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Digital Subscriptions > Attitude > 290 > MAN UP

MAN UP

DEPUTY EDITOR ADAM DUXBURY SPENT THREE MONTHS IN PURSUIT OF AN ULTRA-MASCULINE PHYSIQUE TO FIND OUT WHETHER BIGGER MUSCLES EQUAL HAPPINESS AND IF THE GAY COMMUNITY STILL WORSHIPS ALPHA MALES
PHOTOGRAPHY: MARKUS BIDAUX & VICTOR HENSEL-COE

When the Attitude team first began discussing what masculinity means to gay men in 2017, one aspect that we kept returning to was the idea of the ultimate manly man. He’s the guy society is constantly telling us we need to be like; the type of man you’re most likely to see on the cover of a magazine or splashed across a billboard advertising the latest fragrance — the pinnacle of manliness, of success, of confidence and of desirability.

At the very core of his masculinity is a physique that looks like it’s hewn from stone. He’s a Grecian statue whose physical prowess is his calling card. Straight men want to be like him, straight women want to date him, and gay men want a bit of both.

Almost all of us have grown up on a diet of this ultimate masculine man, and while he’s idolised by society, in the gay community he’s a highly prized and often unattainable goal. One who’s found far more often in pornography than the real world. You don’t need to look far to see that masculinity is frequently fetishised in our culture — start with Tom of Finland or the physique magazines of the 1940s.

And while it’s true that many of us in the gay community are trying to move on from that stereotype — embracing a more diverse type of man and a more nuanced type of masculinity — still the idea of this perfect man persists. In fact, more than 71 per cent of Attitude readers we surveyed said that they were turned off by signs of femininity in a man. And more than 40 per cent thought that effeminate gay men gave the LGBT+ community a bad reputation. But what would life feel like if you stepped into the shoes of that ultra-masculine guy? If we associate masculinity with muscles, and masculinity commands respect, then would having bigger muscles equal more respect, too? Would a buff body equate to more confidence and desirability?

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About Attitude

This month, the Masculinity issue! On the cover, Jake Shears is back! Plus, Shamir on androgyny, comedian Stephen Bailey, gay footie referee Ryan Atkin, bottom shaming, and LOADS MORE on what masc means to gay men.
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