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Not all gay men are cute. Or fashionable.


A pervasive popular image of the gay male – especially for those who are looking at them with interest, but from afar, like I was – is studly and fashion-model handsome. And here’s another: slender, 20-ish and cute as a button, with up-to-the-minute clothes and utterly amazing hair.

Well, behind every stereotype there’s a grain of truth, but if this image is holding you back from getting out there and being who you are, get over it.

I’ve been knocking around Nashville for nearly 34 years, and during that time I’ve been involved in all sorts of activities, both business and social, where gay men were part of the scene. At the time I came out, I imagined I knew, or at least knew of, just about every gay man in town. Not! Which is a good thing. The guys I knew tended to be several things: financially successful, socially visible and, generally speaking, gorgeous. I’m pretty average in all three of those areas and I was totally intimidated.

Don’t be. What I’ve learned – and it’s pretty logical when you stop and think about it – is that there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of regular guys on the loose in Music City who are out and quietly going about their routine lives. They aren’t all in great shape and they tend to have very average hair. They drive Toyota Camrys, take their kids to soccer games, buy stuff at Home Depot and – OMG! – some of them even wear Dockers and sensible shoes.

And something else: many of them are lovely, lovely men. Some of the sweetest, and coolest and best I’ve met. Smart, kind, funny, spiritually evolved. All sorts of things that make for a good friend or a good boyfriend.

An example: I know a guy – in his mid-30s, no knockout, but nice looking and still in good shape – who wears some of the most dismal clothes of anybody I’ve ever met. Drab shapeless pants – yes, sometimes with the Dockers label – utterly banal knit shirts, frequently with horizontal stripes in icky colors, totally unfashionable shoes, selected primarily for comfort, I assume. He’d make a civil engineer with a pocket protector full of different color pens look slick. I’d love to see him out of those clothes, in part because the clothes are so dispiriting, and in part because – well – I’d like to see him out of those clothes. But even in them he is one of the sexiest men I’ve ever met. He is kind-hearted, and cheerful without being sappy. He’s smart and he’s funny. He has a partner whom he loves and treats with respect. And in my book, folks, all that adds up to sexy. Plus, in warm weather he wears shorts – baggy, brownish cargo shorts ­– and one can admire his totally wonderful ex-marathon-runner’s legs. Yum! What a nice bonus!

So, get out there and be yourself. Let the cuties be cute and don’t worry about it. And, if you happen to be really cute, know this: We all get old and die eventually, so don’t let it go to your head.

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