The Haunting Abject

Our society recognizes the injustices done to women, but men are seen only as oppressors. It is assumed that they are inherently strong. It is also assumed that they do not have emotions and do not feel pain or hurt. However, rather than being oppressors cisgender males are themselves the victims. Behind their numerous masks of masculinity which is imposed on them by the society cisgender males have accumulated layers and layers of suppressed emotions, desires, needs, pain and hurt.

The perceived notions of masculinity are far removed from how nature created men and act as innumerable and unending pressures on them.

These pressures are felt most acutely during adolescence after which period cisgender males comes to terms with these and mostly gives in. But adolescence can make life unbearable for men. One of the ways in which it harms them is by making them vulnerable to contracting diseases like HIV/AIDS and STIs. Like men of all ages, adolescent boys feel the pressure to prove their masculinity by having sex with girls.

This is especially harmful to them because they have very little information about sexuality and male sexual roles treat them as sex machines, rather than objects hermes and aphrodite created to serve (satisfy) women sexually.
They are supposed to have enormous sexual drive for women. The pressure is most acute during their late teens.

Other important aspect of male sexual roles that came out was that while they were expected to exaggerate their sexual interest in girls on the one hand, they felt pressurized to suppress their sexual feelings towards other men. Society deliberately creates an image that ascribes sexual attraction for other males as a feminine quality fit only for effeminate men. This is all that is needed to make men struggle with these feelings.

There is continuous pressure from other boys to show a lot of interest in girls, even to have sex with them to prove that they are real men. Boys, who have sex with girls, or claim that they have had it, treat other boys with contempt and often used words like -xxxxx- to exert peer pressure on them. Nothing hurts a man more than being called a -xxxxx-, or a non-man.

The pressure regarding sex continues all through a cisgender male's life. He is expected to perform and satisfy his woman to be called a man. Men develop a number of insecurities and sexual dysfunction owning to performance anxiety.

The operating principle underlying this wholesale abuse of males with any degree of visible femininity is a perception acquired by very young boys as the result of careful social teaching / indoctrination. Most of them, in fact, are still growing up with perceptions reflecting the historical male-imposed status of females as inferiors to males.

The effeminate boy has been positioned as the "haunting abject" of both gay, and the larger hegemonic culture. the eclipse of the effeminate boy from adult gay discourse would represent more than a damaging theoretical gap; it would represent a mode of annihilating homophobic, gynephobic, and pedophobic hatred internalized and made central to gay-affirmative analysis. The effeminate boy would come to function as the discrediting open secret of many politicized adult cisgender gay men.

Many gay males with a history of being effeminate have been living out the demands of not being who they were/are,
for approval reasons, often because they want others gay males to desire them sexually.
Gay men are strongly prejudiced against feminine men as sex partners.

I have been surprisingly successful at erasing the sissy from my own body. I have employed the technology of the gym with amazing results. I drive a motorcycle and buy clunky, construction-worker-type boots in an attempt to push the limits of "masculinity.
(Boney, Bradley (1996). The Lavender Brick Road)

The expression "adjustment problems" may be an understatement, and I think there is something savage and suicidal about a community which has been waging a war against an attribute so much a part of its members' individual identities. This community attribute may also be especially deadly for the more feminine gay male adolescents who venture into its midst, especially after they have spent a lifetime being abused in the mainstream world because of their detectable "feminine" attributes.

In the final analysis, what Boney (1996) has managed to do with his "femininity" is exactly what the bullies in public schools had not been able to do, and same applies for the misogynous efforts of even more lethal highly sexist bullies (therapists) with feminine boys who also bravely resisted their professional forms of anti-sissy terrorism.

Basically, these bullies decreed that males must be masculine, and the more stereotypically masculine one is - as in making this possible by working out in gyms - the better! Gay community ideology therefore reflects the ideology (and then some) of all who sought to harm gender nonconforming boys as they grew up, meaning that many gay-identified males do eventually identified with their abusers, have become abusers, and they are now essentially working to harm the boys who are as they once were: unacceptably feminine.

About 80 percent of gay or bisexual identified adolescent males and young adults venturing into gay communities have varying levels of often detectable "femininity," with about 25 percent being "feminine".
(Remafedi Gary, Farrow J, and Deisher R (1991). Risk factors for attempted suicide in gay and bisexual youth. Pediatrics, 87(6), 869-75.)

These males have also been at high risk for suicide attempts (35%), the highly "feminine" males having the highest risk (48%), compared to "masculine" gay and bisexual males (11%). However, their venture into gay communities will often be a shock, and a common complaint often voiced by adolescent gay males - the ones with integrity who thought they could now be honest after a history of having to lie for survival reasons - was stated as follows by one such male: "Why do so many lie all of the time." This fact of life applies as much to sugar daddies as if does to average gay males, and one French ethnomethodology study reached a similar conclusion. Most gay and bisexual males lie in one or more ways when meeting each other with a "sex" (maybe "love") objective in mind.

The majority of homosexual males I have met would rather not know the truth (in spite of their professed desire to know the truth)... The very frequent use of lying by cruising homosexual males sometimes causes problems. For example, after sexual pleasure is experienced a love (passion) response may result. Is a relationship possible? Based on what? Being blind? In fact, when we are relating with an entrenched liar, there are no rational ways to detect where the lie end and where truth begins.
(de Luze, 1990: Conclusion - Translated by author. Original text in Note 12).

One of the ways gay males lie, of the many ways listed in four major categories and 34 subcategories, is via in their appearance, and "muscles" headed the list of eleven ways gay males lie physically.

Guy's muscles are a desperate effort to make others believe that he is a real male sure of himself and morally sound, while he is in fact a timid male with a complex of problems, very nervous, and perpetually anxious; this became evident as the evening progressed and alcohol was giving him confidence and making him talkative. The evening ended with Guy reporting that he is constantly depressed and that he has already attempted suicide three times.
(de Luze, 1990: Mensonge du Paraître: Muscles - Translated by author. Original text in Note 12).

Is the suicide problems a "sexual orientation" issue, or it is really a gender nonconformity issue?

The extent that lying by appearance - via muscular development - exists in gay communities is unknown, but some gay males believe what Scott Thompson of "Kid in the Hall" fame noted in a Salon Magazine interview: "...the sissy is the truth. The muscle queen is not. That is a false construct held up by wires, strings, steroids and the gym. It's not real. And if gay men aren't going to accept the sissy, then they're doomed"
(Morgan, Fiona (1998). An audience with the Queen (Interview with Scott Thompson). Salon Magazine, July 23.)

Harris described the situation and some implications:
One would have anticipated that gay liberation... would have significantly changed the way that our culture views effeminacy, providing a new protective environment in which to experiment with unconventionally masculine forms of behavior. A central paradox of the birth of the subculture, however, is that in resisting the effeminate stereotypes and gestural paradigms that have tyrannized gay men of the past, we have created a new Frankenstein - the "good gay," masculine, assimilated, forceful, deliberate... In liberating themselves from effeminacy, homosexuals have taken on yet another albatross, accepted more, not less rigid notions of how they should express their homosexuality, and essentially invented - to borrow a stereotype ridicules in the black community - the gay oreo, effeminate on the inside, masculine without. In the final analysis, liberation has liberated homosexuals into a new totalitarian attitude towards their mannerisms, a new contempt for effeminacy... .
...rather than endorsing effeminacy, gay liberation has led to the institutionalization of its ridicule.

(Daniel Harris, 1991: Effeminacy. Michigan Quarterly Review, 30(2). p. 76)

Homosexually oriented male adolescents at high risk for suicide problems have a cluster of at risk attributes such as being "feminine" to significant degrees, using drugs and alcohol, and running away from home which is often associated with street life and adolescent prostitution.

Although Casey {with a history of eight suicide attempts} reckons he "always knew" he was gay, he became one of the kids who was "forced into doing it". After moving to Sydney, Casey was drawn into a string of abusive "relationships".
Because of his low self-esteem borne of the silence, Casey says he was easy pickings for deeply-closeted homosexual "sick tickets" who found more pleasure in hearing screams for mercy as they held knives to the throats of other parents' sons than in real and open love.
Starved of real love and left with little hope, Casey, like many young gays, turned to chemical "friends" to fill the void. His only human friends became the other youngsters traded by the "sick tickets".
"Of the thirteen of us, I'm one of only three that's still alive today," Casey says. "Most of my friends blew their heads off, some of them OD'd and some of them have died from AIDS. They were all bright kids with talents and promising futures
(Iain Clacher, 1997 - Silence is where the hate grows: Silence = Death. Campaign Australia Magazine.)

One well known bisexual suicide victim, Bill Clayton, was sexually assaulted at the age of 14 years by a 20-year-old gay or bisexual identified male claiming to be a member of a gay and lesbian youth support group, and Bill had become very suicidal as the result of this experience.

The issue of adolescent and young adult males being raped after they have become integrated in gay communities is generally ignored. Often enough sexual assaults occur after meeting gay or bisexual individuals in a club or a community group, and then finding themselves in a more private location such as a home or an apartment. In such a situation they may discover their loss of right to not have sex with the individual, and a sexual assault results. As a rule, the raped individuals I have interviewed were more "feminine" in nature, and physically not imposing, although this was not always the case. One 17-year-old Calgary male youth of decent physical stature reported that his size became irrelevant mostly because the two gay males (about 40 years of age) he had met at a gay club participated in the rape after he had accepted an invitation to their home. All raped individuals had also not reported the rape to authorities mostly because they did not want their "homosexuality" to be public knowledge, and this fact essentially gives gay and bisexual rapists an open license to rape. The raped individuals had also not sought counseling related to the rape.
(Pierre J. Tremblay in Collaboration with Richard Ramsay - Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary.)

Addressing such issues, however, was precluded by the community ideology related to not airing "dirty laundry," meaning that serious problems will remain unacknowledged and ongoing, including the "gay community" problems of the more feminine gay and bisexual males, and the problems adolescent boys experience in gay communities which often deny their presence and the relationships they often have with significantly older gay-identified adult males. The youngest Calgary case I reported on was 12 years of age when he began having a series of such relationships with adult gay males to the age of 17 years when he was interviewed.

In 1997, a longtime Calgary gay community leader was reading the comments (complaints) made by Weldon, (Eric Weldon, 1997 - The trouble with sex. XY Magazine, 6, February / March, 53.) and Foster, (Marc Foster, 1997. Nineteen. XY Magazine, 6 , February / March, 20-21.) with respect to their experiences of only being sexually used by older gay males as quoted above.

The community leader immediately labeled these responses to be "homophobic," meaning that if anyone does not accept gay community males as they are - a significant number being users, abusers, and liars - and if your are not happy with the situation and maybe even become suicidal as the result of these repeated negative experiences, you will then be branded "homophobic." A similar response would surely apply if the most "feminine" gay and bisexual male adolescents and young adults began complaining about what many gay communities have become ideologically, and if they also reported on the related varied abuses inflicted on them by their own kind.

Our culture continues to view the feminine as less-than and ultimately valueless.

Edits / sources:
Androgyne Online


Pierre J. Tremblay in Collaboration with Richard Ramsay: Feminine Males: A Social Construction of Suicide Problems
(The social construction of male homosexuality, related suicide problems and research proposals for the Twenty First Century)
- Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary.