To aimed to prevent government money from

To begin to disseminate the complexity of modern day queer
masculinity, one must initially understand its modern history.  We start immediately after the legalisation of
homosexuality in 1968 and prior to the AIDS epidemic of the early 1980s where
the gay liberation movement lay. Gay men and women were urged to take
unapologetic radical action to gain equal rights and personally define what it
meant to be queer. The new found (yet still ongoing fight for) freedom forced
the gay men of the 70s to evaluate this questioning of identity and both draw
on parallels to heterosexual culture and battle the negative connotation the
sexual orientation brought with it. Gay men responded by adopting an overt hyper-masculine
identity which intrinsically took from a working class background. Levine
(1998) coined the term ‘Gay Clone’, ‘Gay men were real men, and their sense or themselves
as gay men was shaped by the same forces by which they experienced themselves
as men: traditional masculinity. The ideals of masculinity, the homophobia, the
sexism that are attendant upon traditional masculinity were all, in different
doses, ingested by gay men in their development and articulated by them as they
elaborated their new sexual styles.'(p. 1).

AIDS became a global issue which
shook through the gay community, a new era of homosexuality filled with terror
and loss. Often referred to at the ‘Gay Plague’ with headlines such as the Star’s,
“Kiss of Death” (1985) and the Sun’s, “It’s Spreading Like Wildfire” (1985) it
was suddenly a time in history once again where the word disease was attached to the sexuality. 1987 saw Thatcher’s
government pass section 28 – which aimed to prevent government money from “promoting”
homosexuality and by the end of the year homophobic violence had reached an
all-time high. This disgrace and humiliation drove a large proportion of gay
men to retreat into the shadows and develop an innate nature to ‘Pass’ within
the general heteronormative society; a suppression of any identifiably feminine
gay attributes and a straightening of self.

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This stigma followed well into the
90s, a decade that the legal age of consent to engage in homosexual sexual acts
in the UK was still at the age of 21 (five years above that for heterosexual
contact) and gay men were not allowed to enter the armed forces. It was not
until the year 2000 that this bas was lifted though this was still an area
dominated by heterosexual men with long standing archetypes of masculinity
ingrained. The system was rife with homophobia and that left the gay men who
wished to join the armed forces to deny and conceal their sexuality and adapt incredibly
overt signifiers of masculinity.

Nardi (2000) argues that the
obsession within the gay community on hypermasculine masculinity creates a polarising
gap of those who embrace femininity and those who reject it fighting for power
and wider acceptance on gender performance. Nardi states, “Even in the years
after the rise of the modern gay movement the rhetoric about gender in many gay
organizations and communities has often been oppositional in its tone and it
questions the role of effeminate men, drag queens, and ‘fairies’ in the
political strategies and media images. Complaints about gay men acting like
women ruining the struggle for equal rights for gays are heard among many
conservative gay leaders. Along with the transformation in gay masculinity from
the ‘failed male’ or sissy, into the hypermasculine clone came a strong
division between the feminized and the masculinized. (p. 5). Just nine years
later in 2009 began the phenomenal rise of emmy award winning reality
television competition Rupaul’s Drag Race. initially acting as an insight into
this small crossdressing community (the drag queens Nardi refers to), to now offering
as an enormous cultural signifier/definer of modern day queer culture. This
lead to a new younger gay male who was now shown that overt ‘gayness’ and thus,
femininity, was not only accepted but now overwhelmingly embraced both within
the LGBTQ+ community and a wider pop culture. Equally, this lead to a complete rejection
of femininity and birthed the out and proud Masc4Masc community: a collective
of ‘straight acting’ gay men who condemn even a hint of feminine gender
performances often referred to as ‘femme’ or ‘fem’, a contemporary
representation of Levine’s Gay Clone. Ironically, the two polarising sub
categories of gay men situate themselves within very close proximity –
nightclubs.

This far it is possible to argue that there is a contradictory
hierarchy when it comes to gender performance within the gay community, but how
prevalent is the emphasis on heteronormative masculinity within gay club
culture, and how much confirms Ward’s (2000) conclusion that argues the
perpetuation of hyper-masculine male archetypes within gay culture result in
enforcing negative attitudes towards feminine men, femininity and women.

 

Dirty Diana (Instagram name
@dirtydna) is a gay club event night that started in Dalston, East London and
now hosts monthly events in both London and Melbourne, Australia. The event’s Facebook
page claims to welcome a crowd of, ‘Fashion Lads, handsome Daddies, Butch
Queens and everything in between!’ which initially feels all inclusive, yet with
each of these categories using the words, ‘Lads’ , ‘Daddies’ and ‘Butch’ there
are already elements of exclusion towards femininity.

            Figure 1
shows an Instagram post by the events official page which, in text, welcomes
back its followers from a supposed ban implemented by Instagram for  an unbeknownst reason. On the surface, the
intent of the post is to thank followers for their support then includes the unrelated
hashtags ‘homothug’ and ‘thugonthestreetsfaginthesheets’. The use of the word
fag in its self suggests an immediate level of homophobia, it’s a derogatory term
attached to stigma and a level of submission.

When the word is included in the same phrase as Thug, it
almost aims to legitimise and reclaim the connotations as a word of strength
and power. Though if you split the phrase in two, its implying a presentation
of self ‘on the streets’ to be masculine and powerful. Thug suggests aggression
and violence, both markers for idolisation of working class masculinity. Contrastingly,
suggesting that the ‘fag’ be restricted to the confides of ‘the sheets’ implies
concealment of sexuality, a level of shame and internalised homophobia.

            When looking
at the image used, you are then left wondering how this actually relates to the
message of the post. There is no way to determine whether or not that was
intentional, however when you consider the fact that Instagram is an image based
platform, the sub context is then almost discredited. You’re confronted by two pairs
of legs, where there are no identifiable markers of identity or even gender (though
given context and the location of the image, it’s assumed these are male). Anonymity
of the subjects deliver immediate power and both are wearing Adidas tracksuit
bottoms in black, Nike trainers, one in Nike gloves and the other Nike socks. All
clothing an obvious nod to working class attire. In conversation with Willis, a
member of the management team of Nottingham Forest Football Club, he holds the
tracksuit very close to the working-class football culture, “if your team were
all wearing puma tracksuits, then you had to get a puma tracksuit to show your
support”. He then went on to claim that with the tracksuit acting as form of
cultural currency throughout youth, working class heterosexual men often worked
within the manual labour sector where it was important to wear clothes which
allowed you to be physically comfortable throughout the day. This way the
tracksuit then became a uniform bot inside and outside of work. It’s fair to
assume that this consumption of culture really contributed to the increase in
demand for the sportswear industry which later added to the gentrification of
the tracksuit.

Tracksuit history

Here, the straight-acting Dirty
Diana community has modelled a large portion of their representation of masculinity
on a crude working class aesthetic. A basis of masculinity highly dependant of
antifemeninity and homophobia. Kimmel (1996), “We are afraid of other men. Homophobia
is a central organizing principle of our cultural definition of manhood.
Homophobia is more than the irrational fear of gay men, more than the fear that
we might be perceived as gay…. Homophobia is the fear that other men will
unmask us, emasculate us, reveal to us and the world that we do not measure up,
that we are not real men” (p. 127). Combined with the continuous overt use of
the tracksuit by Dirty Diana all point to a cultural archetype of uneducated, aggressive
football hooligan. Almost a poorly constructed parody of the homophobic working-class
heteronormative man, fetishized and appropriated.

 

Daddy Issues is another international club brand which
similarly to Dirty Diana, began in east London and now hosts monthly events
across London, LA and Madrid. Their facebook event pages instructs you to, ‘Come
to daddy and let us dance those issues away’

 

Difference

Body type

Logo branding – pink

Inclusion of fem as gimmic performance NARDI

 

                   

 

marketing an element of desirability, it sumbonsciously
says, if you buy a ticket , you’re includsed in this lifestyle of masculine,
passable, attractive men.  

 

Masculine physicality is considered desirable