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Gay Men: What is is Like to Be a Gay Man?


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A gay man is usually romantically, and / or physically attracted to other men. (Gay women are often called lesbians). Being gay, or homosexual, is one sexual orientation.


Men have always had romantic and sexual relationships with other men. For example, it is well-known that Roman culture was open to sexual mentoring between older and younger men. However, the use of the term homosexual to describe a sexual orientation only emerged in the mid-19th century.

Throughout the 20th century gay men endured persecution and hostility. In the late 1960s, the gay rights movement began to emerge to fight for equal rights for gays and lesbians.

Though hit hard by the AIDS crisis, the gay community continues to thrive, and be seen as a significant political and cultural presence.

Legal Issues:

  • Anti-sodomy laws, that were often used against gay men, were overturned in 2003.
  • Gay marriage is only legal in eight states and Washington D.C. Some other states recognize same-sex domestic partnerships. Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and Sweden all allow same-sex marriage.
  • Laws vary across the country on issues such as adoption, inheritance rights, and protection from sexual harassment.
  • Though it was recently repealed, gay men in the military still must hide who they are under don't ask, don't tell.


Many people come out in their teens or twenties, and gay teens have many more support networks today than ever before.

Unfortunately, many gay teens still face harassment and discrimination at school and from their families. As a result, the suicide rate among gay teens is higher than it is among straight teens.

Teens may also find it difficult to meet other young gay people their age. Using trusted internet sites, and contacting your closest GLBT community center can be a good way for young gay men to meet others.

Famous Gay Men:

There have been many famous gay men throughout history. Here is a partial list:

  • Alexander the Great
  • James Baldwin
  • Lance Bass
  • Boy George
  • Julius Caesar
  • Alan Cumming
  • Leonardo Da Vinci
  • James Dean
  • Rupert Everett
  • Neil Patrick Harris
  • Perez Hilton
  • Ricky Martin
  • Rock Hudson
  • Elton John
  • T R Knight
  • Dan Savage
  • Greg Louganis
  • Herman Melville
  • George Michael
  • Michelangelo
  • Cole Porter
  • Socrates
  • Rufus Wainwright
  • Andy Warhol
  • Walt Whitman
  • Oscar Wilde
  • Tennessee Williams
  • BD Wong


There is no one way to be gay. Though there are many stereotypes about gay men, none can represent everyone. Within the gay community there are many subcultures. These represent the wide range of what it can mean to be gay.

Getting Help & Information:

There are many organizations that serve gay men and teens, and it is often helpful to know where to go for information and support.

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