These Photos Celebrate the Feminine Side of Queer Men

April 26th 2016

Tricia Tongco

Thanks to social media, the queer community has access to more images of gay, lesbian, non-gender-conforming sexuality. But if you scroll through #gay or #queer posts on Instagram, you’ll see a pattern emerge — ripped, bare-chested men flexing their glistening muscles in a spectacular display of masculinity. Of course, gay men can express their sexuality and identity in a myriad of ways, but the dominant way that they're represented is as hyper-masculine.

These hulking men do not look like the effeminate boys that may have been mercilessly teased and called “fag” in school for not fitting into their gender. 

Why this disconnect? Within the world of queer men, masculinity is still idealized and femininity shunned, whether it’s on Instagram or Grindr. Through his Instagram series “The Femme Pride,” photographer Antonio Marziale chooses to celebrate femininity rather than reject it.


A photo posted by Femme Pride (@thefemmepride) on

In Marziale’s photos, queer men drop some of the typical Instagram props — dumbells, tightie whities, and boxing gloves — and don flowers, heels, and lipstick. Even their poses are notably different — these men languidly drape themselves over couches, delicately caress themselves, and look longingly at the camera. The photographer spoke to ATTN: about his photo series and the concept behind it.

“[The project] is about deconstructing expectations of masculinity and understanding a lot of power can come from feminine energy, which I think a lot of people are afraid of,” Marziale told ATTN:.


A photo posted by Femme Pride (@thefemmepride) on

According to the photographer, the aversion to feminine self-representation among men comes from a deep-seated fear of femininity. “The truth is that femininity is more powerful that masculinity — women are birth-givers, life-givers, creators — we don’t respect that as much as we should.”

The Instagram account is creating a much-needed space for men to express their femininity. Marziale, however, doesn’t believe that gay men are to blame for the lack of representation of feminine, queer men.


A photo posted by Femme Pride (@thefemmepride) on

“It’s very important to understand that gay men desiring to be masculine is not gay men’s fault. That’s an expectation put on them by the dominant, straight narrative,” said Marziale. “You can’t talk about femininity separate from patriarchal expectations, which is the lens we view it through.”

In addition to creating positive images of queer femininity, Marziale created “The Femme Pride” for another, simpler reason: “To idolize masculinity — I think that’s really boring,” said Marziale. “To be non-conforming means not limiting myself, not being afraid of my body being a political message, and breaking down those barriers.”


A photo posted by Femme Pride (@thefemmepride) on

“Femininity is power. It’s dominant. It is everything that masculinity is,” said Marziale. “There are different aspects to it — we just don’t see enough representation of it.”

[H/T: PAPER Mag]