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.

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 :smiley:

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.

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.


The French call Homosexuality ‘the English vice’, probably in the hope of annoying the English.

I only knew about the stereotype by having read posts mentioning it here several times.

I thought that was the love of being caned.

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.

They usually mean the reassuring thwhack of bamboo on a nicely-reddened buttock.

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…

Given the choice between the three, I’d go for rum.

I’ve never heard it. Have heard the teeth one.

Our teeth are quite messed up though, I have to admit :D.

Hey, I’m not British or gay! :stuck_out_tongue:

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.

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.

I don’t think this gentleman is gay, although I would bet he doesn’t have a wife or girlfriend.

…who isn’t British. :dubious:

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.”

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.