Ask Jack: 'My boyfriend seems embarrassed of my femme side in public - what should I do?'

Jack of Hearts tackles your teen sex and relationship problems from top to bottom.


Over the next few weeks, 17-year-old Jack Rothman, the fictional gay protagonist of Jack of Hearts (And Other Parts) by LC Rosen, will be answering all your questionsabout gay sex, relationships, and navigating the tricky world of LGBT teen life.

If you've got a question you'd like answering, email [email protected] (all details will be kept strictly anonymous), and Jack will draw from his, erm, wealth of personal experience (trust us) to offer his advice.

Hi Jack,

Truth is - I’m not the most masc guy ever and I’ve got a bit of shit for being girly and feminine at school. But my friends have never had an issue with it and I get to be my fabulous self 24/7 with them.

The thing is I recently started dating this guy, hot and v. 'straight acting', and he’s not comfortable with it at all. Don’t get me wrong, he’s kind and sweet and I really like him but he just gets quite embarrassed by some of the things I do, especially in public.

I do kinda get it, I draw attention to us (I can’t help it) and I’m sure when he’s by himself he doesn’t get yelled at in the street or anything? I guess maybe it isn’t fair to expect him to just accept having abused hurled at him because my voice and body can’t hide the fact I’m gay.

He’s never told me explicitly to change anything but he’s always saying that maybe if I just ‘calmed down a little bit’ or ‘thought about what I was doing’ we’d have a much easier time of it? Is he right?

- Masc when Asked?


Dear MWA,

This letter fascinates me, because I have one key question: how did you and this “straight acting” (does he suck dick? Then he ain’t acting straight) guy get together? If he were some random at school or your parents or supposed friends, I would say screw them, be who you are.

Sure, there are moments to be a bit more reserved (job interviews, funerals maybe, depending on who died), and if you think you’re in in-the-moment physical danger, I say safety first, but if you’re just being you, and people are giving you shit for it, that’s their issue.

And if this guy you’re dating is saying “hey, maybe you wouldn’t get shit for being you if you were someone else” – well… that’s not exactly boxer-brief dropping sexy talk. 

The thing about living in a straight world is that “straight,” gender-conforming behavior is prioritized. And some of us queer folk get that and say “screw you straight world, I’m living in my world” and some of us say “go along to get along.” Or, as I said above, “be someone else so who you are isn’t attacked/mocked and you’ll have an easier time of it.” 

But I firmly believe that if you have to be someone else to get respect, then you’re not getting respect – that person you’re pretending to be is.  And the same goes for love. If the guy who says he likes you doesn’t like you when you’re being “too femme” or whatever, then he doesn’t actually like you. 

But, if he doesn’t actually like you – how’d you two get together in the first place?  Is it purely carnal? If so, keeping hitting it, honey, but I’d start looking for a real boyfriend. But if he genuinely likes you, and his issue isn’t your behavior, but that he’s never gotten this kind of harassment (he passes, either naturally or because he’s made himself conform out of fear) – well, then the issue isn’t really about your behavior. It’s about people reacting to it and his fear of that. 

You should sit him down and say “I really like you, but I’m not going to change who I am to make other people stop harassing us, and I know that makes you scared and vulnerable-feeling, but I’ve lived like this for a while now, and if you want, I will show you how to tell those homophobic assholes to go fuck themselves” and then show him how happy you are to be yourself. 

He’s going to either say “okay, you’re right, I need to get braver and start telling the straight world to go fuck itself” or he’s going to side with the straight bullies and say “no, this is about you – you need to conform more.” And if it’s the latter, you need to leave, no matter how hot he is. 

Because a guy like that, someone who’s masc4masc not because they have a football uniform fetish but because they think that queer people who aren’t masc are asking for abuse? They’ve been brainwashed. They’re so afraid of harassment and the penalties for not fitting in that they’re willing to be the abuser of those who don’t conform. Or, to put it another way – they’re homophobic assholes, just like the ones giving you trouble at school. 

I’m not saying your beau is one of those for sure. He might just be scared. Being queer in a straight world is hard, as you already know. If he’s willing to be brave though, then hold his hand and help him and remember, he’s never gotten the treatment you have. But a good queer - and a good boyfriend - will take your side against the straight people that abuse you – not theirs. 

- Jack of Hearts

If you've got a question about sex, relationships, or gay teenage life you'd like answering, email Jack at [email protected]*

Jack is a work of fiction created by L.C. Rosen, with neither of them holding qualifications as a therapist or physician. Therefore, he recommends visiting for further information and guidance.

Jack of Hearts (And Other Parts) will be released on eBook by Penguin on 30 October and in Paperback on 7 February 2019. You can follow author L.C. Rosen on Twitter and pre-order your copy here.