In less homophobic countries like the UK and France, certain surveys show that about 4% of the adult population identifies themselves as homosexual. The taboo in exploring one’s sexuality makes a lot of people conform to the social expectation that they are supposed to be heterosexual cis-gendered individuals. Even if an individual explores her/his identity and finds out that she/he doesn’t fit the social norm; the stigma that haunts an individual in the aftermath of coming-out scares away people from publicly sharing their sexuality. Hence, this 4% is a highly deflated number. But still, let’s work with this 4% by assuming that this percentage of the world’s population is gay.
4% means only 1 boy among the 50 students in our co-ed classroom, 10 men in a 500-student batch of our college, or about 20 men in the (say) 1000 clients, customers, colleagues, suppliers, workers, staff, etc. that we deal within about 10 years of work, all considering a 50% sex ratio. With ‘Coming-Out’ still being so difficult in India, I am sure most of us won’t even know who that one classmate was. The proportion of 4% is so tiny and yet we often hear sayings around this quote, “all the good guys are either gay or dead!” These sayings might be utterly baseless with no empirical backing of any kind, yet somehow, they come from somewhere, maybe from a narcissistic gay man. I don’t know. In any case, let me try to make a case for The Attractive Gay Man, possibly explaining why despite being only 4%, straight women often end up crushing on a gay man.
I think straight men, despite having all the potential, just don’t try hard enough. In a society where a suitable lady is often judged on her soft manners and conventional beauty standards; a suitable gentleman is judged on his social status and his ability to provide. The straight man has lost much incentive to work on their aesthetic selves. In homosexuals, these traditional gender expectations almost vanish, putting equal pressure on everyone to look their aesthetic best. As a result, most gay men pamper themselves a lot. They would use a lot of skin and hair care products, spend more time on buying clothes and getting ready, some even use cosmetic products. They are free-spirited to try new colours, patterns, and accessories to stay chic. ‘Beauty is subjective’, ‘inner beauty is what really counts’, ‘all are beautiful’, are all good for theory and thoughts we should aspire towards but in reality, even people holding these high-notions end up sorting mates based on some amount of aesthetic value. Gay individuals at the moment are doing it far better than straight men.
Who is considered attractive in a society has always been contemporary when this question was asked. In this 21st century cosmopolitan world, muscular men with little to no body hair are seen as extremely attractive. Now let’s come to the gay case for it. According to several Greek texts and art, the practice of homosexuality was widespread in the ancient era, with the hottest, bustling point being the gymnasium. Gymnasium comes from the Greek word ‘gymnos’ meaning ‘to train naked’. Hundreds of naked muscular men would exercise and bond in these establishments. The image of an erotic muscular figure has since been a strong element in the gay culture. As a consequence, gay men are often not only conscious of their bodies but are also devoted to sculpting them. It so happens that in the last 6-8 decades, the same muscleman image has entered the heterosexual world with movie stars, models, and sportsmen all flaunting their bodies on screens. This cultural overlap makes the athletic-looking gay man more aesthetically attractive to the straight woman. With this growing body-building culture, models and actors often manscape to showcase their muscles to make them more prominent, and consequentially a lot of women and gay men today prefer smooth hairless skin on their partners. The straight man, like everyone else, finds it extremely tiring to spend months in gyms, cutting out on the most delicious of foods and shaving body hair which keeps coming back every second day. Now, it’s not that the straight man is less capable of doing any of this but, unlike gay men as mentioned earlier, straight men have little incentive to look better when they can get a preferred partner even without this hassle.
Shifting from the aesthetic angle, I want to explain why women often say their best friends are gay, or that the men they connected the most with are gay. I will try to explain it with a theory of common suffering. Both women and gay men are often considered inferior to heterosexual men, making them both victims of discrimination. They always have to be extra careful with their words or gestures because one never knows when a “hello!” instead of “hello,” might seem to make a message less powerful or a random touch while passing might seem to be promiscuous. The fear of being singled-out by peers due to their gender/sexuality-based biases has always been high, and both women and gay men, as a result, understand each other’s position very well. They tend to be more alert of the subtle regressive slurs passed around, know what it means to be snubbed with no mistake, and know how to express empathy to others through their experiences. With the hurling of so many ‘mother-sister’ swears along with the use of female genitalia in a degrading way in everyday banter coupled with terms like ‘faggot’, ‘chakka’ and ‘meetha’ doing the rounds on meme pages; it is hard for gays and women to not bond in their sufferings.
I think ‘the-woman-and-gay-connect’ can also be explained through the Ladder theory. The Ladder Theory states that women have two ladders where they see the men in their lives – either on a potential sexual ladder or on a platonic ladder. A man on the latter ladder can reach the top and become her best friend but can never have a sexual future with her. However, men, the theory says, have only one ladder which starts at women initially being acquaintances, then good friends and finally prospective sexual partners. There is no purely platonic ladder in the mind of men. So, the male on the platonic ladder of the female is likely to end up breaking his heart as their relationship grows stronger. If the theory is true, then straight men and women can have platonic relationships only up to a level beyond which complications are bound to evolve. Also, if this theory is true, it should apply to gay men. In that case, it should state that gay men see other men on only one ladder and would have no mention of women. This leaves the space for strong platonic relationships and as they climb up this new ladder, they can only end up becoming better friends.
Lastly, gays are often called ‘less-of-a-man’, weak, diseased, possessed, or plain stupid. These slurs are likely to create a rage to prove them all wrong. This makes them strive harder than others to be seen as equals. Like women have to fight harder to earn a seat at the important table compared to men; gay men too have to go through the same ordeal. As a consequence, gay men on average are likely to be more industrious, focussed on self-improvement than their straight counterparts. I believe skilled people striving to excel are undoubtedly sexy.
Summarising my recipe to attract straight women, straight men should invest more time in themselves, follow a workout routine for a healthy-strong physique, be mindful and empathetic of others, differentiate platonic and potentially sexual relationships, and lastly strive hard to fulfill their dreams. Succinctly, try to be more like gay men.