It’s no secret some gay men, myself included, sexualize straight guys.
Just look at some of GSN’s most popular stories of all time:
Pretty harmless, right?
Now, look at some of the highest profile gay magazine covers of recent years:
Nick Jonas. Channing Tatum. Daniel Radcliffe. Prince William. Barack Obama.
Of course, there are many examples of amazing gay cover boys. Neil Milan in GT, Michael Sam in Attitude and Troye Sivan in OUT, to name a few. And the more that come out, the more such cover boys there will be.
But a surprising amount of the time, it’s straight guys.
The unbalanced representation – the elevation – of heterosexual men in gay media has always troubled me. Not least because I’m complicit in it.
But most editors don’t actually have a lot of choice. It’s tried and tested: gay men are incredibly interested in straight men. The question I’m asking is: why?
Don’t get me wrong. There are positives here.
Genuine straight allies should be acknowledged and celebrated, especially in the current political climate. Even gay-baiting celebs with products to sell have their place. (I’m looking at you, James Franco). Just so long as their commitment to LGBTI people isn’t purely business-motivated.
(This happens by the way. Plus, I know of at least two closeted celebs who have marketed themselves to gay people).
Plus, we’re living in an amazing era of sexual fluidity and experimentation. To be clear, I’m all for exploring sexuality. Those of us who already identify as LGBTI need to be welcoming of straight people looking to branch out.
But I’m talking about men who are, in every practical sense, straight, and are fetishized by gay men without asking to be. (For example, taking photos of guys man-spreading on public transport without their knowledge).
Don’t tell me there’s no appetite for it. Look at the sheer amount of straight men going gay for pay in porn. Specifically the ones who appear to be absolutely hating it. Perhaps they’re acting. But what if that pain, humiliation and discomfort is real? How must they feel afterwards? And this is for our sexual entertainment?
It’s weird. It’s no better than straight men viewing lesbianism as if it’s ‘for them.’
Can’t help who you’re attracted to? Neither can I. But I can question where it comes from.
Society puts heterosexuality on a pedestal. If we too idealize symbols of masculine straightness, ones we can never live up to them, we’ll always end up feeling inferior. When we do it, we need to do so with a heavy pinch of salt.
Because the amazing irony is, so many of the people who epitomize those symbols are, actually, LGBTI.
If we treat turning a straight guy like it’s the holy grail of gay sex; if we take it to mean we’re supremely irresistible, we’re only tricking ourselves.
My life’s ambition isn’t to sleep with a ‘straight’ college jock. I’m not saying I’d turn him down if he offered himself to me on a plate, either, obviously. Not that that’s likely to happen anytime soon…
All I’m saying is, if you find yourself in that scenario, try to treat him as more than a vessel to fulfil a certain fantasy. Rather, treat him for the person he really is. Chances are, he’ll be feeling pretty vulnerable – no matter how much of a strong, masc, ‘straight guy’ he seems.