Tag Archives: Gender Stereotypes

16 Lies Pop Culture Spreads About the Queer Community

Most of us have a love-hate relationship with queer TV characters. I mean, we love that there are more of them than ever before – but it sucks that the representation is so flawed. Of course, they’ll never be able to represent everyone, and the events on television need to be sensationalized, or else they’ll never have any viewers, but generally speaking – queer representation on TV is probably doing more harm than good.

But the way we’re represented on TV isn’t really the problem. The problem is that people often can’t differentiate between the fictionalized portrayals and the actual, real people who are living under the LGBT+ umbrella. For example, in Japan, yaoi manga (or graphic novels centered around gay men) are hugely popular, and yet their actual queer acceptance is pretty low. “Equal rights” still has a long way to go, and these fictional characters aren’t helping as much as they could.

I, for one, would like to take a stand and say that no, the way you see queer people on TV is not the real story. Here are some of the most common lies perpetuated by television.

1.     Gay people really just want to seduce straight people.

This stereotype definitely rose up (pun intended) with Ruby Rose, who successfully (and unintentionally) got caught in the sights of every woman questioning her sexuality, ever. All these straight women suddenly turned into those predatory lesbians that TV warned about. Funny how that works.

But the truth is, most queer people have no desire to be with someone who identifies as straight. The reality is that there is a chance of serious complications in this situation, so most of us avoid it whenever possible. And if, by chance, a homosexual finds a straight person attractive, in most cases they try to talk themselves out of it, rather than trying to act on it.

2.    All gay men love drag queens.

And, in fact, most of them are drag queens – according to television. Drag queens are an important part of the queer community, and they almost always identify as queer themselves.

But the truth is, The L Word actually got this more correct than most of television did. Drag queens are not inherently homosexual – it’s just a costume, and it’s one that some queer people actually have a really hard time accepting, due to the implication that a straight man who dresses like a woman is the same thing as a transgender woman. It’s not the same thing, at all, and knowing the difference is a big deal. I’ve said it time and time again: The clothes you choose to wear say absolutely nothing about your sexuality.

3.    All queer people are disgusted by the reproductive organs of the opposite sex.

All lesbians will squeal and squirm when they see a penis (gross!) and all gay men will fear vaginas because they have teeth and maybe even a little troll down there. And, of course, they’ll see the same-sex reproductive organs in everything around them – after all, irises look a little like a vagina, right? And don’t even get me started on the eggplant emoji.

While this one might be true sometimes, for the most part, the queer community is more mature than that. A gay man who sees (or hears about) a vagina isn’t going to run scared, and a lesbian who sees (or hears about) a penis isn’t going to vomit. Just because we’re not turned on by these things doesn’t mean we’re repulsed, and many of us have been with the opposite sex before coming out. Just because we’re not into it doesn’t mean we’re afraid of it.

4.    All lesbians wear power suits.

Power suits are great, and any celebrity you see rocking a power suit elicits the question “Is she gay?” – because TV has taught us that powerful lesbians wear power suits.

Really, though, they can be pretty expensive, and most of the time, we’re too broke to afford them. If we do have a power suit, we’ll probably rock it like a boss – but that doesn’t mean that all of us have one (or ten) or that owning a power suit means you’re a lesbian.

5.    All lesbians hate men, and all gay men love being BFFs with straight women.

Lesbians on TV are often man-haters. Gay men on TV are the iconic best friends and life coaches that will tell a woman exactly how to get the man, up to and including giving them tips on how to perform oral (or anal) sex better for their partners.

The reality is that people don’t typically choose their friends based on gender or sexuality – we choose friends based on who we have things in common with. This means that most of my friends are guys, because I’m not exactly girly – but many of them are gay men who hate the idea of “fag hags”. If you’re choosing your friends based on what’s in their pants or who’s in their bed, you’re doing it wrong.

6.    Gay men are the most stylish out of anyone – always.

On television, you can always pick out the male character who’s going to be queerbait later on – he’ll be the sharpest dresser, with the perfect hair. He’ll probably also give advice to his straight female BFF because her style choices are atrocious, and if he has a lesbian friend, she’ll get a makeover (because lesbians are notoriously the least stylish).

Here’s the thing, though: Fashion and style are personal interests that have nothing to do with your sexual or gender identity. Gay men are only the most stylish if they aspire to be – and lesbians have just as much of a chance of being stylish as the gay men do, and guess what – neither has a higher chance of being fashionable than their non-gay counterparts.

7.     Lesbians spend all their time getting it on.

Unlike the gay men in TV shows, you’ll know that a female character is about to be queerbait because… Well, they’ll be hooking up with other chicks. Probably in every single episode. They’ll skip work or school just to stay home and make out, because they’re lesbians and that’s what lesbians do.

Truthfully, lesbians don’t usually hook up all that much. Most women don’t get turned on without some stimulation, which usually doesn’t include “that look”. (Okay, sometimes it includes “that look”, but only with a certain person.) Oh, and most of us aren’t cheaters, either.

8.    Gay men are sassy and salty.

On television, the gay men will often be making catty remarks, to one another and to their SBFFs about other straight women, gay men, and definitely about transgender people. This, of course, only applies to gay men who are already out – the closeted gay men get none of the gay perks that are promised by Hollywood.

The truth is that the cattiness in the gay community isn’t really any more prevalent than it is in any other subsection of society. Sure, some gay men are sassy. Some of them hate on each other. But most of them act like the closeted men in TV – trying to keep the attention off of them by laying low. In a world that’s fueled by so much hate, it’s safer to keep out of the spotlight. (And also, some of the cattiest men I’ve ever known have been straight – so let that one sink in for a minute.)

9.    You can easily spot a lesbian based on how they dress or act.

TV lesbians are usually super butch, or they have no fashion sense whatsoever. There are no “conventionally attractive” lesbians on television – only ones that look super gay.

Let me repeat my new mantra. You can’t tell anything about a person by the way they dress, except what kind of clothes they like. Just because a woman dresses “like a stud” doesn’t mean she’s gay, any more than sundresses mean she’s straight. Clothes are literally the shallowest expression of ourselves, and to believe that there’s any weight to the definitions we assign to them is pretty ignorant.

10. Gay men hate sports, but love unorganized physical fitness.

In the television world, gay men always hate sports. They have no idea how baseball is played, they’re entirely unfamiliar with American football teams, and generally they hate group activities that don’t involve hordes of straight women. This seems to be a rule. Yet, remarkably, even though they hate the idea of sports, they’re all really, really buff.

The reality is a little different, though. I do know some very physically fit gay men – but generally these men enjoy playing sports, in addition to their less-group-oriented workouts. The ones who don’t like sports also usually aren’t into working out in a more boring way. I also know a great deal of gay men who are a little pudgy, and that’s okay – you don’t have to be fit to be gay. I promise, the two aren’t related.

11. All gay men have “the voice”.

You know exactly what I’m talking about – that campy, feminine voice that’s associated with gay men. All gay men apparently have it the second they come out, and it doesn’t take any practice to get it like that – it’s just television magic.

Realistically, though, most gay men don’t talk like that. It’d be like saying lesbians all have burly voices, or that all straight women have a feminine voice, or that no straight men have higher pitched voices… Yep, you guessed it, your voice doesn’t say anything about your sexuality, either, and I don’t think anyone naturally talks campy like that. You’ve got to train your voice to be that way, and not everyone chooses to do this.

12. Gay men love musicals.

If you see gay men on TV, they’re often fans of showtunes, Broadway hits, and especially Rent. They also all love the theater in general, even if it’s not the same when no one’s singing.

Truthfully, most people who like musicals like them because… Well, they like them. Not because they’re gay and gays are supposed to like musicals. The reason Rent hits closest to home with so many isn’t just because it has queer characters, but because it doesn’t sugar-coat the issues facing the gay community, and just because it happens to have some good songs in it doesn’t mean that it’s loved because of the music. (Although, the songs are pretty good, I must admit.)

13. Lesbians are just doing it for the attention.

In television, a great deal of lesbian characters are doing it for the attention – whether to be provocative, or to garner a male partner. In movies, these women often end up with the man in the end, because – after all – they had to experiment with women to prove that they were actually just taking their boyfriend for granted.

This creates an unfair stereotype among the actual queer community, because anyone who doesn’t fit into the predetermined “type” for lesbians is thought to be doing it for attention. Some women are even told that “they’ll never get a boyfriend if they don’t stop the lesbian thing” which is extra contradictory because a) we don’t want a boyfriend, and b) it actually does nothing to chase guys away. If anything, they’re more attracted because we’re “a challenge”.

14. Rich straight women have gay best friends as a fashion accessory.

Bored housewives often have gay men in their entourage – but only one of course, because gay men can’t be friends with other gay men. They can only be friends with straight women, otherwise the straight woman might have to acknowledge that the gay man’s sex life is none of her business.

In the real world, though, gay men are not fashion accessories. It’s not something they aspire to be, and most will completely reject you if you try to befriend them just because you “need” a gay friend. You don’t. Especially if you think you need a GBFF because of the perks that are associated. Don’t force someone to fit into a role you’ve essentially created for them. It’s rude.

15. Gay couples can have a baby pretty easily – either by adoption or surrogacy.

On television, most long-term gay couples will have one or more children. It’s like they just go to the adoption agency and say “I’m gay so you can’t discriminate against me, give me baby plz”. This is what gays should strive for: Starting a family with the person they’ve been with for a couple years.

Truthfully, even if you’re in a committed heterosexual relationship, adopting a child is a very lengthy process, and most people are denied. Surrogacy is even more complicated, because under the eyes of the law, that child isn’t yours until the adoption papers have been signed – which means that the mother (or donor) can back out and then you’ve just got a basketful of disappointment instead of a bundle of joy. Then there’s the fact that discrimination from adoption centers is actually very real and it happens more than we’d care to admit. There are a great deal of couples who are never able to have a child, regardless of any laws put in place to “make it easier”. And some of them are OK with that – not everyone wants kids.

16. Trans characters are bad people.

The inclusion of trans characters is still pretty new, and frankly, they should be feared (according to television). When a trans person is included in a television show, they’re often criminals or psychotic individuals. Sometimes, they transition as a way to escape their criminal pasts.

In the real world, a trans person is no more likely to be a “bad person” than the next guy. Whether MTF or FTM (or anywhere in the nonbinary spectrum), although there may be a prevalence of mental illness, this illness is not a direct result of the gender identity issues, but rather a symptom of an oppressive system that seeks to fit trans people into the “label” they were born with. Just as homophobia is often the cause of mental illness among the homosexual community. Really, it’s no different.

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Has Misogyny in the Gay Community Become an Epidemic?

When we think about the unrealistic expectations set for women, we often overlook the actions of gay men. After all, they’re not sexually attracted to women, so that means they most likely aren’t going to judge us based on our attractiveness. Likewise, they’re used to being in a position of minority, so they’re less likely to hold us into our little box. Right?

Well, not necessarily. According to Séan Faye of Broadly, gay men might even be more sexist and misogynistic than their straight male counterparts – and it’s almost worse, because it’s not coming from a desire to claim the women involved, but rather, to be more powerful than them.

Think about it. When’s the last time you were inappropriately groped by a gay man, whether as a joke or out of curiosity? Many gay men forget the general rules of personal boundaries, and may grab a woman’s breast or bum without even asking first. It’s generally regarded as not sexual in nature, so it isn’t seen as a problem.

But that doesn’t make it okay.

In some ways, this may be a retaliation. Lesbians often subscribe to feminism, so it’s assumed that we would embody the “femi-nazi” stereotype of the man-haters. This would, naturally, upset the balance in the gay community – unless, of course, the gay men retaliated by being woman-haters, too. But it’s important to realize that not all women believe in female superiority – and in fact, most are just looking for equality.

But gay men aren’t the only ones guilty of this misogyny, either – I’ve seen in in my lesbian friends as well. We make sexist assumptions about each other all the time, and it’s really not fair. I’ve even caught myself doing it before – reposting pictures that fall outside of what I find attractive, with captions that would seriously hurt if the person in the picture were to read them.

Is it right? Definitely not.

Is it something we all need to work on? Yeah, I think so.

Is it something that’s going to happen any time soon? Well, probably not.

The truth is, any big movement is going to be hard to coordinate, and I don’t think the world is really ready to accept true gender equality. Maybe we never will be – being part of a patriarchal society for so long has most of us pretty set in our ways. Even those of us who consider ourselves feminists are subject to occasional bouts of woman-hating-ness, whether we outwardly vocalize them or not.

What can you do to fix it in your own local community?

If we’re being completely honest here, there’s not a lot that can be done to fix it on a wide scale – each person would have to change their own behavior, and in time the “old ways” of doing things will die out. Maybe I’m a pessimist, but I don’t see it happening in my lifetime.

On a smaller scale, though, we can actively work to suppress our anti-feminist thoughts, by stopping to think before we say things that could be taken a negative way. Sure, this won’t actually fix the problem, but it’ll help you to acknowledge the “bad” behavior and put an end to it.

Some feminists would prefer to think that you can dismantle the patriarchy simply by defying the traditional gender roles… But I don’t think that’s necessary, nor is it the only way to do things. If you truly like the things that are traditionally attributed to your gender, perhaps the most feminist thing you could do is to be unapologetically yourself – even if it goes along with what society expects of you. Isn’t it more important to be real than to be novel?

The only way we’re going to fix this is if we all stand up against the expectations – all expectations. Don’t expect anything from anyone based on things you aren’t sure of. Stereotypes aren’t always right, but even if they are, that doesn’t mean that the person is necessarily sacrificing themselves, their dignity, or their self-respect.

In short, the best way to beat misogyny is to stop caring what everyone else thinks about you- and stop assuming everyone cares what you think, too.

13 Women Who Dare To Challenge Gender Stereotypes in the Media

From Miley Cyrus to Ruby Rose, stars are shedding a light on a different kind of gender identity.

These women refuse to adhere to dated, oppressive standards set on gender and beauty. They are changing the game and using their fame to help level the playing field for the women of tomorrow.

1. Ruby Rose

The 29-year-old stars as inmate Stella Carlin on season 3 of the show and thanks to her performance, her gorgeous androgynous looks and her openness about her gender fluidity, the model-now-actress is making waves when it comes gender perceptions in the media.


We’re all really breaking down the whole gender binary system. It’s like hold on, I don’t identify as this and I don’t identify as that, I’m kind of somewhere in the middle and what does that mean? And society is being more supportive than ever before.”

2. Lena Dunham


Despite Lena Dunham being an enormously successful writer, actress, and producer, she has been the subject of harsh criticism regarding her appearance. In an interview with Gothamist , Lena explained her body ‘Zen’ philosophy:

We’re one weight one day, we’re one weight another day, and some day our body just doesn’t even exist at all! It’s just a vessel I’ve been given to move through this life. I think about my body as a tool to do the stuff I need to do, but not the be all and end all of my existence.”

3. Samira Wiley


Samira Wiley breakout role came playing Poussey Washington in the Netflix original series Orange Is the New Black. Wiley’s androgynous beauty is ever present in the show. However, even though her character is always dressed in khaki slacks and a baggy sweatshirt, she does like to mix things up in real life.

Over the past few years since my own public image has increased tenfold, I have been overwhelmed to witness the profound ways that I am able to make a difference simply by living my life openly, and with love.”

4. Lea Delaria


Actress, comedienne, jazz musician, Lea Delaria has gained media traction with her recurring character on Orange is the New Black. However, before then she was the first openly gay comic to break the late-night talk-show barrier with her appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show in 1993.

DeLaria has performed stand-up comedy for more than 25 years and is a prominent figure in the world of LGBT comedy. She began her career billing herself as “That [expletive] Dyke,” explaining that when she walked down the street, people would yell that at her.

I think the most basic prerequisite of being a woman is that you must WANT me. if you don’t want me, then your not a woman.”

5. Gwendolyn Christie


Christie knew that having traditional aspects of feminity (long hair, heels, make-up) stripped away would be important for her work and in terms of her own development. “I would be confronting elements of myself that I didn’t want to confront.”

6. Ellen Degeneres


Ellen Degeneres’s career was all but lost when she came out of the closet in 1997. Now she has a successful daytime talk show and has reclaimed not only her career, but has blazed a new path for people of the LGBT community who seek careers in the entertainment industry. She is an advocate for being true to oneself, and shows how beautiful honesty can be.

7. Rebel Wilson


Actress and comedian Rebel Wilson knows the pressure on women in Hollywood to have skinny bodies, but she doesn’t let that get to her. Instead, she focuses on what her body can do, and how to take care of it.

8. Kristen Stewart


Kristen Stewart has made it clear time and time again that she has never been much of a girly girl. So stepping out make-up free is the norm, and just look at how well she wears androgyny, hair short and tousled, a bare face, and rolled up sleeves.

The strangest part about being famous is you don’t get to give first impressions anymore. Everyone already has an impression of you before you meet them.”

9. Ellen Page


At the Human Right’s Campaign inaugural Time To Thrive conference, Ellen Page memorably came out as a lesbian in a speech that grabbed headlines across the country. After calling E! News out for calling her gym style that of a “massive man,” Ellen articulated the suffocating burden of sexism and stereotypes in the mainstream media flawlessly.

There are pervasive stereotypes about masculinity and femininity that define how we’re all supposed to act, dress, and speak, and they serve no one. Anyone who defies these so called norms becomes worthy of comment and scrutiny, and the LGBT community knows this all too well.”

10. Mindy Kaling


Writer, actress, producer, and all-around-amazing entertainer Mindy Kaling set the record straight about how some people in the media address her appearance. She’s not white or rail thin, yet she’s comfortable in her own skin, and is proud of the way she looks, regardless of how it compares to mainstream standards. Now THAT is real beauty.

11. Melissa McCarthy


Comic powerhouse Melissa McCarthy has been the subject of harsh criticism regarding her weight, but she rarely acknowledges any of it. By opting out of a discussion about her weight, she’s creating a better world for her daughters as she explains on Anderson Cooper.

I want them to be confident, strong, healthy, happy women. And I want them to define themselves by their actions…and by how they treat other people…and I know everyone else is going to get all caught up in it, but my job is to always bring it back to what do you do, and how do you live, and what do you say to other people.”

12. Laverne Cox


Laverne Cox, an actress on the Netflix series Orange Is The New Black, is the first transgender woman of colour to play such a role on a scripted television show. She’s also an activist for the transgender community. During her interview with Katie Couric, she was asked about her genitalia. Instead of getting mad about such an invasive question, she answered with authority and grace about what is truly happening when she’s asked such things:

The preoccupation with transition and with surgery objectifies trans people and then we don’t get to really deal with the real lived experiences. The reality of trans people’s lives is that so often we’re targets of violence and discrimination disproportionately to the rest of the community.”

13. Miley Cyrus


With the help of famous photographer Terry Richardson, Miley Cyrus set fire to the cute and innocent image of Hannah Montana back in 2013 with the iconic topless photo shoot. Since then, Cyrus has continued to test the limits. In recent months, the Grammy nominee has been vocal with her support for LGBT homeless youth and showed her disgust for the rich and powerful.