GLBT

STOP with the Gay For You, Please!

I hate that label. It’s used on Goodreads all the time with my books because I write about bisexual men. They are bisexual, not gay for you or for anyone!

Never have I written about a straight guy who suddenly decides he’s going to give it up for another guy for whatever reason, but I’ve surely written about men who are bisexuals who are inexperienced with same-sex relationships or who later in life come to terms with their same-sex attraction.

This is not at all the same thing as gay for you.

Perhaps I’m overly sensitive because I’m bisexual and I’m SO sick of bi-erasure that I could spit. Like spit hard enough to break glass sort of pissed. I’m a bisexual woman who has been married to the same man for nearly 20 years now, but I’m still bisexual. Sadly, most people ignore me when I say I’m bi and say ignorant shit like, “But you’ve been married to a man for ages, so now you’re straight” or  “But not anymore.”

Uhm…no! I’m still sexually attracted to women, and if something were to happen to my husband (death, divorce, anything), I could just as easily have my next relationship with a woman as a man. I lost a friendship over this issue because, during the MN marriage amendment vote, I had one of my friends wonder why I was so passionately opposed to allow marriage to be defined as between a man and a woman. The simplest answer I could give her that truly resonated with her was that I might want to marry a woman some day.

She still didn’t get it.

So the gay for you label/tag obviously brings out a lot of passion in me. If you have sexual desire for someone of the same sex, you are probably not entirely straight. Our world is not a dichotomous place of straight and gay, despite how many forms we are given to fill in bubbles that only give us only two choices. The world exists on a continuum, one where I’m happy to plot myself for interested parties.

Bisexuality is more common than many are willing to even consider, which is one of the reasons I write about bi men. Gay men often dismiss bi men as “experimenting” or being “curious,” and the straight public doesn’t understand us bisexuals at all, unless in the context of porn created for straight men.

This is my plea: stop using the tag gay for you or the excuse of “I knew he was really gay!” when authors and friends are truly defining bisexual men. The world is grey, not black and white. Stop making people pick boxes because they make it easier for you to define. Instead, allow people who ID as bi to use the label they choose to use!

Also, if people are bi-erasing in front of you, stop it. We do exist. We really do. And we sure could use a few more advocates in the world.

 

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21 thoughts on “STOP with the Gay For You, Please!”

  1. Great post 🙂 I was utterly bewildered when quite a few people tagged Not Just Friends as gay for you… um. No. Lewis is gay, he just hadn’t quite worked it out at the start of the story.
    I have a story with a bi character coming out later this year so am expecting lots of people to shelve that at GFY too… It’s frustrating.

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    1. Yes, I was surprised too. Never once have I had any of my bi-characters say they were GFY, even if they needed time. But Kevin, of all characters, was labeled this way, and he clearly IDs as bi, even if he hasn’t told the world about it.

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  2. It drives me crazy with “gay for you” or “out for you” labels are misapplied. I’ll admit a weakness for both storylines in certain cases (more OFY than GFY), but when a character is identified in the story as gay or bi (or pan or whatever), then that is the character’s identity. Calling a bi character gay because he’s with a man (or straight because he’s with a woman) is flat-out wrong. It amazes me how many people involved in the LGBTQ community don’t get the distinction.

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  3. While I certainly respect your perspective and agree with you on so many points about the frustration of being bisexual, I don’t completely agree on the “gay for you” aspect. I see your point but at the same time I feel that it’s a valid part of that greyness you spoke of. Maybe that 1-2 on the Kinsey scale. I do believe there are people out there who may only be attracted to one person of the same gender. A man may be attracted to women, but genuinely love another man while not being attracted to any (or many) other men.

    So, is it possible? I think so. I think that’s the beauty of bisexuality, and sexuality in general. It’s never exactly the same for any two people and all of the different variations make it so much more interesting.

    I resent bi-washing and get rage-y when I’m treated as though my attraction to women no longer exists because I’m married to a man as well, but I don’t find that the concept of “gay for you” problematic in and of itself.

    Are the words “gay for you” charged and potentially offensive to some? Yes. Is the idea overused? Probably.

    Personally, “I always knew he was gay” bothers me more though.

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    1. If a person does ID as straight and then finds themselves attracted to someone of the same sex, that still doesn’t make them gay for you. They may not be willing to call themselves anything other than straight at that point, which is fine. What truly bothers me is when someone takes a bi/straight/questioning person who has sex with someone of the same gender and then automatically shoves them into the gay box. That’s not right. We use labels to identify ourselves, not to categorize others, and GFY is not something someone else should be placing on anyone but themselves. That’s where my true beef comes: people mislabeling characters who clearly identify as something else with a trendy label.

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      1. That’s a valid point, Posy.

        I suppose I am thinking of my own characters. My most recent story involved a gay character, Eric, and a guy who had always previously been attracted to women, Kris. Their friendship evolved and I think in Kris’ case, he would have labeled himself gay for you (well, gay for Eric). Is it because he’s young? Because it’s something new? Maybe. I didn’t personally call him that, but some reviewers did and it didn’t bother me. I think under those circumstances it fit. As he got older would he probably realize that there are other men he finds attractive? Yeah, I think so. Would he consider himself bi? I don’t know. As in real life, it’s complicated.

        I 100% agree that using labels should only be for ourselves but not for others, particularly in real life.

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      2. I have no issue at all with characters or real life people defining themselves as GFY. It’s a step toward greater self understanding. My concern is readers disregarding a character’s self-chosen label and calling them GFY instead. Pet peeve, obviously. Haha

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  4. I have to agree with the perspective here, of course. I think that it tends to be human nature to try and categorize, however, so I think on some level I’m not nearly as offended as others with a distinct label. Like trying to understand a course in biology, a cat is a cat, but the exact breed of cat is the defining charactersitic, right? I think the whole label argument speaks to the idea that people are trying to wade through the waters of sexuality…which to me is kind of funny for those that want to express the non-existance of bisexuality: If we did not exist, then why do you need to categorize us? 😉

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    1. I think labels are for us to place on ourselves, not to place on others. I even ask people who have long names that are easy to shorten what they like to be called, because I hate it when people shorten my name. Haha. So I obviously don’t want someone throwing incorrect labels my way if I can’t stand a nickname. 😀

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  5. I love this article. I dislike the term gay for you, even though the story-lines that use this as a label are often some of my favourites. I prefer to think it’s people in love. So what if every other time they’ve been attracted to someone of the opposite sex and this time they’re not. I think everyone has the potential to fall in love with anyone. I’ve never yet been attracted to another female, that doesn’t mean I rule it out as a possibility in the future. I think you fall in love with a person, not a gender and some type of people are more attractive to you than others. Does that make sense?

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    1. That makes perfect sense. I all about falling in love with a person, especially their heart and soul. That is what matters, not the junk between their legs. 🙂

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  6. That’s interesting because I too hate that tag/title and it makes me not want to read a book that has been placed in that category. Or when I do read a book that had that label attached to it, I always finish wondering why the person wasn’t recognized as bisexual. I don’t really know who attaches the tag/label of GFY. I always thought that it was the author so I went with it. Now I know. Great post!

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    1. I think it depends on where you are looking. On Goodreads, people can label things however they choose. Some authors label their characters GFY, which if they are, great. I have always labeled my characters either bisexual, gay, straight, or questioning. I’ve never written a GFY character, yet I can almost guarantee that if I have a bi character written in a story, I’ll see the GFY label on Goodreads in a matter of days. I often get the comment, “I knew he was gay all along” too.

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      1. That’s crazy. I detest that label because it truly makes no sense whatsoever. It’s not like you meet someone and say, “I think I’ll make myself gay for him/her,” you know?

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  7. Oh, I so feel your pain here! One of my favorite books is labeled GFY when the character admits he’s been both attracted to guys before and experimented with them also. But everyone calls him straight in reviews and it does bug me. I get that some people are confused when a character doesn’t describe himself as bi, but that doesn’t make him straight either. I think the reason for the GFY things is the fact so many love that label. Another thing could be the fact some readers are put off reading about bi characters.

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    1. Yep. I nearly nodded my head off while reading your comment. Haha. Buy why are so many people reluctant to read about bi characters? If people were to be truly honest with themselves, many of us would ID as bi.

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      1. Haha. Good to know. Part of the reason, I think, is a lot of people see bi people as cheaters. And a lot of people (myself included) do not like to read about cheating. I know that not all bi people cheat, just like not all gay or straight people cheat. Another thing is the number of bi characters that have kids and some really dislike it. Even though a lot of GFY characters have kids too. I know I’m not 100% straight and I never claimed to be either. And I know a gay man who dislikes reading about bi characters because he doesn’t like “girly bits” in his m/m romances.

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  8. Great way of putting something I really hadn’t given much thought to. It’s possible to be bi -sexual and in a long term hetero relationship. For me, the term would be monogamous. That means I only have one partner at a time. Boys, girls, vampires, space aliens… my character could be attracted to them all and may have possibly had sexual encounters with them all at some point but is currently in a monogamous, committed relationship.

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