There is always some disagreement around the terms we use and whether we should use them at all. You should therefore be sensitive if applying a type to someone, bearing in mind some gay men reject them altogether as narrow, superficial and demeaning. Equally, many simply use types affectionately and as a convenient shorthand.
It's a bit of a bear pit (no pun intended) but here's our take on types, though you are perfectly entitled to throw them out and be your own gay, your own homo... etc etc etc
Physical types and personal characteristics
Some guys are primarily attracted to physical types of gay men (eg: bears, twinks, and muscle guys) while some find characteristics in men most attractive (eg: warmth, intelligence, and humour). Others mix and match and understanding these distinctions is important.
For example, the type(s) of men we find attractive sexually may not necessarily be the qualities we are looking for to sustain a relationship. Trouble is, we can get so caught up in a type we can lose sight that not far beneath the surface we are all simply men wanting to be loved, respected and held. The solution involves open-mindedness, flexibility, and/ or compromise.
So, what pushes your buttons:
- A guy’s age, or the way he fits a T-shirt?
- A pencil thin physique, or the way he smiles?
- The hair on his chest, or his positive attitude to life?
- It could also be the size of his dick (though this is a whole new conversation).
Bottom line: types, preferences, and the laws of attraction are as varied as they are fickle, complex and seemingly contradictory.
Handsome Man | Matt Alber | 1 Oct 2014 | 4m 44s
Gay app and website categories
Types of gay men saturate the gay media and magazines, and if the name of a club night doesn't tell you what to expect, the promo pics will. Types of men are also pressed home by the boxes we are expected to tick on web apps. Here are the categories from 4 of them:
- Bears, bikers, builders, chubbies, clubbers, farmers, firemen, footballers, geeks, labourers, leather men, married men, medical, military, muscle men, older guys, policemen, fireman, preppies, punks, rugby players, short guys, skins, tall guys, transvestite, and transsexual. (And hot garbage men, says Luke)
- Bear, clean cut, daddy, discreet, geek, jock, leather, otter, poz, rugged, trans, and twink
- Daddy, bear, leather, geek, discreet, military, muscle, jock, bear chaser, daddy chaser, poz, college, transgender, and twink
- Slim, athletic, average, muscular, a little extra, and big guy
- Grunge... but we're uncertain if it's still a thing? Let us know!
Granted there’s space to write about who you are (which some of us read BTW) but who hasn’t checked out a guy’s photo, sexual position, or likes to make a snap decision as to his 'suitability.' Even so, it can be hard to be you when you are reduced to a string of boxes.
There's been some hellish squabbling at MEN R US as we've pulled together a list of 'popular' types. However, our collective tongues are in our collective cheeks and we're definitely open to additions and amendments:
- Bears: 30+, broad/ heavier build (drinks beer), usually hairy, often with facial hair. Likely habitats: RVT, XXL
- Cubs: Late 20s-30s, younger bears, usually hairy, often with facial hair. Likely habitats: RVT, XXL, Brüt, Eagle
- Chubs: Heavier to overweight (eats cake), often less hairy or none. Likely habitats: XXL
- Drag queens: Big buxom or svelte, smooth as a babies, very possibly waxed, facial hair no longer a barrier: Likely habitats: Halfway to Heaven, Molly Moggs, Two Brewers, and on stage everywhere
- Gym bunnies: Late 20s-30s, athletic to muscular build, less likely to be hairy, possibly waxed. Likely habitats: Fire, RVT, Ministry of Sound
- Hoxton Queer: Arty types of any shape or build. Likely habitats: Hoxton
- Jocks: Late 20s-30s, muscular build and gym obsessed, less likely to be hairy, possibly waxed. Likely habitats: Fire, RVT, Ministry of Sound
- Muscle bear: 30+, broad/ heavier build (drinks protein shake), usually hairy, may be trimmed or sculpted to reflect their body shape, often with facial hair. Likely habitats: RVT, XXL, Brüt, Eagle
- Otters: Late 20s to 30s, leaner, usually hairy, often with facial hair. Likely habitats: RVT, XXL, Duke of Wellington
- Pups: Late 20s-30s, lean to muscular, can be hairy, puppy genre becoming increasingly popular. Likely habitats: RVT, XXL, Brüt, Eagle
- Spunk monkey: 30s. Laid back but easily excited around men. Into long bouts of energetic bouncy Tiggerish sex. Likely habitats: Brüt, XXL (barred from the Eagle)
- Twinks: Late teens-early 20s, boyish features, thinner to slim build, usually smooth, may have highlights. Likely habitats: GAY, QBar, Heaven
- Boy (Boi): Huge in the 1990s, a young gay man with bleach blond hair often wearing a boy T-shirt and cap. As sexy-tragic then as it is now, there are rumblings the word is being reclaimed and re-imagined by today's queer community.
- Wolves: Late 30s to 40s, lean to semi muscular, usually hairy, often with facial hair. Likely habitats: RVT, XXL, Brüt
- Everyone else: And everyone else
Those we have not included from the list of web app categories you can probably work out for yourself and there is a lot of overlap. For example, 'preppies' tend to be 'clean cut', 'bears' and 'muscle guys' are also 'bikers', and 'daddies' are a not so much a type rather a state of mind and an attitude.
So, when a guy shows you no interest it maybe because:
- He's attracted to guys without hair (and you have a full head of hair)
- He's attracted to slim, toned guys (while you are broad shouldered and muscular)
- He's attracted to shorter guys (and you're taller than him)
- He's attracted to a particular skin colour or ethnicity
Or maybe it's because he doesn't see you smile or you slept with his ex. Where does it end?!!
Build it and they will come
Not even a life time ago, when the gay scene was smaller, having visible and shared identities was a way of finding each other (literally, in some cases) and bringing us together. And we should rightly be proud of this. The leather, clone and denim scenes dominated the 80s, the muscle scene has been pumping iron since the 90s, and the bear scene has been on the rise since the 00s; each with their interpretation of masculinity and what it is to be gay. London's bear scene, for example, started because they had no place to go and (some say) a reluctance by other parts of the scene to share and play nice. The bears have built their own scene and the otters, wolves and cubs have come! Unfortunately some of these scenes have come self absorbed and 'exclusive' morphing back into the very thing they sought to over come.
Thick boys in all their glory drop their pics | Queerty* | 7 Oct 2021
Inside The World Famous Tom of Finland House With Terry Miller | It Gets Better Project | 8 May 2018 | 6m 39s
Tom of Finland: Archive 2008 | homotopiafestival | 5 Dec 2013 | 12m 50s
Touko Laaksonen born a Finn. He was a soldier,advertising executive, pianist, artist, had a destiny, to be the liberator ' TOM OF FINLAND ' giving homosexual males an identity and releasing them from the shackles of guilt and shame.
Pups, Otters, and Large Furry Men: Thomas Morton on the Slanguage of Bears | Vice | 20 Apr 2016 | 3m 40s
Are Gay Men More Masculine? | AsapTHOUGHT | 27 Apr 2016
Gay Men: Are You a Jock, Otter, Bear or Wolf? | Hub Pages | 31 May 2015
The Queer Collective video inspired by Charli XCX’s Boys music video (2017)
The Queer Collective put a call out for anyone who identifies with the word ‘boy’ to make a video inspired by Charli XCX’s Boys music video because they wanted to showcase the diversity of the word ‘boy.’ And while GMHC loves our American cousins it's great to have a video like this made in the UK.
BOYS: The LGBTQ+ Video | Dir. Harry Adams | 8 Dec 2017 | 2m 44s
The future of queer: a manifesto
The future of queer: a manifesto | Fenton Johnson | Harper's Magazine | Jan 2018
In the spring of 2017, for the first time since publishing a memoir set at the height of San Francisco’s AIDS epidemic, I summoned the nerve to teach a course on memoir—which is to say, at least as I taught it, a course on the necessity of personal witness, a course against forgetting. Mostly I avoided the subject of AIDS, not wanting to be the grizzled old veteran croaking war stories to a classroom of undergraduates. But since AIDS memoirs are among the best examples of the genre, I decided I had to foray into the minefields of those memories. I surprised myself by choosing not one of several poignant memoirs but the edgy anger of Close to the Knives, by the artist David Wojnarowicz, with its hustler sex and pickup sex and anonymous sex on the decaying piers of Chelsea and amid the bleak emptiness of the Arizona desert, one eye cocked at the rearview mirror to watch for the cop who might appear and haul your naked ass to the county jail, sixty miles of rock and creosote bushes distant.1 Wojnarowicz was thirty-seven years old when he died of AIDS in 1992.
Click here for full article.
Who sounds gay?
A short documentary explores the reasons that some men sound stereotypically gay, whether they are or not.
"For the last few years, I’ve wondered why some men “sound gay.” I began asking people for their thoughts on the subject, and received a surprising range of answers. Some people said the gay voice was a put-on, like a man in a conspicuously sparkly dress. Others thought gay men sounded gay just to let other gay men know they were. Some thought that every man who sounds gay is gay, even if he claims otherwise. A lot of people said, “Wow, I don’t know.”
I decided to make a film about the stereotype of the “gay voice” and my own anxieties around “sounding gay” (I am gay, and sometimes worry that my voice gives me away before I’m ready to come out). I interviewed strangers on the street for the film because, as I discovered, the origin of men’s gay-sounding voices intrigues people of all backgrounds, regardless of their sexual orientation. (I subsequently became intrigued by the intrigue.) Nobody knows for sure why some people sound stereotypically gay and others don’t. This Op-Doc video explores one of the prominent theories.
As you watch, consider something that a linguist kept reminding me: There’s no such thing as a fundamentally gay voice. Plenty of men may sound gay, but their voices aren’t evidence that they are gay. What we call the “gay voice” belongs to us all." David Thorpe.
Bearspace: geographies of the double stigma of sexuality/fatness in a gay/bisexual men's subculture | Research: June 2018 - June 2019
This research attends to an unexplored intersection of geographies of sexualities, and fatness/obesity. In a nation grappling with an ‘obesity epidemic’, fat people in the UK are highly stigmatised as unhealthy and sexually repulsive, with resultant serious mental/physical health impacts. Fat stigma is intensified in gay/bisexual men’s spaces, yet the impacts of fat stigma on men’s health or sexuality have received little attention.
The project aims to uncover the role of geography in the marginalisation and/or empowerment of fat gay/bisexual men in the UK. It engages with space, fatness and sexuality through work in the ‘Bear’ community - a large global subculture of large-bodied gay/bisexual men.
The double stigma of fatness/sexuality has significant impacts on Bears’ mental and physical health, and Bear bars, clubs, and events are consequently experienced as ‘safe spaces’ for those excluded from both mainstream (due to sexuality) and gay/bisexual men’s spaces (due to fatness). The project will develop six case studies of UK Bear spaces, each comprising an on-site focus group, individual interviews, and the researcher’s own autoethnographic account as a self-identified Bear.
Bearspace: geographies of the double stigma of sexuality/fatness in a gay/bisexual men's subculture | University of Brighton
Bearspace | University of Brighton