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Pet Sins September 2007

Experiences with misogyny in the gay community

I was reading the June 05 issue of ColorsNW which had a focus on Gay Pride Month. One of the articles contained a series of interviews with gay activists of color. One of them, an African American bisexual woman, said, "I also avoid almost all gay bars, ... most queer white men, I don't like them. There is so much arrogance, no respect for women, and that kills me... they don't respect women, and I don't want to be in the situation." Now this isn't exactly the most politically-correct thing to say. If I were her, I would have qualified my statement with "most queer white men I've met" instead of "most queer white men", but I'm glad someone came out and said it because there's this stereotype that gay men are a woman's best friends. The popularity of Will and Grace contributes in part to this widespread perception. But the stereotype doesn't reflect reality.

Now there are certainly many gay men I've met who are socially-conscious, who work to improve their communities and the world at large, and have respect for women. But there are many I've met who are insensitive and even misogynistic. For example, I met a gay white male who happened to glance over a dyke comic in which the lesbian encounters a bunch of frat boys who were about to sexually assault her female friend who had passed out from drinking at a frat party. On top of that, they threatened to assault her and another female who tried to intervene. When one of them laid hands on her, the dyke, being a skilled kickboxer, beats up the boys and rescues herself and her friends from harm. Now this gay men called her reaction "unjustified violence". If fighting back in self-defense isn't 'justified violence', then what is? I can't imagine what he expects her and her friends to do. Just passively stand there and let the frat boys assault them? Would this gay man recommend the same course of action to gay men about to be fag bashed? Probably not. That man also turned out to be one of those white gay males who was on the surface polite and politically correct, but in reality selfishly insensitive to the concerns of people of color and very self-serving.

I have to state though, that in my experience, it was not just queer white men, but also queer men of various ethnicities who displayed misogynistic attitudes. I've caught gay men of color passing unflattering statements about the incompetence and poor judgement of women in general. I've also noticed the gay men I've met are more likely to openly state racial preferences in dating than the straight men I've met. It's not like straight men (and women of any orientation for that matter) do not have racial preferences in their dating choices, but I've rarely encountered straight people or lesbians who are so openly obsessed with the 'racial' and physical attributes of their prospective partners. Sure, straight people and lesbians certainly have racial or even racist preferences, but they're less open about it. Not that it necessarily makes them better. My straight female friend believes that while men in general are more oriented towards choosing partners based on appearance than women are, straight men have the influence of women in their lives, and women tend to bring a less carnal perspective to the table. Many gay men operate in a nearly exclusively male personal circle, and thus lack the moderating influence of women. Well, I don't know how true her evaluation is, but it is not without its logic.