Positive stereotypes of gay men ‘can still be damaging’, say experts

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Stereotypes such as stylish, witty and emotional can cause gay men damage.

Positive stereotypes of gay men “can be damaging,” a new study has revealed.

Psychologists at Anglia Ruskin University believe that popular stereotypes of gay can lead to “positive prejudice”.

Positive stereotypes of gay men ‘can still be damaging’, say experts

Due to popular TV shows and movies – such as Sex and the City, Will & Grace and My Best Friend’s Wedding – the common stereotype of gay men is that they are “stylish, witty, and emotionally available.”

However Ashley Brooks – a PhD student and lead author of a study exploring “positive prejudice” believes such stereotypes can actually cause gay men damage.

Brooks believes that such stereotypes depict gay men as one dimensional figures and prevent people from seeing someone’s true personality.

“We commonly see the ‘gay best friend’ being played out in popular media, and this is also becoming increasingly prevalent in real life interactions between heterosexuals and gay men,” she said.

“Because these attitudes appear positive on the face of it, they gain widespread acceptance and remain unchallenged despite their potential to cause long-term damage.”

Brooks says she and her research team aim to survey 1,000 people in order to measure “the extent of the damage”.

“On the face of it, stereotypes associated with gay men – such as being fashionable or witty – appear positive and may even hold some truth to them,” added Daragh McDermott – principal lecturer in social psychology at Anglia Ruskin.

“However, by their very nature these stereotypes pigeonhole what it means to be gay and lead to unrealistic expectations of how gay men are expected to behave.

Positive stereotypes of gay men ‘can still be damaging’, say experts

“Gay men who don’t fit the common stereotype are often marginalised for not living up to these expectations, which can have an impact on their mental health,” he continued.

“Understanding the changing nature of attitudes towards minority groups, such as gay men, is important for psychologists to help promote a more inclusive society.”