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


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!