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)? ]