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Facts about gay men and masculinity

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  • How do gay men perceive masculinity?  
  • What is the relationship between gay-identifying men and masculinity? 
  • Is masculinity a form of self-protection?

Learn about gay men and masculinity! Numerous scientific studies have attempted to explore the psychological and social implications of the concepts of masculinity or femininity among homosexual men.

The subjective quality of masculinity is something that, although it has varied throughout history, often affects men’s self-esteem and their sense of identity and well-being. It also affects their relationships with family, employers and partners.

What is masculinity and how is it represented?

Gay identity and masculinity

Masculinity is a subjective concept that has varied throughout history. In theory, it refers to the qualities or attributes of men, but this includes a series of beliefs that vary from culture to culture. In general, masculinity has been associated with social expectations that men ‘must’ meet in order to be considered masculine.

Masculinity can include aspects such as physical appearance, tone of voice, tastes, behaviors and even career choices. In practice, the term ‘masculinity’ is complex, since there are ingrained prejudices and beliefs that can affect how men view themselves and how others view them.

What does science say about gay men and masculinity?

gay couple

A joint study by researchers from UCLA and the University of Iowa attempted to understand how perceptions of masculinity affect the behavior, beliefs, and psychology of gay men.

The authors found that a large percentage of the participants suffer from a decline in their mental health, as well as shame when they conflict with the traditional idea of ​​masculinity. For this reason, many not only look for traits that they associate with masculinity in a partner, but also try to modify their ideas and behavior to adjust them to the standards imposed by society.

The psychology of masculinity

Gay identity and masculinity

Another study looked at the psychological effects of masculinity in homosexual men and found that some feel a greater concern for sticking to traditional ideas of masculinity, particularly the strength or power associated with the masculine ideal.

This sometimes causes men to look for a partner with those traits and to suppress attitudes or behaviors that reflect those that are considered feminine for fear of rejection. In some cases, they tend to exaggerate their masculinity to avoid criticism or rejection by society.

Expectations within the community

Psychological effects of masculinity

The relationship between gay men and masculinity still needs to be investigated further. However, the most recent studies indicate that homosexual men report feeling restricted regarding the way they communicate and express themselves, as well as the role they play in a relationship with another man.

The expectations and social relationships associated with masculinity do not refer only to physical appearance, it is also linked to societal roles which, even in same-sex relationships, maintain heteronormative traits to assign affective and economic responsibilities within a romantic relationship.

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