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The thing is this: most straight men (and certainly I) have a self-image of ourselves as straight men. That’s how we see ourselves internally. And this is how we wish to be treated. When we are out in public, at our job, at a party, or anywhere, we want people to look at us and assume we are straight because we are not acting obviously gay.
Most straight men don’t think they act gay or effeminate. Indeed, only 3% of straight men are actually effeminate, whereas for gay men, the figure is 67%. So truly effeminate straight men are quite rare. But many more straight men are soft, soft-spoken, gentle, kind, sensitive, emotional, quiet, like to read, write, or cook. Others are often characterized as wimpy.
But most soft or wimpy men are straight and are also not truly effeminate (effeminate really means acting like a woman). The idea that other people think straight men are effeminate is very insulting to us. It’s not so much that they think we are gay for some other reason – it’s because they think we are gay because they think we act gay (effeminate).
Most straight men dislike effeminate behavior in men in general (though they may give gay men a break) and certainly in themselves and their friends. In their mind’s eye, they are not effeminate! In fact the idea of them acting effeminate fills them with disgust and terror. We have a lot riding on this – our very masculinity is at stake.
Even if people acknowledge that we are straight but frown and say we lack masculinity, this is very insulting right there. It’s also a sign that a relationship is doomed. If you girlfriend ever thinks you are not masculine enough, you need to leave immediately. This problem will never go away, and it will cause all sorts of ancillary problems that are no fun to deal with. Just get rid of her.
Try to find some woman out there who is OK with your particular masculine style. Even most quiet or soft straight men have a sort of quiet masculinity or even soft masculinity about them. Assuming you are not overtly effeminate, you should find a woman out there who is OK with your style.
When I go to work at a new job, I expect people to assume that I am a straight man. When I am in a bar or nightclub, I want everyone to recognize that I am a straight man. When I am visiting friends of either sex, I want everyone there to assume I am a straight man. Hell, when I am anywhere out in public, I want people to look at me and assume I am a straight man.
To our way of thinking, it should be obvious because being straight, and appearing straight is a huge part of our self-image. In a way, it’s sort of what we straight men are all about.
Now when I show up at my new job or go to the market, the store, a restaurant, a party, a nightclub, to someone’s home and people start automatically assuming I am gay by making remarks, that sort of upsets everything. It’s like you have a nicely set dinner table and you grabbed the tablecloth and pulled it out and everything went crashing to the floor. You just ruined everything. It’s also very anxiety-inducing and panic-inducing. You think, “No! I am not gay! Dammit why does this person think I am gay!?”
You screwed up everything because we are not now projecting the image to others we want to project. We are now projecting an image of something we are not and frankly something we despise. It’s beyond insulting. It’s an attack at the very core essence of our being.
What I am saying is that straight men’s lives go very smoothly when almost everyone they meet just assumes they are straight. It’s an anxiety-free existence because now the world is seeing us exactly how we see ourselves. Our twin images, our own and others’ of us, now match up perfectly. People understand us and read us correctly.
In summary, most straight men are trying to portray an image of being obviously straight. They certainly do not wish to portray an image of being gay! When people fail to see us as we see ourselves, it’s a great big mess. It’s frightening, confusing, exasperating, and a great big drag.
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