Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Please -- it's GAY Pride

I enjoyed the Gay Pride events in New York but am I being a tightass when I say that one thing really bothered me. And that was this tendency for people to say "Happy Pride" instead of Gay Pride. I mean, what's up with that? Has there suddenly become something wrong with the word Gay? I know there are other groups included, but are gays now non-persons?

I wouldn't go that far, but I understand where you're coming from. "Pride" has become the name for the annual Gay/LGBT parades/marches and it's stuck with many people and reporters, although many still use "Gay Pride" or "LGBT Pride" instead of the generic "Pride."

It sort of annoys me when someone says "Happy Pride" in my face so I always counter with "Happy GAY Pride." Just saying "Pride" sounds too generic to me, meaningless. And while you can probably tell what kind of pride we're talking about from the same-sex couples and headlines, it's still rather annoying.

It's not so much that "gay" has become a dirty word as that it expanded to become LGBT so as to include all the sexual minorities [up to a ludicrous point where some call it LGBTQASBC and so on]. Although "gay" certainly includes gay women, you can understand that many lesbians wanted their own identity, which is also true of bisexuals and transgender individuals. Hence, I believe "Happy Pride" was born so as not to offend the non-gay members of the LGBT movement. Or something like that. It was some -- certainly not all -- politically-correct activists who decided this -- You and I did not get to vote.

The trouble is that "pride" is rather presumptuous. After all, there are many groups who have pride -- Blacks, Jews, Asians, Latinos, Women and so on -- since when does any one group or alliance own rights to the word?

Not far from where I live there's a section in the Village where different groups set up fairs, and at each fair you can see bankers and others wearing "Pride" shirts that work for any and every group -- I mean, they don't bother changing the shirts whether it's gays, Hispanics, or Chinese-Americans and so on who are celebrating. Saves on the cost of t-shirts for sure.

The thing is, "gay" should never go out of date. In the first place,"gay" was always meant as an umbrella word for the L B T factions, and it still has a certain identity and power.

And Gay Power is something we never want to lose.

They say Happy Pride.

You say: Happy GAY Pride.

It's as simple as that.

Bill's Media Watch: Bisexual Celebrities

The Internet has given rise to lots of articles, posts and message boards about sexuality, gay and bisexual, and when it is celebrity-oriented, as it so often is, it can be awfully un-informative and even ridiculous.

A piece by Trevor Pittinger for PressroomVIP published last year purports to identity many bisexual celebrities. The piece rarely tries to discern if these so-called "celebrities" -- half of which I never heard of -- are truly bisexual or just cop-out artists, but certain things became apparent right away.

First, there are many, many more female celebrities on the list than male, which seems to correspond with which sex most uses the bisexual label in the "real" world.

Second, there are several celebrities who say they are bisexual (and then qualify it) when they are interviewed by the gay publication The Advocate. One celeb stated afterward that she really meant she was only open to the "idea" of bisexuality. Another guy said he was 100% straight that year but -- who knows? -- he might become attracted to a good-looking guy in the next year. [For Pete's sake, by this time he would certainly know if he was sexually attracted to men or not!] In other words, celebs will not come out as gay, but often feel it necessary to come out as bi in the pages of The Advocate or some other gay publication or to a gay interviewer.

Third, some people automatically call themselves bisexual simply because they were once in a  heterosexual relationship. The bi label may fit in some cases, but in many more cases we've got homosexuals living with or married to the opposite sex until they feel comfortable recognizing they're gay, come out, get divorced, etc.

Four, the "bi" label seems safe to some celebs who either aren't quite ready to come out as gay, or hope that being seen as bisexual will make them seem more hip and more appealing, especially to gay fans. Then we have to deal with the reality that there are certainly celebrities for whom every relationship and marriage is more of a career move than anything else. Some of these self-obsessed celebrities -- be they gay, straight or bisexual -- are on the emotional level of eight year olds, and are incapable of sustaining any kind of life-long truly loving relationship.

The most ridiculous thing in the piece -- Celebrity Playground: See Who Swings Both Ways -- is that it includes the "actor" Channing Tatum, but then says that he isn't bisexual, but has simply appeared in some gay-friendly movies! Talk about cop-outs!

There may well be genuine bisexuals in the world, but I confess to being a doubting Thomas when it comes to some of the guys on this list. Few if any of the people in the article are really big names. Only Cynthia Nixon of Sex and the City seems put-upon for being bisexual. David Bowie likes it, and others seem to think its no big deal. [In Saturday Night Fever one character says that Bowie is bisexual. To which another character replies, "Yeah, men and boys!"]

Then we have the politically incorrect but obvious factor that many even essentially homosexual men identity as bisexual because of the "stud" factor -- a man can't be a "real" man unless he has sex with  women. It's "okay" that he has sex with guys because his sexual and romantic relationships are primarily with women [supposedly] -- which he is sure to let us know as often as possible. And this sort of thing happens much, more more often than people realize.

The thing is that the Internet is full of stuff like this that hardly contributes to a serious discussion on gay or bisexual issues. Now, there's nothing necessarily wrong with a light-hearted or comical approach to a piece, but what bothers me is the suggestion that we take all of this at face value. Some people actually buy everything they read.

Finally, one of the celebrities is a comedian named "Andy Dick" -- I couldn't make this up -- and he seems perturbed at the very suggestion that he might be, duh, gay. Fine, if he's bisexual, who cares? But why act as if there's something wrong in being gay? [As I've said before, it's as if it's verboten for gays to be biphobic, but perfectly okay for bisexuals to be homophobic.]

However, I must add that the article is comprised of quotes from other sources, so Mr. Dick and everyone else may have had their remarks taken out of context. In any case, while it may not exactly be an example of great journalism, -- although it's put together as well as any fluff piece I've read --  I've no doubt some people found it fun or intriguing, as is the case with so much mindless crap on the Internet these days. 

Gay Democrat with Gay Republican?

Dear Gay Dr. Bill

What's your take on being a democrat who is in love with a republican? Can political difference add spice, can different world views pull a love affair apart or does political individuality create the conditions for a life-long ability to celebrate each other's difference.

I love your blog.

Best Regards

Thank you for the kind words. 

I'll start off by saying that I'm a liberal American Democrat, but one of my best friends is much more conservative. While he has never come out as Republican, as such, I figure it's best that we rarely if ever discuss politics. Then I have gay friends who are stoutly Republican, a fact I try desperately to ignore if our friendship is based on other shared interests, such as movies or art. I confess I don't quite get gay Republicans, although they certainly exist. What I find strange are gay Republicans who are not wealthy or part of some overall power structure -- it's as if by being Republican they think they will become rich and powerful via some sort of osmosis.   

Can a Democrat be in love with a Republican? There was a sitcom years ago with just that premise, but as for real life...? It's one thing for friends with other interests to have different political values, but a lover, someone you live with on a day to day basis, that's a bit more problematic. I hear what you're saying about celebrating each other's differences, but a lot depends on just how political each person is and how strongly they feel about various issues. If the issue is something that cuts to the core of someone's values, something that is a deep part of their vital persona, then clashes between the two parties may overwhelm everything else in the relationship.

On the other hand, "let's agree to disagree" can work wonders with people who otherwise like and respect -- and yes, love -- one another. Often it is that respect for the person (even if you can't quite respect their viewpoints) that makes the difference in a friendship or a love affair. Part of that respect includes each person, assuming they exhausted all arguments on the issue, agreeing to get past it and not discuss The Subject -- including their political alliances and whatever else it may be. 

However, if one of the two people just can't shut his mouth but keeps bringing it up, and worse, keeps putting down the other person, perpetually demeaning him and his viewpoint, then not only will a romantic partnership crumble, but so, too, will a friendship. Differences can exist in a partnership but only if both parties respect those differences despite their varying opinions. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Gay Men vs. Lesbians?

I have some gay friends who insist that lesbians hate gay men, and since I've never had that experience, I wonder where this is coming from? Is this some kind of sexism or even homophobia? I was very disturbed by the attitudes of some people. P.S. I am a gay man in my forties.

Let me make it clear that well-adjusted gay people, those who accept themselves and don't have a problem with their sexuality, generally don't have the kind of blatant prejudices that afflict so much of society, gay or straight. I once participated in a conversation on just this subject -- lesbians hating gay men -- and, as I'm sure you did, found it to be ridiculous. The "evidence" of this alleged prejudice was all anecdotal. One bartender told me a lesbian waitress was rude to him in a restaurant, so this, of course, means that lesbians all hate gay men. Could he even be sure she was a lesbian, and did her bad attitude have anything to do with his being gay? Probably not. I mean, once a lesbian bartender was kind of unpleasant to me, but she is vastly outnumbered by other gay women whose attitudes were perfectly nice and professional. I think the few gay men who feel this way are defensively covering up their own negative attitudes toward women.

Let me also make it clear that gay men all hating women and lesbians all hating men (gay or straight) is in this day and age indicative of ludicrous stereotyping. Are there some lesbians who may dislike some or all gay men, or men in general, and are there some gay men or men in general, who have issues with women, be they straight or gay? Yes. But generally these are based on one or more bad experiences, which don't really add up to any kind of scientific survey. The truth is, there are gay people who may simply be indifferent to the opposite sex, which is often misinterpreted as "hatred." On the other hand -- and this is very important --  many gay men and lesbians have formed warm and life-lasting friendships with one another.

During this debate with some acquaintances, one guy said that it was simply that his experiences were different from mine. This is true, of course, but a person shouldn't base his attitudes on his own experiences, however valuable, alone. A person should learn and know about other people's experiences as well before forming a judgment. Also, it is often how we interpret personal experience that makes the difference.

That being said, in my experience, lesbians do not in general hate gay men or vice versa. Dare I say it's only fucked up people who have such antediluvian attitudes.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Beware of Gawkers!

Dear Dr Bill,

I have a question for you which I am sure you have heard a million times. 

I started dating a man three months ago, we are both mid 40’s.  He spent 20 years married to a woman, although says he always knew he was gay, and the past 7 years in a relationship with a man, they split 6 months ago.  He is very full on with me and tells me constantly how fond he is of me,  I am fond of him too.  Now, my issue is he has a wondering eye, when we see an attractive man he will not just look but he will gawk, this is making me very uncomfortable and I am wondering if he can be as fond of me as he makes out.  I understand we all look at attractive people, a quick glance I understand, a gawk I kind of find disrespectful.

I have been around the block a few times and realise how men, not just gay men, can be.  I have made it clear that I want a  monogamous relationship as I am tired of playing away, it never really works anyway, nor do I want any mind games (way too old).  It is now getting to the point where I feel extremely uncomfortable if we go out socialising, and I refuse to go onto the gay scene.  When I broach the subject he insists it is in my imagination and that I am being paranoid.  I know I am not seeing things, should I just put up with it and continue, put this down to me having trust issues - or cut my losses before I fall too deep, can men like this change? 

Thanks for your advice

Gawking at someone is downright rude, and his absolute failure to own up to it and apologize is troubling. Sometimes the gawking is done as a signal that the guy you're with a.) isn't ready to settle down with you or perhaps anyone at this point in time and wants to keep things very casual, or b.) he's letting you know that he thinks he can find someone better, obnoxious as that is. This guy has had seven years at least to be with a man, and probably was having sex with men -- sowing his wild oats, so to speak -- all the time he was married, but maybe he needs time to get over the last guy or doesn't want to risk another relationship, or as they say, "just isn't that into you." [If that's the case, don't feel too bad -- it's happened to me and virtually everyone I know. One guy I dated would not only point out "hot guys" but wind up making out with them. What a pig!]

If you want to keep seeing this guy in hopes his feelings for you will deepen and he'll stop acting like a jerk, at least see other men, too. If this guy just isn't interested in a monogamous relationship with you, then move on. Whoever comes into your life next may be just the ticket!

Coming Out and Coming Up

Well, I've said this before, but after finishing my latest book project, I will hopefully have more time to post on this blog (although I have been answering personal questions all along -- however, I'd rather answer them on the blog).

I'll be answering more questions, writing about different aspects of gay life, looking at Gay Men in all their facets, and looking into images of gay men in the media: books, films, theater etc.

If you have a question or an opinion to share, feel free to get in touch!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Daddies -- or not!

What exactly is a daddy? I'm completely confused as to how old a man is supposed to be before he's considered a daddy? Thank you. 

The term "daddy" was originally meant to be a gay man who was also a senior citizen, that is a man who is either retired or on social security, early to mid-sixties or older. It was separate from the term "sugar daddy" -- a man with bucks who supports a young man -- although the two can sometimes be the same. 

Now the term "daddy" has pretty much become meaningless and simply means an older man. This doesn't necessarily mean middle-aged, either. On the gay dating site Daddyhunt the "daddies" often look like 32-year-old porn stars (and often are). But guys in their twenties think of these thirty-somethings as "older men" -- in other words, daddies. Of course this is ridiculous. The site Silver Daddies and some well-known "bear" sites actually feature attractive mature men -- mature meaning at least forty and frequently older, including seniors -- but Daddyhunt is pretty much just a silly marketing tool. It's from the same people as Manhunt and isn't much different. 

I imagine in time the whole "daddy" concept will go back to what it meant originally. In any case, it's just another indication of age discrimination -- the truly older guy can't get a break. 

32-year-old "daddies" indeed!

Bears vs. Chubbies

Is there a distinction between bears and chubbies or chubby chasers?

Yes, a bear is a gay man with facial and body hair. The stereotypical bear is a big man -- not necessarily fat -- but a large, bear-like furry guy. However, the bear community has expanded into different kinds of bears. Bear cubs are younger men, daddy bears are older men (generally seniors), chubby bears are portly guys, and muscle bears are hairy guys with big arms and chests. Otters are bears who are more slender than the average bear; wolves are skinny guys with hair.

It often seems that the chubby chaser movement has completely overtaken the bear movement. Bears were never just supposed to be "fat guys," but people often -- wrongly -- see bears as men who are quite obese or even morbidly obese. These, of course, are chubby bears, not regular bears. (And let's face it, most muscle bears are really chubby bears, their bellies being a much more distinctive feature than the size of their arms.)

When it comes to bears I think a hairy body (as well as a beard or goatee) matters much more than the size of the belly.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Dresses and Cleavage in a Bear Bar

Dr. Bill. I hang out at a bar that might be called a bear bar. Now and then a woman comes in from a bar up the street that is known as a drag queen hang-out. I say woman because I believe she is transgendered. She is probably a nice enough person, but she is, unfortunately, rather shrill, borderline obnoxious, and doesn't really fit in with the atmosphere of this bar. Worse, she walks around with money sticking out of her substantial cleavage and encourages the customers to stick money in her boobs. Many of the guys are good sports, but I find this behavior kind of sleazy, as she is not an entertainer for this bar. I'm afraid if I say anything I'll be called a bigot, but I'm also afraid if she isn't discouraged -- especially from soliciting cash -- she'll bring several of her friends to do the same thing. I have nothing against drag queens/transsexuals, but if I wanted to hang out with them I'd go to the bar where they work and hang out. What do I do? I like this bar with its masculine gay atmosphere but if it becomes a drag queen hang-out it will be ruined for me and for most of the customers.

My advice is to wait awhile and see what happens. This gal may just come in for an occasional drink, but if she continues soliciting for cash you have a right to say something to the bouncer or manager. Most gay bars (unless they're outright hustler bars) won't put up with men soliciting cash let alone women or drag queens.

Not everyone finds the drag/ transgender scene entertaining or even relevant in these "bear" days, and I can well understand that an "invasion" of drag queens/trans women would certainly change the atmosphere and dynamics of the bar. There are places that are more appropriate for drag queens. It doesn't make you a bigot if you simply prefer to hang out with guys dressed as guys. After all you are attracted to men. But don't over-react to something that may never become a problem.

Frankly -- and I'm being very politically incorrect here -- I find the drag scene a little passe, although you are right that nowadays many of these "guys" have actually transitioned into gals, although they may retain their penises. Somehow transvestism and transsexuality have become so cemented in the public's mind with homosexuality that far too many people think if you're a gay man you want to wear dresses, which is far, far from the truth. I don't believe we should be transphobic -- transsexuals don't have an easy time of it -- but if a scene is not of interest to you, it just isn't. When it comes to drag shows, for instance -- guys (or gals) in dresses lip-syncing to records -- well, I would sooner have root canal surgery without anesthetic than sit through any more of them.

Like anybody else, most drag queens are nice people and can be a lot of fun, but we certainly know that some of them can be -- well, as you put it -- "shrill and borderline obnoxious," which is true of a lot of people, of course. Because they're ignored by most of the customers, some straight women become very drunk and shrill and difficult in gay bars, and we've all seen our share of "queens" who get all loud and squealing and silly when they've had too much. The transgender community is diverse, of course, and the "shrill," overbearing, over-dressed female has become a stereotype. Not every drag queen/trans woman is like Ru Paul (not that I have anything against Ru Paul). Drag/transgender entertainers -- like any entertainer -- need attention, and if they don't get it ...

Hang tight. Chances are this gal will ultimately want to hang out where she gets more appreciation -- and money.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Farewell Larry

Cary Grant has lunch with reporter Larry Quirk
LAWRENCE J. QUIRK 1923 - 2014.

Larry Quirk was my best friend and long-time companion for over thirty-five years. He was a true original. He worked for the studios, was a Hearst reporter, wrote one gay novel Some Lovely Image, and many, many books on films and celebrities, including Fasten Your Seat Belts, the national bestseller about Bette Davis, and The Kennedys in Hollywood. I met him many years ago in Julius, the theatrical/gay bar in the West Village, and despite a significant age difference we became fast friends. We were both in the Gay Activists Alliance, although he left the group before I did. His uncle was James R. Quirk, the editor/publisher of Photoplay magazine during its golden age, and together Larry and I tendered performing arts awards at various venues. Larry enjoyed promoting and helping people who were just starting out and needed a break, as well as those in the twilight years who deserved some latter-years recognition. After many years together, I became his caregiver in his final decade or so. He lived 91 full and mostly active years. Believe me, there was nobody quite like Larry Quirk. I loved him very much and will miss him deeply.

William Schoell [aka Bill Samuels]