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Monday, April 18, 2011

GAY SUBCULTURES: THE MOST COMMON STEREOTYPES

Today we are going to take a look at the popular subcultures of gays and lesbians in Atlanta.  At the risk of offending anyone, I should preface this post by stating that I am intentionally stereotyping in order to introduce readers who are not familiar with these subcultures.



THE GENERIC GAY
The generic gay is what most people think of when they think of gay.  Typically, these are good looking, well groomed men--with sculpted hair, excellent fashion sense, and a body they work hard for at the gym.  There are plenty of urban professionals in this group, as well as hospitality industry workers.  After midnight, you can find these out and about at bars and clubs--often watching drag shows with their stylish girlfriends, or dancing with their shirts off to house music.
BEARS
Bears are large culture group of gays.  People without refined gaydars wouldn't peg this type as gay on first glance: typically bigger, modestly dressed, with trucker hats, and an affinity for body hair.  Think Larry the Cable Guy--except with a friendlier smile, and a the ability to belt out Donna Summers at karaoke without blushing.   Younger bears are considered "cubs", and hairier guys with smaller framed bodies who prefer the company of bears are called "otters".  The labels are often assumed, it is up to the individuals whether or  not to have a label based on their physical appearance be used to describe them.



RADICAL FAERIES
Though quickly growing in popularity and size, this group is hard to be missed.  Though a definition of them is somewhat beyond their their beliefs, I would say the Faeries are a progressive and stylish movement of individuals from all corners of queer culture, who embrace the previously negative associations with gay culture and gender identity, while rejecting conformity to useless mainstream cultural norms in an attempt to positively affect their surroundings....so if you ever see a pile of 30 people with barely any clothing (and/or outlandish accoutrements) in the park, using hula-hoops, making human pyramids, doing yoga, and holding giant signs that read "LOVE" and "PEACE", you are looking at the Radical Faeries.  Faeries typically have a moniker they prefer to be referred to as by other Faeries or people that understand them within a similar capacity.




HIPSTER GAYS
If you are familiar with the term "hipster", then hipster gays is pretty self-explainatory.  On the other end of the spectrum from the generic gay, the hipster gay prefers the stylish thick-rimmed glasses, lots of tattoos and piercings, and "who give a shit?" attitude about style.  There is SO much to be said about hipster culture, as it is transitioning from derogatory slur to a substantiated culture, so I will just leave it there.  Want to know what a hipster gay is? Head over to East Atlanta Village.  Here you can play what internet bloggers refer to as "hipster or gay?"

THE OLDER CROWD
There are plenty of older gays in Atlanta, but not many of them have been in Atlanta since they were younger.  Unfortunately, there is no easy way to describe this group of gays--but it is important to mention them because they are a link to our past as a minority.  Twenty or thirty years doesn't seem that long in the grand scheme, but SO much has happened in the past 3 decades in the progression of this minority.  I used to bartend at a small bar in midtown.  My clientele was mostly older gentlemen.  To hear them speak of the 70's, 80's and early 90's was almost like hearing of another country all together.  Tragically, the 80's saw the rise of HIV and AIDS in america, and took so many of these individuals with them.  Without these people and the lives they have lead in the face of prejudice and bigotry, I would not be the person I am today.

LESBIANS
In the south, lesbians and gays tend to be segregated from each other.  This shouldn't come to a surprise to anyone who knows how the south works when it comes to minorities.  Gays and lesbians have plenty in common as minorities, but often they have less in common on a personal level--I mean, think about it...
I am happy to say that, in the past few years, I have noticed that this gap is closing as these two groups are gaining more similar interests within their established communities.   There are several stereotypes that I could apply to this wonderful and prominent group of people--Decatur Soccer Mom, Southern Power Belle, Down and Dirty Feminist--but I don't think its necessary.


Lesbians are, and have been, a more public and accepted minority amongst Atlanta's various communities.  Decatur is a popular city for Lesbians--growing up and working in Decatur has given me a unique experience with the lesbian community.  There are many lesbian couples with children in Decatur and Atlanta, and I have noticed many lesbians in the political field in the past decade.  I am grateful for the lesbian community for all that they have done to increase awareness, change our surroundings, and make it easier for gays to be who they want to be.

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