It’s a freaking revolution that I encourage. Redhead clubs are popping up around the world. San Francisco now hosts a monthly club called Red Meat – A Monthly Party for Gay Redheads and the Men Who Love Them. Don’t be tardy to the party, love a red head today!
Columnist Gary Nunn says that the tide is finally turning red…
A curious social phenomenon is occurring. In an unprecedented move, gay men everywhere seem to be swapping their preference for the archetypical stud – tall, dark and handsome – for an unlikely candidate: freckled, ginger and pasty.
Not that I’m complaining. This is most welcome news to me: distinctly in the latter category. But I was shocked to discover it, as being ginger has traditionally always been mocked and derided.
Catherine Tate made ginger self-deprecation all the rage. And one of my favourite comedic examples is when I discovered that in Australia – currently being run by a ginge – we’re affectionately known as ‘Rangas’ (the Aussie abbreviation for orang-utans!). I just never thought I’d see the day when we crossed the line from funny to fit.
The first time I perceived the tide was turning red, was in a dimly-lit south London venue (ahem). An unfeasibly attractive man asked: “Are you ginger? Please, please, please say you are!” Judging him to be well out of my league, I turned around to check if he was directing this question to a ripped redhead behind me. But no – my luck was in. He didn’t care whether I was ripped. He just wanted a slurp of my strawberry milkshake.
Where has this suddenly come from? Well frankly – who cares? The tall, dark and handsome man has had his day – it’s high time us pale ginger munchkins ankle-bit our way to the front in the desirability stakes. A famous male ginger pin-up is even seeping into the gay consciousness: Prince Harry, anyone? Or what about him off EastEnders who was in that Radox viral ad? The unequivocal consensus seems to be that he’s fit.
Being short, ginger, left-handed and gay, I’d always resigned myself to being the runt of the litter. It’s a view shared by others – including the Danish sperm bank that recently began rejecting sperm donations from strawberry blondes simply because supply was heavily outweighing demand. But ginger prejudice stretches beyond sperm bank rejections. Just recently, Nicola Roberts described how she felt rejected by wider society for being a ginge. Sharing none of the ‘I’m just gonna embrace this’ attitude of our Spice Girl Geri, she confessed that four years of anti-ginger bullying (coming from all quarters – including the ever-charming Chris Moyles) inspired her to write the anti-bullying ballad ‘Sticks + Stones’ on her new solo album: “I’d had red hair all my life and what was so sad was that I absolutely loved my red hair,” she said. Nicola – I feel your pain.
Well, until recently that is. As a ginge, I’ve gone from the playground easy target to the lust object of a growing number of men… and not just in dimly-lit venues. From Grindr to Pride, when people are exposed to the full glare of ginge (always coupled with a green XS vest – obviously), it’s become the first thing people compliment me on since I ditched the concealing peroxide. Blond highlights (and occasional sun bed) were obligatory until I started to realise us pale-faced carrot tops were being increasingly fetishized by gay men. Ditching the dye has turned out to be the best thing I ever did.
From bully victim to cherished asset, this journey seems to bear a striking resemblance to the journey many of us go through being gay. When you’re young, you’re ostracised and mocked – but, beyond the school gates, you realise this ‘affliction’ has many plus sides – and can win you new friends and admirers. Bullying made it seem that red hair could only ever be a negative, but one of the many joys of getting older is the glorious epiphany that the pendulum of justice can swing in your favour.
But I was still wondering what exactly it is that attracts people to gingers, now that more men seem to be admitting to their eccentric fantasies. A Facebook and Twitter call-out inviting them to explain their ginger-love was revealing: it was variously called ‘beautiful,’ ‘never boring,’ and even ‘looks amazing under the sun’. A more in-depth analysis was revealed to me when I quizzed my friend Paul – famous around south London for being a ginger-chaser. Paul is the now old-school handsome of a tall and dark variety. After offering my commiserations, I discovered why flame hair makes him hot: ‘I love it because it’s rare; because opposites attract; because they’re often so damn fiery – and because you can’t beat a ginger beard.’ Can’t argue with that!
Of course, judging one person more favourably than another simply by a colour is getting into dangerous territory. But, baby, I was born this way! Perhaps on some deep level, it’s less about colour and more a reassuring indicator that nothing is sexier than just being yourself.
Taken from the January issue of Out In The City. Read the whole magazinehere.