I recently overheard someone comment to her friend about a gay male couple walking ahead of them on the sidewalk. The girl said, “Who do you think is the girl in the relationship?” I couldn’t help but frown at the girl and shake my head. As clear as you would think it is to see, I’ll spell it out for you: neither of them are the girl. They’re both boys.

Not to say that traditional ideas of gender roles don’t play a part in a gay relationship, but they’re a little more diluted, I would say. A gay man may show effeminate qualities, but that doesn’t make him the “woman” of the relationship. Just like the muscled, bearded gay man doesn’t have to be the “man” of the relationship.

One huge aspect of the gay male relationship that I appreciate is the more leveled playing field that we have. We’re both men. If one of us opens the door for the other on a whim of affection or chivalry, it wasn’t expected because he was the “man.” It was simply a nice gesture. If one of us cooks dinner once, or every night for that matter, it isn’t because he’s the “woman” of the relationship. He’s probably just better at it than his partner. 

I have noticed, however, here in the South that a good number of gay men claim to be seeking “masc” or “masculine” partners. They want a boyfriend who likes the outdoors, is in good physical condition, plays sports and all those other standard characteristics for “men.” I have no idea why this is, other than perhaps personal preference, because there’s nothing wrong with the guys who like wearing skinny jeans, putting highlights in their hair or shopping all the time. We simply associate certain actions with very classic ideas of masculinity or femininity. There are few actions or characteristics that classify as gender-neutral.

Why does caring about your appearance, cooking dinner or enjoying shopping for new clothes have to be considered feminine? Why does hiking, playing football or working out a lot have to be considered masculine? When it boils down to it, all of us, gay and straight alike, are comprised of many characteristics — some are considered masculine and some are considered feminine.

Despite sexual orientation, some people simply demonstrate more masculine qualities or more feminine qualities. In the case of a gay male relationship, however, the key point is that neither of us is the girl of the relationship, no matter which side of the scale we fall on. We’re both boys. Neither sexual preferences in the bedroom nor our daily characteristics have any effect on that biology.

— Stephen Mays is a senior from Hawkinsville majoring in English and publication management