Sunday, June 28, 2009

Gay Pride 2009

I'll be answering questions in the next couple of days, but today is GAY PRIDE SUNDAY 2009 in my home town, New York City!

Hope everyone has a great day, a great march, and parties until the wee hours!

Thanks to everyone who has sent in questions, as well as comments and emails of support! You're great!


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Can You Tell if a Guy is Gay?

I really need help. I am a straight female who is trying to figure out if the guy I am dating might be possibly gay or bi? I went out on a couple of dates with a really nice, cute, tall and lovely guy. A very hard combination to find. We connect on so many levels and it’s funny we have so much in common, from best and worst food to point of view on life. However, there is a slight problem, or so I think. At times, I feel he is gay, or bi? I don’t know why, I mean I asked if he is bi and he said no. But, he mentioned how his father disapproved of gay people. I have been trying to check out if he looks at other guys, but it’s been a couple of dates so it’s too soon. The reason I have a slight feeling he might be bi or gay is that at times he acts and makes faces which are very much different than what I have observed straight men to do. I really hate generalizing and I hope I don’t offend anyone, I am just trying to describe the situation and how I perceive it. I have observed a couple of times during each date his gestures and facial expressions are different than the straight men I know and have dated. I have a lot of feminine straight men friends, but he is different, or so I think. But those times are a few. Could he be acting (faking) straight? I mean he is 29, shouldn't he already know if he is attracted to men or both sexes? Am I paranoid? I think during our 3rd date something about gay culture came up and I almost asked him the big question in a very humorous and relaxed kind of way and he seemed like he was offended. But then why when I talk about guys, and he says, “Well, I don’t know I haven’t dated a guy,” it seems like he is trying to reassure me. How on earth do I find out if a guy is gay or bi if he is hiding it? I know this is a weird question, but please help. Straight Gal Needs Help.

It's not a weird question -- it's one that quite a few straight women wrestle with these days. The difficult truth is that it can almost be impossible to tell if someone is gay/bi or not. To begin with, let's get certain things out of the way. You seem to be aware that straight men can sometimes come off as a little feminine/effeminate, and you're probably aware that the vast majority of gay men are not only not effeminate but don't conform to the usual stereotypes [not to suggest that there aren't a certain percentage who do]. When some people say they can always tell if a guy is gay, it's generally because they think in terms of stereotypes.

Now let's look at the "evidence" you have for thinking this guy might be gay. which is not that he seems a bit feminine but that he makes odd faces and certain gestures, which you say are different from that of straight guys, including straight guys who are a bit feminine. I'm not certain if you're implying this guy is out and out girlish, or perhaps a bit nerdy, or something that you don't necessarily associate with homosexuality but you definitely don't associate with heterosexuality. But remember that straight guys come in all shapes and sizes and what-not just as gay men do. There are macho, uncouth baseball loving straight guys, and cultured well-dressed straight men who prefer the symphony to sports.

I remember having a friend who used to giggle and crinkle his nose in a way that I thought of as girlish. Was he gay? Who knows? I never had sex with him, and in those early days I wasn't about to ask him. He could have been, but there's also a good chance that he wasn't and simply picked up certain mannerisms from female relatives he was close to.

Is it possible that the thing that's getting on your nerves is that you think, to bowdlerize Shakespeare, that "he doth protest too much?" Perhaps he takes too many opportunities to deny homosexual feelings, whereas a straight guy wouldn't bother. But that may not mean he's gay -- he might just be very insecure.

Even at 29 there are gay/bi men who are conflicted over their sexuality. He would probably know if he's attracted to men, but due to what we call internalized homophobia -- an inability to accept one's sexual orientation -- he might repress these feelings or be in serious self-denial over them. I have known straight men who laugh about the fact that some people think they're gay for one reason or another -- it's no big problem for them -- but obviously these men are not insecure. Some men who can't accept their sexuality not only fake being straight but practically convince themselves that they are. To add to the confusion, there are even men who go out on a regular basis seeking male sex partners, but because they live straight lives with wives and children identify as heterosexual. They have sex with men because they're gay/bi, but their internalized homophobia not only keeps them in the closet but prevents them from facing the truth about themselves.

[Now do you see how difficult it is to figure out someone's sexual orientation?]

But getting back to the guy you're dating. Clearly there is something about him that is troubling you. Maybe it's the way he says it when he says he isn't bi -- for some reason you're not buying it [no pun intended]. Maybe he says things in a way that reminds you subconsciously of a gay guy you know or once knew. Maybe it's just paranoia or the guy seems so perfect for you that you're just convinced that there's got to be something "wrong."

Modern-day thinking about bisexuality [not that I agree with all of it] suggests that a genuinely bisexual man can have a real relationship with a woman, but that woman might always worry if the guy is really bi or just kidding himself, or if his attraction to women, real as it may be, can't compare to his feelings for other guys. And of course, I don't have to tell you how unrealistic mixed marriages can be between gay men and straight women.

I get that you're very much into this guy, and need to find out what's what before you get in too deep. The only advice I can give you is to keep on dating him, and see what happens. If he's struggling to accept himself and come out, he may eventually do so, hopefully before you're picking out china patterns.

Or he may turn out to be just a perfectly nice straight guy. They do exist. Straight men who have positive attitudes toward women and themselves, and aren't "macho meatheads." [Conversely, I have met gay guys who are "macho meatheads." You never know.]

I'm rootin' for ya!

Sexual Compatibility

You had a post recently about the s & m/kink/fetish scene and how it was not strictly a gay scene at all. My question is, I'm dating a guy and he's into that scene and wants me to be into it too. He's a great guy, I'm very attracted to him, but the sex leaves something to be desired. It's less about "vanilla" sex and more about spanking, playing out scenes, role-playing, and frankly I'm not into it at all. One thing I hate is he's into biting and I just hate it; I have sore lips for days. Should I just keep trying to get into the things he's into? Am I being narrow-minded? I want to keep dating him, but I'm just not diggin' the things he does. Confused.

Lousy sex is lousy sex, and in this instance lousy sex is something that you're not only not into, but that is a complete turn-off to you. [Don't you just hate it when they want to bite your lips instead of kiss them?] This isn't a question of being judgmental -- some guys like to be bitten -- but of understanding and accepting that some people just aren't compatible. It's not narrow-minded to favor one form of sexual expression over another. You're not rejecting him as a friend or human being, but you may have to "reject" him as a lover. And vice versa.

Do you get the impression that he expects you to do all the things he wants, but he's not willing to do what you want? Or have you even broached the subject with him? It seems to me if you're willing to experiment a little with him then he can return the favor and indulge in a little garden variety sucking and fucking with you -- without the biting, bondage, role-playing and so on that he favors. But that just may be the way he's built.

You may be avoiding the subject with him because, as you say, you like the guy and don't want to stop dating him -- or have him stop dating you -- but unless the two of you can find some common ground, you may have to settle for friendship instead of romance. He may be a guy who just likes a little s & m now and then to spice up his love life, but it sounds as if he's very heavy into the scene, and really needs/prefers a partner who's into it as much as he is.

Talk it over with him and see if he has any real interest in some "vanilla" [ordinary] sex with you.

But I have a feeling you're going to have to move on once you get sick and tired of the sore lips.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Gay Dating Etiquette

I’m just out of the closet and not certain of proper gay etiquette. If another gay man asks me to his apartment should I assume he’s expecting sex? If a guy wants me to have dinner with him is that a date or just two friends going out? And how can you tell the difference? Anon.

The first thing you have to remember is that gay men are as capable of having strictly platonic friendships as straight men are. And every man is attracted to different types and individuals. If a man asks you to his apartment it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s expecting sex, but it depends on the circumstances. If you’re in a bar and the guy is giving you signals that he’s attracted to you, then he’s probably inviting you home for a one-night-stand. This is true even if he says he’s asking you home for a "drink" or "coffee." Generally if the man is not interested in sex, he’ll make that clear somehow, saying something like "just to talk." (Although even in that situation a guy could always hit on you.) If you’re interested in talking but not in having sex, you can suggest that you go to a coffee shop instead of his apartment. If a man asks you what you like to do [in bed], he’s definitely after a sex hook up.

As for going out to dinner, that can be a romantic date or just two friends having dinner. Sometimes what begins as a platonic friendship can blossom into something more; the problem is when one individual wants to "upgrade" the relationship and the other one is happy just being friends.

In general, guys will give you signals that they’re"interested" in you in a more than platonic fashion. Some guys just come right out and say so. Others make passes or flirt (although flirting is not always a sign of sexual attraction or at least an interest in hooking up). Some guys are very good at hiding their feelings – they’re not sure of how you feel about them – and then spring it at you unexpectedly. But in most cases there will be clear signs that a man is interested in you romantically and/or sexually (and the two don’t always go together).

Admittedly, when it comes to gay men, our sexuality is a factor that straight guys don’t have to think about when it comes to male-male friendships. But it’s also true that most gay men have loving, close friendships with other men that are not "encumbered" with a romantic or sexual factor. Two guys who are just there for each other, which is the whole point of friendship.

And then there are "fuck buddies" – what straight people call "friends with benefits" – friends who on occasion have sex without romantic complications. But I’ll save a discussion of that for another post.

Gay Video Game

Hi Dr. Bill. My name is John and I am a doctoral student at the University of Southern California. My colleagues and I are in the process of developing a video game for gay and bi men about sex and dating, which can be played online for free. The players will go on a series of "virtual" dates and hook-ups with different characters. Your character will even be able to have "virtual sex" on these dates. It's kind of like a "choose your own adventure" game that is designed to be very sexy while also addressing some of the social and health issues facing gay and bi men, including tips on how to find the perfect guy and how to avoid STDs.

Could you help me spread the word? Right now I need to get a few hundred guys to fill out a short anonymous online survey that will help us design the game. The survey is located at:

People who fill out this online survey will automatically be entered into a $200 drawing that will be paid by the university. When the game has been fully produced (next year) we will then need to recruit several thousand guys to play it and provide feedback.

Please let me know if you can do anything to help get the word out. Thanks for your support!!!

John Christensen

Thanks for the information. Sounds very interesting! Okay guys, check it out at the link above. Participate in creating a sexy game and maybe win 200 smackers as well! Go for it!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Sticking to Conventions?

How many gay people do you think really want to get married and live a more or less straight life by adopting children and so on? Anon.

Well, I don't know if you could call it "living a straight life" when both partners are of the same sex, but I do understand that some less conventional gays have no particular desire to "mimic" straight people by marrying, having/adopting kids, and moving to the suburbs. [But let me say at the outset that not only are there unconventional straight couples who love city life, but many straight couples who have no interest in raising children. It's a personal call no matter what one's orientation.] Some gay couples have children because one of the partners was formerly married before "finding" him or herself. Another point: when gay couples adopt children they're giving homes and nurturing to orphans/abandoned kids who might otherwise have no parents or families. And gay parents do just as good a job as straight ones.

As many people have said, gay marriage is about marriage equality. Whether all gay people want to marry their partners or not is besides the point. Gays, like straights, should have the freedom to marry if they wish. Gay marriage sends a message that homosexual relationships are equal to heterosexual relationships, that gay people are not second-class citizens. Gays in this country pay taxes and are in general good citizens -- telling us we can't get married to one another is outrageous.

At the same time, the gay "lifestyle" was for many years sort of an "outlaw" lifestyle and even today many gay people kind of like that status, and want to be outside the "normal" conventions. For instance, they feel gay life is more accepting of "open" relationships [which is not necessarily true], sexual creativity and experimentation, and sexual activity outside the relationship. Marrying and having the proverbial 2.5 children does not interest such people at all. [And of course jokes have made the rounds to the effect that gays should consider themselves well out of the marriage business, as they can avoid all the hell of bitter divorce, custody battles, and alimony payments. But you have to take the good with the bad, right?]

But that's the thing. This is just another reminder of the incredible diversity of the gay community. And I daresay that those gays who reject marriage do and certainly should support it for others in their community who desire the same rights, privileges and protections that heterosexual married couples have.

So always keep in mind that gay marriage is less about marriage than it is about equality.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Leather Fetish

I'm confused by the leather scene. Is it strictly a gay scene? What exactly does it consist of? What is the homoerotic appeal of leather? Anon.

Last year I did a piece for The New York Blade on exactly how gay or not the leather scene was. Unfortunately since the Blade web site has been restructured the piece is no longer available in their archives.

So I'll sum up.

The leather -- or leather/s & m/kink/fetish -- scene is not strictly a gay scene by any means. There are many heterosexuals interested in the various aspects of the scene. In fact gay men and lesbians only account for perhaps 20% of the scene with perhaps another 20% identifying as bi. Many gay/bi leather fetishists identify more with the leather community than they do with the LGBT community. In some cases it's considered a separate sexuality and/or way of life. Some "scenes" are erotic without necessarily being sexual -- that is, involving intercourse or some kind of physical sexual conduct that we generally refer to as "sex." The leather/kink scene is considered separate from what some of its participants call "vanilla sex" -- the everyday stuff that the rest of us engage in.

The leather scene runs the spectrum from guys in leather outfits who may simply like the look of, or have a genuine fetish for, leather [or guys who simply like the masculine atmosphere of gay leather bars, although bear culture has superseded this a bit] to people of all kinds of persuasions who get involved in kinky scenes involving role-playing. S & M [sadomasochistic] activities may consist of mild spanking to tying someone up [bondage and discipline or B & D] to role-playing wherein a couple operate as slave and master in their relationship -- all the time.

Frankly, whether you find some of this stuff a turn-on, repellent, or just plain silly, depends on your interest, sensibilities, and whatever excites you. Most people have some sort of fetishes, particular things that turn them on. This has nothing to do with their characters or what kind of people they are. Most of it is just harmless, kinky fun although I've no doubt there are scenes that some of us might find scary. [One "extreme" gay sport is fist-fucking, with a fist substituting for a penis. It has always been considered risky behavior, and most gay men don't practice it. It may well be done by heterosexual couples into analism as well.]

When it comes to the leather scene, the whole business of sexual orientation can become muddled anyway. In other words, a man who wants to be spanked or humiliated by another man may not necessarily be attracted to that man or want to have "regular" sex with him. Yet since the spanking is erotic, it could be called a homoerotic scene. Presumably most heterosexual men would therefore rather be spanked etc. by women (and vice versa). This may also be why some leather people identify as bi -- not because (in their cases) they are attracted to both men and women but because they'll get involved in certain scenes with both men and women or both at the same time. [A self-hating repressed homosexual may want to be debased/humiliated by another man.]

Yes, there are leather lesbians. And there are straight leather guys who dress up much like gay leather men [that is in full leather regalia and not just a leather jacket] but who do their thing at private clubs or homes or leather expos instead of meeting up at gay bars.

As for the homoeroticism of leather?

All I can say is: don't most guys look kind of hot in a leather jacket?

But while there certainly are gay people involved in the leather scene (although most are not), it is not strictly a gay scene by any means.

Now excuse me, I have to go spank someone. Kiddin'!