Should We Care That Gay Men Joke that Lesbians are “Fat & Ugly”?

THAT’S SO GAY:dv1070111 Carlytron emailed this item to me with the heading, “they stole this idea from us,” and she’s so actually correct, we have been slacking on this trend piece: Why Lesbians are the Butt of Gay Men’s Jokes. As you may or may not know, there’s been some controversy about Graham Norton’s HiLARIOUSly original jokes about how lesbians are fat & ugly. “I don’t know why they’ve got some lesbian to be the model for this,” he said, referring to a series of drawings of a woman in a jumpsuit with bad hair.

A journalist from Love Girls UK says, “”If you’re seen as being at the bottom of the pile, you want someone to be further below you.” TRUTH. But … on another note … here’s what we’re wondering — is anyone going to stand up and notice that we’re complaining at being stereotyped as “fat and ugly”? Is being “fat and ugly” inherently bad? WTF this is not The L Word. normal_e207_4We should be defending ourselves because it’s wrong to be mean to people, but we shouldn’t affirm that “fat” is an insult.

However, there are some interesting points in the article about how difficult it is to get gay men and lesbians working together towards common causes: “It’s difficult to get women involved in LGBT projects, he says, because as women they may already have been treated as second-class citizens, then derisory comments from men, particularly from men within their own community, reinforce that sense of exclusion.” TRUTH.

PRIDE: See no evil. Geographers at Kansas State University analyzed the distribution of evil across the United States by mapping the Seven Deadly Sins. Pride apparently is the country’s number one sin, as the researchers deemed it an aggregate of the other six sins. Gay pride’s still cool though, so feel free to bust out them rainbow flags. (@contexts)

AIRBRUSH YOUR MOM: Pixel perfection. ”Concerned that girls and women feel excessive pressure to live up to the digitally botoxed and liposuctioned images of human perfection they see in glossy magazines, lawmakers in Britain and France are trying to get marketers to acknowledge the tweaking done to the photos.” (@ny times)

BODY: Love your body. Hey, speaking of that, this article shows that body image goes beyond the magazine page. Here are six reasons to love your body the way it is. (@true/slant)

ALTERNATIVE LIFESTYLE AWESOME: Beyond the U-Haul. A closer look at why some gay men use lesbians as punchlines. While this article cites an insistence upon superiority and a difference in gender struggle, I still believe this animosity is due to the envy that one may feel when a lesbian can pull off a mullet/fauxhawk/sidesweep better than anyone else. (@bbc)

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!

the team

auto has written 730 articles for us.


  1. Yes we should care, because gay men’s varying experiences of homophobia, while unjust, do NOT trump the fact that they’re still (we’re all still) in a position to seriously oppress others, and it would be nice if people would show some fucking self-awareness sometimes. somebody punches me in the face I don’t go out and kick somebody in the shins, i learned that in the fucking sandbox.

  2. I don’t care cost most gay men are promiscuous, vacuous, bitches who only care about the way they look and getting laid down at the gym. Well, that’s the stereotype they often accept and perpetuate of themselves, which baffles me just as much. I’d take “fat & ugly” over “sexually out-of-control hedonist” any time.

    • i suppose sexually out of control hedonists must have nice fit bodies!!! whaaa! anyhow the whole thing confuses me.

    • “most gay men are promiscuous, vacuous, bitches who only care about the way they look and getting laid down at the gym.”

      Next time I hear another gay man make a joke about all lesbians being “fat and ugly”, I’m gonna retort with your quote above.

  3. Know what sucks? belonging to community (a small one, at that), and discovering that that community is filled with pricks- much like the one that you ran away from/were excommunicated from/ that maybe just doesn’t like you very much. Good times for everyone involved.

    • Sometimes it feels like jumping out of the frying pan into the fire that is decorated with rainbow streamers and Madonna posters.

  4. When a man comes out as gay, the Queer Fairy doesn’t come and extract all his misogyny. Yes, it matters when gay men say shit like that because it shows that we are still being judged on appearance alone…good, bad or ugly. The words “fat and ugly” are almost irrelevant. Sure, it goes down easier when we’re called “hot and sexy” but really – I’d like to be judged by the things that matter more like wit and intellect. Comments about appearance make us all easier to dismiss.

  5. I would love to see a longer autostraddle article on the misconception that we are all lard-assed and dress in the dark. I think the autostraddle team could really set the record straight.

    I am appalled by the attitude some gay men take towards lesbians. Of all people, they should be able to empathise and relate, but all too often instead it is catty discrimination.

    • Wait, I have a nice ass, but I often dress in the dark. I actually also put on my makeup in the dark! But that’s a good Roundtable topic idea; maybe we could discuss the stereotypes that annoy us the most?

  6. I don’t know why we can’t all just get along. Actually, I guess I’m not surprised by it, no two groups get along anymore. Races, social classes, LGBTQQIA…, religions, political parties, sexes, reality tv casts. All we ever see is opposition. We are all fighting for the top spot, but if we just had some sense and compassion, we’d see that it is easier to get there with help than alone. It goes way beyond lesbian/gay man drama and cattiness. The whole fucking world is one big high school full of cliques.

    • In other news, lesbians often have a bad habit of eating their own, too. That’s the saddest part to me. Honestly w/r/t the patriarchy I think we’ll have better luck bonding together as women, but we can’t do that until all the lesbians start helping each other and not being lobsters.

    • Very, very true. I could have done without the lobster reference because it only reminds me of one of the most painful/awkward scenes in the L Word.

  7. I don’t really get offended by those jokes.
    Some lesbians fit the stereotype.
    Some gay men fit the stereotype.
    Some southern Louisiana residents fit the stereotype.
    Some liberal activists fit the stereotype.
    Some upset teenagers with less-than-blissful home lives and a penchant for black clothing fit the stereotype.
    Stereotypes don’t come out of nowhere. They exist for a reason – they’re founded in something. We can say “stereotyping is bad”, but I think it’s really a “With a grain of salt” type of thing. They’re amusing, they *can* grant insight, just as long as it’s remembered that within those stereotypes are a lot of individuals, and while as a group those stereotypical characteristics might not be far from the truth, each one of those individuals has their discrepancies. Some completely stand out. Some only half-fit.
    And I mean, so what? It’s all good. It’s like teasing your little siblings. it’s only fun because they hate it so much. If they just laughed it off, you’d probably stop.
    We don’t need to say, “Hey! We’re not all like that!” because anyone with two eyes can tell. Let them have their fun – we have ours, yeah?

    • um, I really hate to say it, but I don’t really think ignoring it or laughing it off is gonna make it go away. people don’t usually say comments like that to rile people up. they say them because (a) they’re ignorant, and (b) they think it’s funny. (and they think everyone else should think it’s funny.) like in the case of graham norton, he wasn’t saying it to *tease lesbians*, but rather he was saying it to raise HIMSELF a notch in the eyes of people who might (and do) judge him (i.e., heterosexual upper-class white men).

      it’s not “all good.” I think there are times and places where stereotyping jokes like that are just fine, but public television is not one of them. it’s just not the case that “anyone with two eyes can tell” the truth — there are so many people who have absolutely no exposure to gay folks.

      my $0.02.

      • I don’t hate to say that I agree that laughing this off or ignoring this type of behavior will make it go away. While I also believe stereotypes don’t come out of nowhere. I do believe that stereotypes exist in order to allow the upper levels of our social hierarchy to be able to compartmentalize and essentially keep certain marginalized groups in a single place. It’s a slippery slope to allow stereotypes to exist a) because we shouldn’t be judging each other in such arbitrary terms b) the danger of the marginalized group internalizing stereotypes is dangerous and detrimental to society. As others have said we should all be trying to empower one another instead of being crabs in a bucket trying to climb our way out without a second thought for the person below us.

        As a member of three very marginalized groups I feel as though I am always combating these preset assumptions before I even get a chance to speak let alone be myself.

        Anyways Ill step off this soap box…. OBVS. Graham Norton has not seen this website and the Autostraddle team!

        • You’re totally right. I want to have something to add, but I think you just said it.

          I do think generally that laughter is the best idea, but when you have to face the presumptions perpetuated by these stereotypes every day, it’s not that funny.

          Basically, I just wanted Graham Norton or someone who was writing about him to recognize that it wasn’t that being fat & ugly is bad, but that we use those words to degrade people and reinforce destructive power hierarchies. That it wasn’t the words, but the meaning behind them … the intent. But I guess he’s probs not like a super nuanced person.

          • hahah yeah nuance is probably lost… I do agree though laughter is important. You bring up an excellent point in the intent behind words. I mean it goes back to this whole idea of marriage and it’s redefinition. It is in our power to do that with language to change intent and to redefine and to essentially take language back so that it doesn’t define us but we define it.

  8. your link to “Beyond the U-Haul” appears to be broken. i linked to that bbc story earlier today, and while it isn’t a terribly insightful analysis, it does broach an troubling topic. i feel that this rift between genders is becoming an increasing source of tension in my personal life, with the priorities of my (close) male gay friends beginning to drift farther and farther from my own. something to think more on, certainly.

    • I agree with you that the rift between genders is becoming an increasing source of tension. Oddly I feel more socially accepted by gay men than ever before, despite this incident today. But I wonder if the increased tension right now — from where I sit — is ’cause all the organizations that once were for both of us are becoming just for guys, because of the economy. Magazines, publishing houses, tv channels and other types of media that attempted inclusiveness are now going for the “sure thing” with gay men … even award and grant-granters. But maybe that’s just me, going to gay business networking events and us always being the only women there. I could be totally off-base here though.

  9. I always get along with gay men individually, but I’d say in groups I get a little intimidated. Maybe it’s a problem that i stereotype them as judgy. stereotypes go both ways and just end up in some unhappy circle of offense

    • This is my experience too, and you are right. Although clearly, there are people in all walks of life who really are just assholes. Also, comedians like to make fun of people. It’s not really anything new. It just sucks that he would choose to make fun of a group of people who are fighting the same battles as him.

  10. The problem of “eating our own” is going to be very difficult to get rid of because there will likely always be people who need to tear other people down in order to build themselves up.

Comments are closed.