The Nation



Tastes differ, nude or not

Tastes differ, nude or not

There's no denying that interest perks up with the release of every new edition of a sexy guy's magazine. Readers discuss the models at length, these days mainly at online chat-sites.

One of the most common themes in these discussions is the model's femininity. You regularly see gay readers complaining that the model is "too effeminate" in terms of posture, hairstyle, makeup or facial expression.

Blame is often directed at the photo shoot's stylist and makeup artist, who don't appear to have been able to find the right measure of masculinity. Or maybe the photographer was shooting at the wrong angle, making his model look unmanly.

The model could be straight, in fact, or a gay in the closet. It doesn't matter - if they look at all effeminate, there's going to be negative feedback from gay readers.

They complain for many reasons, but I want to focus on two common kinds of comments. One type of reader says any sign of effeminacy blocks his arousal, and another feels too much like he's looking at a mirror.

When I come across such comments, I envision an effeminate gay man assessing the value of sexual feelings and attraction. He's attached to heterosexual norms, so he values heterosexual desire more highly. Photos of an effeminate man can't match his sexual fantasy, so he's displeased.

Or it might be a masculine gay man who wants to deny all femininity in gay culture. There's a sub-culture of masculine gays being attracted only to masculine gays. The interesting point is that they're resisting modern society's system of binary opposites.

Both of these readers are rejecting the reality that some gay men, a minority, are attracted to effeminate gay men. They deserve photos too. It's regrettable that such images always spark a wave of complaints.

But the mainstream majority rules, in gay culture as elsewhere. The desires of the minority are overruled. So we have erotic photos serving as a sad example of how people who are calling for equality can't even agree among themselves.

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