Maybe he’s at a bus stop sitting cross-legged at the knees, tapping his phone with an airy flick of his wrist. Or perhaps he’s laughing with friends at Purr, imitating the choreography from the music videos on the screen. You might find him wrapped in the arms of his boyfriend on Alki Beach, running a hand through his hair and reading quietly. Sashaying with tight jeans and conviction, Seattle’s femmiest men help keep the city visibly queer.
To begin, let’s establish that there are many different types of feminine guys. Professional drag queens, tax attorneys, extroverts, shy guys, spiritual gurus, fashionable flamers: they can all be different facets of the ladylike. The common thread that connects femme men is the fact that they express their energy through femininity. This may look gentle and nurturing, or it may look flamboyant and gregarious. It may look bitchy and fierce, or it may look coquettish and seductive. There’s not just one way to be a femme guy.
So why write about effeminate men at all? Firstly, there is still controversy around males behaving with feminine flare even in 2015. Conservatives claim that “real men” must be masculine, dominant, and rugged. They dismiss dainty guys as weaklings who refuse to uphold their “duty” as men. (Vom.)
But secondly, it’s not just religious zealots and Republican hobbylobbyists who ridicule femmes. Even gay men shun our feminine brothers. “He’s trying too hard,” we say. “He’s perpetuating a stereotype that I now have to prove wrong.” “It’s an unnatural affectation—he just needs to be himself.” “He’s trying to be a woman.” Perhaps more masculine gays—or even queers who could pass as straight—feel compelled to shame effeminate men based on the shame they feel for their own feminine side. If a gay kid is bullied until the “girlyness” is beaten out of him, he may start to believe that femininity is a punishable offense. He may then feel more stable in his own identity when he distances himself from softer men or makes fun of them with his buddies. Sadly, this reflects the same misogyny that likens male homosexuality to femaleness, and femaleness as something embarrassing or less admirable than maleness. Being gay is nothing to be ashamed of, but sometimes we forget that, and femmy men suffer the consequences of that forgetfulness.
In an LGBT community already too divided by gender and race and age and sexual fears—not to mention marginalized by dominant society—we can’t afford to build more walls between ourselves.
The case for femmes is diverse:
- To start, they are the strongest of us. They cannot, or choose not to, hide their gayness, and thus they brave the brunt of homophobic discrimination and harassment. Years of subverting social norms and archaic gender roles often have a galvanizing effect on a gracefully gay man’s sense of self. If you want a ride-or-die homey who doesn’t give a fuck what the world thinks of him, partner up with a poof who’s seen some shit.
- They beautify our world. This is a generalization and a stereotype, of course, but feminine men tend to thrive and champion fields of artistry and adornment, like fashion, music, beauty, dance, interior décor, and graphic design. And while these fields may seem like whimsical excesses that don’t have any practical merit, they help people feel more comfortable or confident about themselves and their surroundings. Plus the alternative is boring.
- The sex is a bonus. Intuition and consideration can run strong in feminine folks, so femmy gays tend to be attentive and fun in bed. The rest is up to personality—he might be an elegant, tender lover, or a real BDSM fiend. And don’t be fooled: not all femmes are bottoms. Save yourself some confusion and work that out before you make assumptions.
- Effeminate guys connect us to an important part of ourselves: a man’s feminine side. They remind us that everyone has femme energies, and that it’s wonderful to be a classy lady and/or a brassy broad.
So when you find yourself feeling embarrassed laughing with a titter, or judging someone else for the femmy clothes they wear, check your preconceptions and remind yourself that femininity is something to be proud of.
Fairies, what impact has your femininity had in your life? Butch guys/women, what do you love most about your femme guy friends? Let us know in the comments below, reach out on social media, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.