Femmephobia Within Gay Culture: Discussion with Corey Camperchioli

Imaginaries and Discourses

by Aleksandre Roderick-Lorenz

***Photo credit: James Michael Avance

Femmephobia has been described as the rejection and fear toward anything that is representing or associated with femininity. This tendency has become prevalent in the gay community and has had a huge presence in dating apps that seem to favor notions of masculinity in a very toxic manner. Whilst everyone is entitled to their own preferences, these apps have turned into a nightmare for men whose gender presentation shows effeminate qualities. It seems that femme guys have been placed at the bottom of a hierarchy that often pressures them to change who they are. Many of these individuals will embrace masculinity in a disingenuous way in hopes they may become more desirable to other men.

Sadly, the growing cultural fixation on masculine traits has been proven to be toxic for the entire community, both masculine and femme. Many of the guys who praise this exorbitant virility feel extremely pressured as they aim to reach and satisfy exaggerated standards to fit in and look a certain way. Studies have proven that femme and gender non-conforming individuals feel anxious and struggle with self-esteem due to the many demands that they face. Very often they feel the need to repress and sacrifice their true identity or they would feel rejected otherwise if they manifested genuinely. Their environment becomes a tormenter that is constantly telling them not to express their femininity, as this is associated with a plethora of undesirable attributes.

Thankfully, a new and uplifting generation has started to pave the way by pushing boundaries and norms in the right direction. There is a new wave of sensitive individuals who are questioning gender, labels and the notions idolized by traditional masculinity throughout the wide spectrum of the LGBTQIA2S+ communities. There is certainly hope for a brighter future where everyone can feel more acceptance, inclusion and encouragement regardless of their expression. Femininity should no longer exist as a euphemism of pitiable qualities.

Corey Camperchioli is an American writer, actor and producer who gained much popularity and praise for the short film, Femme. He also played the star role in this wonderful movie that exposes many of the issues related to femininity and dating in gay culture. The film tells the story of a young man, Carson, who begins to discover, accept and establish his identity with the assistance of his drag queen fairy godmother.

Q & A with Corey:

What inspired you to create this film? Was it partly your own experience?

A: Yes! Definitely my own experiences. At the time I felt like everywhere I turned, my femme identity was being reflected back to me as a negative. On dating apps, I would see “masc only” and “no femmes,” and in my professional life as an actor, I was being told that I was “too specific” and “too nice,” which was absolutely coded language meaning “too gay” and “too femme.” I wanted to dig into why this was happening and Femme was born.

Why do you think femininity has such a bad connotation within our communities?

A: The short answer? Misogyny. I think that in society, men in particular are deeply scared of the infinite power of women. I think that misogyny bleeds over into different communities, including the queer community. It is our responsibility to call out misogynistic behavior in all its facets.

How did you make femininity your superpower?

A: Creating the film helped. I always thought of Carson, the main character, as being aspirational. I wanted Carson to love his femme identity so that I could learn to love mine too. Through working on Femme, I absolutely learned to love myself and to lean into what makes me different. The best part is that I have heard from folks all around the world who told me that Femme helped them claim their own superpowers. This is something I never anticipated, but it made the journey that much sweeter.

What would be your message for other femme guys out there who are struggling with these issues whilst they are trying to find themselves?

A: You are valid. You are worthy. Being unapologetically you is hard, sure, but when you are able to make that leap, you are like a lighthouse, attracting your own true community that will support you no matter what. Also, I love you- you got this!

Aleksandre Roderick-Lorenz joined the CNY Latino newspaper’s writing team in December 2020. There, he will be writing a new column on assorted and interesting topics. His interests include professional interviews, music, art, film, literature, metaphysics, gay culture, spirituality, education, history, and politics. His column will receive the following epithet: Imaginaries and Discourses. To read about him, head over to cnylatinonewspaper.com and search for him by his name. You can also send questions or comments about his column to the following email: aleks@cnylatino.com.

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