Overcompensation?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 21, 2007 5:31 PM GMT

    Several threads recently have dealt with the nature of masculinity and Femininity, and perception in our society.

    I have to admit that I have sometimes wondered if I sub consciously over compensate sometimes for being gay; I wonder if some of my choices weren’t made because I might be afraid of either my self perception or society’s.

    I chose sort of hyper masculine, over achieving, paths when I was growing up and even as an adult:

    I was an Eagle Scout and Explorer; I triple lettered in HS and College (Football [1-A], Wrestling, Track & Field), I enlisted in the Army (12 years, always honor graduate, became a Ranger and 1SG). I went to an engineering school and joined a Frat. I have always loved hunting, fishing, camping, and the outdoors. I dive and sport fish. Eventually I started my own company, and even though it’s a tech company we expanded into areas of industrial and corporate security and investigations, we do a lot of defense contracting. Some my clients are in very rough spots in the world. My recreational activities and pleasure are mostly sports and outdoor related. Finally I married a guy who used to be in the SAS himself.

    Lets face it, those are not things typically associated in the publics perception of most gays.

    I like doing things on the edge, I like the rush of adrenaline I get from some activities. I am usually very good at what I do. I’ve been told I can be intimidating.

    In short, sometimes I have to wonder if just maybe some of the choices I have made, some of things I do, might not be because somehow I am trying to subconsciously compensate for my admitting that I am gay.

    Has anyone else ever thought about things like this?

    R
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    Aug 21, 2007 6:48 PM GMT
    Only you can answer that, ITJ. What I can say to you is that there is nothing wrong with enjoying sports and the outdoors and being gay. I know I do.

    I think some gay men do overcompensate and that's unfortunate. But that may not be the case with you.

    It's sad that there's this need to fit into a certain box or label just to feel accepted. I think for some people, being part of the majority is so important, they are willing to not only hide who they are but put down others that may be stereotypically gay.

    Being a person of color, I can tell you that being gay has a very different meaning to being a minority.

    If you're picked on because of the color of your skin, you go home and you can talk to someone in your family about it. If you're picked on because you are gay, you are on your own.

    I can tell you from experience that feminine guys develope a very hard shell and coping skills very early in life. Because we are so ovbiously gay, growing up with daily dealings of homophobia was my reality as a child. No one, especially children should have to deal with this kind of abuse. You get it at school, at home, in church, media etc. and it sucks!

    Some of our feminine gay brothers are able to come through all of that abuse stronger and more fearless and as a result don't give a flying f*ck what other people think. Other's aren't so lucky.

    It's one thing to have to deal with homophbia from straight people. It kills me to see it coming from my gay brothers. For me, we have to learn to accept each other inconditionally. Unitl we figure that out, I'm afraid overcompensation will not be going away any time soon.

    Ouch! I broke a heel jumping of the soapbox. ;-)
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 21, 2007 10:48 PM GMT
    It's not necessarily overcompensation, ITJock. People who overcompensate are insecure with themselves; if you're not insecure you're actually in your element when you behave in "masculine" ways, e.g. sports, outdoors, achieving...

    I sympathize with your experience because there are parallels in my growing up process. I was a lot more expressive than I am now when I was in kindergarten, but experiences since then taught me that it's more desirable and successful to have more "masculine" ways. As I strived toward that goal while growing up, I became more interested in sports, taking risks, and found pleasure from the commaraderie of hanging out with guys. This process was a journey motivated by overcompensating urges, but the end result is that I'm a secure person that enjoys a "masculine" behavior pattern without suppressing my "feminine side". It's true that my "feminine side" is less developed and it will never be very well developed; and I realize my overcompetitiveness are sometimes unproductive and hurtful to both myself and others. It's not about overcompensation though, it's about acknowledging that overly "masculine" behavior patterns can be unhealthy (even more so for straight guys) and need correction.
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    Aug 21, 2007 11:23 PM GMT
    Hmmmm....

    It seems that the Real Jock Community needs a gender forum for this subject. Maybe I will work on something to post for this...
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    Aug 21, 2007 11:33 PM GMT
    Given your conspicuous success at these activities, it seems more likely to me that they are just an expression of who you are and what you like to do.

    Had you more of a passive, bookish backgound but taken on a hypermasculine activity that was at odds with the rest of your life, I could see it ~ but not when it's part of a pretty consistent pattern.

    I'm no psychologist, I hasten to point out. It's also worth mentioning that labelling activites "masculine" or "feminine" is a slipperly slope all by itself.

    What does occur to me is that you are 45 - and probably knee-deep in andropause. At this time of your life it is almost predictable that you start asking yourself questions like this - along with "what's it all about?" "is this all there is?" etc. --- You might google "andropause" and check my professional site (www.prime-fit.com) for articles on the subject, as well as read the threads here on hormone replacement.
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    Aug 22, 2007 12:31 AM GMT

    It's not that I have a problem being 'gay', I am alright with that(now).

    I also have no problems with the spectrum of those who are/ have different identities from radical faries to drag queens to leather guys.

    And I know there are thousands, millions, of other guys out there who are absolutely straight who do the same types of things - push themselves just as hard.

    But as a gay man, I sometimes have this introspective doubt, this idea that creeps in that maybe, just maybe some of my decisions were influenced by trying to overcompensate somehow.

    I have been successful, and I am very good at what I do, but...

    I know it sounds silly. Just wondered if anyone else experienced that same kind of thing/doubts.

    Rob



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    Aug 22, 2007 1:05 AM GMT
    Rob,
    The more you write, the more I think andropause enters into this. That kind of introspection at this point in your life is almost classic.
    Joey
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    Aug 22, 2007 2:36 AM GMT
    ITJock,

    I think it's rather common to think of things like this, and I don't even think sexual orientation is the reason. To make a crude joke, Hummer sells a lot of vehicles for a reason. :)

    I know not everyone on the forum understands my sometimes unusual perspectives, but there is a degree to which they were shaped by a very atypical coming out experience. Back in college (92) I was more or less hatched into a hostile gay community. I recoiled back into the straight world, and spent the majority of my time for the next three years socializing and living among (straight) members of the college's football, swim, and crew teams. I had some interesting opportunities to discuss everything from masculinity to sex with some really remarkable guys, several of whom remain my most trusted and unconditional friends.

    I think nearly every male wrestles with their own sense of masculinity. There seems to be a degree to which this is simply part of being a man in Western culture. (I lack the ability to make any kind of comparative statement, but I'd certainly find it interesting to compare the expression of masculinity among cultures). It's something that is dealt with by every kid who tries out for Little League or football, every straight guy who worries about impressing his girlfriend, and every father who wonders how much affection to show his kids.

    In short, I wouldn't beat yourself up over anything. It sounds like you have a rich variety of interests, and you clearly enjoy them. After reading your post, I find myself doubting that, had you been straight, you'd be pursuing needlepoint and cosmetology.

    I feel like my reply is somewhat unfocused, but hopefully it makes some sense.

    -Joey

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    Aug 22, 2007 3:20 AM GMT
    I agree with ital, to a very large degree "masculinity" and "femininity" or simply social norms/concepts that have some established societal meaning within Western culture in the present day. We are constantly bombarded by all sorts of different sources telling us from birth that boys should be playing sports, and grow to be big and muscular and strong, and girls should be playing with Barbie dolls and have babies. (And even with women's lib, there are still a lot of societal expectations, even if things are slowly evolving.)

    It has been awhile since I took anthropology, so I'm sure someone else on here can produce some more concrete examples, but I do recall that looking at other cultures, some of them have extremely different concepts of masculinity and femininity than present-day Western culture, to the point where some things that we would consider very feminine today would be considered masculine traits in other cultures, and vice versa.

    On the other hand, just because we do fit societal expectations doesn't mean our preferences/choices are any less valid. I love playing sports, and enjoy building my body and keeping fit, but while I'm sure, like everyone else, I developed these preferences at least partly because of environmental/societal influences, that doesn't make them any less valid or fun for me. We are all constantly influenced by our environments in one way or another throughout our lives, and that's part of living in an organized society.

    I think where it becomes a problem is if you are doing activities or trying to fulfill societal expectations not because you enjoy them, but because you're trying to fit in or just because it's expected of you. For example, if you didn't really like skydiving, but just did it to prove yourself or make yourself feel more masculine, that might be a problem. Or if you started picking fights because you wanted to prove you weren't weak. In those cases, I'd say you're probably doing things for the wrong reasons, but it doesn't sound like that's the case in the above posts. If you're comfortable with and enjoy what you do, it doesn't matter if it's due to these societal influences (which everything probably is to some degree).
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 22, 2007 3:24 AM GMT
    Sorry, the first line should state, 'to a very large degree "masculinity" and "femininity" ARE simply social norms/concepts'.
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    Aug 22, 2007 4:16 AM GMT
    You know, straight guys never talk about their "feminine straight brothers." A lot of feminine guys are straight--but straight guys don't feel an obligation to create a false bond with them. Why are gay guys under any more of an obligation to support their "feminine brothers" than straight guys are to support their "feminine brothers?"

    I think straight guys have the right attitude--do what you gotta do, but take responsibility for it, and don't expect everyone to like you for it.
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    Aug 22, 2007 4:44 AM GMT
    Joey - By the sound of it, I have had andropause for about a decade:

    http://www.andropause.com/

    However, during my latest physical, my testosterone levels came back normal (albeit on the lower end of the normal spectrum). I think I'm actually just living up to my reputation as a cranky old fart.

    ITJock - Regardless of orientation, I don't think that the random existential crisis is atypical or abnormal, provided that it doesn't morph into clinical depression or an anxiety disorder. All in all, it sounds like you have a pretty good head on your shoulders. Overcompensators who overtly bash gays, retreat into fanaticism and/or otherwise hide behind a moralistic smokescreen are the ones I worry about.
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    Aug 22, 2007 7:36 AM GMT
    ITJock> those are not things typically associated in the publics perception of most gays.

    I'm going to "attack" what you say by questioning the premise quoted above. Not that it's "wrong", but I have some thoughts about why it is right - and whats wrong with that.

    My supposition is that traditionally (i.e. last 100+ years) the people who were more likely to come out were those who couldn't "pass" as straight or were out there somewhere in left field (and that's not a baseball reference). By the 1970s, there was a fairly established "sub-culture" which reinforced and perpetuated existing stereotypes.

    From my personal experience, when I started contemplating if I was gay in the late 1970s, I saw drag queens and leather daddies in the 15-second segment the TV news would show of a gay pride parade and I concluded that I wasn't gay. So despite secretly lusting after various guys in gym class, I was stuck in the closet. At the other end, someone who was inspired by seeing that on TV rushed to SF or NY and came out.

    I think one can also see the impact of this effect on gay politics. In the 1970s, it wasn't about "gay marriage" - we didn't want to be like straight people and were probably more into "free love". And "gays in the military"? They gay line back then was more to get rid of the military and certainly that no progressive queer should be involved with this arm of the oppressive and imperialist establishment.

    With homosexuality no longer defined as a mental disease, with growing acceptance (at least in some places) more people from all walks of life started coming out. Yet as part of that process, we also buy into some of the existing sub-culture. From snapping our fingers or saying "girlfriend", we pick up on things which our gay peers (and those who trailblazed for us) do. However, this is learned behavior, not innate.

    I don't deny that there can be some [over-] compensation, but I think it's over-rated. There are bound to be gay people who like camping, fishing, football... heck, maybe even autoracing. In my case, while I have to admit that I was bored the first year my dad got season tickets for Michigan football, it grew on me and I became a football fan before I even suspected I was gay (and thought I had to compensate for anything in that regard).

    I'd also wonder if some of it is more about "fitting in" than compensating for being gay (even if this is a different side of the same coin). In my case, I'm an immigrant who always wanted to pass as being an American (and when your parents talk to you in a foreign language in front of your elementary school peers... argh!!). So this effect may not be limited just to gay guys trying to pass as straight. It could be the kid from down south pretending not to like Okra because kids up north think its gross.

    So like we say, "just be yourself". If you like football or camping, great! If you prefer knitting and watching Opra, that's fine too.
  • zakariahzol

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    Aug 22, 2007 11:53 AM GMT
    I enjoy those masculine stuff. I always do. And I know very well, I am gay. I dont do those stuff to fit in, to overcompensate my sexual orientation. I do it because I enjoy it.

    I use to hate other men who into black leather, masculine cowboy , bodybuilder, bikers, denim, tight jeans not because I am gay but because I am fat and cant fit and look horrible in it. Now that I am getting in shape I gonna do something I always want to do. To be a macho man, well gay macho man that is.

    However , I have my softies side . If you thinks my interest in art, painting, teater, singing (ballad and love song, not rocker and rap), folk and traditional music is faminine than be it. I not gonna change that either. I enjoy and I love them.

    Life is to short to worry about pleasing other people.
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    Aug 22, 2007 12:06 PM GMT
    I don't follow the logic here. You may be atypical compared to media stereotypes, but I feel pretty sure there are plenty of gay men with similar backgrounds.

    Even were you straight, a feminist might accuse you of "overcompensation" on the basis of gender. But even that would be unlikely unless you were explicitly sexist.

    My question would be: What do you gain by reciting your resume -- to yourself, to others -- and wondering if you're over-compensating?

    And, if someone replies, "Yes, you're over-compensating," how are you going to respond?


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    Aug 22, 2007 2:18 PM GMT
    by buying stockings with a seam up the back, of course
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    Aug 22, 2007 2:36 PM GMT
    ITJock said: "...In short, sometimes I have to wonder if just maybe some of the choices I have made, some of things I do, might not be because somehow I am trying to subconsciously compensate for my admitting that I am gay..."

    Hmm. I have a feeling that the percentage of gay men who were scouts, played intercollegiate athletics, etc. is not that different than that found for straight men. So, I don't see how that has anythig to do with masculinity or femininity. It has to do with the things that hold your interest.

    I would say..most straight men don't hunt or fish. So I am wondering why anyone would feel that a gay man engaging in those interests (or the others you list) means that the gay man is trying to appear straight (overcompensating).

    I realize that some gay men who DO hold that stereotype dear (as in a few responses above), might believe that...since some hold the fallacious view (IMHO) that straight men are masculine, fraternity brothers pounding their chests...and to be masculine is to emulate that.

    Balderdash.
  • DiverScience

    Posts: 1426

    Aug 22, 2007 2:49 PM GMT
    Are you doing what you love?

    If the answer is "yes" then stop worrying (yeah I know, easier said than done).

    If you're doing what you enjoy, then who cares if someone else labels it "masculine" or "feminine" or "gay" or "straight" or "overcompensation" or "fulfilling the stereotype?"



    I hike, camp, backpack, chop wood, practice archery, woodwork, and play sports. Why? Because I like them.

    I also crochet, sew, landscape, read, write, cook, and can weave baskets. Why? Because I like to.



    I think society in general but especially gay people need to get over stereotypes. And I don't just mean by *trying* to buck them. I mean by forgetting about them and you know... living our lives.

    Live your life. If someone else has an issue with the "masculinity" (or lack thereof) of it, then they can go fuck themselves with a flaming pine tree.

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    Aug 22, 2007 3:10 PM GMT
    "I also crochet, sew, landscape, read, write, cook, and can weave baskets. Why? Because I like to."


    Can you crochet me a hunting jacket, Diver?
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    Aug 22, 2007 3:53 PM GMT
    I can knit one ;)
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    Aug 22, 2007 3:56 PM GMT
    Ashpenaz said:

    Why are gay guys under any more of an obligation to support their "feminine brothers" than straight guys are to support their "feminine brothers?"

    *******************************************
    You don't have to support us, but I've seen many examples, (even on this very site)of "straight acting" gay men insulting and putting down feminine men.

    That's what bother's me.
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    Aug 22, 2007 4:08 PM GMT
    one of the best bits of advice I ever rec'd

    CONSIDER THE SOURCE

    it's that spoonful of sugar that helps negate the acerbic words of others.
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    Aug 22, 2007 5:24 PM GMT
    Diver DEFINITELY cooks, in my opinion.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 22, 2007 5:46 PM GMT
    you'd be hard pressed to find someone who felt otherwise. :)
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    Aug 22, 2007 11:49 PM GMT
    Obscenewish, while I question the need for OP to recite a whole resume in his post (can see a little insecurity there), I think his point is valid about finding his behavior pattern atypical for a gay man.
    Fastprof argued that since *most* straight men don't hunt or fish, therefore hunting and fishing should not identify someone as more "masculine". This is a fallacious argument.