At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how successful you are, how nice your car is or where you live — all that matters is that your bros believe you’re a paragon of heterosexuality. Even in 2017, apparently, these are the repressed anxieties of many modern men.
So, in response, people on Twitter have been lightheartedly dragging their tragically fragile masculinities through the mud.
Enter the “Fellas, Is It Gay” meme.
If you’ve been to a gym, a Dockers outlet or the waiting area in the entrance of a Victoria’s Secret, you’ve almost certainly met the man these people are relentlessly mocking: He only buys soap in black bottles adorned with the words “FOR MEN” across the front and never, ever makes physical contact with his bros except for a swift high-five when his team pulls off a particularly clutch play. During my college days, I saw this “no homo”-style insecurity everywhere.
If you haven’t met this guy, the good people of Twitter certainly have. The emerging “Fellas, Is It Gay” meme is a hilarious send-up of our culture’s toxic masculinity and underlying homophobia.
It’s not clear exactly how this meme started.
The phrase “fellas is it gay …” has existed on Twitter for years — since 2009, according to Twitter’s advanced search tool, when a user called Bricks asked a seemingly earnest question about peeing next to another guy in a public bathroom.
The phrase “is it gay …” first appeared much earlier: about 14 months after Twitter’s launch, when @baddie wondered if it was gay to like the CW teen drama One Tree Hill.
Early examples of “is it gay …” tweets usually centered on some poor bro’s entirely earnest fears that one of his most beloved hobbies (or, in many cases, sexual acts) might be — gasp — gay.
But in recent weeks, the meme has taken off like a flame. Wait, no, scratch that — it’s taken off like a thick, black oil slick spreading across the floor of a giant garage filled with nothing but super-old, super-fast, super-sexy cars.
In these tweets, people continue to iterate on the same formula, pondering the insidious gayness of activities that up until now seemed entirely benign. These days, you can never be sure: Under every rock that isn’t entirely gray or black or brown — no spots or stripes here, fellas — there might be something less than rigidly masculine and heteronormative.
Texting a friend twice? Don’t wanna look too desperate. Gay.
Praying? A true man never gets on his knees. Really gay.
Saying “ttyl” via text? If you have to ask, you’re probably gay.
Sometimes, the call is coming from inside the house. Can’t even wash your own body without accidentally turning yourself gay these days.
Once this meme runs its course, the satire has done its job and we beat this “masculinity is an absurd, torturous, happiness-draining prison” horse to a pulp, it’s not clear exactly what’s next.
But we have some ideas.