Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Gay Men and Disco?

Why are all gay men into disco regardless of age? Anon.

LOL, do you mean the age of the gay man or the age of the disco record?

To my knowledge -- which is considerable -- most gay men these days are not into disco. Even back in the days when disco was popular, not every gay man was into disco. Just like not every gay man is into opera or into show tunes. Some like jazz, rap, big bands, what-have-you. Some gay guys don't care for music at all.

I've no doubt there are gay men today who fondly remember the disco era -- and perhaps their youth -- and still enjoy listening to their collection of disco records now and then.

Okay, when the Tramps [or was it Trammps?] came out with their record Where the Happy People Go -- I believe that was one of the first big disco hits, but don't quote me -- it was widely assumed that "Happy" meant Gay, but it could also have been Happy meaning Happy. My recollection is that plenty of straight people went to discos back in the day.

I'm old enough to remember "Body Contact Contract" and Donna Summer's "Try Me." [Of course I was just a wee babe at the time! I was always the cutest little kid at the disco!]

Bisexual or Lesbian?

I'm a lesbian in her mid-thirties. I have a platonic friend -- a woman -- who says she is bisexual. If that were really the case, it would be one thing. But she keeps saying things that make me wonder if she just hates the whole notion of being gay and needs to appear straight to the world. She says her preference is definitely other women, but that she's afraid to have a gay relationship, yet at the same time she says she envies the relationship I have with my lover. I have no problem with her being bisexual, but I'm afraid that her relationships with men -- she says she's never had a satisfying one -- will always disappoint her. When I try -- tactfully -- to talk to her about this she just gets angry and accuses me of being biphobic. What can I do? HJ

I'm tempted to say you can leave me out of it -- my God I know how touchy some bisexuals or at least wannabee bisexuals can be -- but since you've asked I do have some advice.

Bisexuality -- or what passes for same [more on this on another post] -- seems to be far more commonplace among women than men. Let's say for argument's sake that many of these women are truly, genuinely bisexual [especially those who are equally attracted to both sexes]. However, it stands to reason that a certain percentage, however large, are not bisexual but gay.

For instance. A bi-identified woman once said that she didn't like the term bisexual, but couldn't call herself a lesbian because [italics mine] once in a blue moon she was attracted to a man.

Of course "once in a blue moon" means "hardly ever," and if a woman is "hardly ever" attracted to a man, she's not bisexual, she's gay.

I know there are bisexual advocates who will howl to the moon over this. They think anyone who for any reason or on any occasion ever slept with both sexes is automatically bisexual. Therefore, my school boy/college day fumblings with the opposite sex make me bisexual. I don't think so.

Some of this is simply internalized homophobia [which some people try to deflect by claiming anyone who disagrees with them is "biphobic" -- throwing it all back onto the big, bad gay person, you see]. Some people -- like your girlfriend -- just don't want to be gay. The problem is they're attracted to their own sex and they just can't deal with it. Whatever small attraction they have to the opposite sex is blown entirely out of proportion and turned into genuine bisexuality, which it isn't. [Again, this is not to say there aren't genuine bisexuals.]

I believe there are many, many women who are in this self-hating category. [And don't get me started on the men!] Here's just a quick sample of genuine comments I came across on the Internet from some bi-identified women .

"I am more attracted to women than I am to men ... one woman I was with was the best sex ever..... but I am married to a man and very happy... but if I ever divorce I will never have another man I will go full lesbian..... women are the best!!"

Okay. I don't think I really need to comment on that, anyone over eight can read between the lines.

"I'm with a man now. I'm afraid of getting too emotionally close to women friends in case I fall in love with them."

This is another one that needs no comment.

The women who made these comments are not true bisexuals, they're very confused and conflicted lesbians, which is probably true of your friend. They don't even realize how their own words give them away. I've no doubt it's along the same lines with your friend.

The trouble is that some irresponsible bisexual advocates have made it impossible for these women to accept the truth about themselves, because -- as you discovered -- if you try to tell them they're not bisexual they'll tell you you're being "biphobic" -- and immediately end all discussion. [Frankly, I think in some ways it's a shame that some bisexuals think of themselves as a totally separate sexual minority. Gay people are not to blame for that.]

All you can do is keep trying in your own tactful way to get through to her. Don't insist that you're right, simply tell her what's on your mind, suggesting that she just possibly, conceivably, might be, could be a lesbian, and what the hell would be wrong with that? Point out to her that you're a good person, that you're happy being gay, that she's even said she envies the relationship you have with your lover. Suggest she get counseling.

If will be like walking on egg shell, but give it a try. If she becomes too implacable or nasty or just closes her ears to you with finality, if she becomes downright homophobic with you [not without precedent] well, then, give it up. You can help some people, but others just don't want to listen. You'll just have to hope that she'll be able to get past all the bisexual identity politics and internalized homophobia and work it out on her own.

Good luck!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Self-Hating Lover

SO, phew, where to start, I'm currently in a relationship with my, might I add, very cute boyfriend. We're both young (don't worry we're 18) and nearly out, not all of our friends know about this, not even family, but we love each other very much. But not all is happy -- first of all because of his christian upbringing, he is very ashamed of his orientation, making it even more difficult for him to come out to his parents and the rest of the world, besides really close friends. And that's the first issue, the bigger problem is that in the several months that we have been in a relationship we have only had sex once, he has given no explanations why, and every time we get to making out and are about to go all the way he flinches, which is odd -- the only time we did it he was even more into it than I was! How could he have changed so badly?... I mean, we're very close in every other respect and from time to time he gets really hot and jumps at me to make out, but when it goes to the next level, he simply stops; when I ask why he does that he gives no explanation, besides saying "I just don't feel like it."

Now everybody has urges, and while I don't know how he deals with his I just can't deal with mine, I mean I'm only getting worked up but can't get any real action, and its killing me! I've asked what's wrong and I don't get a conclusive answer; I talked about this to the guy that is his closest friend, and he said that he had only heard good things about our relationship from him, so I'm stumped; I honestly don't know what's wrong! and I can't stand it!

In a fit of desperation I told him that I couldn't stay loyal to him if I didn't get any action; he had a sudden expression of sadness or something, and he gave the classic response that I couldn't really mean it. Ok, I must admit I almost cheated on him in the past, but I did not go through [with it], because I love him, and I feel like a complete ass. I haven't seen him since, but I'm very sad for having said that -- that was only said by my libido. But I can't deny there is something in it too. I mean, I'm not a bad person or anything but if things don't work in bed well... but even though I love him very much, I don't want to say something I'll regret along the way. Why do you think my boyfriend acts like this? Is what I did terrible? Or is it a bit rational? WHAT SHOULD I DO!

To be blunt, I would get a new boyfriend. But wait -- there's also a less drastic solution.

You already know what this guy's problem is. You stated it in your first paragraph. He's full of self-hatred due to his religious upbringing [and probably other reasons]. The reason he won't have sex with you is that -- even though he's attracted to you and other men -- he's ashamed of his homosexual feelings. That's why he keeps pulling away. He wants to make love to you because he's attracted to you but then his shame and guilt get in the way and he backs off. That's the only reason the two of you have had only one sexual encounter in all the months you've been together. [He may also have a fear of HIV/AIDS, so even if you're negative always stick to safe sex.] He also may have other hang-ups you don't even know about.

Sex may not be the only thing that matters in a relationship, but it is an important part of a relationship, and you have a right to expect that your lover will want to make love to you on a regular basis.

I realize that you love the guy, but it really doesn't sound like he's at all ready to make a serious commitment to another man. You must suggest -- even demand it if you have to -- that he go for counseling, possibly even therapy. If there are any gay centers or groups in your community, find out if they offer free counseling to troubled, conflicted gay men, and believe me, your boyfriend is one troubled and conflicted fellow.

Until he's comfortable with himself and his sexuality, he won't make much of a lover either in or out of the bedroom -- but I suspect you already know this. It's just that he's cute and you care for him a lot. But he needs help.

If you can't see yourself breaking up with him [and you should certainly threaten to do that or consider doing it if he refuses to get help] at least insist that you want an open relationship -- the two of you remain a couple but can have [safe] sex with others -- because you have a right to satisfy your sexual urges.

This may have a happy ending. But if being with you and his other gay friends hasn't convinced this guy that it's okay to be gay, he needs to get counseling or see a gay-friendly therapist who will help him accept his orientation. He also needs to know that not all Christians or religions are homophobic or see homosexuality as an evil perversion. Find a gay or gay-friendly church in your neighborhood for a start. If we meets other Christians who are okay with being gay, it might help him on his long road toward self-acceptance. [You can read more about internalized homophobia and gay self-hatred here.]

Let me know how it goes.

Engaged/Committed Couples Needed for Study

Hi Bill, I am a researcher in the University of Virginia Department of Psychology, and I'm conducting a web-based study of engaged same-sex & different-sex couples. I am writing to respectfully ask if you'd be willing to post a notice of my study on your blog. The study has been approved by the University of Virginia Institutional Review Board, which ensures ethical research conduct.

I'd be happy to post about your study:

Engaged volunteers needed!

I am looking for volunteers for a study of attitudes towards marriage and parenthood among engaged couples. The study consists of a 25-30 minute online survey. To qualify for the study, you must be 20-35 years old, live in the U.S., and plan to marry or have a commitment ceremony within the next 365 days. You and your romantic partner must not have children, and this must be the first marriage for both of you.

You can:

-Help a doctoral candidate;

-Increase the pool of scientific knowledge;

-Support research on marriage and families; and

-Spend some time thinking about your relationship!

I am working with Dr. Charlotte J. Patterson, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia. This study has been approved by the University of Virginia Institutional Review Board #2009025800.

If you and/or your romantic partner are interested in participating or want further information, please email me at survey.couples@gmail.com. I will send you a link that you can use to access the study.


Cristina Reitz-Krueger
Doctoral Student
University of Virginia

Sunday, January 17, 2010

So what ABOUT limp-wristed hairdresses?

You've referred to gay stereotypes such as "limp-wristed hairdressers" in your posts. Well, what would you say to a man who is gay and who just happens to be a limp-wristed hairdresser? Where does such a person fit in your gay world?

Great question! [I do have a friend who happens to be a gay hairdresser but he isn't limp-wristed.]

Where does he fit in "my" gay world? He's one of my gay brothers. Just because I've made the point that most gay men don't fit neatly into stereotypical cubby holes, doesn't mean I'm not aware that there are gay men who do. They are part of "my" gay world.

True, most of the gay guys I hang out with I wouldn't call "queens," but some of them are on the cusp -- big deal! I've never claimed to be Charles Bronson! [Not saying he was gay, nor that I especially cared one way or the other.]

And by the way, out of all the gay men I've met, including some rather swishy ones, on only one occasion have I ever met one who literally had limp wrists. I don't mean that caricatured arm-hand flip or whatever you call it that some guys supposedly indulge in. I mean, he held out his arms and the hands just dangled downward at the wrists as if suspended in mid-air, like a begging dog holding out its front paws as it stood upright on its back legs. Quite strange, actually. I've no doubt there are others in the world, but there certainly aren't many of them -- not that I'm saying that means they're bad people or that they have no place in my world, mind you!

For the record, I don't approve of "queen-bashing," and I hardly ever see it happening, even in butch bear bars. Sure, some masculine gay men may express their sexual disinterest in effeminate guys, but when they encounter them in bars or at parties they seem to have no problem being perfectly friendly, even forming lasting friendships.

Gay guys come in all types, shapes and sizes. We may have different styles, attitudes, politics, and so on. We may not always agree or get along

But we're all gay brothers, eh?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Survey on Conflict in Male Same-Sex Couples

I’m conducting an on-line research study examining relationship conflict in male same-sex couples. I was hoping you might feel comfortable posting a link to my survey on your blog. Unfortunately, there remains very little research exploring conflict in LGBT romantic relationships, and I hope my research can help create appropriate therapeutic interventions for our community.

All gay/bisexual/queer men (over age 18) who have experienced conflict in their male same-sex romantic relationships are invited to participate. Participation in this study is voluntary, confidential and can be completed on-line. Participation should take about 15 - 30 minutes and all participants can enter a raffle for $100.00.

To participate, men just need to click

To quote from the website: "This is a study examining romantic relationship conflicts among gay and bisexual men. All participants must be over 18, identify as male, and be gay, bisexual, or queer. You will be asked to answer questions about your past same-sex romantic relationships, feelings about your identity, behavior of your past or current romantic same-sex partner, and your personal feelings regarding that behavior. Bisexual men are asked to answer these questions in regards to their male romantic partners."

If you click on the link you will find more information about the survey, who's conducting it etc.

Certainly there are emotional and physical conflicts in gay relationships just as there are in straight ones. This study looks at different situations gay/bi men [including trans men] of various ethnic backgrounds may have encountered in their romantic relationships.

It will be interesting to see the results.

[I can't resist this.] A note about "same-sex couples," which is essentially a sop to political correctness. Apparently some members of the bisexual community objected to the use of "gay couples" when one or both members of the couple actually identified as bi instead of gay. [I'm crying in my beer over that one!] Face it guys, if you're playing house with another guy you'll essentially be -- and be seen as -- one half of a gay couple -- deal with it, baby! There ain't nothin' wrong in bein' gay [or bi, for that matter].

Self-Hating Homos

With all the changes in attitude and tolerance over the past few decades, I wonder why there are still so many self-hating homos out there -- you've mentioned them in several of your posts both here and over at JATGAB. Why does this self-hated persist? Is there something in the psyche of the American male? Does it relate to the persistence of macho images and their approval in our culture? JD.

Gay men still have an incredibly negative image in our society -- world-wide, I might add -- which is still awash in machismo of the worst kind. But gay self-hatred has many causes. Religious attitudes and upbringing can certainly do a number on gay people. Children raised in homophobic households can grow up with little sense of self-worth. There are kids living in our streets right now who got thrown out of their homes when they came out of the closet. [Luckily some of these kids already formed a gay identity, and may not grow up with the self-hatred that afflicts others.]

Then we have people who simply feel inferior for one reason or another, and it may not have anything to do with their sexual orientation. But if they have trouble dealing with their other insecurities, being gay may be seen by them as another thing to worry and be insecure about -- they hate that they're gay and they turn the hatred inwards.

Then we have the disaffected. Every society and every group has people who simply never develop real social skills or graces, the "geeks" or "nerds" or "weirdos." Often these people learn to channel their non-conformity in healthy and exciting directions, but as for the others ... ?These people feel rejected by their peers, by they classmates, co-workers, or in the case of gay people, other gays. So they begin to despise the gay community -- and themselves.

Then we have people whose lives haven't worked out the way they wanted for one reason or another. It may be due to their own actions (or lack of same) bad luck or timing, or a combination thereof. Whatever the case, they tell themselves that they wouldn't be unhappy, that life would have worked out, if they were only straight. They're kidding themselves, of course. It's not that our sexual orientation and our attitudes toward same can't influence some of our decisions, but it's as ridiculous to blame our sexuality for problems all humans face as it would be to blame race, sex, or anything else.

And as absurd as this sounds, some gay people develop homophobic attitudes [and if you're gay that certainly falls under the category of self-hatred] because they've been dumped by someone they're obsessed with. They hate that person, they hate gay people in general, they hate themselves. This is similar to the way some straight men hate all "bitches" after they've been dumped by their girlfriend, or some straight women go off on men when they develop boyfriend or husband problems.

Both gay men and lesbians can suffer from self-hatred. As for gay men, I've no doubt that what you refer to as the persistence of [and preference toward] macho images in our culture have led many gay men (and certainly straight men) to hate being perceived as gay, and in some cases, to hate being gay. The irony, of course, is that most gay men don't conform to stereotypes and many are indeed "macho" in demeanor. But the "limp-wristed hairdresser" stereotype still persists, and some guys -- rather than fighting it -- would rather just hate and deny.

I'll have more on the whole machismo thing in another post, but for now I'll say that it's also true that there are more Out and Proud gay people today than ever before, and that hopefully many of our Self-Hating Homos will seek counseling and emerge all the happier and healthier for it.