History of the Ken Doll As Related to Gay Culture…Or Not, Ryan Field Books

 History of the Ken Doll As Related to Gay Culture

This is one of those pieces that can go one way or the other. In one respect it’s all about the campy aspects of the Ken Doll. Especially with regard to the new photo released this week with Ryan Gosling in full makeup as a Ken Doll. In another respect, the Ken Doll has always been more straight than gay. Barbie and Ken represent the mainstream a lot more than any part of gay culture. In fact, I remember my sister playing with Barbie and Ken, and even at that young age I knew was not part of that. Barbie and Ken were reserved for little straight girls. If a boy was caught playing with a Barbie or Ken doll eyes would roll. 

With that said, even though this article is about “gay” Ken, it does go into the history of the Ken doll and a great deal of that is interesting from a pop culture POV. It even touches on the AIDS crisis. 

Already, the image has inspired scores of memes based on the simple premise that Ken looks, well, kind of gay. This is nothing new. The doll has a long history as a gay symbol, which stands to reason: minus a handle-bar moustache, he embodies the kind of beauty ideals that in the 70s and 80s would find you atop the sexual hierarchy of Fire Island. He is also, of course, extremely kitsch – a vibe which has always been popular among gay men.

Here’s more. First, kitsch isn’t the right word to use here. I don’t know if the person who wrote this article is gay or not, but the correct word would be camp. Camp, or high camp, has a long history in gay culture. Second, if this theory is true about the Ken doll being so “gay” it certainly points out all the most common stereotypes about gay men. 

The bottom line for me is that the Barbie and Ken dolls represent mainstream straight culture for me and I cannot relate to them even slightly as a gay man. But I can see how others might disagree with me. And that’s fine. We don’t want to lose our sense of humor altogether. 

Don’t Be Afraid of Virginia’s Woolf


Once Upon a Castle by Ryan Field

A Different Kind of Southern Love Story

What readers are saying about “Uncertainty”


“A wonderful story that I loved. The characters were well developed and strong. Gus: A sweet young man. Doing something for all the wrong reasons. Craig: his boyfriend, he’ll go along with anything Gus say. Henry: Gus father a no-nonsense man, who’s husband died last year. I enjoyed this story.”

Uncertainty by [Field, Ryan]

What readers said about “Altered Parts”
“Best Gay Novel In Years. This story will stay with you and you will feel you know every character and the beauty of their home in the mountains of North Carolina.”
In paperback or e-book. #gayromance #Wednesday

Altered Parts

Altered Parts by [Field, Ryan]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s