Gay Code: How Overt Labels Still Hinder Any Progress in LGBTQ Spaces

Half of our amazing staff is LGBTQ and we love it, what we don’t love is the code words inner circle LGBTQ use to define their space. Much like our past posts on femininity and bi-curiousness, let’s have a chat about the enigma of “fabulous” shepards words. 

What do I love about being a Queer person in San Francisco: the instant bond with my fellow brothers, sisters, and persons. Learning so much about identity in a progressive city, and on a tech front, the many ways we have to connect over our heterosexual counterparts. Apps upon apps at our legion to download from the Apple app store—ranging in varying degrees of how one connects. In a perfect world, Queer should be connected in a way that is beyond the heteronormative minutia of identity. For myself, I’ve began to run the gambut; I want to fuck.

What better app than Grindr to get the deed done quickly and easily. A forever scroll of boys at my desired height, weight, age, and region—the world is my pearl crowned oyster. But how feminine to portray myself on a screen that flaunt pecs, abs, and the occasional Instagram-worthy butt shot? Whether you are on Grindr, Instagram, Hinge, wherever you roam, short answer: I don’t. Instead I’ve built a persona of myself that comes off as heteronormative in a land of Gay and Trans men who use Pride to get out their “girly” tendencies. Men don’t need to know that I like to get my nails done and gelled every two weeks or that my hair care routine is rigorous and religious; it’s not pertinent information. So much so, in fact, that I pull the hair back into a low pony where they can’t see it and never show my hands in photos. If you haven’t picked up on it, I’m taking about Masc4Masc. Ironically new nomenclature to indict queer men who cheekily want you to still wear your mask (i.e pandemic.)

But before we continue you on: let’s discuss the Urban Dictionary description of Masc4Masc. 

Someone who calls masc guys “real men” assumes gay men should be in mutually masculine partnerships—attracted to the masculine. To love and have sex with men means to love and have sex with the masculine. To be attracted to the feminine is a straight man’s preference.

From an outer shell perspective, looking into LGBTQ lifestyle—people can assume that everyone loves each other openly no matter the outward appearance. Well, my dear, that is crucially wrong. To break it down in a very primal way, it normally means:

  1. No high pitched voice.

  2. Internalized homophobia

  3. “Womanly” enhancements (make up, hair, nails.)

  4. “Womanly” articles of clothing.

  5. Just don’t be a woman. Essentially.

So back to the story, I set up the profile, included zero identifiers of my feminine nature, and start tapping away. I ran into a flock of men who were looking for exclusively masculine partners. White, Asian, African-American, Indian, the whole lot. Passable, no? It’s simple, too the point, and it references just a little of my femininity that most Masc4Masc folk won’t catch onto. It’s a code word within a code name. I’m a regular spy.

And within minutes, I get a ping from a torso that is built and is looking for right now. Without skipping a beat, I put down the full sentence editor writing and respond in one word text tones. “Sup, yo, looking for?” are all apart of my vocabulary. We set up a time to meet, pictures (with no feminine identifiers) are sent, and we amass a dirty talk that really gets the eyes going. 



And this is where it gets really fun. We continue to text, get to know our common sexual interests, more photos are sent; we are elated to be getting down to business. This boy whose body was a perfect mix of hunk and twunk calls is uber to my home and I start dimming lights with candles. I know that he won’t be too thrilled about my inner woman. But surprises are normally pleasant, why do people love surprise birthday parties? Because normally, they know ahead of time.

Fast forward: the car is pulling up to the front of my house and I’m in basketball shorts and a white T-shirt (does that matter to the story? You bet.) The boy in question, walks up with a smile, but soon turns to a somewhat confused half-smile at the site of my bob cut. (IT COMES FULL CIRCLE GUYS.) I gleefully welcome him to my home with a kiss and an ass grab, because that’s how you can assert your masc4masc qualities without looking it… Essentially. We hightail it to my room and the sparks begin to fly—within two hours, he stops and asks if I have nail polish on. I reply with a snarky, “they’re gels, I’m not poor.” To me, that’s a funny joke—to him, it’s hell on earth, “I thought you were masc4masc,” a legitimate statement coming from his mouth (that once occupied my dick.) “I never said a thing about that, All you asked for was my face & body, never my hair, nails, or living space” which I lovingly have interior designed to hell. 

We continue to fornicate until we both cum. Because that’s what two people do in an intimate situation. We both lay there for a second and catch our breath, the windows are fogged over and the smell of intimacy shows signs in the sweat soaked pillows. TLDR: it was hot. From what I can assume, he would want to run out of there and snag the nearest Uber he could. Like a cartoon dust cloud flying up into the air but without a pause in his voice he asks, “do you want to cuddle?” Of course I agree, he’s a good looking male specimen. We proceed to lay in my arms and talk about life, love, and sexuality for roughly an hour. And without another skip in his beat, he immediately asks, “why didn’t you tell me you were on the feminine side?” “Does it matter?” I retort, “well no…” he shy replies, “but a head’s up would have been good.” You should have seen my incredibly twisted face, “I was fucking you. What’s feminine about that?” 

The back and forth begins to get deep as we discussed how Grindr was now essentially your masc4masc finder. You aren’t dating, you’re hooking up, guys who hook up with guys, not women. He’s enlightening me to a fault, his perspective of seeming to submissive in a predominately dominate LGBTQ society. “It’s not degrading” he admits, “but it’s so touchy that I don’t want to challenge it.”

I don’t want to challenge it. 

What an inherited concept we are. As LGBTQ members, we are born activists. Whether we’d rather squash it down or not, we are fighting daily for rights, laws, and human resources that warrant equality. So why not activate the right to be equals in love? I don’t need huge pecs, a hairy chest, or a shaped beard to be equal or superior than my fabulously fleeked browed brethren. Some could equate this formula in the same light as the gap between Women and Men in the hierarchy—in fact, it’s exactly the same. Feminine men who tout their fabulousness will all strive in their crowd while the masc4masc crowd who spout their “no fats, fems, or asians” will mingle in their pond. Can the two intersect? Of course, I’m not saying there isn’t hope but you realize the deep rooted homophobia that resonates with misogyny. Could we coin the term, Mistersogyny?  

I can’t fault this Grindr hookup, his chemicals are made up to be attracted highly to what’s the 2017 masculine. I mean, uppers, downers, and other drugs could impair that judgement but we won’t push him to think unless he wants to. The idea of bringing a horse to water but will he drink it? Well, you could drown him in it for sure but, killing him with glittery excellence isn’t on our agenda.

So where are we now? Coming into a era of 2021 dating, fucking, and hooking—on the heels of pandemic. An era of Masc4Masc code wording that has been attempted to be deciphered (kind of like this essay). We will fight for love on a digital front but in this instance: dudes—we will see you at the Sports Bar, ladies—we will see you at the nail salon.

// Feature photo by Shannon VanDenHeuvel.

Gay Code: How Overt Labels Still Hinder Any Progress in LGBTQ Spaces
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