Anyone who has lived in New York city for any length of time is familiar with the following expression.
“Gay or European?”
Before I start I want to say first that there are many shades of the sexual orientation rainbow. Meaning, some gay men act, dress and look no different from a typical heterosexual man. My ex-husband is an excellent of example of a gay man that most people thought was straight, including most gay men and myself. At the same time some straight men act, dress and look more like a stereotypically gay man, and then we have the Europeans.
Due to cultural differences of men from one of the many countries in Europe, including the UK the distinction between gay and straight can get blurry. Making this even more difficult is the rise of metrosexual men in New York. That is heterosexual men who are openly into fashion, grooming, and their overall appearance. I am not against any of this, but given my history I am a bit cautious about ending up with another gay man. I have never been a huge fan of the super macho jock types so what is a girl to do?
If the man you are talking to has several of the following characteristics…pay close attention. One or two may mean nothing, but several may be cause for concern.
- Impeccable or trendy wardrobe
- Especially tight clothing
- Amazing shoes
- Complicated haircuts
- Bleached hair, tipped hair, streaked hair – always exceptions of course
- Tank tops – Not the wife beater style but the skin-tight athletic ones
- Skinny Jeans – a favorite of young men and hipsters too.
- Feminine mannerisms
- Bow ties – This one is tough as many straight men love bow ties
- Leather pants, leather vests, leather clothing in general
- Scarves worn indoors, not as outer-wear
- Cute little hats worn indoors
- Use of glitter, rainbows on clothing, makeup – foundation especially
The last one would probably indicate gay, I mean most straight men don’t wear foundation unless on a movie set or on stage and glitter is usually worn by teenage girls, burlesque performers and some gay men. But expressing one or a couple of the above traits can mean nothing. I knew one extremely straight individual who loved bow ties, amazing shoes and tailored suits but he was an upper crust academic so that could explain some of his fashion choices. I also know many men under the age of thirty who fancy themselves rocker or hipster types who commonly wear skinny jeans, tight clothing or eyeliner. And a man in leather pants, might just like leather pants…but if he is wearing a matching leather vest, no shirt and a leather cap, chances are he is gay. Nipple piercings used to mean gay, but I probably know more straight men who have them now, than gay men. Just as tattoos are sported in equal numbers by both gay and straight men and are hardly a good indicator of anything. Now if they have a tattoo of a gay image or say the words “Gay Pride” then it might be safe to say they are gay. Earrings whether in one ear or both ears and nail polish don’t indicate anything either, as I know many men that paint their nails black or silver and earrings have long since become mainstream.
And of course none of these traits are inherently bad. There is nothing wrong with a man who wants to wear leather chaps, or rainbow hot-pants, but they are probably not batting for the hetero team. There is also nothing wrong with a straight man that loves fashion as I can think of several straight men that have an impeccable and creative wardrobe of absolutely stunning clothing. We are much better off as a society with these gender distinctions murky with fewer people feeling trapped to adopt rigid gender standards. Women have also blurred gender lines in dress and behavior.
I met a European man the other night who was wearing black skinny jeans, combat boots up to his knee and a form-fitting tank top. He also shaved his head completely bald and openly admitted to photographing BDSM scenes of gay men. Although he repeatedly claimed he was heterosexual I wasn’t completely convinced. To prove a point about his uncircumcised penis he nearly whipped it out in front of me and a group of men. I asked him not to as I didn’t really want to see it, and he didn’t but I think it was a close call. He said dramatically
“Why not? We are all whores here now aren’t we?”
To which I replied.
“Well, no we aren’t, so please, I don’t want to see your penis”
He obliged and it stayed in his pants. The man lamented that since living in the United States many women usually think he is gay. I explained to him that is wardrobe choices might be confusing things unless he was in a goth bar. I wished him good luck as he accompanied a bunch of openly gay men to a gay bar. I wanted to add that hanging out with a bunch of gay men at a gay bar is probably not the best place to pick up straight women, but I didn’t want to spoil the party. The combination of his wardrobe, the near penis sighting, his profession and activities – going to a gay bar left me undecided on his true sexual orientation. He was the living embodiment of “Gay or European”.
I wish there was a definitive way of knowing with absolute certainty if the macho baseball cap wearing man in khakis is on the down-low, or the man in the tight pastel shirt wearing is skinny jeans is hetero. There is none, so you have to take everyone on a case by case basis. And then of course there are bisexual men, which I just flat-out don’t understand and openly admit it. But any man who admits he is bisexual, at least you know what you are dealing with, it is the men who claim they are 100% heterosexual, while having homosexual sex, that are the ones to avoid. I am all for honesty, and if you know your partner is also sexually interested in men and you can handle that, then go for it.
Now you would think the best test of whether a person is gay or not is to have sex with them. If it were so easy! Most straight spouses I know had normal if not earth shattering sex lives with their spouses for at least part of if not most of their marriages. Just because a gay man can have sex with a woman doesn’t mean he wouldn’t rather be having sex with a man. The saddest part of all of this confusion is that any gay man wouldn’t want to live openly as gay, but would instead jump through hoops and pretend to be straight. With the changing attitudes about homosexuality we might someday arrive at a time when the easiest way to find out a person’s sexual orientation will be to just ask them. Until then, if the guy is wearing glitter….assume he is gay unless it is Mardi Gras or something and then…well…I don’t know, my gaydar is obviously broken. 🙂