Queer performer Scottee talks abuse from straight blokes, being femme and fat-shamed by the gay community, and channelling his pain into art.
Men scare me, particularly working class blokes.
Yes, I know that’s a big statement, a big generalism, a stereotype, but I feel I can say this with some authority because I grew up among blokes; around those who call themselves a “man’s man”.
I am working class, I grew up on an estate in North London among men and boys who were charming, charismatic, unpredictable and frequently violent. I was conditioned and encouraged to be like them, the harder I tried the more obvious my failure. I continue to fail at masculinity so I’ve given up attempting to be forced into societies narrow expectations of what a man is or can be.
There’s a fear that lives within me that fears interaction with men. I fear walking through a park and a football arriving at my feet and having to kick it back, I fear the judgement. I get anxious and scared around men, particularly drunk men. I worry about their loose tongues, fast tempers and appetite for violence.
I also feel I have the authority to out my fear of blokes because of the abuse that is directed towards me on a daily basis. I’ve been spat at, I’ve had pick up trucks veer onto the pavement to scare me, I’ve been locked in rooms and assaulted. I’ve been beaten, they’ve even taken pictures of me on the sly. This accompanies the daily piss taking, nudging and laughing at my expense. Those throwing shade, insults and saliva at me are and have always been working class white blokes, often in groups but never alone.
I’m an easy target – I’m visibly queer, I’m fat and I wear clothes that are marketed towards women. I’m have no loyalty to maleness and so I pose a threat. Blokes see me as breaking the rules of maleness, they think I get it wrong and so to belittle me is to teach me a lesson.
So, when Queer as Folk was first aired on Channel 4 when I was 15, you can imagine why I was dead keen to meet my people, embrace the scene and become as popular as Stuart. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. On one of my first proper nights out I stood in the queue for a Soho after hours cafe having to listen to the group of gay men in front of me dress me down and insult me; they went for my jugular. I was 18, I cried, they instantly won and laughed some more.
Since then, it’s gay white men who mock me openly; threaten me and throw me to the ground. I’ve been thrown out of one of London’s biggest gay night clubs for my choice of clothing, two gay men have even tried to set me on fire in a nightclub in Vauxhall. As a result I was taken in by the lesbian community, made an “honorary lesbian” because they know all too well the same oppression.
You’d be wrong to think that this is just a scene issue. Unfortunately femme shaming, fat shaming and gay misogyny is rife throughout white gay male cultures . Us femmes are continuously desexualised and demonised for something that is considered to be ‘put on’ or performed; if effeminacy is performed, this would surely mean their cherished masculinity was also an act, wouldn’t it?
So, why are gay men also so aggressive towards me? Like working class maleness, I guess I get gay maleness wrong – I’m bad at being a gayer. On paper (or apps) I’m almost everything mainstream proper, legitimate gays hate; I’m fat, effeminate and I don’t wear Tom Ford perfume – they push me out. So, not only do I fear straight white working class blokes, I also fear the A-gay’s, the gay white men who populate bars in Soho and houses in Clapham.
I honestly thought gay maleness was going to be different, in fact I found it to be just as aggressive and just as unpredictable. I thought homophobia or gay oppression would have taught these white gay men something, unfortunately their newly afforded privileges has meant, like working class men, they are not at the top of the ladder but they are not far from it. Perhaps this is because many gay men are dealing with complex trauma and if trauma teaches you anything it’s how to oppress the next in line.
I acknowledge I know I’m riddled with male and gay shame but I refute that being my problem, or something I need to work on. I didn’t install this shame and subsequent anger, I don’t violently endorse it, so it’s not for me to sort out, is it?
Instead of paying a shrink or attempting to be diplomatic in my generalisms, my conscious bias and big statements I’m touring a theatre show with an accompanying book – Bravado. It specifically focuses on my fear of working class maleness thru my lived experience of it, it’s also about my dreamt revenge.
However, Bravado isn’t just aimed at those of you who read this and understand my beef. It’s not just for working class femmes, like me, who equally love and hate the sort of men they grew up with – it is also aimed at gay men, gay men like you reading this on the way to the gym, the pub, or a hook up.
Gay men who perform their own version of ‘masc’ for the apps because it’s more attractive, or has more cultural capital. It’s for gay men who perform stereotyped versions of heterosexual masculinity because they consider that version of themselves safer, sexier, better. It’s for the gay men who perpetuate performed masculinity, hiding behind it as a ‘preference’, for gay men who dedicate their lives to their muscles. It’s for gay men who have never considered their maleness because they have never had to.