Thursday, 27 January 2011

Homosexuality, Masculinity & the Media

One of the factors that made it really hard for me to deal with being gay while growing up and what prevented me from coming out to people sooner (and what still makes it hard for me) is the fact that gay characters featured on TV or in the movies always seemed to play up to the camp stereotype. There's nothing wrong with being camp, as you are what you are and it's great when gay people are represented in the media full-stop (as long as it's for the right reasons of course).  But if you're like me in that you're just like every other straight guy out there but you know you're gay and you don't have anybody in your everyday life to fully relate to then it's frustrating and disheartening to not have any role-models (even if they are just pretend ones) that you can identify with and look up to.

Not having those masculine gay characters on TV made me question myself a lot. I used to wonder if I really was gay because no matter how hard I tried I just didn't see myself in any of the flamboyant people on TV. I also found it a huge turn-off. Was I only attracted to straight men then? Well that's never going to end well is it and I envisioned myself dying a lonely death. I also think that the lack of masculine gay guys on TV is the reason why a lot of my coming out experiences tend to be quite surprising for whoever is on the receiving end of my news. You are?! Really?! But you really don't come across as gay?! They're all pretty common responses. And I find myself having to explain that the image they have in their mind is just a stereotype and while it is true in many respects it's by no means the rule. It's annoying enough to have to go through the whole process of telling people in the first place but it really would be nice if you didn't have to deal with the shock too!

However, things seem to be changing. I've noticed a lot of progress over the last few years and it seems like gay masculinity might be coming into fashion. For example there's been Andrew on Desperate Housewives who, apart from being really hot, struck a perfect balance between being macho and unashamedly gay. And on Brothers & Sisters there was Kevin Walker who was just an everyday guy next door so much so that he made me wish that he was real and I was his partner Scotty! I remember watching these shows in awe at what I was seeing (in fact I'm still awed when I see them) - finally there were characters out there that I could relate to and identify with! Even though they are just fictional characters and for the most part the actors themselves are straight, it was still the dawn of hope for me that out there somewhere is a gay life that I will fit perfectly into.

I recently came across a show here in the UK that has really impressed me in its portrayal of gay characters. It's actually the reason I wanted to do this post in the first place because I'm not sure how many people out there (especially those outside the UK) would be aware of it. It is by far the best portrayal of masculine gay guys that I have ever seen and watching it has made me really happy so I want to share the love, as I think seeing things like this can be a huge help if you're struggling with who you are. 

The show is called Emmerdale and it's a soap opera that is set in the English countryside. The two gay guys, Aaron & Jackson, are played by brilliant (straight) actors who pull off some incredible heart-wrenching performances. I won't go into too much detail about the story line as there's a great person out there on the Internet who takes the time to upload all their scenes on YouTube (minus the other boring soap stuff!) so you can watch the whole story line from the beginning if you wish. Just go to the YouTube Channel and look for the videos titled "Aaron & Jackson".  They're all numbered so it's easy to follow them in order.

Below are two of my favourite scenes though, which will give you a little taster of the full thing. The first one shows when they first get together and the second is when things all start to go downhill for them. It's amazing stuff I promise! Especially if you're a masculine gay guy like myself.

Unfortunately it is all a bit unrealistic as what are the chances of there being two young gay guys in the same tiny rural village let alone two hot masculine gay guys! But we can all dream hey?

It's got me wondering though - are there any other shows out there like this that I've missed?


  1. Masculine gay guys are everywhere lol. Just hard to figure it out, since you both assume each other is straight. After time, if you are both attracted to each other, you start to figure it out. The looks, the closeness and male bonding.

    As a guy who was in the US army before "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) was repelled, I can vouch for there being more masculine gay guys than anyone is aware of. Like I said, it is hard to tell when you meet zero of the stereotypes. But get alone together, and drink a bit, and play some video games (I love video games), and then you start figuring it out.

  2. Hey,

    I wrote a book (free and available as an audiobook on ) about masculinity and same-sex attraction. It makes the case that culture is the main driver of exclusive heterosexuality using historical and modern evidence. For example, of the first twenty Roman emperors, eighteen were recorded to have had same-sex relationships.

    If you ever have time to read it, let me know what you think!

    1. Oh, boy... the domain is edited out. It's (or if that's filtered out too) grero DOT com

  3. My favorite show with a prominent gay character is "Six Feet Under". David (played by Michael C. Hall) is a great performance. The show introduces him as a stuck-up, jealous, insecure gay prick but like all the characters in the show, as they develop, you love them all. And I would say that David's storyline ends up dominating the series by the last couple of seasons. Truly great performance and representation of being a gay man in America.