Photo: Isaak J. Liptzin/WNYC

On Being Not the ‘Right’ Kind of Gay

Dakota Salcedo, WYNC’s Radio Rookies

Before 18-year-old Radio Rookie Dakota Salcedo even knew he liked boys, other kids asked him if he was gay. He loved fashion, hung out with girls, and had a soft voice so they just assumed.

Dakota, who lives in Harlem, came out to his family when he was 13. But the truth is that in some ways being feminine made life harder for Dakota than his sexuality.

“You don’t get to just be a gay man anymore, you have to be a certain type of gay man for people to accept you,” said 23-year-old Carlos Capellan who is involved with programs for youth at The Center in the West Village.

And that type is masculine.

Photo: Isaak J. Liptzin/WNYC

Dakota knows that if he changed his mannerisms or stopped wearing his fringed purse, he’d be more accepted. But, he said, “I’d rather die an outsider than sacrifice who I am. When I first met other young gay boys, I thought it was going to be easier, that I’d just be accepted. But it seems a lot of guys just want someone who fits inside the ‘man box.’”

Dakota noticed that online the masculine-looking men got all the attention; even his crush said he preferred masculine men. Dakota doesn’t want to change. But he gets lonely, not only for love. “Finding male friends is tough, too. A lot of guys aren’t secure enough to hang out with a fem guy, they worry other men might think they’re gay.”

Listen to Dakota’s Story at WYNC.

This piece reproduced with permission from Radio Rookies:

For teens, by teens, about the challenges of teen life. WNYC gives students the tools and training to tell their own stories.

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