all gay men

There is nothing that all gay men are. There is nothing that all gay men think, or do. Yet I constantly hear gay men saying things like, “Gay guys do this…” or “Why do gay guys always..?” If you are a gay guy who complains about what gay guys do, I want to warn you: you’re wrong, and you sound like a fool.

As a gay guy who hangs out with gay guys, I hear conversations about gay guys fairly often. But when people talk, they don’t always know what other people hear. Let me tell you what I hear.

When you say, “All gay men sleep around,” what I hear is: “All of your friends sleep around.”

When you say, “All gay men lie,” what I hear is: “All of your friends lie.”

When you say, “All gay men are obsessed with their looks,” what I hear is: “All of your friends are obsessed with their looks.”

And when you complain about it, I think: “Why don’t you get new friends?”

The fact of the matter is, gay people are just as diverse as straight people, and if the ones that you know aren’t, that’s because the people you know aren’t diverse.

This isn’t necessarily a criticism of you: I’ll admit that my group of friends isn’t especially diverse. I don’t mean this racially or ethnically, I just mean in general: most of my friends are similar ages, have similar upbringing, have similar education levels, and similar likes and dislikes. The people that you are drawn to usually have something in common, because they all share traits that reflect your desires and interests.

But it’s a criticism of you if you go on and on complaining about them. If you insist that “all of the people you meet at the bar” are shallow or liars, that doesn’t mean that all gay people are shallow and liars. Come to think of it: it doesn’t even mean that all of the people at that bar are shallow and liars. It means something is broken about the way you select people that you meet.

Something is broken. About you. And when you complain that “everyone” has problem X or problem Y about them, you are advertising the fact that you are broken for all the world to see.

But above and beyond that, there is another thing that you reveal about yourself when you talk about how “gay men lie” or “gay men sleep around.” When you say things like this, you are telling me: “All of my friends are gay.”

Why? Because if you were as close with your straight male friends as you are to your gay male friends, you’d realize: there are straight guys who lie. There are straight guys who are obsessed with their looks. There are straight guys who sleep around. The fact that you mainly know gay guys who lie is not because gay guys do it more than straight guys. It’s because you mainly know gay guys.

You say, “But in my experience, gay guys are insecure! Why is it wrong to say so?”

There are two reasons.

First, you as talking about “gay guys” based on your own experience, as if you “know” all gay guys. I’m sure it feels that way to you. But even the most world-wise globe-trotting urban queer tends to only meet the “type” of people who gravitate to the types of places that he gravitates to. In other words: a particular type. Trust me: go to those places where you would never think to go, and you will meet gays that you would never expect to meet.

Second, you are talking about “all gay men” as if they are somehow different from “all straight men,” and usually it’s just not the case. Saying “gay men are insecure” is like saying “fat people are stupid.” It implies that somehow being gay is related to being insecure, or that somehow the “gayness” influences whether they are insecure or not. It’s insulting, for the same reason that saying “fat people are stupid” is insulting. The simple fact of the matter is: a lot of people happen to be fat, a lot of people happen to be stupid, and sometimes the two shall meet.

I’m not even going to get into the political or social ramifications or any of those “big picture” arguments. There are enough articles out there talking about the social and political damage it does to perpetuate negative stereotypes within our community. There are enough articles out there talking about the psychological dysfunction involved when you say bad things about a group you belong to as if you are not part of that group. I don’t need to re-iterate all of that here.

I’m simply going to appeal to your conscience and (if that doesn’t work) your vanity.

When you complain about how “all gay men” are or do one thing or another, you are quite simply wrong, and the only great insight you are providing the world is about your own limitations.


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  1. Todd says:

    Yes, just like how all humans think about food, when they are hungry, or all animals for that matter. Most beings that have life, share something that is universal. I’ve been reading parts of Hilary Putnam:Pragmatism and Realism. I think the topic of pragmatism is interesting,and read how it began as a philosophical movement in the U.S. in the 1870s. It’s direction determined by The Metaphysical Club. I do think that they make the idea of practice and theory a little complex, but it’s a very interesting topic. I’ll have to check out that piece on hypothetical truths. I’ve been immersing myself in Italian lately, it’s similar to spanish, and easier than French. I started with that, and I must admit, it was making my brain hurt.

  2. Todd says:

    All Gay men have sex with other guys. All gay men think about sex with other guys. I’m pretty sure that isn’t a false steretype. All straight people think of the same,with the opposite sex. There is always a few thing that people in certain group types do the same, even if it’s the most simplistic of things.

    • Greg Stevens says:

      Absolutely true! I guess you’re fine with what philosophers call “Analytic Truths”, i.e. things that are true by definition. All bachelors are unmarried, all cats are mammals, and so on.

      Although, if you’re interested in this topic… there have even been philosophers who have questions the validity of THESE types of statements! (crazy philosophers, right?) Hilary Putnam wrote a great piece arguing that there are some (hypothetical) situations where we might find out that we are wrong about things that we think of as “definitionally true”.

      But then, shake a bag of philosophers long enough and any opinion can fall out, right? 😉

  3. steve olson says:

    You always make great points & great observations