I'm taking a Gender Studies class on masculinity at my local university and one of the assignments is to interview ten people from a particular group about masculinity. I decided on gay men as the group. The interview only has to consist of 2 questions (I'm like, that's barely even an interview, but those are the requirements set by my professor), and you can answer them however you like.
Obviously, no personally-identifiable information would be collected or shared with anyone, and if you're uncomfortable posting a reply, you can always send me a personal message instead.
The two questions are simply:
1. How has your assignment as a gay man (if your orientation is known to others) affected other people's perspective of you as a man?
2. How has your self-identification as a gay man affected your perspective on masculinity, if at all?
Thanks in advance to anyone willing to help me out. :)
I don't know if you will get other responses, but here is mine. I'll stick to your topic of perspective of me as a man, and not perspectives of me as a human, or worthy, etc.
Also, "homosexual" is often used by homophobes - right wing politicians, homophobic autocrats, NOM, the catholic church, and various religionists. I substitute the word "gay". As in, the G of LGBT. My response to the word "homosexual" is cringe. The most acceptable "clinical" term, that does not buy into any gay-defined terminology, is MSM for men who have sex with men. Of course, that leaves out men who want to have sex with men but don't. Regardless, "homosexual", to me, grates like fingernails on a chalkboard. For me, "gay" is the term to use. Some privileged men, who have not served in the military, knowing that I am a veteran, have sometimes expressed cognitive dissonance, given that for some, military service is a stereotypically highly masculine endeavor, but being gay is not; that can lead to a type of defensiveness.
(1) Highly variable. Mostly, less of a man. In a few cases, it's made competitive men consider me less of a "threat" to their alpha maledom than before they knew I was gay. In most cases, when I have been able to perceive or think about it, they've used it to write me off as not being a "real" man. Those are male responses. Among women, some have regarded me as less of a man and more as a pseudo-female but with male gonads. Among people of both sexes who I consider friends and colleagues, it feels like it's a non-issue, that I'm just a human man, and the gay part does not impact masculinity. The response is highly individual and can't be pigeon-holed.
(2) I don't know how to answer #2. I have views of masculinity, but I don't know if that's because I'm gay or those are just my views. To me, masculinity is like a form of charisma. I don't have straight male buddies. The gay men I feel attraction for, are the ones I perceive as masculine. Men who are not masculine, I respect, like, honor, and care about, but I'm usually not physically attracted. Traits I consider masculine are largely care-free attitude, confidence, camaraderie, humor, selflessness, lack of excessive self-awareness, and stereotypically masculine physical attributes that are not self-consciously exaggerated.
I hope that helps.
Thanks for the reply! I apologize for the insensitivity; I've heard differing reports about the use of "gay" in more formal contexts and was of the understanding that "homosexual" was the preferred term, but I'll be sure to stick with "gay" or "MSM" in the future. I'll edit the wording here, as well.
Thanks for the sensitivity. Good luck in your efforts.