Dare to Ask: Do gay men typically not date 'out of
By Phillip J. Milano
I’m called handsome by some, but I think I am unattractive. I recently
started accepting my sexuality and realized I am gay. Is there acceptance in the
gay community for “ugly” people?
N.N., 17, male, Minnesota
Young metros who go to clubs might desire a particular look, but that is not
ubiquitous to all gay men. Most of my gay friends are just average-looking. They
say there's someone for everyone. Just try not to obsess over your appearance.
That kind of vain insecurity is unappealing to all stripes of sexual
Dot, female, Los Angeles
Different people find different features attractive, so I'd suggest believing
the people who call you handsome. While there are certain features that turn me
off (mustaches), in general, chemistry is more important to me than looks.
Charles, 56, gay, Oakland, Calif.
Let's not forget, gay males aren't just gay, they're male, too. That means
that, just like many straight guys, many gay guys are really big on looks first,
says author and gay dating expert Michael Alvear (Gaydatingsuccess.net).
“There’s definitely a standard by which everyone is compared, and it is
typically young, tall, muscular and hopefully with a big package. It’s our
version of big [breasts],” said Alvear, who co-hosted HBO’s “The Sex Inspectors”
and writes books on how to attract hot gay guys.
What makes the whole hunkiness thing so suffocating for many gay men is that
there’s no opposite sex – i.e., women – to blunt the sharp focus on looks, he
“Women don’t put as much emphasis on male appearance. So you can walk down
the street and see a gorgeous woman with a fat, ugly toad of a straight guy, but
in gay life you’ll almost never see a fat-ugly-toad guy with a beautiful guy,
unless he’s an escort.”
That means gay men can’t usually date “out of their league,” whereas a
straight guy can often find a partner to judge him first on things other than
appearance, like personality, experience, humor or wealth, Alvear said.
“Gay men aren’t shallow, but like straight men, they have priorities.
Research shows it’s an evolutionary principle with men in general.”
A 2009 Harvard University study on facial attraction, for example, found that
gay and straight men both like faces more synonymous to the sex they’re
attracted to. Specifically, gay guys are really into masculine-faced men (broad
jaw and forehead, etc.) while straight guys prefer feminine-faced women (tapered
chin, big lips, narrow forehead).
Meanwhile, prior research also found women prefer more masculine male faces
when ovulating, possibly for procreation reasons.
“You are biologically inclined to look for markers of fertility in the sex to
which you are attracted. It’s in the genes,” Alvear said.
ADD OR READ MORE COMMENTS
This is your column. You can help it grow! If you like "Dare to Ask,"
please call or e-mail your favorite newspaper or web site and urge them to start
Phillip Milano, author of "I Can't Believe You Asked That! (Perigee)," moderates cross-cultural dialogue at Y? The National Forum on People's
Differences. Keep the cross-cultural dialogue going at his
Jacksonville.com blog or at www.yforum.com. Send general
column comments to yforum (at) yforum.com. You can also hear his