Why We Should Take Ownership Of Gay Stereotypes

TylerCurryAs gay men, we shouldn’t try to distance ourselves from some of the defining characteristics that are as colorful and diverse as the flags we wave. When you are honest and unapologetic about who you are, you take away the ability of others to define you. It doesn’t matter if these traits do or do not pertain to you. The growth of a community comes from embracing our differences and viewing each other as equals in our complexities, and as individuals in our shared stereotypes. As a group that continues to be met with adversity, prejudice and fear, we should strive to laugh with each other as much as we can.

If we take ownership of the stereotypes that our adversaries try to use against us, it only confuses them. And that, my friends, is sheer comedy.”

— Tyler Curry, writer and founder of The Needle Prick Project, in an op-ed published on Huffington Post


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  • Todd.Brooklyn

    I agree – take a negative and make it empowering and you take away a lot of pain and power from those that would like to use it against you. Gay people are a diverse group and while all might not be swishy and shout “girl” as an exclamation point – bet you know some who do!! a frivolous example but if we accept all of us as a community – we have taken away the power of the bigots to hurt us with words

  • QuintoLover

    I don’t have a problem with people who do embody the stereotypes but… It’s just not me. And I don’t want to be known as the stereotypes, I want to be known as me. I’m not known as JUST the gay guy but I AM gay so I will own that. But I won’t own the stereotypes like sexual deviancy or effeminacy when that’s just not who I am. However, I will fight for the people who are effeminate and happen to have a lot of consensual sexual partners.
    But I don’t see how this will confuse the bullies. It reminds me of the ‘I am rubber, you are glue’ philosophy of elementary years… I have never seen ANY situation where a bully abused someone, the victim accepted it and the bully moved on. If anything, it encouraged the bully to keep going. The same pertains to adults nowadays who can hide behind the anonymity of the computer screen and others who just think they can say what they feel and won’t get sh*t for it.

  • skcord

    As my Grandma says, “it takes all kinds.” and I agree! That’s why we are represented by the rainbow flag, all colors under one!

  • balehead

    Only an effeminate gay would say this…..

  • Elloreigh

    I’m afraid I have to take issue with this bizarre statement:

    “When you are honest and unapologetic about who you are, you take away the ability of others to define you. It doesn’t matter if these traits do or do not pertain to you.”

    If the stereotypical traits don’t pertain to me, than how is it honest for me to take ownership of a stereotype that is 180 degrees from who I am?

    It’s not. Which isn’t to say that I don’t appreciate the full diversity of ‘gaydom’. I do. I just don’t feel like I should have to defend things that have no relevance to my life – especially if I agree with the anti-gay person’s particular complaint. It goes something like this:

    Anti-gay: “Here’s proof that gays (fill in the blank)”

    Me: “Some gay men. Hardly all or most of us. Not something that pertains to me. Gay people are just as diverse in their opinions and behavior as straight people.”

    Which is usually ignored in favor of then pursuing some other stereotype. Which I counter with, “If you see a small, white, yappy dog, do you assume that all dogs are small, white, and yappy?”

    They then persist in trying to show that the stereotype is true by trotting out more examples, toward the end of saying that this is what represents ‘gay culture’. At which point I might as well not even exist in their minds, because ‘gay culture’ enjoys far more media attention than those of us who don’t live in urban gayborhoods and whose lives have little to nothing to do with urban gay life.

    So no, owning or even acknowledging the stereotypes does NOTHING to take the wind out of anti-gays arguments, because they can always come up with some other ‘gay culture’ stereotype to try to paste over me, and they frankly aren’t interested in the truth, only in things that reinforce their entrenched opinion.

    To sum up, it depends on who your ‘opponent’ is. While there are some reasonable but misguided people out there for whom the light bulb can still be turned on, most of they anti-gays left that I encounter are people who have unplugged and retreated to their echo chambers, only coming out to spew the same old propaganda. They’re that disconnected from reality.

  • jmmartin

    Interesting you would run this statement from Curry and at the same time, in a sidebar, tout a story about Bradley Manning’s “gender ID disorder.” The word, “disorder,” implies illness or abnormality, something to be “cured,” and most queer people feel no less normal than the butchest straight man or most feminine hetero woman. Is transsexualism an “illness” or a “disorder”? And while some gay men and lesbians cross-dress from time to time, they do not necessarily consider themselves TV’s. Being queer and embracing one’s queerness provides an emotional basis for experimentation with a wide variety of practices that are abhorrent or “abnormal” to a majority of people in the general population, but they do not mean the experimenter is subject to characterization according to the flirtations with differentness. Among the many gay stereotypes still extant is that queer people like to dress as the opposite sex. (If st8s could only go to a leather bar, or even a gay or lesbian club for that matter, they would know how silly this belief actually is.) I recall that many queer people shuddered at the idea of marching or riding a float in a gay pride parade because they did not want to be identified with the TV’S and other “gender fuck” people also marching or floating. I do agree with Curry, though, that we should not go out of our way to distance ourselves from het stereotypes of who we are. We are what we are. So are they. Not every st8 male is Donald Trump, Ted Nugent, or Tony (the PAC man, not the actor) Perkins. Not that we’d want to be.

  • jmmartin

    @balehead: Aren’t you playing into the hands of the Scott Lively types who claim that only effeminate gays were made to wear pink armbands and subject to death camp incarceration in Nazi Germany during the 2nd World War? What is “effeminate”? Some of the butchest gay males are the most passive in the sack, while some of the most effeminate are the most active. Why let personal traits define anyone at all?

  • Derek Williams

    Half of the homophobia is coming from closeted gays who don’t like stereotypes representing them. Everyone is a human being, and we should definitely not be shunning our own people.

  • J.c.

    Gawwwddd! What a bunch of “Malarkey” Whoever wrote this is very confused. Isn’t embracing diversity about embracing who we are as an individual? So what are we supposed to do Tyler Curry, have a “hug a drag queen” day? Or a “dress up day”? Fact is most transvestites statistically are straight and the leather scene is a sexual fetish practiced by heteros and homos alike. There are a hell of a lot effeminate heterosexual men probably more than there are effeminate homosexual men. This article sounds like YOU mr. Curry are stereotyping worst than any straight person. Drag queens are entertainers, and leather men are displaying a sexual fetish. Naturally Effeminate men are just effeminate men. What does any this have to do with embracing being homosexual???

  • MudgeBoy

    I actually agree with the main idea of the article. It says that if we take ownership of gay stereotypes they then lose their power to hurt us. It doesn’t mean that we all have to be effeminate, it simply means that we have to admit that some of us are effeminate and some of us are not. It’s that simple. If we do this, if we honestly say that “yes, some of us are effeminate and some of us play football, professionally wrestle, play hockey, and can kick ass — SO WHAT!”, than we will be more comfortable with being gay.

  • Jake1982

    I disagree with this article, one purpose of gay stereotypes is to makes gay people seem like an outsider, for the purpose of making an us versus them argument. When in truth gay people are not a group with just one set of tastes or interests, in fact their interests vary as much as those of straight people, except for one important difference. We shouldn’t feed into gay stereotypes, but show that they are wrong, that there are all types of gay people, and that is just one facet of what makes gay people who they are, not their entire identity.

    Defeating the gay stereotype will help some people questioning their sexuality to realize they are gay. It will help some people afraid to come out to come out, as they will realize they don’t need to change who they are to be gay, or being who they are does not mean they are not gay. When this happens, more people will realize that yeah, they do know a gay person, and no they aren’t some “other” or outsider, they are their cousin or neighbor or classmate. Something that has been shown to grow sympathy for gays and gay rights.

  • David

    There is no such thing as a gay community. This is a load of nonsense made up by people with no lives.

  • Bee Gaga

    @QuintoLover: You missed the whole point, kid. He never said to accept those things onto yourself, duh! He said accept them period and if that is you then just be yourself instead of worrying about some of these dumbasses that be like, “you’re only furthering negative stereotypes blah blah blah” by being who you are? Too bad then. And yes that does work it doesn’t stop the bully obviously never said that but it does confuse them, yelling “Y’all are a bunch of sexual deviants that act like women”? Yep, some of us sure are…what’s your point? Instead of yelling “no, that’s not true we’re just like you blah blah blah”

  • Bee Gaga

    @MudgeBoy: Who says feminine people can’t do any of those things you just mentioned? You don’t have to be a “manly” to play football, hockey, or “kickass”, honey

  • Bee Gaga

    @Jake1982: I think you may have missed the point of the article — or at least. Many gays and lesbians are so afraid of being stereotyped that they affect (or try to affect) “straight” norms of behavior and dress, as well as affecting disdain for the stereotypes and for the people who embody them (just look at the comment you made). And mind that I’m not saying it’s always an affectation; but when it is, that person is being false to herself/himself.

    In other words, it’s a matter of giving ourselves permission to express ourselves freely and naturally, and let the stereotypes fall where they may. By doing so, we become larger than the stereotype, and the stereotype loses its power. Much like the labels we claim for ourselves, stereotypes may (or may not) describe us, but they should never define us.

    If people choose to be that closed minded and thinking we’re all that one dimensional that’s them. I’m black, I’m not gonna stop eating fried chicken, dancing, singing, or being “sassy” just for the fact that those are stereotypes of black people? That’s stupid be exactly who you are and as I said let the stereotypes fall where they may if they even do.

  • GayTampaCowboy

    Actually, I read the full Op-Ed on HuffPost and in addition to it being very well written (and quite honest), I think he put into words how many of us feel – I know it did for me!

    Here’s the challenge: There’s an emerging “dynamic tension” between the group of gay folks believe we (the LGBT community) should foster and accelerate the (please pardon the unintended pun here) homogenization of what it means to be gay to blending more into “traditional” social norms; and the group of “traditionalist gay folks” who believe that it’s the very openness and existence of the segments that make up the gay community (bears, twinks, gym-rats, daddies, drag-queens, leathermen, etc) that needs to be preserved and celebrated.

    And you know what? I don’t think either party should prevail. I believe that there are closeted gays all over the world that look to each camp’s members and dogma as a motivation to ultimately come out.

    How so? Well, lets all look back on when we came out. In our minds, as we contemplated that fateful decision, did a sort-of “pros-and-cons” debate. I know from personal experience, that after factoring in family, faith, and career issues I looked to local gay men and friends i’d been exposed to and also some gay public figures or gay folks in the news and tried to project myself in those situations. That side of the slate included very masculine “non-gay-acting-sounding” guys and also some very flamboyant friends and celebrities.

    And you know what, it’s the very broad spectrum that IS the gay community that really cememented my decision. I discovered i could be a gay man who loved NASCAR, NFL and also be comfortable liking nice clothes, going to dance clubs, marching in Pride parades (in various forms of undress) and ultimatly – being really comfortable wearing boxer-cut, tight fitting swimwear and sexy underwear!

    We, as a community, ARE a “big tent” and i belive THAT is something that should be celebrated and supported.

    Just my 2 cents!

  • B Damion

    @David. I completely agree.

  • MudgeBoy

    @GayTampaCowboy: Wow, beautifully said. Thanks so much for the super nice overview of the tent under which we all find ourselves. It would sure be nice if we could all accept ourselves as one of the gay stereotypes, whether it be masculine “non-gay-acting-sounding” guys, the very flamboyant, or whatever.

  • MudgeBoy

    @Bee Gaga: Yup, you’re right and I stand corrected. In fact, I have a few friends who play sports and seem effeminate but, in fact, they’re straight. Thanks for the correction.

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