Mar 262009
 

(asked by anonymous)

Let’s see if I can formulate my question

French men dress very well (for the most part) and a lot have very feminine gestures but are totally straight. Men in the US, when they dress as put together (no offense to metrosexuals) and have feminine gestures, one can pretty much knows that they are gay. But in France, how do you tell?

I find this question interesting, not because it’s interesting in itself (we all know that gay men have a gaydar and can recognize each other, and that if you’re not gay, what do you care whether the person in front of you is gay or not ?)
I find it interesting, because the person asking the question is guilty of something too many people from any country are guilty of (even me sometimes, even if I try not to) is to think that your cultural references are universal and not specific to your own culture.

Today: gender.

No, don’t be afraid, I won’t go deep into gender studies (a field that’s interesting at first, but becomes a bit idiotic when you get a bit too involved, in my opinion) and I won’t go as far as finding examples in remote cultures from places we’ve never or rarely heard of and where gender lines are very unusual and all…

So, according to anonymous, in the US, it’s simple, heterosexual males are slobs (except for metrosexuals) and gay men are not.
While in France it’s more complicated as all men are effeminate and dress well…

Well, anonymous, what can I say except that your definition of effeminate is a bit… narrow…?
I guess you’re not to blame, as you mentioned the US, I’ll assume you’re American and in the US a man has to be full of testosterone, a slob, drink beer and burp loud and own a gun or he’s not a real man.
I know it’s a cliché, and many American men are not like that…

Still, the number of American men who think I’m gay is incredibly high while I’m by no means effeminate according to French standards. And when I say American men, I should say American straight men, because no gay man in America every thought I was gay (except one, but he was 17 and just starting to understand his own sexuality and these kinds of things).

So yeah, in the US, the stereotype of the “Man” is as previously described and every man that doesn’t fit that stereotype is suspect… and as such potentially gay… I won’t go into homophobia, it’ll bring us too far, but this is more or less what we’re talking about here.

What about France?
Well, first of all, in France not everybody dresses well, even if most people have a general understanding of what it is to dress correctly…
But in France, the stereotype of the “Man” is different: a real man in France is usually very eloquent, well-educated, funny and witty (and possibly well dressed). Things that are seen as effeminate in the US, but not in France.
I’ll go even further by saying that for a Frenchman, somebody that works out a lot, acts all macho and frat boyish is not exactly comfortable with his manhood (to go to such extent to show off your heterosexuality in such ways is suspect) or even with his own sexuality.

What do you guys think?

  11 Responses to “How do you recognize gay men in France?”

  1. Nothing. This question is stupid, how is it possible to ask this kind of question ? No comment.

  2. well..interesting!! I like the notion of French manhood. However, given the proximity to Spain, I am surprised such definition does not really apply on the coast.
    :)) But that should not be a surprise after all. Vivent les machos!!:)

  3. Why should the OP wish to identify a gay man?

    If you’re a gay man yourself, you will know how, and how to find out where to go (i.e., in both cases, much the same as anywhere else in the liberated parts of the world).

    If you’re a man who’s not gay and worried you’ll be hit on, it’s highly unlikely, but if ti does happen a simple “Non, merci” will suffice.

    If you’re a woman worried you won’t be hit on when you want to be, then it’s simply a matter of not going to places where you’re likely to be unlucky, and those shouldn’t be hard to identify.

  4. This is so true. I thought Animal House was fiction till I spent time living in America. It turned out that the frat boy types I met (and pitied, because they were such beery slobs in shorts who couldn’t say anything except ‘Dude’, that I thought no woman (or man) would touch them with a bargepole) weren’t considered abnormally unattractive by American women. And they seemed to have a quite high opinion of themselves – I certainly had pick-up attempts that were so crude and oafish I couldn’t help finding it funny.

    I know that’s not every US man by any means, but there just seemed to be a high toleration there – maybe even admiration? – for young and middle-aged slobbishness, baseball caps and shorts dressing, and complete inarticulateness.

    If that counts as some kind of norm for American heterosexual maleness, then they must be very confused when they go anywhere else! I actually feel kind of sorry for them – it seems like such a miserable way to live.

  5. “in the US a man has to be full of testosterone, a slob, drink beer and burp loud and own a gun or he’s not a real man.”

    “in the US, the stereotype of the “Man” is as previously described and every man that doesn’t fit that stereotype is suspect… and as such potentially gay…”

    “somebody that works out a lot, acts all macho and frat boyish is not exactly comfortable with his manhood (to go to such extent to show off your heterosexuality in such ways is suspect) or even with his own sexuality.”

    All true! Now you know why American women find French men so attractive!

  6. Funny . . .I have a gay American friend who says that whenever he is in Europe, especially France, he is confused because he doesn’t know who to hit on. And that gay men in France usually take him for a straight guy until he insists that he isn’t. I don’t know if gaydar is automatic, or if gays just pay more attention to sartorial/semiotic clues.

  7. Hmmmm. Interesting subject. I’m an American gay man who has spent a lot of time in Europe, and in France specifically. I think that France also has its share of frat-boy types, its “yobs” if you will. More than you would think, really. But it is also true that masculinity in France does seem to require some forms of sophistication that are not required in the US. I think in the US the ideal of masculinity is simplicity, forthrightness, a lack of emotional complications and the ability to fit in with groups of other men. In other words, the Protestant worker bee.

    But then, I live in LA where the straight guys are more metrosexual than the gays. I guess that means LA is a very French city?

    • As a french guy who lived in Los Angeles fo some 25 years. I can only say that I miss that city to death ! It took some time to adjust. That done, I became part of it and it became part of me. Sadly enough the Company I worked closed its office there and I had to transfer. I kicked and screamed all the way.
      No question LA has everything to offer a gay man. the beaches, the climate, gorgeous guys etc. It was my home like no other has been on earth. I hope someday to go back. Well see.

  8. I love my Frenchies. Period. No buts. :))

  9. I am gay, as part of the Euro-Ireland generation even Irish men can be dressed to well (usually under 25) for me to know. Anyway on the bus I got talking to a Frenchie who was smiley and staring right at me and seem interested in me but was it his French mannerisms or was he gay? Been to France many times and I find French people are more direct and almost less uptight then the English speaking world so once the ice is broken they can be very friendly. So its very hard to know, I think thats more a factor then the clothes, In france the Gays still look gay & some even look straight. (Remeber we have top and bottoms, so not all gay guys are effem) anyway the French get super friendly After you break the Ice because its very rare for them and they get excited by new friendly foreigners & things almost seem flirtatious.

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