Start writing a post

Misogyny is a destructive knotweed among queer men

Progress for the LGBT+ community isn't on the cards until we address the virulent creeper in the room.

Misogyny is a destructive knotweed among queer men
Rainbow surrounded by trees
LGBT+ writer, public speaker and researcher

When it comes to gay and bi men's mental health, one of the biggest stumbling blocks we face is internalised homophobia and biphobia – likely from an early adoption of toxic behaviours picked up in the playground and carried on into adulthood.

Alexander Leon stated on Twitter recently that 'Queer people don't grow up as ourselves, we grow up playing a version of ourselves that sacrifices authenticity to minimise humiliation and prejudice. The massive task of our adult lives is to unpick which parts of ourselves are truly us and which parts we've created to protect us."

It's important to remember a key statistic here. Gay and bisexual men are four times more likely to attempt suicide across their lifetime than the rest of the population. Reasons for this are complex and studies are exploring the cause and effect of such high figures, looking at roles played by discrimination, substance abuse, access to healthcare, and isolation (particularly in more mature gay and bi men). These areas have all actively contributed to the decline in mental health we've observed in queer men, but I'd argue a greater focus needs to be placed on our understanding of gender expression if we're to get to the root of the issue.

From a very young age, I (like most other gay men) have been surrounded by highly stylised examples of binarized gender behaviour. Boys can do 'this'. Girls can do 'this'. And never the twain shall meet. But I learned early on that this wasn't necessarily the case for all people, and I realised that adhering to standards you don't believe in can be mentally exhausting.

We see it daily on the apps and dating sites. 'No camp' 'Straight acting only' 'No femme' 'Guys should look like guys'. I firmly believe this aversion to displays of femininity is inexorably linked to misogyny, and I'll be honest, seeing those 'disclaimers' in bios is the fastest way to tell the world you're a gigantic bigot and have a lot of learning you still need to do. It's not 'just a preference'; it's a broad stroke generalisation that does more damage to our community than you might initially realise.

Nobody is born homophobic. We learn these behaviours in home and school environments, and then eventually must 'un-learn' them as we realise the impact it's having on our ongoing mental health and the health of the wider LGBT+ community. We spend a lifetime modifying behaviours we feel only stand to further isolate us, but in doing so we forfeit the right to live unashamedly and authentically.

So how do we fix this problem? It's certainly not going to evaporate over night, and I'm of the opinion it requires a 'root and stem' approach. Like that damn Japanese knotweed, toxic masculinity runs deep. Call out negative patterns and rhetoric as it happens around you yes. But going further to address issues in education environments needs to be a high priority to disable the cyclical/generational nature of learned behaviour. Parents, teachers or guardians (however unwittingly) display a poor understanding of the fluidity and nuance of gender expression, and then reinforce dated tropes about manliness and womanliness amongst the next generation. The same generation then go on to become teachers, parents, guardians themselves, and continue to perpetuate the same harmful stereotypes about gender that serve no one.

As men (not just gay and bi men – all men), it's our responsibility to dismantle the systems that have kept us indifferent to our own mental health for so long. We need to hold each other accountable for the language that we use, and the way we interact with each other and the rest of the world. I have a suspicion that if you look at cases of domestic abuse/violence, sexual harassment, transphobia, homophobia and biphobia, you needn't look too far before you find evidence of toxic masculinity and misogyny floating around at the bottom of the barrel.

Can tech help female entrepreneurs break the bias?

Women founders continue to come up against common challenges and biases - solving this problem is bigger than supporting women, it’s about supporting the national economy.

Can tech help female entrepreneurs break the bias?

Women founders continue to come up against common challenges and biases

Written by Kelly Devine, Division President UK & Ireland, Mastercard

Starting a business may have historically been perceived as a man’s game, but this couldn’t be further from reality. Research shows women are actually more likely than men to actively choose to start their own business – often motivated by the desire to be their own boss or to have a better work-life balance and spend more time with their family.

Keep reading...Show less

How am I doing as a parent?

Evaluating yourself is hard. It's even harder when attempting to assess your parenting because there's no set guide and nothing to count, measure, or quantify.

How am I doing as a parent?
Mum of two, bar manager, and lover of wine. And tequila.

Some time ago, I met my lovely friend for a drink, straight off the train from London. She told me about a very intense performance review she had at work recently, which, although scary, was incredibly useful; it gave her a general sense of how she was doing and areas to work on.

And it struck me we don't get this feedback as parents. Am I doing a good job? I have no idea.

Keep reading...Show less
#StartTheConversation by joining us on

Join our new platform for free and your post can reach a huge audience on Indy100 and The Independent join