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Social Media 10-year Challenge Reveals Femmephobia in Gay Communities

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by Adam Davies and Rhea Ashley Hoskin for The Conversation

This year, the 10-Year Challenge appeared as a social media fad on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

For the challenge (also called the 2009 vs. 2019 Challenge), people post two side-by-side photos of themselves to show how much they’ve changed: one photo is current and the other from 10 years ago.

The opportunity to self-reflect on a decade’s worth of changes can be a wonderful opportunity to assess one’s development.

This may be especially true for queer and trans people who may have significant changes to share as they become more open about their identity.

A post shared by patrickstarrr (@patrickstarrr) on Jan 14, 2019 at 12:33pm PST. But for others, the posts may feel less celebratory. They may even feel self-denigrating.

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#2009vs2019 #pastorPAT #10yearchallenge

A post shared by patrickstarrr (@patrickstarrr) on

But for others, the posts may feel less celebratory. They may even feel self-denigrating.

Many gay men describe their 2009 picture as “gross,” “unattractive” or “grotesque” in ways that link these qualities to femininity. These attitudes are consistent with societal messages that men should not express femininity.

As we scroll through these posts, especially by gay men, we believe many sentiments expressed reveal a deep femmephobia within LGBTQ+ communities. They also echo widespread issues of body dysmorphia (the obsessive feeling that a part of your body is flawed) and include fat-shaming or inadvertently praise disordered eating.

The posts raise alarms for us because we believe they are part of a growing culture of gay men glorifying femmephobia and elements of toxic masculinity.

Dating apps: hotbeds of body image struggles

Within our research, we seek to understand and illuminate femmephobic attitudes. For many gay men, Facebook and Instagram and gay-specific dating apps are hotbeds of body image struggles and online gender-based discrimination.

Research suggests that this phenomenon is linked to gay men’s tendency to openly discriminate against other gay men who express a gender outside of traditional masculinity. Gay men’s skinny and thin bodies are viewed with disgust by other men seeking more “masculine” presenting partners.

On dating apps like Grindr, there is the ubiquitous hateful saying: “No fats, no fems, no Asians”. This saying is reflective of the systemic denigration and discrimination against feminine gay men — both fat and thin male bodies — as well as Asian men.

Asian men have historically been stereotyped as passive, submissive and failing expectations for masculinity, with gay Asian men experiencing high amounts of femmephobia and gender-based stereotyping within gay men’s communities.

Scruff, a gay hook-up app is a prime example of the privilege masculinity receives in gay men’s communities. Scruff is marketed and catered to a “scruffy” demographic. Scruffy or rugged men who have hair on their bodies and large amounts of facial hair can congregate online, commonly leaving those considered more feminine ostracized from such spaces.

Likewise, Grindr, the most popular gay hook-up app, is well-known for its focus on fit bodies, muscular physiques and gym selfies.

In this pursuit, researchers have shown gay men to have high levels of body dysmorphia, which can result in a preoccupation with gym culture, or taking silicon implements and testosterone enhancers to grow muscle mass.

Gay men interact with one another online in heavily masculinized ways, with a focus on short sentences, quick phrases and highly sexualized text. They tend to avoid emotional expressions and committed relationships.

Twinks

Some researchers suggest that gay men commonly express femininity during adolescence, yet this is diminished to conform to masculine ideologies as adults. An especially influential example of this in the gay subculture is “twinks,” a common term to describe young, effeminate, typically white and slender gay men.

Although twinks are highly valorized by certain segments of the gay community for their youthfulness, they are also often negatively stereotyped. They deal with perceptions of frivolity, passivity and superficiality. and are fetishized or objectified as play-things that simultaneously affirms the masculinity of other men.

Young twinks are encouraged to either masculinize their gender expression or become submissive for the consumption of more masculine gay men.

Within twink communities are high rates of sexual assault experiences and high suicide rates.

Toxic masculinity

An especially influential study by clinical psychologist Kittiwut Jod Taywaditep found many gay men endorse femmephobic sentiments and engage in a processes of “defeminization” between adolescence and adulthood.

For many gay men, growing out of their femininity is seen as a sign of adulthood — an evolution of the body and self as they shed their former feminine and boyish self and enter adulthood as a stable and masculine man who has internalized dominant notions of masculinity.

With femininity’s associations with youthfulness and incompletion, masculinity is secured as a cultural symbol of adulthood. This adulthood is then associated with a masculine and athletic body. This evolution narrative crafts a spectrum of gender expression that places femininity on the left and masculinity on the right.

It creates an ideology that views feminine men as inferior or “not fully developed.”

Comments on these posts on social media about body size and youthful appearance bolster the narrative of femininity as inferior and infantile.

The narrative of the 10-Year Challenge seems to be that all is OK once a femme defeminizes and grows into a respectable masculine man. These attitudes towards the “femmes of 2009” need to stop to avoid solidifying toxic masculinity in LGBTQ+ communities.

Adam Davies is an Assistant Professor at the University of Guelph. Rhea Ashley Hoskin is a Postdoctoral Researcher in Femininities, Femme and Femmephobia, Queen’s University, Ontario.

The Conversation publishes knowledge-based journalism that is responsible, ethical and supported by evidence from academics and researchers in order to inform public debate with facts, clarity and insight into society’s biggest problems.

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City

Census 2020 Launches Campaign: ‘Be Counted West Hollywood’

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WEST HOLLYWOOD — The City of West Hollywood, at its regular City Council meeting on Tuesday, January 21 officially launched its “Be Counted West Hollywood” countdown campaign to Census 2020, which will take place on April 1.

The City’s efforts aim to mobilize community members to take part in the upcoming census and to educate residents and stakeholders about the importance of participating in the census and returning the questionnaire. The United States Constitution mandates that a complete national population count be conducted every 10 years.

“The census provides critical information,” said West Hollywood Mayor John D’Amico. “A complete count will help to ensure that West Hollywood receives a fair share of federal funding and investments and, on a state level, the count will determine California’s apportionment in the U.S. House of Representatives. It’s so important that people in our community take part and be counted.”

To ensure that every resident of the City of West Hollywood is counted during the Census 2020, the City is inviting community members to become part of the City-Census initiative as Ambassadors. Ambassadors are an essential part of the City-Census 2020 engagement campaign to ensure a complete count.

Ambassadors will volunteer their time by disseminating a wealth of information across the community to ensure everyone is engaged and knowledgeable about the Census 2020.

Ambassadors are encouraged to engage and inform their respective constituents and social media audiences in a way they feel most comfortable. Ambassadors must either live, do business, or have strong affiliation with the City of West Hollywood; be willing to receive information from the Census or the City and share this information with the public.

Interested stakeholders are encouraged to send an email to Hernan Molina at census@weho.org with your name, address, phone number, and preferred email address to be used by the City-Census initiative.

The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) in California has estimated that during the 1990 Census, California’s population was undercounted by 2.7 percent; this undercount likely resulted in California receiving at least $2 billion less in federal funds.

There are, however, other impacts beyond reduced financial resources: according to the LAO, the 1990 Census undercount was severe enough that the State of California was shortchanged one Congressional seat. Census staff has projected, based on data from the 2010 Census and from regular surveys, that certain West Hollywood census tracts may have a moderately low response rate.

As a community of just 1.9 square miles, the City of West Hollywood will work diligently to achieve a complete census count in Census 2020.

Here is a brief operational timeline of Census 2020:

  • January 21: The U.S. Census Bureau starts counting the population in remote Alaska. The count officially begins in the rural Alaskan village of Toksook Bay.
  • January 28 at 5:30 p.m. City of West Hollywood Census Ambassador Orientation online via GoToMeeting. Contact Hernan Molina at census@weho.org for more information.
  • March 12 to 20: Households will begin receivingofficial Census Bureau mail with detailed information on how to respond to the 2020 Census online, by phone, or by mail.  
  • March 30 to April 1: The Census Bureau will count people who are experiencing homelessness over these three days. As part of this process, the Census Bureau counts people in shelters, at soup kitchens and mobile food vans, on the streets, and at non-sheltered, outdoor locations such as tent encampments.
  • April 1: Census Day is observed nationwide. By this date, every home will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. Once the invitation arrives, you should respond for your home in one of three ways: online, by phone, or by mail. When you respond to the census, you’ll tell the Census Bureau where you live as of April 1, 2020.
  • April: Census takers will begin visiting college students who live on campus, people living in senior centers, and others who live among large groups of people. Census takers also begin conducting quality check interviews to help ensure an accurate count.
  • May through July: Census takers will begin visiting homes that haven’t responded to the 2020 Census to help make sure everyone is counted.
  • December: The Census Bureau will deliver apportionment counts to the President and Congress as required by law.
  • March 31, 2021: By this date, the Census Bureau will send redistricting counts to states. This information is used to redraw legislative districts based on population changes.

The City of West Hollywood has consistently supported legislation that requires the Census Bureau to count every person living in the United States, independent of their immigration or citizenship status and the City has strongly advocated for the importance of including questions about sexual orientation in order to help identify LGBTQ people and families and safeguard their rights and responsibilities.

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History & Preservation

WeHo’s Circus of Books Returns to Life As Chi Chi LaRue’s Circus

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WEST HOLLYWOOD (Los Angeles Magazine) –Sex toys and porn are joined by art, books, and more at the adult movie director and drag diva’s new Santa Monica Boulevard space.

Before the internet democratized, destigmatized, and decentralized the porn industry, it was largely a back-alley business. The same was true in the realm of gay porn, except it faced more scrutiny, stricter obscenity laws, and a much more profound level of ostracism.

Take the storied history of Circus of Books, the West Hollywood gay porn emporium on the southwest corner of Santa Monica and Sweetzer.

Unlikely as it may sound, Circus was owned by husband-and-wife entrepreneurs Karen and Barry Mason, who traded in their respective careers in investigative journalism and special effects to distribute Hustler for Larry Flint in the […]

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LGBTQ

WeHo Dodgeball Team to Compete at Vegas LGBTQ + Sports Festival

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WEST HOLLYWOOD (The Pride LA) — Hosted annually by The Greater Los Angeles Softball Association (GLASA), Sin City Classic brings together the United State’s finest athletes for a weekend of fun, competition and camaraderie.

This weekend, our own local WeHo Dodgeball will be in Las Vegas competing. The Pride LA spoke with USA Dodgeball President Jake Mason to get the inside scoop. Check it out:

Can you introduce yourself?

My name is Jake Mason and I am the president of USA Dodgeball.

In one sentence, what is Sin City Classic?

Sin city Classic is the most amazing gathering of LGBTQ+ athletes in the world! Can you elaborate more? This is one of, if not the, biggest LGBTQ+ sports festival and […]

Continue reading at thepridela.com

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