DARE TO ASK: Flamboyant behavior OK with gays?
By PHILLIP MILANO, The Times-Union
I was playing sports against this gay guy who was extremely, flamboyantly
campy. I was quite turned off. How do you homosexual guys feel about this kind
of off-the-chart display?
Joe W., straight, Vancouver, British Columbia
People who go out of their way to be over the top bother me. This kind of
behavior might be fine among friends but is out of place at a sporting event,
just as a belching, drunk, beer-bellied football fan would be at a church
Jay, 31, gay, Huntsville, Ala.
I know an "in-your-face" gay man. He wants to offend people because he views
their reaction as some sort of asinine "litmus test" -- if they don't say
anything, they're "closeted gay-bashing hypocrites," and if they do, they're
"homophobic gay-bashing rednecks." You can't win for losing with this jerk.
Ann, 38, straight, Kansas City, Mo.
I applaud the flamers because they never saw the need to hide who they are.
It gave me the courage to come out.
Jeremy, 31, gay, Huntington, W.Va.
It takes all kinds to make up this old world.
Dwanny, 51, lesbian, Fort Worth, Texas
I don't mind fem when it's coming from a friend because it's funny, but when
I really sit down and think about it, these are the types of guys available to
date -- and they don't want to be like guys! I like men for a reason: because
they are men!
George, 24, gay, San Antonio
We'd talked about gay issues with Warren J. Blumenfeld for the book I Can't
Believe You Asked That! (Perigee). He is the author of Homophobia: How We All
Pay the Price (Beacon Press) and a top expert on gay culture.
A little explanation of gays and minstrelization here, a sprinkle of camp
history there, and we figured we'd be good to go.
Except basically he's had it. Apparently the guy routinely got the Shinola
kicked out of him on the playground for acting somewhat gentle, and he's tired
of fielding these types of questions.
"Why don't we ever hear the other side? Why don't people call out
Schwarzenegger or Bush for being hyper-masculine? Because that's considered a
positive attribute," he said. "Anything considered effeminate is hated. Anyone
who steps out of their gender role -- assertive women, sensitive men -- is
despised for it."
OK. But isn't it true that even a large chunk of gay men don't like it when
other gay men act overly feminine?
"Gay men and lesbians were also raised in our sexist, homophobic culture,
which makes us conform to our gender roles. There's a lot of transphobia in the
gay community. It is oppression against those who transcend their assigned
Ultimately, Blumenfeld is proud of gay men who act just as flamboyantly as
"My hat is off to them. They're on the cutting edge of freeing us all from
gender roles. Most are targeted for attack. I wish I had the courage to be more
expressive than I sometimes am."
Phillip Milano, author of I Can't Believe You Asked That! (Perigee),
moderates cross-cultural dialogue at Y? The National Forum on People's
Differences. Visit www.yforum.com to submit questions and answers, or mail to
Phillip Milano, c/o The Florida Times-Union, P.O. Box 1949, Jacksonville, FL
32231. Include contact information.