Ben Leander Willgruber | Visual Designer and Writer

Why (some) Gay Men are Shady | A Theory

I thought about what might be the reason that some gay men are ‘shady’ – in particular why I personally tend to ‘throw’ shade. I came up with a theory I’d like to discuss. 

When I was in school, I used to be bullied a lot. It was not for being gay (I wasn’t officially out while in school), but for random reasons, I cannot really comprehend. Some might say there was never a real reason as for why I was bullied in the first place.

According to my theory, during this time I have somehow ‘learned’ that being mean can equal having fun – at least for the people being mean. I subconsciously remember this when I throw shade and sometimes forget that what I say might be a little crass or hurtful. I do feel bad when humor turns the wrong way and when someone is particularly mean to me I might feel hurt too – especially when I don’t know that person and their sense of humor very well. I realize that I either have to grow thicker skin myself or become less shady or both.

I wanted to get to the bottom of this behavior. And all I know is that almost all of our behaviors have roots in our past, most of which we have learned from social interactions and seeing other people interact with each other. The thing that popped in my head was having been bullied. I remembered how other people did that to me and I couldn’t help but ask myself if throwing shade is somehow connected to having made these experiences. And I had to ask myself if having been bullied in the past is something ‘shady’ people might have in common. Is throwing shade some kind of subconscious defense mechanism?

Now I know that not everyone who throws shade is gonna be a gay man who used to be bullied. But please help me out here and answer a question for me:

Are you someone who tends to throw shade… And have you been bullied in the past?
Are you someone who usually doesn’t throw shade… Have you been bullied before?

Ben

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