Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Gay Men and Liquor

Are gay men more prone to alcoholism, especially as they age?

Here we have another issue that depends greatly on the individual. First there is a difference between actual "alcoholism" -- an honest-to-goodness addiction to alcohol -- and heavy drinking that may be caused by, in part, [temporary] problems in a person's life. This remains true regardless of the sex of the individual or their sexual orientation.

It has always been true that some people turn to alcohol in times of great stress, as the "buzz" or more that they get from drinking can help them temporarily forget their problems and feel good for a time. This should not necessarily be confused with true alcoholism, an insidious and progressive disease that has nothing to do with an individual's problems or the stress in their life, although it may be exacerbated by same.

A lot has been written about the aging gay man, who is alone (especially if a partner has died), and who may be afraid he is losing his attractiveness and the ability to attract a partner for sex and romance. I dare say this has more to do with growing older than it has to do with being gay. Straight men also suffer the same insecurities, the fear of loss of virility and the ability to attract women, as they grow older. Some men age well; some men do not. How a man deals with getting older often depends on other factors in his life such as his health, financial stability, number of friends and so on, none of which have much to do with sexual orientation.

Because of the isolation that some older gay men feel [and undoubtedly straight men as well, particularly if they are divorced, single or widowers] there are those who insist that aging gay men are more prone to alcoholism, but the truth is much more complex.

There are those in the gay community, as well as the straight, who turn to alcohol for solace (which, as noted, is not the same as genuine alcoholism) and those who don't. There is no indication that there are more alcoholics in the gay male community than in any other segment of the population.

Who's "Macho" and Who Isn't

I know that some gay men are effeminate and others aren't. What is the difference? Are the gay men who sleep with women, who are bisexual, more masculine than men who just sleep with other men?

Well, I would have to say definitely not, and not just judging by the number of "big queens" I've met who have or have had girlfriends or insist they're bisexual.

Most gay men are not stereotypical, and their outward demeanor -- be it butch or femme -- generally provides no clue to what they do in bed or whom they prefer to sleep with. There are "queeny" guys who are Tops, and very masculine men who are Bottoms. Macho guys who only sleep with guys, and not-so-macho men who [want to] sleep with other men but have wives or girlfriends.

In other words, it's a highly individual matter. In general, men who identify as bisexual -- rightly or wrongly -- do not have a more masculine demeanor than guys who identify as gay. Some, unfortunately, think they are more masculine because of the out-dated, pre-Stonewall thinking that says a man isn't a man unless he has sex with women. I don't need to comment on how tiresome and self-defeating that attitude is, but it does account for the "bisexual" label more often than many would like to admit.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Health Care Horrors

The past few weeks have been difficult to say the least. As I had to come to the very difficult decision of putting my older partner, who has many physical and mental issues, into a nursing home. Along this dark journey I have encountered many people, some of whom were compassionate and helpful and others who were ... not. My partner is a veteran but we had a highly unpleasant experience with the VA's Primary Home-Based Care Program. In general, health care and nursing homes are not that sensitive to gay/LGBT issues. Over the next few weeks I'll be relating my experiences, both good and bad, with the VA, physical rehab centers, and nursing homes. I have to say that I found SAGE -- a group for older gay people -- to be very helpful on a variety of matters. Dr. Bill

Boyfriend and Gay Porn

Hello Dr. Bill.

I have a little problem and I need your help.

Me and my boyfriend have been together for 2 years. We are in our late twenties. We are a great couple, respect each other, and have great sex life. He treats me well, is very honest with me, and his friends and family love me. We are planning to live together next month.

The problem is that I found gay porn on his lap top - and a lot of it. There's also straight porn in there, shemales, foot fetish porn, but the problem is that the gay porn is a lot, more than 50%! And it's not just website history, he has it downloaded and saved - both photos and videos. I've noticed that the porn downloaded from 2 years ago is mostly straight, but this year's porn is mostly gay. 

I have many close gay friends, and they never mentioned to me that my new boyfriend is weird. I support gays, but I believe it's bad for me and him to be together if he is a closeted gay, we might suffer more in the future when he admits, because we have a very serious relationship and might end up married!

I am sure that he loves me, and our love is not a lie, but I don't know if he has gay feelings which he is repressing, or he just likes weird porn. 

He is very religious, and for a period stopped having flings and adventures and was looking for the right girlfriend -- I am that right girlfriend.

He also says he doesn't have a problem with gay people, so he is neither homophobic, nor really supportive (he says it seems unnatural to him, but it's their private matter, so who is he to judge?) So, he's somewhere in the middle. I don't know what to make of it. [Thinking homosexuality is "unnatural" is homophobic!]

He says he never had a gay experience, but as all people, during high school wondered about his sexual orientation: straight, gay, bi? He never experimented to confirm, just realized he is straight.

I talked to him about porn, told him that I know he watches, and I don't like that he hides that from me. but I didn't tell him I had actually seen his porn folder. I told him it's very important to me to tell me what he watches, so that I know what he likes. At this point, he wasn't very defensive, he was open with me, told me he loves our sex life, but that he watches some weird porn and that doesn't mean he likes to try it. He mentioned the gay porn when giving me a short list of what had he watched, but didn't single it out. He said his father exposed him to pornography beginning at age six and he has always watched a lot of it.

One red flag though, is that when we were about 1 year together, I joked that he likes men, and because I had made that joke before, he snapped at me, but then was really sorry. It is weird because he is a very nice guy, and never before, nor after, has he offended me or raised his voice to me.

My only concern is that he might be a closeted gay/bi because of the porn, and I think that should be resolved for both our sakes. I have helped one gay friend of mine to get out of the closet, I know how it feels, but now since this is my boyfriend, it's totally different. And I am asking you and not my gay friends, because I believe if I tell anyone I will jeopardize my boyfriend's privacy and maybe hurt his feelings if he finds out I've been doubting or asking.

Please help me.

There's no easy answer to this one because there are cases of people who like to look at pornography in all of its varieties without necessarily wanting to engage in similar behavior, but when half of what he looks at is gay-oriented ...? Also, people who are very religious often repress their homosexual nature because they are dealing with issues of shame and guilt and denial. They try to satisfy their homoerotic urges by watching gay porn, figuring they're not really gay if they aren't actually having gay sex. His snapping at you when you joked about his liking men, especially if you didn't mean it in a nasty way, could mean that he's very touchy about the subject, another indication that he could be closeted. His feeling that homosexuality is "unnatural," as well. You can understand that if he feels that way and is privately gay/bi he is bound to have feelings of what we call "internalized homophobia" or self-hatred. And honestly, I don't believe that everyone wonders about their sexual orientation in high school. Mostly people who are gay or bisexual and a little confused.

His having looked at porn when he was a child is another issue. Showing a child pornography might even be considered a form of child abuse. Something more serious may have happened in his childhood that has made him confused over his sexuality.

The problem is that the only way to really learn the truth is to have a frank talk with your boyfriend -- without being negative or accusatory. As you say this needs to be resolved. There are far too many women who marry guys who finally come out of the closet years later, and it's devastating for them. If he has an attraction to men, he needs to deal with it and accept it, even if he needs professional help or at the very least counseling to do so. There is also the question, if he's bisexual, of whether his main attraction is to men or women. [In any case, if he has never fully explored his homosexuality, he will undoubtedly want to do so some day.]

Also, if he was abused or molested as a child, he should also seek counseling or therapy to help him deal with those issues. 

I'm sure you understand that there's just no way to be certain at this point, as frustrating as that may be for you. If he is able to resolve these issues, on his own or with help, it will at least help you to make a decision about a future with this man.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Bill's Media Watch: 306

I have to say I really hated a movie called "306", written, produced and directed by [to my surprise] an Out filmmaker named Elliot London.What's even more disturbing is that it's being called a "gay" movie.

The film, which runs about ten minutes, has no dialogue. It shows a young man, who lives with his lover, receiving a text message to take over a shift. It's not bartending, but hustling, as the young man arrives at a hotel room where an older man gives him a drink, a blowjob, and then sodomizes him, apparently without using a condom. The young man, looking disgusted and disheartened, goes home and climbs into bed with his lover, to whom he mouths the words "I love you so much" as he hugs -- her

The ending isn't really a surprise. What's surprising is that a young Out filmmaker would make such a regressive movie. Yes, one could argue that it looks at all of those sad men out there who are gay but who can't and won't identity as such (don't get me started on "gay for pay") -- call boys with girlfriends, married men who screw hustlers in hotel rooms -- but there have already been so many books and movies and plays about those men who live in the shadows of gay life, do we really need another one in the 21st century that adds nothing to the discussion? And what are we to think of the "hero?" He has unsafe sex for money, then goes home to sleep, literally and figuratively, with his presumably unsuspecting girlfriend.[Bet she'll be contacting Dr. Bill any day now.]

Frankly, most male prostitutes tend to be self-hating losers. The guy in this movie, who is attractive and seems intelligent and upwardly mobile, would probably not be a hustler in a million years, especially if he's so full of internalized homophobia that he thinks of himself as straight. There may be other reasons why he's "acting out" -- insecurity, an attraction to men, certainly -- but the movie doesn't go into them.

"306" presents the outdated image of homosexuality as being something negative, dirty, something to be ashamed of, while the hero's hetero relationship is almost presented as if it were pure and perfect [until she finds out he's given her HIV, of course]. And if the character is supposed to be "bisexual," the contrast between his straight long-term relationship and his comparatively sleazy, casual gay "encounters" is so homophobic as to be mind-boggling! On the odd chance that London meant his film as a cautionary tale for women -- ladies, do you know what your boyfriend is really up to when he's somewhere else? -- it backfires badly; it just doesn't come off. 

What was London thinking? Or was he even thinking? So many things could have been said and done with this little movie and its small cast and settings. 

A muffed opportunity and a complete waste of ten minutes.

Husband into Transsexual Porn

Hello Dr. Bill. I wanted to ask your opinion on this. For background my husband was molested when he was a child for several years by a man. He said he used to dress up like a girl to try and make it stop. He slept with a man about  a year before we met. He said he had just moved and was lonely and drunk. He was able to finish but vomited right after. When he talked about it he said the guy was so weak. Now we have been married for several years. I was also molested as a child. In dealing with that it caused me to do some sexual experimentation. My husband expressed to me he would like to be with a transsexual. I agreed as long as we were both involved. He contacted someone on his own and l found out. Then he said that he did not really want to be with one. He said that he has been looking at transsexual porn for a long time, although he says he does not find them attractive in real life. He said regular porn does not do it for him and that he likes that they are ultra feminine and that its dirty. Its always just the sex part and always male on trans. He hates it when its reversed. He also does not like gay porn. I am very open to everyone and have gay friends and family members. But this entire thing makes me feel like he is not satisfied with me and I am holding him back. He swears that he loves me and that it just gets him off. So my question is do you think he is gay and suppressing it? Or does it have to do with the molestation?  We talk about it quite a bit. I am driving him crazy and making him feel less of a man. I don't know what the truth is.  I understand attraction to a man or women. But a man that dresses up? I don't. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you. 

First of all, "a man that dresses up" is not a transsexual but a cross-dresser or transvestite [or "drag queen."] A transsexual is a man or woman who is born into the wrong biological body and has a sex-change to turn them into the right sex. 

Some men who are attracted to males and can't accept it become fixated on cross-dressers because they look like women and act like women but are male with male genitalia. Similarly, transsexuals have become women but biologically they were born male, which some men find homo-erotically titillating. Some Trans Women have not fully transitioned -- had a full sex change -- and still have male genitalia. Men who are attracted to these pre-operative transsexuals may be as interested in the penis as in anything else. To their way of thinking, it's one way of sort of having sex with men while safely feeling that you're really with a woman [and Trans Women are women]. 

Most people have certain fetishes or "kinks" that they find sexually stimulating, and while these may be unpleasant or uninteresting to their mates, they are generally harmless. If your husband limits his extra-curricular activities to looking at transsexual porn than there's probably nothing to worry about.

The fact that your husband was molested as a child by a man might have contributed to his own confusion over his sexual orientation, which sometimes happens to men who have been molested by males when they were boys. On the other hand, his reaction to having sex with a man -- he did it because he was "drunk and lonely," got sick later on, and thought the guy was "weak," could indicate a serious case of what we call "internalized homophobia" or gay self-hatred.

There is no easy answer.  You understand that there are so many issues here that only an analyst could get to the bottom of everything and only after repeated visits. If all of this bothers either of you, you might -- with tact-- suggest that your husband see an open-minded therapist who can take him through all these sexual highways and best determine the right road for him to travel on. But don't suggest that there's something wrong with him, as there isn't.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Gay Men and Aging

I am a gay man in my forties and I have some friends my age and younger -- and sometimes older -- who are frequently making disparaging remarks about mature gay men, especially seniors and the elderly. Some of this is good-natured and not to be taken seriously, but sometimes the remarks are nasty and hateful. I worry about getting older, like most people do, I believe, but the last thing I want to do is make things worse for older gay men by putting them down, just as I don't want to be put down simply for getting older, which no one can help. Any thoughts on this? Do you think the gay community is more ageist than the straight world? 

Definitely not. Age discrimination is part of American culture [and no doubt other countries as well] and sexual orientation has nothing to do with it. No one enjoys getting older, not just because of that very real discrimination but because of health issues that sometimes crop up with increasing age, not to mention the sense of time running out that many older people feel. Different people handle getting older differently, and some can't handle it at all. How we deal with aging has a lot to do with how we feel about ourselves, and how our lives are going as we mature. An aging person -- gay or otherwise -- who has financial security, enjoys their work, and is in a stable, loving relationship will find it easier to deal with getting older than someone who has none of those things. Someone who has achieved most or all of their life goals may find aging easier than someone whose dreams did not come true and sadly realizes that they probably never will. Yet even those people in the latter categories can still find different kinds of fulfillment as they grow older.

It's also true that people who have negative, nasty attitudes toward older people may find it that much tougher to get older themselves. Age discrimination can be caused by thoughtlessness, or it can be the product of a stupid or superficial mentality.

As for gay men and aging, the myth is that gay men all want to run and kill themselves when they hit forty or fifty, but judging from the very large mature gay male population I would say most gay men don't see that as a viable option. Nowadays people live and stay healthier longer, and enjoy active sex lives well into their seventies or even older. Straight men do not enjoy getting older and being viewed as "over the hill" or as "old-timers" any more than gay men do. And the male ego -- gay or straight -- always worries about sexual potency. For the record, most aging gay men won't need viagra.

Try not to worry too much about getting older. You probably have many, many wonderful years ahead. I know many men in their fifties, sixties and seventies and older who are still enjoying life, still getting out and about, still cruising, and still having very satisfying sex lives and romances, even if they don't have partners or perfect lives.


How prevalent is cross-dressing in the gay male community?

Before I answer that I have an anecdote. Some years ago I read an interview with an actor on a soap opera who'd just been told that his character was going to turn out to be gay. He told the interviewer, "I guess I'll have to go out and buy some dresses." I thought: Why? The character was gay and not a transvestite [or cross-dresser].

There has always been a frankly ridiculous link in the public's mind between homosexuality and transvestism. The fact is that the vast majority of gay men are happy being men and haven't the least interest in dressing up as women. Because flamboyant drag queens [gay transvestites] have always been a hard-to-ignore part of gay culture, people have mistakenly believed that more gay men are cross-dressers than actually are. In reality, most male transvestites are actually heterosexual [or at least identify as such]; they lead straight lives but enjoy dressing up as women, touching and wearing female underwear, and the like -- it's a fetish.

So to answer your question: cross-dressing is not very prevalent at all in the gay male community, although due to popular culture and coverage in some of the sillier gay magazines it may sometimes seem that way. With the emergence of the bear community, I'd have to say that drag is even seeming a little passe these days.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Boyfriend's Sexuality

Hi I was wondering if you could help me with this:
I am female and was in a common law relationship with my husband for the past several years.  We have recently split up. Since the split up was a bit shocking to me and my husband has been pretty quiet to the reasoning behind it except to blame it on me, I was doing a bit of snooping to see if I could figure out why. I found a recent credit card statement that had me puzzled to a purchase so I called the toll free number to find out what it was. Turns out it is a gay/bi, guys only dating or hook up site. When calling to investigate what it was, they willingly provided me with information about the account since I had acted as if I was unaware of the charge. My husband has been a free member of the site for several years and he has been a paying member for over a year. They even provided me with the user name and email address used for the account so there is no denying it is him.

I’m sure you can imagine my shock, surprise and initial anger, but since we are still trying to work through a separation agreement I have decided to not rock the boat right now. I have taken the time to read through many of your posts and like a lot of the direction you provide people with in somewhat similar situations. That being said I think my initial anger has subsided except for the anger of involving myself, my children and our own child in this scenario when he was obviously aware of his desires at the time. I rationalize that perhaps he was still mixed with his emotions and afraid of his own feelings and therefore was hoping a new relationship/family would fix what he seems to view as a problem? With having time to think this through I can now see some of the possible “warning signs” that I obviously overlooked. He was constantly wanting me to allow him to have anal sex with me and he liked to perform anal sex with toys on himself. If this is a big enough sign? He has even stated since our break up that he has “looked into” being gay. I brushed this off as a joke at the time.

So truly my question, once the dust settles from the turmoil of our separation do I confront him on what I know now? I have no intentions of being angry with him. I am more thinking along the lines of allowing him to have someone to talk to if he so wishes. Ultimately, is it fair for me to “out” him when he probably isn’t prepared for me to know this information? But I also don’t want to hold this in and at some point blurt it out in anger…

I think it would be helpful for you to at some point have a discussion with this man regarding his sexuality. You may be right that he was conflicted and not necessarily trying to defraud you or use you as a beard. Nevertheless, he knew about his attraction to men all the while. Some men like this consider themselves bisexual -- rightly or wrongly as each case is different -- but being bi does not mean a person has to have both sexes -- in other words, cheating is cheating. When all is said and done you are well out of the relationship. I must say his blaming you for the break-up is completely unfair as he was dishonest with you on many levels. I think at some point you need to get it out in a non-judgmental fashion if for no other reason than to get closure and move on.

Woman's Boyfriend Wants Cross-Dressing Men

Dear Dr. Bill,

I've found your blog and would like to see if you can help me understand my now ex-boyfriend's sexuality. Ill try to keep long story short.. its mainly to understand where he's coming from and to have closure for me.

He is in his fifties, and I'm in my thirties. Things began well and I thought we were truly in love. Later on I started to find out he is a cheater, I've taken him back several times over the course of one year. I've found out things through his emails and texts with other women. The last time I took him back, he made me a promise that he'd be true to me because he wants to be with me. But I broke up with him yesterday because I've found out he was answering ads on Craigslist for sex, which I've caught him doing before. Except this time, he answered ads for "m4m" and "t4m".   In one email he asked a potential T/CD [crossdresser] if he has clothes because he'd like to try get dressed. I know not all CD are gay, but I think he is bi. Because in another email, he has met up with a T to get a "massage".  And I believe he wants to meet more CD who wants to have sex. 

I've always been supportive of LGBT community, him finding himself isn't my biggest issue, but it's his lies, and his multiple partners made me feel very unsafe about my sexual health. So I had to break up with him.  He of course denies all.

Can you help me to understand what he is going through? What can I say, or not say? I'm stuck between confusion and a broken heart. I love him, but he has done too much damage to me emotionally. I know this day will come, just didn't expect to be this way.  I feel hopeless, unattractive, and somewhat used.  How do I cope with this feeling, Dr. Bill?  Has any woman asked you for the same advice?  I've Googled quite a bite lately and found out a lot of women are going through the same thing.  It's always very insightful to listen to advice from the other perspective.
Thank you Dr. Bill. I hope to hear from you soon.

It sounds like I don't need to tell you that the main problem with this guy isn't whatever his sexual orientation may be but that he's sexually active with multiple partners behind your back, and isn't honest about it. It sounds like he probably lived a fairly "straight" life for most of his life and then hit middle age and decided he wanted to check out everything he'd been fantasizing about for so long while he still could. Is he gay, or at least bisexual? If he's looking for sex just with post-operative trans women that may be one thing, but if he's actively seeking sex with men [or, to put it crudely, "chicks with dicks"] that's another matter. He clearly seems to have some attraction for other men.

Open-minded you may be, but having a partner who needs to experiment with other sexual partners on a regular basis is a little too much for most people, so you were probably right in calling it quits with this guy. Especially when he lies to you about it on top of it. 

Yes, I have heard from a lot of women who feel as you do. You may well have been used, but there's no need to feel hopeless or unattractive because of it, or because of one wrong man entering and leaving your life. I would suggest coping with it by moving on, meeting new people, dating a variety of men until you meet someone honest and right for you. While it's primarily for people who have been married, the Straight Spouse Network proivides support for people who have been in "mixed" [gay/straight] relationships and feel confused and used.