03/29/2013 01:25 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Why You're a 'Faggot'

Gay men get stereotyped constantly. It should be simple: Gay men are sexually/romantically attracted to other men. That's all "I'm gay" should tell someone. Instead, a landslide of assumptions follows the the word "gay."

For a long time, if you were gay, society assumed you were effeminate, a deviant and a pervert. As the LGBT rights movement gained momentum, the stereotypes became more nuanced, but not necessarily any more flattering.

For over a year I researched the words that people use to describe gay men -- words like "faggot," "pillow biter," "queer," "gym bunny," "bear," "twink," "homosexual" and even "gay" -- to get at the heart of these assumptions.

I asked an (insanely talented) artist friend, Joe Sinness, to create artwork based on my findings. Below you'll find a few words with my favorite histories and my favorite artwork.

Every gay man has to struggle with these words, and getting to know the etymology/history/mythology surrounding the words might make them less destructive. I hope you find that this is true for you.

The Words That Define Us

For more information on the artwork, click here.

Subscribe to the Queer Voices email.
Get all of the queer news that matters to you.