Why Do People Think Men Who Wear Women’s Clothing Are Gay?

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why-do-people-think-men-who-wear-womens-clothing-are-gayLast month, when the rapper Young Thug released his latest mixtape, JEFFERY, it wasn’t his singsong “post-verbal” hooks that got all the attention, nor its celebrity-studded track list, in which each song is named after his idols. Instead, it was the ruffled, periwinkle Alessandro Trincone gown and cocktail parasol hat he modeled for the cover that went viral.

It wasn’t the first time Thug donned women’s clothing for catwalk-inspired style. Since his rise to popularity, he has made flirting with gender fluidity and androgyny central to his image, going so far as to say he believes “there’s no such thing as gender” in a recent Calvin Klein ad spot.

Fans and critics responded with starkly contrasting opinions. To some, Thug’s gender-bending style was groundbreaking, especially in an industry defined by hyper-masculinity. To others, he was appropriating queer culture. (The latter is not an unfounded accusation, given some of the rapper’s lyrics.) But the knee-jerk reaction of some social-media users was to question the rapper’s sexuality, which raises a larger—and more interesting—question: Why do so many people label a man wearing women’s clothing “gay” in the first place?

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