Tag Archives: perceptions

“I Mean…Aren’t We All Vers Anyway?”


The longer that you’ve been a member of the gay community the more likely you are to have heard this phrase. More than likely the subject is brought up as the result of some conflict between two gay men in their attempt to navigate their sexual relationship. Yeah, I know what some are thinking right now as they read this. Their thoughts are that the answer for to that phrase immediately is absolutely not. There is no middle ground. It is the way it is and there should be no further discussion about it. It’s personal and it’s about individual preference.

Of course we all know that I’m referring to sexual roles assigned by the community. But let’s be honest with how contentious this concept of these roles are in our community  The question of whether you’re a top/bottom/versatile is one of the first things we assess in other gay men so it’s something we should at least talk about. These labels are at times received with pride while with others it can lead to anxiety, frustration, anger, or a complete shutdown emotionally thereby leaving a person unable to give an answer.

For a moment I hesitated writing this because it’s almost taboo to discuss in this objective format, unless it’s designated by some anonymous chat room or forum. Yet I’m so tired of us not talking about topics like this for whatever reasons that exist. And before I go any further, let me make it clear that under no uncertain terms am I trying to sway anyone into my mode of thinking. I am merely trying to open dialogue into why these sexual roles we assign are due to more than just the obvious result of biology, physiology, and organismic processes.

We can take on these roles for a number of different reasons. It could be because of what we observed growing up, what others tell us what they think we are, and even us wanting to just wanting to fit in to this ideal of what we think is better. And whether it be during our search for a life partner or a one night stand we should still survey those different causes so that we can discuss them. By doing so we can determine if they should or shouldn’t be a factor in said roles. So I’m not trying to change these roles, just question their dynamic and  how we look at these roles.

We have a generation entering into the gay community that seems to know less and less about making up their own minds about what defines them. Too many of them just automatically believe how everyone else perceives them. It’s ignored in sexual education courses and empowerment seminars. We live in a time where my own home state is again trying to pass legislation where students can’t even say the word gay serves as more proof that we need to talk about sexual roles. We need to look at why at times they are seen a hierarchy or status within our community. Taking a quick glance at Wikipedia and a quick Google search that either a lot of chatrooms or vague blogposts is not enough. It’s no secret how much I loathe labels because my race showed me how derogatory and derisive they can be, Any kind label eventually leads to a breakdown of a concept and turns into a hierarchy rather than a category.

Often resembling some type of pageantry these labels become more about a hierarchy than a classification for sex. There’s sometimes immense hostility if you guess someone’s preferred sexual role incorrectly and that’s for a multitude of reasons. Probably the biggest reason is because one is seen as better than the other. Even when the word power is a known subtype of a bottom a top is still seen as more desirable or even more physically attractive. This type of inference or guessing leads to assumptions about certain behaviors and maybe the reason why we don’t talk enough about the roles we assign ourselves  is the negative stigma surrounding them. As sexualized as our antagonists claim the gay community is, we shy away from this subject. But like all things, we have to talk about the issues that can arise from them.

So where does this frustration begin? Is it because we don’t like labels or is it because of some subconscious internalized homophobia, or because these labels fail at truly defining who we are? Is there validity to the claim a group of researchers made saying our lack of conversation on this leads to a rise in sexually transmitted diseases? Of course not. And I would never even attempt to make such a declarative statement, but I understand how researchers would even speculate such a theory. Because we already know that. we know that a broad confounded claim like that doesn’t even begin to describe us.  We just don’t say that enough.

So we know  being a top is more than just being the giver, being a bottom is more than being the receiver and versatile is more than being both a giver and receiver. Because we believe that certain behaviors accompany these sexual roles. Top is always seen as the masculine role and bottom the feminine role. There’s even a study that theorizes on whether or not you’re a top or bottom by the distance between your index finger and your ring finger. They hypothesize that the longer the distance between those two fingers the more likely you are to be a top and the shorter the distance the more likely you are to be a bottom. So the topic is discussed, only that is in such a sterilized, stoic manner. We know that there’s more to it than that.  So even though we look for reasons why we are the way we are we can’t have that same detached approach.

Another fair speculation of this hierarchy is from the media we watched growing up. Think about it, what were the types of gay characters in movies/sitcoms did you see? If like me you grew up during the 80s/90s we only saw two very distinct and very concrete representations. Either we were presented an over enthusiastic about wardrobe, hair, makeup; only there to make snide commentary on gorgeous men all the while being the moral compass for the female protagonist. And the other example we see is an overly masculine male, heavily into sports and we discover his sexuality as an afterthought in the plot, yet he outwardly maintains all the same shallow stereotypical caricatures of an alpha male. Both overly dramatic.

Completely superficial, vague gay characters. But we still accepted those figures as role models because they were the only ones we had. We carry a lot of what we see growing up into our adult lives and this is one of those causes that we need to talk about in gay sexual roles. So we often just assumed as adults that the bottom was this overtly feminine and the top was overcompensating and masculine. And just like those movies and tv sitcoms, we praise and hold the top in high esteem while the bottom is seen as dramatic and delicate. When we keep archaic representations like that relevant we miss the opportunity to know a person. We begin to only see people as the labels we as a community are inherently against.We begin to see them as characters and not diverse, complex people. We don’t want a few degrading, insulting pejoratives to define what gay means to rest of the world so what’s the sense in doing it to other gay men.

Sometimes when we carry the ideals society has of what man/woman are, we lose how those constructs are different for us and how they should be for everyone else. Even with all the advances that women have made in our society they are still treated differently than men. Unfortunately, some in our society still see women as weaker than men even though we know that has never been farther from the truth. Are we sometimes responsible for placating the same, inaccurate assumptions to certain sexual roles? Because at times a  man that prefers being a bottom is referred to as weak or that it’s a detriment to their character. Masculinity is still seen as the most effective example of power.

Roles that are seen as submissive are sometimes made fun of or joked about and minimized and perceived differently and has that greatly resembles how women can sometimes be perceived. But we know that isn’t the case either. We see strong women from politics  to sports, music and  in all other arenas of life and replicate that persona of strength. You could go as far to say that often it is likely to find a woman as a source of strength to any gay man because of perseverance.

So why is one sometimes considered less than the other. We need to be aware and not treat those that prefer this role in those negative and demeaning ways. Even though our sexual roles mirror heterosexual sex roles does not mean we have to mirror some of the oppressive behaviors as well. And that’s what happens sometimes when we issue these labels. Most of the issues we have, regardless of the community we belong to, is a result of us not talking about it and it shouldn’t be that way. i’m not saying if you like sports or New York Fashion Week to change those behaviors because that’s asinine. I’m saying whatever someone identifies; as top, bottom, versatile, a mixture or none of the above to not only see them as that sexual role.

No matter how it appears on the outside  the gay community is far more diverse than we give credit. And we change with each relationship so why not the sexual roles that we assign ourselves. And even if those preferred sexual roles don’t change, the way you have these sexual relationships change (at least I hope they do for everyone else. Who wants to have sex the exact same way with everyone they encounter). It is not about how many muscles a guy has or how many sparkly pink encrusted gemstones a guy has on his clothes (yeah I know no one wears that anymore but just go with it). Outward appearance isn’t enough so the assumptions we make about what certain roles and labels look like aren’t reliable.

It’s all about what we know about ourselves. Throughout the time I’ve been in any sexual relationship my own understanding of these sexual roles changed. Because I changed along with the sexual relationships I had. See, I went from one way of thinking to being able to have varying levels of dialogue when it came to sex and how I wanted to enact upon it. When I was once closed off to a different sexual role, I at least attempted to try another. That was due to the chemistry, love and trust I had with that particular ex that allowed me to think of being open with myself. I began to see how we see ourselves different sexually in different points of our lives. Preferences may not always change but the reasoning and understanding of them do change.

And when I reviewed my past for this article, it led me to think once again about what gay means. It makes me think of when I write about our personalities and behaviors and how we interact with each other. I began to think about how we as gay men are the balance of both feminine and masculine concepts. We are still as physical as our heterosexual male counterparts with varying levels of concrete thinking. We are about what we see and respond accordingly. But we are sensitive and embrace our sensuality. While we notice the angular strong features of a man we also take note of how fluent his steps are and how his touch feels. So when we think of this balance, this yin and yang, it makes the solid argument of how versatile we really are.

Sexual roles can sometimes just be about preference with no outside influence. we like what we like and that’s it. Some people really are just one way or another.  And that is perfectly fine if anyone chooses that route. I actively encourage every adult to have sex in whatever fashion they see fit (safely). But we need to make sure these roles and labels are not indicative than more than a certain position. That these sexual roles aren’t relative to currency, status, and even power within the gay community that some profess to the contrary.

If it feels like an empowerment speech, then yes it is but that is my ideal is for everyone, no matter what position or role you choose to take because we are that perfect blend of masculinity and femininity. What I’m saying simply is to not let these roles we assign ourselves limit our outlook. That we change because of the different relationships we encounter. And to not take them so seriously and put as much emphasis into these roles as some choose to do. We are not just tops or bottoms or verses.  We’re a diverse group of people and we are more than just a label.


How Us Gays Being Vain Isn’t Such A Bad Thing


I believe one of the biggest criticisms both from society and from within the gay community is considered vain, selfish group of men. A very accepted belief is that above all else, we are obsessed with vanity and value the latest trends in fashion and hair. The more money we have, the more we can spend on improving how we look until we reach this ideal of perfection  The more risks we take in the latest fashion and toned muscle definition of our bodies, the more admiration we gain from supporters and more envy from our adversaries. And every gay man has to meet this standard in order to be an accepted member. That we are only concerned with what we can literally see.

History often associates vanity or self-appraisal as narcissistic, selfish, or even evil. In religion it’s referred to as a symptom to one of the seven deadly sins. It’s believed that being obsessed with vanity is a corruption that will lead to other foul acts against humanity, leading us to destruction and devastation.  Strangely enough I always struggled with the concept thinking, how can something that possesses beauty ever be wrong? Through religion and sage wisdom of golden rules by caregivers, we are taught to be antithesis of this concept. But I don’t believe we take it to such an extreme level. Vanity is seen as superficial and a waste of time. It’s a concept that has broadened to not only how we see ourselves but also how we see others and appraise them.

Of course we know that, as a whole we are not that shallow. We rally behind support and organize for equality so that we are treated equally. We do humanity work and try to heal our resource-depleted planet. Though we do have faults we have a community that has unity and togetherness, it’s just sometimes we lose sight of that like any other group of people. We are so much more than looks and I believe we all know that. Because of our sexuality we inherently possess attributes to promote harmony among our brethren. But more importantly why is vanity such a bad thing? So what if we like things that sparkle and beauty in all physical forms?  Is it wrong when we refuse to leave the house on a bad hair day or sculpt our bodies to resemble the Grecian Adonis’s of ancient time? Okay that descriptor was a bit much. Not all gay men are obsessed with these things but all of us are vain. All humans at some level are concerned with how things appear on the outside.

As I’ve mentioned before this is all due to the fact that, as men, we respond most to what we see first. No matter the degree to our other senses being stimulated, we enact on what is seen. From the evolutionary standpoint it gives us the ability to process our environment for signs of danger or something that benefits our lifestyle. Since we are born to examine a physical nature of others we process what we’re attracted to and depending upon other variables, decide the kind of interaction we desire from others. While we are no longer have to be of such an archaic nature, we still need to survey what could be beneficial by what we see first. So we showcase and attempt to portray what others see as attractive and desirable.

Admittedly I can see how people that know me would be thrown off by me taking this stance. Because I’m a hippy by nature. I am not too concerned with how a person looks or so much with how great a shape they’re in or what they wear. But I am human as well that has the same yearnings and desires. Even though I may not put much effort into what clothes I wear I still appraise how others will perceive how I look. I’m attracted the physical form just likes everyone else. The principle of balance is what I apply to vanity. That you can admire someone’s new edgy haircut and firm, toned body. But I now that it’s not the only thing that makes someone beautiful.

We spend so much of our growth period as adolescents and early adulthood struggling with what society demands of us and how our sexuality contradicts that. We’re told what a man is supposed to wear, what to look like, to even what type of woman we’re supposed to love and marry. Then we reach a point of acceptance only to go back to the same stiff, archaic way of thinking? I don’t think so. We begin to modify the things that we can until we’re able to be out in the world. We begin to shape how we dress and how our bodies look in order to have control of our environment. And then we finally are able to reach that moment of accepting it regardless of what society believes we should look like. The process to fully own how we look and then begin to like how we look. That is vanity. Because as we process being gay we constantly have Self-appraisal telling ourselves that we are attractive despite what society wants us to look like. Vanity can build our esteem.  And we continue that onward as we like as we truly are.

Even when we say we aren’t looking for what’s on the outside that isn’t necessarily true. When someone who loves to have an intellectual conversation< like I love to do, we look at how they look too. It is not always the best indicator of intelligence but if you’re attracted to say, the nerdy geeky type you look for someone that physically fits that description right? You know that most likely you won’t find that in a gay club but you may find that in the local coffee shop in Chelsea or some local Barnes & Noble or even the comic book store. Our appraisal is based on what we like. And even though we don’t have the exact same definition of what beauty is, we still seek out what we attracted to in the same way; by using our sight.

Beauty, in any form, allows us to transform not only how we see ourselves but also what we feel. Being able to effortlessly put together a look to emphasize and accentuate all our great features promotes us creating harmony. This sense of accomplishment we gain from it helps our own self esteem. And then we look for more long lasting ways of feeling that way.  Because let’s be honest, we want the hot guy to notice all of our hard work. It is definitely not the most sustainable way to keep a relationship going but it is how all relationships start. That’s how we attract others to us. You can pretend as much as you like that you’re above it all, but it does you a disservice to ignore that this is true.

So to me vanity is a gateway. It taught us more than society was able or willing to teach us. So I ask again how striving towards beauty can be a bad thing. To display ourselves in a certain way to draw praise from other people? Balance. Knowing that it is not the only thing that makes us have worth. Accepting that what we possess inside is more sustainable and longer lasting than how we look. Too much of anything can be bad for us. But having little to no high appraisals of ourselves can be just as detrimental.

Now I am not saying that all gay men should be shallow, image obsessed caricatures that the media loves to stereotype us as because that would be ridiculous. We should still accept people as they are, especially because of how we are treated sometimes. We know that looks aren’t everything and that it’s not the only thing that attracts us to others. And we know that when people don’t meet our standard of beauty that you don’t have to knock anyone down to elevate yourself. I’m saying that appreciating and aspiring to beauty is not always a bad thing. Self-appraisal instills worth within ourselves and those around us.  A little self-worth goes a long way.


So…Here’s The Thing With Saying “Gay Is The New Black”


I cannot even begin to express how frustrated I become whenever I hear someone say Gay Is The New Black. The moment I hear the phrase I tense up like I’m being put in the middle of two very angry parents having a heated debate and wanting me to pick a side. Each has valid claims but the tension between them turns into anger, and the conversation becomes accusatory. Rather than allowing me to express how each argument is right you can’t say anything because you don’t know how to convey it. You want to make both of them proud because you love them both and don’t want to disregard their feelings. There’s fear that if you agree with even the smallest point either has made that you’re betraying the other. That’s what phrases like this do. Rather than unify they become divisive. Us vs. Them.

Because I’m a gay African American man, this analogy perfectly describes how I feel sometimes as a member of both communities. Instead of connecting on an emotional level it feels like each side is trying to prove they’re right. They’re both right and both have been wronged. Both have been oppressed and denied the freedoms that are a right as a citizen of this country. Both have been bullied and threatened, treated inhumanely and killed. So when phrases come up like Gay Is The New Black it adds more tension to a very frustrating and painful situation. When I see articles like this speak ad nauseum about this subject without fully addressing the gravity of such a loaded phrase and why it is problematic frustrates me. I become so overwhelmed with emotion because I understand the strife and plight surrounding them both but it feels like they’re still at odds with each other, wanting me to pick a side.

Both have been ostracized and ridiculed for being who we are. Our lifestyles, music, clothes and hair. Our dances and songs. Our pain and our sorrow. We understand these words because we cultivated a way of coping and adapting our lives that is different from society. We began to dictate the way in which our story would be told. We became activists and leaders so the burdens we carry do not become the problems of future generations, We decided to live our lives unashamed and openly and love ourselves and each other no matter what. This is what the LGBT community and the African American community have in common. Yet at times each community seems to become so incensed with how we are being wronged we lose sight of the same thing happening to each other. Then phrases like Gay Is The New Black makes you pick a side.

Here’s the thing…gay can’t be the new black because black is not done being black yet. Racism and discrimination did not disappear when President Obama was elected into office. I know that is why African Americans become defensive with this particular phrasing that is commonly employed by the civil rights movement of our LGBT community. The loaded phrase implies that all the struggle and pain that has happened to the African American community is over when that is not the case. If stories like Trayvon Martin are any indication, then it is very apparent that racism is still a problem in this country. Racial Profiling still exists. We saw a presidential election last year that featured both supporters and even some of those politicians running as the most hate filled, derogatory and most embarrassingly racist campaign in this nation’s history.

Because you can always see color. Always. You will always know that I have African American ancestry no matter how affluent I appear to be or profession I choose to embark upon. It will always be the first thing that you see and process about me. My homosexuality, our sexuality as a community, is something that you can’t just see to be judged upon. It may be accompanied by voice, hairstyle, hair, clothes…all things that can be modified and/or changed and not always identified as gay. But you cannot do the same with race. It is always, always there. So you can attempt to mask it to an extent in order to protect yourself. Of course you are still gay and can still be discriminated against regardless of what you look like but with race it will always be about what you look like. And this is where the tension between the communities begins. Because of how differently we’re discriminated against by society, members of these two communities distance themselves further. We categorize and judge first by what we see. And the tension begins.

The question between the groups first addresses homophobia in the African American community. And yes there is homophobia in the African American community. And that goes for every other race/ethnicity as well. It’s rooted in the same devices as homophobia in other races and cultures; Fear. Fear that a religion that was forced upon us and twisted so that those in power can stay in power. Fear that the association with another group being discriminated against will encourage more discrimination against our own community. Fear that the pain of our ancestors and the silent acceptance that we are judged on our skin color will be forgotten and that history will repeat itself. It feels at times the LGBT community focus on the African American community more on this subject is because in our nation’s history we are the ones that have faced centuries of prejudice and enslavement. Because we were and still are judged on something we cannot change, skin color.

And there is racism in the LGBT community. When you hear phrases like “I’m gay I can’t be racist”. The insensitivity shown to African American culture that is caricatured by some as a source of entertainment has not gone unnoticed. When some still ask when a crime has been committed in this country and ask “if he’s black” then a stigma still exists. Whenever you’re telling a story about a friend and put black, Hispanic, Asian or any other race when it has nothing whatsoever to do with the story then there is still a barrier. There is a belief held in the LGBT by some that you cannot be racist if you’re gay. Like this status negates you from having prejudices. And the same fear of associating with another minority group for fear of reprisals exists in the LGBT community as well. These instances of prejudice add more tension to the discussion.

Although these issues that are at a societal level, they are transfixed upon these two communities that give the appearance that they are specifically the product of either community’s beliefs. In other words prejudices that are from society are overemphasized to either community. Racism in the LGBT community. Homophobia in the African American community. They exist but are given more weight because we feel we should outright have support from each community and anything other than that is a betrayal. And our oppressors just watch as the work is being done for them. When we are at odds with each other, they don’t have to work as hard to deny us equal rights. All the time we spend deciding who has it worse hurts both our causes.

Maybe I see it this way because being from both communities and it allows me to see what phrases affect how we relate to each other and our causes. I’ve talked about this dichotomy before, when you’re both an ethnic minority and a member of the LGBT community. Somehow there is this magnification of tension and frustration with each other even though we get enough of that from society.  We often want to give emphasis to a cause and relate it to the past but that is not always a cohesive comparison. Even the phrasing of Gay Is The New Black almost sounds as trivial as a change in fashionable attire rather than two groups that have been wronged and persecuted.

It’s irresponsible to approach this subject and make this comparison because it takes on this accusatory tone. In return it feels like the group you’re trying to relate to turns into a critiquing of their inability or unwillingness to help. It makes the receiving side feel they are somehow solely responsible for the other’s plight. The processes are not the same. Dealing with discrimination and oppression from each community is not the same. So when we talk about this issue, we need to talk about the emotion not so much the history when we try to relate the struggles of these two communities. Talk about the pain of what it feels like to be discriminated against and demonized for something we cannot change. We may be apples and oranges but are still as sweet as any fruit that needs sunlight in order to grow. Gay is gay. Black is Black. Both are different but equally beautiful.




Put This In Your Bowl Of Soul Soup And Eat It


I try to cover every facet of the human experience we gay men face every day and gravitate to discussing the interpersonal relationships as well as our own internal processes. The process allows me to understand why some of us the things we do to each other and to ourselves do. Because my nature is that of the eternal inquisitor, I try to as succinctly as possible relay those topics in a way that allows thought and discussion all the while leaving the reader to make their conclusions. But I don’t know everything. I am nowhere near that. I still have trouble programming my DVR and walk into walls at least twice a week so I don’t pretend that I know what’s right for everyone, or sometimes even myself.

When I was talking with a group of friends on iMessage today, one of the contributors to the conversation asked what is good for the gay soul. To elaborate, he wanted us to discuss what are the quintessential things that we gay men need to know about the world and how that will affect us. Will it challenge our beliefs or strengthen them.  I don’t think I’ve heard of it used that way before. I mean I’ve heard the incessant almost never-ending modifications to the book Chicken Soup For The Soul, but never has there been a gay friendly version of that. I asked myself in all the things that I’ve learned and tried to encapsulate all of that into a coherent train of thought, which is hard for me sometimes because I ramble.

One of the first things I learned about being gay is to truly accept people as they are in this world. That no matter how much I can’t stand how other people treat each other, that I do not always know the reason behind it. I can’t change the way in which they choose to treat other fellow human beings. I can’t change how people sometimes treat each other in this community.  Even with all that, I can’t allow their behavior to affect how I treat others. That I alone am responsible and accountable for that. I hope that the respect and civility I show will at least let people consider how they treat others. So the Serenity Prayer, basically. I may not be religious, but at least I can find some validity to treating other people well.

To truly accept myself. All 6’4 177 pounds of me. The uncooperative curly mop of hair. The obscenely big clunky feet. That I am not the standard of beauty or attractiveness  that some gay men are accustomed to nor ever will be. That I mess up and get things wrong. That I can be too generous and never tell someone no. To accept that the first two things people will always see first is my race and possibly my sexuality. That some people just do not like me no matter what I say or so. And there are some people I don’t like either. That sometimes I will make the same mistake twice. That I will always reach out to help someone when I can. I’m different and that’s okay. Self love is best love.

To laugh at myself and not take things so seriously all the time. I love to laugh and it often can change my perspective if only for a moment is worth it. Gives me a moment to assess almost any. Do you know how embarrassing I am when I try to flirt with a guy? Awkward faces and inaudible stuttering. Even my walk becomes that of a hermit crab. Completely inhumane and just weird that is sometimes accompanied with rejection. I laugh at that (after some time has passed of course). It’s what has made the whole experience of dating at the very least, a lot more entertaining.

When to let go of unhealthy relationships. This includes those of every variety. From long-term friendships to work colleagues to lovers. toxic relationships have a way of affecting every other facet of your life, most of the time we don’t realize it. That one bad relationship makes us skeptical and so guarded that we eventually don’t allow the good things come in. If someone is bringing more negativity to your life than positive attributes than what’s the point of continuing them?

To know that as people are different, their perceptions are different too. The way that I romanticize love in relationships is not how every other gay man sees the world. But when I fully came out I learned very quickly that this is not the way everyone else thinks. Some men don’t want to be wooed and swept off their feet. The only love affair they are interested in is comprised of splitting the hotel bill to have a one night stand in. And that is okay to be that way. And it’s okay that I want to be someone’s Prince Charming. Accepting that what they hold as their own truth does not necessarily men I find the same meaning.

See all of these things don’t just relate to a philosophy of gay life, regardless of sexuality. Simple little things that I remind myself of when I think of my interactions with others in this world. And this is simply my process. It’s not advice, it’s the rules I made for myself as I”m sure everyone else has their own. I think it’s important for each of us to know those things about ourselves to live the most authentic, self fulfilled lives. And if you don’t like it, then get your own bow of soup.


Texas Teenager Arrested for Murder After Using GRINDR To Lure Victims

Where The Rules Of Grindr Need Not Apply


You finally arrive home after a hectic day and what better way to get rid of some tension than the accompaniment of a gentleman caller. Then you open the app, letting those within a designated area know that you’re available to have some fun. Time passes as you’ve blocked those you have no interest in or the profiles that creep you out. After going through some preliminary participants you later reject you finally come across a profile that adequately meets your requirements as they haven’t grossed you out. Then there’s conversation via a series of text messages to verify profile claims and likelihood of sexual compatibility. An agreement is struck to the location of where to meet. Then there’s sex. And then most often, unless it’s someone who literally blows your socks off, you never hear from each other again.

It definitely isn’t the only dating ritual of gay men but it by far is the most popular. Today’s technology offers social interaction on such a convenient level than ever before. It allows us to be able to not even bother with the hassle of hearing from people whose looks, personality, or conversation that we do not like. It is almost comparable to online clothes shopping in how easily accessible it is to find someone to have sex with any time, any where. And to me, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it being that way, safely. There’s always an assured confidence in knowing what you want out of your relationships so why should selecting who we want to have a one night stand with be any different.

But here’s the thing, today I was asked does the easy access to sex diminish the possibility of experiencing a real, fully developed relationship. Do apps like Grindr make sex cheap and thereby less meaningful? I had to at least entertain the question. But as I began to process the inquiry it leads to me asking: Does the easy access actually make having real, sustainable relationships harder to have? Because of how easily it is to select a sexual partner for an evening or two translate into how we look for someone to share or lives with? Do you ever question how much social dating apps change and influence the way you see other men? Does it change the way that you look for dates out in the real world? Or does it change your entire perception on what other men are like?

These are all legitimate questions if you think about it. Communication now is more about a text someone sends rather than the voice of the person sending the message. We are more focused on the physical aspects of a guy than any other attribute he may possess. Intimacy is now more about what is said than what is heard. The fast pace of it all and ease that doesn’t pose any of those pesky, sometimes awkward encounters of getting to know someone out in the real world. There’s an objective, almost sterile approach to these encounters and so why wouldn’t we want our other interpersonal relationships to be just as convenient.

Of course we know these apps are not designed to find the one so I’m not arguing against their purpose. I’m asking does our use of them set the standard in how we interact in all the other relationships we seek out. So often I ask myself what are the components of a successful relationship and wonder if these behaviors we enact upon on social apps placate other social relationships. Because we communicate differently on these apps than say when we text someone out for a date, or at least they should be different. So to an extent we have to at least examine how much of an influence these social dating apps have on us.

Think about this: when you first began to fantasize about being with men (or at least didn’t deny it to yourself that you are attracted to men) what was the idea that you had in your mind? Was it you rescuing a hot, rugged man in some forest where you show off how brave and strong you were? Defending the prospective lover waiting for you to defeat their adversary and you run into each other’s arms as the antagonists stumbles away, leaving you the victor. Then you and your lover run off into the sunset to begin your happily ever after. Okay maybe that was a little over the top but that’s what I thought about all the time growing up. Comes from a tendency to want harmony and romance in all amorous situations that lead to the fantasy. But I felt like romance and sex was the same thing. That having sex was intimacy and love.

But as an adult (more likely an adolescent) we learned that this is more the exception than the rule. A lot of the lessons we learn within the gay community we have to learn pretty fast. That more often than not the fantasy and romance to sex does not exist and it is just that, sex. It’s okay when it’s just sex. Have as much as often as you like (safely) has always been my motto. It goes back to knowing what it means for you each time you choose to engage in it. So again I ask do social apps set false pretenses of what to expect out in the real world? No it doesn’t. It doesn’t promise us the fantasy of what we thought love or relationships meant. We can sometimes just erroneously apply the same expectations to every other type of relationships we pursue.

There’s a downside of course to the quick and easy mode of dating and relationships in using these dating apps and rely on the same rules to apply everywhere.  When we apply this mode of interaction to all of our relationships, we miss out on a lot of the things that make relationships stronger. Those awkward moments of first meeting each other are time-honored stories of how love can bloom to the younger generation. The obstacles of getting to know someone and finding out their likes and dislikes prove to be the thing that helps strengthen them giving the relationship decades of longevity. How intimacy can be in a simple touch of a lover’s hand or one longing look into each other’s eyes. Learning and reaffirming that sex is not the only thing there is to love and that there is so much more of yourself involved. Noticing how you place deep flaws on pedestals because that is a part of the man you will love the rest of your life.

I know the ones that regularly read my articles have noticed a central theme. You’re probably thinking, oh great, another examination into the world of dating and or relationships and what they could be doing. But honestly there’s so much about relationships that I’ve only begun to write about. Maybe it’s because of the place I’m at in my life or because of the relationships I observe around me that I question them so much. But I know that sometimes you just have to accept things at face value. That certain things provide a service and that is the extent of it. And that is what Grindr, or Scruff, Adam4Adam, or sometimes even twitter is, essentially. And that is perfectly okay. Just remember that those rules don’t apply everywhere else.

Hey Dude, You’re So Masc…


Do you cringe when guys use phrases like that every day (I say dude a lot; sadly it’s a habit I’ve been unable or unwilling to break). These self-declarations of masculinity used to assert manhood and strength. It’s an attempt at asserting bravado and a sexual attraction by all men. We are so intent as men to prove we are men. It’s our nature due to our genetic makeup so that exhausted excuse to an extent is true. But that outdated concept of our behavior can only go so far. Some of us may have the ideal instilled in us that in order to be a man we have to personify this every day. Whatever the case, we have to talk about why it’s there and why it can be problematic. And the purpose of this is not to condemn or insult because there is more than enough of that already in our community. But in order to grow we need to discuss.

I’ve talked about the yin and yang of gay before so consider this a further breakdown of the yang. Or rather the way in which some of us gay men express (or overcompensate) that aspect of our selves. Within our community and at times even more so than the straight community, masculinity is praised and exulted above femininity. Gripe as much as we like about missed text messages and the end to one night stands but it is true that we carry some of the hetero-normative behaviors from society. It is widely accepted to mock and trivialize any trace of the female gender. Insults are strewn with them as a way to take someone down a peg. Critiquing the over-usage of hand gestures or flamboyant movements, the very thing some of us were teased about to the point that some go out of their way to hide or suppress.

At the same time, let’s not kid ourselves here. We are attracted to men for a reason. That goes beyond a superficial model of physical anatomy or chemical pheromones transmitted on the microscopic level. It’s style and presence encapsulated in muscles and height. Expression of movement that captivates our attention. A firm, assertive stance accompanied by thighs of steel and gluts of granite. Deep voices from hard, angular features in tandem with thick facial and body that we can’t keep our hands off of long enough to recognize much else. The rugged touch and grip as the sweat that perspires making us hot all over. To even the taste of another man’s lips. All enthralling symbols we are innately drawn and captivated by.

You see as men, we are more apt to physical expression compared to our female counterparts that are more expressive in emotion and speech. It’s all about what we see first and foremost. As we take this information in we immediately begin to categorize and evaluate. Effective but exponentially different modes of communication in which each gender dominantly employs one or the other. Whether it’s a compliment of a feature or shaping up an adversary, we act and react to what we see. From the evolutionary standpoint of our hunter-gatherer nature we are still heavily dependent on. So I’m not arguing the biology of why we’re this way.

At the same time, we can’t let that be the only thing that we process as what strength means. It is not only exhaustive to the masculine traits we are drawn towards. Some of us get to the point of fetishistic masculinity as if that is the only suitable attribute in a life mate. It becomes the only acceptable mode.  It’s because, again, it’s what we see and we are hard wired to do so. Goes back to the principle of yin and yang and having that. It’s common belief is that masculinity is dominance and control while femininity is submissive and obeying commands which isn’t true. As gay men we already defy the notion because of our attraction to men.

I didn’t learn how to be a man from that. I learned from my mother, who after my father died when I was an infant, took on the role of provider and the hunter/gatherer. She worked obnoxiously long hours to make ends meet yet still made time to throw a baseball around when she got home. She met and exceeded those needs of mine, even when she remarried and my step dad became a part of our lives. I know of course that experiences like mine either personify or diminish that initial evaluative mindset.

Some fail to see what we commonly consider as femininity as a strength. This assertion to me is contrary as the gay culture openly invites an almost worshiping of strong, self-sufficient pop stars and politicians that are women. So why is it shamed when we participate in the same behaviors? Ignoring the strength it takes to express the softer and emotional that provides so much more satiable relationships. In fact, that understanding makes all of our relationships better.

My point is that for whatever way you define what a man or masculinity is, to not let those concepts and ideals of what strength are. Be your only blueprint. Remember that the mind and heart are great and unimaginable sources of strength and passion. That the yin has the same attributes as the yang. Know that endurance is not always synonymous with muscles as it is with brainpower. Don’t let those initial characteristics be the only thing you see.

See The Problem With “Straight Acting” Is…

Earlier today I was having a lighthearted conversation with an acquaintance. We were discussing a potpourri of life topics without getting too heavy. He then mentions that he’s off to watch the Saints game, adding “you know my masc stuff.” I was irritated and asked him to elaborate the “masc stuff” and he continued saying “come on Sly, we all have our straight acting ways” I started to grind my teeth so hard it could have chipped a diamond. I couldn’t even respond because all that I kept hearing in my mind was, “Can this stop now? Can we stop degrading each other?” Okay degrading may have been a stretch but honestly those are the first questions that pop into my head whenever I hear a fellow gay man say “straight acting”. I ask why is there a need to declare a behavior when you think you “fit in” with society?

Seriously, is being masc or straight acting going to stop you from being attracted to men? I know we all have multifaceted personalities that are differing and we label them as a result of whatever the consensus of normal behavior in society, but come on. To me it feels more like a crisis of identity than a statement. But maybe I’m being over-dramatic  Maybe I’m putting more into it. Could it be that I’mm concerned with how religious zealots would say the moment they hear a gay man say straight acting? Do phrases like this send a message to others that haven’t come out yet that even when you come out, you have to mask your gayness. It’s a lot of questions, and even though I’ve put a lot of thought into them, doesn’t mean I’m right. But at least these questions need to be asked.

And even with all of these questions, to me the very notion of labeling something as “straight acting” is insulting. I know it’s a natural thing for us as a species to want to fit into the crowd  to not be called out for being different but entertain this phrase is heavy with insecurity. Why?Because I feel like every single time someone says “straight acting” it’s just another way of saying gay is not good enough, that being gay is less than straight  That it’s scoring some kind of points whenever an man of any stature does something “masc or masculine (I despise this term as well) Is it possible that “straight acting” because they haven’t fully come to terms with being gay, therefore are still openly identifying societal markers of what they say a man is supposed to be like?

Yeah I’ve talked about different perceptions of our lifestyles, from caricatures of gay television characters, what we do subconsciously before coming out, to even what the definition of what gay means, but this ritualistic labeling, this categorical hierarchy of manliness that I see so much in thee gay community is downright maddening. I even edited the draft section of this article for describing my self as a hippie because it yet again it is adding a category.  I have no idea how it makes anyone else feels, but labels in general to any human being makes me so irate.

Am I saying that we have to police every single phrase that we say? Of course not because that would be very pretentious…and extremely annoying. And no, I am not telling you what to say or that my opinion is the correct way to be gay, even though some like David Halperin may suggest there is a proper way (there isn’t).  But in my none too important opinion we do need to pay attention to how we label ourselves, especially when it has potentially negative connotations. To me, a man is not defined by whether or not he plays sports, knows how to fix a car, or whatever other concoction society has deemed appropriate to prove someone’s manhood. Being a good person and treating others is respect will always be what makes someone a good human being.

So fellow readers, what say you? Are these rantings just that, a nonsensical rant or do you find reason with my point of view? I admit I’m an over-analyzer that observes everything I say and do to the most finite level. But again, a little self reflection will always be a good trait to inhabit. Regardless, I think we all can agree that being happy with who you are, is what’s most important.

You Simplify Homosexuality When You Trivially Define Us By It

Contributor’s Note: Another hectic Monday for me, so here is an old entry of mine. Enjoy!

Every single day I am reminded that I am a minority in this country. Everyday I am constantly told that my rights are not equal to every one else’s because of my race and sexuality. Every day I have to encounter a racist joke and homophobic slur and almost every day I hold my composure. I’m respectful to the opposition even when they often do not extend me the same courtesy. Most days I’m very stoic and relentless in my resolve against conflict and strife. And on some days like today it is just so overwhelming that I want to cry. It happens is so many ways, but it hurts when it’s from someone you trust.

Sometimes I do allow myself those moments to let it all out and yell, curse, and have a full out bellowing cry, which is what was going on about a half hour before I started writing this entry. Having so called “friends” call you their “black gay friend” as some term of endearment when it’s really a condemnation. It’s grating and so condescending. And whenever I hear it, a barrage of emotions hit me like I’m a possession instead of a person, that I’m not human, abnormal, or somehow less than. Add that to normal every day racism/homophobia from politicians, irate radio hosts, and religious zealots, today left me emotionally overwhelmed. Angry. Hurt. When moments like these happen I have to remind myself of the next moment that’s left after hope is the only thing there.

But before that happens I ask why. Why does someone have to attach an adjective to describe me? Am I overreacting to this? Am having a bad day and just using this as a reason to vent out my frustrations? Or maybe I’m quietly thinking I don’t want to have adjectives of gay or black to describe me because deep down I still associate them negatively? No to all of these questions. I have a name dammit and I am not just my (multiple) races or sexuality.

I talk about hope constantly. Relentlessly.  I’m sure some may say, annoyingly. But I believe in the ideal, the philosophy of hope. The best way I can explain it is that when all else is lost it is the only thing left. Look at Pandora’s Box, or The Audacity of Hope from President Obama. It’s just when I’ve hit my absolute rock bottom hope gets me to the next moment. Maybe it’ll be the moment I’ve been waiting for my entire life or more of the same but as long as I’m existing it gets me to progress and to move forward. To move forward to equality so that the next generation doesn’t have to vent out their anguish and pain late at night on a blog.

It simplifies our sexuality when you trivially define us by it. That is what infuriates me by it the most. It belittles our sacrifices and hardships so that you can categorize us as some big homogenous group and we are so much more complicated than that. It’s like you making jokes like “if you were gay” when of course you aren’t and not only does it make you seem ineptly pretentious of the world and it’s complexity but shows your general lack of understanding. It’s ignorant and no true friend would ever make you feel that way. I hope that this makes people think for a moment about what they say.

That’s why I always talk about hope. Always insist upon hope even when it seems hopeless. It’s not just about wishing. It’s about determination, willpower, and strength. Because our fight is not just about marriage but also discrimination in the workplace and protection from those that wish to harm us just for being who we are. I hope that in a generation’s time that the pain of my parents generation as well as ours that true equality is no longer an issue of debate. That justice and liberty truly have won out against the prejudices of our ancestors and fellow human beings. That we’ve evolved from using categories to describe ourselves and no longer look for sage meanings to comfort us when we have been oppressed.  And that hope is what takes me to the next moment.

And in the the end only you can define you.

Are We Gay Men Supposed To Act A Certain Way? No.

Contributor’s Note: I apologize I didn’t have time to write something more newsworthy but it’s been a hectic day with no internet for most of it. So, again here is something I wrote before I joined here. Enjoy!

This week as a result of a few encounters I’ve asked myself a question I think most gay men ask constantly: Are there degrees of gay? Does it even matter? Do descriptors used to classically categorize what a gay man is bother you as much as they bother me? I vacillate on whether to even discuss the topic as sometimes it seems when you describe the things you are, you  unfortunately also appear to others as degrading or insulting the the things you aren’t. So I made sure to check my ego at the door and make sure I illustrated my point without demeaning or disrespecting while putting the topic in perspective.

This all started earlier in the week as I had a debate with an old college buddy of mine. Keep in mind that even as compassionate, loyal, and great guy he is sometimes he’s one of the most stubborn people I’ve ever meet with a severe case of the ‘dudebro‘ syndrome.. He’s straight and we were talking about a date he had recently that didn’t go well. I asked at what point did the date go wrong and he explained that as he was about to pay the bill, she asked how much her half was and he responded saying don’t worry I’ve got it. She insisted that she’d feel more comfortable paying for half and appreciated the gesture but wanted to chip in. The bill was 137. 82 without tip so I see one of the reasons she wanted to help pay. He smirked and said, “just let me be the man and chillax” (I cringed when I heard him say “chillax” seriously who the hell says that). Clearly, this did not bode well for the rest of the date.

As I fought back the laughter, he didn’t understand what went wrong that night, and I asked him had he ever went dutch or let his date/girlfriend pay for half the bill and he emphatically replied no. I responded saying well with any of my past boyfriends we either split the bill or took turns paying for the meal. This was also true for movies, concert tickets, etc., with the exception being presents for anniversaries, birthdays, or random gifts. Wasn’t ever an issue and I then asked why instead of him just going along with his date and having a few extra bucks in his pocket and very bluntly he said “thats what a man does.” Really? What the hell is this? I need to re-evlauate the people I call friends. This whole discussion was spiraling.

The conversation then proceeded into danger territory which means most likely he’s about to make an asinine comment what would irk the hell out of me (he already did that with a “that’s what a man does” comment but still). He assumed that this was always the case as well in gay couples, that we assign the effeminate/masculine roles to our relationships and act accordingly to those stereotypical roles. He wrongly assumed that it must be this way with all gay men including me. I informed him that of course this was not the case in which he replied it should be to make things easier. WHAT? Profanities from me to him ensued for a couple of minutes and I pulled myself together to hear what gems he’d pull out to explain as our friendship in that moment seemed strained at best. He continued on with this irritating verbiage and also ascertained that gay men that are represented in tv/movies in the same way. If we were in the same vicinity and had a pie it would’ve been plastered to his face. But despite my anger I understood why he thought that. Where that opinion came from and his justifications, no matter how infuriating, made sense.

Almost always in media a gay man has only two degrees in which he’ s depicted as either very effeminate in nature that wears makeup and is into fashion, sparkly things, and unicorns (why can’t unicorns be unisex anyway, uni means both so get with it people) or very jock like that loves sports, spits on any outdoor service, or routinely scratching their crotch (we all do that, it’s our junk and we have to adjust) that has this 11th hour realization of his sexuality. But both are expected to provide some sort of comedic relief and often depicted as caricatures with no depth or real insight into why they are they are or provide some sage advice to the protagonist while they themselves remained unexamined.

I recently read an article in Madame Noire titled Are Gay Men the New ‘Mammies’ In Reality Television? which described the normative medium for gay men on tv/movies. A very effeminate non threatening homosexual man that loves fashion (honestly who wants to look like crap other than hipsters) that served as the ‘mammie’ or the person that is there for the protagonist to give little saged gems of wisdom, great fashion tips with an immaculate timing for comedic puns. Now this article focused mainly on gay African American males but this stereotype is used no matter the race/ethnicity. It had some really good points but made me think more about gay characters in media and there’s only two degrees of gay shown.

Think about it, in the last ten movies/tv shows you’ve watched that featured a gay man how many of them weren’t written as an effeminate gay written to ease the tension while endearingly (and patronizingly derogatorily) referred to as “the gays” or “my gay BFF”? Or the extremely masculine guy that somehow is also written as some sort of comic relief as he bursts forward proclaiming his love for a male antagonist? Or even when the aforementioned characteristics aren’t done any justice and written to be more than one dimensional? You can see where this is going. Variety.

All I keep thinking the entire time I see these representations are “why is this caricature there and what is he doing?” But in the media and by and large the public, this is the only accepted options that I can be as a gay man. Again don’t get me wrong, none of these descriptors in which I express I am not a part of are bad or negative in any way. Be who you are and if all of those two scenarios are you love and embrace that in all you do. It’s just not who I am and I want to see variety. We have the same infinite amount of different yet all the same beautiful characteristics and I want to see honest representations of us.

So yes, I am saying I want to see every variation of the gay man on tv and in movies. Do they have to do it in every movie? Absolutely not. Writing a specific character that fits those situations is great and if that character is what best fills the plot with rich subtext then I’m all for that. But does that have to be the only representation of the gay man? Of course not, nor should it be. I’m saying don’t write every gay character to fit only these strict attributes that we see every time there script calls for a gay man. As I explained to my friend, who I think  is now a litte more aware in the variation in the human condition, I have a lot of descriptors that define who i am and i want to see that more on my screen.

And for those wondering, my friend and I are fine. He learned very quickly not to go by a movie or tv to categorize a group of people. That we as gay men vary much more than our stereotypes. We have different likes/dislikes, personality and behaviors. That we’re people like everyone else. To lose this notion of what a strong man is supposed to be like. And to not be a rotten date.