How to Look Less Gay – In Case You Sadly Need To

Have you ever heard the phrase, “You look too gay!” or, “Dress normal, you are a boy/man”. It can be really painful, but know that we understand and that almost every (gay) guy or gal has heard this or something similar. It happens a lot and you are not alone. This phrase can come from people you love, such as your family, friends or coworkers or it can come from people who don’t love you and who mean to harm, bully or tease. No matter who it comes from, it can hurt. 

For these very comments, you might want to look less gay and you might be wondering how you can achieve that when you are not even sure how you are ‘coming off as gay.’ If you are trying to look less gay, no matter your sexuality, know that it is ok to have complex emotions and feelings around this desire and subject. 

In this blog post, I’ll talk about how you can look less gay as it can be very helpful and supportive at certain times during our lives or at certain functions. I will also help you navigate your feelings around this topic and build self-confidence with the way you look and who you are. I will also give you some pointers on how to navigate situations where you don’t feel safe because of how you look, your sexual orientation or gender identity.

Your Reason(s) To Look Less Gay Are Valid

First off, no one should be valued based on their appearance. Your self worth is not determined on how you look, dress, or present yourself. Everyone has the right to express themselves authentically, without fear of judgment or discrimination. No matter your sexuality, you should be able to move through this world exactly how you want. 

However, sometimes the world is a cruel place and there are many valid reasons for wanting to appear less gay– including yours. It’s worth saying twice, whatever your reason you have to want to look less gay is valid. Maybe someone in your family told you to ‘man up’ or ‘dress less gay.’ Perhaps you are afraid of getting bullied because of the way you look. You could be concerned about your chances of landing a job. It’s possible you are not comfortable appearing gay to the outside world yet. Or maybe, the way you are appearing is even putting you in danger. Whatever your reason is, it is ok to want to appear less gay. 

It’s really sad that gay people still face discrimination in the 2020s. Get it together world!

Ways To Look Less Gay   

It is important to know that there is no inherent need to look less gay. Only a dysfunctioning society would want you to be anything other than what you are. Ideally the culture would embrace everyone’s authentic self. No one has the right to tell you how to appear or behave or love. However, we know that the world is not so open and we have yet to reach a place where everyone’s true and authentic selves are encouraged and lifted up. So, here are some ways to look less gay. By doing them, you can feel safer and more secure. 

Start with the way you dress. You should be dressing yourself in a way that aligns with your personal choice. There is a lot of creativity and different ways you can express yourself with your clothing. However, dressing yourself with more simple pieces will make you appear less gay and blend in. You can do this by wearing less colorful items. Find basic pieces that are stereotypical for your gender. The more you can blend in, the less gay you will look. Think bland and unassuming. I would recommend taking off any jewelry you have such as necklaces or bracelets. If it helps, you can base your style inspiration from a very “straight looking man” (or straight looking woman) you know such as an adult family member, or someone off a t.v. show. 

Hair can be a huge statement piece. You will be able to look less gay by getting a haircut that is stereotypical for your gender. The point to look less gay is to stand out less and conform with the traditional gender norms. Conforming to traditional gender norms and repressing your creativity is way less fun, but if you really want to appear less gay, you can get a stereotypically masculine or feminine haircut that is similar to a lot of your peers.

Sometimes, it’s not how you look. Gestures, mannerisms and characteristics can all make you look gay. Maybe someone mentioned that you look gay because of the way you walk, talk or use your hands. It should feel natural, the way you walk, talk and move and I wished you didn’t feel the need to change this. But if this bothers you, try observing and copying how adults of your gender are walking, talking and moving. Having a deeper manly voice, walking and moving slower and “wider”, hitting the gym and getting muscly will also make you appear more stereotypically masculine.  

Finally, you might have heard comments that you appear gay because of your interest and hobbies. It’s important to note that no single interest or hobby is either gay or straight or for just girls or boys. I used to want to ride horses as a boy, but was afraid to do so because it felt like a girly thing to do. I thought boys should play with legos and do karate. To appear less gay, you unfortunately will have to again try to conform to the typical conforming gender hobbies. Culturally speaking, boys lean towards sports, video games, outdoor exploring, cars, and building things. And for girls, look towards fashion, the arts, creating, dancing and cooking.

Code Switching – Looking Less Gay

Even though discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is forbidden, you will still see a lot of people use a practise called”code switching”. Code switching is a concept that describes the ways in which a member of an underrepresented group adjusts their language, behavior, or appearance to appease the dominant culture. Trying to look and act less gay can be one way in which you might code switch. It is perfectly acceptable to code switch for certain scenarios, times in life or events.

An example of code switching is the following:
In a professional setting (at work for example) where things are more conservative, some people might feel like playing it safe by using neutral words or not talking about their same-sex partner directly. This way, they can keep their personal life private and avoid any discrimination. But when they’re hanging out with their LGBTQ+ friends in a welcoming environment, they’ll probably feel more at ease being open about their sexuality and sharing personal stories with people who understand them.

If you don’t feel safe or comfortable looking and “being gay” in every space of your life, that’s fine. While code switching is a sad reality for marginalized communities, it can be really helpful for you to be able to express your full self in some spaces while staying comfortable in others.

We unfortunately still see a lot of code switching in the corporate world.

What To Do When You Don’t Feel Safe

If you find yourself in a situation where you don’t feel safe due to the way you look, your sexual orientation or your gender identity, it’s important to prioritize your well-being and take steps to protect yourself. Here are some suggestions on what to do:

To begin with, it is essential to seek out a support system. Reach out to trusted friends, family members, or LGBTQAI+ organizations who can offer understanding and acceptance. Surrounding yourself with a network of compassionate individuals can provide the emotional support and guidance needed in navigating difficult situations related to your sexual orientation or gender identity.

One way to do that is to find safe spaces where you can express yourself freely. Look for LGBTQAI+ community centres, support groups or online forums where you can connect with others who share similar experiences. If you are in The United States you can check out Centerlink to find safe spaces around you, or simply type in “queer safe spaces [your state/province]” in Google. Reddit is also a great place to start finding your safe space. There are sub-reddits for every community that exists, and there are lots of people who discuss matters within these communities.

If you encounter harassment or discrimination based on your appearance, it’s important to document these incidents. Keeping a record of evidence such as chat screenshots, emails, or detailed descriptions can be valuable if you need to file a complaint or report someone who is bothering you.

The practice of keeping record of these situations is especially relevant in workplace situations where discrimination is illegal and should be reported. For more information on handling discriminatory situations about your sexual orientation, read my other article titled “What To Do If Someone Outs You At Work“.

Embracing Your Authentic Self

Now, before you take the steps to look less gay, I want you to take a moment and reflect on why you feel the need to change your appearance. Is it really what you want or are you pressured by your friends and family? If other people tell you to look less gay, know that there is no right or wrong way to express your identity. 

Embracing your uniqueness and authentic self might seem scary, but will give you a lot of energy and people will love you for it, even if it doesn’t seem like it right now.

Even if you take steps now to look less gay, know that you can always undo these steps. Your hair will grow, new clothes can be bought, and mannerisms can be unlearned. If you think that appearing less gay will make you more happy and comfortable for now, go ahead and try it out. 

I again, validate any of your reasons to appear less gay, I just also want you to know that you are perfect just the way you are right now. 

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