On Gaytriarchy

By Meriadoc Wilson

A trend within LGBT+ spaces of late is to vilify cisgender gay men, especially white ones. Being agender and gay, I’ve seen this firsthand, and at times have been complicit. Occasionally, I have even been exposed to the sentiment that gay men are no longer oppressed, and therefore shouldn’t be allowed to reclaim the term “queer”. Cisgender, white, gay men are not without fault: racism, misogyny, transphobia, body shaming, and countless more harmful patterns of behaviour are rife. Even recently, some cis lesbian, gay, and bisexual people have moved to “drop the T” (that is, to exclude the trans community). And some gay men seem to think that it’s okay to sexually harass women, since there’s “no intent behind it”. We should, however, remember that gay men are still subjects of systemic homophobia:

  • Until 2005 in Victoria, 2008 in Western Australia, 2014 in New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory, and 2017 in Queensland, the gay panic defence could be used to downgrade murder charges. It was essentially legal to murder a gay man if you argued that his sexual advances constituted provocation. The defence is still available in South Australia.
  • Marriage is still only recognised between one man and one woman.
  • Gay men continue to be objectified and vilified by the mainstream, seen as shallow, as accessories for straight women, as paedophiles, or as anything else besides human individuals.

Gay men are not the only people who suffer this sort of treatment. Indeed, marriage equality will benefit lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people too.

LGBT+ people have fought together for a long time. The issues we face all stem from the same source, and have similar expressions. Consider trans women. They, too, are seen as failed, emasculated men. They, too, are often called “faggot”. They, too, suffer from compulsory masculinity. It isn’t just them: as a non-binary, masculine (or masculine-adjacent) presenting person who dates men, I, too, suffer homophobic abuse. Transphobia and homophobia are inextricably linked in the broader structures of systemic sexism.

We should respect lesbians, respect bisexuals, respect trans people, and think twice before asserting the existence of a “gaytriarchy”. Being gay still isn’t a “privilege” and still isn’t respected by the patriarchy. We must continue to work together.