Manly Gay

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
What's manlier than a manly man? A manly man who loves manly men.

Sitting on the opposite end of the spectrum from Camp Gay, Manly Gay is when a homosexual male character is shown not only in lacking Camp or feminine traits, but kept going in the opposite direction and into the realm of pure masculinity.

A character who is Manly Gay is the complete opposite of the Camp stereotype. Typically such characters are large and strong, and shown doing masculine things like sports and working class jobs. He may have a Carpet of Virility, he may be a Badass, or he may have Stout Strength...but regardless of how he got here, the result is the same: While being gay, he's manlier than your average man, straight or Invisible to Gaydar.

This is a stereotype more associated with modern gay porn, but is also a certain distilled ideal of gay men that appeals more often to other gay men—one of the reasons it has become so associated with gay porn. Such characters also appear in other works as a means of telling a Gay Aesop about homosexuals not all being flaming queens. Manly Gay characters are often seen as a form of Invisible to Gaydar by some (especially Western) audiences, while a gay stereotype in and of itself to others (especially Eastern audiences).

Compare with Invisible to Gaydar. If the character is stereotypically Camp or Played for Laughs, then he's actually Macho Camp. May be The Bear, a Big Beautiful Man, a Leather Man or a Gay Cowboy. Many a Gayngster qualifies. May also be an Armored Closet Gay. Is also commonly a Badass Gay. See also Bara Genre, the genre where Manly Gay men... have fun with one another. Also see Lipstick Lesbian for this trope's Distaff Counterpart.

Examples of Manly Gay include:

Anime and Manga

Comic Books

  • Apollo and the Midnighter (Apollo is slightly less exaggeratedly tough and may be more of a Invisible to Gaydar) from The Authority.
  • By implication, Hooded Justice and Captain Metropolis from Watchmen.
  • Bloke from X-Force, an avid bodybuilder and especially brutal vigilante. He also has Macho Camp elements (pink skin, said to have great taste in home decoration, very romantic with his boyfriend), but he was primarily a big strong man who happened to be gay.
  • Many characters from Patrick Fillion's gay porn superhero comics (practically nothing you will find by web-searching will be safe for work).
  • Give Me Liberty has the Aryan Thrust, a group of Manly Gay White Supremacists.


  • Val Kilmer's character in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

Fan Fiction


  • Spike in Robert B Parker's Sunny Randall books.
  • Nearly all the wolfcarls in Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear's A Companion To Wolves and it's sequel The Tempering Of Men. Those who aren't are Bi the Way.
  • Clawmaster Emero in John Ringo and Jody Lyn Nye's novella "Cata".

Live Action TV

  • All in The Family: On the program that broke all previous barriers and taboos, one of the earliest came in the Season 1 episode "Judging Books by Covers." Archie is annoyed by one of Mike's outlandish friends (Anthony Geary, long before he played Luke on General Hospital), who acts and dresses effeminitly but was otherwise heterosexual; in fact, Archie is so irritated he goes off to Kelsey's Bar – its first appearance in the series – to vent to his friends about gay people. One of the people involved in the conversation is a middle-aged man, a one-time football player who has normal male interests ... and is a homosexual. No male-on-male affection is shown in the episode, but Archie does learn that outward appearances do not necessarily mean someone is gay or straight.
  • Barca from Spartacus: Blood and Sand is a solid example.
    • And his boyfriend, Auctus, from the Prequel.
  • Omar from The Wire is a very good example of this trope.
  • Vito from The Sopranos is a tragically-closeted example.
  • Keith and Sarge from Six Feet Under.
  • Dave Karofsky from Glee; the guys at the gay bar even call him a "bear cub."
  • Sam Adama from Caprica
  • Bob Hunter from Desperate Housewives. Taller and a tad more muscular than his husband, Lee Mc Dermott. Both can be considered as Invisible to Gaydar though.
  • Wade and Trey from Noah's Arc, especially Wade who definitely plays up his masculinity (at least early on).
  • Riley from Degrassi, also overlapping with Invisible to Gaydar. Sam also most certainly counts, though he only showed up for one episode and Dylan, Marco's boyfriend.


  • Electric Six also did a Manly Gay video.
  • "Metal God" Rob Halford of Judas Priest.
  • Black Metal performer Gaahl of Gorgoroth and Gaahlskagg fame.
  • The Village People were this when they were released. Though as their act has aged and become more retroactively Camp, it has become more passably Macho Camp in retrospect.
    • It should be noted that the Village People were not always recognized as Manly Gay early on, because general American culture at the time was relatively more macho than it is now. This misunderstanding was what allowed the U.S. Department of Defense to commission the song "In the Navy", unaware at the time of the Village People's Manly Gay stage persona. Planned recruitment advertisements built around the song were scrapped at the last minute when the Pentagon finally realized this. By the time the Village People had passed the peak of their popularity, they were better understood as Manly Gay, but their music had already entered pop culture, with most of the backlash against them being part of the greater general backlash against Disco (which as a genre was already partially rooted in gay culture) in the late 1970s and early 1980s. And yet the Village People were still not yet quite Macho Camp—this only came with age as their style became more and more dated in comparison with the contemporary years that passed.
  • Rammstein's steamy and highly controversial video of song "Mann Gegen Mann" features nothing but a bunch particularly manly men engaging in a kinda... special party. Yes, that one.
  • I give you Bear Force 1
  • Queen's Freddie Mercury; even during his more effeminate period in the 70s, he had Perma-Stubble and a Virility Carpet that would put Sean Connery to shame.
  • The end of the video for Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe".

Photography and Illustration

  • The erotic art of Tom of Finland (who drew the top picture) was the Trope Codifier of the modern version of the trope. Incidentally, the top picture is one of the few artworks he ever drew that is worksafe enough for TV Tropes.
    • Tom of Finland was subsequently influenced by the artwork of George Quaintance.

Professional Wrestling

  • Many professional wrestlers get accused of being Manly Gays (must have something to do with the oiled-up muscleman physiques and those tight trunks), but the WWE tag team of Billy and Chuck actually had being ambiguously Manly Gay as their gimmick, until they finally came out of the closet... as straight. During a gay wedding ceremony that had been heavily advertised and talked about in the press. Suffice it to say, GLAAD (who actually endorsed the "wedding") was not happy with WWE.
  • There is one case where a professional wrestler who DID came as gay in Real Life, Darren Young, and he's the first openly gay man in the WWE. He got support from his fellow wrestlers for doing so.

Stand Up Comedy

  • The late Greg Giraldo once talked about this, saying that some day gay guys would be the basis for physical comparison for men:

Look at this kid, he's so fuckin' ripped, he's built like a gay guy!

Video Games

Web Comics

Web Original

  • There Will Be Brawl does this to Captain Falcon, who is Pit's lover and extremely Badass. "Maybe later you could come by and... show me your moves."
  • Frost from Trinton Chronicles fits this troupe well being a muscled guy with a masculine set of traits and yet still being into other men.
  • Practically everything created by Captain Ger Bear, especially of The Bear variety.
  • Shadow of the Templar had Simon, the protaganist as this - he's an FBI agent, for crying out loud. The antagonist, Jeremy, and later Simon's lover, is...less so, despite also being very bad-ass.
  • The artwork of David Kawena from Deviant ART, famous for his "Disney Princes" series.
  • Most parodic interpretations suggest that He-Man is this.

Western Animation

  • Jean and Paul from Superjail, the gay couple, will constantly remind the audience of their gang origins. Remember, they're in prison. They have to be tough. Paul threatened Jean by telling him that he once cut off a guy's dick and stuck it down his throat for disagreeing with him.
  • How can anyone forget DUFFMAN!

Real Life

  • The Bear Community is often associated with this trope, but not strictly so. Bears are only required to be gay hairy men, but can otherwise be any other kind of gay trope including Camp Gay or Leather Man.
  • Walt Whitman.
  • Anderson Cooper and Bradley Cooper, two Coopers rumored to be gay. (Anderson lives with his manly gay partner in New York—Chelsea.)
  • Rob Halford of Judas Priest, the most badass metal singer to ever live, happens to be gay. Everyone already knew it, he just didn't feel the need to admit it publically for years.
  • Rock Hudson was the picture of manliness in the 50s. So much so, that his agent Henry Willson did everything in his power to stop the tabloids from ruining that image, go so far as to throw his other clients to the tabloids rather than let them get their hands on Rock Hudson's dirty little secret. He finally quelled the rumors in the form of a beard named Phyllis Gates. They married and had two kids, but their marriage lasted less than 3 years when she found out he had an affair with another man. But with a divorce under his belt, Hudson was in the clear. Some even speculated that Phyllis went along with the charade for so long because she was a closet lesbian and he was her merkin (the lesbian version of a Beard).
  • Rugby players Ian Roberts and Gareth Thomas
  • English Columnist and provocateur Mark Simpson, who coined the term "Metrosexual" as a derision and suffered the subsequent Insult Backfire, lies somewhere between this and Invisible to Gaydar.
  • The Butch Factor is a documentary that analyzes the aspect of masculinity in gay culture. It has good examples of manly gays as well as some straight-acting and Camp Gays. It can be watched on Logo here.
  • Graham Chapman took one look at the camp stereotype, said "No, thank you" and took up rock climbing, pipe smoking and being a doctor. He also liked playing rugby and by most counts was pretty good at it.
  • John Barrowman. He had to be, considering he's from Glasgow. Didn't stop him from making his name in the theatre, and he's known to switch between this and Camp Gay depending on the situation.
  • King Richard the Lionheart of England. He took this trope Up to Eleven, since he was more of a Blood Knight.
    • King Edward II of England, although he was less successful as a general than his great-grand-uncle.
  • Japanese writer Yukio Mishima, praising the manly ideal of the samurai. It is likely that Mishima, who fervently admired the ancient samurai, based his vision on the Hagakure's concept of "pure love" ("burning hearts" in the Hagakure) between men, which was at the time - at least in the work of prominent authors such as Jôchô Yamamoto - considered superior in terms of pureness and virility to heterosexual love (thus deemed necessary to some extent in order to guarantee the perpetuation of the clan's bloodline). Although Mishima himself did not advocate such a "hierarchy" among relationships, he married only to please his parents and stipulated that his wife must not have any interest or involvement in his work.
  • A serving US Marine recently got himself hauled up before a court martial for appearing in a gay porn film while wearing part of his uniform.[1][2]
  • The Theban Sacred Band makes this trope Older Than Feudalism. They were an elite 300-strong unit made up entirely of homosexual couples, the logic being that soldiers would fight harder if their lovers were in battle next to them. Until Alexander the Great came along, they were unbeatable.
    • Incidentally, Alexander could have been a Manly Gay himself, or more likely bisexual.
  1. But not all his uniform, so the Corps decided he'd only bent the rules
  2. Besides, being known throughout the Corps as the leatherneck who appeared in a gay porn film is probably punishment enough.