What percentage of gay men are stereotypically gay?

You know the type, effeminite, speaks with a slight lisp, unusually limp wrists. Think Christopher Lowell people. Are such traits all that common? Or is it only a minority of gay men? Are the men with such traits “gayer” (whatever that means) then most?

Since this is a GQ requiring a factual answer, you’ll no doubt be looking for the result of the National Census of Gays in which they were all matched against a chart consisting of those guys from Will and Grace and points between? Sadly I fear no such survey has been taken, so I expect this thread to get relocated.

My WAG is that you can’t be “gayer” any more than you can be “more pregnant”.

Like Everton said, I don’t think any factual research has been done on this subject. But I think I’ve probably known more gay people than most of the general population. So may I posit one opinion of mine? If so, I’d say there are probably about as many “Diesel Dykes” as “Flaming Fags”. If this is the case, in my personal observation, about 20% are stereotypical.

Prediction: this thread will first be moved to Great Debates. Then, after about 30 posts, it’ll end up in The Pit.

I live near West Hollywood (which is a very gay-friendly town), and I haven’t noticed that there’s a high population of men needing wrist supports and speech therapy. In fact, based on what you can see Saturday nights on Santa Monica, some of the most “out” guys are big, muscular dudes*. But overall, most of the gay men seem to be…just plain men. Imagine that.

  • I’m always amused to hear gay men referred to as “sissies,” because 90 percent of the guys I’ve seen in W. Hollywood could wipe the floor with my flabby, out-of-shape straight ass.

It does not have to.

I am serious. There is a certain portion of the gay male population that does fulfill the stereotype. I would suspect that most people have run across someone in their lives who is just “obviously” gay. Yet I have also met men who fulfill no stereotype whatsoever. What I want to know is how large the portion of stereotypically gay men is? A very visible minority of the population? An obvious majority? Have any Kinsey’esque studies been done to find out the proportion, and if outside of the superficial, there where any differences between the different types of homosexual men.


{{scott evil raises hand}}

Of course, just because a guy is “obviously” gay doesn’t necessarily mean that he is, either.

A possible conflating factor in your original question is the fact that some gay men might deliberately affect the stereotypes, as a way of showing gay pride. Do they count?

And I, personally, trust that most Dopers are mature enough for this to stay in GQ. At worst, it’ll drift down off the first few pages, when cites aren’t forthcoming. At best, there might even actually be a study on this.

I think it’s the same size as the portion of Irish guys who walk around wearing green, smoking upside-down pipes, and saying “faith an’ begorrah” all the time.

As a gay man, I would say very few fit the stereotype.
As my location indicates, I used to live in NY, West Hollywood and Berlin - three big gay meccas, and having gone to my share of gay bars in all three areas, 90% of the guys in there could sit next to you on a bus and you would not have a clue.
Yes, there are a few who might fit the stereotype, but I have met others along the way who also met the stereotype and were happily married with a member of the opposite sex and claimed to be hetero…
Just wondering…why do you ask? Trying to peg a co-worker?
For the most part, the easy method to find out if someone is gay is to just ASK. I think the only remaining closet queens in the US work in Washington DC, star on sitcoms or marry other Scientologists.

Totally true. There’s a definite gay/straight diglossia; I’ve known several men whom you would never know seeing them at their day jobs as lawyers, dentists, tire salesmen, etc., that they weren’t like other boys, and it’s not put-on- it is who they are. OTOH, see the same people enter a gay club and they become bitchy, tight silver shirt wearing flamers, and they’re not totally putting-on- it is who they are. Something like a sexual version of the donmeh, I suppose.

True enough. I’ll see that Christopher Lowell and raise you one Frank Bielec.

Similar ideas as to the legitimacy of the question here, which mentions the “camping it up” idea.

Of course, the danger in asking a man that is not that the answer might be yes, but that the answer might be no. :slight_smile: Not that I’m discouraging it; just thought I’d mention that.

No, I do not think that you can usually just ask. Gay or straight, the person is likely to be insulted. Even if the person is gay it would seem as if you are trying to label him, or put him in some sort of mental box. He is no longer the guy you are talking to, he is the gay guy you are talking to. For the majority of people who do not believe that their sexuality has much of a bearing on most of life, such categorization, no matter your moral/religious views on the categories, is often demeaning and hurtful.

PS, I ask the question for no other reason then it has been nagging at me for some time. I have meant to ask it for a while now, but was only triggered to do so when a man called a radio station I was listening to win tickets for a concert. The man had that distinctive gay voice, the DJ asked him if he was gay and the guy said yes. Nothing bad came out of the radio conversation, it just reminded me that I had never queried the SDMB about it.

PPS, I did not ask about “butch” lesbians because that seems much more like a lifestyle choice, rather then a gay male affect that I do not think some can help having.

:::::What I want to know is how large the portion of stereotypically gay men is?

I think it’s the same size as the portion of Irish guys who walk around wearing green, smoking upside-down pipes, and saying “faith an’ begorrah” all the time.::::

Living in south Florida (I used to live on South Beach) I know plenty of gay people. I couldn’t give you a percentage, but while I’ve never seen an Irish guy who looks like he belongs on the side of a cereal box, I know plenty of gay men who fit the stereotype (just like I know plenty who don’t) Also, if you’ve ever read David Sedaris’ books, he talks about how he was sent to a speech impedement class when he was a kid, and how it may as well have been a “future homosexuals of America club”. Obviously he meant it in gest, but the point is there seems to be some type of connection with the stereotypical lisp and some homosexuals (something other than just trying to announce that you’re gay). You may wanna check out Cecil’s column on the topic:


Obviously this is going to be difficult to find many reports on this that can be accurate. But here’s one:
Where Do You Find the Most Straight Acting Men?

In Urban Area? (98) 14%
In Rural Areas (265) 39%
In the closet (318) 47%
What Is Your Perception of the Overall Gay Community?

Majority Are Very Straight Acting (123) 10%
Majority Are Very Effeminate (196) 16%
Most Are Right Down the Middle Level 5’s (448) 38%
The Straight Acting Ones are Still In the Closet! (424) 36%
Enh, it’s the internet, what can ya really tell…
So it depends on your definitions, a “flamey” scale, where you live, etc…

JAPrufrock, I wasn’t trying to imply that there are no “lispy” gay men. I was just looking for an outre way of illustrating the futility of asking what percentage of a certain group fit a certain stereotype (which is how I read the follow-on question). I mean, why not ask what percentage of Scots are cheap? How large is the number of drunken Irish? What’s the official headcount of repressed English? (Don’t know why I’m picking on the good folks of the British Isles.)

Just wanted to clarify that. :slight_smile:

Something like a sexual version of the donmeh, I suppose.

Is that a word?
A typo perhaps?

Enlighten me.

Ask and ye shall be FAQed.


Part of the problem is that what we’re discussing is a continuum, and a highly situational one at that. This weekend I went to a football game in Texas (more specifically, at Texas: Hook 'Em Horns!) with two of my religious, straight, male cousins. I can work that just fine and pass. But back in Chelsea, if I’m talking to a girlfriend* at my gym or the coffee house, it’s completely different. Especially if he’s kinda girly himself. Or acting girly at that time.

Anyway, there’s no real way to measure. Anecdotally: only about 10-15% of the gay boys I’ve known are effeminate all of the time, inherently. With everyone else it’s a mix.

*girlfriend: a gay male friend. A useful term to distinguish “just-friends” from boyfriends. In my case, not required since I have nothing to distinguish them from, but I digress.

A possible source of harder data: The ‘Sissy Boy Syndrome’ and the Development of Homosexuality, by Richard Greene (Yale, 1987). I dimly recall reading some of it when it was first published, but that’s 15 years ago.