I’m going to be upfront: I’m not a gay man, and I have no interest in speaking for gay men. However, as someone who is a marginalized person, someone who actively has to unlearn prejudice BS, someone who actually knows gay men IRL, and someone who engages in pop culture on a regular basis, I’m aware of how many static images there are of gay men in the media. The same can be said of just about any group under the LGBTQ umbrella, but I think that of all of the groups, gay men (especially white gay men) get the most screen time. Therefore, we get a lot more exposure to characterizations that are pretty damn offensive.
If you’re thinking, “OMG BUT OUR SOCIETY TREATS GAY DUDES SO MUCH BETTER THAN IT USED TO LOL STOP FINDING THINGS TO BE OFFENDED ABOUT“–a thought process that a lot of fellow straight people can fall into–you need to open your eyes. Gay dudes being able to marry in the United States doesn’t negate the negative tropes about gay men in film. Then, check out this roundup of the six most prevalent, lazy gay stereotypes that movies love to use.
Gay Men Are EffeminateThere's nothing wrong with embracing femininity. It's wrong when the media perpetuates the idea that all gay men do. There are plenty who don't exhibit behavior that is believed to be girly, but you'd be surprised to hear that if your only understanding of gay men came from watching a movie like Bruno. Woof. Why do movies still like to make us play "spot the gay guy" with lazy characteristics like high pitched voices and limp wrists? Bruno
The Handful Of Gay Men Who Aren't Effeminate Can Actually Be Taken SeriouslyWe generally are taught that femininity is frivolous, so it's no surprise that effeminate gay men are frowned upon while even the most bigoted of bigots will respect a gay man who doesn't "flaunt how gay they are." That's bigot code for gay dudes who aren't effeminate. I mean, can you imagine people taking a movie like Brokeback Mountain as seriously as they did if one of the characters loved show tunes? Brokeback Mountain
Gay Men Are Sex ManiacsI think that this stereotype comes out of straight men's fear of being hit on by gay dudes. Um, gay men aren't ravenously trolling for anything that is male and breathes. That, coupled with the notion that every gay guy is having sex all the time with multiple partners, is pretty erasing to the plenty of gay dudes out there who are celibate, monogamous, etc. But nope, all they want to do is bang bang bang bang bang, right? Give me a break. Scott Pilgrim vs The World
Gay Men Have Sad Lives, AlwaysYes, of course we live in a super hetero world where homosexuality is still largely unaccepted. But it's sort of amazing how many gay narratives end in tragedy in movies. Like...happy gay people exist. It's probably important to show people that it is possible to be happy and gay. But I guess movies really get off to gay tragedy more than anything. That's a bummer. A Single Man
Gay Men Are PedophilesThis trope was seen pretty early on in the days of film, including one informative docufilm in the '60s warning young boys to stay away from strange men. Obviously nobody should mess with strangers, but this idea that gay men are so deviant that they even like underage males is so effed up. There's nothing gay about being a pedophile. There are are oodles of straight pedophiles out there, but nobody is saying to watch out for straight men because they might be pedos. Come on. YouTube
Gay Men Know Fashion, Theatre, EtcLegally Blonde is a great movie, but it didn't shy away from taking the effeminate gay man stereotype to the next level by implying that gay men are experts in fashion, art, and music's biggest divas. Remember that scene with Enrique? But tons of movies--Clueless, The Birdcage, etc--use this trope. Believe it or not, plenty of gay men don't know what Prada shoes look like, honey. Legally Blonde
What other stereotypes are super prevalent? What movies do you rec that defy those stereotypes in a refreshing way? Let us know in the comments!