Gay men are men who are primarily or exclusively attracted to men[4] in their enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attractions.[6] The term gay is often associated with males but it can be used by people of any gender attracted to their own gender[7] or sex.[6]

This article is separated from the main one to focus on this specific combination of gender and sexual/romantic orientation because gay men have an extensively documented culture and history that is specific to them. For a more broad term, see Achillean.


By the 1960s, gay men had taken to the term "gay" to refer to their own sexual identity, and by today's standards, it is the acceptable way to refer to homosexual men.[8]

Alternative names

The term "Uranian" was once used to describe gay men. It was coined by Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, who used the term in this context in his collection, Forschungen über das Räthsel der mannmännlichen Liebe.[2] Uranian can be considered a problematic term for gay men because it became associated with paederastic poetry between the 1870s and 1930s, with "paederastic" meaning "relationships between adult men and pubescent or adolescent boys". This association was not Ulrichs' intention.[2]

Vincian is one of the modern proposed terms. In June 2018, the Tumblr user @bivirgil wanted to create a term and a flag for gay men that would be distinct from the umbrella term Achillean and decided to use Leonardo da Vinci for name inspiration.[9][5] The flag design included a white stripe to represent non-binary men and purple-toned blues for gender non-conforming and effeminate men.[5] Vincian has been called "an equivalent to lesbian"[note 1] for men since at least June 27th, 2021.[3]



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During the Nazi regime 1933-1945

Gay men were specifically targeted by the Nazis. At certain concentration camps, gay men had a downward-pointing pink triangle sewn onto their shirts. It was not until the 1970s that the symbol was reclaimed as a symbol of gay pride.[11]

HIV/AIDS pandemic

Gay subcultures


Bear Flag

The bear flag

One of the many long-standing gay subcultures, a bear in an LGBTQIA+ context is a large, hairy queer man who self-identifies with the 'bear' label. Being a bear combines gender expression, gender identity, and sexuality; a large, hairy straight man would not be a bear.[12] They are generally masculine-presenting men over the age of 30 whose build may include a big belly, legs, and/or butt. Bears almost always have a full beard or facial hair, and they are often associated with so-called "traditional masculinity"[13] or "rugged masculinity". However, there is a debate within the bear community regarding the acceptability of femininity;[12] they tend to be contrasted with identities such as twinks and femmes. Although bears are implicitly masculine people, being a bear is not about specific mannerisms or identities like "masc",[13] and bear identity does not indicate preferred partners or sexual roles.[12]


Twink Flag

A proposed twink flag

Twink is a subcultural term referring to gay or bi men who defy traditional masculine roles, embracing traits that are generally seen as feminine.[14]

Twinks are typically associated with a few key tropes: general physical attractiveness, a slim build, and a youthful appearance that lacks facial hair and often body hair as well.[14] In his book Never Enough (2007), Joe McGinniss describes a court case in which twink was defined as "a gay slang term used to denote an attractive, boyish-looking gay man between the ages of 18 and 23, slender ectomorph and with little or no body hair, often blond, often but not necessarily Caucasian."[15]


The modern gay men's pride flag, aka the "Ocean Gay flag",[16] was posted in 2019 on the Tumblr blog gayflagblog as an update of a prior gay men flag. It features an array of green, blue, and purple shades that are representative of a wide range of gay men. This version replaced the original one that only used blue tones, as it was regarded as a stereotypical representation of the gender binary and lacked meaning for the colors used. Inspired by Gilbert Baker and the responses to the prior blue flag, the individual stripes used by gayflagblog mean:[17]

  • Green: Community[17]
  • Teal: Healing[17]
  • Light teal/green: Joy[17]
  • White: Gender non-conforming, non-binary, and trans men[17]
  • Light blue: Pure love[17]
  • Purple: Fortitude[17]
  • Indigo: Diversity[17]

The combination of green and teal also represents nature, in defiance of the perception of love between men as "unnatural". Green also draws upon the use of green plants and flowers, specifically carnations and hyacinths. The use of white was derived from the Trans Pride Flag to explicitly represent identities that are often erased and the need to address and resolve transphobia, internalized homophobia, and toxic masculinity. The light blue leading into purple was inspired by criticism of the blue flag ("oh blue for boy? bleh") and symbolizes how gay men may or may not be stereotypical, in-between, or fluid. The purple and indigo together represent diversity in presentation, relationships, and life experience; not fitting into neat categories, "especially by those who choose to fetishize us & by non-MLM, but in reality there are so so many different ways to be a man and so many ways to be a man who loves or who is in a relationship with other men, and this needs to be emphasized".[17]

The anonymous gayflagblog blogger intends his flag to be inclusive of all gay men. He explicitly mentioned (but did not limit this to): gay men who are aromantic, asexual, questioning/unsure, non-binary, or transgender, and those whose presentation is gender non-conforming, androgynous, fem, or masc.[17] Many people who use the Vincian label have adopted this flag and the creator said "you are free to use it under any other similar terms". He noted that for someone also attracted to women, there is the Achillean flag instead; his flag is not a replacement for that.[16]


The term homosexual

The use of the term "homosexual" to describe individuals within the gay community has sparked considerable controversy due to its perceived outdated connotations, being viewed as derogatory and offensive by many lesbian and gay individuals.[1][4]

Perceptions and discrimination

Studies at Johns Hopkins reveal that men who are in romantic relationships with men are just as likely to face domestic abuse as women in romantic relationships with men. The same factors of manipulation and control can exist, but one form of abuse not present in woman/man relationships is threatening to "out" the victim to their family, friends, and co-workers. When that occurs, the victim may not seek help because they fear that revealing their sexual orientation to others will put them in even greater danger than their partner does.[18]


Comic books




  • Darren Hayes (Savage Garden)[39]
  • Elton John, British singer who spent the first decade of his career in the closet. He came out as bisexual in 1976, and then came out as gay ten years later.[40]
  • George Michael, English singer[40]

Public figures

  • Alan Turing, English mathematician and computer scientist, most famously known for being a key part in the decryption of German messages during World War II[40]
  • Bayard Rustin, an African-American civil rights activist[40]
  • Dan Savage, American author and LGBT rights activist who founded the It Gets Better Project[40]
  • Edward Carpenter, Victorian scholar and philosopher[40]
  • George Takei, actor and activist, most well know for his role on Star Trek. He came out as gay at the age of 68, in response to former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoing a same-sex marriage bill in 2005.[41]
  • Harvey Milk, one of the first openly gay men to hold an elected position in the United States[40]
  • Peter Tatchell, British human rights and gay rights activist[40]
  • Quentin Crisp, English author and actor[40]
  • Touko Laaksonen, Finnish artist who went by the pseudonym Tom of Finland and was well known for homoerotic queer art[40]



  1. "Lesbian" is defined on the same site as "a gay woman; that is, a woman who solely and/or primarily attracted to people of the same gender – a homosexual female."[10]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Glossary of Terms - LGBTQ" by GLAAD on GLAAD Media Reference Guide - 11th Edition(Archived on 2024-04-11)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Uranian | definition by Lexicon Library.LGBT" on Lexicon Library.LGBT. Published 2021-06-27 by Albany Pride. "an archaic term for gay men, although it has, in recent years, faced a resurgence as a gender-specific word for homosexuality, comparable to lesbian. [...] [T]he term may [have] certain connotations which are problematic in general use, and as such, the term Vincian may be preferred." (Archived on 2023-01-03)
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Vincian | definition by Lexicon Library.LGBT" on Lexicon Library.LGBT. Published 2021-06-27 by Albany Pride. "a term, named after Leonardo da Vinci, to describe gay men. Although sometimes used as an alternate for Achillean, the intention is to describe gay men specifically, as an equivalent to lesbian, whereas Achillean, like Sapphic, is meant to include bisexual+ individuals" (Archived on 2022-06-26)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "gay man | definition by Lexicon Library.LGBT" on Lexicon Library.LGBT. Published 2020-12-04 by Albany Pride. "a male-identified person who is also a homosexual: that is, a male-identified person who is attracted solely, or primarily, to other male-identified people." (Archived on 2023-12-05)
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 [Untitled] by @bivirgil on <>. Published 2018-06-22. "I included the white stripe for non binary men and the more purple blues for effeminate/gender non conforming men
        "and I propose an association with Leonardo da Vinci or 'vincian' but im open to suggestions." (Archived on 2022-01-22)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "What is LGBTQ?" on The Center - The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center. "The adjective describes people whose enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attractions are to people of the same sex. Sometimes lesbian is the preferred term for women." (Archived on 2024-04-14)
  7. The Queens' English: The LGBTQIA+ Dictionary of Lingo and Colloquial Phrases by Chloe O. Davis. Published 2021 by Clarkson Potter/Publishers. ISBN 9780593135006, ISBN 9780593135013 (Ebook)
  8. "Meaning of gay in English" (original link down) on Lexico(Archived on 2022-08-09)
  9. [Untitled] by @bivirgil on <>. Published 2018-06-22. "I really wanna work on getting a popular flag that’s just for gay men. Not that Achillian crap either like something based around da Vinci like I said before he’s a far better icon for us MLM than that piece of shit Achilles" (Archived on 2022-07-04)
  10. "lesbian | definition by Lexicon Library.LGBT" on Lexicon Library.LGBT. Published 2020-07-18 by Albany Pride(Archived on 2023-09-25)
  11. "The Pink Triangle: From Nazi Label to Symbol of Gay Pride" by Mullen, Matt on History. Published 2019-06-03. (Archived on 2024-04-10)
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 The A-Z of Gender and Sexuality: From Ace to Ze by Morgan Lev Edward Holleb. Published 2019 by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. ISBN 9781785923425 (paperback), ISBN 9781784506636 (eBook)
  13. 13.0 13.1 "What is a bear? The gay tribe for big, hairy, hunky men" by Polaris, Danny on PinkNews. Published 2018-05-18. (no backup information provided)
  14. 14.0 14.1 "What is a twink?" by Pink News on <>(Archived on 2022-01-21)
  15. Never Enough (in English) by McGinniss, Joe. Published 2007 by Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9780743296366(web archive)
  16. 16.0 16.1 "FAQ" by gayflagblog on <>(Archived on 2024-03-24)
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 17.5 17.6 17.7 17.8 17.9 "Gay Man Flag" by gayflagblog on <>. Published 2019-07-10. (Archived on 2024-03-24)
  18. "Gay and Bisexual Men's Health Issues" on <>(no backup information provided)
  19. Iceman (Marvel Comics):
  20. Northstar & Kyle Jinadu:
  21. Wiccan & Hulkling:
  22. Christian Frost (Marvel Comics):
  23. Web-Weaver:
  24. Alan Scott (Green Lantern):
  25. Apollo & Midnighter:
  26. Aquaman & Ha'Wea:
  27. Jay Nakamura:
  28. The Ray (DC Comics):
  29. "The third 'Fantastic Beasts' movie finally addresses Dumbledore's sexuality front and center — nearly 15 years after J.K. Rowling first revealed he's gay" by Haasch, Palmer on <>. Published 2022-04-15. "In Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, Dumbledore speaks with Grindelwald and says to him that he went along with his plans "because I was in love with you."" (Archived on 2022-12-12)
  30. Love, Simon:
  31. Moonlight:
  32. "Shadow and Bone’s Jack Wolfe on queer representation in fantasy and fervent fandoms" by Gary Grimes on <>(Archived on 2023-12-08)
  33. "Exploring The Hints That Oscar Martinez Is Gay In ‘The Office’" by Thomas M. Hubbard on <>. Published January 15, 2023. (Archived on 2023-10-20)
  34. "Matthew Daddario's Candid Thoughts On LGBTQ+ Representation In Shadowhunters - Exclusive" by Xandra Harbet on <>. Published December 29, 2021. (Archived on 2023-12-06)
  35. "The Best-Written Gay Couple on Television Is Hiding on a Guilty-Pleasure Show" by Joanna Robinson on <>. Published March 31, 2014. (Archived on 2023-03-24)
  36. "ABC Family's 'The Fosters' breaks new ground with Jude and Connor kiss" (original link down) by Megan Townsend, Director of Entertainment Research & Analysis on <>. Published March 3, 2015. (Archived on 2017-03-09)
  37. "Glee Recap: Wedding Crashers" by Andy Swift on <>. Published February 2, 2015. (Archived on 2024-04-24)
  38. Teddy Montgomery:
  39. "I Was One Of The Most Famous Pop Stars In The World. No One Knew The Secret Pain I Hid." by Darren Hayes on <>. Published 2022-07-01 by The Huffington Post. (Archived on 2024-04-23)
  40. 40.0 40.1 40.2 40.3 40.4 40.5 40.6 40.7 40.8 40.9 The Queeriodic Table: A Celebration of LGBTQ+ Culture by Dyer, Harriet. Published 2019 by Summersdale Publishers Ltd. ISBN 9781786857521.
  41. "George Takei Shares Why He Came Out As Gay At Age 68" by Blanchet, Ben on <>. Published 2023-01-13 by The Huffington Post. (Archived on 2023-06-10)
  42. Vivienne Medrano 💖 on Twitter: "Angel and Alastor are old men who don't understand anything anymore 👍 I hope everyone on this #NationalComingOutDay2018 stays safe and stays proud 🥰" / Twitter