The Masculine Mystique

The Masculine Mystique

There is this guy I know who is fat and round and looks like a little black Buddha. In the gay and bisexual world, which puts a premium on youth and fitness and a big dick, “Lorenzo” wouldn’t get a second glance.

But Lorenzo has something that he thinks gives him a leg up. He is masculine and so “unclockable” no one would know he sucks a mean dick.

“Immanuel if I hook up and a feminine dude knocks on my door I just close it in his face,” Lorenzo said.

And all I can think is, “Why do gay and bisexual guys have such a prejudice against feminine dudes?” Check out the advertisements on gay personal Web sites. It seems half say, “seeking masculine man.”

Funny, but from my random sampling and from talking to folks it seems guys who seek the most masculine guys are usually very feminine themselves.

I even know guys who refuse to go to local gays clubs because there are too many “fem” guys around. “Immanuel, I can go to a straight bar and pick up more good dudes than at some of these bars,” one buddy said.

He has a point. Sometimes when I go the clubs I sit back and observe. Many of the guys act openly effeminiate, especially the younger ones. It never ceases to surprise me how a thugged up dude with a headrag and baseball cap will walk up to me and open his mouth and the illusion of swagger and manliness evaporates.

My friends tell me masculinity is a commodity in the black gay and bisexual gay world for several reasons.

First of all, American culture is saturated with tough, masculine images of black men (think of rappers such as LL Cool J and actors such as Denzel Washington). Since the public and media image of black men is so one-dimensional (in most movies black men are either comedians or sexual aggressors or tough guys), most young men want to adopt this image. Many black actors (Wesley Snipes and Martin Lawrence) have put on dresses and played men-in-drag or gays, but the characters are always played for laughs.

The only time I can remember a A-List actor playing a feminine gay role with any sensitivity was Ving Rhames, who portrayed a drag-queen raising a drug addict’s daughter in “Holiday Heart” in 2000. But Rhames caught heat for that role — there are persistent rumors that he is gay, which he denies. The fact he got ass-fucked by white supremacists in “Pulp Fiction” certainly didn’t help the rumor mill stop spinning.

Another reason masculinity is in is because guys desire friends and lovers they can take among straight friends and family and nobody knows. That is because being gay is still taboo in many parts of the black community.

Hell, I even know down-low guys who will bring their lovers to their homes to meet their wives. For all she knows, all he is is just another one of the boys over to watch a football game or play cards.

“That’s what you want,” said a friend, explaining why he asks his lover over when he and his wife host parties. “You want a situation where you can spend as much time as possible with your lover and that is a perfect solution. And you can’t bring some nigger in that is swishing around.”

I’m sorry, I think we black and bisexual men need to get over this attitude and embrace our brothers, whether they be feminine or masculine. I think if being gay was more acceptable in black society, and there was more acceptance that black men don’t all have to be thugs, the value on masculinity would not be so high.

Because to me hanging with just masculine men is another form of being on the down-low, just like having a wife or girlfriend on your arm.

Photo courtesy of’s “So You’re a Man Now? Black Masculinity Project.” Check out the Web site.


  1. Anonymous

    As a Black woman, I think the Black community in general needs to get over this obsession with Black male masculinity, regardless of whether the man is openly gay, bisexual, down low, or heterosexual. This mentality is killing our men. They are afraid to excel in school, because they will be called sissy or punk if they would rather be avid readers than thugs or rappers. Therefore, many of them won't amount to what their potential would allow. Also, it's destructive to the Black family as a whole when you have men who don't know when to take the cloak of masculinity off.

    I think this affects the homosexual community the most, because there's already a stigma that men who sleep with men are “less of a man,” or “punks,” so they are probably even more afraid to let their guards down. I've known of a man or two that I suspected of being latent homosexuals and they are always talking about manhood and masculinity as if they're threatened by this aspect of being perceived as feminine.

  2. Immanuel

    You're right. The black community is obsessed with masculinity. As a man I find it can really be constraining.

    But what can we do to battle this? I mean we have a black president who is intellectual, assertive and not afraid to show affection to his wife and daughters.

    What more of a role model do we need?

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