I have been dating a new guy for a few months and been enjoying my time with him a great deal: we have a lot of shared interests, I find him physically attractive, he is generous and kind, etcetera. The only thing wrong is that he is a lot more stereotypically gay than I am used to. I’ve always seen myself as attracted to masculine and straight-acting men and rarely to feminine guys. When we are alone, I mostly feel fine. But when we are out at a restaurant or somewhere else in public, I can tend to get self-conscious about his mannerisms and girlish laugh. I never saw myself with a guy like this but so much of it feels right. Is it fair to end a relationship over something like this or should I see if he could change at all? I don’t know what to do.
If you had said that there was no connection between the two of you and absolutely zero chemistry, I’d let you off easy and instruct you to move on and find the lumberjack of your dreams. Because self-consciousness seems to be the only hindrance here, I’m going to have to ask more of you. There are going to be some people who read this response and think something like this: “Give me a break with this PC shit! There’s nothing wrong with being attracted to certain kinds of guys and not others.” I’m not going to disagree with such an argument entirely—I am just going to suggest that while we might have certain types that especially turn our crank, there is likely a wider array of people we could cultivate attraction toward if we could open our minds a little and take a long look at our own judgments. In a way, Matthew, you have proved my point. You typically find super butch men scorching hot yet have found yourself unexpectedly drawn to a guy with a more femme gender performance.
Matthew, the frequency with which the term “straight-acting” is thrown around is staggering. While I don’t imagine you meant harm by this descriptor, the romanticizing and elevating of “straightness” does a disservice to the queer community. If you are attracted to butch men that’s fine… but this “straight-acting” business only reinforces internalized homophobia while placing anything queer at the heels of the almighty straight man. It’s not your fault— we’ve been bombarded with messages that being the straightest gay man possible will somehow compensate for our “lesser” worth. For proof of this phenomenon, a quick look at Craigslist will reveal an array of supposed “str8 guys” seeking a penis fantasia and their legion of admirers.
You ask if you should either leave the relationship or see if your honey can change; a third option is that you see just how much you can adapt to a relationship that doesn’t match your very familiar fantasies. Ultimately, you will need to care less about how others perceive you two as a couple. I’m going to venture to say that your sweet new guy is simply mirroring an aspect of your queerness you aren’t so proud of. It would follow that cultivating greater self-acceptance of your inner femme would go a long way toward increasing your appreciation of your boyfriend’s full-bodied lavender realness.