February 1, 2024

What Does Beard Mean in Gay Terms?

Throughout history and across the globe, men have used facial hair as a form of expression. It’s been used as a mark of manhood, a way to challenge gender norms, and as a form of self-care for many. It’s no wonder that men of all gender identities and sexual orientations have been embracing beards in recent years. Beards have become a central part of LGBT culture, serving as an identity marker and a symbol of community.

A beard is a cover for a gay person, often a man, to hide their homosexuality. Similarly, a lesbian woman might use a man as their beard to hide their homosexuality from others. The term is also known as a merkin (American English) or frock (British English). Typically, the person using someone as a beard is witting and participates in the ruse for some benefit, such as financial support or social prestige.

Those who use someone as their beard may feel pressure to conceal their sexuality or fear repercussions from their community. In some cases, the person maintaining a beard relationship does so out of genuine care and affection for their partner, but often it’s simply a way to get by. A beard is a type of Fake Relationship and can also be seen as a subtrope of Emergency Impersonation. See also: Beards for Queers and Faux Yay.

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