The Growing World Of "Gaybros"
One year after creating the subreddit, r/Gaybros, Alex DeLuca talks with BuzzFeed LGBT about what defines this subgenre of gay and how the community has become a resource for other men looking for a world that accepts them.
Alex DeLuca, 23, lives in Boston and works in social media marketing and PR. He spoke with BuzzFeed via email.
BuzzFeed: How do you define a Gaybro?
Alex DeLuca: Gaybros gather around traditionally masculine or male interests, but more than that a Gaybro is someone who doesn't fit the narrow definition of what "gay" means as promoted by popular culture. In our group we have athletes, tradesmen, Soldiers, farmers, and everything in between. What brings us all together is our desire to promote self acceptance and building an inclusive and supportive community where people are free to be themselves.
BF: Why did you launch r/Gaybros?
AD: Over the past decade being gay or bisexual has become increasingly more acceptable, but this acceptance often comes with a very narrow definition of what it means to be gay. This presents a challenge for young guys such as myself, who don't really fit that definition. I like video games, paintball, sports... and people don't really expect gay guys to like any of these things. I think a lot of young men who are struggling to come to terms with their sexuality feel like doing so would require them to change who they are, and that simply isn't the case. I created Gaybros to provide a space for these guys to gather and talk about shared interests and to break down stereotypes and promote the idea that you could be a gay man and still be exactly who you've always been.
BF: What has the response been like?
AD: Honestly? Completely overwhelming. I created Gaybros as a sort of side project and it truly seems like it blew up over night. What started as a small community of a few hundred quickly expanded to over 17,000 subscribers, 200,000 unique monthly visitors and 2 million monthly page views... in under a year, completely by word of mouth.
More importantly than any subscriber number though is the feedback we've received. On a weekly basis we'll get letters from members who credit Gaybros for helping them accept who they are or come out to themselves or family. Dozens have even credited the community with saving their lives. The community does great things, it truly is an incredible group of guys and I'm humbled and extremely honored to count myself among their number.
One example is Matt Greene, who credits Gaybros for giving him the confidence to come out. He's a Army veteran (OEF) and video game developer. He had this to say about the subreddit:
"A lot of us have come to know each other specifically through the subreddit, and a lot of people, including myself, were given the courage and confidence to come out, because we knew we weren't alone. I think the crew has been given the opportunity to turn our little slice of reddit into something much bigger, that can reach A LOT more people. We can help more people realize that you don't have to fit a stereotype to be gay, that they aren't alone in the world. Honestly, I think one of the biggest positives of the site could be the potential to reach more people and save more lives in the process."
BF: Some users not familiar with your community might feel like you are shaming effeminate gays. Or that you might not be inclusive of other gay types. How would you respond to that?
AD: I think these impressions are understandable, however anyone who has spent some time on the Gaybros community can tell you it's simply not true. The most simple way I can explain it is that we care about interests and character, not mannerisms. Everyone is welcome to come to Gaybros to shoot the shit, grab a beer at a Gaybros meet up, and participate in the different activities and events we schedule. Gaybros is all about not having to change who you are just because your gay. We gather around many shared interests such as sports, video games, fitness, food and drink, so if you have something to say, we're happy to have you.
AD: Ha! I didn't expect the range of topics to expand quite as dramatically as it did, but it's been an interesting and beneficial evolution. The community was founded around shared interests that would be considered traditionally masculine and has grown over the past year to become increasingly inclusive while still maintaining the camaraderie and brotherhood feeling of the early days.
AD: We had been talking about doing an AMA series for a while, but had never gotten around to scheduling it. Surprisingly, both Adam Goldman and Brian Sims reached out to us first about the possibility of hosting an AMA. Their participation has jump-started the celebrity / VIP AMA series and we have a few more in the works for the coming months. These AMAs are definitely one of my favorite parts of Gaybros.
BF: Were you surprised to learn that either person knew about Gaybros?
AD: If you had asked me a few months ago, I would have been shocked. I mean, it started as just a side project. In the last few months, however, knowledge of Gaybros seems to be spreading faster and faster as we dedicate more resources to its growth. I've had people address me as my username on the street before -- definitely a strange but thrilling experience.
BF: How do Gaybros differ in person from their online persona?
AD: I've been lucky enough to meet hundreds and hundreds of members over the past year. We've started a tradition of meet ups at sports bars and events all over the globe. The biggest events have been happening regularly in Boston, London, Seattle and San Francisco. I would say that the only difference I noticed is that the guys are even friendlier in real life. Online we can get into some heated debates about topics like guns, military issues or politics, but one of our group's rules is that you have to come with a thick skin, so people feel free to debate to their hearts desire. In person, these guys are the friendliest, most accommodating group you will ever find. I meet up with different guys from the community at least once a week, whether grabbing a beer and watching the Bruins with a few buddies or attending a meetup - our last one was our One Year Anniversary in January, where we saw over 125 attendees. I remember the first time I ever organized one of these events, I felt like I had known everyone forever, it was just entirely comfortable. I am extremely lucky to have this group in my life.
BF: What does the subreddit mean to you?
AD: Gaybros is the first thing I wake up to and the last thing I check before I go to bed. It truly has become a passion project for our team. The number and quality of the friendships Tim, Jon and I have built over the past year from Gaybros far surpassed any of our expectations. I am consistently impressed by the caliber of individuals that make up this amazing community and I think the message we promote, that you don't have to change who you are if you happen to be gay, is extremely valuable.
BF: What are your goals for Gaybros?
AD: I want every guy who can be helped by Gaybros to know that we are here and ready to chill (whether online or at one of our many meet ups). One of our common greetings is "Welcome, the beer is in the cooler." The more often we get to say that, the better.
I want everyone who could benefit, even just from friendship or camaraderie or simply the content we discuss to be a part of our group. One main point of feedback we regularly receive is that people never thought there was a group out there like them, until they found us. With how often we hear that, I'm convinced there is a whole population of Gaybros out there who haven't found us yet.
As the Gaybros community celebrates its first year on Reddit, DeLuca is focused on expansion. He is currently raising money to create a dedicated online source that will better serve the community's increasingly broad following.