Today I was on a Sydney train and my car was fairly empty because it was going both away from the CBD and the beaches toward the suburbs where I work when I am here. In fact, in this car it was just me and about four gay guys who I would guess to have been in their early 20’s. In some ways it was like going back in time because I remember being one of those guys. Also, a great deal of the younger men in Australia still dress like we did in the 1990’s so that just helped me visually.
As I sat there with my earbuds in pretending to listen to my iPhone, I listened to them talk about dating, meeting guys, and how they wish more guys were “straight acting”, even though, in my terms, they were not.
Those two words paired together just made me laugh because I didn’t know that in this day in time that was still a phrase, concern, or descriptor. One hundred and twelve years ago when I was dating prior to both Axel and high speed internet, “straight acting” was something I was all about. I described myself as that. I requested anyone I met on a date be that. And I defined the type of man I wanted by that.
The funny thing is that nobody really could define what it meant.
For me, it meant I did not want a club guy, a twink guy, or, god forbid, an effeminate guy. I wanted someone ready to be settled, someone with a sense of purpose, and, someone who was naturally masculine. Looking back, I think a lot of my self doubt, internal homophobia, and other issues were hiding behind the term, because I did not want to be around swishy men who might out me by virtue of their presence or flighty spirits who had their own course in life, most likely unplanned, and it didn’t matter what anyone thought of anything.
So, from my train point of view and in thinking about a lot of the labeling posts that Thumper has been writing, I decided that I think that this is a phrase of the youth, of the younger gay men who still, even now, lack the words and the understanding of what they want and who they want. Young men who have not yet met enough straight men who, through their acting, have shown them that that is no longer an attribute they need to ascribe to.
To double check this, tonight I did a Craigslist and Manhunt search and, sure enough, almost all of the “straight acting” requests were from men younger than 27 or older ones who had ads that said something like, “I’m 54, never married, straight acting, an avid collector of prized porcelain frogs. Nobody knows I am gay. Seeking xxxx, must be straight acting”
With this post, I am making no judgement on whether or not the term is offensive, off based, or even relevant so this is just an observation.
That said, twenty years later, I have two friends who are so flaming that we can’t let them in our yard during the dry season, some twink or former twink friends, and a few straight men who are anything but straight acting within our close circle of friends along with some who are so masculine the Brawny guy would wonder if his dick is small next to them, so I certainly did not stay with the SA mantra as I aged.
What also hit me is the other irony in that, after all those years searching, I finally did land a straight acting man, aka Thumper. Aside from the fact that he likes boys too, he’s as straight acting, by pure definition, as they come (or not, as in his case) and it didn’t have a thing to do with his masculinity which, aside from his hair product fascination, is something that enters the room almost before he does.
Finally, I am not ashamed of having used the phrase to describe my preference for a masculine man any more so than I am ashamed of having that masculine preference.
However, if I were to place an ad now or describe myself, I think I would just go with “masculine” and leave it at that, unless I was describing myself in which I might use the words “Super Masculine”, complete with the capital letters since it’s just so obvious.
Anyway, just my random thoughts on wording, masculinity and me.