Friday, June 29, 2007

Biology and Bullshit

I read an article entitled The Science of Gaydar by David France which appeared in New York magazine. According to certain (mostly but not entirely gay researchers) gay men have certain biological distinctions from straight men (ditto for lesbians and straight women), everything from counterclockwise hair whorls to more defined ridges in the thumbs and pinkies of their left hands, differences in their brains, index fingers that are longer than their ring fingers (in straight guys it’s supposedly just the opposite), and even – and this is interesting – bigger penises. According to the article, yes it’s true that gay people are more likely to be left-handed. (For years "left-handed" was a code for homosexual, but that was primarily because left-handed people, like gays, were in the minority.)

What to make of this? Well, on one hand responsible and intelligent researchers have every right to investigate the origins of homosexuality and why (some) gay people definitely appear to be "gay" (supposedly creating "gaydar"). On the other hand, responsible and intelligent gays and gay activists have every right to be a little nervous – and even skeptical – about this research and to what ends it will ultimately be applied. If proof is ever supplied for the existence of a gay gene will parents have the ability to turn their child straight before he or she is even born? Will a homophobic society eradicate gays and the gay lifestyle for good?

I’m bothered by some of the researchers both straight and gay. France quotes one guy who talks about gene codes determining who’s gay or straight. "Pick the wrong code [italics mine]," he says, "and you’re gay." France deems this a "slip of the tongue." Perhaps the guy was referring to the fact that homosexuality is often considered wrong by society, but in any case his remark is troubling – and telling. Even worse is another straight researcher who has no moral problem with parents being able to eventually opt for a straight child over a gay one (as France puts it, it’s chilling to think of gayness being thought of as something along the lines of sickle cell anemia). But how many parents want a gay child? Given the still existing stigma against homosexuality will even gay-friendly – or gay – parents think it’s okay if their kid is gay? The thought of what may lie in the future is scary.

But some of the gay researchers give me the willies as well. Some of the stuff they say and come up with from their "studies" seems to support a lot of stereotypical blather that perhaps should have been done away with a long time ago (at least no one has yet suggested that gay men can’t whistle, a theory that was widely disseminated in the 1950's). I swear it makes me wonder – and I know this will sound terrible – if some of these guys are stereotypical gay men hoping to prove that yes, most gay men are just "big queens" like they are. If that’s the case – and be assured that I think there’s nothing wrong in being a "big queen" – so be it, but I know and have seen that the gay community is much more diverse than that. Understandably, gay men who most conform to a stereotype tend to see other gay men in stereotypical terms (there are exceptions however). Sometimes put down even by other gay men, femmes tend to believe that most gay men are femmes (safety in numbers) while non- stereotypical gay men tend to think just the opposite. Then again, femmes rarely go to bear or leather bars, and very butch guys avoid the bars frequented by femmes.

[Of course this begs the question that France barely touches upon. How wide a cross-section of the gay community was studied by these researchers looking at hair whirls, fingerprint ridges and dicks? Only Femmes? Femmes and Bears? Guys who fit certain stereotypes already, or non-stereotypical gay men (and women)? If you’re going to do a study of this nature, doesn’t it pay to be as thorough as possible?]

What do I think? I think that most gay men, like most straight men, are neither effeminate nor hyper-masculine but fall somewhere in between. Most are just "average joes" (although once you get to know them they may not be "average" anything). There are effeminate and very naturally butch gay men, of course, on either end of the spectrum. Ditto for lesbians. And since all of us -- "average" or "fabulous" -- are hated by the queer-bashers out there, we all should do our best to get along.

France covers a lot of territory in his article, which also goes into theories as to why gay people exist in the first place. One guy even sort of suggests that the reason for homosexuality is that the gay son can, well, stay home and take care of Mom (what -- straight guys never look after their elderly mothers and fathers?) Yes, he implies, maybe gay guys are born to be —get this! -- care givers! Gee, most of the gay guys I know are out cruising, spending time with their lovers, or both, out living life, not sitting home looking after their parents, although that job eventually falls to many children regardless of their sex or sexual orientation.

France also quotes a straight researcher who questions whether women truly have a sexual orientation; he finds their sexuality more fluid but scoffs at the notion of male bisexuality. (Has it always been true that there are more female bi’s than male, or is that a false perception?) This guy reminds me of a certain sadly misogynous gay activist who rants on his blog that lesbians don’t even exist but suffer from gender-identity confusion, failing to note that gay men were once accused of the very same thing. I know many out and proud lesbians who would tell this guy a thing or two. Both of these guys, in fact.

It’s this kind of silliness that makes me wonder about the quality of the research being done here. These people are not exactly looking for a new drug or a cure for AIDS so their work is not considered high priority and doesn’t get much funding. It’s a few people and their students doing all the work. The mind boggles at the thought of academics measuring penis size and looking at the backs of people’s heads to see in which direction their hair whorls. And since people rarely lie about being gay but lie about being straight all the time, how do they know who’s telling the truth when they do their comparison tests of straight versus gay? I suppose if a man says he’s straight we’ll now know he’s lying if his hair whorl goes counterclockwise and his penis is too big?

Besides, all of this stuff is certainly open to interpretation. France wisely offers alternative reasons for some of the conclusions the researchers have come to. While some could accuse him of being understandably biased, I think he’s trying to look at things from different perspectives.

Let the researchers do their thing. But let them get rid of their pre-conceived notions before they start, because I believe they are influenced by these notions before they examine their first gay brain, thumb or penis. (Considering the kinds of stuff they’re coming up with – "left-handed" indeed – no one can accuse them of political correctness, which is certainly odd in today’s climate.) Needless to say, the straight researchers in this field also need to get past their pre-conceptions, or their studies may be pointless.

But let’s get to the really important issue. Can it possibly be true that gay men have penises that are thicker and longer?

Well, I can only speak for myself – actually I can speak for a lot of people come to think of it – and the answer is yes.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Where Pride Began?

How's this for irony? During Gay Pride week in New York, I saw an ad in a gay magazine for the recently reopened Stonewall Inn. The slogan for the bar is "Where Pride Began." So you can imagine how surprised I was to read the following line in the ad:

"watch the 2007 parade from our doorsteps."

Watch the parade?

Yes, I know the Stonewall Inn is a bar and has to have customers, sell drinks, and make money, but how can the place "where pride began" suggest people merely watch the parade instead of marching in it? Couldn't they be satisfied with the inevitable crowds that would (hopefully) show up after the parade? No doubt there were gays who for one reason or another didn't want to participate -- the commercialization or de-politicalization of the "parade", the religious groups at the forefront -- and would sit in the Stonewall in the afternoon instead, but why encourage it? Yes, I know it's just a line in an ad, nothing that would seriously influence anyone's behavior, but ...

But then bars are about money, and parades (marches) are about pride. Years ago bar people and activists used to argue about the parade/march and various events for that day -- both groups had very different agendas.

Bars used to (still do) use sex to get customers. [The Stonewall ad is accompanied by a photo of a "hot" near-naked pretty boy (with absolutely no hair on his chest). ]

Now they use pride?

I hope the Stonewall Inn becomes the bar I hope it will become, and not turn into just another Duplex II.

Time will tell.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A homo who has sex with his wife every day -- WOW!


Okay, I saw a really funny personal ad on a gay friendship/sex site the other day.

First of all I have to say the guy who placed the ad and photos was really pissed. He was angry at some of the responses he got and had removed his profile before some people told him he should replace it and forget about the negative responders.

You see, the trouble is the guy is married. "Remember, I have sex with my wife every day!" he tells all interested parties who chance to look at his profile. He identifies as bisexual.

Gee -- just what you want to read when you're cruising a gay sex and friendship site: I have sex with my wife every day. I mean, is that a turn-on to the average gay guy (out and proud or not) or is it?

Then what the hell are you doing here? some of the other guys on the site must have wondered.

Now some bi-identified individuals will tell you that it's only a stereotype that bisexuals have
to have sex with both men and women. If that's the case, this guy is very stereotypical or else he's not "bisexual" -- but a --- say it all together, boys and girls - - married homosexual!

His wife may insist they have sex every day (especially if she's paying all the bills -- makes you wonder) but that doesn't mean he wants to have sex with his wife, or that he prefers it over having sex with men.

Maybe he's -- like -- gay (or at least -- gasp! -- homosexual).

Gay men often come out after a deep internal and personal struggle, whether that "coming out" is to family, friends, the world, or merely a private acknowledgement and acceptance of their sexual orientation. It is not a joke or something to take lightly. It is something that matters to us. Why do married homosexuals and mostly phony bisexuals not understand how offensive their attitudes and utter lack of Gay Pride can be? (I've tried to make some of them understand and believe me, it's hopeless.) Why do they not understand that most gay men do not really want to help them commit adultery or wind up becoming some closeted guy's male mistress?

This guy says his wife knows that he is bisexual and has even fooled around with him and his "date." Sure. Even if she does know, I doubt if she's all that thrilled with his homoerotic carryings-on. Sure they could be "swingers," maybe the wife has convinced herself that hubby will never leave her for a man (unless he has more money, of course), that it's all just good plain bisexual fun.

But somehow I think the wife doesn't really know the truth and that this is not going to be one of the great or long-lasting marriages.

I'd provide a link in case anybody is just dying to date a guy who has sex with his wife every day but somehow I don't think that many people would be interested.

Guys, I admire honesty and full disclosure. But if you want to get laid -- don't mention the wife!

Better yet -- come out already!

On the other hand:

I suppose maybe this guy should be given credit for at least being honest about his sexual status and marital situation, especially when he knows he might get a lot of flack for it. I'm sure that he is not the only married bi/homosexual who puts his profile on gay sex/date web sites -- and most if not all of them calculatedly neglect to mention it [admittedly some totally gay guys may neglect to mention boyfriends]. I've no doubt that on most of these sites there will probably be many guys who have wives or girlfriends or who are bi or closeted or whatever and who could never be (for a variety of reasons) a serious candidate for a long-term loving same-sex relationship. Of course this may not matter to some guys who are just looking for sex, but other guys would like to know.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Go Go Assholes

More than once I've watched a go go boy in a gay bar -- after collecting lots of tips from the men in the bar -- walk over to the one and only woman in the bar and hit on her. While this doesn't convince me that the man is straight, it does convince me that he's an asshole. First there's this tiresome "macho" you-guys-may-be-gay-but-I'm-not nonsense that I don't find remotely gay-friendly. Second, if he wants to pick up a woman, he can easily go around the corner to any number of straight bars in the area. I just think it's tacky and rude. Here are gay guys giving this man their hard-earned money (and they're already spending enough on liquor and tips for the bartenders) and the go go boy gives them a collective slap in the face by ignoring them and making straight for the woman. If the go go boy is seriously not interested in guys or is that repressed or closeted that's his business, but why can't he leave when his shift is over and pick up a woman in another bar? He doesn't have to stay and cruise the guys if he doesn't want to, but why cruise the only woman? It never seems to occur to these intellectually-challenged meat heads, straight, bi, or on the down-low, that the women they hit on may be lesbians, or there with friends, or not have much interest in a supposedly straight guy and major narcissist who wiggles his ass for guys in gay bars.

If the guy is straight-identified, at least let him allow the customers to have their gay fantasies, not spoil it by making a beeline for the woman as if to wash off the taint of being touched by men. I seriously doubt if gay/bi go go boys who occasionally dance for women in straight clubs tell the women that they like guys (again, why spoil the fantasy?)-- so why do the "straight" go go boys in gay bars have to announce in various ways that they're hetero? (Yeah. Right.) It's obnoxious. (And please don't tell me they have a right to be themselves and be straight and all that -- no one is putting a gun to their heads to earn money as alleged fantasy objects.)

To be fair, I have met some very friendly, attractive, openly gay go go boys who seem intelligent and even have a fair degree of gay pride, and there may be straight-identified ones who are more respectful. Generally, however, I prefer to go to a bar that doesn't employ them -- I'd much rather focus on the attainable male customers than on go go boys who often don't even appeal to me sexually. There's something sort of desperate about having to resort to getting a hug from a half-naked male dancer anyway. If they're very hot I suppose it can provide some mild titillation, but many of them aren't even that great. Besides, they tend to disappear -- or hit on women -- when their shift is over, so who cares anyway? In truth I find them an unnecessary distraction. (And why the hell do so many of them shave their bodies, even their chest hair?! Aren't they supposed to be men? What's up with that? I know some people think well-oiled hairless pecs are sexy, but chest hair is a hell of a lot sexier.)

One of the funniest things I ever saw was this go go boy who would walk in to the bar with what I presume was his girlfriend (uh, maybe not.). This gal had the meanest, most defensive and unfriendly face I've ever seen. Was she there to slap away the hands of the gay guys if they got too frisky? Was she supposed to be a reminder that he was straight and off-limits? How was he supposed to get any tips if he couldn't interact in some small way with the customers (generally go go boys will hug, kiss or stroke a guy and sometimes let the customer give him a grope -- I imagine gay ones are a lot more fun than the "straight" ones -- or the dopes who bring their "girlfriends" to the bar.) In any case, I didn't stick around to see what happened. Why put up with shit like this when you can walk down the block to Ty's where there are no go go boys, just gay men who are there to drink, talk, cruise, and have a good time with one another, providing the fantasy (and the promise of a reality to come) themselves and themselves alone.

Friday, June 8, 2007

People's Court of Dumb Remarks

I got a cc of an email sent to Judge Marilyn Milian of the TV show The People's Court. I reprint it here with permission.

The Honorable Judge Marilyn Milian
The People's Court
401 Fifth Avenue
7th floor
New York, NY 10016

Dear Judge Milian:

I appreciate the way you don't let litigants off the hook when they reveal attitudes which are racist, anti-Hispanic, what-have-you. It is always good to reinforce the notion that prejudice should not and will not be tolerated.

However, I was very surprised by a comment you made on a program while adjudicating a dispute between an ex-husband and wife over the charges for a teenager's sweet sixteen party.
You said: “I don't know a man who does souvenirs and centerpieces [for parties] -- who's straight.”

First of all, although I'm a gay man, I have no idea how to do centerpieces, yet I have a straight male friend who is a florist and who, I presume, does centerpieces every day, including for his children's parties. Sexual orientation has absolutely nothing to do with it.

I am in no way suggesting that you are homophobic, but I did want to remind you that making generalizations about any group of people is, in essence, stereotyping, and stereotyping people is one of the roots of prejudice. You certainly would not – and should not – like it if people made sweeping generalizations about Hispanics or women.

For the record, how did you even know the ex-husband was necessarily straight? You don't know why they got divorced, and let me tell you that there are a great many “Jim McGreeveys” around even today, married men who are secretly gay [and no, they're not all florists]. (Let me make it clear that I don't know the man in question and have no idea of his sexual orientation.) And along with hairdressers and interior decorators – many of whom are actually straight – gays occupy numerous professions from soldiers to cops to firefighters that aren't generally considered “gay” – again due to stereotyping.

Otherwise, I enjoy your program. Keep up the good work!

The letter writer never received an answer. This is proof that even gay-friendly people can make dumb remarks.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Not-so-Gay George, Gay Pride, and Gay Rights

The other night I ran into a man I've known for quite a few years -- I'll call him George. George and I are "bar friends" -- we run into each other once in a while, don't necessarily know that much about each other's personal lives, don't exchange phone numbers or make dates. We were never "ships that passed in the night." We just talk, have drinks, laugh a lot.

I'm very fond of George. he has a great sense of humor and is a lot of fun. George is very flamboyantly gay, and loves to get tight and "carry on" a bit. Yes, he can be a little ... well, overpowering ... at times but he seems to have a basically kind nature.

We were enjoying our conversation when I said to him -- as I often say to people -- "I love being gay, I love being part of the gay community -- don't you?"

I expected that he would readily agree, but instead he replied in the negative. Not only did he not like being gay, I got the impression he didn't even think it was particularly okay to be gay.

Now, because he is very "obvious" he may have had to deal with a great deal more persecution than the average gay guy (although some of his "flamboyance" is created by his "camping it up," which of course he has a perfect right to do if he wants to) but I felt a bit shocked and saddened by the disparity between his happy gay outward image and the inner negativity that apparently is his constant reality.

He may have had a sad life -- I know he's told me of some things -- but there isn't a person alive who doesn't have some sadness in his or her life. I suspect he never found the great love of his life that he was looking for. I don't know what else might have gone "wrong." But I got the impression that he was one of these people who blame their sexual orientation for their unhappiness. You can try and tell them that they might be just as unhappy if they were straight, but they'll never believe you. Their internalized homophobia is too deeply entrenched.

This kind of personality is not limited to the gay community of course. There are undoubtedly members of other minorities/oppressed groups who tell themselves they would finally be happy if only they belonged to some other group. It's so easy to blame your orientation or skin color or anything else. Sometimes people step into their own traps and have nobody to blame but themselves, and this of course is the most difficult thing to deal with of all. How much easier to say "I'd be so much happier if I were hetero." Not likely. Happiness can often be based on external things, but just as often it has to do with your state of mind.

People like George distrust, even hate, Gay activists. When I mentioned how I had been -- still am -- a militant activist he launched into some story about a bunch of gay guys talking about sex in front of some kids at Disneyworld. What on earth had that to do with anything? What has that got to do with Gay Rights? But this is how people like George think -- to them the gay movement has less to do with promoting healthy attitudes about gays both within and without the community, with securing the rights that every human being deserves, than it has to do with the right of people to be vulgar in public or something along those lines. I said to him, "I don't think the National Gay Task Force or anybody else is saying it's necessarily okay to talk about sex -- gay or straight -- in front of little kids." But that to him was "Gay Rights."

The irony is that if George camped it up or was just being himself down in Disneyworld, I can imagine some of the looks he would get and comments he would engender. Those awful gay activists would go to bat for him if something went wrong, I can tell you.

But George will never believe it.

I still like George, hope to run into him again. But I don't think I can ever see him in quite the same way. He is so gay -- one type of gay, at least -- but he is completely devoid of gay pride.

You see, I really do love being gay. And I have difficulty relating to gay people who don't feel the same.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Married Homosexuals

I was at a friend's birthday party a couple of weeks ago and one of his old college roommates was there. He talked not so much about his wife -- who was not present -- but a lot about his daughters, whom he seemed genuinely proud of. He seemed to be a nice, rather attractive fellow in his fifties -- and as gay as a goose.

Yes, I know, if gay guys can be very masculine, straight guys can be kind of "girly," I suppose. Still, something told me that this guy was essentially -- well I really can't say "gay" because he's not exactly out and proud -- but I can say homosexual. Since he has children which I assume are his own one could get technical and call him "bisexual," but I don't think that was the case. I felt sorry for him, depressed by him, and irritated by him all at the same time.

I have met a lot of married homosexuals (as opposed to married gays or gay couples who are married). I would say that one in four men that I meet and have met in gay bars have either a wife, girlfriend, or fiancee. I'm not talking about so-called "straight" guys but guys who are actively cruising for sex partners.

Now the politically correct view of bisexuality says that bi's do not need to have sex with both sexes, only that they can have sex or fall in love with either a man or a woman. Which is -- if we accept this -- why I see these guys with wifes and kids who cruise gay bars as being married homos and not bi's. Presumably a bisexual man who's fallen in love with a woman can be satisfied by her alone (unless monogamy is simply not natural for him, which is true of some gays, straights, and bi's), but if he is driven to have sex with men, then it's probably because his homosexual impulses are stronger than any attraction he has for his wife. He is not "bi" -- he is gay (or would be if he ever came out).

Cornell University did a study of married homosexual men (there are married lesbians as well, of course) and found that they all had serious self-esteem issues stemming from childhood which made it impossible for them to "take on" society, as it were, by being openly gay and equally impossible for them to fully accept their sexual orientation. Sad.

Yes, this is still going on all these years after Stonewall.

In my twenties and later I would occasionally wind up with a man who turned out to be married. There would be this picture of the wife and kids in the bedroom, and the guy was almost always a bit arrogant, conspiratorial almost, about who he really was and what he really wanted. ["Yeah I'm gay, too." Well ... ] Gay Pride did not enter into these guys' way of thinking. They were either suffering so much internalized homophobia that only the sex urge got them out into the gay bar -- where they'd look right or left before exiting or entering -- or else they felt the wife and kids routine would get them farther in their chosen career. They weren't "conflicted;" they knew they were homo -- they just didn't care about using a woman as a beard. A typical example of this kind of person is Jim McGreevey. [Let me make it clear that I've never slept with Jim McGreevey!]

I don't recall if I'd give them my Gay Lib rap. Probably not. It seemed too hopeless and they wouldn't listen. I did not like helping someone commit adultery, although I could have argued that if it wasn't me it would have been someone else. Then there was the night I slept with a guy who in the middle of sex shouted out "Yes! Yes! It's men! Men! Yes, yes, yes! Men!" I thought to myself, "yes, men are great --I'm pretty great (my egotistical twenties)-- but what's up with this guy?" What was up is that I later found out that he was just about to get married. [Don't know if that wedding ever took place or not. It probably did. Maybe I wasn't that great.]

I don't feel sorry for former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey. He came out of the closet because of circumstances, not because he'd suddenly developed a conscience and a sense of gay pride. He treated his wife like crap, and I'm of two minds about whether or not she knew he was homo (let's not call him gay at that point). Some women do feel a man can "change," especially if she sees him as being bisexual. But it's just as likely that, like many other wives, Mrs. McGreevey hadn't an inkling. Understandably hurt and bitter, she's bound to get tacky and homophobic in her tell-all book, so what exactly has Mcgreevey done for us all? Nothing but started a round of stupid, stereotyping jokes. Yes, there he is -- smug jackass Jay Leno, who hasn't got a clue about any of this, laughing at the very notion of any woman not knowing that her husband was gay.

Yet many of them don't.

I have met other, more positive "married homosexuals" but this was after a sense of pride [or at least a deperate need to be true to themselves] brought them out of the closet. They were no longer married homosexuals, but gay men. Some remained friendly with their ex-wives; some did not. Some wives came to accept and understand --- bless 'em -- some did not. Most of these guys were genuinely conflicted; they did not neccesarily view their wives as beards. Some of them may have been bisexuals who ultimately realized that they leaned strongly in the gay direction. Whatever the case, whatever the initial pain and disillusionment for their families, they were all the better for it.

So there I was at this party, and the activist in me wanted so badly to say something to this poor married homosexual, but the only time I got him alone we talked about Edgar Allan Poe.
(Wouldn't it have been funny if instead of Poe we had talked about Oscar Wilde?! Talk about openings!)

I settled for giving the fellow a big wink as I walked out the door. I'm convinced I'm going to run into him at the Eagle some night. [Okay, maybe not the Eagle. Maybe Marie's Crisis -- if I ever went there. Besides, nowadays he'd probably be there with his wife!]

Things seem to go in cycles. I'm running into a lot of "married homosexuals" in gay bars these days as I did years ago. Gay pride has never taken such a beating. So many guys want to have sex with other men -- they just don't want to be "gay." Occasionally I get cruised by one of these guys.

Curiously, they're almost always bottoms.