Tuesday, October 27, 2009

When Lovers Become Friends

I'm hoping that you can help with this. I respect your opinion and I'd love to know how you feel about this situation. It's like this. My lover and I have been together many years and are both in our forties. Our sex life pretty much died two or three years ago. This greatly distresses me, as I am a sexual person and am still attracted to my lover, and he says he's still attracted to me [but doesn't act like he means it.] He has put on quite a bit of weight and while I still love him and want to make love to him, I think he is very self-conscious. I am not drop-dead gorgeous by any means, but I still have no trouble attracting men. Frankly, I am horny as hell and would like to get it on with some of the guys who come on to me when I'm in a bar. I've told my lover that it's just sex, animal passion, that my having an encounter [safe sex ONLY] or a fuck buddy or something to take the edge off would not mean I love him any less, but he's adamant that true love means you remain monogamous. I'm too young to just give up on sex the way he has. I've told him that rather than lying to him and "cheating" on him and going behind his back, that if we can't have an open relationship I'd rather we just become friends; I don't want to hurt him. He says that breaking up with him would hurt him even more. It seems to me the only solution is that we remain friends but accept that we are no longer lovers. We could still be there for each other, as friends are, but no longer in a relationship that has been devoid of sex and passion for far too long. What do you think? Anon.

Here's what I think. I pretty much agree with you. If this guy loves you, I can't see why he can't make love to you. I appreciate the fact that he may have become self-conscious, but he should be happy that in spite of the weight gain he's got a.) a hot, attractive lover who is still rarin' to go and b.) a lover who wants to get it on with him. What's his problem?

It's true that many couples -- gay or straight -- become more friends and less lovers as the years go by, but if a couple can keep that flame of passion burning, they certainly should.

Your lover is going through a difficult time. He feels he's lost his attractiveness and is terrified of losing you -- who are still attracting men -- to someone else, maybe one of those potential one-night-stands or fuck buddies. If you break up, he can see you with someone else but he can't see himself with somebody else. You probably have no desire to have a new man in your life in the romantic sense (although a little romance or romantic fling probably wouldn't hurt) but because of his inferiority complex he just can't understand that.

It's situations like this that have always made me a believer in sensible open relationships [safe sex must always be a factor].

My advice is to work on his image problem. Get him to a bear bar where big guys are often openly admired. If that doesn't work, gently suggest that he get a little more exercise and watch what he eats. You may have to be pretty blunt with him. Tell him that you like him fine the way he is, but he obviously is self-conscious about his appearance and you want to help him feel better about himself. Tread carefully. He may be super-sensitive on the subject. Still, if he thinks he'll lose you ...

You must make it clear that it's not how he looks that's the problem, but that there is no sex in the relationship and sex is important to you. If his image problem is the reason he won't make love to you, it is something that you both have to address, and that he has to attend to if he wants the two of you to continue as a couple. This is also true if the problem is a low sex drive or something else. People who give up all sex are sometimes suffering from depression or other medical conditions; if necessary make sure he gets a complete check up.

Think long and hard about breaking up, however. If this relationship is important to you and if it's working in other regards, then you may not want to throw it away too quickly. It can be easy to have sex; but not so easy to land a compatible lifetime partner. While I can't heartily recommend this, it may be that you'll have to have some encounters on the sly just to keep your sexual sanity. Everyone has a right to have a sex life and don't dare feel guilty about it or Dr. Bill will come after you!

But I'm hoping your lover will understand what's at stake. Either he goes for an open relationship, he improves his image and therefore his sexual self-esteem, or he settles for friendship while you get laid and possibly move on.

Good luck.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Whole "Queen" Thing

I'm a gay guy, but I confess that I don't get the whole "queen" thing, and especially not the drag queen thing. You can slam me if you want, but that's how I feel. What is up with those guys? Anon.

I'm a little confused here. I assume you're a butch or non-stereotypical gay man -- most of us are, in fact -- and you don't understand why some gay guys are queeny? I'll proceed from that supposition. [I'll confess right now in the interest of full disclosure that some queens can drive me right up the wall, while others I find warm, friendly, gay-positive and altogether terrific. But that's true of the butch numbers as well. ]

Most if not all "queens" are gay but most gay guys are not queens. For reasons that have never quite been determined, a certain percentage of gay men are stereotypically effeminate or "swishy" to a certain degree. This may run from a mild softness or slight girlishness on occasion to full-out screaming queen mania that's on all the time.

If there's a gene to determine sexual orientation, as some studies suggest, is there also a gene to determine whether or not a gay person is butch or femme? Somehow I doubt it. I think effeminacy in men is an acquired trait. In other words, it has to do with how and by whom a man is raised and with his environment. Then again -- and here's where things really get confusing -- there are queeny gay men who have strong male role models, who are not surrounded and raised by women, and who grow up in atmospheres that aren't especially "feminine." So who knows? So let's just say that effeminacy can be an acquired trait but may not be in all cases. [And let's not forget -- Saturday Night Live jokes aside -- that there are undoubtedly effeminate heterosexual men. Not just straight-identified, but straight.]

But now we come to drag queens, men who dress up as women. In general, if these men are gay we call them drag queens; if straight -- and yes, there are heterosexual men who like to dress up as women -- we call them transvestites. In any case, most gay men are not transvestites and have zero interest in dressing up as women.

For one reason or another some gay men -- and perhaps some straight men as well -- identity with the opposite sex to such a degree that they feel in part female. This is different from a transsexual person, who can be an actual female trapped in a male body or vice versa. Undoubtedly there are TVs [transvestites] and drag queens who are unacknowledged transsexuals. An extreme identification with women can lead a man to spend much if not all of his time in drag and in a female persona. These guys may feel unattractive and colorless without the female finery; getting in drag helps them get out of their shell and develop a personality the way that imbibing a few drinks does for other people. And, strange as it sounds, this may be completely unrelated to their sexual orientation. [And some men find sexual gratification in dressing up as women.]

This is why you don't "get" drag queens. Because it isn't a gay thing as such at all. Drag queens are a part of the gay community, but they have their own special needs and purposes that most gay men can't especially relate to at all.

As for queens or femmes -- gay men who are stereotypical but aren't necessarily interested in dressing in drag -- a lot of times they pick up their flamboyant gestures and behavior by mimicking the more "outrageous" gay men they they first meet when they come out. A lot of swishy behavior is just acting, camping it up. A snide homophobe may think that beneath every butch number there's a queen but the truth is that sometimes it's just the opposite. Some guys act effeminate simply because that's what they think gay guys do. If they get involved with the more masculine side of gay culture, they may drop the whole swish thing, although if they're old enough it may have become such a large part of who they are that it becomes impossible to change.

But as I've said before, butch or femme, we're all gay brothers, each with our own unique way of expressing ourselves.

Macho or swishy, drag queen or leather king, sports fan or Broadway enthusiast, we don't necessarily have to "get" each other.

But respect each other we must, for divided we will definitely fall.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Do Bears Predominate?

Is bear culture taking over the whole gay community? Why do gay men feel they have to butch it up all the time? Anon.

Uh, many gay guys just happen to be "butch" (very masculine -- or at least not effeminate); some are not. Most -- like straight men -- are somewhere in between.

No gay man who isn't butch should feel a need to "butch it up" if he doesn't want to. Everyone should feel free to be themselves. It's all about accepting yourself for who or what you are. You don't have to be butch or ultra-masculine to be happy.

Some men feel a need to come on strong, macho, when they enter a bar that has a decidedly masculine atmosphere. Some guys overdo it. They may already be butch enough, so they think that being rude, stepping on people's feet, and acting like a jerk, makes them more macho. Straight guys do this, too. Gay or straight, a jerk is a jerk.

As for bear culture taking over, I think it's really that -- in some places, at least -- people are beginning to realize that there's more to the gay male community than the proverbial "limp-wristed hairdresser." [Hell, there's more to the hairdresser's community.] You might think that in this day and age everyone is more sophisticated about the diversity of our community, but you'd be surprised how many supposedly hip people (including some gays) still think in terms of stereotypes.

[Just the other night a man in a gay bar said to two other customers. "I'm not into sports. Gay men are not into sports." The two other men vigorously disagreed, as both were baseball fans.]

Gay men, like all men, are into whatever the hell they want to be. [I admit that it's a distinct possibility that gay men in general feel freer to explore options -- art and culture, for instance -- that some straight men may cut themselves off from out of their own fears and insecurities. But let me make it clear that there are many hetero men who are not ashamed to be seen at the ballet or opera -- good for them! -- and some gay men who wouldn't be caught dead in such venues. Too bad!]

The emergence of bear culture means that the definition of attractiveness has been expanded to include men that the more stereotypical gay males supposedly eschew: hairy guys, chubby guys, guys who don't dress in color-coordinated outfits or designer clothing. People are learning that there's more to the gay male community than willowy young queens [not to put those guys down].

Don't look at this as a bad thing. People need to learn that gay men come in all shapes, sizes, and attitudes. We are literally everywhere!

Bear culture will not supplant or destroy non-bear gay culture. It will compliment it.

Butch or femme, feel free to be yourself. And recognize that everyone has a special niche in the gay community.

And that we're all gay brothers.