n De Arte - Macho men and the queer imaginary : a critique of selected gay 'colonial' representations of homomasculinity : research

Volume 2009, Issue 80
  • ISSN : 0004-3389
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The contemporary presence of images of hypermasculine aesthetics in gay visual culture results from gay men's response to being expected to behave like men (masculine performativity) despite being told through stereotypes and homophobia that they are not men. By fashioning themselves after archetypal masculine icons, like the cowboy, gay 'clones' represent a nostalgic, romantic longing for 'a man's man' that is traditionally associated with heterosexuality and does not carry the stigma associated with over-the-top, effeminate queers. Visual manifestations of the 'macho' gay body, and its accoutrements, become sites of resistance through which ideological notions of gay male inferiority and heteronormative male superiority are challenged, re-appropriated and even subverted. Yet, such representations of homomasculinity, which act as 'templates' of estimable physical qualities for gay men, are based on a stifling stereotype of gay identity that obscures the race-based power relations within which it operates. The images conceived of as gay 'colonial' representations in this article originate from the gay media, fine arts and advertising, and are investigated in order to reveal the apparent standards of masculinity in queer culture, the fetishisation and commodification of the 'frontier', gay beauty ideals, and the racist ideologies that exemplify such homoerotic visual cultures.

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