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How A Mindless Quiz About Gay Stereotypes Turned Into A Teachable Moment

VPThree months ago, I made a quiz called “Which gay stereotype are you?” for my blog, LGBTeen. The blog was just a few months old and I thought creating a quiz would be a great way to help it gain some popularity.

I was right — last week, the quiz went viral, gaining more than 60,000 shares in just a couple of days.

Initially, I was excited to see the blog gain some momentum. Then I saw Chad Darnell’s article titled
“Confessions of a ‘Closet Case” on Queerty.

The article completely ripped apart the quiz, calling it “offensive,” even “horrifying” — and several commenters agreed. That was distressing on several levels. It’s not that I can’t take criticism — I anticipated that people would have conflicting views, and actually hoped they would share their perspectives on LGBTeen (that’s one of the reasons I started the blog). What bugged me was that Darnell seemed to be missing the point.

Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 3.05.08 PM

Credit: Flickr

First of all, he seemed to miss the main point of the quiz — the humor. When I showed an early version of the quiz to my queer friends, they laughed at the overuse of drag lingo, the fact that “I’m a lesbian,” was the only option for girls who like girls and that the answers for “social justice warrior” were overzealously radical. The humor didn’t come from thinking these categories represented the gay experience, but rather from knowing they didn’t.

Still, the humor was just one part of the quiz. I wanted the quiz to be a gateway to a larger conversation and used the results to help introduce several topics I think the LGBT community should be thinking about — internalized homophobia, activism and how we can inspire a new generation to get involved.

According to Darnell, this quiz proved that “We are missing a teaching moment,” which is ironic, because that’s exactly what I was trying to create. Admittedly, there are things I could have done better, but my main goal wasn’t to be totally PC. I just wanted to introduce a new generation of LGBT youth to these issues in a fun, lighthearted way, while providing an outlet (the LGBTeen blog) for them to continue the conversation in-depth.

I also wanted to encourage teens to get involved in the movement, and let them know they don’t have to thrown on a feather boa to do so.

gaypiratesAdding to the irony, Darnell seems to agree with me.

“All the “Bromos” I know in Atlanta are some of the most socially and politically active individuals in the city,” he wrote in response to one of the quiz results.

Meanwhile, he actually quoted the result, which encouraged “bromos” to get involved with the movement and said, “You don’t have to become a stereotype … but you should still support your community.”

Never did I suggest, as Darnell claims, that “we should all aspire to be a Fab Gay.”

I did, however, try to encourage community involvement and the full expression of each facet of an individual’s personality. I wanted to push LGBT youth to challenge stereotypes, by suggesting they step outside their comfort zone, whether that’s asking a “bromo” to try attending a pride parade or letting a “social justice warrior” know it’s ok to take off their activist hat and do something like take a silly and — I’ll admit — problematic quiz online.

But I don’t want it to stop at the quiz. My vision for LGBTeen has always been to create a space for LGBT youth to explore a variety of perspectives — which is why I republished Darnell’s article on the blog and why, despite the fact that I stand by the intent and theory that motivated the quiz, I decided to delete it. I want to focus on the conversation the quiz has started — I want to create a teaching moment.

Because as much as it bugs me that people don’t seem to understand where I was coming from, that they disagree with my perspective, or worst of all, that they were hurt or offended by something I wrote, I love the fact that the quiz has received such a passionate response. Reading some of the comments has actually prompted me to reevaluate my own perspective. If my quiz or the response it’s garnered has inspired anyone else to do the same, LGBTeen has achieved it’s goal.

 

Steven Sanchez is the editor of LGBTeen.

By:           Steven Sanchez
On:           Aug 7, 2014
Tagged: ,
  • 34 Comments
    • tdx3fan
      tdx3fan

      Shouldn’t the focus of who you are be much more about individuality than collectivism. Personally, I am not a closet case because most of the gay community annoys the hell out of me. I am simply just myself. My partner and I get involved behind the scenes and work on the funding aspects of local charities (including gay local charities). However, if given the choice I would much rather spend my time with a group of allies than with a group of gays because I honestly feel less judged by them because I just don’t identify with the gay community AT ALL.

      Aug 7, 2014 at 7:03 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • hyhybt
      hyhybt

      I took that quiz; as with countless others, someone had put their results on Facebook and I wanted to see if its results made sense. Stupid thing told me I didn’t even know if I was gay or not.

      Had I noticed the URL, I’d probably have left it alone in the first place, and it’s just barely possible the reason my answers didn’t give an even reasonable result had to do with age.

      Aug 7, 2014 at 7:41 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kieru
      Kieru

      This is the first I’ve heard of the quiz but honestly… I’m not surprised at the backlash.

      How often are members of the LGBTQ community portrayed by stereotype in the media? The overly-flamboyant man. The militant, man-hating lesbian? The über jock/gym bunny who can barely use his brain but is oh-so-pretty?

      To have a member of our own community try to apply these narrow-minded stereotypes to us? Yeah no thanks. I see enough of those stereotypes applied to my community by TV and movies that have LGBTQ characters.

      Aug 7, 2014 at 8:44 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cy
      Cy

      Agree with other comments. I took the test too, and despite being 50, having lived the past 32 of them as an open and proud gay male, been relatively active in local and social gay communities, married to my husband going on two years now (been with him for 10 years), out and proud in our community including flying a pride flag at the road outside our business in rural Ontario…etc etc, the test still said I was a closet case. Not sure why, maybe because I don’t like shopping or give a flying crap about fashion? Who knows. The person who created it probably had a limited view of the variety of gay males out there. Just watched the movie Divergent last night, maybe this guy should too. Not everyone fits into a clean neat category. Luckily I don’t need a quiz to validate what I already know about myself, although I must say I did get a few laughs from it, especially the answer option of “I’m a lesbian” to most of the questions.

      Aug 7, 2014 at 8:54 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • RIGay
      RIGay

      Unfortunately on the Internet, people can be and anything they want with little to no consequences. I did not take the test, I have no interest in such things and for the most part, those are only social hacking tools to gain more information about you.

      Take it for what it is; Internet garbage, and move on.

      Aug 7, 2014 at 9:13 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • vive
      vive

      Oh please, EVERYTHING you do will be offensive to some humorless grouch with a platform these days.

      Just ignore the haters and keep doing what you are doing, dear. Not everything has to be “teachable” or a “conversation.” Even responding to them in this piece just gives them more attention than they deserve.

      Aug 7, 2014 at 10:38 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Little-Kiwi
      Little-Kiwi

      The hilarious thing is this – the “negative” responses were by…whom? Anonymous Cowardly Internet Trolls who create their own false narratives about being “masc-shamed” and nonsense about “how hard it is to not be “stereotypically gay”” (SIDENOTE: you’re all stereotypically gay. in your own way. being an insure closet case who thinks he’s a masc-bro and can’t shut up about how Not Stereotypical He Is is A STEREOTYPE OF ITS OWN)

      And no, nowhere in it, or in any comments, did anyone say “there’s only one way to be gay” – or, as the author again says, “you have to be a Fab Gay” – the whole “you’re saying we all have to be like you!” lies are coming from, as usual, the Anonymous Wimpy Insecure Internet Commenters, who always pretend that more well-adjusted gay men are placing demands on them – that they’re actually not.

      “you’re saying we all have to be the same! we all have to be FAB and into FASHION and be FLAMBOYANT!”

      No. Nobody has said. At any moment. Ever. You’re just falling back on that lie, because it’s easier than addressing the truth – that for all your own self-styled macho posturing you’re still a terrified boy who worries about what people will think about you as a gay man.

      #getoverit

      gay men who say “i don’t identify with the gay community” are destined for a life of pathetic mediocrity. the community is what you make of it, and what you bring to it. gay men don’t just naturally have an aversion to other gay men – it’s learned.

      so, to any and all who “don’t identify with the gay community” – no shit. you don’t have the balls to do it. continue being anonymous non-entities. you’re not exactly missed.

      http://littlekiwilovesbauhaus.blogspot.com

      Aug 7, 2014 at 12:00 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DarkZephyr
      DarkZephyr

      One of the more ironic things about the comment section of Chad Darnell’s article is that the dudes (or dude) who cried about being “masc-shamed” was REALLY into Darnell’s article, agreeing with each point, identifying rather strongly with Darnell. But if you watch the trailer for the movie “Birthday Cake” that Mr. Darnell made, you will see that the couple has a “masc” partner and a “fem” partner (a combo that Mr. Masc-Shamed claims isn’t the norm). The “fem” partner being especially flamboyant and “bitchy” and rather stereotypical. The ironic thing is that this “fem” character is *portrayed by Mr. Darnell* . And what is even MORE ironic is that if you ever watch clips of Chad Darnell being himself, his mannerisms and speech patterns ARE as he portrays them in the film. He IS a so called “fem” gay *in real life*. So Mr. Bro-man “I’m so masc shamed boo hoo” was identifying quite powerfully with a “fem” gay. I know that a lot of these guys who claim to be “oh so Masc”…really aren’t.

      Aug 7, 2014 at 12:59 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mykaels
      Mykaels

      I took the quiz, and I thought it was either written by a gay being funny or a straight being an ass. I took no offense but considering the dildo-up-the-but sensitivity the community is experiencing these days (see: the stupidity of GLAAD) I am not surprised people got their pantyhose all a running.

      Aug 7, 2014 at 1:56 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jtnabilene
      jtnabilene

      My partner and I have been together for 50 years this December. We lived in, and were active in the Gay community, in Los Angeles, CA during the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. In the 90’s we moved back home to Texas, finished our working life, retired, bought a small farm in rural West Texas and are living the good life. During that time we talked (I should say tried to talk) to any number of young people (younger than us) and were almost always met with derision and accusations of being “dirty old men”. Neither of us are remotely interested in those younger than ourselves. We tried to share what it was like in the “good old days”, what we went through and how the sense of pride grew in us and in our community with each victory. Seldom was there any interest. Finally we just quit and live our life as we see fit. We are anything but stereotypical Gay men. We are a couple of old men farmers who are known as a couple by our neighbors and the people in the small town we live near. We believe that we, by living this calm and unoffensive life have done more for acceptance of Gay people in this little town of 5000 than anyone can imagine. Most of the people there have expressed their support of us as a couple even though they may not support the overall Gay community. We are not married and probably will never be due to our ages…we are in Texas after all. But we have taken all the necessary steps to assure our lives are protected within the law as if, and in some cases more than if we were married. So, even though I did not take your survey I am reasonably certain that it would not have identified me as Gay which is just fine. I am, after all, a happy, proud, human being that just happens to be Gay much like the man down the road is a happy, proud, human being that just happens to not be Gay. That has been our goal all along. To live in a manner that being Gay just did not make a difference any more than having red hair or being short, tall, fat, or thin would.

      Aug 7, 2014 at 2:05 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • tdh1980
      tdh1980

      The way that this entire thing snowballed out of control is completely laughable to me. Who knew that an unscientific internet survey created for kicks and giggles would expose so many gay men’s insecurities?

      Aug 7, 2014 at 2:10 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Little-Kiwi
      Little-Kiwi

      JTNABILENE –
      ” Most of the people there have expressed their support of us as a couple even though they may not support the overall Gay community””

      Feel free to kick the bucket any time, you tired old coward.

      Your post was stupid, trite and not remotely believable. You are a stereotypical gay – a stereotypical insecure gay man who insists he’s not a stereotype – thus, the lamest most useless stereotype of all.

      so far, your “calm inoffensive” life hasn’t made the white trash you live around be supportive of the LGBT Communities – they just tolerate you two cowardly dumb fucks because you cater to their white trash sensibilities.

      congrats. and good riddance.

      Aug 7, 2014 at 2:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • pressuredrop
      pressuredrop

      @tdh1980

      Seriously, this.

      It’s hard to tell if this happened because the alleged “satirical” element of the quiz was really poorly expressed, or if everybody is just reading into it way, way too hard.

      Aug 7, 2014 at 2:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Little-Kiwi
      Little-Kiwi

      @pressuredrop: here’s the deal – the only guys who got “upset” were in the insecure Closeted-For-Life cowards who, as per their lifelong insecurity about being gay, felt their “inherent masc-ness” was being challenged.

      for real.

      Aug 7, 2014 at 2:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • pressuredrop
      pressuredrop

      @Little-Kiwi

      I don’t know, you seem pretty upset to me.

      Aug 7, 2014 at 2:55 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • LubbockGayMale
      LubbockGayMale

      I am who I am, and no category will ever contain me! One day I’m dominate, the next shy and the next asexual…. and that’s true of most gays, I believe.

      Aug 7, 2014 at 2:56 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • tdh1980
      tdh1980

      @jtnabilene: I’m sure you meant well with your comment, but it reinforces some of the worst heteronormative and homophobic ideas in our society. Other people’s acceptance of us should not be conditional, i.e. because we don’t act like those “faggoty faggots” who reject gender conformity and instead resign ourselves to lives of traditional heterosexual paradigms. If that’s the case, who needs their approval? We should be able to live how we want to based on our own personal truths and be respected and embraced because it’s within our rights as human beings to do so.

      Aug 7, 2014 at 2:59 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Little-Kiwi
      Little-Kiwi

      @tdh1980: he basically did what gay republicans do:
      “I’m accepted by my fellow republicans who hate all you other stereotypical leftist gays!”

      Congrats. You played by an ignorant bigot’s rules and they doled out tolerance for you, and not for anyone else.

      #that’snotwinning

      Aug 7, 2014 at 3:01 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Little-Kiwi
      Little-Kiwi

      @pressuredrop: I just like to remind cowards exactly how and why they’re cowardly :D

      Aug 7, 2014 at 3:01 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • natural bent
      natural bent

      @tdh1980: But isn’t @jtnabilene living “how he wants based on his own personal truths”? From what he describes, he and his partner don’t hide the fact they are partnered. They are who they are, they don’t make an issue of it, and they are accepted by their straight neighbors. That doesn’t mean they are reinforcing heteronormative or homophobic ideals.

      Last summer I attended a celebration of the DOMA ruling at a gay bar. What struck me about the crowd there was how very normal we looked. The men I saw where homeowners, business owners, employees, neighbors, church members–regular people who were also gay. Isn’t that what we are asking for, to be viewed as normal and not aberrant: normal parents, normal couples, normal people?

      And aren’t we doing the very thing we accuse straight bigots of when we declare certain versions of “being gay” as unacceptable because they aren’t radical enough, out enough, confrontational enough?

      Aug 7, 2014 at 3:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Little-Kiwi
      Little-Kiwi

      @natural bent: Unfortunately, you don’t seem to have understood what JTNABILENE wrote – that while he’s behaved in a way that white trash anti-gay Texas approve of (“calm and inoffensive”) it has not resulted in those texas townspeople becoming pro-LGBT or even supportive of the LGBT communities – merely tolerant of two white homosexuals who behave the way anti-gay texans want them to behave.

      that’s not progrèss, and it’s not noble. it’s like the GOProud wimps: they earn pithy tolerance by playing by the rules of bigots.

      No the point is not to be “normal” – it’s to be accepted, treated with grace and respect, even if you’re NOT “of the norm”

      your final sentence is typical straw man stupidity – nobody is saying “don’t do what you wanna do” – at all. not once in here. it’s not about being radical or confrontational – or One Way To Be Gay – but JTNABILENE makes an ass of himself when he claims his cowardly house-faggot behaviour has done good, when in the next breath he goes on to say that only he and his partner have benefited, not the larger gay communities.

      there is no such thing as “someone who just happens to be gay” or “A GAY PERSON” – we’re all the same; neither more or less “defined by being gay” than any other gay person.

      we’re not asking to be viewed as normal. not even close.

      we’re demanding, COMMANDING to be afforded respect, grace, and equality – even if we don’t fit into the cultural norm.

      some gay men have a desperate desire to be “normal” – I’m not one of them, and i never will be.

      and amazingly, i command that respect others wish they’d get in life. in me, folks see a proud strong gay man who knows who he is, and is not to be fucked with.

      Aug 7, 2014 at 3:43 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • tdh1980
      tdh1980

      @natural bent: My contention is that when that “normality” operates as a function of our desire to be accepted and favored by narrow-minded bigots who will only ever tolerate us provided we behave within a limited scope of gender expression, then no. That is not living as one’s own authentic self. Instead it’s abiding by the politics of respectability, which tell us that if we wanted to be taken “seriously” by the straight masses, then we have to perform in a manner that makes them comfortable regardless of whether or not it’s a true expression of who we are.

      Aug 7, 2014 at 4:10 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Little-Kiwi
      Little-Kiwi

      @tdh1980: SPOT ON

      Aug 7, 2014 at 4:23 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • tdh1980
      tdh1980

      @tdh1980: I’ll add that jtnabilene’s language (“anything but stereotypical Gay men,” “living this calm, unoffensive life”) reeks of the type of attitude that I describe above, which is the only reason I brought it up with him in the first place.

      Aug 7, 2014 at 4:25 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • bbg372
      bbg372

      I read the comments on the quiz before it was deleted.

      With this article, the author dances around the biggest criticism of the quiz results, giving those commenting an inaccurate view of the issue.

      Those who did gave a requisite number of stereotypically feminine responses were categorized as “Fab Gay.”

      Those who did gave a requisite number of stereotypically masculine responses were categorized as “Bro Mo.”

      Those who gave mixed responses were categorized as “Closet Case” and given a list of resources to help them come to terms with their sexuality.

      The comments were filled with respondents who are out, civic-minded, and involved in the LGBT community, but because they did not conform rigidly to one side of the feminine/masculine divide, were told that they were “not sure of their sexuality,” and “needed to figure things out,” and “come out of the closet.”

      It was offensive and the author is dishonest.

      Aug 7, 2014 at 5:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DarkZephyr
      DarkZephyr

      @bbg372: I didn’t find it offensive in the least bit. I found it incredibly inaccurate, but certainly not offensive. There are things in this world that are genuinely offensive to LGBT people. That quiz was not one of them.

      Aug 7, 2014 at 6:43 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jmmartin
      jmmartin

      I always thought the “Native American” in Village People was quite hot.

      Aug 7, 2014 at 7:16 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • masc4masc
      masc4masc

      @bbg372: Well put! Steven is very dishonest. Starts off by saying it’s all light humor but gets upset enough to write an essay over the criticism, then somehow spins it all as some twisted form of activism.

      Bottom line: The author thought it was cute to call everyone that isn’t “fab” closet cases. He was rightfully called out, and now he’s upset.

      @jtnabilene: Ignore the usual bitter biddies. You have a 50 year relationship to your credit, and it’s guys/couples like you that help the LGB community the most by changing minds and challenging misconceptions. All these dejected drama queens have is their “fabulousthnessth”. Misery loves company.

      Aug 7, 2014 at 7:22 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • seaguy
      seaguy

      Don’t bother visiting his blog to take the quiz he took it down. Talk about bait and switch.

      Aug 8, 2014 at 3:00 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Little-Kiwi
      Little-Kiwi

      @masc4masc: says the closet case, with no balls, whose only outlet in life is Internet Anonymity.
      Keep making fun of “lisps”, too. Won’t make your dad any less ashamed of you.

      Aug 8, 2014 at 9:59 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • vive
      vive

      @natural bent, no, we don’t want to be “normal.” A lot of us want to be BETTER, as in finding better ways of living than the heteronormative institutions that straight people already rejected in large numbers in the 60s. It’s half a century after the sexual revolution already, for heavens’ sake!

      Aug 8, 2014 at 11:39 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Masc Pride
      Masc Pride

      @vive: If that’s really true, why do like 90 percent of bottoms act like women waiting for their “top in shining armor”? There are definitely some “heteronormative” aspects to the gay community.

      Aug 9, 2014 at 11:08 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Little-Kiwi
      Little-Kiwi

      @Masc Pride: the only logical conclusion to that statement of yours is that you, personally, have sex with people “act like women” when you’re having sex with them.

      “masc pride” – hilarious. so masc, you make your claims from a place of anonymity. #coward

      Aug 9, 2014 at 12:30 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • lcandela123
      lcandela123

      @tdx3fan: I’m curious if you’ve read a lot of Ayn Rand.

      Aug 9, 2014 at 1:26 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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