Tuesday, December 9, 2008

HAPPY HOLIDAYS

I'm traveling for the Holidays, and finishing up a new book project as well. Busy, busy, busy. Hope to get back to a regular schedule for Gay Dr. Bill in the new year, if not before. In the meantime, feel free to send me your questions, and I'll try and answer the ones that have piled up before too much time has gone by. Best, Doc Bill.

Gay Now, Straight Later?

Is it true that a man or woman could have homosexual relations earlier in life but then become completely straight later on? Anon.

No. What is more likely is that the individual can't deal with his or her homosexual feelings and goes into the closet. They may lead a heterosexual life including marriage (to a member of the opposite sex) and children, but homosexuality is not a phase or something that just goes away. It is often said that youth is a time of experimentation, and that a person may fool around with members of their own sex before realizing they prefer the opposite sex. The trouble with this theory in almost all cases is that there is no corresponding push for people to engage in homosexual relationships the way there is with heterosexual relationships; as well, people tend to repress their homosexual tendencies, not the other way around. It's more likely that as the individual gets older they worry more about society's, as well as their friends and family's, reaction to their sexual orientation -- many people have a more devil-may-care attitude toward their sexuality (and everything else) in their youth that fades away as they face the reality of what openly facing the world as a gay person might mean. Even today there are people who are closeted and/or in denial in regards to their sexuality, people who strongly desire (and may regularly seek out) members of their own sex but who insist to themselves and others that they are straight.

The key is not to "reassure" these people that they are straight but to convince them through counseling that "gay is good" and they, too, can lead happy, healthy lives of self-acceptance along with those of us who are Out and Proud.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Butch and Femme: The Facts

Are masculine gay men always tops and effeminate gay men always bottoms? Also are masculine gay men more likely to be married to women and/or bisexual? Anon.

The fact is that whether or not a gay man is stereotypical in his comportment usually provides little clue to his sexual behavior or even his private life or level of "outness." There are very masculine men who are strictly bottoms, and effeminate men who are strictly tops. There are even married [to women] homosexual men who seem obviously gay to everyone else.

I have met men who identify as bisexual and date/sleep with women as well as men and who are quite effeminate, and have also known many men who are very masculine and who are strictly and totally gay.

There is also an erroneous feeling among some people that stereotypical gay men are more likely to be out of the closet, and vice versa. Effeminate gay men may not be able to "pass" (and if they try to may elicit snickers), but I have met some who are completely in the closet. I also know many masculine gay men who are totally out of the closet.

People love to put everyone in neat little categories but it just doesn't work with gay men (or lesbians) anymore than it does with straight men and women. One simply can't and shouldn't come to easy conclusions about people even if it's tempting to do so.

As I've said many times, the gay community is incredibly diverse and everyone is an individual with individual tastes, attitudes, personal feelings towards themselves and their sexuality, and so on.

Viva la difference.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Write to Marry Day


The fight for gay marriage is in reality a fight for equality. There have always been loving, committed gay couples-- many of whom have been together longer than many of their straight counterparts -- and gay couples deserve the same protections and privileges under the law that heterosexual couples have.

Sure I may snicker from time to time at modern-day gay couples who lust for the proverbial house with the white picket fence in the middle of the suburbs, not to mention 2.5 children -- it almost seems like an imitation of the conventional straight life I was raised in and longed to escape from -- but since I'm always yammering about the diversity of the gay community I have to say I'm all for everyone getting what they want whether it's my cup of java or not.

So I support gay marriage hands down. It won't automatically make some people easier with what we do in the privacy of our bedrooms, but it will bring us one step closer to equality.

Bloggers of all stripes and persuasions across the land are posting on or before October 29th to register their opposition to Proposition 8, which would amend California's constitution by banning sex-sex marriages. This would not only be a giant step backward, but would increase the likelihood of a national bill, such as that supported by the likes of Sarah Palin, opposing same-sex marriages.

In these days of an uneasy economy, there are those who might feel that gay marriage is not an important issue. I say that when the equality of several million Americans is called into question, then that certainly makes it an extremely important issue.

It goes to the very heart of the bedrock upon which this nation was built. Freedom from intolerance, equality for all. It is as much of paramount concern as the ongoing civil rights struggle for African-Americans, not to mention the fight for women's rights and against anti-Semitism and all other forms of blatant discrimination.

Hence this post in honor of "Write" to Marry Day.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Butch and Femme

Why are some gay men very obvious and effeminate and others you wouldn't ever know are gay, I mean, you can't tell one way or the other. I'm a gay man by the way. Anon.

That's a good question. And not an easy one to answer. There will be some who disagree with this, but I think the vast majority of gay men are not stereotypical, but that the more flamboyant gay men sort of "stick out" a lot more. Some people think that "fabulous" gay men tend to be out of the closet more than those of us who are less fabulous, but it's just as likely that fab guys or "femmes" or "queens" find it much harder, if not impossible, to pass for straight. I know a great many masculine gay men who are completely out of the closet, and I have even met effeminate men who say they are straight but later on admit they are gay. (Not to mention effeminate or "girlish" or "soft" men who may actually be heterosexual!)

Why the difference? Well, here's one theory for what it's worth. For a long time there was a debate as to whether homosexuality was something a person was born with or acquired over time (from the way they were raised, their environment, etc.). Nowadays we -- correctly, I believe - lean toward accepting that we're born gay. But the other traits we have -- those may come about because of the way we're raised or other environmental factors.

For instance, is it possible that feminine gay men are raised primarily by women, or are closer to the female members of their family? Is there an element of unacknowledged transsexuality in the more outrageously flamboyant members of the gay male community? The element of transvestism and female identification is what makes a small percentage of gay men become drag queens (there are also straight men who also like to dress up as women).

But here's the rub. I bet if a study were taken, we'd discover examples of masculine gay men who were raised strictly by women, and effeminate gay men who had a strong masculine father in their life. So it gets confusing.

To further confound the issue, how much effeminate behavior in "queens" is -- for lack of a better word -- "natural" to them, and how much is acquired? I have known gay men who are basically masculine but who are capable of "camping" it up, even becoming a bit swishy, when they feel like it. Most gay men have no desire to do this, of course, but sometimes a gay man will want in no uncertain terms to let everyone in the room know he's gay and that's the way he'll choose to do it, by becoming a recognizable stereotype. (I would prefer they just tell people they're gay but to each his own.) Or maybe the first gay men who befriended him loved to camp and swish and he has consciously or unconsciously mimicked them throughout his life.

To add a note of humor, let me tell you the story of "Bubbalina." This guy was the cousin of my first boyfriend, and both were from Romania. Bubbalina spoke in such a high, squeaky voice that on the phone people would assume he was a woman. I figured that was just the way he talked, he couldn't do anything about it, because after all why would he talk that way if he could help it? One afternoon I came to see my boyfriend, with whom Bubbalina -- as the cousin was called -- was staying. I heard a deep, gruff masculine voice behind the door to the apartment telling my boyfriend's dog to "go away, get out of the way!" as someone opened the door for me and I assumed that one of my boyfriend's friends was visiting.

But when the door was opened there was Bubbalina!

The minute he saw me his eyebrows shot up, his mouth opened wide, and he went -- in that high, screechy, feminine voice -- "Oh, hello, look who's here, so nice to see" ---

To this day I've wondered what the hell was up with that? He had a perfectly nice, positively baritone voice -- why did he speak all the time in that screech? Or did he only do it in gay bars and among gay friends and relatives? And why? Was that simply his way of being gay? Did he enjoy it on some strange, campy, peculiar level?

For all I know Bubbalina could now be a closest case with a wife and six kids and the butchest persona of anyone you've ever met.

If there's a moral to this it's that no one has all the answers just yet. The gay community is entitled to its delightful weirdos just as the straight community is. Let's celebrate our diversity, and -- butch or femme -- be kind to each other and not worry about everything too much.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hi Doctor? What health hazard is there in sucking a penis which has STD? thanks

The health hazard is that you can get whatever disease your sex partner is infected with. I assume you are talking about performing fellatio on someone who has an STD [sexually-transmitted disease] that particularly affects the penis, such as gonorrhea, which causes a discharge from the penis. Gonorrhea and chlamydia can cause infection in your throat if your partner is infected; there may not always be symptoms or they may seem like something else. There have been conflicting and confusing reports on the possibility of acquiring HIV through performing fellatio on a man who has the virus. There have been some reported cases, but there is always the possibility that some men did not want to admit they'd been the "bottom" in anal sex. Unprotected anal intercourse is still overwhelmingly the main way gay men get HIV. (Although rare, "tops" can also get HIV if they have sex with an infected person and don't use a condom.)

Don't panic. If you know that you've had sex with a person who has an STD go to a health clinic where your anonymity will be respected, and get tested. Most STDs can be easily treated with antibiotics and you'll be fine, and can't pass along an STD to anyone else. Even HIV, although not curable as such, can be treated.

Don't delay. You'll be okay. You may not have caught anything but if you have, getting tested for an STD is the smartest thing you can do.

Let me know if you have any more questions.

Blowing My Own Horn

At the sexy website GayDemon, this blog was listed as one of the editor's picks. They wrote:

This is the description for "Ask Gay Dr. Bill" - "A professional author who's been Out and Proud, openly gay, for many years, answers questions about the gay community for his gay brothers and sisters and other interested parties." Yes, Dr. Bill seems to know what he's talking about in my opinion. I also admire his "no nonsense" answers and advice. I mean, when it comes to accepting who we are and what we like to engage in sexually and lifestyle wise, why beat around the bush?! In the most recent entry dated "August 20th 2008", Dr. Bill responds to a person who runs into a lot of young people these days who truly think that homosexuals have finally gained total acceptance in our society. A lot of this is of course because they are young and are not aware of the violence and lack of human rights that some older gay people remember. It is introspective Q&A's like this most recent one which make up the gist of "Ask Gay Dr. Bill". Not all are so profound or negatively truthful and even contain some humour and interesting points. It's the Dr. Ruth of the gay world put down in a blog. Pretty cool. Nice looking and fast loading blog too.

I'm very happy with this review (even if the Dr. Ruth reference is a little bizarre -- but funny!)
I started this blog because I wanted to cut through a lot of crap that's written and said about the gay community by both straights and gays. I appreciate that there are people out there in cyberspace who seem to think I know what I'm talking about. It's also important to me that people of all ages recognize that a more mature fellow like myself may hopefully have gained some wisdom and experience over the years and can pass it on.

Thanks for the write-up, GayDemon!

I also won a silver award from Best Gay Blogs (although that may have been for my other blog; they didn't specify). I'll exhibit it as soon as I can figure out why the code-script for the award isn't displaying the way it should.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

GLBTQIBXYZ -- huh?

Hopefully you can answer this because I'm confused. I'm a small-town gay gal and I guess I don't get out much but when the hell did Gay Rights become GLBT or whatever the hell it is and what's up with GLBTXQBI and all the rest? And please tell me what on earth is "intersexed." Confused but happy old lesbian.

First of all, you're not old, baby, you're mature.

To answer your questions, Dr. Bill himself is not exactly certain when "GLBT" -- which means Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender -- came into being and replaced Good 'ol "Gay." I would guess it came into early use twenty years ago and become popularized about a decade ago (and in some cases has become inaccurately retroactive). There's a GLBT or LGBT center not far from my door in Manhattan which I sometimes call the Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato center. I do know that when people speak of the GLBT pride parade the year after Stonewall or in the seventies, eighties and even nineties, they're inaccurate. These were Gay Pride parades, plain and simple. Even today many people simply use "Gay Pride" as an umbrella term. Less unwieldly and more recognizable, for one thing. Plus the fact that gays and lesbians constitute the majority of GLBT members.

The early Gay Rights movement certainly did not automatically exclude lesbians (who are gay, of course), bisexuals or the transgendered (some of whom are gay), but I imagine some activists -- Dr. Bill was not consulted -- thought it would be more democratic to give all sexual minorities (although not all are actually included) equal billing. It was also thought that lumping all of us together -- the idea being that whatever group we belonged to we were all "queer" -- would add up to greater numbers and hence greater political power.

The sad truth is that a united GLBT -- outside of the world of political activists -- may be more of a concept than a reality. GLBT political activists are more likely to know and intermingle with members of the other groups, which is not true of the average, non-political gay person, so this idea of GLBT "togetherness" may be entirely artificial. What I mean is that being transsexual is a very different experience from being gay, and that many, many (mostly but not always non-political) gays still remain cynical about the very notion of bisexuality, believing -- rightly or wrongly -- that most bisexuals are just gays who for one reason or another can't come all the way out of the closet. [More on this on another post. Save your letters for later.]

For instance, political gays were quick to insist that trangenders be included in the ENDA non-discrimination bill, while the average gay person, if they knew about the bill at all (and without suggesting that they're all transphobic bigots) probably didn't give that much of a damn, not relating to transsexuals or even necessarily knowing what one was.

The feeling among many politically correct gays is that, being discriminated against themselves, they don't wish to discriminate, or even be thought of as possibly, accidentally, inadvertently discriminating, against anyone else (including heterosexuals, even the bigoted ones). Therefore we have some queer people who expand GLBT into GLBTQBI and so on and so on.

The "Q"stands for questioning, which I frankly think is pretty silly. Most gay people go through a questioning period, for Pete's sake; I doubt if genuinely heterosexual people really spend a lot of time wondering if they're gay or they're bi. I mean, you either get hot for your own sex or you don't; it's a given that most gays go through a certain period of confusion. (Oops, now we'll have to add a "C" for "confused.") I assume some gay groups don't want to scare off gay or transgender youths (and older people) who don't yet identify as gay or transgender.

The other "B" stands for Bi-Curious, which means someone who at least identifies as straight but may have some homosexual leanings or a certain curiosity about our sexuality or lifestyle. Again, this is a phase many gays go through. I hardly think of the "bicurious" as a legitimate minority group, but who knows?

"I" stands for Intersexed and brings us to the last part of your question. Intersexual is the modern term for the out-dated "hermaphrodite," but intersexed people do not have both male and female sexual organs; rather they have a commingling of the two. Parents of intersexed children choose a sex for their babies through surgery, but when these children are grown they can switch -- again, via surgery -- if they want to. There are a couple of hundred intersexed people in the US, and maybe a thousand or more worldwide. It's a question if this is a minority group or simply a group of people who have the same medical condition. Intersexed people aren't necessarily homosexual, but as I've said many activists don't want to exclude anyone and of course no one wants intersexed people to be discriminated against, although if they are it may be because they are perceived as being gay or transsexual -- since most people don't know what "intersexed" means any more than you do.

The premise of being all-inclusive, while possibly noble, can get a little ridiculous at times. On one gay -- I mean, GLBT -- message board, someone actually suggested that "F" for "furries" be added to GLBT .... ! "Furries" are people who like to dress up as animal cartoon characters. Some of them feel marginalized and therefore think of themselves as being a put-upon minority group.

A certain percentage of "furries" are undoubtedly gay, transgender etc. but on this same message board I suggested that if we added "F" to GLBT we should also add an "H" for fans of The Honeymooners TV show who attend conventions (like furries do), who are gay, and who may feel marginalized because they eat too much or because people tell them they should have more productive ways of spending their time. [Don't get me wrong. I love Jackie Gleason and The Honeymooners but I can't see going to a convention ... oh, well.]

But my dear mature lesbian friend, don't fret too much over all this. Many of these people who are adding all these letters to GLBT are very young and will learn in time. In the meantime, I think it's kind of nice that they don't want anyone to feel left out, eh?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Straight Bartender in Gay Bar

My boyfriend is straight and not homophobic and chooses to work in a gay bar as a bartender. What I can't understand is why can't some of the gay men there accept that my boyfriend is straight and not keep asking him if he's gay and hitting on him all the time, I mean, aren't gays supposed to be tolerant because they're discriminated against themselves, right? Some of the customers get angry when he says he's straight, and I know he doesn't like it when they think he's gay or even tell him he is and then even start to flirt with him. JP.

He doesn't like it or you don't? It sounds like you've got a few issues that your boyfriend may or may not share. Are you afraid if they customers flirt with your boyfriend he might flirt back?

Gay men are divided when it comes to straight bartenders in our bars. Some think -- who cares? He's just the person who serves me my drinks. Others feel mighty uncomfortable with straight-identified bartenders. They fear that even a gay-friendly straight guy always feels superior to a gay man. Then there's the fact that we live in a world where many MSM (Men who have Sex with Men) don't identify as gay or even bisexual because they're ashamed and are more or less leading a straight, closeted life. They have girlfriends or wives and children. Now it may seem unlikely that someone like this would work in a gay bar, but it is definitely not unheard of. I'm not saying that your boyfriend is one of these gay-friendly closet cases, as I call them, but you have to understand why gay men are often cynical about guys who immerse themselves in gay culture (and working in a gay bar is immersing yourself in gay culture) yet who claim to be totally straight. You and your boyfriend have to realize that it goes with the territory that most customers assume the bartenders in a gay bar are gay. If it bothers him all that much he probably shouldn't be working in a gay bar.

Why does he get angry if people think he's gay? Deep down does he think there's something wrong in being gay? Straight men who are truly secure and comfortable in their sexuality shouldn't get their noses out of joint if someone mistakenly believes they're gay. Especially when they're working in a gay bar! Some straight men who are assumed to be gay develop a sense of humor about it and others feel complimented by it but if your boyfriend gets angry it's sending a very negative message to the gay guys who are, after all, giving him tips and helping him make a living.

I get that you don't like your boyfriend working in this place. He may be a really cool, super-accepting straight guy (although the way you describe him makes me wonder) but he may also be a gay/bi man working through his issues in a homoerotic environment in which he may eventually come to terms with his sexual identity. It's happened before. I've met a few straight-identified guys working in gay bars and some of them did ultimately turn out to be gay or bisexual. Not having met your boyfriend I can't say with any certainty what the story is with him. In any case, if he's really straight, he's not going to "turn gay" just because some gay men flirt with him or make an occasional pass. You both need to get over it or he needs to find a new job.

One last thing. Where is it written that because gay men are discriminated against that means we have to be more tolerant? Certainly gay people shouldn't be racist or sexist or anti-Semitic and so on. But aren't we allowed to be human and have our own little prejudices? Mind you, I'm not saying that if a gay man prefers gay bartenders over straight ones that that makes him "heterophobic." I personally know a number of fine, friendly, entertaining straight men (although they don't work in gay bars) but let's face it: In gay bars, gay men are always a lot more fun than straight guys!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Logo Real Momentum Profiles

Are you an LGBT person who's had an inspiring life, overcome a great challenge (not to mention homophobia), or done something extraordinary? Or do you know someone who fits the bill? Check this out:

"Logo's Real Momentum Profiles highlight real people with authentically inspiring lives. Tell us your story and you could be the subject of a two-minute documentary vignette shot by Logo that will showcase your extraordinary life."

You can read more about this, as well as read some of the profiles that have already been done (and watch the videos) at the following web site. You can also enter your life story as well!

http://www.logoonline.com/documentaries/real_momentum_profiles/

Nice idea! Go for it!

The Gay Marriage Thing

Stephanie Higgins has directed a wonderful documentary entitled The Gay Marriage Thing which looks at the debate with warmth and humor and a definitely pro-gay attitude. The film focuses on a lesbian couple who are preparing for their nuptials. Interspersed with this are comments from one pro-gay and one anti-gay clergyman, as well as interviews with gays who are marching for their marital rights and homophobes who are picketing against them. This is not only a worthwhile and entertaining film, but an excellent tool through which to stimulate discussion of this important and polarizing issue. I will be writing more about this excellent documentary in the near future in The New York Blade and my jatgab blog.

To buy home video copies: http://cinemaguild.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=HE&Product_Code=5094

To buy educational copies:http://cinemaguild.com/catalog/catalog.htm?http%3A//cinemaguild.com/mm5/merchant.mvc%3FScreen%3DPROD%26Store_Code%3DTCGS%26Product_Code%3D2215%26Category_Code%3DEEAR

To rent the video online from TLA:http://www.tlavideo.com/product/2-0-270936_the-gay-marriage-thing.html?sn=1#

Film's website:www.thegaymarriagething.com

Myspace and YouTube pages:http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=73428201http://www.youtube.com/user/sassymedia

Proposition 8 Call to Action

From the Lesbian Mommy blog, a call to action:

With 8 weeks to go until Proposition 8 comes to a vote in the State of California, in effort to strike down the measure we call all members of the LGBT community and their supporters to take action with us!We need your help to put a face on the lives of those that this proposition affects!! Help us to ‘get visible’ and let our presence as upstanding citizens of this world be seen by all. We need to raise awareness amongst all citizens of the good State of California of the need to stand up for equal rights by vowing to Vote NO on Prop 8 on the up and coming Election Day, November 4, 2008. We call all who support equality and fairness to help us "Personalize Prop 8 across the State!"

You can read the rest of the post and learn what you can do here:

http://lesbianmommy.blogspot.com/2008/09/lgbt-community-call-to-action.html

Go to it!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Kinder and Gentler?

I'm a straight woman, but it seems to me that gay men tend to be nicer, gentler people than straight men? Am I correct on this or way off-base? G.

Well I'm sure there are a lot of women who may feel as you do -- but it's probably because a gay man isn't likely to give you the grief that a straight boyfriend or husband can. Straight women can fall in love with gay men and become heart-broken, but it usually isn't because the gay man has led them on.

The image of gay men as being nicer and gentler -- that is, softer -- is why a lot of people think erroneously that gay men aren't tough enough to serve in the military. As I've often said, we're a diversified bunch. I've met gay men who are very sweet people who'd never hurt a soul, and gay men who are real S.O.Bs. Ditto for straight men. You've heard women complain about guys who say they're gonna call but never do or otherwise mistreat them? Well, some gay men often have the same complaint about the gay guys they date.

Gay men may be more open-minded and less sexist than their straight counterparts, but in general gay men come in all varieties, some nice, some not so nice. We're just people, after all. And we are men, with all -- good or bad or in-between -- that implies.

On the other side of the coin, there are people -- including, sadly, gay people -- who think that gay men are somehow worse than straight men in certain ways. In his book The Price of Achievement: Coming Out in Reagan Days (1995), which I just caught up with, Gay Republican (!) W. Scott Thompson states that gay men are more likely to steal and lie! This is probably because Thompson, who had been married with children before coming out, expected that only straight men took somebody's phone number, said they were gonna call, and didn't. (He broke up with a second fiancee by letter!!!) He also invited guests to gay parties at his Dupont Circle townhouse and some of them stole the silverware. But this is a guy who admittedly picked up good-looking tramps on the street and brought them home, supposedly to help improve their lot in life, so you can imagine his choice of party guests wasn't too ideal. [May I say that Thompson's book is stimulating, thought-provoking and well-written, but I disagree with his generalizations of gay men (possibly motivated by a degree of buried but not obliterated self-hatred?) Republicans!

Gay men are no more likely to steal from their friends or lie to people than anyone else, and it is outrageous to suggest so.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Under the Radar

Dr. Bill,

I am doing my thesis research on the differences between student opinions about homosexuality at a liberal college vs the opinions of students at a conservative christian college. Both schools are in South Carolina. Here is my problem. I have very liberal and understanding professors on my thesis board, but the president of student relations and services has to approve my topic. If at all possible can you give me words that involve the gay, lesbian, trans-gender, bisexual and other members of our community that are not too showy. They don't want me to use the word homosexual because they see it as a red flag. I am very passionate about my work and think it is important but do not want small minded conservatives to block my research and my voice. What I found in previous research is that even though our younger generations state that they are religious, they do not have a problem with gays, lesbians, bisexuals, trans-genders...living their lives with the same rights, liberties, and hassle-free freedoms as everyone else. Could you please help me. I know this is a lot but I am not sure how to word things and what to say so that I may slip under their radar. Thanks,
TS


Hi, thanks for your question. I would suggest that you use the term "marginalized minorities" or "marginalized minority groups." Or perhaps "disaffected Americans." You not only want to avoid the word "homosexual" but "sexual" as well, so sexual minorities won't do. Marginalized minorities can be just about anything, so it may not raise a red flag. I'm not certain how many people these days are really aware of what LGBT means, but it's become fairly commonplace, as has queer. So maybe "marginalized minorities" or "disaffected groups or Americans" will work for you. Let me know. And best of luck with the project.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Settling Scores

A straight guy who works at a mixed (gay and straight) bar in my town seems friendly on the surface, but when he's holding court over some of his straight friends he makes generalizations about gays that, frankly, make my blood boil. (I don't think he knows what my orientation is because I'm not stereotypical.) Gay men are this, gay men are that. I wouldn't necessarily say he's outright homophobic, but it's like he ignores the realities and diversities of the gay men who come into the bar and spews out these same old stereotypical notions. What do I do about it? Anon.

Say something. But first, go into the bar with a male date and make out at the bar right in front of this schmo. That way he'll know he'd better watch his step around you and watch what he says. Then the next time he says something stupid, definitely call him on it. Or say something before then. It's a perfect opportunity to educate someone. If he's an intelligent person, he can learn from what you have to say. If he's an asshole -- and he just might be -- then you're wasting your breath. But still try it. If this is a bar that welcomes gays and takes their money, why should you have to put up with his dumb remarks?

I can relate to what you say that even though he works in a bar with many gay customers he only sees what he wants to see. Some straight-identified men are only comfortable with gay men who fit into their narrow notions of what it means to be a gay man. It's like the rest of us are invisible. It's similar to white racists who only see African-Americans in limited terms, and can't see the diversity of that community even when it's staring them in the face.

Lastly, even people who seem gay-friendly can be homophobic or have some outdated, homophobic notions. Don't simmer in silence. Confront them on it. It may make for an unpleasant experience if the person you confront is a jerk, but maybe you'll get a pleasant surprise.

In any case, don't let him get away with it.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Question of Monogamy -- and More

You've had some posts about casual sex and promiscuity and they've bothered me. If the gay community is going to find acceptance, it had better clean up its act. I'm a gay man, but I'm not a pig. Let's face it, if gay men are filthy and spread diseases, who can they blame but each other? It's not straight people giving them AIDS. Why can't gays be monogamous and then their image will improve? Anon.

Their image, huh? Your question bothers me on so many different levels that I'm not certain where to begin, but here are some points to consider.

A.) You are part of the gay community. It's not You versus Them. And you are hardly the only gay man who believes in monogamy. Look at all the couples lining up to get married. I'd bet most of them intend to have a strictly monogamous relationship. Get past the stereotypes.

B.) AIDS/HIV affects heterosexuals as well as homosexuals. It is not a "gay" disease. Let the homophobes call it that -- you certainly shouldn't.

C.) You reveal a fair amount of self-hatred when you talk about "pigs" and gay men are "filthy." To be blunt, have you not been getting any lately? This is the kind of talk I often hear from gay men who have no love or sex lives and are, frankly, jealous of those who do. Sorry to be so blunt with you but this has to be addressed. (More on this in a future post).

D.) Whether to be monogamous and faithful or have an open relationship is a personal choice made by the two parties involved. One person -- and this is equally true in straight relationships -- may prefer a monogamous relationship and the other one does not. This leads to problems when the latter partner, gay or straight, is unfaithful. But this happens in many relationships regardless of the orientation of the individuals involved.

E.) There is a big difference between a man who is sexually active but responsible, who practices safe sex, and one who is unsafe and irresponsible. This is true of straight people as well as gay. Being sexually active does not necessarily add up to being "promiscuous," or a "sex addict" or someone who sleeps with anything that moves and is irresponsible in their sexual practices and choices. Not everyone wants to be monogamous, and I see no reason why all gay men should do so just to supposedly be accepted by a society that will hate them anyway whether they have sex with one man or many men. It is foolish to believe that if all gay people got married, adopted children, and lived monogamous relationships in the suburbs that we would find instant acceptance. Some people hate us for who we love and who we have sex with, and being "monogamous" would not change that. (And who on Earth says that all straight couples are monogamous? What a joke!)

F.) There's more to be said on this whole matter, but I'll save it for future posts.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Total Acceptance? Hardly!

I get the idea that many young gay people today think they live in a world of total acceptance. It's as if they've never heard of the ex-gay movement, the fight against gay marriage equality, the Republicans and their "family values," the fact that in some third world nations you can be put to death simply for being gay --and that you can still be fired in many states in the good ol' US of A just for being homosexual. And what about all the people who are still in the closet, using beards, on the down-low? Yes, things have improved a lot since the Stonewall riots, but why do some young people act as if gays are accepted everywhere? Are they in for a rude awakening? JS,

I'm afraid so. Older people, especially those who remember the days of raids and constant oppression and the days before hardly any public figures were out of the closet, are in a unique position. They can tell how much better things are, but their remembrance of the not-so-good old days reminds them that rights can often be a fragile thing, and a lot of bad attitudes don't go away, they just go underground. Anyone who thinks homophobia is a thing of the past is either living in fantasy land or is a fool or both.

Many younger people, especially those who work in the movement, do know that the struggle is far from other. But there are those who have loving and accepting straight friends and who live in big, comparatively liberal cities (with gay rights bills to protect them, of course) and since they've never experienced oppression in a major way, they think it's a thing of the past. Sadly, all it takes is one ugly experience -- someone hurling slur terms, a gay-bashing -- and they instantly become aware that homophobia is alive and well. Many of these people, while homosexual and out of the closet, don't have an especially strong gay identity, either. The gay cause is not their cause, more's the pity.

In a way it's good that many of these people of any age feel secure; it's better than the constant paranoia many gays used to face. The downside is that it makes them feel there's nothing left to struggle for. They see AIDS as an eighties issue (but HIV and AIDs are still with is, and still a threat), and Gay Lib as a quaint thing of the past. But there are still too many gay/homosexual people who do not feel good about, or accepting of, their sexuality, and this includes many who are out of the closet. And there are a large mass of closet cases out there who cut themselves off from gay culture, self-acceptance, and enlightenment.

The good news is that the percentage of gays who are Out and Proud is probably higher than ever before. And we continue to make advances, be it gay marriages, gay/LGBT rights bills, and so on.

But there's a looooooooooong way to go, and everyone must remember it!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Blacks More Homophobic?

I have heard of a report which suggests that black people are more homophobic than white. Is this true? Anon.

Actually one study suggested that white people were more accepting of gay marriage than black people. And there are (mostly white) homophobes who are saying that if gay marriage is accepted it will supposedly help deteriorate the black family because black men (I assume they mean those on the "down-low") will not marry the mothers of their children. But since most of those down-low guys (who belong to all ethnic backgrounds, not just African-American) are deeply ashamed of their homoerotic feelings one can't imagine them marrying one of the guys they have sex with.

Let's keep things in perspective. Yes, there are homophobic African-Americans, and yes there are racist gays. But there are also Out and Proud Gay African-Americans as well as many straight African-Americans who are committed to Gay Rights (just as there have been many gays who have been committed to the civil rights struggle for blacks.) The fact that some members of minority groups have issues with other minority groups should not be used as an excuse to tolerate bigotry of any kind. Gays who may have conscious or sub-conscious racist feelings should not think those feelings are justified simply because there are homophobic African-Americans.

Our Gay Black Brothers and Sisters have a tough enough time belonging to two misunderstood minority groups. Let's not make it worse for them.

As for the homophobes, whatever race they may belong to: Let's do our best to educate them, and if that doesn't work, give them a good swift kick in the pants!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Dressing to Advantage

Am I out of date or is there still a gay dress code, something that tells you if someone is a top or a bottom, into kinky sex, water sports, and so on? Or has all that been done away with? Don't get out to bars much these days. Anon.

I'm not saying that that's all been done away with but it does seem a little dated. I personally never ascribed to the business of dressing in a certain way or wearing certain items -- color-coded hankies in your left or right pocket and so on -- to reveal your sexual tastes. I believe that sort of thing was once more common in leather bars. If it's still practiced by some guys, I don't know.

I suppose if you wear tight jeans with a big hole cut out showing off your buns, well I'll let you guess what that means -- and I'm sure you can, even if you haven't been in a bar for awhile!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Unrequited Love Strikes Again!

I am a 32-year-old gay man. I have a friend I'll call Harry who is 35. He has a blog and writes all the time about a man he calls Joe, with whom he is in love. Mutual friends keep telling me that I am Joe, and that Harry is totally besotted with me. I care about Harry very much, but my feelings are strictly platonic and can never be otherwise. I looked at his last blog post tonight and for the first time the blinders were off and yes it became clear to me that I am "Joe." I went back and read the other posts and really don't know what to do. Our mutual friends are correct -- Harry is completely in love with me. I'm flattered -- but I just don't feel the same. From what he says on his blog, he seems to know it's hopeless, but people keep leaving comments telling him to tell me how he feels -- that's the last thing I want. What should I do, Dr. Bill? Wish I Weren't Joe.

Well, I've been in this situation from both sides and it ain't ever easy. There are a few things to keep in mind.

1.) This is very awkward for you, yes, but his unrequited passion is probably killing Harry. I recognize he's a friend you care about and you don't want him to get hurt -- and that the last thing you want is to have that conversation where you have to let him down easy (and as I said it's never easy) -- but what you're going through is nothing compared to what he's going through. If you keep that in mind it will help you keep things in perspective.

2.) His feelings for you may be an intense infatuation but not true love. Still painful, but easier to get over. Even if it's the latter, your rejection of him won't ruin his life. He thinks it will, but more likely it won't.

3.) I would suggest not doing anything now. Even though he's posting his feelings on his blog -- maybe hoping you'll read it and tell him what he wants to hear -- that doesn't mean he wants you to confront him, especially if your feelings are not the same as his. Often people are able to work through these unrequited feelings on their own, or they realize they prefer you as a friend, or they meet and fall for somebody else. No action may be required at this point.

4.) If he does declare his feelings for you out in the open, don't freak out. Tell him how much you care about him and how much his friendship means to you. Don't give him false hope, but tell him all the things you admire about him. Say it's a shame that your feelings aren't quite the same as his, because you're probably losing out on something special. But that there's nothing you can do about chemistry or your feelings. Tell him he's attractive, but be careful not to patronize.

Some people in your situation try to keep from hurting people by saying they're not ready for a relationship, or they only like a certain type (whom they make as different from the person they're talking to as possible) or they don't want to screw up a perfect friendship and so on, but I think in the long run it's better to be honest and avoid the obfuscation.

However if you just can't bring yourself to be blunt with him, one thing you might say is that you've gotten so used to him as a friend that it would just be too strange and downright unsettling to have him for a lover. Now this might sound like pure b.s., but the fact remains that many friends who are attracted to one another don't want to take it to the next level for that very reason. It's not just that they might spoil a good friendship, but that being lovers engenders a whole new level of angst, jealousy and primal emotion. Couples who break up often think to themselves, "if only we'd just stayed friends -- or f--k buddies!"

Things may just play themselves out without your having to say anything, but if he does reveal his feelings to you, I hope I've given you some options. Remember, that he may need to end the friendship if he feels he just can't stand being around you once he realizes you'll never be lovers. People aren't being mean when they do this -- it's an acknowledgement that they can't get over you if they're around you all the time.

But maybe he'll be able to think of you just as a cherished friend, and find somebody else to share his life and bed with.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Slander?

What do you think of gay people who insist that certain people who are straight are really gay? Is it fair of them to slander these people by insisting that they're gay? Do you think that's right? Anon.

Slander??? I reject your whole premise. Unless you think there's something wrong with being gay -- which I certainly don't -- then a person is hardly committing slander by suggesting that someone is homosexual. There is a big difference between a homophobic person "accusing" someone of being gay or someone suggesting someone is gay as a way of putting them down (as if being gay is something to be ashamed of) and someone who is either gay or supportive of gays suggesting that a certain individual might be gay in a non-judgmental way.

I don't think it's right to say that someone is definitely gay when you don't know for sure (and certainly if you know or think the person is genuinely heterosexual) because a.) it's inaccurate and b.) it could lead to discrimination against that person (although some people think every straight person should walk in our shoes for awhile ... )

Sadly, today you can be accused of libel or slander for saying someone is gay if they're not (or even if they are, in which case you better have plenty of their same-sex partners available to testify on your behalf), even if you yourself are gay or pro-gay. Homosexuality is still considered something dirty, a filthy little secret, by far too many people.

On American Idol judge Simon Cowell was always "gay-baiting" host Ryan Seacrest by passing remarks suggesting he was homosexual (in time Seacrest did the same to Cowell). It was not only offensive and homophobic, but it added nothing of intelligence to America's discussion of homosexuality and perpetuated the stereotype that being gay is something negative. Just as bad, people theorized that Cowell had to be gay himself because he was "bitchy," another stereotype applied to homosexual men. To suggest that all gay men are big bitches is as ludicrous as suggesting that no straight men can be "bitchy" -- and they can be, believe me!

Gay people often wonder about or suggest someone straight-identified is gay because we know that even in the 21st century there are a great many homosexual people in the closet, leading straight lives, on the down-low, or who consider themselves heterosexual even though they have same-sex encounters on a regular basis. You''ll have to forgive me if I'm a bit cynical (or realistic) on the subject, but I've had years of experience.

Besides, how do you know we're wrong when we say someone you think is straight is really gay?

Maybe we know more than you do?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Casual versus Anonymous

You recently answered a question about casual sex. Isn't it true that casual sex and anonymous sex are not the same thing? K.

Good point. When we refer to casual sex we are generally talking about sex between two people who don't know each other very well and who are probably not in love and may not even be romantically involved -- but they can be. They have made no commitment to one another. They may or may not be dating. They may have had sex at the end of a first date. They may have met at a bar, conversed, made out, then gone home for sex. But they introduce themselves to one another. Even when people meet online and hook up strictly for sex, they generally exchange names (but not always -- and sometimes the names are not real.)

Anonymous sex, especially if we're talking about certain kinds of homosexual men, is when you don't have a conversation or introduce yourself -- there really is total anonymity. You may not even get a good look at the other person. This kind of sex takes place in the darkened rows of porn movie houses, in outdoor cruise spots generally in wooded areas, men's rooms, truck stops, alley ways. I suppose it's possible for a man to have anonymous sex and run into a sex partner in the daylight and not know who he is.

May I say, without sounding too judgmental (why everyone knows Dr. Bill is never judgmental, LOL), that anonymous sex is kind of pre-Stonewall in my opinion. I won't say that everyone who practices it is an ashamed closet queen -- sometimes it just horny guys wanting a quick fix -- but its practitioners do tend to be the kind who like to stay in the figurative and literal shadows. Many of the husbands and daddies who want sex with other guys are into anonymous sex. They have no gay identity or pride whatsoever.

There was a time when it was thought by many people that anonymous sex was all that gay men were capable of, that they couldn't make commitments or fall in love. That, of course, has always been nonsense, as there have been long-term relationships in the gay male (and lesbian) communities for decades. I would dare say that most anonymous sex isn't even practiced by "gay" men, but but bi/homosexual men who think of themselves as being "straight." (Larry Craig, caught in the men's room, is a good example of this.)

Lastly, I think most genuinely straight guys would love it if they could get more anonymous sex (with women). No wining and dining and talking about feelings and that sort of thing, ha!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Casual Sex and "Straight-Acting" Gays?

Is there anything really wrong with anonymous sex, or casual sex, or one-night-stands if you're responsible, stick to safe sex, use condoms and so on? Nowadays it seems as if the only "good" gays are those who want to mimic straights, get married, raise kids, and live in blessed monogamy for the rest of their lives. How dull! What's the point in being gay? Tod.

LOL, maybe you've got a point there. But at the same time it's a little more complicated than that.

First of all, of course there's nothing wrong with casual sex if the parties involved are responsible, use condoms, are tested for STDs regularly (condoms don't prevent everything) etc.

And I, too, have been bothered by the notion that some people won't accept gays unless we all pair up, get married, raise kids, and live in the suburbs in a house with the proverbial white picket fence. We all have to be thuddingly "normal" or else.

As I've said over and over again, we are a very diverse community. Everyone should feel free to live the way they want to live, whether that means lots of anonymous sex or a lifetime partnership -- house, kids, suburbs, neighbors -- be it monogamous or not.

[I confess I've never had the slightest interest in either having or raising children. There is nothing remotely "middle-class" or "suburban" about me. I acknowledge that it's neither fair nor accurate for me to say that picking out houses, furniture, china patterns, and wallpaper for the baby's room are strictly heterosexual activities, but frankly, they'll always seem that way to me. I'm happy being gay. I don't want to be an imitation straight person.]

Two quick points. I do think that some people who indulge only in anonymous sex and never consider the possibility of a relationship should ask themselves why. It doesn't necessarily mean there's anything wrong with them -- some people just aren't into relationships. But in some cases the inability to form a relationship with someone can mean a person is on some level uncomfortable with their orientation. You can be anonymous if you stick to anonymous sex -- but it's harder to be anonymous -- in the closet -- if you have a same-sex lover. Sure, quickies can be a lot of fun and provide much satisfaction on a certain level, but they're not the whole story. Some people who are just into quick sex are avoiding the reality that being gay is more than just about sex.

But be assured that I personally have nothing against one-night-stands. I've never been a particular fan of monogamy either, although I respect those who wish to be monogamous.

But that's a subject for another post.

The second point is that it is in a way ridiculous to suggest that gays who are monogamous are acting straight when we all know that very few straight couples are strictly monogamous. And many of the spouses in so-called straight marriages aren't even straight.

In fact, many a father and husband is -- you guessed it -- out there having anonymous sex with guys like you.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Alcohol and Sex

I'm gay and I have a boyfriend who only seems willing to make love when he's a little drunk. I don't think he's an alcoholic or even a heavy drinker, but when he's sober he's not very affectionate, although I'm certain he's as attracted to me as I am to him. What do you think's going on? TP.

There are several possibilities. How does he feel about being gay? Is he Out and Proud or in the closet? Sadly, even today there are men who are ashamed of and embarrassed by their feelings, and can only give in to their homoerotic impulses when they're drunk. In which case he needs counseling and/or therapy. But that's the worst case scenario.

It may also be that, even if he's attractive, he's uncomfortable with his body image. He feels self-conscious during sex when he's sober. Many people who are self-conscious use alcohol to rid themselves of their inhibitions. If you're self-conscious simply being in a room with people, imagine how you feel when you're naked and having sex with someone, especially if you're not comfortable with your body.

As for his not being affectionate -- well some guys just aren't affectionate. I would suggest that you continue to be affectionate with him, but primarily in private at first. Let him get used to it slowly. I don't know how long you've been dating, but if it hasn't been too long let him get used to you and the idea of intimacy with you. Tell him how attractive you find him while you're making love and even when you're not.

Some people aren't great with nudity or intimacy, and there are many reasons for it. A couple of drinks relaxes them and makes them better lovers (too many drinks, of course, and you've got a
figurative corpse on your hands.) If you don't feel your boyfriend is abusing alcohol, then don't let it worry you too much. Over time he'll become comfortable with you and you may find yourself having hot sex at all hours, high or sober!

Good luck!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Straight Woman and Gay Gals

I have a gay male friend -- I'm also a gay man -- who is best friends with a straight woman I'll call Glenda. He and Glenda have known each other for years and she's supposed to be so "gay-friendly." But she offers opinions on the gay community that are just the usual Will and Grace stereotypes (neither my friend nor I are especially stereotypical) and I was really shocked when she said she'd rather not go to a certain gay restaurant because she didn't "want all the 'dykes' hitting on her." (And she's not that hot). My friend and I have been considering the possibility of a life-long partnership -- but not if Glenda's in the picture. I've confronted her about some things -- including the "dyke" remark -- but she just brushes it off. So does he. What do you suggest? G.L.

Maybe you should brush them both off. I've seen this situation before. Straight women who are friendly with gay men but who can't stand lesbians -- and yet it never occurs to them (and sometimes not even their gay friends) that this is HOMOPHOBIA! The same thing would be true of a straight guy who is friendly with lesbians but who can't stand "fags."

I've occasionally had to remind some of my gay brothers who make negative remarks about lesbians that lesbians are female homosexuals and if you put them down, you're putting yourself down because you are a male homosexual. Yes, even gay men can on occasion be sexist but when they attack lesbians (or vice versa) they're being homophobic as well. I hasten to add that I have never seen a gay man who is comfortable in his own skin say anything negative about gay women or women in general. [This doesn't mean that a gay guy who would rather not have women come into the gay bar where he's cruising, where he'd rather have a homoerotic, all male atmosphere, is necessarily sexist.]

Glenda has issues -- whatever they may be -- and it doesn't sound as if your friend is comfortable in confronting her on those issues, so he should at least let you do it for him. This isn't just about a straight friend who has anti-lesbian feelings, which is bad enough, it's about your comfort level, your sense of Gay Pride, and your aversion to homophobic attitudes. (I'll also put forth the possibility that some of the attitudes Glenda has toward the lesbian and gay community are coming from your friend.)

Don't give up on the guy yet. Sit down with him and make sure that he understands how you feel. Tell him you don't expect him to just dismantle a friendship of many years -- undoubtedly Glenda has her good points -- but that Glenda needs to know that some remarks and attitudes are simply not acceptable. (Maybe she's dealing with a little internalized homophobia?) If Glenda can't watch her mouth when you're around or deal intelligently with her issues, tell your friend that you don't want to spend any time with her and he'd better respect that.

Take it from there. If his friendship with Glenda is more important than his relationship with you, move on.

Gay male/straight female friendships can often be wonderful, but now and then you've got two dysfunctional people who are bathing in each other's self-hatred. Don't get caught up in it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Big Sexy Fat Guys

While I'm glad that bear culture has shown that a man doesn't have to be a young, perfect "pretty boy" to be attractive, there seems to be a downside, and that's all the -- what else can I call them but "big fat guys" who strut around as if they think they're God's gift to gay men. What's up with that? I'm not saying these guys don't have their admirers, but if I think it's obnoxious for handsome young hunks with great bodies to act all haughty and full of attitude, you can imagine how I feel about middle-aged guys built like friggin' refrigerators with bellies out to here and faces only a mother could love acting like they're the hottest things on the planet. And I seem to see more and more of these obnoxious fellows. What do you think? Bob.

Okay. I'm gonna tread carefully here. Yes, I have noticed just what you're talking about, and yes it's funny that it's happening in the bear scene because the whole point of the bear scene is "no attitude."

Bear culture has empowered some men who would in general not be considered conventionally attractive (or who are unattractive even by bear standards perhaps) to feel sexy, and yes they have their admirers. Let's make it clear that not every classic bear is "big fat and obnoxious" -- many are solid, beefy, handsome (both in the traditional and non-traditional sense) men who are not rude slobs but friendly and attractive fellows.

The guys you're talking about and who I've observed are not chubby bears, either, who tend to be cuddly, warm, and attitude free. In some ways they're a separate species. Maybe what we and others have observed is a chip-on-the-shoulder attitude because outside the bear bar some of these guys don't get a second look -- the attitude may come from years of people being unkind and haughty to them. So they're defensive. And if you've felt ugly all your life and suddenly you discover a culture where your "flaws" -- such as a big belly and a lack of comeliness -- can be virtues, then it's understandable why some of these guys walk around as if they think they're super-hot and madly f--kable. Because some people see them that way. Not you or me, perhaps. But some people. And I'm all for every one finding the right flavor of ice cream. There is truly no accounting for taste.

So I try to be understanding and sympathetic of these fellows (after all I ain't exactly Brad Pitt myself, although Pitt isn't my type anyway), although I have to confess that when some of these guys brush past me with their 300 pound bulk and don't give a shit if they knock my drink out of my hand or step on my foot or act like I'm not even in the room, I'd like to give a Big Fat Guy a big fat kick in the ass!

In other words, sometimes a jerk is just a jerk.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Bar Alternatives

Hello, It has occurred to me that there are limited networking options for gay men who have outgrown going out and getting wasted every weekend. Most networking sites seem to cater for those with a ‘party lifestyle’. Not that I have anything against either drugs or partying, but I feel the offering is somewhat one-sided. Which is why I have set up a new social networking site: www.overthescene.com. Because it has just launched, the amount of members and content is still small. But I plan to post new topics for discussion every day and hope that more and more people will join and do the same! If you like the idea, maybe you can write about it on your blog, or we can exchange links? Bas

While I have not outgrown going out now and then and getting -- well, I wouldn't exactly say I get wasted but I've never been a teetotaler (I do have something against drugs but not necessarily alcohol in moderation) -- I understand that many gay men are not only not into that scene, but find it difficult to make friends and form relationships in bars. So I'm happy to mention your new site (which, unfortunately for New Yorker me, is based in the UK), and wish you a lot of luck with it.

In general, people can find sex and "bar friends" in bars and that's it. Bar friends are people you may have known for many years, but while you pick up things about them over time, you never really know them all that well. You may never learn their last name (or remember it), you probably don't exchange phone numbers or arrange to meet outside the bar. You're acquaintances rather than friends, although sometimes you can develop a real affection and even a closeness for bar friends.

There are exceptions. I have met people in bars who have turned into real genuine friends that I talk to and see outside of the bar. I know people who have met their future partners at a bar. But generally ...?

Still, bars are fun for those who enjoy the scene. And they're fine for casual sex (although you should never get so drunk that you forget to or cannot use a condom). In my experience -- although even here there are exceptions -- if you go out looking to get lucky you'll just have a good time. If you go out just to have a good time, you'll probably get lucky. But who knows?

Me, I hope I never outgrow the bar scene or my love of partying, but I'm glad that alternatives are developing for those who want and need them.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Gay Actors

Why are most actors gay? Just asking? Anon.

Where are you getting your information from? Has somebody taken a poll? The acting field may or may not attract a higher percentage of gays but if it does it's probably because the perception is that the acting world is more open-minded in regards to the gay lifestyle than, say, the world of high finance.

Some people think most actors (or writers, singers, and especially dancers) are gay because of the perception that most gays are artistic. This is just another stereotype, as there are plenty of gays who are not only lacking in any artistic ability, but who have no great interest in the arts. It's a highly individual matter. There is also the somewhat homophobic notion that the arts attract people who are sexually ambiguous, immoral, and downright weird -- an out-dated, puritanical notion if ever there were one.

Of course there are gay actors, singers, dancers and so on, but there are also many heterosexuals in each field, including ballet. Many heterosexual people now feel more comfortable entering fields that were once considered -- rightly or wrongly -- dominated by homosexuals.

Which probably means that nowadays the vast majority of actors are straight -- and this may have always been the case.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Whites On the Downlow

Over the weekend I watched an episode of Law and Order: Criminal Intent. Although the plot went in another direction, the first victim and another guy were married men with children who had sex with guys on the side; I guess they were sort of on what we call the "downlow." I always thought the downlow was an African-American phenomenon but the two guys on the program were both Caucasian. Did Law and Order take some dramatic license here or what? Anon.

Although "being on the downlow" is a term that has been used within the African-American community to describe men who lead straight lives but who have sex with men on a regular basis, this type of behavior is certainly not limited to the African-American community. Neither is it a recent phenomenon. There are, sadly, even in this day and age, gay/bi men of all ethnicities and backgrounds who are ashamed of their homosexual feelings and want to come off as straight to their families and the world at large while indulging their sexual appetites with the men they truly desire. Their internalized homophobia prevents them from exploring or giving in to any romantic feelings they may have for other men. They occasionally go to gay bars, but more often they haunt online gay dating sites, occasionally calling themselves "married bi's" because it sounds better than "self-hating closet case."

One of the characters on the episode you mentioned told the cops that he "loved his wife and children." This is often a true statement with men like that, but they generally don't have strong romantic or sexual passion for their wives. Their wives may be their pals or best friends (as well as the mothers of their children), but the main reason they love them is because these women are the bedrock of the closet that their husbands hide in; they (supposedly) prevent the world at large from identifying these self-hating homos as "fags." And, boy, are these guys grateful!

In any case, being on the downlow is not a healthy situation in any sense of the word.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Straight Guys in Dresses

Is it possible for a man to want to wear make up and women's clothes and be heterosexual? GG.

Most gay men have no interest whatsoever in dressing up like women. Men who like to dress up like women are transvestites, and yes they often are heterosexual. Apparently the fetishistic impulse that makes them want to wear women's clothing does not necessarily include the desire to make love to other men. Some transvestites simply love the feel of women's clothing, especially undergarments; it gives them a (hetero) sexual thrill which is often increased if they wear the garments themselves.

Men who are both homosexuals and transvestites are generally called "drag queens." Some heterosexual men -- or at least people who are perceived as being heterosexual men -- dress up as women because they come to realize that they are transsexual, a woman born into the body of a man (or vice versa). Once they accept the truth of their gender, they can begin the process of transitioning into becoming female -- a sex change operation and all that goes with it.

Now it gets confusing. If they continue to be attracted to women they become lesbians, but it can be argued that they were always lesbians even when trapped in a man's body. Sometimes, after transitioning, they realize that they are attracted to men. Many transsexuals, in a sense switching from one gender to another, see themselves as being essentially bisexual (in every sense of the word).

Although people have been getting sex-change operations for many years now, it has become more commonplace and there will undoubtedly be more information about transsexualism in the years to come.

But to clarify, some men like to wear women's clothing without being either gay or transsexual.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Gay Fiction.

Hey Dr. Bill, since you're an author (among the many other hats you wear), I was wondering if you could recommend some of the best gay fiction books you've ever read. Time for me to catch up on some of the classics that you may have been inspired by or just found really entertaining. I haven't read all that many..."Front Runner," "Dancer From the Dance," and "Best Little Boy in the World" (not fiction but a bio) come to mind. Any suggestions would be great! C.

Oddly enough, I read all three of the books you mentioned but wasn't all that carried away by them, though it was too long ago for me to remember specific complaints. I've no doubt they all had their good points. Now this is a little embarrassing, but I haven't kept up with gay fiction as much as I should. Although I've published several novels, some with gay characters, I've never really authored a "gay novel," either. (I could certainly be wrong, but I've gotten the impression that most gay novels these days are written by and for twenty somethings.) These days I read far more non-fiction than novels, regardless of the genre. I read a lot of biographies. Off the top of my head books of gay interest I would recommend include James Parish's biography of Katharine Hepburn, William Mann's biography of gay director John Schlesinger, as well as his book Behind the Screen: How Gays and Lesbians Shaped Hollywood, and Matthew Kennedy's book on gay director Edmund Goulding, Edmund Goulding's Dark Victory.

What am I reading now? I just finished the new James Bond novel Devil May Care, which takes place during the Cold War. Just as I was thinking that there's not a heck of a lot that's gay in it, the author introduces a homosexual double-agent and very minor character named "Carmen" Silver, who succumbs to blackmail and turns on the good guys. Yes, a "nasty double-dealing faggot," although he's not referred to as such. A couple of the other characters don't seem especially put off by his homosexuality but he's still an awfully old-fashioned stereotype. The book may take place in the sixties but it was written in 2008. As well, the time period of the book doesn't stop the author from presenting a very positive double 0 agent who is female, which Ian Fleming never did. The more things change ...

I recall that I was put off by much gay fiction of old because I found it unremittingly negative. I didn't expect authors to present only rinso-white, totally perfect gay characters, but often the books were written by authors who were still struggling with their own issues over being gay, and the books reflected that. Some of the writers felt they had to be social critics and play up what was allegedly wrong with the gay community (weren't there enough straight bigots doing that?), but what they were really playing up was what was wrong with them. Books like Dancer from the Dance and Faggots seemed to present one type of gay man as if he was the only type of gay man, ignoring everyone else that didn't fit their narrow profiles. The authors would claim they had a right to be dramatic and politically incorrect -- and of course they did -- but I've always maintained that one can present fucked-up gay characters without making it seem as if their being gay is the reason they're fucked up. Maybe the fact that they can't accept themselves, or society's homophobia.

If anyone can recommend some good gay fiction, please feel free to leave a comment.

[Anyone old enough to remember Gaywyck? Or the gay novels of Gordon Merrick (think that was his name)? ]

Sunday, June 29, 2008

HAPPY GAY PRIDE!

Today is the Gay Pride March in New York City, my home town.

And all I can say is:

HAPPY GAY PRIDE EVERYONE!

Have a great time, party, stay cool, stay safe.

And don't forget -- this isn't just a parade -- it's a March!

Because there's still a heck of a long way to go!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Straight Men Don't Do Gay Porn

Why do straight men do gay porn? Anon.

They don't.

Men who have sex with other men with the cameras rolling and even with a paycheck waiting are no more "straight" than I am. Those who have wives and girlfriends may be technically bisexual. But straight? Some people say there's more money to be made in gay porn and that's why they do it, but how can that be when it stands to reason that straight porn sells a lot better, there presumably being many more straight men (and straight porn fans) than gay.

Porn star Michael Lucas was once asked if certain performers in his gay porn films were really straight, and he gave a good answer, something along the lines of how they lead "straight lifestyles" but were "very enthusiastic" whether they were doing gay or straight porn. Let's say he was tactful and leave it at that.

Straight?

I don't think so.

Many so-called "gay for pay" people are, sadly, ashamed of their lusts for men but indulge in those lusts because -- let's face it -- sex is a powerful force. If they're porn stars or prostitutes they can say to themselves and everyone else: "See I'm not gay. I'm just doing it for the money."

Matt Sanchez is a particularly pernicious example of this.

To say it's "pre-Stonewall" is an understatement.

Gay Pride should have wiped away these negative feelings, but for some people it's darkest before the dawn.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bars vs. Online Dating

You've written about being careful about who you meet online. But don't you have to be even more careful in bars, especially if you're drinking? At least online you have a clear head. Anon.

Well, maybe you do. A picture of a hot guy or a massive member attached to a private message on a gay dating site can make some men take any risk. There are some things you can do to protect yourself from bad scenes if you meet someone in a bar:

1.) Don't get so crap-faced that you don't know what you're doing or who you're doing it with.

2.) Carry plenty of condoms. Most bars have jars full of them, or ask the bartender.

3.) If someone seems too good to be true -- they're definitely way out of your league -- maybe they have less than pleasant motives for wanting to get together.

4.) Ask the other customers, preferably regulars, as well as the bartender, if they know the guy you're planning to go off with. Is he a complete stranger to everyone? Is he well-known as a nice guy in the bar?

5.) If you go off with a stranger, make sure you introduce him to a few people, and that he knows that they know who you're going off with.

6.) If someone is sending out bad signals, listen to your brain and don't go with him.

7.) Don't bring a complete stranger that no one can vouch for to your home. Bringing them to your hotel room is also a bad idea. If you want to go home with someone, stay out of private houses in isolated areas until you know them better. Going to somebody else's hotel room is generally safer.

8.) Sick to safe sex! Many guys do not know their HIV status, lie about it, or do not volunteer the information. But if you stick to safe sex, that won't be a problem.

The advantage that bars have over online dating is that at least you're meeting the guy face to face and you can immediately tell if the chemistry is there (unless it's more a question of alcohol-induced lust). If you're not drunk you can size the person up. You're seeing what they really look like and not a possibly doctored or older photograph.

Remember, play safe and have a great time.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Watch Out for That Man With a Wife

What percentage of men on gay dating sites would you say have wives and children? Z.

I wouldn't doubt that it's at least 10% and possibly as high on some sites as 25% or more. Even with all the recent scandals a la Larry Craig and Jim McGreevey, people still don't realize how many so-called "family" men are privately homosexual and still deep in the closet even in this day and age. And they're not all Republicans. Some of these men are at least "out" to some gay friends or at least their tricks (sex partners). There is probably a higher percentage on line than in bars because some of these guys won't go into a gay bar, afraid they might run into someone who will recognize them and gossip. Especially if they live in a smaller city.

Some of these guys are honest about their marital status and refer to themselves as "married bi's," preferring to have people think they're simply "hip" swingin' bisexuals than the pathetic out-of-date closet cases most of them really are. If a gay guy -- (I use the word "gay" to denote Out and Proud or at least a self-accepting gay person as opposed to a self-hating homo) wants to have a quickie with one of these guys, that's his business, but he should never expect anything more from him than a quick lay. As the cliche goes: they never leave their beards, I mean, wives.

There are occasional exceptions. Some of these men are finally coming to accept themselves as homosexuals and getting tired of leading double lives. They're not quite ready to come out of the closet yet and live an open gay life, but they do want to meet people. Hopefully some of the men they meet on these sites will convince them that it's okay to be gay.

Some gay men, myself included, have felt it necessary on some sites to add a note to our profiles saying, in effect, that we're not interested in dating guys with wives. One man explained on his profile that these married guys often suffered from guilt feelings and who needs the hassle? You want to meet a nice guy to either date, screw, or maybe even have a relationship with, not these f--kers who -- when it comes to Gay Pride -- are still roaming with the dinosaurs.

Not all men on these sites are honest (big news, right?). But in general you can have a good idea of whether someone is married and/or deeply in the closet by whether or not they post a photograph of their face. (Okay, some guys feel their face is not their best feature, or are a bit shy about the Internet etc., but they should at least offer to send a facial shot once you've both sent a few private messages back and forth.) Who can tell if you're going to find a guy attractive if all you can see is a picture of their penis? We're not all "size kings."

However, some of these guys post their pictures anyway. As I've said in other posts, a sixth sense can help in telling you if the guy is being upfront about his situation or not. Is he forthcoming, is he free with his name and email, what he does and so on, or is he sly and secretive? Is his profile practically blank -- nothing about his life, his work, his interests? Either he's incredibly uninteresting or he's hiding something.

One big indicator. If he says "I'm not into a gay scene" he probably isn't. Oh, he's homosexual, all right, he's just not "gay."

Listen, I don't want to discourage anyone from using Internet dating sites because they're afraid every guy they meet will turn out to be married.

The vast majority of men on these sites are gay, baby, gay!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

It's Okay to Be Gay

I am a 32-year-old man and have had the same girlfriend for many years. During our time together, I have had sex with several men. I have never considered myself gay or even bisexual. Some men wanted to date me, but I was only interested in sex. The thought of a romance with a guy made me nervous. My family is very narrow and religious, although I have tried all my life to be more open-minded than they are. Although I have tried not to think about it, recently I have come to the conclusion that I am much more turned on by men than women. My sex life with my girlfriend and the occasional other woman is not that satisfying, except for the orgasm, but I often find myself thinking about men or I can't shoot. There is a guy I really like and might love, and I think he really goes for me, and not just in bed. But I can't see living my life with him instead of with a woman, even though I admit I'd rather be with him than her. Should I just accept that I'm gay? Anon.

Yes. With all due respect, you could be the poster boy for "internalized homophobia," the term we use to describe the often subconscious feeling that some homosexual people have -- a kind of self-hatred -- that keeps them in denial and in the closet and prevents them from having fulfilled sexual and romantic lives. People like this prefer their own sex but live with and marry the opposite sex because they're just too ashamed to have anyone think of them as gay. It's obvious that your background -- the religious and narrow-minded family -- have done a lot to create your negative impression of homosexuals and your fear of seeing and accepting yourself as gay.

Not only are you not being fair to yourself, but you're not being fair to your long-time girlfriend. She has a right to have a boyfriend who isn't thinking about men all the time, and who may be in love with a man.

It's the 21st century. Millions of people are perfectly happy being gay, and gay men come in all shapes, sizes, attitudes, and modes of expression. Anyone can be gay. At thirty-two you have to ask yourself if a fear of your family's reaction should keep you in a false relationship that in the long run will only hurt yourself, your girlfriend, and the men you get involved with.

I think it's important for you to get counseling or therapy. preferably from an openly gay or at least gay-friendly therapist. Look at all the gay men who love each other and live together openly as domestic or (where it's legal) married partners. Some of those men may have once had the same feelings of dread and shame that you're feeling now, but they got over them with a little help from their friends.

Focus instead on the good feelings you have when you're with a man, especially the man you say you'd prefer to spend your life with. This man will want and deserves a partner who can be fully committed to him, to your life together, and who will not be ashamed of the love that the two of you share.

Get the help you need so you can deal with all the issues you're facing. You can do it. It's okay to be gay. You can probably get information at a local gay/LGBT center or gay helpline.

Good Luck and stay in touch!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Heterophobia?

During a discussion the other day someone brought up the subject of "heterophobia?" Is there really such a thing? Anon.

Not really. Or at least it certainly isn't the same kind of social ill as homophobia. The term "heterophobia" can be used to describe a negative attitude a gay (and possibly straight) person has about heterosexuality or straight people. In general, however, most, if not all, "heterophobia" is just a reaction to homophobia. After decades of being called "fags," "perverts," "dykes," and so on, some gay people began using the derisive term "breeders" to describe straight people, especially those who were homophobic. Of course gay people can also "breed," and the term isn't used very much today. It's possible that some gay people have been treated so horribly by straights, including their own relatives, having to deal with almost constant, daily verbal and even physical abuse, that they can develop a hatred of straight people, but much more often a gay person even in such a situation will retain his sense of balance.

Look at it this way. Some African-Americans may on occasion make negative (often humorous) comments about whites, but often this is simply a reaction to remarks whites have made about them, or even just an expression of Black Pride. So, too, with some Gays, who joke about, say, straight people having no sense of style or what-have-you. In most instances they're simply expressing Gay Pride. In truth, both the gay and straight communities are very diverse.

The fact is that while heterosexuals can be discriminated against if they belong to other minority groups (Black, Asian, Jewish, Hispanic etc.) or are female, they are not discriminated against because of their sexuality the way gays and other "queer" minorities are. Gay kids are routinely kicked out of their homes when they come out of the closet. Gay people can be fired from their jobs simply because they're gay in 31 states, and gay people can literally be put to death today in the 21st century in any number of third world nations. And so on.

So you see, even if there may be some "heterophobia" -- most if not all of which is entirely benign -- it doesn't in any way, shape, or form compare to homophobia, just as the anger some African-Americans feel toward whites, especially racist whites, does not compare to the racism suffered by black people at the hands of whites down through the centuries.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Anal Bleaching?

I was perusing a gay magazine the other day and saw an ad for something called "anal bleaching." It was some sort of cosmetic procedure, I believe. I asked quite a few of my gay friends and no one has ever heard of this. Dr. Bill, do you know what "anal bleaching" is and why would a gay man, or anyone else, want it? PT.

I'm tempted to say that anal bleaching is a new way for people to throw away their money and for people with too much time on their hands to waste it. But here's the skinny. Apparently as some people, especially lighter-skinned people, get older, the skin around the anus becomes darker or discolored and supposedly unsightly. Now I can understand some people not wanting to have discolored teeth, but a discolored anus is something else again. I presume that the most likely candidates for this procedure are porn stars, but like teeth whitening, botox and everything else that becomes trendy, soon anal bleaching will be all the rage for, as I say, gay and straight people, male and female, who have way too much time and money and don't want to miss out on the latest "thing."

The bleach that is used to lighten the skin around the anus is banned in France and other countries because it is considered toxic. There are supposed to be innumerable unhealthy side effects to this procedure as well.

My advice? Leave your anus alone -- unless, of course, someone wants to "touch it up" in the bedroom.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Mixed Gay/Straight Marriages

If one partner in a heterosexual marriage realizes that he or she is gay, is there still a chance that the couple can stay together? More to the point, should they? Anon.

No. A man or woman who is essentially homosexual should be in a happy, healthy relationship with a member of their own sex, not living a lie in a sham marriage. Most homosexuals who enter into heterosexual marriages do so because of self-hated, internalized homophobia, an inability to accept that they're gay and that gay is good. Homosexuals in these phony marriages should always be encouraged to accept themselves as gay men or lesbians, or they can never be completely happy or fulfilled. Homosexuals in these situations may feel that they're getting some benefit -- heterosexual privileges, so to speak -- out of being married, but it's just that they feel more "secure" by posing as "straight" to the world. But this feeling of security is just as illusionary as the marriage. They're constantly in terror of being exposed. And their self-hatred and dissatisfaction is debilitating.

Some homosexuals come to look upon their heterosexual spouses as their best friends, or some kind of a safety net. But a relationship with a "best friend" is not the same as the fully romantic and sexual, completely fulfilling and mature relationship, that both spouses deserve. Not only is the homosexual spouse getting a raw deal, but so is the straight one.

Couples in this situation should never be encouraged to stay together. The homosexual spouse will never feel good about him or herself as a gay person in such a situation. Any one who counsels these people must address the issue of internalized homophobia that is at the root of the problem. Anything less is completely unfair to both parties. The straight spouse (as well as the homosexual one) must come to realize that homosexuality is not some kind of disease that can be or should be "suppressed" so that a sham "heterosexual" marriage can continue. This is only allowing a situation in which homophobic attitudes -- both internalized and external -- can fester.

(Shockingly, I have come across gay therapists who think these couples should sometimes stay together, depriving both spouses of ultimate happiness and fulfillment. It's bad enough if straight, homophobic therapists feel this way, but gay ones? Perhaps they're dealing -- or not dealing -- with their own issues ... They absorb a lot of trendy, pc crap and spew it out as gospel or else believe all the nonsense spouted by their in-denial patients. Therapists, sadly, can be as dumb as anyone.)

Sometimes couples in this situation can remain friends -- especially if there are children involved -- even after both have moved on. But they should never stay together "for the sake of the children." Both parents will be miserable and children can hardly flourish in such an atmosphere.

Homosexuals in these "mixed marriages" should always be encouraged to stop being married homosexuals and closet cases, and come out as happily gay. This is the 21st century, after all, not the pre-Stonewall period, and even then "mixed marriages" were unfair and ludicrous.

Straight spouses of homosexuals can find support at the Straight Spouse Network. Homosexuals in "straight" marriages should seek counseling at their nearest gay/LGBT center. In both cases, any therapist should be at least gay-friendly, and a gay therapist should have a strong sense of Gay Pride.

That's the way it is!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Will and Jane?

I am a 37-year-old gay man who was been friends with a straight woman the same age since we were in college. She is pretty much my best friend and confidante. Over the years mutual friends have told me that they think "Jane" is in love with me, but I told them we were just very close and that was that. "Jane" is an attractive and wonderful person in many ways, but for some reason she's just never found the right guy, even though she's dated many guys. Lately she keeps saying -- since I've never found the right guy, either, although I, too, have had many boyfriends -- that the two of us should face facts and just get together. She even suggested we go to bed together, but later said she was just being facetious. However the other night she kept trying to tell me that I was bisexual, everyone was bisexual, and that we would make a great couple since we already loved each other. She even said she was attracted to women but suppressed it and that I was also suppressing my attraction to women. I should explore it and we should have sex.

But Dr. Bill, I'm not bisexual, I'm totally and happily gay. I dated women in high school but realized that I had no romantic or sexual feelings for them, and I have absolutely no romantic or sexual feelings for Jane, I only love her as a friend and I'm very concerned for her. Lately she's been drinking too much and mutual friends say it seems as if she's on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Any advice, please? PK.

It sounds as if Jane is going through a bad time, all right, and there are a couple of possible reasons for it. She may have been pretending to be bisexual only in an attempt to convince you that you were bisexual -- and therefore not out of the running -- but maybe not. If that's not the case her talk about repressing her feelings for women is troubling. This could be the old story of the self-hating lesbian wanting to marry the gay guy so the two can play house and pretend to be happily heterosexual OR --

It's also possible that Jane -- be she straight or bi -- has fallen in love with you (or at least thinks she has). She has come to realize that the one man she can always depend upon, who is her greatest friend and confidante, the one she has the most fun with and who she spends the most time with ... is you. Maybe the straight guys she dated came up short, or she's getting tired of waiting for the right one to come along. If she has a strong sexual attraction for you as well, I can understand why she's drinking too much due to her pain, frustration, and confusion.

I know it's often easier to discuss these difficult matters with friends when one or both of you is under the influence, but I think this time you and Jane need to have a plain and sober conversation. Don't start with the possibility that she's in love with you -- start instead with what she said about being attracted to women. Find out what's really up with that. If she has homosexual desires she needs to face it, accept it, and enjoy it.

If the problem is that she's a closeted lesbian who was desperately reaching out to you for some phony hetero solace, then you don't have to worry about her having inappropriate feelings for you, and you can help her be happily gay. On the other hand, if she was just trying to start a conversation on bisexuality in the hopes you'd say you were secretly hot for women (and her), then at least you'll have a way to let her down gently. Don't ask her if she's in love with you; ask her if perhaps she was hoping the two of you would "move on to the next level," as friends sometimes do. Before she can answer (so she can save face if she wants to), tell her that you are not bi, you're completely gay and like it that way, and you are not capable of or interested in having a romantic or sexual relationship with a woman. Any woman. And that's that. Keep it light, don't embarrass her, but be firm.

Nobody likes to be rejected by someone they are desperately hoping to have a relationship with. But at least Jane will know that you aren't rejecting her per se. Hopefully she will accept what you have to say and recognize that she has to move on. Hopefully she'll be able to maintain a friendship with you, but you'll have to understand that it may be too painful for her to do so.

What Jane could be going through is the reverse of the situation where a gay guy desperately hopes a straight friend is really gay because he's smitten with him. But just as we gay guys have to accept that, yes some men are actually straight, Jane and women like her have to accept that some men are totally, happily gay and they're not going to change -- or "suppress" -- for anyone.

In the meantime, do you know any straight single guys you can introduce her to?