Men who identify as “Men Who Have Sex With Men” (MSM) are overlapping, but separate and distinct from men who identify as “gay”.
First, let’s put aside the confusion that a person who identifies as a woman who sleeps with people who identify as women could also be considered “gay”, and stick with people who identify as men, who have sex with other people who identify as men.
I will speak from my experience as an African-American man. A lot of African-American men who like to have sex with men are loathe to call themselves “gay”. This identity goes far beyond religious and social stigmatization, which is steadily improving every year in western, developed nations, and rests in the historical, political identity of “gay” men.
Gay culture in the United States has pedestalized chiseled, Adonis, wealthy, white men as the pinnacle of everything to hope, dream, and wish to be since at least the 1950s. I am a fan of the US version of Queer As Folk (2000-2005), but even as a fan, I recognize its cheap shots at lesbian women, and blatant admission that most people in that scene wanted to hook up with a blond, hot, lean, pretty boy.
Again, I admire this honesty. It’s more honest than most people in 2017 saying one thing while they actively think and behave just as year 2000.
As an African-American man, if media propaganda, the gay scene, and gay culture constantly reinforced that who and what I am will never be the pinnacle of desirability, it is only human nature to recoil from that scene, and find something that embraces and loves you for who you truly are – both inside and out.
This is why a lot of African-Americans who identify as men, and like to sleep with people who identify as men, prefer to be called “Men Who Have Sex With Men”, and not gay.
The mainstream gay community can bridge that gap by having more inclusive pride events, posters, club “Kings”, and celebrate the diversity that is and has always been a part of what makes the culture of the United States of America so unique and unforgettable. Of course, they are also free not to do any of the aforementioned. It’s their premises, their clubs, their floats, and their money.
That said, I am an ally of “Men Who Have Sex With Men”, and I am free to criticize a culture that has little black boys growing up thinking they will always deserve less and be second class, when they are in fact, just as beautiful as anyone and everyone else.