"I hate women," my ex-boyfriend once told me. I had met him through OKCupid. On his profile he described himself as "straight-acting" and a "regular guy who likes regular guys." When it came to the men he was attracted to, he had little patience for femininity. But it turned out that even I, in the closet at the time and with stereotypical "straight" mannerisms, couldn't live up to his standards. Getting teary-eyed when saying "I love you"? I had unacceptably "feminine eyes." Cuddling? No way. And apparently I have a "gaycent," as he informed me.
It's possible that my ex was like this because, despite being out, he might not have been comfortable accepting his own sexuality, perhaps a vestige of his Arizonan, Southern Baptist heritage. Such insecurities might also explain the physical, verbal and emotional abuse I experienced from him.
My ex was many things, but he was not a gaybro.
"Gaybros" is an online community that primarily operates out of a subsection of the social news site Reddit. It's a place to share interesting links, turn for advice and ogle guys (both the family-friendly and "NSFW" variety), as well as a place to talk about mutual interests and concerns.
This is but one of many LGBT-centric subsections on Reddit that pivot around a cluster of shared interests. Gay and into video games? Go to Gaymers. Gay and Jewish? GayJews welcomes you. Gay with an interest in engineering and science? May I suggest Gaygineers?
Each subsection has a different (but often overlapping) group of members, and each has cultivated its own unique community. For example, there are many days when the entire front page of Gaymers is devoid of anything related to gaming, but it will always be content that the gaymer community would enjoy.
Gaybros pivots around a community with the kind of interests that you'd expect to find among frat boys. In fact, the name "Gaybros" is a (perhaps cheeky) reference to the stereotype that frat boys refer to eachother as "bro."
But beyond the funny name lies a very deep, substantive and complex community. Gaybros raises money for charity and promotes sexual health education, it's a safe space for talking about abusive relationships, and it's the go-to place to talk about sports while also talking about who the hottest guy on the team is.
Though this community may be frat-inspired, it is not elitist. Anyone can join with a click of a button. Nor is it exclusive to a particular type of guy or set of traits. I learned this firsthand when I wrote to Alex DeLuca, the founder of Gaybros, about a friend of mine who was hesitant about joining Gaybros. Despite sharing all the interests of your typical gaybro, he had avoided the community. The reason? As he put it, "I have a voice of a 12-year-old girl." Alex's response was simple and to the point: "GET HIM ON GAYBROS NOW!"
It's also important to note that these emerging subcultures of the gay community aren't spelling the demise of the unity of the LGBT community. This is not segmentation of the gay community any more than forming a social club in school is the segmentation of the student body. Rather, this is the inevitable result of the progress of gay rights and gay acceptance. We've reached a critical mass where gay men are seeking out communities that aren't just gay-centric but cater to their particular tastes and interests.
My ex may not have been a gaybro, but I wish he had been. As a member of the Gaybros community, he could have learned the error in his negative attitude toward all things "feminine." And maybe in the process he'd have learned to quell whatever demons caused him to be so abusive.