Sunday, October 20, 2013


Admittedly, gay is a broad word. When people talk of the “gay community”, I imagine a tidy neighborhood with picket fences and immaculate gardens somewhere between Chinatown and Little Italy. Aside from a few enclaves like West Hollywood and the Castro, the gays have dispersed. Who are we? Where are we? (And, yes, I’ve firmly established that, in gay terms, there is no “we” in my environs. It’s all about me. And that’s a bad thing.)

Fag. Queer. These are other words to define us. Or some of us. We took the slurs and embraced them. Names will never hurt me. (If only that were true.  It takes more than repurposing a taunt.) To some, however, these terms remain abrasive. Let us all be gay. It’s a synonym for happy, after all, and we are the “community” that co-opted the rainbow. Yes, everything sunshine. No matter how much rain may fall.

In a society where labels mean so much, we created a few more. To define us. But also to compartmentalize us; essentially, break down that sense of community. Bear. Pup. Daddy. Twink. Rice Queen.

Some terms even become slurs against our own. Remember the personal ads before Manhunt/ “Butch”, “masculine” men sought one-night or long-term partners, often tagging on a qualifier: “no femmes.”

I see less of that now. I suppose political correctness has reshaped our ways. People haven’t changed, just the names. There are clear preferences and, under the auspices of not wanting to waste anyone’s time, gays continue to attach qualifiers that marginalize some of our community. Looking on Twitter, the “masculine” gays continue to separate themselves from the “femmes.” These butch men who presumably crack beer bottles with their teeth while watching “Ice Road Truckers” and taxidermying the moose they shot in the wilds of Montana last weekend have taken to calling themselves “bromos”. Yes, another label. defines bromo as:

                           Dudes that happen to be gay, but aren't flamboyant at all. Prefer to go
drink beer at a buddy's place, rather than go to the gay bar and pay for
overpriced cocktails and listen to bouncy, campy club songs.
A bromo is not conceited in his looks, but is still put together decently,
groomed but not over plucked.

Many of us struggled socially in junior high and high school. We didn’t fit the cliques. We longed to be accepted for who we were, but realized it wouldn’t happen until we graduated or dropped out. (Thankfully, with gay-straight alliances and a gradual cultural shift, high school is not as isolating for some LGBTQ youth.)

How freeing it was to find others like us! Community. How unfortunate then that we should create our own groupings that shut out gay men who have effeminate mannerisms. These are the regular Joes (sometimes called Nelly or Nancy) who have heroically carried the rainbow flag before the rest of us were ever ready to do so. They didn’t have the choice to hide and pass as straight until they’d sorted things out in their own minds. These are the men who, as boys, were prematurely outed, sometimes even before they’d defined themselves. These are the ones who have always borne the brunt of the taunts and the bullying. Easy targets.

Adopting the term bromo has the effect of saying, I’m not one of them. I’m gay but not like THAT. Embrace your gayness, however it manifests for you. I just don’t understand why anyone needs to label himself as a masculine gay, aka, a bromo. If being a guy’s guy is so important, live it through your actions.

We don’t need another label.

No comments: