Beards once associated with homeless men, hippies and bad boy bikers are now the norm with young modern hipsters and professional (with jobs). This article is a thoughtful, well thought-out read on the hairy business of facial hair. Who knew that being lazy and not shaving could cause so many emotions.
Brian O’Brien is an editor at the porn, sex and pop culture site Fleshbot. Visit Gay.Fleshbot.com for more info. Illustrations by Justin Russo based on photographs by Gustavo Monroy and Jeff Eason. Part of the upcoming show The Beard Project. VisitCoroflot.com/JustinRusso for more info.
The long and complicated history of gay men and their facial hair.
If anecdotal evidence and unscientific observation is to be believed, facial hair is back, especially among the young gay men that populate the hipper gay bars and clubs in New York. (And in the subsequent hot orange and black clusters those clubs create on Grindr.)
Head out for a drink at the Boiler Room, a twirl on the dance floor at a Spank party or a Saturday evening at Sugarland, and you’re sure to see boys wearing all sorts of permutations of beards, mustaches, sideburns, five o’clock shadows and scruff. (Heck, there’s even a separate cruising app, Scruff, named after the two days of growth around the jawline.)
And just like that hair-appropriate iPhone time-waster, there are even parties like Stache Bash at Julius—for men with hair on their upper lip and their admirers—and plenty of things to do for those who love the gay hirsute lifestyle now known as “bear culture.” So why does someone like me, who is currently sporting a rather healthy mustache, still sometimes get derided or heckled by other gays when walking down Ninth Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen? “You trying to be in a porn?!” the boys yell and giggle amongst themselves. Even now, when facial hair in the general population, and among gay men in particular, is more popular than ever, why do some people seem to be cowed by so many Gillette commercials?