Sitting on the opposite end of the spectrum from Camp Gay, Manly Gay is when a homosexual man is shown not only in lacking Camp or feminine traits, but kept going in the opposite direction and into the realm of pure, unbridled masculinity.
A character who is Manly Gay is the complete opposite of the Camp stereotype. Typically such characters are large and strong and shown doing masculine things like sports. He may have a Carpet of Virility, he may be a badass, or he may have Stout Strength...but regardless of how he got here, the result is the same: He's manlier than your average man, straight or otherwise.
This is an archetype associated with modern gay porn, but it's also a distilled ideal of gay male culture, one that often appeals to other gay men — one of the reasons it has become so associated with gay porn. Such characters also appear in other works as a means of telling a Gay Aesop about how not all gay people are 'like that'. Manly Gay characters are often seen as a form of Straight Gay by straight (especially Western) audiences, while it's seen as its own gay stereotype to others (especially Eastern audiences and gay folks themselves).
Compare and contrast with Straight Gay. If the character is stereotypically Camp or Played for Laughs, then he's actually Macho Camp. May be The Bear, a Big Beautiful Man, a Leather Man or a Gay Cowboy. Many a Gayngster qualifies. May also be an Armored Closet Gay. Is also commonly a Badass Gay. See also Bara Genre, the genre where Manly Gay men have... fun with one another.
- Gateau Mocha from Sorcerer Hunters.
- Axis Powers Hetalia:
- Reiner Braun from Attack on Titan is hinted to be this, readily agreeing when the exceptionally insightful Ymir suggests he's "uninterested" in the opposite sex. He's the Big Man on Campus, built like a linebacker, and viewed by his comrades as a surrogate big brother.
- The whole point of Bara Genre is to show very manly guys having sex, to contrast with the effeminate characters of Yaoi
- In the oneshot In The Pool, OLs Around Thirty one of the women mentions she fell for a man who was a burly bearded fellow. Her friend states it was blatant that he was gay.
- Mike Flanagan in My Brother's Husband is a big hairy gay guy who lifts weights and acts very masculine.
- Northstar, the Canadian superhero and twin of Aurora (who were in Alpha Flight) came out while appearing in his then team's (Alpha Flight) 106th issue in the 1992 comic book. It was a groundbreaking event in comic history, as he became the first superhero to say, "I'm Gay", and made international news. In 2013, Astonishing Xmen #51, Northstar marries his partner on the cover, and the issue was widely heralded as another groundbreaking moment in comics. Northstar is arguably the most well-known gay superhero of all-time. The character, created by John Byrne, was designed to come out a decade prior in Alpha Flight, but the editor of Marvel Comics at the time was against his wishes. Northstar is a brash, intelligent, and highly confident man.
- Apollo and the Midnighter (Apollo is slightly less exaggeratedly tough and may be more of a Straight Gay) from The Authority.
- By implication, Hooded Justice and Captain Metropolis from Watchmen.
- Bloke from X-Force, an avid bodybuilder and especially brutal vigilante. He also has Macho Camp elements (pink skin, said to have great taste in home decoration, very romantic with his boyfriend), but he was primarily a big strong man who happened to be gay.
- Many characters from Patrick Fillion's gay porn superhero comics (practically nothing you will find by web-searching will be safe for work).
- Give Me Liberty has the Aryan Thrust, a group of Manly Gay White Supremacists.
- Alan Scott (from the Justice Society of America) is depicted as this in the reimagined New 52.
- X-Treme X-Men Volume 2, an Exiles-esque book starring X-Men from alternate realities, gives us Governor-General Howlett and his boyfriend...who happens to be a certain estranged son of Zeus.
- Another example from X-Men and related comics: Shatterstar, who was unambiguously outed in X-Factor after much innuendo.
- Steve Trainor's long-term partner Wulf in Top 10 is a big, husky, tough-talking former air ace.
- Duncan and Raven of Clean Room are bearded, masculine men; Duncan specifically is a veteran of multiple special forces groups.
- Brokeback Mountain.
- Val Kilmer's character in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.
- In Saving Silverman, R. Lee Ermey's character fits the profile.
- Alexander and Hephaestion in Alexander. They were that way also historically.
- Most characters in the films by Queer Flick director Bruce La Bruce fit into this, they're often punks or skinheads
- But I'm a Cheerleader had Dolph, the very gay, very butch athlete.
- The Butch Factor is a documentary that analyzes the aspect of masculinity in gay culture. It has good examples of manly gays as well as some so-called "straight-acting" and Camp Gays. It can be watched on Logo here.
- A serving US Marine was brought before a court martial for appearing in a gay porn film while wearing part of his uniform... But not all his uniform, so the Corps decided he'd only bent the rules. note
- In ParaNorman, Mitch is the typical teenaged Dumb Muscle, causing Norman's sister, Courtney, to be Distracted by the Sexy throughout the movie. He replies to her asking him out to see a movie that "My boyfriend's a chick-flick nut."
- Aram and especially Peter in When Darkness Falls.
- James Gandolfini in The Mexican.
- The denizens of the recurring Blue Oyster Bar from the Police Academy movies.
- The whole plot of God's Own Country is about two of this trope falling for each other. Gheorghe is a Romanian migrant farm worker hired on to work lambing season with Johnny, an emotionally shut off, alcoholic sheep farmer, after Johnny's father suffers a stroke.
- Superhero Slash Fics are absolute havens of this trope, usually featuring pairings of two characters reinterpreted as Manly Gay, such as Batman / Nightwing or Captain America / Iron Man.
- Gankona, Unnachgiebig, Unità: Germany is tall, muscular, intimidating, and overall manly. He also happens to be bisexual.
- Child of the Storm has Uhtred, who flirts with boys and girls alike, is an all-action axe wielding young warrior and protégé of Sif. He's also from a family who're the Asgardian answer to Mountain Men or Marcher Lords, is fancast as Sean Bean and said to be, when temporarily an adult and a fully fledged Viking God, about two metres tall, with a Badass Beard and built like a bear. That's about as goddamn manly as you're going to get.
- Spike in Robert B Parker's Sunny Randall books.
- Nearly all the wolfcarls in Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear's A Companion To Wolves and its sequel The Tempering Of Men. Those who aren't are Bi the Way.
- Clawmaster Emero in John Ringo and Jody Lyn Nye's novella "Cata".
- Burt Shaw in Mr Blank is an old-school spy.
- Ringil Eskiath from A Land Fit for Heroes As he says: "You don't go queer baiting when your victim has a reputation of chopping trained swordsmen into dogmeat at the drop of a hat."
- William Manchester's darkly brilliant memoir of the USMC during the Pacific War, "Goodbye, Darkness" contains such a character in a minor role
- Alec Lightwood of The Mortal Instruments definitely qualifies.
- Lucrio in the novella A Taste of Honey. He serves as a tricenturion in the Daluçan army and is chiefly included in the embassy so he can train Olorumi soldiers, meaning he spends much of his non-sexy time slathered in sweat and grime from the training fields. He's also a Hunk with a Carpet of Virility and the buff, muscular physique of a professional soldier. He has no problem walking around naked and showing off his assets. He's also gay.
- In A World Less Visible, Lykos is capable of punching through steel and smashing boulders with his bare hands, and initially rejects his male lover for being too 'soft'. Matthias is also characterized as a rugged specimen of virile manliness, but subverts it a little because he does have a soft side, he just prefers not to show it often.
- Dev from Out of Position is a large, tough anthropomorphic tiger who also happens to be a talented football player. He lived his life as a straight man until he found himself falling for a male fox named Lee.
- Ernie in These Words Are True and Faithful.
- Captain Jack Harkness of Doctor Who and Torchwood, though he's omnisexual rather than homosexual.
- All in the Family: On the program that broke all previous barriers and taboos, one of the earliest came in the Season 1 episode "Judging Books by Covers". Archie is annoyed by one of Mike's outlandish friends (Anthony Geary, long before he played Luke on General Hospital), who acts and dresses effeminately but was otherwise heterosexual; in fact, Archie is so irritated he goes off to Kelsey's Bar – its first appearance in the series – to vent to his friends about gay people. One of the people involved in the conversation is a middle-aged man, a one-time football player who has traditionally "male" interests ... and is a homosexual. No male-on-male affection is shown in the episode, but Archie does learn that outward appearances do not necessarily mean someone is gay or straight.
- Spartacus: Blood and Sand:
- Barca is a solid example.
- And his boyfriend, Auctus, from the prequel.
- Agron. And how.
- Omar from The Wire is a very good example of this trope.
- Vito from The Sopranos is a tragically-closeted example.
- Six Feet Under has David Fisher's long-term partner Keith, who is a tough, macho cop (later private security worker after leaving the force). At one point, David and Keith have a threesome with someone called "Sarge", who is a big muscular guy obsessed with paintballing.
- Dave Karofsky from Glee; the guys at the gay bar even call him a "bear cub." Before coming out, he was more of an Armoured Closet Gay.
- Season 6 introduces "post-gay" Spencer, an athletic, masculine student who refuses to be defined by his sexual orientation.
- Sam Adama from Caprica. An interesting case in that he is considerably more stereotypically masculine than his straight brother, and most of the other men on the show. Homosexuality is also openly accepted in the Colonial culture in the show.
- Bob Hunter from Desperate Housewives. He is taller and a tad more muscular than his husband, Lee Mc Dermott. Both can be considered as Straight Gay though. In 2013 the actor Tuc Watkins came out as gay so he fits the trope in real life as well.
- Wade and Trey from Noah's Arc, especially Wade who definitely plays up his masculinity (at least early on).
- Riley from Degrassi, also overlapping with Straight Gay. Sam also most certainly counts, though he only showed up for one episode and Dylan, Marco's boyfriend.
- In third season of The Joe Schmo Show, The Full Bounty, Lavernius is this, and is also the stereotype of the token muscular black guy on reality shows. When he revealed it to the season's schmo, Chase, he barely batted an eye and even agreed to join an alliance with him.
- Timebomb from No Heroics, in his inimitably sleazy fashion.
- Discussed in Metrosexuality. Everyone comments just how masculine Jonno is and Jonno himself, a former serviceman, addresses the issue of manliness among Gays, saying that his tough upbringing and extended army experience didn't make him "funky" and in touch with his feminine side, thus not at all in tune with the usual campiness of the London LGBT scene.
- Duke in Faking It is an MMA fighter who hooks up with Shane.
- Aaron Livesy on Emmerdale. He's a mechanic, watches football, and drinks a lot of beer.
- CO Piscatella from Orange Is the New Black is a big, tall, burly man with a thick beard and a harsh, no-nonsense attitude. The first mention of his sexuality is him casually mentioning that he took a guy to prom in a conversation with the main character.
- Mac from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is the self appointed body guard of the bar he co-owns with his friends. He is all about being "badass" and hyper masculine which he used as an excuse for staying in the closet as long as he did.
- Electric Six did a Manly Gay video. With appearances by Abraham Lincoln, who may have been an example of this trope if you combine the "shared a bed with a male BFF" detail with the broadswords in a pit duel detail.
- "Metal God" Rob Halford of Judas Priest.
- Black Metal performer Gaahl of Gorgoroth and Gaahlskagg fame.
- The Village People were this when they were released. Though as their act has aged and become more retroactively Camp, it has become more passably Macho Camp in retrospect. It should be noted that the Village People were not always recognized as Manly Gay early on, because general American culture at the time was relatively more macho than it is now. This misunderstanding was what allowed the U.S. Department of Defense to commission the song "In the Navy", unaware at the time of the Village People's Manly Gay stage persona. This fell notably flat in the UK, where there was a well-known joke about "Join The Navy, and Feel a Man" and public fgures from George Melly to Winston Churchill publicly alluded to the Navy's propensity for this sort of extra-curricular amusements. Planned recruitment advertisements built around the song were scrapped at the last minute when the Pentagon finally realized this. By the time the Village People had passed the peak of their popularity, they were better understood as Manly Gay, but their music had already entered pop culture, with most of the backlash against them being part of the greater general backlash against Disco (which as a genre was already partially rooted in gay culture) in the late 1970s and early 1980s. And yet the Village People were still not yet quite Macho Camp — this only came with age as their style became more and more dated in comparison with the contemporary years that passed.
- Rammstein's steamy and highly controversial video of song "Mann Gegen Mann" features nothing but a bunch particularly manly men engaging in a kinda... special party. Yes, that one.
- Queen's Freddie Mercury was a Macho Camp bisexual; even during his more effeminate period in the 70s, he had Perma-Stubble and a Carpet of Virility that would put Sean Connery to shame.
- The end of the video for Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe."
- Joe Jackson's "Real Men":
See the nice boys,
Dancing in pairs
Golden earring, golden tan and blow wave in their hair.
Sure they're all straight
Straight as a line
All the gays are macho, can't you see their leather shine?
- The erotic art of Tom of Finland (who drew the top picture) was the Trope Codifier of the modern version of the trope. Incidentally, the top picture is one of the few artworks he ever drew that is worksafe enough for TV Tropes. Tom of Finland was subsequently influenced by the artwork of George Quaintance.
- Robert Mapplethorpe's photography commonly explored this theme.
- Many professional wrestlers get accused of being Manly Gay (must have something to do with the oiled-up muscleman physiques and those tight trunks), but the WWE tag team of Billy and Chuck actually had being ambiguously Manly Gay as their gimmick, until they finally came out of the closet... as straight. During a gay wedding ceremony that had been heavily advertised and talked about in the press. Suffice it to say, GLAAD (who actually endorsed the "wedding") was not happy with WWE.
Their manager at the time, Rico, was very much not manly, and kept his personality. And then he took up a singles career after the team split, dressing in bedazzled spandex and wearing make-up and coming to the ring with his... girlfriend manager. And would proceed to get a psychological edge by kissing his male opponent. The only reason the WWE wasn't burned to the ground over it was that it was Rico apparently taking his own natural tendencies and cranking them Up to Eleven.
- Orlando Jordan also wanted to work his real-life sexuality into a storyline towards the end of his WWE tenure, in a very plausible way that kept him looking just as masculine but acknowledging that, yes, these alternative lifestyles exist, where he would behave very Manly Gay but also have a girlfriend. Unfortunately, he was fired (for other reasons) before it could be implemented. Seeing the somewhat different way that TNA was portraying him, apparently forgetting the "bi" part of "bisexual".
- Greg Giraldo once talked about this, saying that some day gay guys would be the basis for physical comparison for men:
Look at this kid, he's so fuckin' ripped, he's built like a gay guy!
- Australian stand-up comedian Steve Hughes talks about homosexuals during a particular skit (strong language inbound):
What do you mean, they're not "tough"? They fuck men! That's hardly "gay"! What do straight men want? "Ooh I want a woman... soft... feminine... what do you want, Dave?" "I wanna fuck a bloke. I want a big strong bloke to fuck me in the arse. Is that too rough for your pussy lovin' mates? We want cock, sir, cock! You go play with yer girly tits, ya fuckin' fag"
- Brad Evans is normally gentle and soft-spoken outside battle, and would be Straight Gay in his relationship with Billy Pilder, if not for sheer appearances. Extremely muscular and at 7 feet tall, Brad is built like a badass tank, oozing testosterone in every scene he appears in. With buff shoulders, toned abs and half his chest always bare, he's also very much a Mr. Fanservice, particularly in his animated FMV clips.
- Zangief is a good example of this. It's not outright confirmed he's gay but many of his win quotes hints towards this.
- Similar hinting goes to Ricardo "Rico" Banderas from Xenogears, who often dotes upon his friend Hammer, particularly after his death.
- Rudolph Gartheimer from Groove on Fight, a large man who fights with iron balls and is notable for being one the first openly gay fighting game characters along with his lover Damian Shade.
- Azrael from BlazBlue is often called gay by some of the seiyuus, especially Yuuichi Nakamura. However, given that Yuuchi voices Hazama and Azrael's seiyuu Hiroki Yasumoto often (but not always) denies it, this is debatable.
- Everything about Sir Hammerlock of Borderlands 2 screams "scholar", "hunter", "adventurer". He's clearly a gentleman of british design, a mustache that would make Mario & Luigi jealous, speaks like a true scholar and knows his way around a gun and murder like the Vault Hunters. Even his splash card and name are manly. He mentions an ex boyfriend during a side mission as if it were common knowledge, otherwise it wouldn't be too obvious.
- Said ex-boyfriend is even more so. While Hammerlock prefers fighting with a sniper rifle from a distance (as befitting the image of a gentleman hunter), Taggart enjoys fighting dangerous wildlife with his bare fists.
- Commander Shepard from Mass Effect can potentially fit the trope, if played as gay in Mass Effect 3. Especially if Renegade. Female!Shepard can be played as a lesbian from the first game onwards, but making her a Lipstick Lesbian is much harder than making Male!Shepard a Manly Gay.
- Toivo, from Groovy, Kinda is so manly, he's a Neanderthal. Really. That said, he tends to be a gag-a-day character at times, having offered some notable Fan Disservice in a Bo Peep outfit, and played a fairly unwelcome practical joke on Larry and Edison while they were sharing a shower
- Caliban and Skoll from Chasing Ice are a couple of tough werewolf soldiers.
- Count Tethik of The Challenges of Zona, capable of outfighting a man half his age and twice his size.
- Oglaf (NSFW) has the recurring Barbarian Hero character Kronar, Son of Man. It's literal.
- Jerzy and Julian from Sticky Dilly Buns are two big, hunky Love Interests of the Camp Gay protagonist Dillon.
- Humon's character Agent 250 is this, being an operative for the militant division of the government agency he works for. He is extremely tough, with most of his work involving getting into firefights, and he has the scars to prove it. He is openly gay and in a steady relationship with his male co-worker, Agent 300.
- There Will Be Brawl does this to Captain Falcon, who is Pit's lover and extremely badass. "Maybe later you could come by and... show me your moves."
- Frost from Trinton Chronicles fits this troupe well being a muscled guy with a masculine set of traits and being into other men.
- Practically everything created by CaptainGerBear, especially of The Bear variety.
- Shadow of the Templar had Simon the protagonist as this - he's an FBI agent, for crying out loud! The antagonist, Jeremy, and later Simon's lover, is...less so, despite also being very bad-ass.
- The artwork of David Kawena from Deviant ART, famous for his "Disney Princes" series.
- Most parodic interpretations suggest that He-Man is this.
- you could make a life is chock-full of this, since virtually all of its main characters are hardcore hockey players. Even "pretty boy" characters like Liam and David are more than able to compete with more heavily-built players on the ice.
- "End Times" has Harry Fremont, a cranky survivalist who spends a lot of time roaming the apocalypse with a baseball bat and his science nerd boyfriend.
- The forum literary epic Malę Rising has Theodore Roosevelt, who combined this with Camp Gay. He swims, runs, goes on adventuring trips overseas, and dresses up as Empress Eugenie for parties in the drawing room. Insult him for it though, and he will kick your ass hard.
- Jean and Paul from Superjail!, the gay couple, will constantly remind the audience of their gang origins. Remember, they're in prison. They have to be tough. Paul threatened Jean by telling him that he once cut off a guy's dick and stuck it down his throat for disagreeing with him.
- How can anyone forget DUFFMAN! Not all of them though, as he's played by multiple actors