top of page
  • Writer's pictureThe YSI

“You don’t look gay” - An insight into the societal issues gay men face in every day life.

“You don’t look gay”

It’s something most of us in the LGBT+ Community has heard at one point.

We hear it because society is filled with stereotypes and yes, it’s great to see society start to address and remove some of these stereotypes, but there’s one group of stereotypes society either fails - or seems to want to avoid - addressing.

If you were asked to describe a gay man chances are you would describe this thin, smooth, fashionable, sassy, individual with a walk that kinda sways the hips. When it comes to music taste you might think they’ll listen to broadway, or perhaps Beyonce and artists as such.

There is the assumption within our society that a member of the LGBT+ community will act feminine. It’s easy to think that we can just ignore what other people think but look at the portrayal of gay men in the media.

When I gave a description above of what you might describe a gay man as you might of thought it sounded familiar? If you thought it described almost every LGBT+ character that has been portrayed in the media then you’d be right.

If you thought of Kurt from Glee or Jack from Will and Grace then you’d be right.

This image of acting more feminine is not just untrue,  it is also extremely damaging. It makes those who are in the closet believe they have to act more masculine - leading to toxic masculinity - in order to mask who they really are. This can be really harmful to personal development if that is not who they are.

Let’s be clear about something, coming out is not an event - it is a process. A process where an individual who has spent their whole life suppressing their emotions and personality to find out who they really are.

I wish I knew that when I was on my journey towards beginning that process because it could have avoided my battle with depression, anxiety, low confidence, and a lack of understanding who I am.

When I came out to someone the majority are supportive, some it takes a bit of time to process, and others have questions or knee jerk responses because the image that goes through their head as someone close to them comes out is the one portrayed in the media.

I’ve been told that I couldn’t be gay because I’ve not got cutting 6 pack abs and a thin appearance. I’ve been told I couldn’t be gay because I don’t have amazing hair or an excessive skin care routine. I’ve even been told that I couldn’t be gay because I don’t walk like one.

You read that right.

Body image issues

We’ve all at some point dreamed about having it - the “perfect” body! Those big muscles, 6 pack abs so cutting that you could use them as a guillotine for paper, the clear skin and well presented hair. You’re meant to be this confident outgoing person who it doesn’t matter what life throws in the way is expected to stay positive. In short, if you’re not a Calvin Klein model you are an outcast.

I don’t have any of those things and I’ve been slagged off within the LGBT+ community for not having them. At first I could ignore them hoping that it’s just a fringe of the community, but now it’s affected my entire life - each day I look in the mirror and look on in dread as I have to look at what I am with that subconscious thought of what I should look like.

When I finally bit the bullet and got Instagram (I was one of those people who thought it wouldn’t last - happy to admit I got that wrong), I followed a few gay people and support accounts and then the algorithm kicked in. My suggestion feed was filled with young male models in exciting places and if it wasn’t them it was young male gym enthusiasts. Again this was the image I was told I had to have and that knocked me down in terms of my mental health and self-confidence.

I have recently started going to the gym and to be honest I quite like it. That over an hour I spend 3 times a week allows me to zone out of everything that goes on in my life and focus on bettering me, and even after a week I noticed a difference in my mental health.