Gay men have a problem with fetishizing straight men.
This is not to say all of us do, but it’s impossible to deny we idolize our hetero peers. And we really, really need to stop – if not for the sake of heterosexual men, then for us as a community.
While it’s physically hard for anyone over 22 to care about YouTube news, the James Charles controversy has dominated the internet outrage cycle.
The make-up YouTuber is hemorrhaging subscribers after his friend Tati Westbrook called him out for his allegedly predatory behavior with straight and bi-curious men. Apparently, he put unfair pressure on those he fancied. Other straight men came forward, to varying degrees of severity.
Last year, Shawn Mendes – who has stated multiple times that he is straight – said in an interview with Rolling Stone he felt so uncomfortable with men questioning his sexuality he panicked when Taylor Swift uploaded a photo of him with make-up.
This is sweet Shawn Mendes. Who has supported the LGBTI community multiple times. The man who wore Calvin Klein just for the gays.
Our porn habits are perhaps most revealing. PornHub Insights takes a revealing look at our viewing habits. In 2016 the most searched for term was ‘straight’ among gay men in the US. Two years later, ‘straight guys’ is still the most browsed category on the website for gay men in the UK and US.
The problem isn’t necessarily the sexual attraction itself. Most of us can’t help who we are sexually attracted to and fantasies don’t always equate to reality.
The woke police aren’t going to bust down the door and arrest you because that Chris Hemsworth power bottom photo awoke teenage-level hormones.
The problem arises when it starts to hurt other people. Then we need to think about whether our behavior needs changing.
Why should I care about straight people?
Straight people have painted gay men as predators for decades. Alongside religious and government propaganda, films played a huge role in this, from The Children’s House in 1961 and Midnight Express in 1971, to Eurotrip in 2004. The ‘gay panic defense’ has resulted in the needless deaths of countless people.
So this is definitely not an argument that we should stop because it makes straight men ‘uncomfortable’. They make us uncomfortable our entire life.
Also, straight men are weird with women all the time. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have to put my body between a female friend and a pervy male stalker eyeing her up in a club. They call it ‘cock-blocking’ whereas I call it ‘Jesus, take the hint and leave her alone’.
But just because many of them do it, doesn’t mean we should do it too. If we as men use our position of power to intimidate and pressure others, that’s on us. Not all straight people are physically more powerful and not all of them are emotionally stable.
Zara Larsson called out James Charles for allegedly hitting on her boyfriend in the DMs despite ‘knowing he is straight’. Doing this is a dick move and definitely inappropriate. But we should be more worried about the alleged badgering of a potentially bi-curious waiter. If true, he put someone who, professionally, was in a position less powerful than him in an awkward position. The amount of adoration and influence he has only exacerbates this.
Moreover, it’s not healthy for us to idolize straight men in this way. The more we obsess over the forbidden fruit, the worse our relationship with our own sexuality gets.
Because this is how prejudices start. We begin to fetishize not just straight people, but those who act in a traditional ‘cishet male’ way, pursuing that nebulous ‘straight-acting’ guy.
White, straight men are already held as the ideal in our society. They are the sexiest, they are the manliest, they are the heroes throughout media and myths (I mean, just look at the main Avengers line-up). Why would we want to contribute to to this false ideal?
LGBTI people are just as capable as being heroes as white, straight men. ‘Femme’ or ‘camp’ men are more likely to stand up against homophobia and call it out in all its forms. They don’t even have a monopoly on ancient warriors – Alexander the Great was bisexual.
What’s more, there’s such an interesting diversity in gay and bisexual men that when you compare it to a fantasy of a straight man, it feels utterly absurd – and boring.
Because sex with gay and bisexual men is fantastic. Really, really great. 10/10, would recommend to a friend. A lot of us are more interested in mutual pleasure than just cumming. We know our way around each other’s bodies and know how to react to sensitivities.
You’re not going to get that with your fantastical vision of a straight man. In fact, you aren’t going to get it at all.
This is not purity politics
I really want to emphasize that you can be sexually attracted to any adult you like until the sun eventually consumes the Earth. It’s fine! Most of us do it. Whatever.
It matters when we start to hurt other people. When someone like Shawn Mendez can’t express themselves without a million voices piling on, questioning their identity. It must suck for people in Shawn’s position, no matter the fame level.
And I say this as someone who, regretfully, has made some people feel uncomfortable in the past. It’s not nice for the person and it’s not a good look. But this stems from the idolization of straight people and society teaching us male entitlement to sex. Also, it comes from not respecting other people. Disrespect is way more than just hurting someone’s feelings – it’s damaging.
If you are one of the thousands of men of all sexualities who have hurt people in this way, learning, apologizing, and trying to be a better person is the only way forward. This is why we should be using cultural events as reason to change our culture. To better ourselves, to create a better society, and to start elevating our fellow queer men.
Because our sexuality is something special. It’s born out of love and desire. So why waste it on the wrong person?
Follow Tom on Twitter at @TomCapon.