Madison Parker Blog Tour – Bullies Are So Gay

Play Me, I'm Yours Blog Tour - Madison Parker

Bullies Are So Gay

We hear a lot about the bullying epidemic that is so prevalent in our schools today. Studies show LGBT youth are four times more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual peers, and we know bullying is a major contributor towards depression, drug abuse, and teen suicide. Those of us who follow this topic are probably aware of organizations such as The Trevor Project and the It Gets Better Project that offer crisis intervention and inspire hope for LGBT youth. We’re appalled by the fact large numbers of heterosexuals continue to spread hate towards members of the LGBT community.

But there’s another type of bullying that we don’t often hear about, one that can be just as devastating to LGBT youth, and that’s the bullying that occurs within the LGBT community. Imagine being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or questioning and just entering adulthood, relieved that you’ve finally left the high-school bullies behind and thinking life is finally about to get better, only to discover that you’re not accepted within the LGBT community either.

It doesn’t happen everywhere or to everyone, but it does happen. And it can get pretty ugly. In many areas, for example, there is a divide within the gay community between men who are effeminate and men who are hypermasculine. Effeminate men are at high risk of being mocked, dismissed, or even verbally attacked by their more “masculine” gay counterparts. They endure hateful and cruel comments, including:

“You’re not a real man. If I were into fems, I’d just date women.”

“You’re the reason gays get bashed.”

“You’re hurting the gay community. You make the rest of us look bad.”

Vlogger Fernando speaks out about how hurtful comments like these can be. He’s one of many who have turned to vlogs to voice their frustration over this issue. Some of this animosity stems from the fact that the stereotypical gay man portrayed (often negatively) in the media is one who is outwardly effeminate and flamboyant—the butt of most gay jokes—and many gay men do not identify with that stereotype. Vlogger XemVanAdams suggests the reason for this type of prejudice stems from personal insecurity.

On the flip side, YouTube vlogger Tyson McCormick explains that hypermasculine gay men are sometimes criticized within the gay community for trying to “pass” as straight and not embracing their “gayness”. In response to an article on gay/straight male friendships, one commenter states, “Gay guys have always been a mystery to me. When they find out I’m gay they always act surprised. One guy even said I could “pass” for straight. How do you even begin to respond to that? It hurts. The more I read about the horribly named “straight-acting gay guy” movement (or whatever) there seems to be a lot of hate thrown at guys like me, like I’m “acting” or that I probably don’t like “normal” gay guys. I’m just being who I am. This is how I was born. … I love gay guys. I’m not proud I’m gay–it’s beyond that; I feel I’m LUCKY that I’m gay. I think all men are beautiful. Maybe there’s a lot of guys in my situation, maybe not, but as a gay community we should begin to realize there is no such thing as a stereotypical gay guy.”

I recently read Cassandra Gold’s “Clay’s Challenge“, a heartfelt and thought-provoking tale about a “fem” who suffers from bullying within the gay community. He tries to change his outward appearance and behavior in order to gain acceptance of the people around him, but it doesn’t work. Thankfully, he ultimately discovers that he is just as much a man as any of the butch guys and that he’s beautiful and worthy of love just the way he is. It’s a wonderful message, and I’d love to read more stories like it. If you have any book recommendations for me that deal with bullying within the gay community, please leave them in the comments below!

On a more positive note, I also came across many blogs and vlogs from members of the LGBT community who call for LGBT members to stand together, to treat each other with the same respect and equality they hope to gain from the heterosexual community. In the video below, XemVanAdams states, “We have to learn that…because our struggles, our trials and tribulations are so alike—regardless of feminine qualities versus masculine qualities—at the end of the day, as gay men and gay women, we’re judged the same. So to separate yourself only weakens the strength of our community, and it’s got to stop.”

There are, of course, other divisions within the LGBT community that I have not touched upon, but I’ve decided to discuss the Masc vs. Fem issue here, since it relates to events that take place in Play Me, I’m Yours. It’s no secret that Lucas, the main character in the novel, is effeminate. He’s also very inexperienced and somewhat naive. He’s been teased and taunted for years by his classmates, but when he falls victim to gay-on-gay bullying, it’s a whole new level of rejection for which he isn’t prepared.

Play Me, I'm Yours by Madison ParkerPlay Me, I’m Yours by Madison Parker
Published by Harmony Ink Press

Fairy Tate. Twinklefingers. Lucy Liu. Will the taunting ever end? Lucas Tate suffers ridicule because of his appearance and sensitive nature. When he’s not teased, he’s ignored, and he doesn’t know which is worse. His one comfort in life is his music; he feels unloved by everyone. What he wants more than anything is to find a friend.

Much to his dismay, both his mom and a schoolmate are determined to find him a boyfriend, despite the fact Lucas hasn’t come out to them. His mom chooses a football player who redefines the term “heartthrob,” while Trish pushes him toward the only openly gay boy at Providence High. But Lucas is harboring a crush on another boy, one who writes such romantic poetry to his girlfriend that hearing it melts Lucas into a puddle of goo. All three prospects seem so far out of his league. Lucas is sure he doesn’t stand a chance with any of them—until sharing his gift for music brings him the courage to let people into his heart.

Click here to read the first chapter.
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Visit Madison Parker’s Website at www.madisonparklove.com for bonus materials including character sketches, piano covers, music videos, and lyrics for songs referenced in the novel.

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Enter to WinTo celebrate the release of Play Me, I’m Yours, Madison Parker is hosting a giveaway. Enter to win your choice of a free copy of Play Me, I’m Yours or a $10 gift certificate from Rainbow eBooks by leaving a comment below along with your email address. For multiple chances to win, comment at each stop along the tour. Click here for the complete tour schedule. Winners will be chosen randomly on April 23.

34 Comments:

  1. Thank you so much, Madison, for being my guest and offering such an insightful post. I agree this is a sensitive topic not often brought up, but one that sadly exists. I’ve seen it firsthand from gay male friends, and whether intentional or not, can still be hurtful. As you stated, LGBT youth have so many struggles as it is without encountering nonacceptance from within the LGBT community. I only hope that as society changes, so will the mindset of both LGBT and non-LGBT folks.

  2. Thanks for addressing this important topic — as the mother of a gay son I am very concerned about bullying but feel my son suffers from “fem phobia” and I’m not sure the best way to help him. I read your book Madison and I can try and get him to read it (he’s 19, what can I say). Any suggestions? I feel like he is missing out on a lot if friendships b/c of this. Thanks!

    • Thanks for joining in the discussion, Lynn. I wish I had the answer! I imagine it’s particularly hard at his age, when he’s still figuring out who he is, what he wants, and where his life is headed. If I understood your comment correctly, your son avoids associating with fems. I agree with you that he probably is missing out on some wonderful potential friendships.

      It’s good that he has you there to offer advice and nudge him in the right direction to whatever extent you can. My son is in his early 20s—I know getting them to actually listen to what you’re saying is a challenge in itself!

      I wish there were more high-quality LGBT films out there. I know it’s hard to get people to read. Honestly, I would recommend Clay’s Challenge first. That character is more mature and not quite so sensitive, and he really makes great strides in overcoming his negative feelings about being fem.

      I hope someone else will jump in and offer more suggestions!

      • thanks. He just cancelled his date for tonight because he was “too much like Josh” which means fem. he said “you think I’m a dick don’t you?” His friends (both straight) said — yes he was and that it was just like black people being prejudiced against different shades of black within their community. I was shocked — who knew they were 1) so open to talking to him about it, 2) accepting. It gave him pause for sure. Anyway things will change in time — thanks for listening and talking about this important topic!!

  3. Thank you, Charlie, for having me here. The reason I consider this a “sensitive” subject is that, as an author of m/m romance, I feel guilty if a paint a gay character in a negative light. Because members of the LGBT community face so much discrimination in real life, it feels mean to portray a gay character as a villain. Honestly, though, being gay doesn’t preclude someone from being hurtful, dishonest, etc.

    We’ve all heard stories of bullies who lash out because they’re closeted and fear being exposed, or because they’re dealing with internalized homophobia. In this novel, the bully is openly gay, which I think is a different take on a popular subject.

  4. Madison, I had no idea of this issue. It doesn’t make sense that there is bullying within the community. Thank you for posting this.

  5. Wow, Madison. Thanks for taking on another important topic. I’ve blogged about this very issue myself. I think this kind of “bullying” is a combination of genderphobia and snobbery, and to be honest, it is far more hurtful than the bullying that comes from homophobes.

    I came out in my early twenties, and now, two decades later, I’ve pretty much completely withdrawn from the gay community. Part of this is due to my introversion and part of it is due to the internal caste system. Back in those early years, the young gay guys used to brag about who was the most “straight acting” as if this were something to be proud of. And it was like you said, they made remarks like, “if i were attracted to women, i’d be straight. I only want a man who acts like a man”.

    Well, I get that. I’m attracted to masculine men myself. But thankfully, there are quite a lot of gay men who are both masculine and who are specifically attracted to more fem partners. These relationships don’t get all the attention that the more politically correct macho pairings do. Even in m/m literature, the female fan base tends to want to read about two masculine men–not a masculine guy with a fem partner.

    When m/m authors are brave enough to write fem characters, they often get the smackdown from readers and reviewers. I once got into a bit of a disagreement on GR with someone who rated such a book (not one of my own books) with a 2 star rating, the reason being that he “did not like girly boys”. Here’s what really pissed me off about that: this particular “reader” was actually an author who happened to be transgender. I wondered how it was that someone who clearly must have faced discrimination and prejudice because of his gender identity could be that way toward gay guys who didn’t act masculine enough to suit him.

    And even a lot of female readers express these same blatant prejudices. I noticed some comments about your character Lucas, where readers complained about his constant “waterworks”. Well, excuse me, but I know for a fact that sensitive teenage gay boys are very emotional. Is there something wrong with this? I bet if it were a girl character who was emotional, they wouldn’t be expressing these same gripes.

    Basically I gave up on this issue awhile ago. I doubt we will ever get to a point where fem guys are treated with equal respect as the more masculine gay guys. People recognize that sexual orientation is not a choice, but for some reason they don’t get that the degree of masculinity a person possesses isn’t a choice either.

    • Hi Jeff
      I’m a het female who loves to read M/M. Some of my fave characters have been fems like Rodney in Fire Balls by Tara Lain, Mickey from Making Promises by Amy Lane, Laurie from Dance With Me and Truman from your Biggest fan by Missy Welsh. Madison may remember that these books came up on another blog post and many people chimed in with their list of fave fems in M/M literature. I’m not sure if it’s the opposites attract thing or that all of these characters personalities were so feisty & brave that we loved them so much. I thought Lucas in PMIY was perfectly portrayed for his age & situation. I so agree with you that it’s a form of snobbery within the community. It needs to change.

    • You can’t please everyone. I actually like variety in what I read. For the longest time all you could find in m/m writing was super masculine on super masculine. So I started writing the opposite. I like my guys a little bit more fem cause it’s easy for me to relate even though I’m not much of a girl other than having the specified parts. I loved Lucas. Thought he felt pretty real. Was so angry at Donovan and just waiting for the smack down of hurt to come through for him. I wish we could just put away the stereotypes and just be people.

  6. Jefferno asked me to share my concerns here. This is not intended to hurt people’s feelings but I have to acknowledge that it might.
    This is very much an outsider’s view of something that is understood quite differently by insiders.
    When I use the term ‘hypermasculine gay man’ the image that comes to mind is one of my friends who has a full beard and moustache, stocky build, hairy body and habitually dresses in leather shorts, work boots and tight t-shirts that say things like “Daddy’s Little Cum-Pig.” When I belonged to a Queer Punk/Skinhead group I likewise presented as very masculine and very gay.
    I feel from this blog that the term ‘masculine’ is not a reference to Butch Gay identity but to ‘Straight Gay’ identity. And while Leathermen and Bears have some friendship and mutual respect for Drag Queen (and it’s not unknown for the same person to perform both gender extremes) the Straight Gays tend to find all of us equally shameful.
    I find it a pity that the M/M community who INTENDS to be supportive still ends up erasing our realities.

    • I don’t think you hurt anyone’s feelings, and what you said is so true. A lot of times the “queer” community gets all lumped together and labeled as “freaks”. This is just one more example of internal discrimination.

    • Thanks for joining the discussion, John. By “hypermasculine” I meant the literal definition of “extremely masculine”, and was really just looking for a word that indicated the opposite of “effeminate”. Of course, the term “masculine” means different things to different people, so it’s clearly defined in any case.

      Your use of the term “Straight Gay” (which I take to mean “straight-acting” or someone who can “pass” for straight) is also problematic. To say someone can “pass” for straight means what exactly? That they aren’t obviously gay? In order to say that, one would have to have a specific set of criteria for what straight looks like, sounds like, acts like and what gay looks like, sounds like, and acts like. In reality, no such criteria could ever describe all men accurately. There are all kinds of straight people and all kinds of gay people.

      As an “outsider”, I may have gotten my terminology wrong, but hopefully the sentiment still came through.

  7. Wonderful article, Madison. I’ve been living with this discrimination for a couple years now, ever since I started letting myself live out. I don’t understand it because I’m perfectly OK with the variety of personalities around me; why aren’t they OK with me? So thanks for talking about it and maybe bringing it to the attention of those who don’t know it exists. 🙂

    • Thanks for stopping by, Thorny. Anyone who would pass up the opportunity to get to know you because you identify as gender fluid is missing out on having a beautiful person in their lives. xoxo

  8. I think awareness is certainly important. I know I wasn’t even aware until I was living in London near Soho. I’d made lots of friends from all walks of life in the LGBT community as well as worked with them, went clubbing, or just hung out, and I was taken by surprise by the hostility between some of the gay men. I was even more surprised when talking to them about it, as some of them just brushed the behavior off, as they’ve dealt with it all their lives, stating it was what it was. Not that it wasn’t hurtful to them, but they figured it’s just the way things are. Society has come a long way where acceptance is concerned, but it still has a way to go both outside and inside the LGBT community.

  9. Thanks for the very informative post!

  10. I really expected people to have less binary views of gender by now…this is a really eye-opening post.

  11. This is indeed an illuminating post! Wow, I never thought about this. It reminds me of the “paper bag test” and the “Uplift” movement in early 20C African American culture. Such tremendous external, divide and conquer pressure makes beset communities turn on each other in sadly creative ways. Thank so much for this enlightening message.
    Urb
    brendurbanist at gmail dot com

  12. I have been following this blog hop closely. It has been insightful reading all the different stories of prejudice and bullying; a real eye opener.

  13. Thank you, Madison and Charlie for opening up this discussion. While I know this is an issue that exists, I’m learning so much, too. It’s definitely a problem in all cultures/types of groups, where someone does not fit someone else’s idea of what it means to be such-and-such. The problems comes in with the bullying, of course. I hope that people sharing experiences and others paying attention will help alleviate the bullying but also that others will learn to stand up and tell bullies that it’s not right. No one should be denigrated for being their authentic self. There is only one right way to act, and that’s to be yourself.

  14. Thank you for another informative post! I’m always appalled to learn about on-going discrimination within the GLBTQ community. It’s so sad to see since all those people face enough prejudices from the straight majority. It’s really the same thing between some gays and f-to-m trans-men. And there is nothing wrong with being trans or fem!

    I recently read “Knight’s Fall” by Mia Watts (it’s part of the “Boys in Blue” series), where one character initially faces opposition from a more openly gay man because he unintentionally passes as straight. It’s a good story but not as touching as “Clay’s Challenge” 🙂

    • I have read quite a bit about transphobia within the gay community as well. That’s a much more complex topic (but certainly very similar), as some people consider drug therapy and surgery to be self-mutilation. Biphobia is also prevalent within the gay community. I don’t encounter these topics much in the m/m romance genre. Thank you for the book rec!

  15. Loved Clay’s Challenge. Thanks for the rec!

  16. Excellent post Madison. I have really enjoyed your writing and I think it’s helpful to bring these topics out into the open. I guess I was sort of peripherally aware of some of these issues within the LGBT community, but until I started reading M/M books I don’t think I realized how prevalent this kind of prejudice is and how hurtful it can be, especially to young men who are just beginning to understand who they are.

    P.S. I hope you will write another book in this world – I’d love to see an in depth story starring Donovan 😉

  17. Interesting topic. I wonder if part of the reason for the separateness is because gays want to be accepted by society but it’s easier to fight against a segment of their own group to be ‘right’, rather than fight against the larger group of homophobics.

    penumbrareads(at)gmail(dot)com

  18. Thanks everyone! The winners have been announced HERE!

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