Tag Archives: gay stereotypes

PRIDE SPECIAL: The History Of Gay Sluts And Other Troupes – A Back2Stonewall Op-ed by Sly Merritt

gay black

 

Hunger. Insatiable hunger that is unending consuming all other thought reason and any shred of sensibility. 

Blamed for the destruction of morals and society. No wisdom with corrupted minds. Our bodies the ruined temples of Babylon. The inventors of sin and temptation. Anticipation and exploration the foundation to destruction. Vapid and feminine is our crime. For we are not seen as man from two simple words.  More than promiscuous. We are thieves of prosperity. This is what we’re called. Those that openly choose to embrace the desires of body. We’re all sluts with multiple slits. Fodder and comedic relief for the fearful. Constantly in search for a groove to fill.  We’ll do anything for it. We are known as the generation of sluts. Products of nature that are the abomination to nature. This dirt will always linger 

But history has not always been the magistrates to truth. Sluts have been the disgrace and at the same time a commodity to society. Equitable but not equal. It sells religion. Then it transcended to us. Queer is sluts. Immoral and Ungodly. The misandry of feminine constructs and defilement of family values. We are the deviants of sexual proclivity. Sinners and a bunch of other jargon filled with harmful ways and ill intentions. We are defined by not by action but mere assumption. We are seen as a part of this diseased insatiable hunger.

We all hunger. We all have an appetite. They may not be the same but all derived from the same place. What makes one desire greater than the other. Either we are all sluts or no one is. 

This is one of my more dark entries of my journal that I’m sharing with you all today because despite the fact that I’ve written about the sometimes poisonous effects conformity has had on our community I wanted express my discontent in a way most of my readers are not used to hearing in an unconventional way.  Also allows me to express my more creative side. What inspired this was all the endless times we are told to be ashamed for being queer men and women. It’s the justification of saving us from ourselves that’s often used to torture us hoping for us to submit to their laws that have always been a contradiction and a lesson in hypocrisy. How can we feel free when we are given a limit to how we love?

Many of the people that are depicted as sluts are in reality so far away from the original definition. It went from sexual depravity to social dissonance. It’s now about demonizing and compared to promoting child abuse and perversions of humanity. We were grouped together to save some the hassle of it questioning their core beliefs that came from man, not Divine Reasoning. Race in this country has also been lumped into this group. A real travesty in semantics.

It sets all of us up that are different as troupes, as we have to constantly perform and dance around everyone else to make any progress. We are not allowed to just take an affirmative stand against our oppressors but instead enact upon this delicate, intricate, tiring dance all the while having to convince them that we are just like them. Just like any dance, the longer we do it the more we lose a bit of ourselves and what we stand for. But we aren’t and nor should we aspire to be like anyone other than ourselves.

One of the biggest things I have advocated for through my writing, particularly in the past year is to voice how we are expected to fit into the mold of heteronormative behavior which is to fall in love and marry a woman. To raise a family and live up to the moral code deemed by religious zealots as the righteous and Godly path. Or else we’re sinners destined to fire and brimstone. I for one don’t feel God would ever create something as beautiful as love and then expect us to fit it into some small spectrum in which to express it and that all this religious grandstanding is nothing more than fear of being wrong.

Because of there’s one thing I’ve learned in this life is that we’re most vocal at the things we fear and those situations that make us think “maybe we aren’t right”. Let’s face it, that’s a terrifying prospect because then you have to ask if I’m not right, are they? So we (or rather they) will do everything in their power to oppress us more to silence their own inner torment of fear than any law they’re so desperately trying to enforce by God. I mean come on people, it’s GOD we’re talking about here. The creator of all things. I don’t think he needs your help in micromanaging well..anything.

I feel that so many of the issues that we face as community, in particular sex education and prevention of communicable diseases is a direct result of that. Repression almost always manifests in a grand form. Some of us don’t want to have families with picket fences and 2.3 pets. Some of us are not Christians and the concept of God means nothing to us. It is more than okay if that is the life that you want so long as it is for you and not to prove something to everyone else. Because how can it be real if it’s based in ideology and image rather than desire? Repression leads to seeking answers from any source instead of the right source. A generation of gay men were nearly wiped out because of this.

photoThis assimilation has worked. Look at the dynamics of our community compared to Harvey Milk’s generation. We went from a truly diverse representation of our differing interests and cultures to one homogeneous entity that shuns individuality. From an oneness in solidarity to a community that promotes only one. Somewhere along the line, we began to believe them when they told us we’re wrong.

Maybe some of the leaders in this community are just as afraid of us truly standing out and being who we truly are. especially when they have signs like this just to show how much we are like them. It depicts the majority of us as the children of Babylon, that are looking to party until we run society into the ground.

Sorry, but no. if it means that I have to aspire to something no one will ever see me as a member of because of the color of my skin then why should I or any other LGBT minority try to fit in. Or any lesbian, bisexual, transgendered man or woman, or women in general because that is how this community treats them.

Notice how we say gay rights way more than LGBT rights. Because it’s easier and they can so easily look like them while the rest of us have to lurk in the back. Because we don’t want to upset them by being too abnormal or weird. Want to show how much we are like them that it has become okay for some of us to shame members of this community because we refuse to be anyone other than ourselves.

My point is that we as a community have spent so much time doing all that we can to show the rest of society an exact replica of themselves and that we all have the same values. And we do, to an extent. We wanted to have the same rights and privileges as every other citizen of this country. We want the same options and if we choose to embark upon them then we should be able to without fear for our values or our lives. We’ve also worked hard to distance ourselves from this history of sluts that they put us into when that was never truly who we are or have ever been And neither have they. We have adapted this history of sluts as it systematically divides us because we do not show the true representation of us.

Sexuality and sexual identity is one of the biggest parts of us yet we spend so much time shaming others in this community when we do not fit that image of normality. We have always been illustrated in poor lighting and now that we have a stronger platform we cannot conform to what the society deems are moral and just behavior that shames and ignores so many in this community. We need to show instead of how much we are like everyone else that we are in fact different in some aspects, but that makes the rest of society no better than us in any way. History has shown that the truth can be subjective until we choose to be authentic while refusing to accept anything but equality.  By standing instead of performing and putting on a front that divides instead of unites. To show that we have never been sluts.

How Sports Can Teach A Gay Man (And Everyone Else) About Relationships

gay helmet

How often do you think about what attracts you to another person? Better yet does what attract you to someone affect how you treat others? What about how you view people that have relationships with different groups? These are questions I ask and write about a lot because I feel that once we truly understand what these questions mean along with all that encompasses them the closer we are to being able to truly have meaningful dialogue in recognizing if there are issues involving a prejudice towards a group of people.

It’s a mouthful while also being the opening to a very long-winded rant that involves being gay, being an African American and loving football but they all seem to relate to each other in my rambling thoughts. And I’ll try to show how sports are a lot like life in how we communicate with each other in our relationships. Improve your skills by playing at 918kiss the best online casino games.

You see the reason I’m on this topic again is because today, while watching the Titans game, I received a message from a so called friend who just casually wanted to chat and catch up (aka gossip). This guy loves to talk about who’s hot and who he’d like to date (and hell I love doing that too) but the Titans are my home team that I root for even when their defensive line is abysmal and offense is all over the place. So I wanted to watch (also scream at my TV when they’re doing great or awful or both) without any distractions.

But my friend is persistent and somewhat of an inquisitor of the human condition (or maybe I’m a pushover). Anyway, I yield on watching the game to focus on what he’s saying. He then asks why I don’t like black men (…what). Naturally the question both confused and angered me at the same time because for one it was random and came completely out of left field and secondly because I always know how conversations like this go. Someone will say something completely untrue and downright dumb followed by me very bluntly stating that their opinion is not only false but also dated.

They will then quickly try to recover by providing some “empirical evidence” to support their lofty opinion. But I will then proceed to pass over any reductive laundry list of examples to addressing why the question itself is out of bounds leaving them stumped and angry because they realize that the way they asked the question was insensitive and more than likely prejudiced.

And wouldn’t you know it the situation went exactly like I predicted it would. He went on saying that it bothers him when people don’t date their own race while I pointed out that sounds like his problem not mine. But I couldn’t leave it there and had to expand on it and figure out what this dated opinion came from so I asked for clarification.

He couldn’t think of a way to explain his point without making it sound worse so he then talked about tastes are innate also leading him to the conclusion that sexuality is concrete with no fluidity meaning he believes there’s no such thing as bisexual men. So he choose to go all in on his ridiculous small minded opinions.

If you follow football, or rather any sport, this conversation and ones like this are a lot like the game. Two opponents standing their ground making large plays to score points and win. Either opponent can fumble the ball (or the point they were trying to make). Either opponent can intercept the ball (conversation) to score another point (in support of their opinion). The time runs out and the person who’s made enough right points wins the game (argument/debate).

So at this point of the conversation it should be enough when I say that you know what? Even though the majority of men I’ve dated have been Caucasian that I’ve not only attracted to but have also had romantic relationships with every race and a diverse amount of a different ethnicity. That yes I am aware of race and color and ethnicity and aware of the differences and while I acknowledge those differences it does not inhibit arousal or sexual attraction.

But it doesn’t. Saying that will only add to his warped way of thinking.  My explanations or reasoning would only exacerbate whatever closed minded opinion someone else is voicing while making me doubt how aware I am of these cultural aspects when dating.

If I had brought up how at one time I was foolish enough to believe that the societal norms, including sticking to your race, did not extend to the gay community when in fact in some settings it is amplified. Maybe that is due to not wanting to stick out more in society by engaging in an interracial relationship on top of a gay relationship. In my experience this is more true here in the south.

And some may say the same can be said about acceptance of the gay community by the African American community but that too is subjective. Fair points but in this setting it would’ve come off as trying to give all the responsibility on society when ultimately that decision will always be mine and mine alone, no matter the lifetime of influences.

Why do we even care that they have an opinion on who we should do/be/say/date/have sex with/love/marry could’ve been another point to win this argument. I could have expanded on how sexuality is a breathing changing entity of our being and as our tastes change so may how we define our sexual identity. Yet talking about it will always seem like defensive bitterness and frustration. And it is that, but not for the reasons some may think.

Because it’s not for your pity. Never for that so you can keep it or throw it away or better yet not pity people because its degrading and treats someone like they’re subhuman. But it’s important because we do need to know how and why people are drawn to each other. It helps us in a very delicate, subtle way understand where our negative beliefs began. While we are not initially hate and attraction are innate how we perceive them is learned. But bring that up still would not have proven my point. 

Do you see now how conversations like this become a game? You on defense trying to make as many points to defend your opinion and your pride before the conversation ends. There’s interruptions (interceptions), Hell sometimes there’s even snarling. The only thing that really sets it apart is that there’s no gentle slap on the ass at the end.

The only time you should be concerned with who someone dates or what their dating preferences are is when they stereotype or categorize an entire group and completely exclude them from based on that backwards opinion. Like Grindr profiles that have “no chicken (people of African Decent) rice (Asian) but spice (Hispanic nonblack) is alright”. Those are the “it’s just a preference” people you should direct these conversations towards. I am not one of those people. But again that would give a point to him because it would appear that I may subconsciously do the same thing as the inept men that have racist dating profiles.

The whole conversation made me defensive as it always does because I never want to be made to feel like I have some quota to fill and should have to seek out other gay African American man in order for it to “look right”. And I don’t want anyone questioning the legitimacy of bisexuality. But either consciously or subconsciously that’ll be what runs through people’s mind for a split second when they don’t understand. That logic would mean that I question whether the next time I’m attracted to another African American man is that guilt or actual physical arousal.

This should be entertaining to the outside observer and the victor afterwards but conversations like this don’t turn out that way. It’s life. Because even though I won the argument I don’t feel like a winner. Especially when this exhausting exercise in logic always leaves you feeling on guard for the decisions you make solely based on your race or sexuality or both. Then you hopefully reach the moment of asking yourself why the opinions of others matter in what a person sees in a race or sexual orientation.

In the end I didn’t use the points that I knew both from experience and studying human behavior meant that instead of answering a question we have to ask more questions. Ask why it feels right to you when two people of the same race are together and uneasy when it’s two different races together. Ask yourself why you need to define what someone else’s sexuality is for them and why that bothers you when it’s different from your beliefs.

My point is that it’s circular and reductive and repetitive and you will again have to go out on the field and be ready to defend your position every single time you’re challenged if you go into conversations like this with that mindset. And the thought of having to repeat the same plays can at times be daunting leading up to confusion and doubt and uncertainty that anything was accomplished at all.

All puns intended when we take on this dynamic in discussing race or sexuality it sets up an us vs them mentality rather than exploring why some have these inaccurate convoluted beliefs. And even when they are right in questioning a person exhibiting self hating tendencies or homophobia (ie not dating one’s own race or trying to define someone else’s sexuality) we have to ask what lead them to see this and open the dialogue even more.

So sports can often reflect the strategies we partake in when we have these types of conversations.  Like how some people need to fight in a relationship to prove they’re right just for the sake of argument because it gives them power rather than actually having a legitimate point. Now while I’m not saying life is a game but the way that we interact and choose to have these conversations do take on these dynamics.

Even though this form of communication is the way we are taught to settle debates it is not the way we should be discussing race or sexuality. We need to examine where these questions come from before answering them because when people have questions like my friend that is where he’ll find the answers.

And next time, let me enjoy the damn game in peace.

Confessions Of Gay Men Of Color, Your One Night Only Fantasy

gay love

We are yours, completely, to do all that you desire for only one night. One night only do we exist upon the same plane. We are your conscious come to life. A sexual yearning that needed scratching and the awakening of sexual arousal to satiate your physical appetite. The one wish you dare not speak aloud. But we will fulfill all that you require for just one night. And we will disappear in the first light of dawn, by your request, as usual. Our only purpose is to satisfy you for one night. Only one night.

We are selected from various social venues then inspected to ensure we meet the vision of your specifications. Your fantasies. We do not exist outside of the concepts of double rainbows and blue moons. Only between your sheets and between your thighs are we made salient. We are judged to make sure we can lift you and grab you, squeeze you tight in the rare moments when you seek our comfort. Your eyes calculate and measure to ensure that our mythical horn is what you’ve heard about behind closed doors.  But if we appear too wild, surly, or untamed we are asked to leave because we may be too dangerous for your tastes. Then you relay this to us, politely, covertly, or bluntly.

Our mahogany, ebony, caramel skin absorbs the soft light of midnight, the only time in which you have the courage to summon us. While the rest of the world sleeps so they dare not discover this sinful encounter. Few words are exchanged both in text and in person. But we don’t need words because we will let our bodies speak for us. As the descendants of Mother Africa society sees us as the beast of humanity and throughout time has always been reduced to sex. To fuck. We have only one task to perform tonight. Just this night.

Our desires are made into yours. Our dreams of closeness and family and picket fences and soulmates and..love are extinct in this moment. We are not to be seen in daylight. We are the sexual beasts your fantasies yearn for. Our shaft your thighs our hands your sides. Smooth long strokes that shock and bounce you into place. You want us to massage and excite. We see the fear mixed with intrigue and desire in your eyes but we pretend to not notice. We are a mystery you dare not investigate beyond the faint breaths of passion to separate myth and lore from the real being inside of you. A man. You marvel at how much it aches to feel this good. This is your version of living on the wild side. For tonight only.

Our fingers electrify and excite you as you wonder what will happen next. Soft lip biting as our bodies groove into one. Our tongues explore and sensually sear the skin, igniting your body and mind. Then we stride inside, hard and slow, fast and rough. Each thrust and stroke to make your pulse race and raise your body temperature. The sweat only makes us work harder. It’s an elaborate dance we have done time and again. To you, sex is our only purpose only for tonight.

Standing up, sitting in a chair, tied to the floor or bed, pulling you up and down on us. You want us to stretch and collide inside your walls. Going as long and as hard and as deep as you wish. Then deeper. Your moans of delight as we await words or body movement to instruct us further. We whisper how good it feels and move our bodies with enough fervor to make your knees buckle. We will continue this mechanical dance until your toes curl and your back arches to the floor and await the moment you explode from inside and the orgasms lead us panting, gasping for air and some semblance of reality. We are your farm boy, your masseuse, chiropractor, doctor, chef, and lover all at once. For tonight only.

Our supple lips trace with excruciating precision all over your body. You have been convinced we are the experts and are to implement all activities while you can lay back and enjoy all of our efforts. To you we are the beasts of night and only when deemed tame enough are we permitted with going through your checklist of explicit challenges designed to stimulate. But only until the sun rises.

You will ask us to role play for you. To be the aggressive representation the media portrays us as. To playfully reverse centuries old roles and be the master while you are our slave. The beast. Soul is only required in rhythm. Because, in your mind, this is our only specialty. Because to you outside this sexual sanctuary we do not exist. We are just a fantasy.

We are artists, doctors, lawyers, mental health professionals, teachers, construction workers, students, businessmen, investment bankers, activists, and leaders but all that fades in the allure of moonlight. Because we can only serve one purpose, you, for only one night.

And you may call upon us again when you allow your mind to think of we satisfied your thirst, when you are ready to drink from us again and require your body to be caressed and satiated with sexual fantasies. We are not to call or text you, we are not to want to know more about you, we are not even allowed to address that we know each other in daylight for fear that it will expose our sinful transgressions.

Because we are not suitable to meet your friends and loved ones because they either come from a different time or would be unable to appreciate our nights of passion. We cannot make them or you uncomfortable. And for the most part, we at one point in time, will silently accept these terms, out of necessity to satisfy our own desires. Or to somehow prove we are more than the shapely figures you passionately hold onto while driving you into ecstasy. Or when we aren’t strong enough to see differently believe that is our sole purpose. That we exist, to you, for only one night. 

The above is a compilation of conversations and submitted writings I’ve collected over the past several months from some of the experiences that gay men of color have experienced. Often we are only seen as sexual beings only capable for having a hot passionate night of sex. We are fetishized and perceived be to voyeuristic and exhibitionists that sometimes borders on sadomasochism. Some of us are but not all just as any other race. But sometimes we are only seen as this stereotype.

Not even necessarily saying the stereotype or rather the hypersexualization of African American men and other men of color is necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, (with the exception of referring to us as sexual beasts cause that is offensive. And racially insensitive). Remember this is the stereotype that is supposed to work in our favor.

But a real problem arises when you only think of us as sexual beings that only want to have sex all the time. That we don’t have dreams and aspirations and goals outside of that. That we don’t want to build lives together with significant others, to someday have families and being a part of healthy, successful long-term relationships when most of us do want that. This is a perfect example of how some so called good stereotypes still work out negatively for that biased group of people.

When only these stereotypes are believed it can make venturing into interracial dating difficult. How are we going to be able to interact with those that believe that’s all we are capable of being? How are we to overcome being interested in someone or trying to invest time into knowing someone who is terrified of introducing us to their parents and friends?

What do we tell the gay people of color that are apprehensive of having interracial relationships when they’ve been told, “This would be so much easier/less complicated/better if you weren’t black”? Can’t tell us to just stick to our race because not only is that racist but also not always feasible, especially when you live in areas or cities where there are only a handful of out gay men of the same race. Is it our responsibility to challenge these misconceptions every single time we come across them?

These questions are why I reached out over the past few months to some of the gay African American and other gay men I knew to talk about some of the issues we’ve come across in our experiences. We discussed how sometimes we are referred to the mythical beast, a belief that transcends sexual orientation. Because sometimes we are sexualized and made to feel like we can only have one purpose, sex. Now don’t get us wrong, the men and myself included love sex. Love everything about sex. But it is jarring to only be seen as a sexual object. That us dating and interacting with interracial relationships it is something we come across from time to time.

While discussing this we were also aware that there are a few gay men of color that may use this stereotype to their advantage. They may play into the troupe to get what they want and it’s so easy to just go with the vibe of having a great night of sex with no anticipation of commitment. It could be that these men have completely bought into this stereotype and see no reason to investigate further that is reflective of a learned helplessness. But I have found that this is likely the exception to the rule.

And the men and I that have discussed this topic are not saying that this happens every single time we involved with interracial relationships but it does happen often. We brought this up for those that do only see us as sexual beings and remind them that no one with self-worth wants to be seen as a robot that only exists to fill some sexual request. We just wanted to shine a light on how marginalizing a group of people to having only one purpose still is negative, no matter how purportedly good the origins.

It is only our responsibility as gay men of color to be aware of this for our own well-being and not have to teach this each time we come across it. We’re saying everyone should actively investigate the perceptions they have about a group of people, even when that stereotype is perceived to be inherently good.

By sharing this unique collaboration of experiences that we encourage people to think about the perceptions they have a group of people and go beyond that. Learn and investigate on your own. To make note of when you only see people that way, you end up missing out on truly knowing us and finding out the things about us that have much more significance than a fun night of sex.

*Special Thanks to the seven extraordinary men that helped contribute their experiences into this article. And as always my journals for helping me recognize my worth early on when I first came out.*

 

Do Unto Lesbians As We Do Unto Gay Men

BiSexual

What an incredible few weeks it has been for the LGBT community. More evidence that our victories are reflective of the evolution that our country has seen this past year. With the news of Rhode Island and Delaware officially becoming the 10th and 11th states to recognize same sex marriage our efforts are truly showing progress. That coupled with Jason Collins, a veteran and still active NBA player coming out of the closet, a new precedence in our history illustrates what an immense breakthrough for our entire society.

Though there have been a few detractors that have strayed away from the significance of Collins’ coming out, this story has inspired so many men and women already to live and celebrate who they really are no matter what. It shows the world how the process of coming out is a harrowing but worthwhile journey, Even in this day and age it takes courage to come out no matter the circumstances or demographics an individual represents. Yet coming out on such a large scale, knowing the varying scenarios that can arise as a result of such a personal admission needs to be recognized.

I was so happy to see the amount of support this man was receiving for, unknowingly to him, taking LGBT community into another level of awareness. It shows the true diversity that this community is comprised of different ethnicity and races while providing greater emphasis on our different interests like sports. This story also showed that as a whole we do not reflect the stereotypes often projected in the media and even if we do, that we are so much more than those perceived notions of behavior. It brought tears to my eyes seeing an outpour of love that basketball fans and just progressive people that are willing and able to accept our sexuality is remarkable.

But for me a moment of pride and celebration was muted and met with a building frustration as time progressed. Because I began to think of Brittney Griner, an up and coming WNBA star that just came out last week as she was drafted. I kept thinking where is the outpouring of support for this woman? Are there not women that are still in the closet that may have just as hard a time coming out than a man? These questions began to swirl around and I felt that asking them was somehow diminishing the impact of Collins’ story. So I waited to write this because I did not want my opinion to seem as though I was trying to overshadow or diminish the monumental part of our history in the LGBT community when Jason Collins came out this week.

I didn’t like this feeling. I did not like that if felt that our society values the experiences of a man more so than a woman. That her story is not given the same value of a man. And when I brought this up in social media and in general conversation, the responses like “who is that?” or “who cares about the WNBA” or that lesbians don’t have to endure the same as gay men it frustrated me even more. It did more than that; it angered me, deeply.

The media itself did not do much better. Griner was given a 30 second spot on the 11 o’clock news and not much else. Nike even signed a deal with Griner and most LGBT news sites, blogs, and other reporting outlets have barely spoken a word about her, if they mentioned her at all. And Collins has had 24 hour coverage since his story broke. No covers on magazines. No invites to speak on radio and numerous tv interviews. As far as I know she hasn’t been invited to the White House either. Though her story has just as much impact on the women that are still in the closet, and looking for a face to show them that they can succeed at all their goals.

We forget how there was a long, arduous struggle that women had to endure just to be able to play sports yet it is still openly acceptable to criticize, even joke about their participation professionally. The Suffrage Movement was what led to the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s which led to the civil rights movement of today. To learn through our history how much women;s history influenced so much of our own only to be given less emphasis is unsettling. To be shown so little respect deeply disturbs me and once again reminded me of the other times where this community is not as welcoming as it appears.

As I read more breaking stories about Collins, more of the news read event as “Jason Collins, The First Out Professional Athlete” when that was not true. Men and women have been coming out in professional sports for years. We’ve had representation in boxing like Orlando Cruz along with a plethora of women that have come out in nearly every professional sport. It showed me where our priorities are and have always been and it does not feel like true equality.

This community does not fight as hard for the rights and recognition of women. How the bisexual men and women in this community are often laughed at and not given the platform of gay men in this community. How race/ethnicity is at times just as big an issue in this community as it is in the rest of society, sometimes even more so when there are gay men that believe that it is impossible for them to be racist. At times the open misogyny that some practice in this community angers me more than the total disregard of intersectionality, which women in this community also have to endure. I can only imagine the experiences women have to endure when they are slighted by a community that does not reach out to them.

It angered me to feel that the same misogyny that society embodies as a whole still has a grasp and is being kept alive by some members of this community. When I brought this to the attention of HRC they ignored it, which with some of the stories and rumors of their transphobia and lack of diversity within the organization I should not have been surprised. That angered me even more as I thought about how too often organizations like HRC and GLAAD set the tone of what this country sees as LGBT when it’s mostly comprised only of affluent gay men. They either didn’t feel a woman coming out was not as important or did not care

Our society still sexualizes women habitually and when she discloses her sexuality it is fetishized and not respected. Because we all know that there is this belief by some that it’s easier for a woman coming out. That us gay men have an immensely hard time coming out because of all the societal pressures, cultural norms and gender roles placed on us. That we are bullied more, threatened and attacked more as gay men.

It’s a common belief that most if not all women that play professional sports in any capacity is written off automatically as a lesbian when that isn’t true either. And if people believe that, since their sexuality is inferred that lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered women athletes have it easier. But if f we took the time out to read the varying challenges that women like Griner face, like bullying, fear of being judged, inner turmoil, then we’d give stories like hers much more agency.

Women are teased if they do things that no other women do or see as “normal” . Yet as a community our understanding of how similar the adversity we face is forgotten. Even with how much as some of the leaders of this community pride themselves on pushing forward equality in the rest of society, we need to do the same thing within and properly recognize the issues we do not focus on enough.

Women, like Griner, and their accomplishments should not be met with such disregard and apathy. To hear this kind of rhetoric from gay men, that know the varying degrees of discrimination and insensitivity directed towards us would with such a flat affect deeply disturbed me. I had to reconcile my strong opinion with adequately explaining the justification of my immense frustration on how easily we lose insight and focus of other members of this community.

I understand how important this story is because it challenges so many disparaging beliefs of what gay men look like and goes even further to illustrate that gay men are athletic and fit into the broad definition of what society thinks masculinity looks like. That we can love throwing a 3-point shot as much as he can love hair and fashion. But the stories of our sisters are ignored, overshadowed, or forgotten far too often.

We cannot ignore this problem, or continue with this air of displaced interests and lack of love toward the women in this community who deserve to be recognized just as much as the men. We need to remember that just as there’s some guy in college that plays basketball feels he can be out and proud because of James Collins that the same must be true of a woman feeling proud of what Brittney Griner has done for women. Let’s give the same recognition to women as we do men. We can do better.

Is He A Top Or A Bottom?

bitchybottoms

Today while attempting to research for something to blog about I came across this article in the Advocate titled, Six Reasons Why it Sucks to Be a Gay Manthat discussed the different ways that being gay has its downfalls. Never mind the negative tone the name of the article has as it is apparent after reading the first two paragraphs that the author was satirically making a point through humor and I can’t fault him for that.

However there was one particular point on the list that really frustrated me. Maybe frustrate is too strong a word as it’s not so much that I have hostility towards this point, but rather I question the point itself. It talked about how not knowing a potential partner’s sexual role early on can pose problems later on in the relationship. The author implies how it sucks when two gay men get together and are dating only later to find out that they are first in fact bottoms:

4. “Wait … we are both bottoms?”

It’s the third date and you have been on your best behavior with that gorgeous man across the dinner table.  That means no “sexting,” no more than two cocktails, and nothing below the waist … until now.

You think, Finally, this is how dating is supposed to be! You didn’t meet on Grindr or sleep with each other on the first date. You have the same taste in music and even talked about how you both want kids. Everything is perfect!

That is, until things finally start heating up and your thighs keep wanting to go in the same direction as his. After a frustrating make-out session and an awkward discussion in the nude, the reality of your preferred position becomes apparent. Even if one of you may be more “versatile” than the other, you are both bottoms.

So there went the wedding bells, but it could be worse. At least you have a new shopping pal.

This of course would cause problems in any relationship when you have a preference to a specific sexual role; if you’re not into it, you just aren’t. But the first thought I had when I read this point is why would this information be something that you would find out on the third date? When is the right time to ask this question.

And I know that most already know the answers to this question depending on their own experience or belief in common sense but some of us are not as clear on parameters because of inexperience. Or the fact that as the more men you interact with, the sooner you realize that the answer is not as clear cut as you once believed.

Because despite what the media, and sometimes what our own beliefs about the validity in stereotypes of gay men, we know deep down that we are a very diverse group of men so you can’t just go by appearance. Or how they walk. Or how they talk. Their profession. All of these demographics don’t automatically tell you this crucial information that will at some point will mean something to both of you.  And despite their popularity, we don’t always have the convenience of social dating apps like Grindr to blatantly list what are our sexual preferences.

Some may be saying right now, “all that stuff doesn’t matter, it’s all about the connection”. Well like it or not sex is a component of that connection. Granted, it is not the only connection two people can share with each other or the only way to physically express affections for one another but it is still an important part to intimacy. Remember that as men we react first by what they see, so we also base our future behaviors on what we see in the present and foreseeable future.

You may have sex on the first date or may not have sex for the first six months of dating someone new, but a lot of the attraction may be centered on how you were attracted to him in the first place. So the discussion needs to happen at some point well before you make it to the bedroom one night to take your relationship further. So this will come up at some point.

But the question is of course when. When do approach sex roles in potential partners? So how would you approach the matter if it weren’t so apparent? Would you bluntly ask? Going up to someone and saying hi, I’m (insert name) and I’m wanted to know if you’re a top or bottom” probably won’t go over too smoothly. We can all appreciate a direct inquiry but you’re more than likely to offend someone with a question that is so intimate and  private.

Would a better way to approach the dilemma be to enact on a series of vague questions to find out the answer? What an icebreaker that could be, if done correctly. There’s drawback to that as well. A lot of guys do not like these types of long-winded, mull around the bush questions (including myself). After a while they can come off as condescending and suggests that you are too much the inquisitor rather than potential lover.

Maybe the best approach would be a combination of the first two scenarios. But instead of asking them, under no uncertain terms declaring what sexual role you prefer. For instance at some point providing information about your own preferred sexual role (without being vulgar or inappropriate), you suggest how much you love leading your dance partner on the floor and doing a very sensual rumba. And that doesn’t have to include actually discussing sex itself. But that can be seen as being too forward.

Maybe that approach is too forward as well, suggesting cockiness and that you just assumed what you believe is their sexual role. the whole guessing game and these tactics you employ can be tiresome. Honestly I don’t think this situation of later on finding out two guys are both bottoms happens that often as natural chemistry will express what each of your roles are. So maybe listening is the true key. Maybe there are subtle indications that can help that we don’t pay attention to often. Maybe that was what the author was suggesting.

I believe it’s important to ask why we have such a hard time approaching this topic in the first place. The biggest reason is the result of what the roles themselves imply. Being a top implies masculinity and strength as well as dominance while being the bottom signifies submissive, feminine attributes. One of the problems arises is when we take those sexual roles we assign ourselves outside the bedroom and apply it to everyday life.

It’s no secret that in the gay community that the bottom is the brunt (no pun intended) of many jokes. And is seen as a negative attribute, especially by those that carry heteronormative practices of misogyny into the gay community. That means they, like chauvinistic men in the rest of society associate anything feminine as being weak.

We can blame it on media, or upbringing as much as we want but the truth is we are responsible for correcting those ill-conceived beliefs into the community. As I’ve stated before, we have to take accountability for not repeating the mistakes we advocate against. Basically, remember what I said earlier about every guy being different? That’s the most important thing you can do. And be honest in however you discuss it.

Lastly, don’t ever question what sexual role he says he prefers and take him at his word. Just the way you would want to not be scrutinized by whatever your preferred sexual role is for you.  If you either don’t believe or accept that then kindly move on to some other topic or someone else.

I won’t tell you which method is right or wrong because that is not my job description in this setting  However I will say to always remember how you want to be addressed when this question is asked of you and how you’d respond accordingly. The chemistry will say more than any line of questioning you can think up and provide you with the answer when necessary. And guys, always do it with respect. Perceive each man, regardless of the position he prefers, is still a man and a human being. Remember and respect that.

How We All Need To Evolve About HIV/AIDS

HIV

Several weeks ago I was asked to do an Op-Ed on whether an HIV negative man should date someone who is positive. Being completely honest, I was nervous. Not because the subject matter of discussing HIV/AIDS makes me nervous, but for fear that I wouldn’t fully encapsulate my point correctly or present each side of the argument accurately. So I held off for a while to ruminate and collect my thoughts. Methodically trying to map out how to present it to a community that has such a taboo about even discussing the subject, fearing an association to something that affects the entire community.

During this process I kept revisiting excerpts of different points I wanted to bring up and as time went on thought they were too convoluted or sounded insulting or just was too random to be of use in the article. I then came across a brilliant and honest depiction of what it was like for a man living with HIV to go out seeking romance or possibly love. David Duran’s story about being positive and navigating through social dating apps really touched me because I truly felt the frustration he expressed about disclosing his status to men he could have some potential sexual relationship. I related to it because I felt frustrations when I’m discounted or erroneously judged because of race in the gay community, another taboo subject rarely discussed.

As I thought about the comparisons it made me think of how taxing that has to be on the gay men that have to endure the silent ridicule and muffled disdain for something that could have happened to any of us. Now some may chagrin to that statement I just made but they would do well to remember that condoms do sometimes break. They should remember that just because someone says that their STI test came back negative doesn’t always mean that they don’t have the virus because it hasn’t shown up yet. So yes it can happen to any of one of us.

This reflective journey made me remember an incident about understanding what HIV is after I came out. I came across a journal entry dated a little over six years ago where I attempt to process whether or not I would date a man living with the virus. I’m going to share a part of this entry to show some of the mistakes I made as a younger gay man and how this experience may resemble the reactions that David and other men have faced. I hope that even though it shows a bit of my own ignorance back then that it may also open eyes to the misconceptions and negative attitudes surrounding it. Because as I always state in these articles, nothing ever changes if we don’t talk about where we went wrong and how we can overcome these flaws.

Saturday January 27th 2007

Tonight I feel like I messed up big time. My first real venture into socializing with gay men, something I dreamed about was a wash. I was finally able to openly flirting with a guy..but in the end it just came out awkward. I was grateful that William had invited me out cause even though it’s been over a year since I came out I don’t know anyone other than the man I’d loved and lost as a circumstance of bad timing and a couple of random guys I fooled around with. This was supposed to be a big step but it..just didn’t turn out right.

I got along with everyone and flirted with the guys and that was received well. Later on this guy walked in. Black hair and the most brilliant  luminescent emerald green eyes I can remember. Checkered shoes with a matching scarf and pinstripe suspenders. A hipster from head to toe. I was so taken by him. A few drinks and I felt comfortable enough to say more than hey. We talked about school and politics. He was as so sharp and articulate as I always think I am.. Sweet smile and his butt. Amazing. After we went out back to talk more we leaned in to kiss but he stopped before we made contact. Saying he had to tell me about his status and I was so in the moment it wasn’t clicking to what he was referring to. He said he was positive.

A few seconds of confusion until I realized he was talking about HIV. I was just so caught up in the moment..but I wasn’t able to hide how hard the statement had brought me back down from fantasizing about us throwing each other against the house and me having my way with him. The starry gaze in my eyes was replaced with shock. I could tell he’s seen this expression before and it makes the whole thing worse. And I noticed that he noticed my initial reaction that was in my face that easily to him said “no” when I didn’t know what I would do. But I know he’s seen that face before and a resolve that nothing would come of our earlier flirtation. Shaking and so upset, probably heightened by the alcohol, my reaction condemned this man and I felt so ashamed, that I may have hurt his feelings. I began to cry.

Spontaneously crying, like I always do when I feel I’ve deeply offended someone unintentionally. He was trying to say something like “it’s okay, I understand” but all I could do was profusely yell how sorry I was if I made him feel bad or that he wasn’t desirable. Because I felt like at that point I couldn’t just save face and say of course it’s not an issue but my reaction said differently. Even worse that I know what that feels like on some level to be rejected on something you can’t change, though not to the degree that he had to have felt. Too often I’ve had resolve to rejection as sometimes as an African American you have to brace yourself as some people do react to you this way.

And here I am most likely making this guy feel that way. Both of us embarrassed at the moment I was having I flagged a sober friend to drive me home…Could it have been the era I grew up in? Definitely. I grew up in the 80s and 90s in the south, the time of the Cold War and the Reagan era that seemed to completely and utterly fail to diminish the impact of the virus. AIDS was on the news almost every night. And people were terrified  I was terrified. These all sound like more excuses about whatever I’m subconsciously afraid to say. 

Growing up I remember so often when the subject of gay came up it was automatically synonymous with AIDS and then death. Back then it due to the reprehensible negligence by the government so it really was a death sentence. I wonder if that image was ingrained as I was processing the fact that I was gay; maybe that had some weight in how I reacted. I just remember being so afraid growing up thinking if I’m gay then I’m automatically destined to inherit this disease? Of course I know better than that now. I know antivirals helps a person live normally. But back then that was all I knew. Maybe it’s all an excuse.

Why did I react that way? Why am I trying to justify being so wrong. This isn’t like me. It’s not like I have anything to worry about. I get tested for STD’s at least once every six months. And if we were intimate together I would take the same precautions that I always do. So why did I respond that way. William called and said the guy wasn’t offended and understood but I still feel like a horrible human being. I wonder if it wasn’t completely subconscious, or lingering fear. Maybe that’s why I panicked because I had internalized all the lies and manipulation I had been taught growing up from the media. All I know is that I was embarrassing tonight. And probably hurt someone’s feelings. I hate this feeling and sorry for all this,

I remember during this whole ordeal I kept thinking that if I referred to it as a disease instead of a virus that it was insulting. Or what if it’s the other way around or both or neither. I was just so afraid of offending this man and those amazingly beautiful emerald eyes of his. More likely it was fear that I still had not dealt with and it all came to the surface that night. I needed to reconcile that because no matter how open minded I believed I was, for whatever reason I was seeing a status rather than a person. That was why I had that reaction. For me, I needed to change that outlook immediately and I believe that I’ve done so.

Some things are the same as they were then. I still slightly look away when I make eye contact with someone I’m extremely attracted to and smile. I still have terrible one liners that somehow makes the guy I’m talking to laugh..still don’t know if it’s out of civility or genuine affection. I’m still immensely drawn to hipster. I still use protection every time I have a sexual encounter and get tested at least once every six months to make sure that I don’t have any STD’s. But now I do not treat a man that is positive as some fragile being I need to tiptoe around. No longer through my awkward, panicked behavior do I treat these men as though their status is the only thing I see. I view these men as men, just as deserving of love and affection as anyone else. As it should be.

So maybe the worse thing I did through that experience was be afraid of offending someone else’s feelings (which is at times still a flaw). But it was necessary for me to go through and learn some of the prejudices that I may not have been aware of back then. As the years have went on I grew to see people as people, no matter their circumstance. I now know that I would consider dating an HIV positive man the same way I’d consider dating any other gay man. Would there be lengthy discussions and all precautions before during and after sex be taken? Absolutely as I take those precautions with every man I’m with sexually, as we all should be.

So how do we challenge ourselves to stop letting stigma dictate how we treat these men? How do we evolve and overcome the insensitive and sometimes downright ugly reactions that we may have when these men are looking for the same things we’re looking for? Talk. Just as we did when we first discovered that we’re gay. We sought out after answers about what our sexuality meant and what sex would someday mean to us. We learned the mechanics of protecting ourselves and those we sexually engage. We learned that we don’t want to be treated differently on the basis of one aspect of ourselves.

Sometimes it is necessary for us to revisit the lessons of the past and apply them to a different situation. The one thing all of us can do, regardless of status, is talk openly about HIV. I’m not saying that anyone has to share the exact same opinion on this because I understand why people would have reservations about it. Who knows, maybe I still do as I have not dated anyone who is positive. But at least I am ready to talk about it and learning more.  Because I do believe there are valid concerns, just like any relationship you embark upon. Education is paramount, not only in prevention but in understanding what it means to those living with the virus.

All relationships have obstacles that we will all have to face. But that doesn’t mean that you have to treat these men so distastefully. As David has said, we are all kin, and status doesn’t remove our sexual nature or desire or our humanity. Basically the only thing I ask every gay man to do is challenge and examine why they have a certain view on this topic. Question where your beliefs come from, question what you fear, and ultimately do what’s right for you. And always protect yourself. Talk.

Thank you David for being my muse and inspiring me to find the right words to express how I feel. And my journals for yet again showing me how reflection is always necessary for growth.

The Discussion Of Racial Gay Self-Hate That Is Never Addressed

DTLA

When I write these Op-Eds, I always attempt to present a topic and viewpoint that either is never talked about or approach a subject in a completely different manner as it related to various issues that I see in the LGBT community, and in particular with gay men. When I divulge my own experiences with this formula it is in hopes that I in some way illustrate why I came to that conclusion. But the topic I’m discussing has so many layers that I may be unable to fully quantify the ramifications of what is attributing to this issue.

So when I write about the infrastructure of the gay community I’m hoping to spark some dialogue because I see so many divisive tactics that we have in the community. From internalized homophobia to latent racism I try to shed some of the motivations behind them and how we as a whole can learn from them. And while this issue is about someone’s own personal issues/problems we as a community may also be part of the cause of why this happens.

Sometimes people will do just about anything to feel as though they belong. Because none of us truly want to be alone. We crave some form of validation from the people that we either admire, feel commonality, or that we aspire to be like. And unfortunately race is still an issue within the gay community, despite those that make asinine claims to the contrary with statements like “I’m gay I can’t be racist”. We know that isn’t true. But we hardly see examinations into how this misbelief as well as others affects other gay ethnic/racial minorities. More specifically, we don’t talk about what negative stereotypes and behaviors this group do to themselves and other gay men of color.

I wanted to discuss this specific topic as a result from, believe it or not, a TV sitcom. It all started as a result of my queuing up a show saved up on DVR. There’s a show by LOGO called DTLA that depicts the lives of 30 somethings of all different backgrounds, races and sexual orientation navigating their lives and loves in Los Angeles. The premise of the show is what I always fantasized being gay would be like for me but it wasn’t. Maybe it’s because I have a tendency to romanticize every possible scenario, as we all do. I’m in the south but to be around that many people that are diverse in opinion and get along is hard sought after here.

Anyway, this led into further discussion of shows like Queer As Folk and Noah’s Arc that feature gay male characters as well as the plots, implications and our own desires about the hot cast members. But as my friends and I were discussing the plot along with the eye candy the dramas provide, a friend randomly asked me if I ever felt that race makes me feel as if I actually had to distance myself from other gay African Americans and other gay ethnic minorities. I was at first shocked, insulted that he believed that I would ever limit the human experience by isolating my interactions from people that share a part of my ancestry.

Then a few seconds later I knew exactly what he was referring to. What he meant by that line of questioning was if I felt I needed to distance myself from other ethnic minorities so that I would feel like I fit in with the majority of the gay community. There’s a belief that this happens as a result of tokenism, or when a select few members of a minority are accepted into a community. The minority’s acceptance is supposedly a sign of good faith that they’re not harboring prejudiced ideology. In fact it doesn’t even matter if the group practices this type of initiation as it’s only necessary for the minority that believes this phenomena to be true.

So gay minorities that believe this phenomena to be true and are consciously agreeing to the terms will go out of their way to make themselves stand out. They will show that their behavior is like that of the other Caucasian men in the gay community and not associate with members of other races, especially their own.  They feel that it is a consequence to this perceived tokenism and  feel that this is more pressure for GOC (gays of color) to assimilate into an ideal of what is acceptable mannerisms and customs commonly associated with gay Caucasian men.

Sounds so outlandish when you think about it but this works in the same way as internalized homophobia. where a gay person will openly condemn homosexual practices and cultures assimilate and show allegiance to a favored group. I wish I could say this is all just theory but I’ve witnessed this behavior and even questioned if I was embarking on it when I first came out. But my philosophy has always been to reach out be inclusive.  I’ve never had that reaction where I felt like I couldn’t date my own race or embracing my various racial background as a gay man.

However I do remember a time when I was at a gay club and asked another African American if he wanted to dance and he was so hot. Great smile and laugh to accompany his very muscular physique. He said no thank you and I was fine with that until he leaned over and said “we can’t have the rest of them thinking we’re hoodrats” I was taken back because we weren’t doing anything other than talking. When I asked what he meant he continued by saying that “whites didn’t like it when too much of us are in one place. Then offered to meet me somewhere later if I gave my number and instead of lecturing him, I simply walked away.

Whenever I think of this tokenism happening I refer to my Race and Racism professor discussing this tokenism phenomena that can occur with our innate need to belong. He talked about how on a subconscious level, African American men that journey outside of their native community may do all that they can to stand out and completely isolate themselves from any members.  No matter how compatible they are in ideology and insight a person may avoid all interactions for fear that they will be associated with any negative stereotypes. he will even go so far as to laugh at racially insensitive jokes or even engage in using them himself all in an effort to belong. All the while these men will always have an internal struggle of who he is and what he believes constantly challenging his position in the community he is trying to adopt.

My story about the guy at the bar illustrates what my professor taught about how this phenomena occurs with gay ethnic minorities. They will not openly get into dialogue with other gay men in clubs and other hangouts for fear they will be grouped as just another minority that exhibits the same undesirable characteristics. They may openly say something like “I don’t do black guys”, much like you would see from a prejudiced Caucasian’s profile on Grindr or other dating apps.  Their need to assimilate and be seen as one of the adoptive community is so strong that they don’t recognize the hatred they’re harboring for a group they belong to and for themselves. This behavior is a clear indication of deficient self-esteem where they may fear association from their race so much that they become prejudiced to it.

Jargon aside, even though this skewed vision that a gay ethnic/racial minority may have is of their own issues and experiences we as a whole community can do more to -prevent this jarring behavior. We can talk about race a bit more. A lot more. Because too often the experiences of what it’s like to be gay and from an ethnic/racial minority is classified as the same experience when that is completely untrue. They are on two different planes of conscious.

Phenomena like this affect all of us because it shows that sometimes we can be our own worst enemies both from members within the community and to ourselves. And that these beliefs, however extreme they are valid come from somewhere. We need to examine that and be willing to give each other a voice so that anyone, no matter the topic, feels like they are being heard and respected. We can all have dialogue because these are things we never talk about.

The All Too Relevant Myth About Bisexuality

ie384-077

“What? You haven’t heard of the myth about bisexuality? The myth about it is that bisexuality doesn’t exist. It’s all for show. It’s so obvious that they’re lying to themselves.  They get to have the best of both worlds with fewer consequences and they are completely greedy. So selfish. They’re doing it to buffer into being gay. Sort of like some gateway. They don’t know how to be monogamous.  Or it’s just made up so that clever gay men not ready to face the truth yet and accept that they’re just as gay as the rest of them. That’s why I never date them. It doesn’t exist.”

This is what a normal conversation looks like that sums up how most men in the gay community feel about bisexuality. So often the only discussion is just a few sentences that deny that it has any legitimacy or accuracy. Either many don’t understand it or simply don’t want as a result of resentment and frustration Instead of the outward appearance of solidarity; bisexuality is one of the most openly condemned subgroups. It’s so easily discarded almost immediately upon mention without any further investigation and not worthy of any more discussion.

And at the end of these superficial conversations, they are always met with the declarative phrase like, “That’s why I don’t date them”. The statement is said with so much vigor and so finite that it seems as if they truly believe that bisexuals as some kind of leper of our community. So many believe that being bisexual is actually some type of detriment to their character. That their sexuality is an actual problem, not just who they are and is met with such disdain. There is always a reason to have such a strong stance something so I ask is there any validity to this stance? What leads so many gay men to view bisexuality in such a negative way to the point that they don’t even believe that it’s possible?

The topic is too often avoided or danced around and as a result, these myths about bisexuality appear and just accepted as truth. The myths are that bisexuality, and more particularly in bisexual men, are often believed to be confused about their sexuality.  Or that bisexual men cannot be in a sustainable, monogamous relationship. More than likely, when the topic is brought up, it is either overstated that this man is gay and just hasn’t come to terms with it or is looking to cushion the blow of coming out. And the most common belief that bisexuality doesn’t exist.

Think about it, when Frank Ocean talked about his relationship with a man last year, most media, bloggers, and news outlets just referred to him as coming out gay. Despite the fact that Ocean has never declared himself as gay, most of the media wouldn’t even entertain the thought the more than likely that he is a bisexual man and completely okay with that. Even after he clarified later that he does not adhere to these labels and further suggested the fluidity of his sexuality, almost everyone just considers him gay. And it’s for reasons like this that I want to examine these aspects of how we categorize (or dismiss) bisexuality and the way they may be true and why some of them are not true at all.

So why do gay men seem to have the biggest problem with other men that declare themselves bisexual? I think there are several reasons for this stigma. First, a believed common trend up until a few years ago was to come out as bisexual to “ease” into the gay community. It’s believed that you were likely to still garner some praise from the straight community as you still had “normal” behaviors by being attracted to women. It meant that you are still a man and weren’t a complete lost cause and just needed to find the right woman. It’s perceived that going this route makes coming out as easier because at one point, these men enacted in acceptable behavior.

It’s true that some men that now identify as gay once categorized themselves as bisexual. I have several friends that have done so and for the very reason of it being easier and admitted later that they felt it would make it easier. But you can any of us really fault them for this? We come from a society that adamantly rejects any notion of a man embracing anything seen as “feminine”. So even bisexual men are criticized the same as those that identify as gay.  So maybe this trend did have very apparent drawbacks. Maybe the result of some gay men coming out initially as bisexual, made it harder for some to believe that there are in fact legitimacy of bisexual men in our community.

But these men are still attracted to men whether they identify as gay or bisexual. Why are we so critical when someone decides to take an “easier route”?  We all know the process of coming out and how it can be a constant unrelenting challenge both internally and from society. Why wouldn’t we want to further complicate someone’s life by adding to the challenges? That’s what happens when bisexual men are judged in this manner and makes coming out even more challenging by adding stress to this process. All of this scrutiny leaves a harder road for the bisexual man. Because instead of feeling welcomed in a community that should openly support him he feels like he has to choose to be gay or just a straight man that occasionally experimented with guys.

However the same is not true for bisexual women. Actually the truth is that bisexual women are praised for being adventurous and sexy. In both the straight and gay community. Taking on the aspects that are both masculine and feminine, like a tomboy, are heavily sought after. Many things that he may have perfectly blended together are now about him attempting to project an image that is most accepted. Even gay men praise and hold in high esteem women that are able to blend masculinity and femininity in their sexuality. But the truth is that the only reason that is accepted with bisexual women is because women are viewed by our misogynistic society as sexual fetishes.

So there is somewhat of a double standard at play here. It’s okay for a woman in our society to be bisexual because so often masculinity, in any form,  is romanticized and depicted as the accepted standard. It’s okay for both men and women to be attracted to masculine qualities. But as always any feminine attribute or anything associated with the feminine gender (like being attracted to men by other men) is disputed and rejected. Men are not allowed to be attracted to what women are attracted to or exhibit feminine qualities.

On some level, when we meet bisexuality in men with such trepidation we are advancing those oppressive beliefs. As a result we erroneously carry those societal norms into our community and project them onto bisexual men. We are carrying those same notions that feminine is bad and masculine is good. Horrible thought that the behaviors and attitudes towards bisexuality drive people to make the same hasty decisions like picking a side. They should be able to express their sexuality openly as we do without the criticism that we faced when we came out as gay. They feel misunderstood and unwelcome, and it’s contradictory when they are condemned by gay men.

What all this information should address to those naysayers is for you to reflect and remember that when you came out, you more than likely had a plethora of straight men  promoting this religious propaganda by telling you that this was some phase you were somehow talked into by some delinquents. We also need to remember that sexuality at its foundation has always been a fluid concept. Why? Because we are all different with varying degrees of sexual attraction, expression, and behavior.

We have all learned, sexuality may be fluid and changing. Whether it is small incremental changes to huge monumental moments we change and grow. And while I’m not saying that the category in which your sexuality is placed changes or that everyone is bisexual, the way you categorize or label your sexuality can change. So we need to be sure that we don’t criticize these men and support them, regardless of how they identify their sexuality.

What makes this talk about bisexuality relevant is that the myths are believed without question or any further examination. It’s ignorance and even more so ironic that these beliefs are held by gay men more than anyone else. These negative reactions are a consequence of conditioning from society and we need to be cognizant to not exhibit the same oppressive mannerisms.

We don’t talk enough about the things that we do to each other within our community and how some of our behaviors ask members of this community to conform to our beliefs. We cannot advocate such archaic heteronormative behaviors as we see enough of that from places like Grindr that have profiles asking for  “straight only” “no femmes” “masc only”. They are on the same makeup of the negative gay stereotypes that we campaign against. So let’s not criticize what someone defines their sexuality as, especially when they belong to our community.

Will You Straight Actors PLEASE Shut The Hell Up About Being “Uncomfortable” Playing Gay Roles?

 

gaynotgay

IN “this is so stupid” news a self proclaimed author and “actor” Nicholas Brown found it pertinent to divulge the trials and tribultion of a straight actor playing a gay role. In the oh so (NOT) riveting Why Do I Still Feel Uncomfortable Playing a Gay Man on TV?, Brown questions the thougtht processes that he goes through to portray a gay man, accurately or otherwise.  Overall in a very vague sentiment of history, stereotypes, and prejudices, Brown recalls how gay roles are very trying, even though he has a plethora of friends and family who are gay:

I am not gay. I have no shortage of gay friends. My uncle is gay. I’ve marched in a gay pride parade. More than half of the roommates I have lived with are gay. I support marriage equality.

So it comes as a shock to me when I realize that, actually, if I am honest with myself, I’m not comfortable with kissing another man on camera. I really don’t want to book this part.

I don’t want people to think I’m gay. And I’m even more uncomfortable because that isn’t a thought that I want to have.

Acting is a curious profession. The Oscars tend to award actors who transfigure themselves. Think of Charlize Theron in Monster or Phillip Seymour Hoffman in Capote. And most actors actively want to stretch outside of themselves. That is, after all, why we tried to make a career out of pretending. But people tend to assume things about you after they have seen you onstage. The character and the person are conflated.

Still, I wouldn’t turn down a commercial that required me to pretend to slap a child, or one where I played a Nazi. And—assuming the ad wasn’t advocating child abuse or Nazism—I don’t think I would feel odd about the audition.

Alright enough is enough. The rest of the article reads as some power point to justify Brown’s “bold” declaration. And since Brown is so forthcoming, I’ll return the favor. Your article is insulting and I am so sick of these vain pretentious actors like you Brown being praised and recognized for playing gay characters. And here you go thinking that they’re “brave” and then complaining about how uncomfortable you felt during the process of doing YOUR JOB? Please shut the hell up.

Every time you go out and say something so inanely stupid further perpetuates this inaccurate stereotype that being gay is a chore. That being gay is some big effort that requires a lot of effort.And on some subconscious level, you talking about being “uncomfortable” implies to the reader that gay is a choice. Because you imply that you can play an abuser or murderer with ease, but something that involves a nonviolent kiss with a guy gives you concern and you have to make a conscious effort to participate (instead of just not going for gay roles, which would actually make sense).

You choosing a r0le is a choice. Me responding to your ignorant article is a choice. Being gay is not a choice.  Even when discussing the matter of the discrepancies of gay actors being denied playing straight characters and giving justifications isn’t about you wanting to expand  your talent. It’s about money and your wallet. Since you’re taking this existential journey why not go all the way and be honest about it. I think what you were trying to do was discuss it as a process like any normal job preparation but instead tried to justify why you and others feel that way. Well let me tell you, you missed the mark.

You’re probably wondering in astonishment why I am being so confrontational about your statements, failing to see my issue is. Well, for the most part, we spend on average about the first two decades or more of our lives finally accepting our sexuality. Some of us still repress it because there is still a need to fit into society rather than accepting and completely owning that we are sexual beings.. Not that being being gay is difficult but because life is difficult. Acceptance is difficult.  Society is difficult. Out culture that slowly moves towards equality and on a consciously accepts on a moralistic level to demonize gay makes our lives difficult. Misconceptions and ignorance is the catalyst to all of this and Brown, you’re serving up a hefty pile of it in your article.

In all fairness, Brown does try to repair some of his verbal damage by issuing an apology, and it is suggestive, albeit not clear, on wanting to change that part of himself as he recognizes this flaw in himself:

I, at least, am sorry. You don’t have to believe in a Judeo-Christian god to find something redeeming in confession. I am sorry that I balked at the idea of pretending to be gay. I am sorry that my uncle went home alone all those years. I am sorry for the whole ugly human history of slights and hate crimes and exclusion.

It seems important to acknowledge the depth and power of our biases, particularly at a time of year when many of us try to devote ourselves to being better people. There is something vicious in each of us. Depressing though that may seem, focusing on our flaws is a first necessary part of wanting to be better. The hope that we can be better, it seems to me, deserves great celebration.

Even in your apology, you congratulate yourself but offer no substance to it like how you would work to understand why this uncomfortable stance exists within you. That would be an actual benefit but again, your vague reasoning is so aloof from substance.

And your weak, strained opinion on how hard it is for you to portray a gay character further represses us. We get enough of this shit from NOM and FRC but I sometimes wonder if people like you are the ones that do the most damage. People that claim accpetance, seeminly nonintrusive and welcoming, spreading ignorance and a pompous air of accomplishment. We already have vapid nihilists like Bret Easton Ellis for that Brown so we doon’t need you adding to the collective pool of derisive ignorance. You or any other actor making the same stupid statements are not brave for making this declaration. You’re assholes.

More From The New Normal Star Andrew Rannells On Gay Characters

The witty new comedy, The New Normal, has been the center of attention lately, determined to tell an authentic story of two men who love each other on their often comedic journey to start a family. The NBC sitcom is such a hit, as of today a full season has been ordered for the series. One of the show’s stars, Andrew Rannells, in a recent interview discusses gay stereotypes, the comparisons to Modern Family, and how/if sexuality is involved in acting roles.

When asked about if he felt is character, Bryan, was a well developed character that defies gay stereotypes in comparison to past gay characters, Rannells feels that there’s more to a gay person than being “fabulous”:

America is warming up to the idea of gay characters — and not just as a sassy gay person, but being a person. A real character. And that’s just what’s so fun about this show. Certainly we are a gay couple, but we get to do a lot more than just that.

 I obviously get to be quote-unquote “fabulous” in terms of my outfits, but Bryan has a lot of heart and a lot of strength. It’s nice to get to play that; it’s nice to get to play someone with sass but also a lot of smarts and sincerity. To have the opportunity to show all of that is really fantastic. To completely strip all the sass away would be equally untrue; there’s a certain amount of sass and glamour that goes along with being gay. There’s a certain amount of fabulousness that is needed or wanted. But running around being fabulous day-to-day isn’t every moment of your life.

Rannells also observes that they are telling a different than the multifaceted ABC hit sitcom Modern Family:

We’re telling a different story. This show has a different tone, and I’m happy to say that we’re showing a very romantic side to this couple, which is great. It’s really thrilling to get to do. Justin and I have filmed some really great scenes together that are real, honest, flirtatious and sexy — Yes, we’re going to be more affectionate, but it takes nothing away from what they’re doing.

As the subject about a gay actor in a straight role vs a straight actor in a gay role, Rannells feels that it’s about doing the job, not so much sexuality:

Which is very strange to me. I mean, it’s like any acting job. I’ve played a lot of straight characters, too, and if I had been denied those because I was gay, I would’ve been pissed. It comes down to who’s best for the part, so I get that. But it is refreshing for me, as a homosexual, to play these gay characters. It’s nice to get to play somebody who’s a little bit closer to who you are.

Check out the full insightful interview here. And don’t forget to check out The New Normal tonight at 9:30/8:30 central.