Revelatory masks

(On homomasculinities, with plain talk about men’s bodies and sex between men. So not for the sexually modest, and at best inadvisable for kids.)

The Daily Jocks mailing yesterday (5/10), with an ad under the header “Mask for Masc?”:


(#1) [ad copy:] $10 MASKS: This reusable two-layer fabric face mask is manufactured from a high quality fabric. Get one for just $10 while stocks last

This is the underwear model I have been calling Aradesque, used in advertising largely to convey butch fagginess, here wearing a mask announcing quite publicly that he’s butch / masculine. So he’s claiming a gender identity that would normally be inferred from the clear evidence of publicly visible characteristics: stance, gesture, facial expression, and so on — it’s something you show, not something you announce.

As a result, announcing that you are masculine, macho, or butch suggests that you are unsure that the high (in your estimation) level of your masculinity can be correctly inferred from  your visible characteristics, and so undercuts your claim; if you have to tell people how butch you are, you’re probably not very butch.

On the other hand, mask and masc make a cute pun. Maybe that’s all that’s going on in #1.

And then there’s the possibility that the character Aradesque is playing in #1 is boasting, with self-assurance, that he’s solidly masculine.

The problem with severely abbreviated messages is that they can convey so many different things. More on this theme below, on the sexual associations of unicorns.

Earlier on this channel. DJ has used the image in #1 before. From my 11/2/20 posting “A diversion at the beginning of election week”: the image; the caption, “A bit of word play on mask and masc(uline), underwear models being chosen for their projection of high masculinity (as here)”; and the ad copy, “Wearing a mask doesn’t have to be boring, keep yourself & others safe with DJX’s new Party At Home masks. Available in 6 styles.”

The 6 styles:


(#2) Preferences (BOTTOM) and identities (MASC, MACHO, GAY.A.F.; the first two might be intended to convey the preference TOP as well as an identity), plus the instruction OPEN WIDE (to take my cock in your mouth), conveying a dominant sexual persona; UNICORN is relatively inscrutable — see discussion below

Wearing labels. In #2, some of the labels. Here, worn in the most publicly visible way possible, on masks. Otherwise, labels are commonly displayed on t-shirts (dozens of examples on this blog), where they can be flaunted (in some contexts) or concealed under a jacket, overshirt, or sweater (in other contexts); and on underwear, especially on  waistbands, especially the waistbands of jockstraps (which then become homowear rather than gymwear).

Why wear labels? Preference labels are suited for a cruising or tricking context, where they can replace or reduce the negotiation talk that so many man find difficult. I have worn GAY AS FUCK and similar labels as political statements, public reminders that We Are Everywhere and that we don’t necessarily “look gay”. Some men flaunt labels as a kind of camp performance, deliberately outrageous — the only reason I can see for OPEN WIDE.

The case of UNICORN. Only too many associations and uses, even if we confine ourselves to sexual understandings. Some notes, loosely arranged.

— the unicorn is an obvious phallic symbol, so is associated with aggressive sexuality, or more generally with queer men

—  from NOAD on the noun unicorn:

… 2 [a] something that is highly desirable but difficult to find or obtain: an album like this is something of a unicorn. …

which allows more specific reference to someone who is remarkably attractive and sexually powerful (as in various Urban Dictionary entries)

—  from my 3/19/17 posting “Sexting with emoji”: among the emoji, the

(Rainbow) Unicorn Head, which could be treating the unicorn merely as a magical gay creature [so that it could signal gay identity or gay pride]; or could convey horniness (with the unicorn serving as a phallic symbol); or, remarkably, signify a bisexual woman available for three-way sex with a couple (why a unicorn? you ask — because such women are as rare as unicorns, to the point of non-existence).

— then there is an association of unicorns with rainbows (and rainbows with queerness); in fact, unicorns are reputed to defecate rainbows (and in a widely distributed image, to urinate them)

— from my 7/4/13 posting “On the unicorn watch”, on rainbow – butterfly – unicorn associations

Butch fagginess. (Back to Aradesque, the model in #1.) There is now a Page on this blog of fairly heavily annotated links to my postings on the topic. From an early posting “Butch fagginess”, from 8/14/18:

[Barcode Berlin]’s crop tees display attractive midriffs, and the models project muscular masculinity — solidly butch — but the tees also convey sociosexual messages in teasing and boastful ways that echo the open banter of queer men amongst themselves, acting faggy …

… [One tee] advertises “I’m a slut, honey”, while the rest of the model’s presentation shouts “And I’m all man!” (Others are more outrageous). And if you ask me, that’s just as it should be: we’re men, and we should be comfortable with that; we desire men, so we should value (some forms of) masculinity in other men; however, we reject central aspects of heteronormative sexuality, and our behavior should reflect that (proudly and defiantly, if necessary); and we embrace means of establishing and reinforcing communities with one another, so we adopt (some) ways of behaving that both unite us and set us apart from other men.

… The [other] t-shirt slogans:

Get Naked, Cheap and Easy, Bitch, Bear, Fetish, Bitch I’m Fabulous, Fuck Off, Love Boys

… These garments scream “I’m queer! And butch! And that’s wonderful! You too?” They’re advertisements for one specifically gay style of masculinity. There are others: celebratorily fem(me)/sissy styles …; gender-fluid styles; “regular guy” homosexuality (attempting to adopt all the trappings of heteronormative masculinity except for the sex of one’s partner); MSM “just sex” configuration of male-male pairing (embracing mansex as celebratory male bonding while rejecting gay as identity, community, or source of affectional partnership); and hypermasculine homosexuality (Berlin Barcode caters to this audience in many of its products).

One Response to “Revelatory masks”

  1. Richard Vytniorgu Says:

    What’s always amused me about the unicorn is that recently it’s become ubiquitous not only among gay guys but also for young girls. To me it seems to be used to capture something wonderful but indefinable — totally unique and rare. Which is ironic, given how prolific it’s become!

Leave a Reply to Richard Vytniorgu Cancel reply


%d bloggers like this: