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26 July 2010, 9:00 am 87 Comments

Cynical and Southern: Why Do Gay Men Call Each Other “Girl”?

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This post was submitted by Jeremy Gloff

I just took a bath and I’d like to report to everyone that I do indeed have a penis. Some people might call it a cock, a woody, a schlong, or a rod. It will certainly never be called a vagina.

Despite the fact that I’m packing around seven inches between my legs recently while attending a gay-themed event I was taken aback by how many fellow gay men addressed me as “girl”. “Hey girl!” “How you doing girl!” “What’s the latest girl?” I had to look over my shoulder to make sure I was the one being addressed. No one was standing behind me. I was indeed being addressed as “girl”. Since I do not have a pooswah it must have been because I am a homosexual male.

It’s rudimentary sociology that people with similar interests sometimes dress, behave, and talk in a similar fashion. Call is slang or jargon. As trivial of a topic as it may be, I’d like to chew on it for a bit. What exactly is the motivation behind homosexual men referring to themselves with female pronouns? I know it’s all in good fun…but why?

I went on a friendly date recently. He was a nice attractive fellow with a great job and expensive clothes. What sticks out in my mind most clearly was the way he kept referencing his gay roommate as “she”. I’ve seen naked pictures of his roommate. There will be no tampon insertion anytime in the near future.

I think all human beings inhabit both feminine and masculine characteristics. In “Jeremy Gloff Utopia” I envision a world that is much more gender neutral. I see myself as a person who tries to embrace both my masculine and feminine characteristics with gusto. But despite how sensitive or flamboyant I may feel at times at the end of the day I still have the ability to pop a woody. I am proud of being a boy that is secure enough to cry and twirl should the mood strike. Is calling me “she” inferring that these behaviors are only acceptable within the parameters of a female existence?

Boys can cry, wear dresses, wear makeup, and wear their hair long and pretty if they want to. Because we have penises we are able to define what boy is however we choose.

Just because I am attracted to other men I will never be a “she”. When I have a boyfriend I retain my own dick too.

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  • JohnDB said:

    I was looking for an answer to the title question, but all I got was some masculine posturing.

    bitch, plz!

  • Jeremy Gloff said:

    I was looking for some introspection in the above comment but all I got was a typical snarky one liner that neither added or detracted from the discussion.

    Yea bitch plz hahah clever!

  • g said:

    but just cos we have dicks doesn’t make any of us automatically real men… and those femme boys have lots of balls to do what they do every day and make the world one step closer to where it doesn’t matter how you do your gender, brothersister

  • Wes said:

    I, too, was looking for an answer to the title question, or at least some searching beyond the surface level investigation you seem to have given it. It struck me as more of an excuse to post a pic of your junk and reference your junk size than actually to give the topic any thought.

    I understand that it may be a reflex for us (as men) in this culture to respond negatively to being referred to as a girl, especially since many of us (I assume) were teased for our effeminate qualities on the reg and this was taken negatively because, to quote Madonna who quoted “The Cement Garden,” we think that being a girl is degrading.

    I used to take offense to it before I realized that I was taking offense to outdated gender “norms” that really shouldn’t matter. Call me whatever you want as long as you mean it in a positive way. And it seems that, in most cases, its used as a unifying word, to create some sense of camaraderie between gay/queer dudes. What’s the harm in that?

  • jude said:

    because it’s funny!

  • JohnDB said:

    Hey, this is my first TNG comment, so there’s nothing typical about it.

    k, girl?

    I was serious in my contribution to the discussion. I get how “she” infers some underlying need to categorize gay men as feminine. Yet actively rejecting that notion could also force gay men into a similarly rigid category of “manly” behavior, in my opinion. I see “girl” as one, little way of blurring those lines that still exist for all orientations/genders and standardize the ways we interact to our detriment. And as Jude said, it’s hilarious!

    So yeah, the tenor of the argument and the casual penis talk did make me feel like someone’s got something to prove. But, I should remember that this is just your opinion and you are allowed to place yourself within the continuum of gender identity. I just hope you don’t think ill of all us “girls” out there.

  • Matt said:

    JohnDB: girl, you are my hero.

    Jeremy Gloff: this really was a less-than-half-assed way to answer what’s potentially an extremely interesting question.

    Everyone else: Buddy Cole, as usual, said it best: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuLVv56YGXQ&feature=related (around 2:00).

  • Dymara said:

    Yes, what defines “man” is naturally, the penis; everyone with a penis is a man and everyone with a vagina is a woman. Trans people? What trans people? Obviously we don’t exist.

  • John said:

    atta boy, girl!

  • Devy said:

    i think for some of us, its acquired from the old queens. and its in jest and good fun.

  • Jeremy Gloff said:

    It’s definitely not really a big deal being called “girl”. I’m sure all of us can agree we’d rather be called “girl” thank “faggot”.

    But regardless…it annoys me. And that’s my opinion (right or wrong in anyone’s eyes) and I’m sticking to it.

    I’ve yet to have anyone answer, despite how shallow or surface you may think my piece is, why gay men can’t exist in society as men who are men who love men. Although I do admittedly have feminine characteristics (for fucks sake, my column last week was about having man boobs! lol) I see myself as a sometimes-effeminate man — not in anyway a girl, female, or woman. What I wonder is if it’s possible for gay men to be viewed in society as MEN?

    Regardless, I know there’s bigger fish to fry and perhaps I didn’t dig into it deep enough in my article. Keep leaving comments, everyone’s opinion is interesting.

    Right girls? ;)

  • Jeremy Gloff said:

    Furthermore, I’d like to say on the record that yes, as politically incorrect and as unacceptable as it may be to anyone reading this, I do indeed wish to be addressed with male pronouns. I’d like people to wrap their heads around this idea without writing me off as a “self hating gay” “uncomfortable with my sexuality” “he got made fun of in high school” “etc etc etc etc”.

    I ask that you read this article from the point of view of someone who is very out (I tour as an openly gay musician and write for this national website, no closet here) and very comfortable with the fact that I fall in love with and am sexually attracted to men.

    I didn’t sign the waiver that said “because I suck dick therefore please address me as ‘girl’. Truthfully it really annoys the fuck out of me, and it buys into stereotyping and conforming to a pre-determinded identity.

    I don’t have all my opinions on this cleary formulated. Still reading what people have to write and considering. To the trans person who commented…def another angle to consider.

  • BMiller in NYC said:

    I’m intrigued by the negative reaction, since it’s typical of reactions I’ve seen before.

    It seems that lots of queer guys are all about calling each other “girl” and “sister” while each waiting for the stereotypical Stetson hypermasculine dude to come along and sweep them off their feet. A bit discordant, no?

  • Christopher in VA said:

    @Devy: I agree–I think this practice is a surviving vestige of the culture of the older queens that largely paved the way for us. When I use the term “she” or “girl” or “Mary” (my personal favorite) to refer to another gay man, it’s a form of homage to those that came before and the world they lived in. I’m glad that we’ve (to some degree) expanded out beyond the queen/john dynamic of the early days (read Ethan Mordden’s “Buddy Cycle,” Larry Kramer’s “Faggots,” or any of the Armistead Maupin novels for more on this), which was STEEPED in gender binary, but I think it’s important to keep those days and the culture that preceded our recent generations in mind. And, as @Wes noted, there IS still a LOT of rampant femiphobia in the gay community. It’s important to keep in mind when asking questions like this that it is FINE that you don’t want to be called “girl” or referred to with feminine pronouns (and I hope your friends respect that preference), but it is ALSO FINE for other gay men to want to refer to each other that way. In a generation of gays where “straight-acting” is seen as synonymous with “the most desirable,” it’s of paramount importance to expand the borders of our acceptance. Inquiry is GOOD—just make sure that it’s not driven by fear or a desire to control the rights of others. I respect your desire to challenge gender notions by redefining masculinity through your particular lens—all I ask is that you respect my desire to do the same through my own. (By the by, since I’m commenting on things that preceded my existence, for any who are curious: I’m 25.)

  • Jeremy Gloff said:


    I am in agreement with about 100% of what you said. Interesting you should bring up the femiphobia in the gay community…now that you mention it I can think of a pretty large number of people I know personally who do the whole “hey girl” schtick that ironically have profiles online directly asking that you not contact them if you are “fem” or not “straight” acting.

    Very thoughtful remarks.

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  • Alex said:

    No response to Dymara? Because this is some seriously ciscentric bullshit. If you’re insecure enough that you need to be able to hang your manhood on your penis, fine. But when you expand that to all other boys/people with penises – “Because we have penises we are able to define what boy is however we choose.” – you’re denying trans people to define *their* gender.

  • Jeremy Gloff said:

    Alex apparently didn’t read all the comments before writing his comment. I said about six comments up the trans topic is certainly another angle to consider. As much as anyone may want to argue with me about this, I believe that is another conversation for another article. My piece is about my singular experience as a gay male writing about my opinion as life as a gay male. The trans topic is absolutely valid and certainly in need of discussion. Something to consider for the future.

    Why is there so much resistance to the fact that I don’t want to be called girl? By the tone of the comments I surmise that it is not I that is the insecure one, but some of the people leaving the comments themsevles.

    So far just because I don’t want to be called “girl” I’ve been called shallow, accused of male posturing, lambasted for neglecting the trans community, accused of not proud of my sexuality, etc.

    Also interesting that straight people are allowed to accentuate their physical assets to define themselves in a shallow sense. breasts (female) and penises (male). How interesting to take note that apparently because I am gay, I am not allowed to define myself by my penis in the minds of many of the commenters. So basically the gist of what many of you are saying is “you are gay, but you are shallow is you define yourself by your penis, and you are insecure if you don’t want to be called girl”.

    Be so shallow and insecure, and oh girl I’m fabulous!!!

  • Alex said:

    Sorry I missed your one-sentence brush-off. You’re welcome not to want to be called a girl – I’ve got zero problem with that (can’t speak for the other commenters). But as another queer guy who *also* is not wild about being called a girl (despite having a vagina), when your entire rationale is gender essentialism, yeh, it riles a little.

    Also, straight people don’t get a free pass. I’m happy to call out their ciscentricism and transphobia, too (and there’s plenty!). I didn’t say anything about straight people, though, because straight people aren’t writing articles about penis = manhood on an LGBT website.

  • Jeremy Gloff said:

    Alex — you should write a piece about your experience. I’d like to read something longer from your point of view.

  • Christopher in VA said:

    @Matt: p.s. That Buddy Cole skit, which I had never been exposed to before, is my new favorite thing in life. Thank you!!

  • JMF said:

    Hey Miss Thing.

    I love it. She, Girl, Miss Thing, You Better Work Bitch.

    It’s funny and why not embrace our gayness. I think it’s better than all those queers out there trying to be all butch and A&F about it.

    I think it is about time we bring back finger snapping and full on gayness.

    Alright Girl.

    Catch It.

  • RT said:


    Penis = Man? What year is it???

  • Jeremy Gloff said:

    GAY MAN=GIRL what year is it?

  • RT said:


    Ok. Something more substantial.

    “Grl” is not referring to your sex (your genitals). It isn’t really even referring to your gender. What it is referring to is your relationship with the person calling you “grl.” It means, possibly, that they see that you identify with them as gay. OR, possibly that they are a good friend of yours who knows that you will GET IT when they call you “grl.” (I say it to my straight co-workers A.) if I like them, B.) if I feel comfortable enough to want to raz them about the difference between us; them being straight, and me not being straight). It might be ironic play between two queers; an ironic quotation of the original “girl!”, now as a sort of self-deprecating “grl” cuz aren’t we all queers and isn’t that how we’re supposed to address each other?

    The bottom line is this: You’re missing the point about the utterance itself by something literal that is actually gestural and, ultimately, personal (in the good way).

  • RT said:

    [let me reword and expand my thought line...]

    The bottom line is this: You’re missing the point about the utterance itself; you’re taking something literal that is gestural.

    AND I’ll add, your position is actually pretty severe. When someone calls you “grl”, there’s a certain amount of trust/familiarity inherent in the utterance. But you’re basically calling into question this trust/familiarity. “Excuse me, sir. You don’t know me!” It’s anti-social, fundamentally. And the reason you’re probably getting such strong reactions (on top of to the lack of imagination expressed in your blunt and retrogressive reading of the sex-gender-pronoun relationship) because the attitude is essentially anti-community. We can all debate about what “community” is, and who belongs to it and who doesn’t. But the idea of community has without a doubt saved not only gay rights, but literally: Gay Lives. When you decide to sever that sense of community/togetherness, you’re doing so from a position of privilege that fails to take into account how your outness and personal freedom owes everything to queens who stuck together.

  • RT said:

    [Once more with feeling!]

    About the first part of my argument…

    If “grl” refers to the relationship between the person being addressed and the person uttering the word, that is because, perhaps more than anything, it refers mostly to the person saying it. I don’t just say “grl” to my straight MALE co-workers. I also say it to my straight FEMALE co-workers. And in no way am I referring to the genitals of my female co-workers when I call them “grl”. I’m referring to myself–as a GAY MAN–in relation to them, as a STRAIGHT MAN or STRAIGHT WOMAN. “Grl” is a calling card of the gay. And straight people know this. In this way, “Grl” means “I’M GAY” more than it means “YOU’RE GAY.”

  • Jeremy Gloff said:

    Well I’ve seen it all now. Now not wanting to be called girl fragments the gay community. Go sit in the corner you’re not a team player! LOL. Nothing ceases to amaze me.

    Unfortunately, RT, I did not miss the point. I acknowledge the point you’ve made is valid and may be popular with the group of people that happened to comment on this piece.

    Final word from me: I don’t feel the need to address people and be addressed differently because I’m gay. Period.

    I am not going to comment any further on this piece. To do so would be argumentative and superfluous.

  • RT said:

    Allow me to be argumentative, then.

    If you are, in fact, a gay man, then it is impossible not to address people or be addressed differently:


    Yes, you’re the same in the sense that “we’re all humans.” But you’re just as different as you are the same. And the difference matters. If it didn’t, this blog wouldn’t exist.

  • Scott said:

    I don’t get it. Being gay and accepting the pronoun “girl” means you’re progressive, while being gay and preferring to expressive yourself with typically male characteristics is a bad thing? That’s what it seems like most of these comments argue – if you all think that gay men need to accept femininity within the culture, why isn’t it okay to accept masculinity as well? I also highly doubt that most gay men call each other “girl” in order to commemorate forefathers – who honestly puts that much thought into things like this? It has nothing to do with blurring gender lines or redefining sexuality or blah-blah-blah etc. Gay men do it just because they DO – none of you can justify it as anything more than that. And being gay is NOT all about femininity, so gay men shouldn’t be EXPECTED to accept being addressed by feminine pronouns.

  • Kyle said:

    Wow, there is so much latent misogyny in this post and omments. “Feminine” does not equal “bad”, and having a feminine label attached to you, even in fun, should not be viewed as an insult. The best thing about calling gay men “girl” is to see their reaction. It’s how you can separate the real men from the petulant little boys.

  • Jeremy Gloff said:

    Naturally someone just HAD to come in and of course throw in the whole misogyny angle. I should have bet my life saving on it, I could have twice as much money now.

    Is it even worth clarifying that of course, being female isn’t BAD. Being feminine isn’t BAD. Being feminine is awesome. But much like I’m not a polar bear, an Italian, a spider, or an Indian cheif, I’m not a woman! It has nothing to do with whether I think it’s unfavorable or not. It’s just a simple fact.

    I’m truly blown away by the people that have commented here. Scott, two people up, is the only one who really “got it”. And he is right, none of you call each other girl because you are “paying tribute to your elders, blurring gender lines etc etc”. What a bunch of plain old smelly bullshit. You are like the kids whole stole from the cookie jar and then got caught, and made up a story about how you were doing jumping jacks and your hand reached in the jar by accident. Gay men just call eachother girl because they do, like Scott said in his comment.

    If anything, this whole thing has been under attack for someone wanting to claim their masculinity. If anything, these commenters are the opposite of misogynist.

    Yea, Kyle, I don’t want to be called girl because I hate women and I think their place is only in the kitchen.

    Only a matter of time now before someone comes in and says this piece was racist and agist too.

  • Nom said:

    I thought a huge part of the whole trans-movement was to get us to understand that we should refer to each other by the pronouns with which they identify? So, I think Jeremy has a point that its not “misogyny” for *him* to want to be identified as “he/him/man” etc and not “girl.”

    Let’s spin it around this way: I often hear from transmen (whether they appear female or male) a very loud and clear sentiment of “I AM A MAN” when people try to refer to them as women. We LGB’s don’t call them out for doing that (and I believe, rightly so) because it’s a heartfelt assertion of their identity. So why is it so wrong, misogynistic, and ciscentric for a gay male to want to be referred to as a man? Pardon me, but it sounds like some want to be able to eat their cake and no one else gets to have any.

    Perhaps it’s because I come from a Southern state, but I’ve often been referred to as the “straightest gay guy I know” and I honestly don’t think it’s because I’m putting on an act, or that I’m afraid of femininity. I really do appreciate the wide variety of presentation that you find in our crazy little community. I think that’s a big part of what makes us way cooler than the cookie cutter heteros. However, that wide spectrum ought to be able to encompass even those awful “masculine” gay males along with everyone else. Yes, I do play football and beer pong, use male pronouns, and look like an Abercrombie ad… get over it! If you have a vagina, prefer male pronouns, and live in Southeast, that’s cool too! “Hey, nice to meet ya” should be the first thing out of either of our mouths, and that’s the example that I, for one, will strive to set.

  • Kyle said:

    Your vehemence proves my point. It isn’t about rationality or accuracy of labels. You wouldn’t be this angry if someone called you “Italian” or a “spider” or whatever. But you are wrathful because you believe someone is questioning your masculinity. And that hurts only because you inwardly despise femininity. If you truly regarded females as being strong, respectable, worthy as human beings, etc., then being called “girl” wouldn’t sting, and you wouldn’t get so riled up by the label. Thank you for proving my point.

  • RT said:

    This shit is mad racist!…

  • Nom said:

    By your logic then, Kyle, transmen who reject female pronouns do so not because they identify as men, but because they “inwardly despise femininity.”

    If anything, Kyle, the issue here is that you’re threatened by masculinity.

    As for me, if you want to call me a girl, I’m probably not going to say anything, but I’m also probably not going to engage you in conversation, and we’re probably never going to go out on a date, so have at it! Just don’t turn around and try to claim that I’m ignoring you because of Heteronormative Patriarchy or some other grand injustice. You need to realize that if someone doesn’t want you to intentionally use gendered language that is not consistent with their stated identity — whether they’re a big scary masculine gay man or an elderly transwoman of color — then I’d say that makes you the bigot.

  • Kyle said:

    I won’t deny that I (like everyone else who isn’t completely enlightened) am racist, sexist, classist, hetero- and homosexist, agist, etc., I’m at least aware that I have all these unconscious attitudes, and I hope that I am working to improve on them. I do think your use of the word ‘bigot’ here, which I do not doubt does apply to me in certain cases, is however not particularly apt in this one. ‘Bigotry’ applies to making judgements about groups and classes of people, not attitudes. Why I find tragic, disturbing and misogynist is your attitude, not who you are as a person. And that the guys on this discussion are so vehement in their rejection of a feminine label reveals not only the depth of the misogyny, but also an unawareness of this misogyny, and therefore a lack of self-awareness that evidences some immaturity. Bottom line, a real man wouldn’t be so defensive about his masculinity.

    Furthermore, your comparison of yourself to transmen is particularly inapt. Like white people with regards to white privilege, you bask in a sea of masculinist privilege so pervasive you don’t even realize it exists. Therefore the struggle to assert your masculinity, if you ever even had one, is not the same as a transman’s struggle to assert his masculinity. In other words, your case and that of the transman are apples and oranges, and the comparison out of place in this discussion.

    This blog site has become truly tragic, full of adolescent rants about how ‘gays’ or ‘gay culture’ (or whichever straw demon you choose) won’t cooperate with one’s individual demands in music tastes, barroom layouts, conversational epithets, etc. I’ve been sucked into a few of these discussions, never with good results. So go on and argue, boys. The world’s going to hell in a handbasket, but by God no one should ever call you ‘girl’.

  • Stefan said:

    (trying again, because none of my other comments worked and I don’t know why.)

    To begin, I found this article glaringly underdeveloped and, frankly, irresponsible. Especially for a site that advertises itself as “progressive,” or whatever. I’m also just going to take a brief detour to quote something from the “Submission Guidelines”:

    “We also ask that you don’t defend yourselves via comments. You should reread your submission and make sure that it stands on its own, as we will frown on you trying to save face in the comments section after you stir up a shitstorm.”

    Now, I understand why you (Jeremy) would want to come into the comment section and respond to (sometimes due) criticism, but I think this illustrates an important point: that your article should be able to stand on its own; it should be tight, complete, and express everything you want to say in a manner that you’re comfortable with. (If, then, there’s criticism, take it and process it. If you really want to respond to comments, I think the most productive way to work it out would be to take some time, reflect, and write another article that addresses those comments and furthers the discussion. Though if after the second one people still take issue, I think it’d be better just to accept it, move on, and try better next time.)
    Let’s take, for example, the line “Because we have penises we are able to define what boy is however we choose.” You’re blatantly ignoring trans people. Plain and simple. And more than just a comment, later and only after being criticized for it, about how that might be “an interesting angle.” I mean, if you’re going to be talking about gender and sexuality and all that, it’s not some side issue that, oh you know, it affects some other people; it’s actually of extreme importance to make these sorts of inclusions in conversations like this. Which is part of why I just think this article is irresponsible.
    (I mean, if you really feel such a strong need to defend yourself in the comment section (and indulge it), you didn’t fully do your job in the first place.)

    Also, this:

    “What sticks out in my mind most clearly was the way he kept referencing his gay roommate as “she”. I’ve seen naked pictures of his roommate. There will be no tampon insertion anytime in the near future.”

    Do you have some information we do not? Like, does his roommate prefer to be addressed/referenced by female pronouns? Do you know anything about the situation other than the guy refers to his (biologically male) roommate as “she,” or are you operating completely without any background information? I really hope you know something that you didn’t mention, because really now, not only do you barely even go into the situation (past mentioning it, without any sort of commentary) but you pass it off with some glib remark about tampons; I mean, seriously? *Seriously*?

    But other than all that, this post just seemed mostly… well, I don’t understand what sort of work it’s trying to do, or what sort of contribution you’re trying to make when you don’t even attempt to answer the question you posed. This piece mostly seemed about affirming your possession of a penis (and it’s size! great thanks that’s awesome. no really, I’m sure you did that as a treat for the rest of us. I mean, really?) I think it would’ve been much more productive to start with another question you posed:
    “I am proud of being a boy that is secure enough to cry and twirl should the mood strike. Is calling me “she” inferring that these behaviors are only acceptable within the parameters of a female existence?”
    Then, you attempt to explore the issue in actual depth, without relying on biological essentialism / ignoring trans people. I think the end product would’ve been better for everyone involved.

    Lastly, to other commenters: while I (obviously) understand/share some of the frustrations with this article, trying to provoke with comments that themselves lack substance is not productive (unless it’s funny! but not too (passive) aggressive.)

  • Nom said:

    I don’t think I’m comparing myself to transmen. What I am saying is that I think it’s wrongheaded to persist in using gendered language to refer to someone who has made it clear that they prefer certain pronouns — whether those terms are female, male or gender neutral (ze, zir, etc.. which I have heard once or twice). Who are you to determine, on appearance alone, that someone is a cisman or transman? To give a quick example, one of my co-workers whom I’ve known for a couple years, and who has always identified with male pronouns around me, only recently told me that his birth certificate had an F on it! I had no idea!

    And yes, growing up in the South, my masculinity was indeed often challenged. For me, being called a girl only reminds me of countless adolescent moments I’d rather not remember. But you wouldn’t know that by looking at me on first glance. You just see “Abercrombie boy” and have your visceral reaction and refuse to engage me as who I am — a gay man. That’s another assumption you’ve made about me, and you don’t even know me.

    I don’t think this blog is tragic.. these discussions are pretty cool. And the vast majority of the other commenters on this post pretty much agreed with your point of view anyways. Be careful before you decide to call out everyone else for making rants about how people “won’t cooperate with one’s individual demands” because it seems to me that you have a very specific demand: the right to refer to anyone with female language even if that’s not how they identify. If anyone’s bordering on authoritarian, I’d say it’s you.

    I won’t deny that yes, various privileges have worked for and against me in my life. I just happen to think that one useful way to combat these hierarchies is to allow an individual the basic freedom to assert their own identity, and I think we ought to respect that.

  • Jeremy Gloff said:

    This is very important I’d like to add. All this volleyball back and forth has been very educational to me, but I want to make it very very very clear…that I am in full support of gay men calling each other “girl” if they choose to. I enjoy asking questions and proposing ideas. I never ever ever want people to not have the freedom to talk and behave and they damn well please.

    I wanted to investigate the motivation behind the speech, and address the fact that I can’t relate to it and don’t particularly enjoy it. That said, everyone just keep being yourselves. Hopefully we could all give each other a big hug should we all meet in the cereal aisle one day.

    Keep talking…

  • Jeremy Gloff said:

    And Stefan:
    I write my pieces to open a dialogue. I learn from the commenters, and I learn further by responding, and reading, and responding, and reading.

    My article does stand on its own. And from that seed this thread was borne. I think we are all walking away scratching our heads and questioning things.

    May I suggest you write some pieces with your points of view. If you choose to interact with your audience so be it.

  • Alex said:


    For someone using trans people a lot in your defense of this, your inability to register the massive ciscentric privilege displayed here is egregious. In about 6 paragraphs, on the topic of gender, Jeremy references genitalia 12 times. The ability to equate gender with, and defend gender identity with, natal sex characteristics is ciscentric privilege. I might have let it slide on semantics if he’d stuck to defining his gender by his genitalia, but he expands the scope to include everyone. There is no way to logically parse “Because we [boys] have penises we are able to define what boy is however we choose.” such that it is inclusive of trans people.

  • Max said:

    Well I believe the use of the feminine pronoun was made popular by closeted homosexual men. When in public they could freely speak about their love life and use ‘she’ or ‘her’ and no one knew the difference. It was almost like speaking in code. Now in the year 2010 being gay has changed dramatically and it is ‘ok to be gay’. I believe the use of ‘girl’, ‘she’ and ‘her’ just carried over into a social meaning more than code.

  • Nom said:

    Alex, I definitely see what you’re saying and have tried to articulate an argument that gets at what I think Jeremy is trying to say while attempting not to defend the problematic parts that you discussed. Since the main point of the post is “Why do gay men call each other girl?” that’s the focus of my responses.

    But my point is that, if you don’t know someone (or know them well), you may have no idea whether they’re cis or trans. So, I think it’s best to give everyone the benefit of the doubt and just go with whatever it is they want to be called. Kyle is arguing that it’s totally cool for him to call any perceived cis-guy a “girl” because its a mechanism for him to provoke a response that will either reveal their level of distaste towards femininity. He says that “real men” won’t care if you call them a girl. Since such a strategy relies on him making assumptions about people, I call bullshit.

    What do you think?

  • RT said:

    Isn’t it apparent yet that the question IS the problem?

  • Nom said:


    No. Max, for example, has a pretty interesting answer about how its a carry over from a more closeted era .. which is something that hadn’t occurred to me. Others argued that its a sign of trust among the community. So I’m glad Jeremy asked the question, even if I agree there are problems in his particular response.

    I also think there are problems in Kyle’s response. And just because Kyle is taking what we all think is the most progressive stance on this doesn’t necessarily make it so. On first reading Kyle’s argument I think most liberal-minded folks immediately think, “yeah, he’s right! let’s get back at all those patriarchal dudes who think they’re so masculine by calling them girls. that’ll put em in their place!” When, in reality, such a sentiment requires you to make broad assumptions about someone based on their outward appearance. Yes, some guys may recoil from being called a girl because they are tried-and-true he-man woman-haters… but others may dislike such terms for entirely different and perfectly valid reasons. Is that not a valid point? Anyone?

    This is why I think TNG is useful for at the very least re-examining the status quo assumptions implicit in the ways our communities operate. What really is a more progressive way to be an L, G, B, T, or an A? In the course of this discussion, we’ve brought to light several issues that are typically overlooked.

  • Marcy said:

    Girl, get your shit together.

  • RT said:

    @Nom – and you do realize the National Organization for Marriage stole your name as an acronym; or was it the other way around?… ;)

    My concern with this entire conversation, and the question itself, comes more from a Foucauldian critique of this kind of regulating self-analysis in the first place. It’s the internalization of an entire apparatus of power that originates from a hegemonic impulse to define-by-negation. The question makes us all subjects of a negative gaze, and then forces us to confession about ourselves in the service of this objectifying power relation. It’s just unnecessary, and no “answer” to this question will in effect answer anything because the answers themselves are merely the obligatory counterpart to original subjection: All of these answers serve the impulse to regulate sex and behavior in an effort to constitute sexuality in the first place.

    The best answer here is no answer at all. The best course of action is the STOP REGULATING SEXUAL BEHAVIOR.

  • Nom said:

    @ Marcy

    Yep, just keep on repeating what you believe to be true because that’s what you’ve always heard. Go ahead, keep on calling transmen girls because you think they’re just anti-woman cisgender gay men. Keep on triggering those times when guys would call me a girl/sissy/fagg*t, while they pushed me around behind the cafeteria in middle school. Because after all, you know everything about me. You already knew that I was recently victim of a hate crime, during the course of which my assailant said I wasn’t being a “real man” because I was holding hands with another guy? You were able to see all of that upon just looking at me, right? How progressive of you!

    This is the kind of BS that keeps pushing me away from the unthinking Left, as much as I try to identify as a progressive. Take a step back for once, and realize that your orthodoxy might actually be flawed.

  • Nom said:

    @ RT

    Yes, I do realize that! It’s also my French pen-name. Also, when repeated thrice with a tall glass of milk, one can invoke the Cookie Monster, who was even more prescient than Foucault on issues of sexuality.

    So Foucault would rather that we just don’t ask the question? That we just keep on keeping on, without evaluating anything? Then why the hell did he write a whole book on sexuality? More BS as far as I’m concerned.

    I think the various responses to this question have been illuminating for me, at least, and I don’t care if that pisses off some dead philosopher dude.

  • Billy F said:

    Although it has never happened to me, I would be upset if someone attempted to mislabel my gender, jokingly or not. I think “masculinity” means a lot of things to different people (Jeremy associates parts of his body with his gender, which I don’t think was intended to be trans-phobic), and to have one’s masculinity questioned is infuriating, especially since we live in a culture that often stereotypes gay males as effeminate. I think being comfortable enough with your gender to call yourself another one casually is cool. I think only wanting to identify with the gender that you’ve chosen is cool too. I believe that the point of the article is to point out stereotypical assumptions that people make about gay males and their flexibility with pronouns. I hope that people are just careful with their pronouns and labels, as gender is a very important part of one’s identity.

  • RT said:

    @Nom Haha. Yeah, I mean, perspective is good to have. And yes, exchanging ideas is important. Can I expect people NOT to ask questions about life? Of course not. But I think it would be mindful for all of us to consider WHY we are asking these questions? What discursive power structures make these questions possible in the first place? Like I said, I think the way this question was posed in this post was from a position of negation and regulation, which is problematic. Plus, Foucault didn’t write “about sexuality.” He wrote a history of the concept of sexuality, observing it as a concept that is inherently tied to regulating practices of power. Why so many people are freaking out about this post is because it engages an entire apparatus of power that is meant to control people. So the author, thinking he’s writing something about not controlling other people’s behavior has actually done just that by calling it into question, othering it, and asking people to speak about; to confess; to put behavior into words so that it may be analyzed, dissected and prescribed.

  • RT said:

    I also think it would be good for everyone to re-look at the mission of this very website:

    “While we have our differences, our common bond is that we choose to define ourselves instead of letting a narrowly defined mainstream gay culture do it for us. That is what’s new about what we’re doing here.

    “We all agree that the mainstream definition of “gay” isn’t just a sexual orientation, it’s a white male culture defined by consumerism, superficiality and anti-intellectualism. We don’t fit into this narrow matrix. We don’t want to. We choose to unplug. We choose the red pill.”

    This is the perfect example of definition by negation: “We are not that.” It also clearly illustrates–in addition to a mission of attack against other gay people–Foucault’s supposition that the notion of “sexuality” itself is a fundamentally CLASSIST concept. Sexuality, if we believe Foucault, was NOT invented by the state or the church, but by the aristocracy, who developed sexuality as a practice of self-regulation in order to elevate themselves, to ensure long-lasting and “healthy” bloodlines and future power. “They did it to themselves first,” he exclaims!

    Why this site seems to fail, and why this post fails, is due to a fundamental failure to subvert an impulse to classist power; to self-elevation above the “other,” even if, in this case, the “other” is some formulation of a pre-existing gay hegemonic order.

  • Alex said:


    So hang on – if we ignore the fact that his entire argument is a claim to cissexual privilege, it’s exactly the same as what trans guys are asking for? Uhh….. no, doesn’t work like that. You need to stop co-opting other people’s experiences.

    Misgendering can be hurtful; I would never argue to the contrary. But Jeremy is not saying in this article “you shouldn’t misgender people”, he’s saying “you shouldn’t misgender me because I have a penis”. He’s supporting the gender essentialism that ENCOURAGES the misgendering of trans people. That’s bullshit, and it’s double bullshit to defend him using trans experiences. Knock it off.

  • Kevin said:

    I hate when people call me anything in general. And voicemail? Forget about it. This is 2010. Text or e-mail me.

  • Nom said:

    @ Alex,

    I’ve already said that parts of Jeremy’s post are problematic, and I agree that his argument is rather undeveloped, confusing and potentially even offensive to trans people. But I’m arguing for me, not Jeremy, using my own experience. I hope that he can respond for himself on those points. However, I believe that we shouldn’t ignore the authentic feelings underlying the frustration that many gay men feel towards being mislabeled, and being expected to accept those labels.

    But here’s what really irks me. The current orthodoxy in our community generally falls along the lines of “under no circumstances should you intentionally mislabel a transgendered person, but because gay men are in a position of privilege, it’s ok to mislabel them if you’re doing it to combat their privilege” I believe that such an orthodoxy is absolutely bogus, because it is based upon a stereotypical understanding of gay men and their relationship to femininity.

    I’m not co-opting transmen by pointing out the obvious fact that no one knows whether someone is a cis-man or trans-man unless that individual asserts such an identity. Therefore, those who think they’re advancing feminism by singling out those who they *assume* to be cis-men and calling them names that they don’t want to be called, are only reinforcing power dynamics that need to be dismantled.

    On the one hand, Jeremy’s penis/man issue is pretty easy to spot, and many commenters have pointed out its obvious flaws. Kyle’s “let’s call the gay boys names to make them feel uncomfortable about their underlying hatred of women” is just as problematic in my book, and is perhaps even more nefarious because so many will unthinkingly accept it as a perfectly acceptable thing to do.

    Here’s my crack at something “new” for the sake of the whole TNG thing. In the old masculinity, males seek to increase their dominance in society by exercising their power to characterize the other. In the new masculinity, males are able to increase their power to assert their own identity in part by relinquishing the desire to apply labels to the other.

    I don’t deny that we need to address the privilege that many gay men unknowingly inhabit — I just don’t think that the enlightened way to do it is to call them names.

  • Jeremy Gloff said:

    I find what everyone is writing very interesting and valid. As I said above, I have nothing further to say about this topic as I prepare my column for next week.

    I do not think I am simpleminded and shallow for thinking of myself as a male because I have a penis. Perhaps the concept of removing our body in gender identification is something I am just not ready for yet.

    See you all next Monday at four when my next piece is posted. The intellectual challenges have been wonderful…I’ll keep thinking about this throughout the week.

  • Ed said:

    (NOTE: I was working on this before the author posted his most recent comment. I stand by my position that this piece did nothing to initiate a dialogue about gender. Kyle did that.)

    OMG, Seriously? This lame question has generated all of this discussion? You folks are clearly super smart, and I genuinely mean that. I’m not being snarky, but I do think you’re wasting your considerable talents in pursuit of a thought, if you can call it that, when the author himself admits, “I don’t have all my opinions on this cleary formulated.”

    The serious discussion about gender-related issues in our community wasn’t initiated by this question, it is the result of comments made by Kyle.

    Maybe I’m too simple, but, based on my read, the author asks and answers his own question when he says, “Call is slang or jargon. As trivial of a topic as it may be, I’d like to chew on it for a bit. What exactly is the motivation behind homosexual men referring to themselves with female pronouns? I know it’s all in good fun…but why?” . Why? Because it’s slang, jargon, trivial, and fun. No one is actually calling anyone “a” girl. “Girl” is a term of endearment. Some gay men use it the way others use “dude.” It’s such a non-issue that I’m actually disappointed so many intelligent people have spent this much time and energy on a column that boils down to “I have a pee pee, so I’m not a girl.” Again, no one is calling anyone “a” girl. It is slang, jargon, trivial, and fun.

    I mean look at the accompanying photo. Does something so parochial really warrant all of this? The author says he wrote the piece to start a conversation, but, before he recused himself, he said, “Truthfully it really annoys the fuck out of me, and it buys into stereotyping and conforming to a pre-determinded identity.” That’s a pretty strong statement from someone who claims to be unclear on his position on the issue and wants to listen. The thing that comes the closest to “stereotyping and conforming to a pre-determinded identity” is when he writes, “I was indeed being addressed as ‘girl’. Since I do not have a pooswah it must have been because I am a homosexual male.” No, it’s because it’s slang, jargon, trivial, and fun.

    The entire piece is riddled with comments that demonstrate conforming to a pre-determined identity. I have a dick, therefore I am … What could possibly be more conformist than that? He describes characteristics that he associates with the “feminine,” but the only thing he points to as masculine is his dick. What is the purpose of announcing the size of his dick to the world? Because size matters in the tiny world where people 1) ask the the question, “why?” and then not only answers it but dismisses their own answer; 2) are offended by something they admits is slang, jargon, trivial and fun; and 3) Claims to want to initiate a dialogue, but, when others share their opinion, it is disregarded as “a bunch of plain old smelly bullshit” offered up by a bunch of “kids” trying to escape responsibility.

    The only legitimate reason to object to what is nothing more than a term of endearment, a sign of solidarity, and a word that is slang, jargon, trivial and fun, is you just don’t like it and you’ve made the mistake of tying your identity to your dick. Again, this article offers no other justification for why this is so problematic. Even in his considerable follow up, the author provides no more insight, but, it shouldn’t surprise anyone. He admits he’s not clear on what he thinks, but I can’t help but question his sincerity. He makes tons of declarative statements and asks only one question. Why? The only proposition he claims he wants to explore is the motivation behind the practice. However, he gives us the motivation and tells us why. Anyone? That’s correct, because it’s slang, jargon, trivial, and fun. No one is calling him “a” girl. No one thinks he is “a” girl.

    He reveals the real problem when he says, “Truthfully it really annoys the fuck out of me,” and it only annoys him “Because we have penises [and therefore are] able to define what boy is however we choose.” Right, as long and you don’t refer to him as “girl” or “she.” That’s it. There nothing more to it. There is no deeper cultural or philosophical implication. There is no genuine attempt to start a dialogue that isn’t contradicted by an onslaught of definitive, declarative statements.

    Question asked and answered.

  • James R said:

    I think Gloff has a totally valid point, but what is most shocking to me is that you haters don’t realize that calling someone ‘girl’ demeans everything WOMEN have worked for, and further reinforces agism in the gay community.

  • Scott said:

    A quote:

    “It made her unhappy, and down in the street she asked herself why she should bother to maintain contact with Czechs. What bound her to them? The landscape? If each of them were asked to say what the name of his native country evoked in him, the images that came to mind would be so different as to rule out all possibility of unity.

    “Or the culture? But what was that? Music? Dvorak and Janacek? Yes. But what if a Czech had no feeling for music? Then the essence of being Czech vanished into thin air.

    “Or great men? Jan Hus? None of the people in that room had ever read a line of his works. The only thing they were all able to understand was the flames, the glory of the flames when he was burned at the stake, the glory of the ashes and nothing more. The only things that held them together were their defeats and the reproaches they addressed to one another.”

    -Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

    You can argue all you want about how Jeremy is a terrible person for not wanting to be referred to as a female, but it’s still his right to do so, just as you have the right to be okay with that. Name-calling because of a personal preference makes you no better than homophobes who throw “faggot” around to insult each other. He wrote it, you read it, but you don’t have to agree with it. But you can if you want.

    Gay culture and community only holds you together if you let it; if you choose not to participate because you feel like the character above – someone who finds no substance for community – then you have the right to. And if that involves refusing the accept being called female, then that is what it involves. If you want freedom for your choices, then don’t tear down someone else for exercising theirs.

  • Ray said:

    Because they can.

  • Chace said:

    Why not?

  • Ed said:

    Why respond to people who are arguing that he can’t be pissed about being referred to as “girl” as opposed to “a” girl? He can be pissed if he wants, but let’s not pretend like there are noble or rational reasons behind his assertions. Please don’t project your interpretation of what you think he said onto what he actually said.

    That’s a problem I have with communication in general. People don’t listen, and when things play out online, which is really in our heads, we project our own issues onto other people’s comments. We forget what’s at the core of the discussion. For example, James R said, “… what is most shocking to me is that you haters don’t realize that calling someone ‘girl’ demeans everything WOMEN have worked for … ” Name calling demeans other human beings and lowers the level of the discussion. So, on what planet would he have any authority to talk about what demeans women? What demeans women is speaking for them without consulting with them, getting their perspective, understanding it, and then expressing your understanding of it in your own words. By my recollection, one woman has weighed in on this topic, and she disagreed with the author. I have lesbian friends who say, “Hey girl” to me. Are they demeaning themselves?

    Again, the author asked a question. Then he answered it. Then he admitted he just doesn’t like it, and the only reason he offered to justify his disdain for the “slang,” “jargon,” “trivial,” and “fun” expression is that he has a dick. It’s not complicated. It’s not indicative of an enlightened form of thinking, which does not mean the author is not enlightened. It means this particular column is rather rudimentary. The people who think the author’s position is wrong are correct. They read the article and have based their decisions on the evidence presented. Readers who are trying to flex their intellectual muscles and add weight to a pretty weak column are projecting their own interpretation of the author’s intent.

    Don’t make stuff up. Look at the words, and take them at face value. The article is weak, but it’s not obfuscated. The author is extremely clear about what he means. Again, Kyle introduced the issue of gender, not the author. If you think the author has a valid point then you are basing your decision on his assertion that he should not be called “girl” because he has a penis, or you are trying to fill in gaps that don’t exist with arguments that aren’t necessary.

    He doesn’t like it. It annoys him. He asks why it happens, and then he answers the question. The only attribute he assigns to being a “boy,” and therefore automatically exempt from ever being referred to as “girl,” is that he has a penis. Seriously, read the column again. That’s all there is to it.

  • James R said:

    Apparently Ed, you had nothing to say about my agism agrgument? Perhaps I am just ‘flexing my intellectual muscle’ or perhaps you simply can’t think of a concise retort. Oh wait, maybe this is just me projecting my own interpretation on your comments…. Nevermind.

  • Ed said:

    @James R, Due to the passive-aggressive nature of your comment, I’m not sure if you are genuinely asking me a question or just being snarky.

    I don’t think you are flexing your intellectual muscle. I have no idea if you are projecting, you didn’t provide enough for me to determine which of my comments you are calling into question.

    I didn’t address your agism comment because it’s nonsensical. Is that concise enough? :-D

  • Jeremy Gloff said:

    RT, your links are wonderful and I agree that in both cases they make good points. Unfortunately, I wonder if you and some other people really read my piece and can grasp what I am trying to say here? The things you posted have nothing to do with the intention of my article.

    I worry that in this modern, new agey, politically correct, buzzword heavy time that people get too caught up in their supposed “higher psuedo-intellectual” thinking.

    I am neither pissed, annoyed, or sad by anyone’s comments. I am indifferent. It’s all opinions. I only chime in because it’s frustrating to see people miss the point.

    The point is, for the 8,000th time: Call me a caveman if you like, but I feel because I do have a penis I am a man. I’d also like to report I just discovered last week that the earth isn’t flat.

    I don’t understand this concept that our gender is a free for all that is full of blurred lines that we can decide when we wish. Call me old fashioned, stupid, unintelligent, but I don’t agree…at least not in the case of myself. Take away “the gay” and there are simply biological differences between men and woman. If I die, on my death certificate, it’s simply going to say “male”. To all those questioning my intelligence because I wish to be thought of as a man because I have a cock, kudos to you.

    My piece was purposfully written with a bit of ham-headed machismo — if gay men can be anything they want why can’t we display a little machismo while fully grasping our gayness? I chuckle at how much discussion my stupid picture has caused. I was laughing pretty hard when I took it. But it’s true. There is no vagina there.

    Despite the fact I don’t have a vag here’s an example of a photo session I did back in 2003 that certainly won’t be published in Sports Illustrated:

    I am gathering from these comments that the way for a man to embrace his femininity is to be referred to as a girl? Ludicrious. Stupid. Simpleminded.

    I am the man in a tutu.

    Gender lines can never be blurred if we lose sight of what our body’s gender is.

    And just for an update, I once again just looked between my legs and my stiffy cock dick is still there. Which brings the count up to 17 times that I’ve referenced by penis.

    And up next, the article about how I’m really a horse because I feel it’s time to blur the species line and I decided I don’t think of myself as a human anymore.

  • RT said:

    Hey Jeremy-

    I think what you mean to say is, “I have a penis, therefore I am a man who has a penis.” What about a man who has gotten his penis blown off in war or in some kind of agricultural accident? Are they no longer “men”? Or a trans person who doesn’t want to construct a fakie but still identifies as being a man?

    I also think you maybe you should just have chosen not to write this post. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have this opinion or that you shouldn’t express it to people. But writing and publishing something is a very different form of speech than casual interpersonal conversation. It seems that your main goal is to just state your personal opinion about how you want to be addressed. Fair enough. But what you’ve done is engaged a discussion on a literary website devoted to gay issues that people literally spend years of their life studying. Ironically stating that you just discovered the earth isn’t flat couldn’t illustrate this point better. If you went to a science blog and wrote a post that said, “To me, the earth looks flat, therefore it is flat. Just my opinion guys, but what do you think?”, I mean, do you see what I’m saying?

    Not trying to be harsh here. Just trying to get you to look at this from another angle.

  • Keith said:

    Because otherwise, you’re just straight-acting, of course.

  • Geo said:

    so.. feel free to write back.. somehow.

    I didn’t really get a chance to go through every last one of the comments. I went through about twenty of them.

    I feel like this really brings us back to wondering where the line is between a ‘homosexual’ expression, and ‘trans’ (transsexual) expression.

    What is a ‘homosexual’ expression? ‘Gay’ can still be substituted for ‘homosexual’, right?

    Yet, what’s interesting nowadays, widespread understanding, even, is that the ‘G’ (or ‘L’) and the ‘T’ under LGBT have nothing in common. The saying goes: Gender identity (the ‘transgender’ part) is ‘independent’ of ‘sexual orientation’ (usually thought of as the ‘gay’/'lesbian’ part).

    Hmm. But, again, it is possible to ‘think’ of the ‘G’ under that group as a ‘sexuality’: Homosexual. (A sexuality is not the same thing as a sexual orientation).
    The *Same thing* can be said about the ‘T’ part: there is ‘transgender’ and there is ‘transsexual’. Both words have been used, are still used, neither are going anywhere, anytime soon… Why? Because it is counter-intuitive for anyone, in an ‘everyday/anyday’ scenario, to seperate ‘transgender’ and ‘transsexual’. To be politically correct, it has been established that the ‘T’ under LGBT is actually “Transgender” not transsexual.
    BUT, same goes for the ‘G’ and ‘L’: ‘T’ can also be thought of as a “sexuality,” it is somewhat unrealistic to think of it only as a ‘gender identity’.

    All this to say that when it is established in people’s minds that, in the end of the day, Homosexuality and Transexuality have more in common than we may think, it will be ‘obvious’ why gay guys will call each other “girl”.

  • Jake said:

    It annoys me too. It lends credence to the idea that when you recognize yourself as gay you somehow check your manhood at the door. Everyone should be who they are, obviously, but sometimes you have to stop and ask yourself, “Am I really being me? Or am I being what some stereotype says I should be?”

  • Stevieee said:

    Ehhh I honestly don’t like to be addressed as a girl either. My mom who doesn’t know I’m gay yet asked me if I was gay. It’s not really time to tell her so I tried to avoid the question and she goes, “You are a man, right?” and of course, a little offended, I tell her that I am still a man. See, that right there means that she associates gay males with womenhood just like other people who are not very supportive of the gay community. It’s fine with me if other guys like it and I don’t have a problem with effeminite gay men (I’m not even the most masculine guy myself), but don’t come to me going “Hey girl!” I won’t get mad or anything but in my head, I’ll just feel a little uncomfortable. I identify myself as a guy and as such I would like to be called one. People have different comfort levels. Not every gay male will be comfortable being called “girl” and that should be expected.

    And I also don’t think it’s progressive for gay guys to address themselves as girls. To me, it sets us back. It just strengthens the stereotype that many gay guys want to break. But that’s just MY opinion.

    I call myself a guy so why should someone call me “a girl” or “girl” or “grl?” Sure for fun, but if it’s continual then it gets annoying. Idk, that’s just me. I can’t speak for everyone to be honest. It’s not being misogynist either. I’m still gay who is very supportive of the gay community and it’s not like I don’t like feminine gays because I do think they are cool for being who they are in a world where it’s more acceptable to be a more manly gay guy but for ME, I don’t like being called “girl.” Even if I was more effeminate than I already am I wouldn’t want to be called “girl.” So…it’s more about a person’s personal level of comfort than something that everyone should or shouldn’t embrace. Like Nom said way earlier haha, just say “hey how are you doing?” instead of just calling a gay guy “grl” out of nowhere.
    Yea, we’re gay…but what else is there, you know?
    (I’m tired so there’s a chance that I’m rambling but hopefully you get my point)

  • ex-gay homo said:

    I myself have actually never called any other man, regardless of orientation, “girl”. I would never associate with anyone that does, so it’s no wonder I’m not part of the conformist “gay community” that requires such nonsense.

  • Arthur said:

    Eh yo’, ex-gay: Do you have any fun with anything? Like, seriously. Every comment of yours I have ever read is essentially, “This sucks and is bad and negative, negative, negative.” Give it a rest, girl, damn!

    I call some of my gay friends ‘girl’ a lot, there are other I never do it for. It’s always in fun, always in playful settings. Never in serious settings or when discussing serious matters. Nothing wrong with having a little fun now and then, sheesh.

  • 18. Using Words Black Women Created | Stuff New York Gays Like said:

    [...] We stole girl and we ran with it. Now gay men in New York (and everywhere really) call each other girl. Maybe it’s because we wanted to reclaim the word as a statement against stereotypes in the [...]

  • Tommy said:

    I’ve been “out” for nearly 20yrs now. I’ve seen and done a lot in that period of time. I had one meaningful relationship or so i thought for 2yrs. However, after i found out he was cheating on me for the better part of 6 months the entire 2yrs we were together things changed with me. I was never able to fully trust another partner. I’m 37 now, and feel like i’ve played the field and got a lot out of my system during my 20′s. I also feel like an “old soul” and not to many people out there can understand much less relate to what that means. In other words, i’ve never felt like i have had anything in common with my own “age group”. I’ve always preferred older men and doing more “mature” things. The “bar scene” got REALLY old for me as i approached 30. Seeing the same faces, listening to the same music, it just got really stale for me. And there are many times when i don’t feel like i “fit in”. And for the most part i probably don’t except for the fact that i’m attracted to men which is the one “common bond” all of us gay men share together. I’ve been single now for MANY years and don’t have that many friends either. I’ve learned how to adapt being alone which sometimes i feel is the better route for me. Because of my own fears with rejection or how people perceive me. Having been diagnosed many years ago with social anxiety isn’t helping matters either….LOL But i digress, i do feel there is a “right” someone for everyone out there. I don’t believe God created human-beings to be alone. But in our minority, i don’t find much hope for unity and respect. We crave it, and have at times demanded it from the heterosexual community. But yet we can’t seem to get a hold on how to treat each other with the very same thing were ASKING FOR…!!! It’s a shame really, because it paints a picture of hypocrisy for us in my opinion. We demand respect from others outside of our own gay community yet we can’t give that same respect towards each other…? Lets look at the word in itself, the word “gay” means happy. Yet i find so many folks in our community who are miserable and depressed. When are we going to wake up and realize were causing more of our own problems by reacting the way we do towards each other. And all the while, the heterosexual community is laughing there asses off thinking how hypocritical we are asking for “equal rights”. I guess when men start waking up and truly understanding what the words; friendship, love, respect, & commitment mean i’ll have better luck finding “mr. right”. Until then, i can’t be bothered with all the drama & poison that i hear get spewed out on a daily basis. It breaks my heart, that we can’t be closer as a community. And i often wonder why there is so much anger and hurtful comments made each and everyday. Perhaps if we became closer as the “minority” we are. We’d have a better understanding of what respect & equal rights are all about. In the interim, we really have no right asking for it until we can show it to each other….(g)

  • sexiiBlkBro said:

    Because its only suppose to be said by bottoms thats how they show love to each other duh df

  • kabjen13 said:


    Thank you for this commentary. I wrote about the same issue in 2009. The topic hasn’t changed much in four years. Here is what I wrote. Some of it reflects upon the comments in the thread, some of it may shed a different light(?). I don’t know, but here it is.

    Do we often use certain words or phrases without thinking about the meaning behind them? Often times, we do. Now I am definitely not one for political correctness (as many can attest), but I am one who wants to understand why certain words or phrases we use are directed at “our own” — the particular group(s) we belong to. I also like to challenge conventionality and stereotypes.

    There are still black people who refer to each other or address each other using the N word or variations thereof (nigga, nugga, nicca, etc). Although I can’t understand why they would want to use or “re-own” such a derogatory, degrading word, I am not a black person and have not lived a black person’s life, so I don’t feel I truly have a right to offer that much criticism of it. I do know, however, that there are plenty of black people who do not use or espouse this word or its many variations. They find it degrading and ignorant. And I agree.

    However, I am a queer man and I definitely have a right to criticise or question the words and phrases that I have heard very often in the gay community, whether they are directed at me, or at others. Even when they are meant to be terms of endearment or verbal tools of “common bonding”, I find the use of certain words and phrases degrading.

    What made me decide to write about this is my abhorrence to the constant usage of girl, she, her, You go girl!, etc applied to gay men by a significant number of other gay men. First and foremost, I thought all this female pronoun usage crap went away at the turn of our new 21st century. Obviously, it hasn’t. I didn’t like it in the past, and still don’t. There are grown, adult gay men still calling each other girl, referring to another man as she, and/or still using the worn-out, tiresome, flippant expression You go girl! to a person who obviously has a penis and testicles between his legs. If one is going to continue to use such a tired, outdated expression, then why wouldn’t You go boy! be appropriate for a man?

    Aside from that, the degradation I find in it is two-fold. All of this female pronoun and noun usage suggests to me that many gay men see themselves and other gay men as less than “real” men (read: straight men), and must equate themselves with the perceived “lower” status of women in our largely straight male-dominated society. No matter how many fag hags they have, no matter how much diva-worshipping they do, they are just confirming that they find women (and themselves) weak by doing this. In other words, referring to gay men as she, her, girl is a mechanism to bring these men down to a “weaker” or “lesser” status that other gay men (who use these pronouns and nouns) obviously feel from within. I’ve often heard straight women using these terms when addressing or referring to gay men, as well.

    Moreover, it’s not even woman or lady, it’s girl— an even weaker perceived figure in society. Some could argue that it is internalised homophobia and misogyny combined. Some could say to me “get over it” — that it is just light-hearted fun and/or part of “gay culture”. Well, anything can be excused as “culture” (feet-binding, bullfighting, circumcision, etc). It doesn’t mean I have to accept it or agree with it. For me, it carries meaning well beyond light-hearted fun or “culture”, and not in a positive or humorous way. I literally cringe.

    Gay or straight, I would never refer to someone by using pronouns or nouns opposite their gender (unless it is a drag character like Betty Butterfield or Divine). I would hope that no one refers to me as “girl”, because it is not only degrading to me, but degrading to other gay men and women. And it’s just inaccurate anyway. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard “she” and thought someone was referring to a real female. Can we please evolve? Peace.

  • kabjen13 said:

    And before the p.c. über-sensitivity police attacks me, let me just state that I do not regard biological or trans females as being beneath biological or trans males. But calling me a “girl” is degrading to me because I am a 43-year-old man who does not identify or appear to be a female under the age of 18. Thank you.

  • Jeremy Gloff said:

    Thank you Kabjen as the author of this post I def agree with a lot of what you said. I remember when I wrote this – I just had jumped out of the shower and I thought it was just going to be a throw-away piece that everyone would ignore. Little did I know the hell it would start.

    Years after I wrote it, it’s funny that it seems young gay men call themselves “girl” and “she” more than ever (drag race syndrome?) while posting profiles on Grindr insisting on masculinity and professing it strongly.

    Are there any boys ballsy enough to post how they are “looking for masc men only, girl?”

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  • James K. said:

    Yeah, no thanks. Call me old fashioned, but I’m an adult male and my preference is for adult males. I didn’t spend 24 years of my life in a closet and then fight my way out of it so other gays could throw slurs right back in my face. I am not a Mary or a Queen or a Girl.

    Frankly, I find it insulting. The implication when calling a gay man a female pronoun is that his preference for sex with other men somehow makes him woman-like. What does that say about the person using it?

    I’m not saying its wrong to be a passive guy, but I don’t get why you’d want to be called a girl because of it. Its irritating and I feel like this kind of crap alienates me from the gay community because its practically expected that you’re supposed to like it and engage in it and if you don’t you’re a repressed closet case with a case of imaginary “femmephobia”.

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  • R Thompson said:

    Your way overthinking this, it’s just a figure of speech meant sarcastically. Like hey bro, man, dude, chief…etc…. I mean do you think …am I really their brother am I really a chief?

  • Kevin said:

    It’s not just “overthinking” a figure of speech to many of us. “Bro”, “man” and “dude” are figures of speech directed at males because they are – 99% of the time – MALES. Gay men who continue referring to other gay men as “girl”, “she”, “miss”, etc, are often not being sarcastic – they’re trying to target us the same way they see themselves. It’s just hidden underneath these pronouns and expressions. They are not comfortable with masculinity in general – their own or any other gay man’s – and this is one way they show it.

    And if confronted about it, they use the “light-hearted common bonding” excuse, or they try to turn it around to make it look as though gay men who don’t like this are “taking it too seriously”, are being “misogynists” or “need to get over themselves” or whatever other answer they have to justify this stereotypical, flippant and stupid habit. Never have I heard lesbians refer to each other as “bro”, “man”, “mister”, etc – only “butch”. Gay men can be still be funny and sarcastic without doing this every time they’re in the company of other gay men. I’m one of them. None of my gay friends refer to each other this way – unless we’re purposely imitating the annoying queens that do.