UNDERSTANDING THE PREFERENCES OF ANY COMMUNITY IS DIFFICULT, SO LET IT SUFFICE TO SAY: “DIFFERENT STROKES FOR DIFFERENT FOLKS.”
As is the case in many communities, the hair loss community is made up of many sub-communities. A “sub-community” could be defined by just about any parameter, such as those who live in the Midwest or those who are vegetarians. So if one were to look into the experiences of hair loss community members who are gay, would one find any differences in their experiences compared with those of the larger community?
“Absolutely,” says Nick, a 40-something man who has been bald for a decade or so. “There’s a much bigger emphasis on appearance than in the straight community, and for many gay men, baldness is to be avoided at all costs.”
“Not at all,” says Quinn, 38, who started losing his hair when he was 29. “Sure, some individuals have a hang-up about it, but so do a lot of women when they’re picking and choosing from straight guys.”
A posting on a queer forum turned up a similar difference of opinion from respondents.
“Makes no difference to me, really,” said one post. “I’ve seen sexy and not sexy men with and without hair and all stages in between.”
“I comb mine over so no one can tell,” said another.
Hair is important, but so are many other things
In general, however, the posts seem to reflect the feeling that hair loss is not as important as general appearance, that is, how the lack of hair fits in with the total overall look. Of even greater importance, however, is the comfort that the person with hair loss feels in “his own skin.”
“Sometimes I really hate it, and sometimes I am totally OK with it,” says Roman Sommers, who is 48 and started losing his hair in his 30s. “It used to bother me a lot more. All men are vain, gay men even more so. I would obsess about it, even have dreams about it. Finally, I told myself, ‘OK, this is a test of how shallow I can be about my own looks.’ When I thought about it that way, it became much easier to just let it go and be done with the issue.”
“I still get serious attention from some guys,” he continues, “so it’s obviously not a deal breaker for everyone. I think any bald guy looks much better when he does not care about it and just keeps a close, clean cut, rather than trying to compensate with a comb-over or a ponytail or toupee or something. Attitude is important.”
However, Roman does mention that “many gay guys are seriously into judging each other’s looks. When you’re bald, you just know that you’ve been dealt a weak hand in that regard. You can either let that get under the skin or disregard it as irrelevant. I shoot for the latter. I’m not always successful, but it tends to work.”
Hair loss: For some, it is what it is
Summing up, Roman says, “I think I may have gotten more than my fair share of good things in my life. Whining about my lack of hair seems like tempting fate. It’s a cliche to say it about my hair loss, but ‘it is what it is.’”
Nick, who was quoted above as stating that there is a big difference in the way the gay community views a man with hair loss, says, “The gay community is very complex, of course, but I really do think that in general there’s much more importance placed on physical appearance. It‘s a stereotype, and it’s certainly not true throughout the community, but there’s also a reason why so many gay men are hung up on going to the gym every day and on spending a great deal of time and money on wardrobe selection.”
“And it’s not solely related to wanting to appear desirable,” he adds, “although that, of course, is a large component. I personally think that there is greater tendency all around to judge people in the community, so many gay men spend a lot of time worrying about how their individual looks are going to be received and interpreted by others, apart from whether they’re going to be thought of as sexy.”
Quinn, also quoted above, has another take on the matter. “Everyone talks about gay men being obsessed with their looks,” he says. “Well, I’ve seen plenty of my straight friends getting ready for a date, and some of them pour it on as much as I do — worse, even. They’re just as worried about how their hair (or lack of it) looks and about if you can see their little double chins and if their pants make their butts look big.”
“Look,” he says, “people are people — period. We all have our hang-ups; we all have issues. Yes, yes, yes, some gay men heap scorn on a guy just because he’s lost hair. Some others think it’s sexy. It’s no different than women that dismiss a guy for the same reason.”
“What’s important,” Quinn concludes, “and I’m only going to say this once, is accepting yourself. I don’t have hair. I wish I did, but I’m not going to let that stop me from looking good. I’ve found what works for me, and I’m happy with who I am now. I’m bald. I’m gay. I’m a little overweight. I’m me. Get used to it.”