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Old 04-29-2010, 10:56 PM
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Questions about "Gay or British"


It is sometimes said that it is hard to tell if a person (always a man) is either gay, or just British. I have a few questions about this:

1) Is it known in Britain that this meme (dunno what else to call it) exists in America? Does it exist elsewhere?

2) What is the earliest reference for this idea? Did it exist at all during WWII when the allies were fighting together?

I have on occasion seen news stories or clips where, I would have assumed a man speaking was gay, had he not been British. I suspect that some mannerisms that are more common in Britain coincide more with somewhat stereotypical gay mannerisms in America. Or that it's just a bunch of bunk.
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Old 04-30-2010, 01:08 AM
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I had no idea that this expression existed.
I am a Brit and a heterosexual and I fail to see what mannerisms a camp person and a run-of-the-mill Brit would share.

Are we meant to be camp? I don't get it.
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Old 04-30-2010, 01:20 AM
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I had no idea that this expression existed.
I am a Brit and a heterosexual and I fail to see what mannerisms a camp person and a run-of-the-mill Brit would share.

Are we meant to be camp? I don't get it.
I think a certain stereotype of British people in the US entails a neatly dressed, polite, well spoken person who enunciates and speaks in complete sentences. The way you tell, see, is check their teeth and ask them to cook you something delicious
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Old 04-30-2010, 01:53 AM
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I've never heard the expression as such, but I'm aware that there exists a stereotype of the slightly eccentric, slightly effeminate, possibly homosexual Brit. I've not really encountered it that much (it occasionally crops up in the Simpsons), so it's not as offensive and tiresome to me as the stereotypes about teeth and cooking.
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Old 04-30-2010, 02:27 AM
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I didn't know about the connection, although I'd heard that the French think British men are effeminate (pot/kettle??).

Britain is populated with a fair few million blokes like this who I suggest you don't mention this to.

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it's not as offensive and tiresome to me as the stereotypes about teeth and cooking.
Quite
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Old 04-30-2010, 05:30 AM
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The French call Homosexuality 'the English vice', probably in the hope of annoying the English.
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Old 04-30-2010, 05:45 AM
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I only knew about the stereotype by having read posts mentioning it here several times.
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Old 04-30-2010, 06:34 AM
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The French call Homosexuality 'the English vice', probably in the hope of annoying the English.
I thought that was the love of being caned.
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Old 04-30-2010, 06:51 AM
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I had no idea that this expression existed.
I am a Brit and a heterosexual and I fail to see what mannerisms a camp person and a run-of-the-mill Brit would share.

Are we meant to be camp? I don't get it.
Well, the last time I saw it mentioned on this board was in reference to Laurence Llewelyn Bowen, so run-of-the-mill may not be quite what they're talking about.
  #10  
Old 04-30-2010, 06:57 AM
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The French call Homosexuality 'the English vice', probably in the hope of annoying the English.
They usually mean the reassuring thwhack of bamboo on a nicely-reddened buttock.

Last edited by Baron Greenback; 04-30-2010 at 06:58 AM.
  #11  
Old 04-30-2010, 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by julius blaze View Post
It is sometimes said that it is hard to tell if a person (always a man) is either gay, or just British. I have a few questions about this:

1) Is it known in Britain that this meme (dunno what else to call it) exists in America? Does it exist elsewhere?
Nope. First I've heard of it! I can see why though. No one here really knows about the "British people have crooked teeth" meme either, and that one I don't understand as much - I don't think any other countries attach that stereotype to us, and I've never noticed British people's teeth being any different to those of Americans. Certainly not regular people anyway. It doesn't make much sense tome. I mean, at least the "terrible food" and "terrible weather" stereotypes are true...
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Old 04-30-2010, 07:34 AM
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They usually mean the reassuring thwhack of bamboo on a nicely-reddened buttock.
Given the choice between the three, I'd go for rum.
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Old 04-30-2010, 07:41 AM
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I've never heard it. Have heard the teeth one.

Our teeth are quite messed up though, I have to admit .
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Old 04-30-2010, 07:59 AM
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Are we meant to be camp? I don't get it.
Hey, I'm not British or gay!
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Old 04-30-2010, 08:06 AM
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Well, like, when I was a kid, George Michael was always prancing around on the TV. We honestly had no idea he was gay, just, you know, British. Foreign, for one thing, and in the 80's you saw all the outre examples of "British style" from various scenes, and I know I'm not the only person who was... confused.
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Old 04-30-2010, 08:26 AM
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I think a certain stereotype of British people in the US entails a neatly dressed, polite, well spoken person who enunciates and speaks in complete sentences. The way you tell, see, is check their teeth and ask them to cook you something delicious
Yeah, I think that's basically it. To an American, or a Canadian like me, a stereotypical upper class Brit might seems "fastidious and precise" which seems gay. Such a person might even like classical music. The same could be said about upper class Massachusetts natives cf Frasier Crane's surprisingly straight brother Niles.

As to the teeth thing, I always thought it had something to do with Shane MacGowan.
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Old 04-30-2010, 08:31 AM
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I don't think this gentleman is gay, although I would bet he doesn't have a wife or girlfriend.
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Old 04-30-2010, 09:25 AM
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As to the teeth thing, I always thought it had something to do with Shane MacGowan.
...who isn't British.
  #19  
Old 04-30-2010, 09:37 AM
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I've never heard the expression as such, but I'm aware that there exists a stereotype of the slightly eccentric, slightly effeminate, possibly homosexual Brit.
Yeah, that's probably it. Of course the stereotype isn't limited to just the Brits. There's a song in Legally Blonde: The Musical where they discuss a character who's "either gay, or European." And 40 years ago, when I was appearing in a play, my father met the director and promptly pronounced him to be "not gay, just theatrical."
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Old 04-30-2010, 09:41 AM
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Who knows what will draw the suspicion of the American Homophobe? (homophobious, Americus, hypocritus) They attacked a teletubbie for heaven's sake!

I've heard this before, and always thought it was more to do with the way British guys move and dance. There's a definite difference from American males; something languid. (::aside:: is "languidity" a word?) It's almost as if they move more with their ligaments than with their muscles. It's hard to explain. Just a general looseness about the joints, and a less purposeful stride, I suppose.

And then there's the tea drinking of course. A man who drinks tea instead of coffee is definitely going to raise an eyebrow among the homophobes here.
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Old 04-30-2010, 10:19 AM
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I'm aware that there exists a stereotype of the slightly eccentric, slightly effeminate, possibly homosexual Brit.
Isn't that what you folks refer to as parliament?




  #22  
Old 04-30-2010, 10:40 AM
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...who isn't British.
He is actually. Born in England, schooled in England, lived there most of his life and speaks with an English accent. But I see your point, in the public consciousness he's probably thought of as Irish.
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Old 04-30-2010, 10:54 AM
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He ... speaks with an English accent.
Kudos to anyone who can catch a recognizable accent from listening to Shane MacGowan! Other than "drunk."
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Old 04-30-2010, 11:05 AM
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Are these guys gay or British?
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Old 04-30-2010, 11:06 AM
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(::aside:: is "languidity" a word?)
The word is languor.

I blame Sting for this with "Englishman in New York", his ode to notorious queen Quentin Crisp.
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Old 04-30-2010, 11:54 AM
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He is actually. Born in England, schooled in England, lived there most of his life and speaks with an English accent. But I see your point, in the public consciousness he's probably thought of as Irish.
Well blow me down.

Last edited by SanVito; 04-30-2010 at 11:55 AM.
  #27  
Old 04-30-2010, 11:58 AM
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The word is languor.

I blame Sting for this with "Englishman in New York", his ode to notorious queen Quentin Crisp.
I think this stereotype is decades old, far older than the Sting recording.
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Old 04-30-2010, 12:03 PM
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The same could be said about upper class Massachusetts natives cf Frasier Crane's surprisingly straight brother Niles.
Who is, FWIW, played by a gay actor.

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Who knows what will draw the suspicion of the American Homophobe?
I've known a number of non-homophobic people to make the comment (or a similar one) tongue-in-cheek.
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Old 04-30-2010, 12:08 PM
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Well, I once had an attractive, well-dressed, sensitive professor who spoke Spanish with (what I perceived as) a lisp, and it wasn't until he busted out the English several weeks into the course that I realized he was British, and the ''lisp'' was really what Spanish sounds like with an English accent.

I do remember saying explicitly, ''I thought he was gay, but then I realized he was British.'' (And married, that lucky bitch. Gay or British, he was a dreamy man.)

I wasn't aware there was a stereotype though. I always thought the stereotype was ''Gay or Asian,'' and I think Details Magazine got in trouble for printing an advertisement using that stereotype.

On preview: Word to the wise: don't google ''gay or asian'' with your safety filter off!
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Old 04-30-2010, 12:19 PM
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. . . the ''lisp'' was really what Spanish sounds like with an English accent.
Only some Spanish . . . and having nothing to do with an English accent.
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Old 04-30-2010, 12:19 PM
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I've heard the stereotype as a child (which held true then) of British people having bad teeth . I remember The British Invasion of the Bands and how you could nearly gauge the level of their sucess by when they finally showed up with a nice new set of toofers.

But I've never heard of British males being confused as gay males as a common occurrence before.
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Old 04-30-2010, 12:21 PM
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...(And married, that lucky bitch...
Took me a minute to decide who you were talking about.
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Old 04-30-2010, 12:22 PM
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I would imagine that most Americans' exposure to British people is via the media (movies in particular) where (a) they're frequently typecast and (b) is in an industry (showbiz) with a higher percentage of gay people than, say, steelworkers, builders, or mechanics.

Stereotyping nationalities is one of the few accepted stereotypes allowed these days. Hopefully it will one day go the way of the others. And it's not like we're not equally guilty of it, with our stereotypes of the French or Americans.

Last edited by Candyman74; 04-30-2010 at 12:23 PM.
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Old 04-30-2010, 12:23 PM
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Well blow me down.
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Old 04-30-2010, 01:01 PM
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Isn't that what you folks refer to as parliament?





No, what we refer to as Parliament is something entirely different.
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Old 04-30-2010, 01:05 PM
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No, what we refer to as Parliament is something entirely different.
I do love the funk!
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Old 04-30-2010, 01:18 PM
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Only some Spanish . . . and having nothing to do with an English accent.
I've had countless instructors who were native speakers of Spanish from Puerto Rico to Spain and countless who were American-born non-native speakers, and nobody to my ear had ever sounded like that before. Once he spoke English, his Spanish accent made perfect sense, because he speaks English exactly like he speaks Spanish. I have to assume it's because of his British accent.

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Took me a minute to decide who you were talking about.
Whatever woman was married to him. Sigh...
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Old 04-30-2010, 03:03 PM
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I've heard of it all my life, and I subscribed to it. Fastidious, fussy, sharp-dressed, a bit prissy, a high-class accent. It's similar to the American inner-city homosexual stereotype. Hugh Grant, Jude Law, David Niven, Peter O'Toole... plenty of examples out there.

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Stereotyping nationalities is one of the few accepted stereotypes allowed these days. Hopefully it will one day go the way of the others.
Would be a sad day for such a thing. If you can't make fun of foreigners, who's left?
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Old 04-30-2010, 05:14 PM
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Not sure about Brits, but Parliament is definitely gay!
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Old 04-30-2010, 05:30 PM
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There's also this stereotypically higher pitched accent that some people could mistake for the type of gay person who likes to (often artificially) pitch up his voice to sound more feminine. Think Pip from South Park, Stewie from Family Guy, or the difference between the voice of Dr. Gregory House versus Hugh Laurie.
  #41  
Old 04-30-2010, 05:35 PM
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But I've never heard of British males being confused as gay males as a common occurrence before.
Huh. It's not infrequently phrased as a musing "I wonder if he's light in the loafers or just British."
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Old 04-30-2010, 05:56 PM
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Would be a sad day for such a thing. If you can't make fun of foreigners, who's left?
I think the last legitimate target for ridicule is that group of people who consider it still acceptable.
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Old 04-30-2010, 06:13 PM
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Would be a sad day for such a thing. If you can't make fun of foreigners, who's left?
Classic bully statement. Easy for you to say when you're the one making the fun as opposed to being made fun of. Try not being American on an English-speaking website.

Basically, the numebrs are in your favour on an English-speaking website, whether it be here, FARK, AICN, or anywhere else.

Last edited by Candyman74; 04-30-2010 at 06:14 PM.
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Old 04-30-2010, 06:37 PM
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I blame Byron.
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Old 04-30-2010, 06:51 PM
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But I've never heard of British males being confused as gay males as a common occurrence before.
Neither have I, and I am British living in America. Certainly there are ways that many Europeans will dress/look/behave (think David Beckham, Roger Federer) that your average redneck would view as effeminate, but I have not come across a stereotype of "gay or British".

There again, maybe it explains Lionel Blair.
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Old 04-30-2010, 07:06 PM
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".

There again, maybe it explains Lionel Blair.
Jesus fucking christ. Bullseye. I always wanted to win a speedboat or a caravan.
  #47  
Old 04-30-2010, 07:08 PM
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It's a pretty old stereotype. Perhaps it's not as pervasive as it used to be.
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Old 04-30-2010, 08:16 PM
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One year when I was in college I did a summer study tour in England, and stayed in London on my own for a couple of days after the tour ended. I was staying in Earl's Court, and when I called home to talk to my family I mentioned to my younger sister that there were "a lot of gay guys around here."

She quipped "In England? How can you tell?"

Anyway, I think the stereotype is specifically about the English and not the British in general. I've never heard my fellow Americans joking about Welshmen seeming gay. (Although I'm sure many Americans can't tell the difference between the English and the Welsh to begin with.) And just for clarity, Americans can generally recognize an English accent, or at least identify it as a foreign accent. Few of us would hear an Englishman speaking and wonder if he were some type of foreigner or if he were just a gay American. The stereotype is more that Englishmen come across as gay to Americans. So you might hear something like "I can never tell if an Englishman is gay or not, because they all seem pretty gay to me" or "I thought he was gay until he opened his mouth, then I realized he was just English."

I suspect this notion goes back at least as far as the American Revolution, when the English were probably stereotyped as weak and foppish. More recently, I can think of a few things that would help reinforce the stereotype. As mentioned above, the English people Americans are most likely to see in the media are actors and pop musicians, or to a lesser extent intellectuals, and men in these fields are often not that "macho" seeming. There are also a few English entertainers who are pretty well-known in the US and are actually gay, like George Michael and Rupert Everett. Single-sex schooling is more common in the UK than in the US, so Americans might assume that English teens are doing a lot of same-sex experimentation. And, as others have mentioned, the stereotypical upper class Englishman shares some traits with the stereotypical gay American man like being particular in his tastes and fastidious about his appearance and surroundings.

A related stereotype is that British and European men are better dressed and groomed than American men. It's been my experience that this is often true. What isn't always true but is a common American stereotype is that fashionable man = homosexual.
  #49  
Old 04-30-2010, 08:32 PM
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From "All In The Family"

Archie) England is a "fag" country.
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Old 04-30-2010, 08:36 PM
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Huh! And here all along I thought gays automatically got British citizenship. You know, like Jews can have Israeli citizenship.
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