Gays are peculiar creatures, aren’t we? We’re a colourful lot with different types, sizes, colours and personalities. We come in all shapes, forms and packages, some more desirable to others than some, and one could even argue that all this abundance of gay choice is an absolutely fabulous thing. Different strokes, for different blokes and all that, eh?

And whilst I love choice as much as the next gay, I am absolutely astounded by how judgemental and critical we are as a community. And no, not necessarily of how judgemental we may be towards the ‘straights’, in retaliation to our own issues of being ‘accepted’ – but far more interesting and provocative, in terms of how judgemental we are towards our fellow gays. Let’s put it out there right at the start – we can be absolute bitches, can’t we? And yes, I know some of you are already thinking, ‘takes one, to know one’ – but indulge me for a few seconds longer.

Spend any time on gay dating websites, social media or Grindr and you will see what I mean. It quickly becomes evident that there are ‘certain types’ of gay that seem to be far more appealing within our community than others. The ideal gay it would seem is ‘straight acting, masculine, fit, under 30, and down to earth’ – because God forbid that we’re judged as vacuous or even stereotypical. And of course inversely, there seems to be less of a desire for anyone ‘camp, fem, older or heavier set’ – of course fetishes and cliques aside. So one could go back to the argument of ‘different strokes for different blokes’ and we all have preferences, which of course we do and life would be lovely and rosy.

But (and you knew there was a but coming), at what point do our ‘preferences’ become damaging and limiting in the greater community? Should we be advocating a sense that to be the ‘perfect gay’ you need to be totally non gay acting, young, fit and hung? When we do have a younger gay generation that looks into the community and sees our own self-loathing?

I personally do not understand the term ‘straight acting’, or why anyone would possibly want to be ‘acting or straight’. I’m a gay man, I consider myself to be pretty ‘normal, down to earth’ and at the risk of sounding bland – conventional. I’m proudly gay, almost everyone knows I’m gay, and it’s pretty much not an issue for me. Most people who initially meet me have no idea that I’m a big gay, and are surprised when I do come out. So I’m not necessarily a walking beacon of gayness, but let me tell you right now, that I can turn the camp switch on faster than you can say Martha Stewart totally didn’t deserve to go to prison. Does that mean I am not ‘straight acting?’ Well what it does mean is that I am pretty damn complex and that’s always refreshing.

If you’d like to insult a gay man, go for the sore spot – and call him camp (let alone the forbidden F word – fat). Within our community, it would seem no one wants to be camp. Camp or flamboyancy is generally frowned upon, and the individual in question is labelled a ‘little queen’. But why should we see this as a negative? Of course I know there is a strong cause to combat ‘heterosexual assumptions of what stereotypical gay’ looks and sounds like. But dare I put it out there – shouldn’t we be embracing all things gay, camp included?

So many gay guys do not like being identified primarily as gay. As if that is not what defines them, and happens to be a side note. And perhaps it is, to a degree, but because we do live in a world where we’re constantly seeking acceptance, I think it’s a very big and important part of our identity.

Throughout my ramblings, what I’m trying to get at is that there are so many different interpretations of gay and what people prefer and look for in others. No two gays are the same, nor should they be, but let’s please not make people feel bad for who and what they are. There are too many young gay teenagers out there struggling with their sense of identity for our community to be adding to the confusion by ostracising and labelling what ‘gay should or shouldn’t be’. Let’s be frank, too many have committed suicide already.

I consider myself to be pretty multi-faceted (read into that what you will) – and I challenge myself on a daily basis to accept and explore who and what I am. I can be camp, butch, fem, stereotypical or even a little queen. Best of all – I can be me. Gay gay gay, with the choice and freedom to be anything I want, and love myself for everything I am. I’d like to challenge you and the greater gay community to love and embrace everything we are. Help young, confused gay teenagers come into their own identity and love themselves for who they are.

And yes, we all have choices and preferences. God knows that I do. Is it more complex or simplistic than what I have stated here? Probably. But let me put it to you like this. I am totally gay acting – and proud of it.

Submitted By: Craig van der Merwe from London, UK.

Craig is a young gay wanna-be writer/blogger who likes to think he is pretty damn fabulous and approaches each day with gay vigour, gusto and probably a bit of stupidity. He lives in the big smoke of London, UK and tries to find beauty in all things. His further ramblings and thoughts can be viewed on his blog:

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