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Develop Gay Self-Esteem: 5 Ways To Challenge Gay Stereotypes

gay self esteem comes in many shapes and sizes like these crayons

1. Promoting Gay Self-Esteem – It’s Up To You

It’s up to you! Yes let’s repeat that. Gay self-esteem starts with you. With the right tools, you can develop an amazing relationship with yourself.

Please keep that in mind as you read on. Gay stereotypes hurt gay men and often put gay men in a new type of closet where gay self-esteem cannot flourish.

We’ve all seen how gay men are portrayed by the media, television, and movies. You know what I mean – the stereotypes of the high fashion looks. The skinny jeans and tight t-shirts and perfect abs. 

The super flamboyant mannerisms and louder than life personalities. The problem is that this is often the only image of gay men we ever see.

There’s nothing wrong with any of that. If that is who you want to be, and that feels natural to you – then woohoo – all the more power to you. Keep on rockin’ it. When we do what feels right to us, gay self-esteem flourishes. So always, be yourself. 

BUT, when we try to be something we are not, we suffer. Please don’t do that!

2. Our Sexuality AND Gender Are Different

We hear it pop up in conversation from time to time. A male celebrity comes out as gay and the world is shocked. It seems as if the more ‘masculine’ a celebrity acts, the more society likens him as being less likely to be gay. 


Society has the perception that as gay men, we must only act or dress a certain way. We can’t be fit and buff, certainly. There is no way that a man, who happens to be romantically and sexually attracted to other men, could ever speak with that deep of a voice. Surely, gay men must all speak and dress the same? No!

Unfortunately, gay men are told how to be gay and how to dress all the time, with images that very few gay men can live up to and this causes a lot of gay self-esteem issues. 

There are so many mixed messages of what a gay man ought to look like and be in 2022. But, honestly, these mixed messages are getting very old. There is no one way that a gay man should look or act. We are not cookies that need to fit the mold of how society expects us to be. Gay men are wonderfully diverse. 

In the same way that our gender does not equal our sexuality (romantic orientation) and vice versa, our body image does not equal our sexuality and sexuality does not equal our body image. 

3. Gay Men Can Be Masculine, Feminine, Both, Neither

Just because you are gay does not mean you can’t be masculine (or that you can’t be feminine, or both, or neither) Gender expression and gender identity are completely separate to sexuality / romantic orientation. 

And it certainly does not mean that you can’t like sports, either. Of course you can like them, play them and watch them. You know why? Because once again, none of this has anything to do with your sexuality / romantic orientation. And for the record whether you play sports, watch sports or don’t, this has nothing to do with you being gay. 

Part of these misconceptions, are, again, because of the way men are portrayed in the media and entertainment and in particular the way gay men are portrayed by both the mainstream media, the ‘straight world’ and by the LGBTQ + community too. 

Every group has rules about how a person in their group or outside of their group is supposed to look, present, dress, speak and act. All of this has altered the perception of what a gay men ‘should’ or ‘can’ look like. There is an infinite variety of how gay men can show up in the world. There isn’t one gay type, just as there isn’t one straight type, one lesbian type, or one bisexual type. There’s just your type, based on what is right for you. 

There is literally no manual on what it means to be a gay man, how to age as a gay man, or how to develop gay self-esteem (yet). But if there were, we would want a manual that says gender and sexuality (romantic orientation) are not related.

In absence of such a manual, we can learn to effectively deal with the prejudice and stereotypes we face on a daily basis from society at large and within the lgbtq + community too. No one should tell you how you should or shouldn’t be, except you, listening to yourself. You get to decide what’s right for you and once you do, please shine your authentic light into the world. The world needs you to be you. 

4. Gay Men Can Dress and Present Any Way They Want 

Maybe you like cardigans. Or tight dressy shirts. Maybe you prefer shorts. Maybe you like to wear jeans. Maybe you prefer only a smart 3 piece suit every single day of the week. Or sweatpants. Maybe you like tight fitting clothing, maybe you like loose fitting garments. Who cares? 

Do you know what any of the above has to do with being gay? Absolutely nothing. 

There is no fashion manual we all must follow or else we evoke the wrath of our ancestors (or other gay men for that matter!)

5. What This All Means and Promoting Gay Self Esteem

It’s time to start talking about this. To be more kind to ourselves for not fitting perfectly into the gay mold that larger society sets on us or the expectations set by the lgbtq + community. Because we are more than just our sexual identity / romantic orientation, or gender. Understanding this is how true gay self esteem grows and flourishes.

We are allowed to be whoever we want to be, how we want to be, and when we want to be. It’s time to start breaking the perception of what a gay man should look like and act like and encourage everyone everywhere to be who they truly are. 

We are all fellow humans. With our own preferences. Our own choices of fashion, music, movies, sports, and so much more. It’s time for the world to see us for us, and not who they want us to be AND this includes us seeing us for us too. 

If you are struggling with gay self-esteem issues or working through what it means to you to be gay (or lgbtq +) I understand it because I have been there and I would be honored help. Please feel free to contact me at my Honolulu or London clinic to set up a Therapy Test Drive

I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the USA and an Accredited CBT Therapist in the UK with over 16 years of experience. I specialize in anxiety, therapy for gay men and teaching the tools of self-compassion for LGBTQ+ people. I have received advanced specialist training in using Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Compassion Focused Therapy.

CBT Test Drive

The right approach, tools and fit is a game changer. For this reason, I offer an Initial Test Drive session to see if working together could be a great fit for you. Each Test Drive lasts between 45-60 minutes and takes place within my Video Consulting Room. Based on the latest evidence, science, and my experience, I will aim to make concrete suggestions as to what I think can be most helpful for you.