This article originally appeared on VICE UK.
For gay and bi men, the line between desire and envy – between wanting to sleep with someone and wanting to be them – can easily become blurred. (I’ll never forget the magical two months I spent in 2018 wearing a baseball cap in a tragic attempt to ape the aesthetic of a man I fancied.) Our taste in men can often act as a mirror for all sorts of neuroses and yearnings.
Sure you can claim to not have a “type”, but if you look back over your romantic and sexual history, can you honestly say that a pattern doesn’t emerge? If having a preference is beneath you (“I'm more into intelligence and humour than anything else”) then why does your roll-call of conquests resemble a gay rugby team?
No, when it comes to desire, you’re as base and depraved as everything else. We've already gone for the straight guys, straight girls, lesbian and bi women. Now it's your turn, gay and bi men. Here’s what your taste says about you.
THE TECHNO WRECKHEAD
This dance floor king dresses like the boys who used to bully you in school, despite the fact he’s a 29-year-old Durham graduate who works for a creative marketing agency. Despite all the Saturday nights you’ve wasted gazing at him, he’s never once even glanced in your direction, which leaves you feeling like the lovelorn protagonist in a Robyn song. If this is your type, you’ve probably taken to heart that pop-psychology truism that gay men don’t experience a normal adolescence and instead live out their teenage years, painfully, in their twenties and thirties. But instead of reading The Velvet Rage, or any other self-help book aimed at successful interior designers who’ve relocated to Bournemouth, you’ve gotten really into clubs, mesh shirts and pingers – and good for you! Your life is now like Dancer From the Dance, except set in the borough of Haringey.
The only problem is that you secretly find techno kind of boring and prefer something with a bit of melody (you’re secretly gutted about the Lady Gaga album delay, not that anyone would be able to guess from your Insta story, where you exclusively pretend to be listening to Midland sets on NTS). Sometimes, when the sun comes up, you want to go home and be held instead of heading to an afters in an abandoned primary school, which means it’s probably not going to work out with you and this guy.
THE CORPORATE GAY
Well-paid, respectable and a little bit of a “leftie”, he works in a Corporate Social Responsibility role at Shell or Lockheed Martin, where he runs voguing workshops for the board of directors and always secures the juiciest spot at the Pride parade. Blessed with the dashing good looks of Pete Buttigieg and the raw charisma of Antoni from Queer Eye, he’s the proud host of a podcast (sponsored by Trident) which “seeks to uplift the queer community through tales of people being daring, radically, unapologetically themselves”. He believes that the answer to the mental health crisis amongst LGBT youth is for Jess Phillips to host the Attitude Awards, which he has attended thrice.
If this is your type, I hear that the medical field of conversation therapy is coming on leaps and bounds these days.
THE STRAIGHT MAN
You have convinced yourself, based on very little evidence, that you’re irresistible to men who exclusively have sex with women. When you and your friends are discussing an attractive straight acquaintance, you wink devilishly and say things like, “oh, I’ll turn him alright… don’t you worry about that.” Frankly, the level of delusion on display is a little tragic. As for me? I actually am irresistible to heterosexual men, but I’m simply not interested. Sorry, boys!
You have managed to suck off a few Uber drivers and drug dealers in your time, which is worthy of respect. But you need to realise that straight men don’t, for the most part, resemble the scowling alpha males of gay porn. Instead, they’re mostly schlubby, beta nerds who wear badly fitting H&M jeans and listen to the Ezra Klein Show. Once you realise that straight men aren’t really that hot, you’ll be free to pursue a more fulfilling kind of intimacy than letting a closeted married man, whom you perceive to be masculine simply by virtue of his inability to be honest with his wife, nut inside you.
Older men are hot. The thought of someone being exactly 34 years old, for example, is enough to make me weak at the knees. Some gay guys, if you can believe it, like their men even older than that. The classic explanation for this is “daddy issues” which, while usually said with a sneer, is a valid reason to get into a relationship – don’t you deserve to be treated like the special, precious baby you are? But not all older men are debonair silver foxes like Ivan Massow or the librarian from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. As the questionably Islamophobic third act of Peter Tatchell’s life suggests, no-one has worse politics – or indeed banter – than a gay guy who used to be radical in the 1980s.
It’s fine to be into older men (particularly so if they bought their own Islington townhouse back in the 1990s for £30,000 – hello, being written into the will!) But if you find yourself repeatedly drawn towards the bad kind, the ones who hit 40 and suddenly get bang into Dr Who, being rude to waiters and transphobia, then you might be better off attending a few counselling sessions and smoothing things over with your actual dad.
THE GYM BUNNY
What does it say about you that you fancy conventionally attractive men with well-defined muscles? Nothing of interest. It’s a little shallow, a little uninspired perhaps, but don’t beat yourself up about it. And if you ask me, muscle marys are an unfairly maligned group of gay men: being ripped and spending your weekends having group sex at Vauxhall circuit parties is certainly a lot less heteronormative than the largely boring lives of their online detractors. Being bang into the gym is, if nothing else, a long-standing gay tradition. However, in my experience, muscular guys mostly go for other muscular guys, so if you don’t look this way yourself then it might be a good idea to start switching up your standards.
ONLY MEN FROM ONE SPECIFIC ETHNICITY THAT IS NOT YOUR OWN
You are, I’m afraid to say, a racist.
THE SENSITIVE, FUCKED UP SOFT BOI
A Manic Pixie Dream Twink with a degree from Goldmiths, he writes a weekly TinyLetter billed as “Pravda for sub bottoms with a Xanax addiction” and has built an inordinate amount of his personality around low-level mental illness. Do you know who else has anxiety, sweetie? Literally everyone. His emotions, though felt with a rare depth and clarity, are fickle: one day, he’ll be dedicating an overly-enunciated spoken word poem to you, the next he’ll be breaking things off with you via a Whatsapp message written in an ironic register, featuring lots of quirky punctuation and perhaps a “sksksksksk.”
If you find all this attractive, it suggests that you’re looking for someone to rescue. But perhaps the person you really need to save... is yourself. Food for thought. Either that or you’re looking for someone vulnerable to toy with and then destroy. Which is also bad.
THE NON-SCENE MASC GUY
Toxic masculinity is, despite what its detractors claim, kind of hot. How about that Stanley Kowalski, am I right? Unfortunately, however, most self-identifying masc guys are boring grouches who consider gay culture frivolous and, unlike the Clapham airheads they despise, wouldn’t be seen dead waving their arms around to a semi-tired popstar at Mighty Hoopla or slapping a "Sean Cody" logo on a shirtless pic. Their Grindr brio proudly states that they "just happen" to be gay and they’ve always just read a fascinating article about ‘selfie culture’ that they want to tell you about at length.
If you’re into this type of guy, I don’t wish to pathologise, but you hate yourself and you’re irrevocably damaged, and that’s very sad.