Gay men

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Gay men are male homosexuals, or men whose sexual identity or sexual behavior is predominantly directed toward other men.

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  • Many gay men have been subjected to bouts of name-calling, possibly from a time before they even realized what homosexuality was. The over-lexicalisation of pejorative terms for “gay man” which exist (for example: faggot, pansy, puff, shirt-lifter, brown-hatter, fairy, batty-boy, queer, etc.) is further testament to their status as “target.” Faced with verbal abuse from an early age, it is likely that some gay men would have responded by developing both a thick skin and superior ability to remark upon the weak spots or oddities of others.
  • Love him and let him love you. Do you think anything else under heaven really matters?
  • Scholars writing about “not-women and not-men” have frequently drawn the conclusion that these “not-women and not-men” were this country’s first lesbians and gays. Williams (1992), Roscoe (1988), Allen (1981), and others have concluded that American Indian lesbian women and gay men are these “not-men and not-women” who have occurred among most if not all American Indian tribal groups.


  • The last and most painful thing I’ve learned from my contacts with gay men is how the war between the sexes looks from the other side. As embarrassing as it is, I finally had to concede that women engage in a lot of behavior that is homophobic or sexist, and that it is women who enforce much of the sexual repression of the children they raise. This doesn’t mean that I think women are equally responsible for their own oppression. Men get most of the goodies from the system and have the highest investment in keeping it running. But I no longer feel that all women are innocent victims, and all men are misogynist monsters.
  • John Campbell similarly documented the important role of online spaces in gay men’s culture: focusing on gay Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channels, he chronicled the importance of online spaces for gay community formation as well as for identity management and construction.
  • "Degenerate disorderly conduct," the offense for which the men at Koenig's were convicted, was the charge usually brought against gay men or lesbians found gathering on the streets or in public accommodations, or gay men trying to pick up other men [in 1920s' New York City]. The use of the disorderly-conduct law against gay people was consistent with the intent of the law, which effectively criminalized a wide range of non-normative behavior in public spaces, as defined by the dominant culture.


  • Many Latino gay men may be quite competent in dealing and functioning within the mainstream gay culture, but affectively and emotionally they feel quite disconnected and ill-at-ease within it for a number of different reasons, ranging from non-standard physical appearance to institutionalized class and race discrimination practices within the gay community.
  • To speak, as we do today, of homosexual individuals would have been quite incomprehensible little more than a century ago. The notion that individuals might be arrayed along a spectrum of hetero-homosexual experience was outrageous when it was put forward in the 1940s. The revolutionary proclamation of gay pride in the 1970s was breathtaking in its audacity… Equally, it is important to situate the responses of gay and bisexual men to AIDS in the 1980s in a very specific historical moment. It is impossible to appreciate the range and complexity of gay men’s responses without some understanding of the community which produced and nurtured them. It is equally impossible to understand the political preoccupations of the gay community with regard to testing, treatment and access to healthcare without an appreciation of the historical relationship between the communities and the medical profession.
    • Peter M. Davies, Ford C. I. Hickson, Peter Weatherburn, Andrew J. Hunt Sex, Gay Men, & AIDS, (October 31, 2013), Taylor & Francis, p. 5
  • Despite the negative stereotypes, most older gay men adapt as well, if not better, to aging than do straight-identified men… Overall, older gay men adjust better than heterosexual men because older gay men have learned to operate independent of traditional societal structures. That is, older gay men have developed coping skills to deal with societal stigma. Because our society tends to stigmatize the elderly, older gay men may be better prepared to cope with that stigma based on their years of living with the stigma of homosexuality.


  • I suppose I saw the apparently disproportionate presence of gay men in historic preservation as the stuff of stereotype. And so I failed to take it seriously. If outside of our sex lives we gays are just like straights, then it must be only a stereotypical illusion that gay men are inordinately drawn to being house restorers and antiquarians - or interior designers, florists, hair stylists, fashion designers, and so forth. Now it’s clear to me that gay men really are extraordinary attracted to these kinds of work. Rather than dismissing these realities as the stuff of stereotype, I see them as the stuff of archetype, significant truths worthy of exploration. Gay men are a prominent and highly talented presence in many female-dominated fields that revolve around creating, restoring, and preserving beauty, order, and continuity. It’s a phenomenon that seems to grow out of an essential gay difference.


  • The policies of socialist and communist parties and regimes toward homosexuality have been at best ambivalent and often much worse; even so, many gay liberationists have espoused socialism. Indeed, from the first stirrings of homosexual emancipation, a number of its pioneers and most prominent advocates - Magnus Hirschfeld in Germany, Andre Gide in France, and Harry Hay in the United States, to name just three examples - placed their hopes for “liberty, equality, and fraternity” in socialism and resolutely adopted a leftist stance.


  • Although gay males were largely without maps for guidance in building their lives at midcentury, with each subsequent decade thereafter, maps of various sorts began appearing: greatly increased visibility and acceptance of gay men, even a few of them in couples, in literature, popular culture, and real life: greatly increased opportunities for gay men to strengthen their own identities through interacting with one another in open acknowledgement of their sexuality. It would - it did - get better, for the gay males in couples, and for those living singly, but at midcentury nobody knew, sometimes feared even to dream, that would happen.


  • The term “homophobia” served to shift the focus from gay people (as alleged perpetrators of immorality) to homophobes who harbor an irrational fear of gay people and, thus, express prejudice against them. Although the term facilitated a shift in social representations of homosexuality, its accuracy in capturing the nature of prejudice against gay men has been the subject of debate. It must be noted that not everyone who manifests hostility towards gay men is necessarily fearful of gay men or of being “in close quarters” with them. Several studies indicate that other negative affective responses, such as anger and disgust, rather than fear, characterize responses to gay men.
  • Despite the South’s history of racial segregation and religious fundamentalism, black gay men have carved out a space in which to live productive and fulfilling lives. While they may feel that some things about living where they do are not ideal, they nonetheless have made a conscious choice to remain in the South even in the face of great migrations of many gay men to urban spaces in the North, Midwest, and West and even in light of southerners’ continued conservative attitudes toward racial and sexual minorities.


  • In the eyes of Castro and his revolutionary comrade Che Guevara — who frequently referred to gay men as maricones, “faggots” — homosexuality was inherently counterrevolutionary, a bourgeois decadence.
    • James Kirchick, Fidel Castro's Horrific Record on Gay Rights, (27 November 2016), The Daily Beast
  • Some therapists overdiagnose depression in gay men. They pathologize behavior that is normal for this population… Other therapists underdiagnose depression in gay men. They think gay men are unhappy because they are gay, when in fact they are unhappy because they are depressed.
  • Gay men are often forced to internalize identities that conform to traditional hegemonic conceptualizations of how society believes masculinity should be portrayed. Consequently, gay men are presented with many challenges that prevent them from seeking seeking out their true identities or finding their true selves. For some, identifying as a gay man is not a clear or easy decision.


  • If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
  • There are ordinary virile men who just happen to desire other men but are in all other respects entirely ‘normal;' then there are disgusting, effeminate fairies.” This brand of homophobia is unique to gay men (straights do not thus distinguish) and when voiced is meant as a plea to the straight majority, based on a rejection of the effeminate. The “straight-acting” gay man (this term can still be seen in contact ads) asks for acceptance from straight society, and the price that he thinks might be sufficient for this (of course it never is) is betrayal of his fellows. In effect, he says: “I am not like them I am just like you. My being like you is proved by my hating them.”
  • Research also shows that while men primarily evaluate their bodies in terms of effectiveness, women judge their bodies on the basis of appearances, leading to the hypothesis that the greater incidence of body dissatisfaction among gay men is due to their susceptibly to negative self-assessments in both domains, since they are socialized as men and sexually objectified like women.


  • Class, however, is particularly problematic in the case of Asian gay men. However, it is not so much the kinds of attitudes that Asian gay men have about the class hierarchy (from field experiences, they are more conscious and reverential of class differences) but the imputation of erroneous class assignations to Asian Americans in general. As the so-called model minority group, Asians in the United States are seen as upwardly mobile and occupy a tier just below Caucasians in economic resources and mobility. As a mostly immigrant group, Asians in New York City face particular challenges. While they are generally portrayed as economically prosperous, their immigrant status is often interpreted as lacking or as being deficient in cultural capital such as fluency in English. Informants often told me that Asians are regularly perceived to be naive and innocent of the trappings of gay and Western attitudes and guile. These images tie into the kind of pseudo-pedophilic view of the Asian body as both feminine and childlike.
  • One cause of the marginalization of black gay men was what scholars refer to as homophobia, or the fear and loathing of subjects identified as gay or lesbian. Early theorists of homophobia linked antipathy to sexual minorities with the ideology of misogyny in a way that tended to obscure additional factors of race and color, while other attempts to connect the two forms of discrimination resulted in an explanation that stressed psychological impulses “rooted in moral attitudes.” Because most historical interpretations of homophobia center on the punishment of the sodomite or, later, the public behavior of the homosexual, they overlook the multiple prejudices converging on subjects living at the intersection of racial and sexual marginalization. Whether they were partnered or celibate, masculine or effeminate, active or passive, black gay men fought not only for civil rights and the end to homophobic discrimination but also against more subtle forms of prejudice that resulted in distancing and disrespect.


  • Friendship networks are the avenues through which gay social worlds are constructed, the sites upon which gay men’s identities and communities are formed and where the quotidian dimensions of our lives are carried out. It is through the grounded relationships with friends that the personal and the political, the micro and the macro, the individual and the collective, all come together. Friendship may be the central organizing element of gay men’s lives - the mechanism through which gay masculinities, gay identities, gay cultures, and gay neighborhoods get created, transformed, maintained, and reproduced.


  • Gay men are generally considered to be men who have sexual desires for other men, although this is an oversimplification of a complex issue. Although men have had sexual relationships with other men throughout recorded history, “gay” is a socioculturally constructed identity that is only about one hundred years old. Even in the early 21st century, not all men who desire other men, or have sex with them, consider themselves to be gay. In addition there is great diversity among those men who do adopt gay identities. Nevertheless gay men do have many commonalities, including a collective history and elements of a shared culture. Because gay men’s identities, experiences, and developmental trajectories continue to change, it is important to use the most current information about them.


  • While gay men have often gained higher social profiles (particularly within the entertainment arena), they are rarely seen as homemakers or loyal partners, or viewed as a politicized cohesive unit (as we may view lesbians). It is this disconnectivity to ideas of family, long-term relationships, child raising, stable romance, and political cohesiveness that has denied gay men access to (hetero)normative worlds, with the general presumption that their aspirations and needs in life differ sharply from those of lesbians.


  • Since approximately 1981, the emergence of AIDS has dramatically impacted the gay male community, from the tragic loss of hundreds of thousands of lives to the increased visibility, recognition, and influence of gay men in mainstream society.
    • J. Geramy Quarto, Lester B. Brown, Terry Cook, Steven Sarosy,Gay Men and Aging, (1997), Garland Press, p. 3


  • Gay men often make friends with women they find attractive or beautiful. Contrary to the stereotype which holds that gay men are gay because they reject or hate women, many gay men have a real appreciation for beautiful women, whether she’s a movie star or his close friend. Gay men love women on many levels, and their simple, unabashed physical appreciation of their female friends is notable.
  • The Gay Liberation Front announced itself on the political stage in campaigns that applied its critique of homosexual oppression to different institutions and the ideas behind them. The Front zapped its analysis of the law, religion, and medico-morality into the newspaper and television screens of the general public. By utilizing the idea of lesbians and gay men as different, strange, and radical, they subverted the media’s never-ending search for a good story.


  • As gay men’s visibility increased many sought to break the old stereotypes of effeminacy they felt had dogged them. The clone look was very American (no one has ever found English policemen or building site workers a turn on) and extremely problematic - many gay men refused to embrace such an endorsement of how men had been traditionally taught to look and act. What price coming out of the closet if you just walk into the wardrobe of your oppressors?


  • Male chauvinism is a heterosexual leftover that need not be claimed by gay men, but also gay men have been nearly forced to internalize the male chauvinist role to survive in a heterosexual world. The flip side of internalization theories are theories that account for gay men’s sexism as a form of resistance to heteronormativity. Gay writers who acknowledge sexism among gay men often explain that disdain for women is simply an unfortunate manifestation of a positive project, the rejection of heterosexuality. In an essay about gay men’s relationships with lesbians, William Mann (1994) accounts for his friends' misogyny by depicting it as a misguided pronouncement of personal liberation.
  • Reading hazing porn alongside the military hazing practices… allows us to consider the ways in which straight men and gay men borrow on the kinds of gender performances and sex practices typically attributed to the other. We might say that straight male soldiers and sailors, for instance, “borrow” homosexual sex practices to enact rites of passage (such as crossing the line), even as they know that these practices have queer meaning when not aboard ship. In many cases it is precisely the queer meaning of the sexual activity that straight men are borrowing, using it to amplify the humiliation or “grossness” of the encounter. Many gay men, in turn, eroticize normative hetero-masculinity, including the male bonding rituals that enable intimate contact between men in heteronormative environments. Gay men observe straight men’s gender performances, integrating them into a gender repertoire that includes possibilities like “acting straight.”
  • Alienation does not appear to account for the alcohol use of most gay men, but it is related to the consumption of problem drinkers. Alienation is a result, rather than a cause, of pathological drinking. Alcoholic beverages are widely used by gay men because of their perception that drinking is expected in social situations.
  • Big gay men incur social wounds produced by the stigmas of their size and sexuality combined. As looks are one of the organizing features of the gay world, gay big men have an added exclusion that has not been fully explored… Gay big men are marginalized both for their sexual orientation in a heteronormative society and for their size in gay society, thereby constituting a subaltern within the subaltern.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Encyclopedic article on Gay men on Wikipedia
  • Media related to Gay men on Wikimedia Commons