ben, I don't think subjectivity is in question. There is no truly objective definition of masculinity (say I after countless byte-hours tapping out posts about moral relativism).

The question is, however, is there a significant number of gay men with subjective definitions of masculinity which overlap, which have some definitions in common, who are, or feel, left out in the cold by current gay groups?

In your example, there may be people out there who would strongly proclaim that wearing a pink dress is masculine. But the majority of the population would probably disagree -- at least on a superficial level, if it is viewed as one act in isolation from underlying psychological, or philosophical, motivations. However, I would guess that a majority of society (and yes, that includes gay men) would view other acts as uniquely masculine, e.g. certain sports, driving and fixing muscle cars, hunting, waging war, etc. Of course these views are not universal. Someone from the jungle may find our obsession with muscle cars to be a complete mystery. But in "our" society, the one in which we live, these things are considered masculine. This is NOT to say that if you don't like some, or all, of these things, that means you are not masculine. Being masculine is not a binary phenonmenon, it involves a confluence of behavior which would lead society to label one more or less masculine. Can our degree of masculinity change from moment to moment? Yes. Can we be masculine in some ways and not in others? Yes.

You may react adversely to the term "label" but labeling is an unavoidable social phenomenon. It is a way for people to categorize their world in a manageable way. Some labeling is inaccurate due to ignorance, but some labeling is very appropriate. It's how we identify our world: if it's red, roughly round, has dimples on the top and the bottom, and a short stem, it would be most inconvenient if you couldn't label it as an apple, but had to say, "could you please get me the red, roughly round, dimpled on top and bottom, short-stemmed thing over there?" The problem with labels is when they become missused or overused -- when people allow them to objectify others.

So, if we allow that there is a significant number of gay men who voluntarily self-identify as masculine (whatever that means), and they all get together in a formal group, will there be a danger of creating a stereotype, or "a norm," as you call it? Of course there is. You run the risk of creating a fascist mentality within any group. But we couldn't allow fear of such risk to prevent us from setting up social groups. And I don't just mean groups that organize movie nights. I mean groups that promote specific and important social causes and awareness.

Maybe such groups already exist for "masculine" gay men, and we don't need any more. But does that mean we don't need, or want, a group at all? Judging by the even split in the opinion polls, we as a group seem to be undecided.
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Postby Guest » Sun Mar 05, 2006 12:10 pm

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Postby tigakub » Sun Mar 05, 2006 4:48 pm

Berg wrote:Are there any other ways to make sense of the world and give meaning to different social phenomenon than the use of categories?


Interesting question. I think that it is possible to make sense of the world and find meaning through direct experience. The emotions and sensations that arise from direct physical and conscious interaction with our physical reality is how we make sense of the world and our place in society. And I'm talking at the gut level, before our "rational" minds have had a chance to process and categorize the information.

The difficulty arises when we attempt to describe our experience to others as well as to ourselves. The only way one can communicate with another else is if both have some common frame of reference. If the other has had a personal experience the same as or similar to the one being described, he may be able to understand. If the other has never had an experience remotely like the one described, he may be able to understand it on a cerebral level, but probably not on a gut level.

Now, if your question is: "Can we communicate without resorting to labels or categories?" Yes. When you hug someone. When you hit someone. When you cry. When you smile, frown, etc..
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Postby Guest » Sun Mar 05, 2006 5:31 pm

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Postby tigakub » Sun Mar 05, 2006 8:36 pm

Berg wrote:A Tropisme is a small emotion, vivid and rapid emotion that is set in a zone of pre-language, just before language takes over. It happens so fast that we don't recognize it. To explore that space in time is almost impossible. But it is where we get close to a reality with which we construct and experience the meaning of the world and our subjective experience of reality.

That sounds so abstract expressionist.

Berg wrote:My question is not about communication. There are many ways to communicate without the use of language. My question is how can we make sense on the world without resorting to labelling, categorizing and language?

Doesn't that depend on what you mean by "make sense?"

What are words, labels, and categories but symbols? Can we construct an internal organized representation of our reality without resorting to symbols? It sounds like you've done some thinking on this. What would you say?
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Postby Guest » Sun Mar 05, 2006 9:53 pm

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Postby tigakub » Sun Mar 05, 2006 11:27 pm

I thought that semiotics was akin to linguistics except that linguistics has more to do with the structure of language and how meaning is encapsulated by all the elements of language, while semiotics has more to do with the link between linguistic knowledge and non-linguistic knowledge. I guess in a way it would require a study of knowledge. But it seems to me that the answer (if there is one) to your question is rooted in the wider overall study of knowledge rather than the more narrow field of semiotics, which, as I understand it, studies the way linguistics manages to communicate non-linguistic knowledge only because of a common culture, rather than the way in which we as human beings actually understand our world.
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Postby Desperate » Sat Apr 11, 2009 12:06 am

toothync wrote:I am out on the scene a bit, and I have no problem with the gay community as a whole - apathy, bitchiness, and head-in-the-sand mentailty aside. I have recently started dating a guy who is not really that masculine. To be honest he's pretty fem. At first that bothered me slightly, but then I realised that none of that crap mattered. We're just two people. Actually it's made me look again at what exactly "masculinity" is. What makes a man a man. But that's another topic.


TOOTHNYC, YOU WERE LOOKING TO DATE A "GOIL" LIKE YOURSELF, GIRLFRIEND!
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