Matthew Dempsey | News

Why are Gay Men So Judgmental Toward One Another? - VIDEO


Psychotherapist Matthew Dempsey takes a look at the issue in a new video.


If you liked this clip, I posted one earlier this year featuring Dempsey discussing the need for validation.

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  1. "Do gay men really judge each other more than straight people do? No, they may however manifest it differently. Maybe more verbally, in a more crass way."

    Consider this angle, Rovex. The cultural "icons"/role models of straight men are usually other straight men. The cultural "icons"/role models of straight women are usually other straight women. The cultural "icons"/role models of lesbians are usually other lesbians.

    Likewise, racial minorities and ethnic groups tend to "iconize" their own kind.

    The cultural "icons"/role models of gay men, however, are usually not other gay men, but, instead, are straight women.

    Thus, gay men are the ONLY group in the population that almost exclusively regard members of another group as their cultural "icons", while rejecting their own kind as such.

    And there is definitely a reason for it.

    Think about it.

    Posted by: Rick | Sep 12, 2012 10:51:16 AM

  2. I recently had lunch with a group of gay guys at a restaurant and in walks a beautiful gay man. The group I was with all swoon and then started insulting him just as quickly ("Yeah, but look at his..." or "He's hot, but probably..." etc.). I couldn't believe it. What was it really about? Their OWN insecurities.

    Judging others in superficial ways is a huge neon sign that you're not okay with yourself.

    Posted by: Elias Barton | Sep 12, 2012 11:06:40 AM

  3. I must say that I've been attacked a couple of times on the site for what I believe in. Maybe this is one reason that gay rights has taken so long to achieve? We all have disagreements at times but one doesn't have to respond like a vicious, catty, jealous queen.

    Posted by: Peter | Sep 12, 2012 11:12:42 AM

  4. I'm constantly judged because I'm good looking (not trying to sound like a snob, just know it's true because I get told it all the time) and have face blindness and so don't recognize many people, so they think I'm being rude. I get really tired of being critiqued, and yes it's far more common among gays. One reason most of my friends are straight.

    Posted by: Paul R | Sep 12, 2012 11:12:50 AM

  5. I'm constantly judged because I'm good looking (not trying to sound like a snob, just know it's true because I get told it all the time) and have face blindness and so don't recognize many people, so they think I'm being rude. I get really tired of being critiqued, and yes it's far more common among gays. One reason most of my friends are straight.

    Posted by: Paul R | Sep 12, 2012 11:12:54 AM

  6. I'm constantly judged because I'm good looking (not trying to sound like a snob, just know it's true because I get told it all the time) and have face blindness and so don't recognize many people, so they think I'm being rude. I get really tired of being critiqued, and yes it's far more common among gays. One reason most of my friends are straight.

    Posted by: Paul R | Sep 12, 2012 11:12:57 AM

  7. Rick, I do believe there are many like that out there, but im not like that and none of my friends are. There is a package that comes with that female idolisation, a package I dislike.

    Posted by: Rovex | Sep 12, 2012 11:15:22 AM

  8. "I'm constantly judged because I'm good looking "

    @Paul R Well, you may be the exceedingly rare exception, but almost all very physically attractive gay men behave obnoxiously towards gay men who are less attractive than they are. Granted, some of this is due to the need to make it clear that one is not interested in someone else sexually, even though one might be interested in them as friends if they could accept the sexual rejection.

    But few can accept the hurt that comes with sexual rejection......and the emphasis on physical attractiveness is so overwhelming in gay male culture that it is very hard for the most physically attractive among us not to look down on those who are less physically attractive as social inferior, regardless of their other appealing traits.

    So I don't really know whose "fault" any of this is or what the solution to it is.

    Posted by: Rick | Sep 12, 2012 11:26:34 AM

  9. This analysis is too generalized and superficial. Pure pop "let's feel better about ourselves" psychology. Yes, I'm being judgmental.

    Posted by: Joe in CT | Sep 12, 2012 11:37:01 AM

  10. I bet he has 6-pack abs too. And big guns...Who the hell cares about this childish crap? So some one "judges" you as not worthy of what ever, GET OVER yourself and grow some balls.

    Posted by: Sargon Bighorn | Sep 12, 2012 11:42:37 AM

  11. Well, Rick, I realize this entire thread and the video sparking it are the stuff of gross generalizations, but as a middle-aged lesbian, I can categorically state that my "icons/role models" and those of my partner (who are the only ones I know well enough to address, but I doubt we're all that bizarre) are NOT lesbians. It's since I've come out in young adulthood that I've been aware of more than a few "culturally high-status/visible" lesbians, all of the historical literary/arts figures, but none of them did very much for me by way of inspiration and I can't say I pay much attention to pop culture at all so other than being glad for increased visibility generally, I can't say the ones who've come out in the last twenty-five years or so much cross my mind at all.

    But, then again, neither of us has had any real, local connection to any "gay/lesbian community" as such beyond a few people we've worked with over the years and the diasporic, political "community" that connects online, so "lesbian culture" isn't something we've absorbed throughout our lives, really. Growing up, all my heroes (with the singular exception of Patti Smith) were male rock-stars, just like all the straight kids I grew up with. Yeah, I tended to gravitate toward those who were either out or closeted gay/bi/queer, or all-around eccentrics (ie., not stereotypical "straight guys"), but, guys all the same.

    So, I don't see a lot to suggest that your generalization speaks to anything except ghettoized "gay male culture" as such, especially given that the gay males I've known out here in the hinterlands have not much resembled what I see presented as "gay male culture" in the media and online.

    Posted by: Shelly | Sep 12, 2012 11:48:27 AM

  12. Well said, Shelly.

    Posted by: Mikey | Sep 12, 2012 11:56:20 AM

  13. Negative judgements are minimised when you befriend nice people and are one. What does the Desiderata say? "avoid loud and vexatious people." Avoid them! Walk away. Don't show up. When you make mistakes apologise and change.

    Most of all insist on feeling good and do what it takes mentally to be so, appreciating your life, its details and the others in it.

    Posted by: UFFDA | Sep 12, 2012 12:02:48 PM

  14. You don't have to look further than the internet to see evidence of this. Look at the comments about any story about a gay man and inevitably he'll be slammed for *something* by other gay men- clothing, hair, tattoos, their sex life, the person they date, when and how they came out, their perceived "effeminacy" (Hi Rick! Hi Jason!), their job, the music they listen to....on and on and on.

    I'm sure I'm guilty of it too sometimes though I really try to cut other people, especially gay people, a lot of slack. Whenever there is something I "just don't get" about someone, I try to remind myself that my "getting something" is neither required or needed.

    That said, what's up with his HEINOUS tie?! ;-)

    Posted by: Caliban | Sep 12, 2012 12:04:29 PM

  15. i like that he used muriel's wedding at the start

    it's nice to be nice, i'm not always nice, but i try to be. i don't think i'd last anywhere where being slim or built were the norm, don't think i could take the pressure.

    Posted by: luke | Sep 12, 2012 12:08:13 PM

  16. @CALIBAN What you and others are not allowing yourselves to see is that the underlying reason for all this is that gay men have attached themselves emotionally to women rather than to other men (ergo my point above about "icons").


    Because gay men have largely internalized the idea that being attracted to other men equates to being of inferior masculinity.....and they therefore cannot really respect either themselves or other gay men....which not only accounts for all the judgmental tendencies, but also for the failure to form loving relationships.

    They cannot relate to straight men because they represent the masculinity that they imagine themselves to be deficient in.

    And so they project themselves onto women, part, due to the internalization issues alluded to above, but also because the larger culture encourages men to attach themselves emotionally to women rather than to men and to regard other men, regardless of sexual orientation, as competitors rather than intimates.

    This is why the only solution to all our problems is a complete overhaul of the male culture that will liberate both gay and straight men and result in a much healthier social environment for us all.

    Posted by: Rick | Sep 12, 2012 12:16:09 PM

  17. @SHELLY: Rick is the biggest judger of effeminate men and all women. He paints everyone with a large generalized brush. Pay no attention to him, he likes to come on here and think he is impressing us with his "knowledge" and big fancy words. He isn't.

    Posted by: MATT | Sep 12, 2012 12:26:55 PM

  18. Any group that has to deal with mass cultural shame will turn around that shame on themselves.

    Gay male culture is a hotbed of judgments. You will be judged if you're not hung enough, rich enough, muscular enough, butch enough, white enough, sexual enough, fashionable enough. And sadly, when you are not among the "upper echelons" of gay society you will judge the hot, hung, rich, popular among us because it really sucks to grow up hearing insult after insult hurled at you for things you cannot control.

    It's incredibly sad. We're all guilty of it. Including me. I have my insecurities and I feel that judging or trashing people who make me feel insecure will solve my problems and it doesn't. I work very hard emotionally and spiritually to move past that, but many people never do.

    Posted by: Alejandro | Sep 12, 2012 12:38:58 PM

  19. Rick, please. My cultural icons include gay men, straight men, straight women and lesbians. I have no problem loving the work of Haruki Murakami (a straight male Japanese novelist) and Madonna (a straightish woman) and Dusty Springfield (a lesbian) and Pedro Almodovar (a gay man) all at the same time.

    Posted by: Alejandro | Sep 12, 2012 12:42:45 PM

  20. He lost me at "amongst".

    Posted by: Bingo | Sep 12, 2012 12:43:13 PM

  21. Thank you for posting this video. I learned a little about myself today.

    Posted by: Jeff | Sep 12, 2012 1:01:17 PM

  22. MATT, re: Rick: I recently read an article about a study which concluded that those who are the most zealously committed or personally invested in a any given political/ideological position are also those who most strongly filter their perception of reality through their own biases and so convince themselves more and more of their own presupposed "rightness" while drifting further and further afield of objective reality.

    It's an epidemic lately.

    Posted by: Shelly | Sep 12, 2012 1:01:38 PM

  23. "Dust in the wind..."

    Posted by: Doug | Sep 12, 2012 1:06:56 PM

  24. "Dust in the wind..."

    Posted by: Doug | Sep 12, 2012 1:06:59 PM

  25. W E R K.

    we are a community of people who grow up and learn at a young age that we're "different" in a world that is not made for us, nor is it even particularly welcoming.

    so we get people who, even after they've Come Out, havent' actually checked their baggage and given themselves the clean slate at life needed to have a healthy existence.

    we often go from working too hard to impress one "group" to then doing the exact same thing with another, and another.

    certain quantifiers to justify our existences - right clothes, right body, right social crowd, etc.

    life gets so much more enjoyable when you live your own life on your own terms.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Sep 12, 2012 1:10:51 PM

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