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Brah
March 24, 2013 5:20 PM   Subscribe

When you look up the term Gaybro on Urban Dictionary, two extremely telling definitions appear. The first—“a gay man who acts masculine and is interested in guy stuff like sports, video games, military issues, grilling, knives, gear, working out, gadgets, tech, etc ...”—seems to have been lifted from the Gaybros mission statement. The second is less neutral: “Young masculine homosexual males who exhibit no effeminate characteristics or interests and make a point of going on about how 'normal' they are. Previously they would have referred to themselves as straight-acting but that's so 2005. Gaybros have no gay friends because they can't relate to other gay people. This is something else they insist on telling everyone.”
Slate has posted "Meet the Gaybros", their profile of the r/gaybros subreddit, the increasingly popular subreddit that's "[a] place for guys to get together and talk about, well, guy stuff." The community has had some ink spilt about them recently about their relationship with the gay community at large, their growing meet-ups across the country, as well as the charitible work the group has put together for the Trevor Project.
posted by Weebot (43 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Metafilter is so gay tonight, it's kind of magical.
posted by Nomyte at 5:23 PM on March 24, 2013 [12 favorites]


“You need to start using brah in conversation.”

I'm all for my people gathering in any way that makes them feel comfortable, but 'brah' just isn't necessary at any time.
posted by xingcat at 5:34 PM on March 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think it's great that an up-and-coming new media outfit like Slate has matured to the point it's ready to take on fusty old media losers like the NYT lifestyle section. Now we know why Jack Shafer had to go.
posted by mph at 5:36 PM on March 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ah, so this explains who actually watches mixed martial arts.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:36 PM on March 24, 2013 [45 favorites]


I think this is a fake controversy, the idea that the gaybros are somehow in conflict with the Mainstream Gay Community. (If some individual person whether gaybro or no-gaybro says something stupid about another person/subgroup, then other people are going to comment on that. That's not some big culture war.)
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 6:32 PM on March 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


as the National Spokesperson for the Gay Community I'd just like to officially state that there is not now, nor has there ever been, such a thing as "the Gay Community"; mainstream or otherwise.
posted by Conrad-Casserole at 6:36 PM on March 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


Just because someone can think of it or write of it doesn't mean much.

Seriously, things like this are people's frustrations listed as actual traits of an alleged class of people combined with J-school "how to write a human interest story" technique.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:44 PM on March 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm glad this thread has kept me up-to-date with what those "straight acting" gay boys are calling themselves. I know now to avoid Gaybros.

"[a] place for guys to get together and talk about, well, guy stuff."

This is so tiresome. I'm all for spaces for people to chat about stuff with like-minded people, but "this is guy stuff" and "that is gay stuff" is just weird. If gay men are getting together to talk about NASCAR, whatever. Why make the distinction?

Do actual straight men need their own forum to discuss Broadway musicals? What do they call themselves?
posted by crossoverman at 6:57 PM on March 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is so tiresome. I'm all for spaces for people to chat about stuff with like-minded people, but "this is guy stuff" and "that is gay stuff" is just weird. If gay men are getting together to talk about NASCAR, whatever. Why make the distinction?

Do actual straight men need their own forum to discuss Broadway musicals? What do they call themselves?


Same here. I'm tired of "straight acting" and "masc" and the seeming hatred of anything that would make one look "gay". It's so bizarrely self-denying. If you don't like ABBA or A Chorus Line, nobody's going to think less of you, so why do you think less of people who do like these things? Diversity in one's social life is a good, almost necessary, thing.
posted by spitefulcrow at 7:02 PM on March 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


As we trudge through the fresh powder toward South End

Either the writer couldn't be bothered to learn the proper usage ("The South End") or that's a pretty crass gay joke.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:03 PM on March 24, 2013


Young masculine homosexual males who exhibit no effeminate characteristics or interests and make a point of going on about how 'normal' they are.

So, basically, your average, everyday, GOP congressional aide?
posted by octobersurprise at 7:24 PM on March 24, 2013 [10 favorites]


The second and third gay posts today both need to watch the first gay post today.
posted by Sokka shot first at 7:27 PM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, basically, your average, everyday, GOP congressional aide?

Or your average, everyday, GOP congressman.

I eagerly await Slate's totally serious article about the Gaybronies.
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:39 PM on March 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


This is so tiresome. I'm all for spaces for people to chat about stuff with like-minded people, but "this is guy stuff" and "that is gay stuff" is just weird. If gay men are getting together to talk about NASCAR, whatever. Why make the distinction?

Hey, I'm someone who spends a fair amount of time on that subreddit and I want to step in here.

Personally I've never really liked the tag-line for that place cos I don't care about 'guy stuff' (whatever that means) but I've stuck around in that place because the people are good, there's a relaxed atmosphere and a lot of the discussions are about gay living from a relatively apolitical angle.

Look, there's a weird gap between the still persistent stereotype of what gay people are like and how someone who's gay actually is in the everyday. We know this, you know this, and yet it's still there. And it's tough to find places that bridge that gap in any significant way, where you can talk about gay stuff without having to be covered in glitter*. r/gaybros, for me, is one of them. It helps that the age range is the same as mine (20s- 'bro' is a college thing) but just generally it's a good place to talk or hear about gay things.

So weirdly enough that subreddit isn't really about masculinity at all just a bunch of gay guys bonded by a lowest common denominator and a shared sense of decency. I'm sorry if you find that tiresome.

*NOT THAT GLITTER IS A BAD THING IT JUST TENDS TO GET EVERYWHERE AND IS A BITCH TO CLEAN OFF
posted by litleozy at 7:57 PM on March 24, 2013 [16 favorites]


Young masculine homosexual males who exhibit no effeminate characteristics or interests and make a point of going on about how 'normal' they are.

So, basically, your average, everyday, GOP congressional aide?


I understand that you're making a joke and I hope that you understand that it wasn't a funny one. Although good of you to mischaracterise a mischaracterisation.
posted by litleozy at 8:02 PM on March 24, 2013


OMG PLURALITY!
posted by basicchannel at 8:30 PM on March 24, 2013


About a decade ago, SF Weekly ran a cover profile on a group called the Regular Guys, whose mission statement was something pretty much like this. The two things I came away from the article with were that these guys (1) loudly eschewed any sort of cultural activities, being only into sports and other approved "man things" and (2) were content with being portrayed as catty, innuendo-slinging hornballs. To which I surmised: "Wow, so none of the gay community's plurality of interests but all of the bullshit? SIGN ME UP."

I just do not understand this obsession with factionalization and othering within what's already a minority. Same as it ever was, I know, but good God.
posted by psoas at 8:54 PM on March 24, 2013


This and the thread immediately before are converging in conversation.

There is something that has bothered me (perhaps unreasonably): when people talking about "knowing" a kid is gay years before puberty, because they were gender non-conforming. Thing is, I always figured that you have sexual orientation and gender expression and they are completely separate things - and you can't know if anyone's gay until they, you know, are attracted to someone else. Then again, I was reading about some research that said that gender non-conforming kids are a lot more likely to grow up to be gay, so maybe I was wrong to think that they are completely separate. But they are also not contiguous; I've known plenty of gender non-conforming straight and mostly-straight people. And maybe, as straight people feel more free to let themselves be gender non-conforming whether as kids or as adults - there may be less connection over time.
posted by jb at 9:15 PM on March 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


Oh, and obviously there are tons of gender conforming gay people.
posted by jb at 9:16 PM on March 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, that was the reaction I was kind of fearing would come from posting that article.

First, I would hope that folks would actually take a look at the actual article and not just see "gaybro" and assume its an exercise in shaming non-masculine gay men. The article itself notes the community's sensitivities towards doing just that, something that separates this particular community from, say, that second urban dictionary definition of a straight-acting gay man.

Second, that type of social/gender/sexual-policing is addressed significantly in the article, which is what makes it far more interesting than the inevitable New York Times lifestyle piece that I'm sure will come. What I found most intriguing about the subreddit and some of the commentary surrounding it is how the policing goes in multiple directions, which can be seen upthread. It was mentioned earlier how self-negating this permutation of gay identity is, which I think is a superficial and essentialist read of the whole dynamic, and incongruent with a lot of other parts of the current and accepted-in-good-standing gay community (bear culture, for instance, is another masculine gay subculture built in reaction to other elements in gay culture that still is pretty damn gay.)

Third, while this is only touched on in the article, I liked the idea that the r/gaybros subreddit had built an alternative safe space (though it's never called that) for newly gay folks who are just starting to interact with the syntax of gay culture. I think that it would be fair to say that there are significant amounts of gay men who are alienated by what is conceived to be mainstream gay culture, and for them all those GSAs and Campus LGBT centers signify less a safe space and more a complete surrender of your previous identity. Whether this is a healthy attitude or not is another issue entirely, but it's something that happens. Coming out is still pretty damn hard, and not everyone has the luxury to come to terms with their sexual identity in a coastal metropolis with a healthy gay population, or a liberal university with an ample LGBT outreach program.
posted by Weebot at 9:18 PM on March 24, 2013 [10 favorites]


Metafilter: I would hope that folks would actually take a look at the actual article
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:25 PM on March 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


who exhibit no effeminate characteristics or interests

Which they never did, all the while the str8 public formed its obvious stereotypes.

"before the Gaybros can grow into a full-blown movement..."

Go check yer Tom Finland and get back to me on how new 'tall is.
posted by Twang at 9:42 PM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am certain that I am over-clarifying myself, but: I am totally pro all sub-communities of all communities including LGBT communities. And no making fun of anyone. I just eye-roll at the Slate piece etc. because I read it as journalism trying to create / overstate a controversy/story where that does not seem plausible to me (but maybe I am out of it).
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:52 PM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


This phenomenon has always, always, always, always existed. It is nothing new, it is not news.

I really find the gun thing disturbing. Really.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 10:08 PM on March 24, 2013


I really find the gun thing disturbing. Really.

Never heard of the Pink Pistols, eh?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:54 PM on March 24, 2013


This is a derail, but: video games? The idea that sitting in a chair pressing keys on a keyboard is a manly man activity boggles my mind.
posted by medusa at 5:03 AM on March 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I understand that you're making a joke and I hope that you understand that it wasn't a funny one.

Pardon me, Mary ... uh, I mean, sorry, brah.

The only thing at all objectionable about any of this is the suggestion or the belief that the guy's gay either doesn't or has never existed before. There have always been gay men who liked "guy stuff" and there have always been gay men who have worried that other gay men don't like guy stuff enough. The former is fine, the latter only serves to reinforce the culture's ambient homophobia.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:45 AM on March 25, 2013


The definition of a gaybro as a "gay man who acts masculine and is interested in guy stuff like sports, video games, military issues, grilling, knives, gear, working out, gadgets, tech, etc..." makes me laugh because most of those things are true about me, but as a self-declared litany of things about a person, and believe me, bear411.com is pretty much swimming in this sort of profile, this is an almost perfect way of saying to the world "I am a willfully stupid asshole with so many hang-ups and ridiculous ideas that you'll hardly believe it, and you'll only find out after dating me a while" (plus, these things are also classic opening lines for "I'm not political, but I guess I'm sort of a Libertarian").

I have had longish term relationships with three bros or proto-bros at this point (and one goddamn Libertarian who always wanted to talk about Jack Malebranche) and my next mate's going to be a sports-hating sissy so I'll never again have to go through the manly-man mood swings of the sports fan.

"Why are you in such a mood?"

"Fucking Duke won."

"So, then, you're going to be in a snit all day."

"Yeah."

"Lovely."

Folks have crazy notions about "guy" things. I like that dudes are finally getting comfortable with changing roles, but for pete's sake, can we get through all that and just be people, already?
posted by sonascope at 8:09 AM on March 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


What about gay men who act gay, but only ironically?
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 8:10 AM on March 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


Ooh, get her.
posted by sonascope at 8:37 AM on March 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Q: What is the overlap between gaybros and bronies?

brony: adult male fan of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
posted by egypturnash at 9:02 AM on March 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


the most infuriating thing about this dialog is that it's as polarized as a typical male/female, gender essentialist dialog. as if there are only two ways for men to be gay. as presented in the links, and debated above, it would seem we only have two choices, hide our insecurity beneath a bitchy mask of Lady Gaga worship, shopping for shiny clothes and pithy retorts or stomp around in khakis, high-fiving each other over sports and Bud Lights. these are both sad constructs made with the left over stereotypes of mass culture and they both expose as much shame as they're intended to hide.

forging one's own identity as an adolescent is hard enough. having to remake it again as one comes-out is even harder and weirder. but that doesn't mean we have to settle for what little bit society has laid out for us. self-acceptance is often hard-won but infinitely more rewarding than any of this. the only trade-off for enduring years of enforced shame is the actual freedom one gets coming out the other side and looking around to realize it's possible to make a whole self independent of the burdens of typical social norms.

i've come to hate the type of blue-collar posturing that comes with Bear and Leather/ SM culture. as if mimicking poverty adds some kind of authenticity. what about Thrurston Howell III types? i've spent enough time in the Hamptons to know that there's a whole other closet that's deeply stocked with Ralph Lauren and J Press. an analog to the type of unfeigned, straight masculinity that comes with the security of real social power.

as far as Gaybros subreddit i'm all for anything that lets young gays feel comfortable with themselves. i wish that all young gay dudes had a chance to not feel weird about themselves and to just like what they like regardless of stereotypes. i get the desire to blend in and be "normal." too bad "normal" sucks and becoming merely middle class is not the answer.

we aren't the norm. nor should we strive to be. our difference is freedom and that freedom is powerful.

i'm old enough, and lucky enough, to have come up around some old school, evil queens. decorators and hair dressers and junkies. twisted mean geniuses who were wrecked by the fact that the world had no place for their brilliance. i miss those people and i fully acknowledge the debt that i owe to them. as much as they served as a cautionary tale in my youth, they also taught me a lot about resilience and defiance and telling the world to fuck off because its paltry terms are not enough.

in a perfect world gay people wouldn't have to labor under "tolerance" but could flourish with "acceptance" from our culture and ourselves. Gayness as an identity is new enough that we can make it as we develop it. i just hope that there are larger goals than fitting in.
posted by Conrad-Casserole at 9:39 AM on March 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Blue collar is not equal to poverty, Conrad-Casserole. Insofar as your comment refers to subcultures clinging to stereotypes, however, I don't disagree with it.
posted by PigAlien at 9:59 AM on March 25, 2013


Second, that type of social/gender/sexual-policing is addressed significantly in the article, which is what makes it far more interesting than the inevitable New York Times lifestyle piece that I'm sure will come. What I found most intriguing about the subreddit and some of the commentary surrounding it is how the policing goes in multiple directions, which can be seen upthread. It was mentioned earlier how self-negating this permutation of gay identity is, which I think is a superficial and essentialist read of the whole dynamic, and incongruent with a lot of other parts of the current and accepted-in-good-standing gay community (bear culture, for instance, is another masculine gay subculture built in reaction to other elements in gay culture that still is pretty damn gay.)

The problem has nothing to do with gaydom. It has to do with the idea that every person has an identity (meaning acting like some group of people) and that there should be all of this conflict about it. Seriously, people "policing" other people is exactly what is wrong with our society. The idea that we are not supposed to pay attention to the people right in front of ourselves anymore and just takes the easy road of treating others like a stereotype is the tiresome part of all of this.

And if you are being policed, ignore it. Don't try to stop people from policing you by saying people like you are being policed. Ignore it. If a policing falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, it doesn't matter.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:15 AM on March 25, 2013


Q: What is the overlap between gaybros and bronies?

brony: adult male fan of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic


That would be me. Hi.
posted by lordrunningclam at 10:38 AM on March 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


To misquote an old half-remembered Doonesbury cartoon: When I can dislike someone because of how annoying they are to me personally as opposed to what they are, it's a kind of progress.

The subculture thing doesn't bother me so much, as I've hung around the edges of the Metal Music Culture, where there are so many subgroups that I'm convinced there are more than a few of them contain exactly one adherent. Define yourself as you will, I suppose.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 11:26 AM on March 25, 2013


Ironmouth: But it's not as simple as saying you should stop policing other folks. Sometimes sexual/cultural/etc policing are a good thing. Just within the gay community, the policing over, say, non-safe sex practices is certainly justifiable and commendable. I pull that example not to debate the ethics of bareback sex (which is another firestorm that I don't need to touch here), but to illustrate that policing is a process that can be value neutral or good or bad.

In essence, all political and cultural commentary is a form of policing, and it's pretty hard to meaningfully engage in our culture (or any culture!) without doing it. The rub is whether or not policing a particular cultural or sexual habits/expression/phenomena is justifiable or arbitrary and capricious. And making that determination is exhausting if you have to do it for every single interaction we make, so people (understandably!) make shortcuts surrounding those questions that don't always comport with what is in front of them. Basically, it's complicated.
posted by Weebot at 11:31 AM on March 25, 2013


medusa: This is a derail, but: video games? The idea that sitting in a chair pressing keys on a keyboard is a manly man activity boggles my mind.

Video gaming is coded culturally as male--hence all the apprehension about female gamers in the industry--and as an enthusiast community it can be pretty retrograde, so it doesn't surprise me that anyone who is not traditionally masculine would have to assert their own cultural identities pretty aggressively within it.

That said, like most gender coding, it's pretty bonkers and doesn't really stand up to much scrutiny.
posted by Weebot at 11:50 AM on March 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Conrad-Casserole: But building your own identity (sexual or otherwise) isn't something that you invent out of whole cloth. No one springs from Zeus's head fully formed. A lot of your identity is mediated by your affiliation groups, your peers, your politics, regional culture, mass culture, etc. Which is to say by existing norms of cultural, gender and sexual identity. That means you have to engage with those norms regardless of whether they are healthy forms of self-expression or pernicious, degrading stereotypes.

So yes it's sad that people's discussion of sexual identity revolves around the constrictive butch/femme binary, but ignoring them doesn't drain them of their considerable power. When some young gay man (or anyone!) is coming to terms with their identity it is by necessity in relation to those existing cultural norms and stereotypes. There is, frankly, no avoiding it, because a large function of building an identity is to create a self-presentation of yourself to others. That is not something you can do independent of, well, the existing norms and ideas brought to the table by the others you're presenting yourself to.
posted by Weebot at 12:59 PM on March 25, 2013


medusa: "The idea that sitting in a chair pressing keys on a keyboard is a manly man activity boggles my mind."

I work at home and my son finds it amazing that "dad gets paid to push buttons on his keyboard all day". Context matters.

If someone sits around in a chair pressing keys on a keyboard to make someone on screen run around with a gun killing people in various gruesome manners, it wouldn't boggle my mind too much if someone said they are doing something considered by society at large to be more of a manly man thing than a womanly woman thing.
posted by Bugbread at 3:19 PM on March 25, 2013


It took me until my mid 20's to come out.. I was very much in denial and/or confused in my teens, to the point that I can actually remember having the thought "I don't like shopping, or Madonna, so I can't possibly be gay!" I go on the gaybros subreddit once in awhile, and often wonder how different my life would have been had it existed back when I was having those thoughts. Every time I go on, I see kids that remind me of myself back then finding.. somewhere to feel like they belong. How could anybody possibly find fault with that?

All the negative press lately is pretty upsetting to me. Why is it always supposed that if one group exists it must be in direct antagonistic opposition to another (I'm taking about this strange made-up "gaybros hate femme gay guys" dispute here)?

God, listen to me just rambling away.
posted by wats at 10:26 PM on March 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


(I'm taking about this strange made-up "gaybros hate femme gay guys" dispute here)

Okay, so the post uses one definition of gaybro to equal those guys who use the term "straight acting" - and while these are all just labels and are, in general, meaningless, I don't particularly like the term "straight acting" and what it implies. It's not just that I suspect that "straight acting" guys use the term to differentiate themselves from femme guys, but often to keep femme guys at further-than-arms'-length. I know it, because it's clear to see on dating sites and in profiles on Grindr and such.

On the other hand, some "straight acting" guys love femme guys - and every colour of the rainbow in between. But it's not my imagination that even the term "straight acting" implies that they are not "gay acting" (ie. not femme), which perpetuates the myth that all gay guys are femme and the more butch you are, the more straight/more of a man you are. Which you admit is harmful, since the implication that if you're not femme = not gay was unhelpful to you when growing up/coming out.

So I don't think the dispute is at all made-up.
posted by crossoverman at 2:36 AM on March 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


The "straight acting" definition of Gaybros is one I do not agree with, and I do agree with what you are saying. I was talking specifically about the implication in several articles so far that participants of this subreddit are somehow anti-femme guys.
posted by wats at 7:32 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


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