'From drag queens to Stephen Fry, stop stereotyping gay men as women-hating misogynists'

2016-03-03
In an article in the Telegraph on the February 14, writer Chas Newkey-Burden suggested that gay men have a misogyny problem. Charles Donovan replies, arguing that stereotyping all gay men as 'women-haters' based on the words of a few should be a thing of the past... Writing in the Daily Telegraph last month, Chas Newkey-Burden interpreted Stephen Fry's controversial 'bag lady' BAFTA quip as evidence of a misogyny epidemic among gay men. Fry’s joke – about the irony of costume designer, Jenny Beavan, dressing down rather than up for an awards ceremony – actually had nothing to do with sex or gender. But it forms the bedrock of an article arguing that misogyny is inevitably consequent to homosexuality, an idea I find appalling. Newkey-Burden portrays his fellow gay men as bitterly resentful of women, and determined to 'convert' heterosexual men. On some hazy, half-recalled day in the past, he overheard men using the word 'fish' to mean women. Someone else said 'fag-hag'. This is Exhibit A. But all it tells me is that the guys he was hanging out with were crass. ImageHandler

Journalist Chas Nekey-Burden argued that misogynistic attitudes are endemic among gay men.

  Newkey-Burden speculates that gay men hate women because women have a larger pool of men from which to choose sexual partners. But the last things gay men lack are opportunities for sex. Our pool is the perfect size for us, and the reverse argument is more credible - the bonds between gay men and women thrive because they're so rarely imperiled by competition for the same men. It seems to me there's a double-standard or three at play here. The poor behaviour of a straight man is attributed to his character. But so often, if a gay man says something misogynistic, it's chalked up to his being gay. Then there are raised expectations; just as bad mothers are viewed more unfavourably than bad fathers, so gay misogynists are fouler than straight ones. No one should be a misogynist. But why should gay men be held to a higher standard than straight men? And why must every gay man be a representative of gay men in general? I noticed this in action many years ago, while watching television. Jason Gardiner was smirking his way through an interview. "He gives gays a bad name," my flat-mate declared. "No," I said. "He gives himself a bad name. He doesn't represent gay men and he's not claiming to". Years on, a gay man is still viewed as a symbol of the community, his every utterance a reflection on all gay men. And, crucially, this rule only applies if that gay man's behaviour is perceived as bad. Female celebrities like Rose McGowan and Azealia Banks have rightly called out the misogyny they've experienced at the hands men who identify as gay, but the way in which McGowan called this as an "indictment of the gay community" , and Banks used it to justify calling any gay man under the sun a f*ggot, shows that they're just as willing to write off a whole section of society as the women-hating men they so describe. Azealia Banks

Azealia Banks (l) and Rose McGowan are among the high-profile stars to call out 'gay' misogyny.

While time is wasted finding fault with the way gay men relate to females, there are nasty brutes beating women senseless in every corner of the world, maiming them, assaulting them and raping them. These men are heterosexual. How can anyone believe that gay men, with their pithy rejoinders and lip-syncing drag acts, are the dangerous, incorrigible menace? Talking of drag acts, they're next in the firing line. To Newkey-Burden, they are "crude lampoons of womanliness", on a par, ethically, with black-and-white minstrel shows. Here we go again. Ganging up on drag queens is just another form of picking on camp men, that favourite pastime of the masc-for-masc, gay-but-not-gay crowd. Let's end this once and for all. Drag acts are about as misogynistic as pantomime dames. All that's being gently mocked and simultaneously celebrated in a drag act is the theatricality and artifice of gender – hence the impossibly huge heels, the thick, shiny lipstick and the bee-hive hair. Drag queens are not trying to say, "This is what we think women are like" and no one sincerely believes that they are. misog The whole article is an exercise in textbook confirmation bias. We can't win. Any evidence that gay men are not misogynistic is ignored and anyone not convinced that gay men despise women is in denial. The gay community is "so taken with its victim vibe that it cannot countenance the idea it could sometimes be villainous". Because of that man down the pub who said 'fish', we must hang our heads in self-abasement and collective guilt. Got it? We must feel that shame. We deserve it. I'm so glad my experience of LGBT life is not a toxic hell, peopled with gauche, ugly woman-haters and drooling creeps intent on converting and corrupting heterosexual men. And I think, in 2016, it's time to retire the stereotypes which once were used to justify our persecution; the 'predatory' homosexual, the 'woman-hating' homosexual. Long may gay men have close, caring relationships with their female friends. We are in a unique position, able to perceive the beauty and brilliance of women without any compulsion to devour, possess or destroy it. The connection between gay men and women is among the very highest forms of unselfish, platonic love in the world. And it's exactly what the world needs. Charles Donovan is a London-based writer, journalist and musician. Follow him on Twitter @CharlieDonovan. Words: Charles Donovan More stories: ‘My country has abandoned me’ – Gay Israeli soldiers’ powerful plea for equal rights Harry Judd wants you to watch him getting nailed for Sport Relief