Sunday, October 21, 2007

"Otterly" Ridiculous

Okay, now and then I'm told by someone that I'm not a bear. Usually it's meant as some kind of compliment or a simple clarification. But I like being a bear.

Here's the deal: True, I am not a bear in the classic sense. The bear stereotype is a very big man, six feet two, say, built like a football player, with a big, big belly and a massive soup catcher that would put Santa Claus' beard to shame. It doesn't hurt if he has a big chest and a bass voice to match. He should be working-class, or at least look like he is. Middle-aged or on the cusp. The guys in the photo to the left won "bear" beauty contests or whatever they call them so I suppose they could be considered closer to the classic standard..

Now the bear community has expanded (to the dismay of some classic bears, I'm told, though I've never seen concrete evidence of this so far), and there are many different categories of bear. Younger bears are "bear cubs." Older bears are "daddy bears." Bears who aren't quite so large -- or fat, if we're to be blunt -- can be "otters," and even "wolves," if they're very slender.

I've lost quite a few pounds in the last few years, going on a self-improvement kick. I had my admirers when I was a larger (more bear-like?) man, but frankly I seem to do better today. So perhaps I'm not a bear, but an otter. I'll have to become really skinny before I'm a wolf, although friends tell me that's the correct classification already (and they don't mean bear classification). And I'm not "working class," as such, being a writer, although that's the class I was born into.

So sue me. I'm a "furry bear" (very hairy guy) par excellence, and I honestly don't know what else to call myself. My best friend took an objective look at me and said, "Bill, you're somewhere in the middle between otter and bear." Cool.

The bear community is fun and friendly, with no attitude. I've met some great bears and bear admirers online and elsewhere. It isn't about how young, pretty and slender you are, and a hairy body is considered an asset, not something those four "fabulous" Queer Guys would go "ewwww, yuchhh" about, recommending you get a body peel or something equally feminizing and idiotic. You can be a more mature person and not be ignored as you might be in a bar full of "fabulous" twenty-somethings (unless you wave around a few bucks or pick up everybody's bar tab and even then you'll probably go home alone).

In other words, bears are great.

Shit -- I'm a bear!


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Wanna Fuck Buck?

Ever since the days of Christine Jorgensen the public has been aware that there were men who got sex changes and became women. A comparatively recent phenomenon is the female-to-male transsexual, and there seem to be many of them these days. Although many of these FTM transgenders get artificial penises, apparently these do not look very convincing and in addition cost around $100,000. So some of the FTM transgenders just keep their vaginas. A case in point is the transgender porn star Buck Angel [see the comically overstated photo above], who is billed as "the man with a pussy." Buck appears in adult films targeted for the gay market and identifies himself as, you guessed it, bisexual. He has a bisexual wife (a body-piercing "weirdo" named Elayne Angel) but told one interviewer that he and other FTMs like him go to gay bars and pick up the "edgier" or "kinkier" members of gay male society. In other words, people who think it would be kinda cool to fuck a guy with a pussy (although I imagine many of them would prefer to go in through the back door, if you know what I mean). Buck says he has never been fucked in the ass, however.

We’ll get back to Buck and his ilk in a moment. First let me say that I support rights for the transgendered – including gay and straight transsexuals, gays with characteristics of the opposite sex or transvestites with opposite sex identities, the androgynous, and so on. I can’t say I identity with any of these people in any particular fashion (aside from acknowledging the fact that we’re all "queer" and discriminated against) but I do sympathize with their struggles. Today many of the transgendered have a remarkable confidence and pride -- at least when they're in a group and/or have support from loved ones -- and while you can feel sorry for them and what they have to go through in a prejudicial society, I can’t say that I find them in any way pitiable, (although perhaps at one time I did. And some, of course, may be just a teensy bit odd.)

Still, there are troubling questions, some of which center on transsexuals who identify as straight. Most of these, of course, would have been considered homosexual while they were still in their original biological bodies. After transitioning, they generally remain attracted to the same sex as before and therefore become – in a way – heterosexual. (Transsexuals feel that whatever their biological condition, they are actually male or female, as the case may be, both before and after surgery. Therefore a gay male transgender was a gay man even when he had breasts and a vagina, and other trannies insist they were always heterosexual. Boy do they insist!

And this is where the troubling aspect comes in, the borderline (and not so borderline) homophobic attitudes that have been expressed – too often for my comfort zone – by straight-identified transsexuals. External and internalized homophobia can strike every segment of the LGBT community it seems. For instance, on the LOGO TV series Transgeneration (which seemed to focus primarily on straight-identified trannies), a male to female trans named Raci gives a lecture on what it’s like to be transsexual and is asked if she’s ever had sex with another woman. Raci makes a disgusted face and says "No! Never!" as if the very idea is anathema to her. The lecture hall bursts into laughter, but whether the people there were giving in to their own homophobia, reacting to Raci’s, or simply thinking to themselves "of course she doesn’t want to have sex with a woman – she’s basically a gay man" is uncertain. Probably all three.

In the documentary film Southern Comfort, a transgendered man named Robert Eads insists over and over that he’s hetero even though the object of his affection – supposedly a male to female transsexual named Lola who lives most of the time as a man named John – comes off as nothing so much as a typical (and very likable) drag queen. They come off as a gay couple by any objective standard. Raci (although she can "pass" easier than others) also comes off as a drag queen and so does another MTF hetero trannie from Transgeneration named Gabbie, who is less successful than Rani at "passing." Watching Gabbie dining with her family and boyfriend or accepting an award from GLAAD, she seems little different from the stereotypical "queen."

Eads and the other FTM transsexuals in Southern Comfort for the most part seem very masculine, and if you weren’t clued in from the beginning you would probably take them for "ordinary" males. However, late in the film we see the dying Eads in a wheelchair and you can catch sight of the "woman" who once existed (Eads had been married and pregnant more than once) underneath the world-weary facade – Eads simply looks like a grandmother who’s pasted on a false mustache and beard so she can have fun with her grand kids on Halloween.

Undoubtedly the truth is that the transsexual community can be as diverse as the gay community, and there are some "transitions" that are more successful and convincing than others. Yet some times you’re given a sudden disturbing impression that reminds one of the now politically-incorrect observation that transsexuals are just gay people who can’t deal with their sexuality and would rather cross over and become heterosexual than face the facts. Of course this is pretty far-fetched – surely it’s easier to accept one’s homosexuality than to have a sex-change operation and everything that goes with it. And many transsexuals do clearly come off as the opposite gender (as opposed to merely being "effeminate" or "mannish") even before they have any surgery, making it clear – to me at least – that definite transsexuals do exist. (And I fear that young teen trannies get a hell of a lot more support than those who "come out" and transition much later in life.) But in some cases ...

The trans who merely seem like drag queens or butch lesbians may be less successful attempts at transitioning, but it begs the question if some of them are in a different classification. And the fact that some in this grouping are a bit homophobic only makes it more confusing. If prejudice is generally caused by an inferiority complex, you can understand why the transgendered can be homophobic. I’m not saying transsexuals are inferior, only that it’s no wonder many of them feel that way given the level of misunderstanding and prejudice they have to deal with, something that all other minority groups from gays to African-Americans can certainly understand. But while there may be a reason behind it that doesn’t excuse it.

Candidates for sexual realignment surgery must receive counseling, but are all psychiatrists sophisticated enough to tell a self-hating homosexual, or a dizzy queen who wants to make his fantasies of being a real lady become real, from a true transsexual? Hopefully most of them are, and don’t just react in a pc manner that says "If you say you’re transsexual you must be transsexual." Which doesn’t make any more sense that accepting that someone is straight or bisexual just because he or she says so. (As I’ve said many times, people rarely lie about being gay.) Even Buck Angel says that switching genders is becoming easy and "trendy," and that some people go underground to get hormones and wind up deeply regretting their decision.

Of course we then have to turn around and ask if many drag queens, especially those who live as women most of the time, are really gay men or are instead transsexuals. Is having a female identification the same as being female? Traditionally there are reasons why some gay men think of themselves in female terms (their attraction to men, for instance). It may also be an acknowledgment of – and even pride in – their effeminate demeanor. This may be entirely different from being transsexual, however. You occasionally hear butch gay men calling each other "Mary" or something along those lines, but this (or a variation of it) seems to happen more often amongst femmes. Some femmes identity strongly with women, and others – despite a vaguely effeminate demeanor or androgynous manner – are strictly guys, and think of themselves as same. Effeminacy and transsexualism don’t always go together. Is a drag queen who is basically female 24/7 a transsexual deep down or a type of gay man living out a "fabulous" fantasy? Ironically, some very effeminate men get very angry if you talk to them as if they’re women despite the drag, make up, mannerisms, and all that goes with it.

As for Buck Angel: Is the porn star with a pussy – as well as a beard, chest hair, and a masculine aura – a true transsexual, or a strange bi-identified lady living out one of the world’s most bizarre and complicated fetishes? Is this role-playing, acting, carried to a strange and fascinating extreme? In his "former life," Angel was supposedly a very feminine top fashion model ["I was not an ugly bulkdyke (italics mine)," he says, perhaps revealing a little more of that trans- homophobia we've been talking about.] Watching Robert Eads and and his buddy, another FTM transsexual named Max, conferring in Southern Comfort, it almost feels as if you’re watching two women giving a frantic theatrical performance, each trying to out-butch the other as the camera and the audience looks on. Observing FTM transsexuals at work and play you occasionally get the impression that some of them have an almost desperate (and understandable) need to come off as much, much butcher than any man who was actually born with a penis (a need to come off as macho? -- gee, they really are men, aren’t they?), just as drag queens want to come off as more fabulous, feminine and glamorous than any actual female. (Honest-to-goodness transgendered females seem to be less ostentatious than drag queens.) [PC advisory: these are admittedly subjective impressions, not meant to put anyone down.]

Buck Angel claims that a penis doesn't define a man, but it certainly helps. (He has to use dildoes when he wants to fuck anyone.) In one sense, of course, he's right, in that men who can't perform, have been castrated, or lost their organs due to illness or accident, are still male. But a man with a pussy (or an expensive "penis" that doesn't quite look right) must feel an awful need to be as hyper-masculine as possible to make up for it. And can this lead to a kind of macho mind-set that can be as unappealing, if not more so, in men-who-were-once-women (and "ordinary" women) as it is in men born with cocks? Judging from interviews (his porn films don't interest me, but then I've never had much interest in porn, it being a spectator sport) Buck sort of comes off in part like one of these swaggering a-holes who fuck around with other men but God forbid if you dare suggest they're gay.

Buck does his best to deny that having a pussy makes him less of a man, then turns around and says that when he's getting screwed by men in his "gay" porn films, the vagina makes the action kind of "straight" as well. He's got a point, of course, but gee, I thought he was supposed to be all-man -- how can his male on male action be considered straight? Buck does everything else -- can't he get used to taking it up the ass as well? Or is that too "gay?" Maybe he and other FTMs keep the pussy because they really prefer it over a dick, even one that came up to their -- and everyone else's -- standards. Buck says he'd get a dick if the science and surgey was up to par, but who knows? [Let's make it clear now that Buck is only one kind of FTM transgender male, and we shouldn't assume that every FTM acts like him or agrees with him. For instance, many FTMs feel a penis is quite important. And I'm sure most are not swaggering a-holes.]

I don’t know if there are as many FTM trans men cruising the back rooms of gay bars as Buck Angel suggests. Talking about Buck, friends of mine admitted they sometimes get freaked out looking around the bar and wondering which of those hot macho studs with their beards and chest hair and attitudes could be hiding a pussy under his jeans. This is not bigotry and it isn't a "fear" of the vagina; gay men tend to be into dick, after all. I find it homophobic to suggest, as some do [occasionally bi's and trans, wouldn't you know it?], that there's something wrong with a man because he doesn't find a pussy all that desirable. Most gay men may not be out and out disgusted by vaginas, women, or heterosexuality, but pussies are not exactly a big turn on, either. [On this point Buck seems to be clueless.] That's just being gay and what the hell is wrong with that?

Anyway, the next time you're in the Eagle -- in whatever city -- take a closer look at that hairy, overcompensating, hyper-macho mustachioed man busy acting up a storm before you chat him up.

Or you could be in for some Vagina Monologues.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Serious Issue of Straight Male Hairdressers

In the magazine business we have what are known as "fake issue" pieces. This is when a writer or editor creates a story about a supposed issue or trend that needs to be addressed, but the trend or issue doesn’t really exist: the magazine is only trying to create an issue in order to get people excited and sell copies. Or simply to fill up space or be controversial and get attention.

In gay terms, a recent "fake issue" was about "metrosexuals." Metrosexuals were straight men who were supposedly like gay men; in other words they cared about their appearance, were neat and fastidious, and wouldn’t need any help from those four Queer Guys on Bravo. The whole idea of metrosexuals was, frankly, as insulting to straight men as it was to gay men. There have always been heterosexual men who cared about their appearance – lawyers, politicians, any professional man – some even when they went casual on weekends. We used to call them "snappy dressers," or perhaps, in a long- ago era, dandies. Just as it’s ridiculous to suggest that every well-dressed businessman is gay, it’s equally ridiculous to suggest that every gay man gives a shit about clothes. I’m a complete slob and proud of it, and many of my gay male friends are just the same – and we are not by any means a small minority of the gay male community. Some straight men are neat and in fashion; many gay men are not. Let’s get over it. ["Metrosexuals" -- at least in its current meaning -- was coined by the New York Times, not the National Enquirer, although it should have been. Apparently the Times style editor borrowed the term from a British writer who meant it to describe how various modern-day grooming products were affecting hetero men or something along those lines.]

See, the whole "metrosexual"business, bolstered by a silly show like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, which only perpetuated straight and gay stereotypes, was nonsense, a "fake issue" if ever there were one. Along the same lines, as far as gay issues go, was a short piece about "hasbians" in New York Magazine in 2003. According to the author, Amy Sohn, "hasbians" were lesbians who were no longer gay, who had once had female lovers but who were now with men. She seemed to think this was a trend but offered no statistics or sources; it sounded as if she were merely quoting a couple of bisexual or conflicted female friends -- a fake issue piece par shit.

Now we have – get this – The Secret World of Straight Hairdressers – an "inside story," no less– by Marisa Meltzer. Now, this one did not appear in New York but in Page Six Magazine brought out Sunday [10/14/07] by the New York Post, so naturally I didn’t expect anything intellectual. In fact, the "magazine" consists of virtually nothing but fake issue pieces.

First of all, there’s never been any doubt that some male hairdressers are straight – who cares? (And not because of that stupid movie Shampoo.) It’s a total non-issue right off the bat. And it’s no surprise that more and more male hairdressers may be at least identifying as straight. Even some of the gay ones may be sick and tired of everyone automatically assuming they’re gay. In this article the author, of course, naturally accepts that every one of the SMH [straight male hairdressers] interviewed is actually straight. I have my doubts, but that’s another story. Again, bisexuality and internalized homophobia never enter the equation. These guys are straight and that’s that. Like I say, I’ve no doubt there are SMHs as well as straight male interior decorators, just as there are gay football players, firemen, cops, and marines. But we rarely have stories about the latter group because so few are willing to come out of the closet.

Naturally, these SMHs can’t just say that they do hair because they like it and can make good money. They have to say that they do women’s hair because they’re straight and want to meet – or at least be around – beautiful women. Goodness – they certainly don’t want people to think they’re "fags." What – you have to become a hairdresser to meet attractive females? You can't just go to a singles bar? That’s just as ridiculous as a straight guy working in a gay bar so he can hit on the "sisters" of the gay men who frequent the bar. Surely there are easier ways for a legitimate straight guy to get a date! Most of the SMHs go out of their way to establish their hetero credentials. One of them, Emiliano De Pasqual (now that’s the name of a hairdresser if ever there were one), we’re told, assured his father that he was "totally the opposite" and describes himself – with great humility – as "good-looking, Italian, and very talented."Well... he’s not my type so who cares if he’s straight. [see photo above.] If you’re into Harpo Marx you might like Emiliano.

Meltzer does interview a couple of openly gay hairdressers, one of whom explains why gay men do better hair cuts, although she also mentions that he "giggles." Sure, there are girlish gay hairdresssers, but I’ve also known some that are butcher than the straight ones.

So here’s the rub. Once again, straight guys have entered a provenance identified rightly or wrongly with (some) gay males (ballet dancing, male modeling etc.), and then – in somewhat obnoxious fashion – do their best to disassociate themselves from the very men who made these professions acceptable for guys in the first place.

It would be nice to meet a genuine straight male hairdresser who – instead of barking about how straight he is – just says "I do hair because, just like my gay brothers in this business, I like working with hair, making people look good, and maybe creating something artistic out of tresses. Okay?"


Saturday, October 13, 2007

Bisexual Advocate? OR Why I'd Rather Not Date a Bisexual

A writer named Job Brother has written a humor piece on reactions to his bisexuality for the online edition of The Advocate ("Fairy Tales" commentary/October 2007). He tells how when he told his gay date that he was bisexual the man reacted as if he might as well have said he was a mythical "unicorn." Brother then goes on with a certain flair and flippancy to paint the usual abused and misunderstood portrait of the bisexual, and to mock the reasons why gays don't think they exist. He then says -- incredibly -- that gays are far more prejudiced toward bisexuals than straights. Yeah, sure. That's why we call it the GLBT movement. The article is gay -- pardon me, gay/bi -- politics Lite, with no solid underpinning or substance to bolster its arguments. Cute. And superficial.

First of all, given the vast diversity of human nature, experience, sexuality, and psychology, it makes perfect sense that some people are genuinely bisexual, although to what degree is the question. Some people call themselves bi simply because they've had one or two experiences with the opposite sex in a lifetime of same-sex involvements. Some people -- Jim McGreevey, for instance -- are technically bisexual, because they have had wives and children yet are essentially gay. Some people say they are bi because they think at some point they might have a relationship with a member of the opposite gender, although it hasn't happened yet -- and probably never will. I have encountered only one person who has ever said they they were equally -- that is fifty-fifty-- attracted to both men and women. Some people are genuinely bi, at least in the technical sense, and some people are just full of shit. I'm not saying bi's don't exist, just not in the record numbers that bi advocates would have us believe. And that "bisexual" is often a label just as phony and misleading as "straight," post-gay, non-gay and --sorry -- ex-gay. I believe that "bisexual" is actually an umbrella title that has many different meanings to many different people.

As for straight people supposedly being more bi-friendly than gays... Undoubtedly Brother is choosy about which straights he reveals his bi-status to, probably gay-friendly straight friends. Well, why would they have a negative reaction to his bisexuality when they're already okay with people being gay? Straight people can relate more to bi's, because they see them as being part-straight, or still able to, at some point, lead a straight life like them. They can share baby photos and all that shit. Straight male pals of Brother's can think to themselves, "Hey, Job and I can go out and have a few beers and pick up chicks, just the way we used to. Cool!" Why should gay-friendly straight people care if Brother is bi? Gay people aren't so much biphobic, but skeptical -- and often for good reasons. And gays tend to identify with other gays more than bi's. Bi's just have to deal with it.

The main problem with Brother's piece, despite its hip-and-clever-sounding attempt to clarify the issue, is that he avoids the main reasons why gays are so often cynical about the reality of bisexuals. Underlining the piece's superficial approach is that Brother makes no mention of the undeniable fact that we live in -- to all intents and purposes -- a straight world and not a gay one. It is gay people who are persecuted, excoriated, and belittled for their sexuality, not straight people. Yes, Brother makes the excellent point that gay bashers would hardly exclude him from their vicious ire just because he also dates/has sex with women, but the bi-identified, like the straight-identified (regardless of the truth of their orientation), often hold on to heterosexual privileges, a certain bond with straight or "normal" society, that gay people lose when they come out as strictly gay. First, it's hard for gays to feel much sympathy for bi's (many of whom are closeted/married/in straight relationships) who in general don't have to put up with all the crap that gays do, and second, anyone who thinks this doesn't influence some of those who call themselves bisexual, even if on a sub-conscious level, is a fool. Brother never goes into -- in fact, few bisexuals ever go into -- where he might be on the Kinsey scale, or exactly how gay he is or exactly how straight. So he dates/screws women from time to time to keep his hand in, hold on to a certain heterosexual pedigree -- does that really add up to being bisexual. Who knows?

Some genuine bisexuals feel that that they shouldn't be tarred with the same brush as closeted homosexuals who identity as (or at least are labeled) bisexual or even straight. This is a good point. But generally, it's the latter kind of "bisexual" that irks the average gay. So -- if the bisexuals that we rail against at times aren't really bisexual, I guess we can't be called "biphobic," can we? Also, it's these kind of dishonest or loopy bi's who create so much cynicism when it comes to the subject of bisexuality. True story. One bi female once told me "I don't like the term bisexual, but I can't call myself a lesbian because once in a blue moon (italics mine) I'm attracted to a man." Duh? "Once in a blue moon?" Once in a blue moon means "hardly ever," doesn't she know that. "Once in a blue moon" I'm attracted to a female, but that hardly makes me bisexual. I wish that true bi's would get angry at these people who trivialize the whole bisexual question and not at those of us in the gay community who can't help but be a bit perplexed/skeptical when we hear stuff like this from people who rabidly insist that they're bi and you better accept it or else. Sadly, it's this kind of utter silliness that often seems to dominate discussions of the bisexual question. Gay people can hardly be blamed for that. (At least some bi-identified individuals rightly roll their eyes at straight people who say that they're "bi" because they think it's hip or want to impress their gay friends, but who have no intention of ever getting involved in gay sex or a same-sex relationship.)

Brother never goes into the negative or condescending attitudes that some bisexuals (or at least the bi-identified) have toward gays or "monosexuals." Or the fact that even out bi's (excepting many who are in long-term same-sex relationships) don't have much gay pride because they aren't gay. And this may be why some gay people with a strong sense of pride and gay identity, may not be able to relate to the bisexual and vice versa. But honestly, I know few gay people who, despite their occasional cynicism, really hate or fear bisexuals. On the other hand, some gays feel that they can be loving friends with bisexuals, but they'd rather not date one.

Now bisexuals could argue that a bisexual is capable of falling in love with someone of the same sex, so why not date a bi? Well, it could be that lack of gay pride mentioned above. Or it could be simply for practical reasons. I mean, who needs the competition? If you date a gay man that you really like, you've got enough competition from other gay men. If you date a bisexual man you really like, your competition not only includes gay men but straight women -- and there are a hell of a lot more straight women than gay men. If you date a gay man, it's unlikely he'll call you one day and tell you he's getting married -- to a woman. Yuchhh. Not only are you rejected, but so is your entire gay life. [Don't try to explain this to your bi-identified friends. Believe me, they will not get it.] Sure, I know that you could always fall for a totally gay guy who falls for someone else, but maybe with a gay guy the odds are more in your favor.

Now, Brother is different from all these real and alleged bi's who leave posts on GLBT message boards, hiding behind cute nicknames that could conceal Lord knows who or what. (I find so many of their stories to be full of holes, illogic, immaturity, confusion, not to mention glaring Freudian slips, while a few others are intelligent, reasoned, and much more convincing.) His piece is on the Internet with his photograph. I have met out of the closet bi's, and know of at least one who remains committed to Gay Rights although he now has a girlfriend after having a long-time boyfriend (who, I believe, dumped him -- not the other way around.) Perhaps if we gay people met more of these types of bisexuals in the real world and not hiding behind nicknames on message boards, we might have a different attitude. (Some of the posts I've read about bisexuality are truly bizarre. One gay man said he could always tell that a man was bisexual because they always oozed a certain overpowering and intoxicating charm -- or something along those lines. What - gay men are never charming? I had the feeling this gay guy was a bit "intoxicated" himself. Maybe it's the old pre-Stonewall "straight guys are the ultimate thrill" business and bisexual men were the closest he could get to a straight guy. )

Then we have these bi guys who say they can have sex with men but can only have emotional feelings for women. Now wait a minute! The modern-day definition of bisexual is someone who can fall in love with either a man or a woman. But if you have no emotional feelings for men, how can you possibly fall in love with a guy? Are men like this really bisexual? We certainly can't call them straight. Maybe they're really homosexual men suffering from internalized homophobia. I mean, the fact that life will be easier for them (or so they think) if they are in a heterosexual relationship as opposed to a gay one, has nothing to do with their maintaining that guys are just for sex ... uh, sure. (If you believe that, I could probably sell you the Brooklyn Bridge.) Adding to the confusion is that while many of the guys like this are actually on the down-low and identify as straight, there are some who seem to support Gay Rights and at least say that they have told everyone -- including their female dates -- that they're bisexual. At least they say this on message boards while hiding behind nicknames. One thing's for sure, why would any gay man looking for a relationship with another man choose to date a guy who says he can only form emotional (that is, romantic) attachments with women? A one-night stand maybe, but serious dating? Come on!

So is Brother really bisexual? Who knows? Maybe he has a need to be seen as a little more "macho" (i.e. straighter than) the average gay male (And believe me, that is one BIG reason why some essentially gay guys call themselves bi. More on this below.) That's his hang up. Maybe he genuinely likes the companionship and bodies of both men and women equally (the only kind of people I truly believe are bisexual). Maybe he'll buck society's hatred and wind up in a lifetime partnership with a man instead of a woman. Or maybe he'll get married to a woman and never, ever write for The Advocate again. Certainly not with an accompanying photo. (Now, honestly, doesn't "Job Brother" sound like a pseudonym to you?) While we can't necessarily blame Brother for this, I wish his piece hadn't been entitled Fairy Tales. Yes, I know it refers to the mythical unicorn/mythical bisexual, but still ... It comes off like a vulgar slap in the face to all those mean bi-hating homos out there. (Okay, I'm a little sensitive.)

As for that whole "macho" thing I referred to in the paragraph above. Why is it that whenever I meet a bi-identified man, he's almost always -- sorry to put it this way -- a little "nellie?" The last one I met was a couple of months ago. He was fifty-two and trying to convince me that in a few years when I was his age I'd be sleeping with women. I told him that I'd gotten all of my hetero impulses out of me years ago. I'm occasionally attracted to women in a flesh-is-flesh sort of way, but not enough to pursue them, lead them on, and engage in some kind of faux relationship with them. This bisexual really began to annoy me, it was as if he was saying there was something wrong with me because I was only into males, but I'm a nice guy and didn't tell him what was on my mind: Which was that maybe the reason he slept with women -- or at least intimated that he did -- was because I could stand on West Street, he could stand across the Hudson River in New Jersey, and I'd still be able to tell from that distance that he was gay. Okay, I'm exaggerating. But most people meeting this man would instantly peg him as a fairly stereotypical gay guy and maybe sleeping with/fantasizing about women made him feel more "manly." With the exception of cool, out of the closet, self-accepting "femmes," most men -- gay, straight, or bi -- like to think of themselves as being "manly" to a certain degree. This 52-year-old might be proof that not all bi's are in their twenties (although it certainly seems that way at times), but it's a question of when he decided he was bi. Maybe in youth, maybe more recently. Not because of the fashionable "fluidity" of sexuality that we hear so much about these days, but perhaps because all the trendy talk about bisexuality has given him a way to feel like more of a "man." Sad. Frankly, he came off as being much more confused about his sexuality than "fluid."

So back to Brother's date, y'know, who reacted to his bisexuality as if he were a mythical unicorn. Brother writes that he never saw the man again. I can understand why. The gay man might have thought to himself "either this guy is really bi or he's full of shit. If it's the latter he's carrying all sorts of issues and baggage that I as a gay man can really do without. If it's the former, I'll have to compete with straight women as well as gay men. In either case, he's really not gay like me, meaning we're not all that compatible." Unfair? Maybe. But with so many attractive gay men of all different types out there, why take chances? And bisexuals can always date other bisexuals. They have social groups, after all. (Years ago, the bi group used to meet bi-weekly -- no pun intended -- at the HQ of the Gay Activists Alliance in New York. I had always intended to attend because there was a time when I, myself -- yes! -- thought of myself as bisexual. (I got over it pretty quickly for reasons I'll go into elsewhere.) Later, I thought I would attend just to see what went on. There were a lot of articles about "the new bisexuality" and how hip it was during this period, but one piece -- I believe it was in New York magazine -- said that at the bi socials the guys cruised the guys and the girls cruised the girls. Maybe because they didn't want to go into gay bars -- internalized homophobia? Maybe they weren't so bi, after all? I decided not to go because I'd be there under false pretenses, although then -- as now -- I thought I was probably a heck of a lot more "bi" than many of the bi's in the group. I did eventually wind up at a bi social accidentally, but I'll save that funny story for another post.

It's difficult if not impossible to discuss these issues relating to bisexuality with some bi-identified individuals who come off as a bit militant -- definitely for lack of a better word -- even bullying, and become so defensive that they simply will not engage in a serious discourse or listen to anything you have to say, no matter how friendly or open-minded your tone. In these pc days gay people are not even allowed to be a bit questioning about certain aspects of bisexuality. Either you damn well accept that everyone who says they're bi is bi, or you're a hateful bigot who should be thrown out of the GLBT movement. Imagine if we were all supposed to accept that everyone who said they were straight was really straight? Bisexuals often have their own agenda (others don't seem to really care, they just sleep/live with who they want to, and have no particular problem in being referred to as gay). You can't say that even some bi's are gay and you don't dare suggest that most bi's have a decided preference (their own sex?) It's reaching the point where I'm beginning to think that some gays and some bi's are really not compatible.

So it's like this. I'd prefer to date a gay man over a bisexual one. I'd prefer to date a Democrat over a Republican. But I do have friends who -- at least at some point in their lives -- were technically bisexual, and I even have friends who are Republican (but we rarely talk politics).
Am I biphobic simply because I'd prefer to be dating, looking forward to a possible romantic relationship, with someone who may understand me and have a similar world-view?

Friendship is one thing, but a partnership is a whole different matter.

I recognize other gays will feel differently, and that's their prerogative. I wish we lived in a world where Gay was considered just as good as Straight, and therefore people had no need to hide behind labels, whatever they might be, and there would be much less cynicism, confusion, and misunderstanding. People could be absolutely free to be what they are: gay, straight, bi, hell even asexual, if they wanted (but what sane person would want it?) I truly don't want anyone fired from their jobs or beaten up because they are -- or call themselves -- gay, bi, transsexual, or anything else.

But let's remember that in a world full of so much homophobia, where what seems like an increasing number of people who have same-sex relationships do not want to identify as gay, GAY PRIDE should still have -- must still have -- meaning and power. Remember, whatever Job Brother may say, the gay community is much more accepting of bi's (however skeptical we may be at times) than the straight world at large. After all, it's the homosexual leanings of bi people that set them apart from the larger straight society and make them controversial and even, at times, excoriated (by society in general). And the very reason why many gays and genuine bi's would rather shoot themselves than come out as, or be thought of as, totally gay (don't kid yourself), even in this day and age.

When Gay Pride no longer has any meaning, we're all lost.