“They wanna see me blend in like Realtree. But I can’tz do thatz. I got’s to do me” – Le1f
Masc drag: an underground term for accessories that fem gay men can use to make themselves appear superficially more masculine. Just like drag, it involves transformation and a new identity.
Being “Masc” (shorthand for masculine) has roundly invaded gay culture as the perceived upper echelon of desirability. You can find its demand on dating things like, Grindr, Tinder, bathroom cubicle walls, club promo flyers, and just about any other place where gay men cluster.
It should be noted that having societally prescribed masculine traits and being gay is not bad. It might, however, be considered disgenuine when those masc traits are an act. Like what queer NYC rap icon Le1f was getting at: you need to do you.
The absurdity of the masc4masc phenomenon seems lost on most: if you are claiming to be “straight-acting” (or asking someone else to be) then are you inherently preparing others to meet an untrue, acted version of you? Its in the name, after all, it’s the act that is fetishised.
The trend has even landed some celebrities in hot water. Actor Russell Tovey (HBO’s Looking, BBC’s Sherlock and The History Boys) got into trouble when he thanked his rough upbringing for not letting him end up being effeminate. “If I’d been able to relax, prance around, sing in the street, I might be a different person now. I thank my dad for that, for not allowing me to go down that path.”
The Velvet Rage author and psychologist Alan Downs says it’s precisely that first series of rejections that young gay men face during childhood (at home or at school) that creates the damaging need for success and over-compensation later on.
Gay marriage, while itself is an amazing achievement for the equality movement, has now provided just another benchmark for gay men to push toward.
Luckily, a small backlash is forming, and resisting the urge to label yourself so narrowly, and calling out others online, is gaining traction. A “Fem-shaming free zone” is now almost as prevalent among the masses.
But whether you want to encompass or avoid a masc4masc desirabilité this summer, we’ve complied a list of the five go-to masc drag accessories to keep you informed.
Like Diana Ross said, ‘inside out, upside down, round and round.’ It doesn’t matter if you wear it front-facing or backwards (just as long as it’s not while listening to Diana Ross), the trucker cap will be your new best, masc friend.
2. Plaid shirt around waist
You can’t go full plaid unless you’re a Canadian early 90s Pearl Jam groupie. If that demographic escapes you, reach for the next best thing: skinny jeans, a muscle tee and the ultimate effortless masc accessory, a flannel shirt tied around your waist.
3. Ralph Lauren
Legally Blonde had loads of amazing, uplifting messages, but surely the ending’s reductive characterisation of the gay pool-boy’s knowledge of Christian Louboutin still stands etched in masc law: knowing designers are a no-go. We recommend Ralph Lauren (preferably pastel with an oversized logo), it’s your ultimate I-don’t-do-designers designer look. Be sure to wear the collar Flipped up if you want people to think you hang with bogans, they’re always really masc.
4. Gym backpack with logo visible in all selfies
The more recognisable the gym, the better. Make sure the logo is visible in all Snapchat, #Instagay posts and tag and you could be monetising yourself straight into an early retirement.
5. “Masc” t-shirt
Because this one lets you get away with anything.