Gay male culture
According to Herdt, "homosexuality" was the main term used until the late 1950s and early 1960s; after that, a new "gay" culture emerged. "This new gay culture increasingly marks a full spectrum of social life: not only same-sex desires but gay selves, gay neighbors, and gay social practices that are distinctive of our affluent, postindustrial society".
During the 19th and early 20th centuries, gay culture was covert, relying on secret symbols and codes woven into an overall straight context. Gay influence in early America was primarily limited to high culture. The association of gay men with opera, ballet, couture, fine cuisine, musical theater, the Golden Age of Hollywood and interior design began with wealthy homosexual men using the straight themes of these media to send their own signals. In the heterocentric Marilyn Monroe film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, a musical number features Jane Russell singing "Anyone Here for Love" in a gym while muscled men dance around her. The men's costumes were designed by a man, the dance was choreographed by a man and the dancers (as gay screenwriter Paul Rudnick points out) "seem more interested in each other than in Russell"; however, her presence gets the sequence past the censors and works it into an overall heterocentric theme.
After the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City, gay male culture was publicly acknowledged for the first time. A group of seven gay men formed The Violet Quill in 1980 in New York City, a literary club focused on writing about the gay experience as a normal plotline instead of a "naughty" sideline in a mostly straight story. An example is the novel A Boy's Own Story by Edmund White. In this first volume of a trilogy, White writes as a young homophilic narrator growing up with a corrupt and remote father. The young man learns bad habits from his straight father, applying them to his gay existence.
Female celebrities such as Liza Minnelli, Jane Fonda, and Bette Midler spent a significant amount of their social time with urban gay men (who were now popularly viewed as sophisticated and stylish by the jet set), and more male celebrities (such as Andy Warhol) were open about their relationships. Such openness was still limited to the largest and most progressive urban areas (such as New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia, Seattle, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Miami, Washington, D.C., and New Orleans), however, until AIDS forced several popular celebrities out of the closet due to their illness with what was known at first as the "gay cancer".
Elements identified more closely with gay men than with other groups include:
- Pop-culture gay icons who have had a traditionally gay-male following (for example, disco, Britney Spears, Madonna, Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, Judy Garland, Cher, Lady Gaga, Kesha, Kylie Minogue, and Diana Ross)
- Familiarity with aspects of romantic, sexual and social life common among gay men (for example, Polari, poppers, camp, fag hags and—in South Asian LGBTQ+ culture—"evening people")
There are a number of subcultures within gay male culture, such as and chubbies. There are also subcultures with an historically large gay-male population, such as leather and SM. Gay critic Michael Musto opined, "I am a harsh critic of the gay community because I feel that when I first came out I thought I would be entering a world of nonconformity and individuality and, au contraire, it turned out to be a world of clones in a certain way. I also hated the whole body fascism thing that took over the gays for a long time."
Some U.S. studies have found that the majority of gay male couples are in monogamous relationships. Research by Colleen Hoffon of 566 gay male couples from the San Francisco Bay Area funded by the National Institute of Mental Health found that 45 percent were in monogamous relationships. Gay actor Neil Patrick Harris has remarked, "I'm a big proponent of monogamous relationships regardless of sexuality, and I'm proud of how the nation is steering toward that."
During the 1980s and 1990s, Sean Martin drew a comic strip (Doc and Raider) which featured a gay couple living in (or near) Toronto's Gay Village. His characters have recently been updated and moved to the Web. Although primarily humorous, the comic sometimes addressed issues such as gay-bashing, HIV, and spousal abuse.
An Australian study conducted by Roffee and Waling in 2016 discovered how some gay men felt like they were expected to be hyper-sexual. Participants reported how other gay men would automatically assume that any interaction had sexual motivations. Furthermore, if it was then clarified that this is not the case then these gay men would suddenly feel excluded and ignored by the other gay men with which they had been interacting with. They felt that they could not obtain purely platonic friendships with other gay men. One participant reported feeling alienated and disregarded as a person if they were not deemed by other gay men as sexually attractive. This presumption and attitude of hypersexuality is damaging, for it enforces preconceived ideals upon people, who are then ostracised if they do not meet these ideals.
Online culture and communities
A number of online social websites for gay men have been established. Initially, these concentrated on sexual contact or titillation; typically, users were afforded a profile page, access to other members' pages, member-to-member messaging and instant-message chat. Smaller, more densely connected websites concentrating on social networking without a focus on sexual contact have been established. Some forbid all explicit sexual content; others do not. A gay-oriented retail online couponing site has also been established.
Recent research suggests that gay men primarily make sense of familial and religious challenges by developing online peer supports (i.e., families of choice) in contrast to their family allies' focus on strengthening existing family of origin relationships via online information exchanges. Participants' reported online sociorelational benefits largely contradict recent research indicating that online use may lead to negative mental health outcomes.
Giorgio Armani, Kenneth Nicholson, Alessandro Trincone, Ludovic de Saint Sernin, Patrick Church, Daddy Couture, Gianni Versace, Prabal Gurung, Michael Kors and others are among the LGBT fashion designers across the globe.