Totally Gay Acting

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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  • Darren

    i was just talking to my bestie about the whole “straight acting” thing. first of all i hate the term. it’s called acting masculine, something gays and straights do. and acting “gay” is called being feminine, again something both gays and straights do. i used to be the type that wanted a masculine guy, because i wanted someone that doesn’t draw a lot of attention and was manly, and blah blah blah because i fit kinda in between, some people can telll, some cant . but i realized i was contradicting myself. plus, a lot of masculine gays don’t even want to be identified as gay outside of the gay community. they want straight people to think they are straight and only gays to know they’re gay and meet guys who do the same ( i know this isn’t all, but yeah). but now idc how fem or masc a guy is, and some fashions i think i may prefer fem guys because they arent afraid of people knowing they’re gay and they embrace themselves. i want a guy who isn’t afraid to be himself and love himself and if he’s a big ole flamin homo, them thats cool lol. loved your article!

  • Anthony

    Love this article!

    Nothing bothers me more than that “Straight-Acting” bullshit… because, guess what, I may ‘seem’ straight – in the sense that I don’t have an affected speech, wear sequins, bejeweled clothing, or do drag – but I definitely am gay. I don’t ACT straight. I find the term to be gross and idiotic. I gay man who wants a ‘straight-acting’ partner has a fetish.

    I used to think that I was lucky that I was a gay who was – aside from the attraction to men – basically straight… but what I’ve now realized is that that isn’t luck. I wish I was half the ‘man’ that some of the overtly effeminate and swishy gays of the world embody with CONFIDENCE. These are the gays that get shit done… these are the gays that demand respect, equality and tolerance. Anybody can accept a gay man who doesn’t do anything to challenge their narrow-minded view… who doesn’t disrupt their life. The true courage and confidence comes from the gays that are true to their fabulous selves!

  • Riaan

    Awesome, insightful an thought provoking article. Love your work Craig.

  • Sean

    Well Said Craig… I was Straight acting when i was in the closet and trying to live a straight life…. one BIG performance all the way… so great to be able to be me, out and GAY! My very own personal Gay in my own personal special way…. Its always Great to be special! Keeping spreading the word!

  • Sean

    Thoughtful article. This is something I’ve thought about and struggled with as well.

    It’s interesting to note, however, that a lot of this sort of categorization likely happens in certain contexts that focus around sex (ie. Grindr) and probably not so much in real life when men meet face to face under non-sexual circumstances.

    I think these “social networking”, sex-fueled applications are probably doing more harm than good when it comes to bringing people (and, specifically gay men, together). If we considered each other as complete people, and not simply potential hook ups with a predetermined list of attributes, I think there would be less emphasis on such trite matters.

  • Votta

    A straight guy, a bi guy, and a gay guy all have something in common… they’re all guys! Some guys are completely satisfied and happy with being labeled feminine or flamboyant. Some guys are averse to those words because they are emasculating, and deep down they are proud men… so those guys distance themselves from being labeled by calling themselves straight acting or masculine. A guy who is not completely straight has to further prove his masculinity.

  • czahn


  • HL

    Perhaps “masculine” is a better term than “striaght-acting”.

    I must admit I prefer masculine guys to effeminate guys, the latter are annoying and turn me off like fire with water.

    I would be with a girl if I wanted to someone feminine.

    Effeminate guys should consider sex-change.

    Having said that, I guess being effeminate is part if being gay, I too am effeminate even though I find effeminacy disgusting and try to supress it, I guess we’ll never be fully satisfied/happy. 🙁