“Scroll through any of the gay hook-up apps these days and you’ll get a sea of exclusive terminology. ‘Masc4Masc only.’ ‘No Femmes.’ ‘Masculine/Muscular ONLY.’” blogger Kevin Thornton writes in a new op-ed published on The Huffington Post. “What’s going on here? Is this personal taste in men? Or is it subtle homophobia with a dash of self-loathing?”
Thornton recounts growing up in a small town in Indiana during the early 1980s. He remembers one of his elementary school classmates, who he describes as an “effeminate little boy,” being taunted by the other children. Not wanting to suffer the same kind of treatment, Thornton made an extra effort to act more masculine.
“Out of fear, I remember making a concerted effort to sit with my legs spread wide, and to speak in the lowest tone my prepubescent voice could muster. To never get too expressive,” he writes. “It worked. I passed.”
In high school, as his sexuality began to awaken, he amped up the macho act and disguised himself as “an artsy kid.”
“I grew out my hair. Played in a band. Wore a biker jacket. To the untrained eye, I wasn’t gay; I was just too cool for school,” he writes.
He also found himself attracted to “straight-acting” guys.
“The moment I saw a flash of girly-ness on your visage, or a swish in your sashay, it was over,” he confesses.
Today, Thornton says he’s working on being more open-minded about the various types of gay men in the world. He says he tries his best to live without limitations by not letting preconceived notions determine what’s best for him.
“It’s a funny thing, how painful and fearful moments from our childhood seem to linger with us forever, subconsciously influencing our behavior,” he reflects. “Even funnier still is how time has a way of distancing us from the past. With each passing moment, I step further away from the scared little boy, overly-concerned with surface mannerisms that simply do not matter, and closer to the wise old man who has embraced the diversity of our people.”
“I’m not all the way there yet, but it’s the direction I’m heading,” Thornton concludes. “It’s the direction I choose to go.”
What do you think? Does preferring men who are more traditionally masculine make you a self-loathing homophobe? Sounds off in the comments section below.