Why Do We Say "i'm Straight Acting"?

Why do people insist on using sexuality as a way to describe personality?

I am Gay. Do I act Gay? Yes. Do I act Straight? No. Does that mean I speak with a high voice or with a lisp, wear pink and decorate my room with purple and pink wallpaper, listen to nothing but pop music by Cher or Lady Gaga or Britney spears, watch nothing but romantic comedies and fashion TV shows, flaunt my sexuality around town, and love dance rather than sports? NO!

I have an averaged toned voice. My room is very plain with only decoration being sports memorabilia/posters. I don't care for the color pink but don't have anything against it. I listen to all kinds of music that includes Bon Jovi, Nas, Garth Brooks, 3 Doors Down, Atmosphere, Alan Jackson, Billy Joel, Motion City Soundtrack, and yes Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, Adam Lambert, and other pop music. I do enjoy movies labeled 'chick flix' but also enjoy comedies like Zoolander, Role Models, Knocked Up, and other genres like action, drama, political drama/suspense, et cetera. I watch TV shows like South Park, House, ESPN (channel not show), Family Guy, and so on. I do not advertise my sexuality and people are surprised to find out that I am gay. I can't dance. I love sports and take them very very seriously. 

Some of my interests and personality are considered to be feminine or stereotypically Gay. Most of my interests and personality are masculine and stereotypically Straight. But there is nothing about me that is Straight acting.

Sexuality is sexuality and not personality. I am a Gay man. I act Gay.

The only way that an act can have a sexual orientation is if the act is sexual in nature. I am Gay and am attracted to men. I have a physical/sexual attraction toward men and desire to be intimate with men therefor I act Gay. There is nothing sexual about my interest in music or television (though some shows and songs can be provocative).

I get annoyed when people insist they are not 'Gay' Gay. They claim they are a 'normal' Gay or a 'Straight acting' Gay. Why can't we just be ourselves? Some of us are Gay and some are Straight (excluding Bisexuality from this conversation due to lack of Bisexual stereotypes). 

I understand that Gay men who have masculine personalities and do not fit the stereotypical model of a Gay man want to let people know this because they don't want to be looked down upon or considered feminine. I describe myself as masculine. I have a few stereotypical interests but so do Straight men. 

Many straight men have feminine voices or enjoy dance, cooking, and pop music. They often have a degree of homophobia and will try to hide these interests.

I think the problem with the Gay community is not the flamboyant personalities that so many people label as Gay. The problem is the insecurity of the rest of the community. I am not saying that masculine gay men are not secure or accepting of their sexuality. I am saying that many of these men are afraid of the label because of what the label means. 

Society sees Gay as being the stereotype and if you say you are Gay then you fit that model. So, masculine Gay men feel the need to say they are Gay but act Straight to make the people around them feel more comfortable. As if a Gay man who doesn't state that they 'act Straight' would be more likely to grab you by the collar and start furiously making out with you just because you're a man and of course are irresistible to all 'Gay' Gay men.

I may be exaggerating a little with my explanation, but it illustrates my point. 

The other problem with the Gay men who insist on stating they act Straight is that they believe the majority of Gay men actually fit the stereotypical model. I refuse to believe that. Well, mostly. The problem with this assumption is that it assumes you know who is actually Gay.

For example, consider I walk into a room of 100 men. Statistically speaking 30 of them are Gay. So I proceed to decide who is Gay (This is not scientific so don't jump on my back, I am just illustrating my perspective). I will find 5 of them are flamboyant and don't allow me to ask any questions before stating their sexuality. 35 men are not interested in sports so I throw them in the Gay group. 10 other men have feminine sounding voices so I throw them in there too. Now I have 50 Gay men and realize I'm either very lucky or I've made some mistakes. I then interview further and find out that of the 35 guys that don't like sports 15 of them like Lady Gaga's music so I get rid of the rest and have my 30 Gay men. Then I ask them all the question: Are you Gay? All 5 of the flamboyant men laugh and tell me that they already told me that when I walked up to them earlier. Then I find out that only 1 of the 10 men with feminine sounding voices is Gay and 8 of the guys that like Lady Gaga Music and don't like sports are Gay. So of the 30 guys I pegged for Gay I only got 14 right and I got 5 freebies. That means that 16 of the guys that fit none of my Gay stereotypes are Gay. Hmmm so that means less than half of the Gay men in the room are "Gay acting" and only about 16% are flamboyant.

My example is very basic and completely made up, but I mean for it to illustrate a point. Gay men are not easily detected and are therefor not visible to society. Society only links the few flamboyant individuals with their sexuality and disregards the individuals that they can't detect. So, Gay men adopt the societal belief that most Gay men are flamboyant and they proceed to look down on those who are and condemn them for giving the supposed few masculine Gay men a bad name.

There is nothing wrong with preferring more masculine men, but to look down on more feminine men and flamboyant men is rude.

I am generally more attracted to masculine men, but have no problem with feminine and flamboyant men. These men are being who they are and acting the way they feel. I think that it's great and I have a lot in common with many of these men. We may not have all similar interests in sports, politics, fashion, entertainment or many other topics, but we may find a few areas of common ground and we are connected by a common sexuality.

Some people say that sexuality is not who they are, and that is true. However, being Gay is distinctly different from being Straight in one crucial way (besides sex). Being Gay brings on issues and emotions and confusion that Straight people do not have to deal with. I have at least one thing in common with every feminine and flamboyant Gay man. We are Gay. We understand what each other is going through and can support each other. I agree that two people should have more in common than that to truly be compatible as friends or more. My point is that many masculine Gay men refuse to interact with more feminine and flamboyant Gay men because they assume they have nothing in common.

The truth is, I am a masculine Gay man. I love sports and am not into fashion or theater. I do have some stereotypically Gay interests like my interest in music by Lady Gaga, Adam Lambert, and other pop music. I also enjoy some movies that are consider to be 'girly'. I don't care. I am who I am and I am not about to make excuses. I love Adam Lambert and I love football. I am me and I happen to have various interests and personality traits. None of which have anything to do with my sexuality. 

 I have rambled on for long enough. I don't like it when people use the phrases "you don't act Gay" or "I'm Gay but I act Straight". It is a negative way of looking at sexuality and makes homosexuality appear inferior or shameful when we make these statements of stereotype and exclusion.aight    

acumen acumen
22-25, M
12 Responses Apr 4, 2010

Amen brother. I'm a gay married gay. Very masculine. Have kids too. But I AM GAY. Knew since early teens. What you say above is spot on!!

There are some gay guys who completely act as if they were girls. That's what I think people mean with 'gay' gay. I can't stand being around those guys, because it's just really weird, being gay doesn't mean they must act like girls, they are still men! I'm not talking about having some girly interests in music or movies, I'm talking about the behaviour they have when they talk and interact with other people, and sometimes the things they wear.

All I have to say is awesome blog, that is so right!!!!

I agree that there are some problems within our community. There is so much division and that makes it difficult to unite for equality. It's just like in war terms when you attempt to cause civil disputes among your enemy to weaken them. In this case, we are causing our own civil unrest and it isn't helping us at all. I too don't use female terms when referring to myself or other men. I can see that some men act more feminine and there is nothing wrong with that, be who you are. However, they are still men and I think the courage to be who they are when it brings so much hate makes them more courageous and masculine than me. I fly under the radar with my personality and demeanor so I don't get attacked for who I am. I do think that androgyny is present in our community as well as transitions. I refer to people as the gender they feel in their heart. If you were born a man but know that you are truly a woman then you have my support and "you go girl" and I also refer to drag queens as "she" while in drag. I never accept anyone saying the "F" word regardless of their sexuality because I think it is just as detrimental as the "N" word is to the black community. Thanks for your comment.

All great points of interest.<br />
I am of the belief that we (gay men) perpetuate a lot of the stereotype. We call ourselves "she", "girl", "her". We hate when we are called "******" by the st8's but we do it ourselves. I know I'm generalizing because we don't ALL do anything the same as the rest in our group. But the fact is - we do it. I know. I've witnessed it more than a handful of times.<br />
Personally, I refuse to call anyone by the feminine second person. And I won't stand for it if anyone calls me by it either. Politely, I'll let theem know it's offensive, and, even though I'm gay, I deserve the same respect as anyone else. <br />
OK. So who's going to be the first to call me out here with a " You go Girl..."?

I think everyone is getting too hung up on the definition of "acting". The point of this is not to analyze the meaning of "act" or "acting" because literal definitions aren't always the definitions that we use. Acting may literally mean to pretend to be something you aren't, but it also can be a way of saying action or behavior that you present. The way I act is the way I am. In this entry, I simply mean to address the problem I have with gay men who say that they "act straight" when being straight or gay has nothing to do with one's behavior or personality. So, by saying you are gay but act straight you are unintentionally saying that straight people behave in a way that is not gay and therefore is superior and want people to know that you are superior despite your sexuality. That is simplifying the point once again, but I am not trying to focus on "act" so much as what message is being sent out by referring to one's personality or behavior as a sexuality when they are not related.<br />
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Again, thanks for the comments.

Mmmmm, no- acting is acting, to act- just be and use proper descriptors/adjectives that follow the rules and guidelines of the English language. By definition, if you're acting, you're not being yourself, unless you are imagining you as your character- then you're acting like yourself ;)... really, its not worth all that "levels"/trauma analysis. There are proper words to describe masculinity, femininity, etc- there are plenty of comparisons in the media, etc etc. Without a doubt, most use, "I'm straight acting" because they believe that those who "act straight" are not just different, but better, than those who are flamboyant or feminine- and they say this to my face. You see, I lived with a woman for 8 years, was in Federal Law Enforcement and happen to be a little more masculine than your average Marry- and so many "straight acting" fellas walk up to me and feel comfortable making such ridiculous, self incriminated statements as, "I can't stand those Nelly queens, I'm straight acting like you..." I'd rather be effeminate than be unintelligent, openly stating that I'm being disingenuous, or would be if he ever really wanted to cross my legs, and assume that a complete stranger with seemingly similar, though natural, behaviors, is automatically interested in their limited view. No thanks. About trauma- if anything, fear makes me 'man-up' once in a while when I'm wearing capri's and I'm stopping at 7-11 in southeast at midnight... I don't queen out. Peace, my gay peeps!

You aren't getting the point here. You mention levels. I believe that there is a sliding scale of sexuality as stated in my blog on sexuality. There is also a sliding scale of personalities. You didn't describe your personality or the personality that you are looking for and you got responses from more feminine men. <br />
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My point is that "straight acting" is not the right phrase to use. You get the same point across by saying "I'm masculine and looking for the same". That's not a long drawn out statement and it gets the message across. I made this point in this post because the only way for a man to truly "act straight" is to be physically intimate with women. <br />
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I'm not trying to attack anyone in this. My goal is to tell people my view that saying "straight acting" is demeaning to the LGBT community. We all know what is meant by "straight acting", maybe it sounds nit picky, but I feel that this small changes from "straight acting" to "masculine" does make a difference. <br />
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You comment on feminine men having traumatic childhoods or experiences causing them to act this way. I am sorry, but I cannot comment on that because I don't have experience with that and have not talked with anyone who has. There are feminine straight men as well as feminine gay men. There's nothing wrong with being feminine or having a feminine personality. If you want to buy into the societal expectations that demand that men be tough, strong, never show emotion, and be macho then that is up to you to work out. I may be reading your comment wrong, but that is the way it appears to be written. There is nothing wrong with being feminine if that is who you are. I agree some gay men do play up their feminine side at times, but to make a statement that they are this way or fake being this way to cover up some sort of trauma is utterly absurd in my opinion. May be true for some select individuals but to make a blanket statement like that is careless.<br />
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I understand some of your argument and other I feel (hope) that I'm reading it wrong. In the end, it is very easy to use masculine rather than "straight acting". When I describe myself, I say "I am a masculine guy and am generally attracted to the same". It works very well and it doesn't disrespect anyone. I'm never going to ignore a guy for saying "straight acting" but I will ask him about it and see how he feels about this issue and I have yet to have anyone disagree. They totally agree and realized that "masculine" is a much better way to say it.<br />
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The phrase itself "straight acting" means that this man either is intimate with women or in public will pretend to be interested in women by acting like some one he is not. It means that a man who is masculine may act extra macho to over compensate. These individuals are not yet comfortable with their sexuality. That is truly "straight acting".<br />
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The phrase "masculine guy" tells people that this man is just that, masculine. He might be very rugged and macho or he may just be your average guy that has no outward gay stereotypes or feminine characteristics. This man is more likely to be comfortable with his sexuality.<br />
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Before anyone gets worked up. Not all men who use the phrase "straight acting" are insecure or confused about their sexuality. I'm saying that the phrase literally portrays that picture. Men who say this are often secure masculine gay men who just don't know how to describe themselves other than to say "I act like a normal straight guy". This isn't intentionally offensive. It does however imply that gay can't be normal. These men likely want to say "I'm a masculine guy. Most people can't tell that I'm gay and I'm attracted to the same type of guy".<br />
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Thanks for your comment.

That point of men acting more flamboyant to fit in is something for another discussion, but a valid point. I will definitely post something about that because it is a common thing for Gay men to do. I agree with what you've said and that is common. I'm happy you were able to accept your personality and sexuality and be yourself. Thank you for your comments.

I enjoyed reading this and can relate and agree with what you said. I have to bring up the point of gay men who feel the need to "act" more "gay" in order to fit in with certain gay sterotypes. Not long after I came out,(age 18 post HS graduation) I went through a period where I was very confused. This was partially due to myself being able to explore many of the "feminine" aspects of my personality with more ease and acceptance. For example, I did not feel I had to try to lower my voice, I spoke with more articulation, I stopped using words such as "awesome" "gnarly", "sweet" and other colloquialisms which I found made it easier to fit in with my straight group of friends . While many of these changes were normal parts of growing up and resulted from a continued education, upon leaving my small town and attending college in Seattle, I felt a need to change, or even hide things about myself in order to fit in with the other gay people around me. I began "acting" like other more flamboyant friends I had, taking up interest in mostly steroptype things I really didnt care for just to be seen as an authentic gay man. At the time many of my friends from HS began to treat me differently. I attributed this to their non acceptance of my sexuality, with some, that may have been, yet the majority of theakwardness came from them detecting a flippant fake attitude that I had taken up simply for my associating such behavior with being gay. In hindsight I can view this a transitional period of me growing up. I have since came to accept my sexuality as nothing more than what you said, who I am attracted to, Not as a personality trait that determines the pitch of my voice, fashion sense, musical tastes or anything else. I am somewhere in the middle. I can say however that this arguement goes both ways, that there are gay men that must declare that they are "straight acting" and also gay men who must declare their 'flamboyance" in an attempt to feel more accepted by their peers, you seem smarter than myself and i assume you already thought of that point , but just thought I would add that. :)

I see what you are saying but in this case the meaning of the word acting is action. Acting is not necessarily acting like someone you are not or being a character or alternate persona. Act is used in many ways, and yes it is most commonly used to describe a role or pretend to be something you are not. However, it is also used to mean carry something out. In this case, I don't believe people who claim they are "Straight acting" are saying that they are pretending to be Straight. They are Gay and they accept that (Some are trying to hide their sexuality, but that is a totally different discussion. This is about Gay men who accept their sexuality but do not fit the stereotype and want it to be known). For this, we are using act simply as a way to describe personality, "how to you conduct yourself (or act) in everyday life?" <br />
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You make a valid point that many people act like someone who they are not, but this is assuming and accepting that these individuals are being themselves and are simply trying to tell others what their personalities are like. My problem is when these people describe their personalities in terms of sexuality when sexuality has nothing to do with personality and by treating it as though it does, they are feeding into all the stereotypes. Thanks for your comment and I will definitely have to talk about you point in another story/blog.

Absolutely. I don't mean to exclude Bisexual men from this, but society doesn't label Bisexuality in the same way they label Gay men. We all have different sexualities and different personalities. Be who you are and don't label or judge others based on first impressions and stereotypes. Thanks for the comment.