Hotter Than You. Younger Than You. Richer Than You.
August 9, 2013 1:50 PM   Subscribe

"Flaunting themselves on Instagram, they are also all proudly and openly gay ... But at the same time, they all look fairly heteronormative: hunky, sporty, the kind of guy who would call himself “masc & musc” in a hook-up app and would never take a photo of himself at Drag Brunch. And all are careful to avoid appearing like they are doing this just to get laid. By showing that, they would be revealing that they are vulnerable and have needs, and an #Instastud can never look unsatisfied with his life." Meet The #Instastuds - The Cut looks at the gays on instragram who really want to you look at them and how they live. Contains a link to a discussion of “Fire Island Pines, Polaroids 1975 to 1983” at Salon. (NSFW, nudity)
posted by The Whelk (36 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Many of them work as models? I'm amazed!
posted by rtha at 1:55 PM on August 9, 2013

Rob! Stop it! Your beauty hurts! :))

I get that a lot, know, you learn to live with it.
posted by jquinby at 2:03 PM on August 9, 2013

seems self-aware ("I'm insecure just like the rest of us")

OK, sure.

Following the Instastuds can get addictive.

OK, sure, for some people I'm sure this is true. I... am sure most of us here find stuff like this kind of off-putting. I know a few people who use their Facebook profiles like this, and while (this being DC) they mostly have desk jobs instead of being party promoters and models, it's become a habit to hide or ignore them. This is the Internet; there are a million other, less flagrantly ego-based, places to find softcore.
posted by psoas at 2:11 PM on August 9, 2013

Hotter Than You. Younger Than You. Richer Than You.

Fire Island Pines, Polaroids 1975 to 1983

I watched a documentary about gay life in NYC in the 70's (don't remember the title), and there was this long segment about Fire Island. One of the guys interviewed was reminiscing about how he was taken there by a boyfriend, and went to a party in house near the beach - and at that party there were a bunch of guys who were absolutely fabulous, and so way out of his league, that he had the very sad thought that he'd never be able to sleep with a single one of them; he eventually became friends with that crowd and it was a great time. Then he adds in a kicker: 'today, every single man from that party, apart from me is dead from AIDS'.

As I was looking at those polaroids that quote from the documentary came back to me. And then I noticed this in the accompanying text:

"The world came crashing down during the AIDS crisis, a period Bianchi said forced his peers to grow up.

“Suddenly you have to do the unimaginable where you would find yourself in a hospital room saying goodbye to a friend. We lived with the delusion of our immortality and particularly there was a great deal of growing up we did; we became caregivers.”

Who knows what the world would have looked like and how it would have changed, if that epidemic had never existed. By the look of those polaroids, it was an amazing time.
posted by VikingSword at 2:20 PM on August 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


I kind of hate this term, sorry Whelk. Most gay men I've known are just guys, lacking the indicators that we associate with "gayness." From my experience, the few "gay-affected" fellows I've known grew up in cultures that expected gay men to be "swishy," as a signal to the rest of the "tribe." A secret signal that, thankfully, is becoming less and less necessary.

The world of LGBT folk will be very different, a generation from now. There will be no "heteronormative," just "normative." A lot of older gay men, who have struggled all their lives with this, will be upset by the change, bemoaning the loss of "gay culture." But that's the logical consequence of cultural acceptance: your "culture" is no longer yours alone, but ours.

I've seen grandmothers with their grandkids dancing in a pizza place to "YMCA." Not ironically, but full of joy.

Current LGBT folk have lived their lives, defined themselves really, in opposition to the popular consensus. I am sensitive to this. You achieve a special insight, if you are an "outsider." I don't deny or denigrate that.

But now that the rainbow flags are flying and people of every orientation are accepted across the globe, the older gays and lesbians might have to admit, the new world is not the world they grew up in. Not that the battle is done; not by a long chalk. But "heteronormative" no longer means, "I hate gays." (Look how the bigots insist, hotly, that they aren't bigots!) And as this percolates through society, "gay culture" will change, diminish and become memory.
posted by SPrintF at 2:24 PM on August 9, 2013 [8 favorites]

I was proud of all that work I put in at the gym these past few months but WHATEVER not like I'm going to the beach tomorrow
posted by Teakettle at 2:29 PM on August 9, 2013

But now that the rainbow flags are flying and people of every orientation are accepted across the globe

This, right here, would be a good reality to live in. Let's hope it's a-coming.
posted by yoink at 2:31 PM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hotter Than You. Younger Than You. Richer Than You.

Honey, if I had a dime for everyone who could claim that... well, then the third one might not be true anymore. I guess there's a bright side to everything!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:33 PM on August 9, 2013 [4 favorites]

So, wait, being stereotypically masculine is "heteronormative" now? And that's bad?

posted by rr at 2:39 PM on August 9, 2013

Reminds me of the circuit parties we go to. Find the (mostly) tall (mostly) white guys preening and posing. And then go dance and have a great time with everybody else.
posted by ao4047 at 2:39 PM on August 9, 2013


I kind of hate this term, sorry Whelk. Most gay men I've known are just guys, lacking the indicators that we associate with "gayness."

That itself is a profoundly heteronormative, and gender essentialist, statement. You're positing that abiding by traditional gender rules defining maleness (wearing jeans not skirts, liking football not Kylie Minogue music, and all the rest of it) is the natural order, the unmarked modality, from which anything else is an aberration. When in fact both are simply codes of behaviour that have been constructed by society. You're suggesting that, with homophobia dying out, we are all drifting back to the natural, normal pattern of masculinity. Well, apart from anything else, that's just empirically wrong, because many of us aren't.

Indeed, if anything, the demise of homophobia (not to mention the rise of Internet subcultures) has made it much easier for many LGBT people to experiment with their gender expression. If I feel like wearing a skirt (I'm a dude) I feel a lot safer doing it today than I did 15 years ago.

Also, the Whelk is spot on. Those Instadudes look *exactly* like the men who would put "masc for masc" or "no femmes, no fats" on their Grindr profile. Many gay men don't just abide by rules of gender conformity, they strictly, and sometimes savagely, enforce them and police them among each other.

In short, the gay community is heterogeneous and deeply split on this issue. As far as the future of LGBT culture goes, I think it will continue to be heterogeneous. Gay culture isn't dying out, though it is transforming, into a ever-wider spectrum of vibrant, radical queer subcultures. Take a look on Tumblr sometime.
posted by dontjumplarry at 2:59 PM on August 9, 2013 [34 favorites]

I've noticed this trend lately and it is what has made me feel old in the gay community and I'm only 38. Where be all the fat old dykes at online? Or is this a case of self-selecting so that the "unfit" generation of gays just don't social media themselves all over the place?
posted by kanata at 2:59 PM on August 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Put me down as the opposite of put off. Having never owned a mobile phone (assuming they still call them that), I can only experience the Instagram phenomenon from the outside and it never ceases to amaze me how much judgment is apparently attached to who posts photos of what where, even at the most basic level. They say photography is the most democratic of the arts, but that doesn't mean some countries aren't gonna be exporting more beef. God bless 'em.
posted by Lorin at 3:01 PM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

From my experience, the few "gay-affected" fellows I've known grew up in cultures that expected gay men to be "swishy," as a signal to the rest of the "tribe." A secret signal that, thankfully, is becoming less and less necessary.

I disagree. As part of the newer, younger generation of gay men, I actually appreciate the legacy that the older generation has given to me in breaking expectations of cultural and sexual norms. Perhaps they didn't realize they were doing so - and perhaps, yes, the "swishyness", as you call it, was a signaling mechanism. But as the generation emerging from that, I am able to repurpose that into my own tool for breaking harmful patriarchal expectations of men. I don't like the expectations that I have to suppress all my emotions; that I have to dress and act sloppily; that I have to treat women as any lesser than the truly fleshed out human beings before me. And thanks to the groundwork that the gay men before me have set, breaking these expectations and being who I want to be has never been easier. So my view of it is that gay culture is not diminishing, it is simply transforming - we get to now pick and choose the best parts from the mainstream, heteronormative, patriarchal culture and from the still-flawed-but-in-different-ways gay counterculture to create more socially just models. So I hope the "swishyness" doesn't fade - it hasn't become unnecessary, it is absolutely even more necessary than ever now that it's become less of a signaling mechanism than it is a protest against unhealthy gender norms.

That's probably why I don't really find these men particularly hot either. I hate how media bombards me with just this one body type and expects me to find it attractive.
posted by Conspire at 3:01 PM on August 9, 2013 [7 favorites]

I'm not sure which of those guys was "heteronormative"- they all looked pretty gay to me.

I appreciate the links to the pretty boys, but I don't know if I understood the point of the article. As near as I can tell, the author is following (stalking?) a bunch of hot guys on instagram, and is writing like this is a 'thing'' and not a personal obsession.
posted by kanewai at 3:03 PM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I just followed the first link in the article, for Chris Jimenez. I saw the photos with other hunky guys. But his albums on Facebook were: Autumn in New York with Mom, Trapeze with Stephanie, and Viva Espaňa!

I was secretly hoping to find a photo of him at a Drag Bunch, just to prove the author wrong. Still, it seems like a lot of the critiques are projections of the author, and not much more.
posted by kanewai at 3:11 PM on August 9, 2013

That's probably why I don't really find these men particularly hot either. I hate how media bombards me with just this one body type and expects me to find it attractive.

I concur, 100%.

I'm too old, or too straight, or too...something, to get this. This has nothing to do with sexiness, for me.
posted by Salamander at 3:18 PM on August 9, 2013

And all are careful to avoid appearing like they are doing this just to get laid.

Really? Cuz that to me looks like a group of gentlemen who are not averse to the idea of getting laid.
posted by selfmedicating at 3:23 PM on August 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Please come here, dontjumplarry, I'd like to kiss you square on the mouth.

posted by MoxieProxy at 3:46 PM on August 9, 2013

now that the rainbow flags are flying and people of every orientation are accepted across the globe

Sorry, but that seems incredibly naive.

Great rebuttal, DJL.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:04 PM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Dem abs. I'm straight and I never felt less heteronormative.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:12 PM on August 9, 2013

I watched a documentary about gay life in NYC in the 70's (don't remember the title)

If it is the same one I watched yes, you do.
posted by griphus at 5:44 PM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

My friend Dave White coined a phrase that I've used often in a variety of mangled requotes, speaking about how too many men these days are ruined by fastidious ab cultivation (see also: thick, balding, real-sexy early Jeremy Piven vs. Hollywood-shiny Jeremy Piven), and these guys are the epitome of such things—though I wouldn't say heteronormative, because there's something far from normative about the hyperactive effort of body management required in order to have the Dali landscape of cuts and lumps that equals "in-shape" in the mainstream teenybopper circuit.

When I was young and pretty, I worked briefly as a stripper at a grungy DC gay bar that's now buried under a baseball stadium, though even then I was just sort of in shape in the way you get when you're working daylight hours as a bike messenger and have the sort of body that looks good when viewed from below in smoky semi-darkness by someone sitting at the bar on which you're dancing, but the muscle carvers were working their way in even then, with their shreddy muscles and abs and such. I was grossly outclassed in every sense of Greek perfection except for one not very Greek one, and would have eventually been run out on my beer-soaked, dollar-filled socks had I not skidded off the bar in a pool of something one night and knocked myself out, which dampened my enthusiasm for the endeavour considerably.

These days, I'm completely heteronormative in the sense that I'm a beer-bellied, middle-aged, grey-haired and often grouchy dude with mostly unfashionable interests, but the thing I love most about this swiftly tilting planet is that the rulebook on what's attractive in a person is so very different than it was when I was a tender young freshly minted fag in the awful eighties and it's getting broader and more open every day. You can be anything now, and you can be "normative" in some ways and a prancing majorette with your burning freak flag flying sky high in others, and it's all what you make of it most of the time.

I have respect for the mold-breakers above all things, and I strive to be one, myself.

The more closed, the more exclusive, and the more snotty the in-clubs get, the more people are going to take the lesson, say "fuck this noise," and strike out on their own, and goddamn, it's more fun to confound than pass tired old tests.

I installed a killer new stereo system and an insanely loud Italian air horn in the Sprinter of my ex-boyfriend turned riding buddy, and when I was done tuning the speaker enclosures to allow the van to properly rock, I gave him a brief and earsplitting demo with a broad and obnoxious smile.

"How much do I owe you?" he asked

"Well, you bought the parts, so nothing."

"C'mon, Joe. I don't want you to work for me for nothing."

"It's nothing."

"I insist on some sort of compensation," he said, bristling at my commie instincts.

"Okay, then," I said, thought a bit, and came up with my proposal. "We're going to put your chair made of bullhorns in the back of the van and you're going to drive slowly through Hampden with the side door open while I sit in that chair and lip-sync to 'The Golden Age' by The Asteroids Galaxy Tour."

Eyes rolled, then it became clear I wasn't kidding.

"Aww, c'mon. I have to live in this neighborhood!"

"You're the one who insists on compensation."

It all reminds me of the inherent problem with being rich and beautiful and muscular and desirable in the most bog-standard way—you can never be enough. You will never be rich enough, handsome enough, built enough, hung enough, successful enough, because you're always chasing the moon. It looks like it's just ahead of you, skimming along the treetops as you rush through the upper crusty regions in a glossy German convertible with your shiny friends, but you'll never get there.

Your reach will always exceed your grasp, so who gives a shit about heaven?

Better to rule in hell, anyway.

I only wished I'd figured that out twenty years ago, to save myself a generation of insecurity.

The best body in the world and all the money in Brussells will never get me as much attention as I'll get by dressing up as a nun and giving a bizarre blessing to a bunch of feet, and most of the people watching a spectacle of that modest order will not want to fuck me…but the right ones will. There is nothing in the world as attractive as someone who's at peace with who and what they are.

"Watch the corners, dude," I tell my angry, vaguely humiliated chauffeur as I slump luxuriously side-saddle in the most glamorously uncomfortable chair this side of Ettore Sottsass in the tiny theater of an open van door. "I don't want to be pitched out of here. Cue the music!"

I hear grumbling from the front, but Papi needs a star fit, darlin'.

I wished I lived in the golden age
Giving it up on the Broadway stage
Hang with the rats and smoke cigars
Have a break with Frank and count the stars

Dressed to the nines, with hair to match
Shiny jewels, casino cash
Tapping feet, wanna take the lead
A trip back in time is all I need


Sing it out loud gonna get back honey
Sing it out loud get away with me
Sing it out loud on a trip back honey
Sing it out loud and let yourself free

posted by sonascope at 6:05 PM on August 9, 2013 [31 favorites]

Ha, ha, griphus, I definitely saw that one, but still wasn't sure that's where the quote came from, so I threw that title into youtube and actually found a clip of that - looks like I garbled things somewhat in my memory... the reason the guy didn't have sex with any of those fabulous guys at that party, is because his boyfriend made him leave. It was a damn good documentary, from what I recall.
posted by VikingSword at 6:10 PM on August 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

OK, read the links now.
Is “masc & musc” what they used to call "straight-acting" back in the print-ad days, or did that not include the "musc" part?
I dont like men with TOO many muscles.
I know, I know. You didn't make him for me.
From the Instadudes sildeshow:
-What is murattgur so scared of? Does he know that coyote's behind him or something?
-Pretty sure that guy behind diogocg and his buddy is pooping on the beach.
-terrysphots is a young Henry Francis. Convert that shot to B&W and you know it's at the bottom of Betty's girdle drawer.
The second picture down in the Fire Island article would have an absolutely sublime Three Graces thing going on if the guy on the left would take off that stupid visor.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:22 PM on August 9, 2013

As a lifelong skinny guy I would fucking die if for once in my life I could look like one of those guys. Just once!
posted by gucci mane at 7:13 PM on August 9, 2013

“If you look at my life you’ll see what I see!” says Chris Jimenez in his Instagram bio: What you see are photos of his toppling, smooth, muscular upper bod in little boxer swimsuits in Tel Aviv, East Hampton, and Mykonos...

Ha ha, yeah! Well, guys, you're good to look at, and its great that you're enjoying while you can - but I hope you remember that unlike all those greek statues ...

“I live in a world of fantasy so keep your reality away from me”

I'm not so sure they *are* doing it to get laid. Shallow as it may seem, it can be great to be admired. I openly admit to appreciating great scenery, and to show some regard for all the effort it takes to maintain. So, thanks for the tip, Whelk!
posted by Twang at 11:06 PM on August 9, 2013

(Speaking of "younger than you", if you click around in this particular grove of the Internet forest, you may come across this not-uninteresting little article about a five-year-old boy who has become an Instagram style icon. I present it here because it's vaguely related, and I don't want the five minutes I just spent clicking through his 47-photo slideshow to go unrecorded. Because percipi est esse, amirite?)
posted by ariel_caliban at 6:38 AM on August 10, 2013

Indeed, if anything, the demise of homophobia (not to mention the rise of Internet subcultures) has made it much easier for many LGBT people to experiment with their gender expression. If I feel like wearing a skirt (I'm a dude) I feel a lot safer doing it today than I did 15 years ago.

I'd add it's not just LGBT people who benefit here. A lot of straight people also reap the benefits of reduced gender policing. If you're an emotionally expressive straight dude who loves musicals and Audrey Hepburn movies, or a hetero girly-girl who also loves powerlifting and power tools and heavy machinery, or a cis man who wants to wear a pretty skirt when it's a thousand degrees with a hundred percent humidity and seriously fuck pants, broadening these channels is a good thing for you too. I imagine (though can't prove of course) that one of the results of increased gender and sexual equality is that people in general will be more comfortable across the entire butch-femme spectrum, and, as sonascope talked about upthread, with cutting and pasting together the parts of traditional butch and femme identities that resonate with them personally as opposed to feeling pressure to pick just one.
posted by en forme de poire at 8:45 AM on August 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

That said, I'm not sure these dudes are all that heteronormative, exactly. They're more like next-gen Castro clones. That is, it's mostly a butch sensibility or "image", but there's also an implicit invitation to look at them sexually (exposed upper thighs, etc) which is not really part of the stereotypical hetero dude's repertoire.

Straight guys aren't supposed to be the object of sexual attention - they're supposed to be admired for their power. To intentionally attract attention by showing too much of the "wrong" type of skin, or by wearing something in a non-code color, or by wearing something that's too tight around the butt/crotch, etc., is often conflated in this day and age with seeming "gayer." (See, for example, this ridiculousness over whether straight Republican Joe Scarborough's WASPy-ass pants are too gay because they are a non-code shade of red. I mean, dudes, you are confused - that is one of the most conservative, blue-blooded looks it is possible to rock.)
posted by en forme de poire at 9:03 AM on August 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

On a personal note, I agree with the posters who said a lot of these shots seem weirdly sterile. Maybe it's just that a pro photographer would be able to get them to loosen up a little more, but only a few of them looked really sexy to me, as opposed to merely impressive. Someone like Shawn Morales (Mustache Pit Crew guy from RPDR, who I can't seem to find a SFW photo of right now) is less hypertrophic and yet IMO way the fuck hotter than most of these dudes, because he's also clearly a little goofy and doesn't have a poker face in every one of his photos. Maybe I'm just getting pickier as the sand of my twenties runs through the hourglass, or something.
posted by en forme de poire at 9:18 AM on August 10, 2013

Something I find so fascinating and reassuring of my optimism about the way we're lurching into the new world when it comes to gender policing is the number of military units blowing off steam by doing incredibly sexy YouTube videos covering dancefloor hits because it's fun. It's just astonishing how fast the old school boys club of the armed forces looked change straight in the eye, and despite the dire predictions of a legion of elderly moist-eyed perverts with diseased souls, largely shrugged and collectively came to a shaky consensus that being a man isn't about a rulebook or a set of acceptable limitations on gestures and presentation.

Straight culture came from behind, so to speak, and they're rapidly getting ahead of us queer folk, who have only just discovered the Animal Farm absurdity of how bear culture turned from "All animals are equal" to "All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others" and how vile and ugly the whole A-list nonsense is. We're still hung up on proving our masculinity and lusting after Quentin Crisp's great dark man or E.M. Forster's thematically pure working class man. Straight dudes came to a great and sudden sea change and now you'll find men covered with Christian tattoos in a realm not famous for its liberalism shaking it to Carly Rae Jepsen in full awareness of the fact that chicks will dig it, and dudes will too, and it's all okay.

The reality of the sexed-up gay-but-not-obvious exemplar is just so small by comparison, a fragile state dependent on constant upkeep and boundaries—be masculine, be muscular, don't let the trace of femininity come through, be a man, by the book.

In the future, we will all come through dancing, when we finally let the old world go.
posted by sonascope at 12:52 PM on August 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

As a lifelong skinny guy I would fucking die if for once in my life I could look like one of those guys. Just once!
posted by gucci mane

Perhaps you could switch with someone else who's always wanted to be a skinny guy.
posted by jb at 1:17 PM on August 10, 2013

(I still don't know why anyone would follow them on a regular basis as taking in the photos gives me the same feeling I get when I go to the gym at the same time as the local ballet trope or Firehouse - that I am the ugliest little morlock ever - but I have Body Issues. )
posted by The Whelk at 1:59 PM on August 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

I think my body issues are swiftly being replaced with weary resignation with age, in that I look at those bodies and they're a lot like having a perfect old car with no dents or oil dribbles and almost new upholstery and you have to think, man—all that goddamn upkeep. Better to look for someone who'll be content with an old banger.
posted by sonascope at 2:04 PM on August 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

I'm with you on that, The Whelk. I honestly think that most of their followers are other gay men who look at their photos as, um, inspiration for onanistic activities.

As a gay man, guys like this have always made me feel inferior and hideous and I like to imagine them as vapid and insufferably boring, but that's probably just my own coping mechanism.
posted by BrianJ at 7:49 AM on August 12, 2013

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