EDITORS NOTE: Back2Stonewall has decided that since we are a website predominately (but not exclusively) for gay men and since human sexuality has always being a huge part of the gay struggle we believe it is time to share more images of male beauty, gay sex, and vintage models and movies in marked NSWF posts.
Please view these new posts at your own discretion and if you do we hope you enjoy and support this latest change
Actress Raven-Symone sat dwon for an interveiw with told Oprah Winfrey on OWN on Sunday night, and told the BIG O why she doesn’t like to be labeled as gay or African-American.
“I don’t want to be labeled gay,” Raven-Symone said. “I want to be labeled a human who loves humans.”
Simone confirmed that she’s in “an amazing, happy relationship” with her partner, who is a woman, but added that she doesn’t “need a categorizing statement for it.”
“I’m tired of being labeled,” Raven-Symone told Winfrey. “I’m an American; I’m not an African-American. I’m an American.”
Symone defended her stance, explaining that she doesn’t “know where my roots go to; I don’t know how far back they go. I don’t know what country in Africa I’m from. But I do know that my roots are in Louisiana. I’m an American, and that’s a colorless person, because we’re all people. I have lots of things running through my veins.”
Winfrey, taken aback told Symone that she was in for “a lot of flak for saying you’re not African-American,”
Symone countered: “I don’t label myself. What I really mean by that is I’m an American. I have darker skin. I have a nice, interesting grade of hair. I connect with Caucasian. I connect with Asian. I connect with black. … I connect with each culture. … Aren’t we all (a melting pot)? Isn’t that what America’s supposed to be?”
Churchgoers who oppose same-sex marriage sense that they are out of step with the rest of the nation about sex and relationships. (The numbers above reinforce that.) And Christians who favor legalizing same-sex marriage often remain embattled with those who oppose it, and yet sense that their own views on sexuality still lag behind those gay and lesbian Christians from whom they’ve have become convinced of the legitimacy of same-sex marriage. That, too, is true. Gay and lesbian Christians, in turn, have much in common with gay and lesbian non-Christians—their social circles often overlap. The sexual norms of the former are not as permissive as those of the latter but are still well above the national average in permissiveness. The latter likely constitutes a reference group for gay and lesbian Christians (together with heterosexual Christians with whom they are in fellowship). Given the rather massive divide in attitudes about sexual and romantic relationships evidenced in the table above, reference group theory—if employed here—would suggest that the current division between these groups of churchgoing Christians will remain far into the future. Even if a share of American Christians who presently oppose same-sex marriage track in more liberal directions—and it would be shrewd to presume that this will occur—those Christians who already support same-sex marriage are themselves still tracking in that same direction. And, from the looks of it, they have plenty of territory to cover yet.
Gay and Lesbian adults have a healthy and mature attitude about sex.
Blithering bigoted idiots have an unhealthy, shameful and immature attitude about sex.
CONCLUSION: Mark Regnerus spends a lot of time thinking about gay butt sex.
The survey was conducted through a series of in-person interviews in people’s homes. Interviewers took verbal responses and entered them into a laptop. On sexual orientation, they asked, “Which of the following best represents how you think of yourself?’’ Respondents were given the option, depending on their sex, to respond as gay or lesbian, straight, bisexual, “something else,” or “I don’t know the answer.”
Over the years many surveys that have tried to size up the gay population Gary Gates flawed survey through the Williams Institutestated that the number of people who identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual is about 3.5 percent to 4 percent, with about half labeling themselves bisexual. Gates only purpose behind his research was to discredit Alfred Kinsey’s 1 in 10 number (10%) from 1942 whose data was collected from his respondents of who had had gay and lesbian experiences not what sexual preference they self identified as.
Recently in 2012 poll conducted by Canada’s Forum Research showed that 5% of the population self-identifies as LGBT.
The recent gross undercount of the LGB’s and the non-representation of the T community is upsetting for many organizations and activists because they worked for years to get sexual orientation added to the 57-year-old National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), the government’s premier measure of Americans’ health statuses and behaviors and now fear that the results will reduce the urgency of their causes and give ammunition to hate groups such as the American Family Association, the Liberty Council and the Family Research Council.
Meanwhile the CDC National Health Interview Survey is defending its survey and methods but says that it is looking into why its results were so much lower than other similar polls.
Nut the he ugly truth, is that this count is ALREADY being used by the bigots to justify keeping marriage bans in place, to try and pass “religious” freedoms and to basically justify any and all forms of discrimination against us.
WE MUST fight harder than ever and one of our organizations MUST embark on their own survey with FLAWLESS methodology to recufy this gross under-representation,
A study of gay men in the US has found fresh evidence that male sexual orientation is influenced by genes. Scientists tested the DNA of 400 gay men and found that genes on at least two chromosomes affected whether a man was gay or straight. A region of the X chromosome called Xq28 had some impact on men’s sexual behavior– though scientists have no idea which of the many genes in the region are involved, nor how many lie elsewhere in the genome. Another stretch of DNA on chromosome 8 also played a role in male sexual orientation – though again the precise mechanism is unclear. Researchers have speculated in the past that genes linked to homosexuality in men may have survived evolution because they happened to make women who carried them more fertile. This may be the case for genes in the Xq28 region, as the X chromosome is passed down to men exclusively from their mothers.”
Michael Bailey, a psychologist at Northwestern University in Illinois, set out the findings at a discussion event held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago on Thursday. “The study shows that there are genes involved in male sexual orientation,” he said. The work has yet to be published, but confirms the findings of a smaller study that sparked widespread controversy in 1993, when Dean Hamer, a scientist at the US National Cancer Institute, investigated the family histories of more than 100 gay men and found homosexuality tended to be inherited. More than 10% of brothers of gay men were gay themselves, compared to around 3% of the general population. Uncles and male cousins on the mother’s side had a greater than average chance of being gay, too. [snip]
Qazi Rahman, a psychologist at King’s College London, said the results were valuable for further understanding the biology of sexual orientation. “This is not controversial or surprising and is nothing people should worry about. All human psychological traits are heritable, that is, they have a genetic component,” he said. “Genetic factors explain 30 to 40% of the variation between people’s sexual orientation. However, we don’t know where these genetic factors are located in the genome. So we need to do ‘gene finding’ studies, like this one by Sanders, Bailey and others, to have a better idea where potential genes for sexual orientation may lie.”
Interestingly the findings of this study is big news in London and Europe but there has been nary a word of it in any American mainstream media outlets.
On a casual warm day like today you’re probably out and about, walking around enjoying the rays of sunlight that have been absent as a result of the exceptionally long cold winter. Observing all of the regular sites you venue on days like this, you tend to notice someone you haven’t seen or met before. You notice his stance and the way he walks confidently but relaxed. He has your interests immediately because of how his body moves to show off the physique you find irresistible.
So automatically your senses hone in for more details to take in as much info as you possibly can. You take special notice of the inflection in his voice and how his mouth moves when he speaks to his companions. From the short time that you’ve been doing all you can to observe without being noticed you pick up on how interactive and engaged into the conversation; he appears to be able to keep the attention of his companions and you notice his beautiful smile and twinkle in his emerald eyes. From what bits of conversation you hear, he loves music and is discussing how he’d love to see Kylie Minogue in concert this year.
It all goes perfect with his put together attire but appears effortless. As you’ve finished surveying every bit of info you decide it’s time to move on with the rest of the day only a short time later, by some luck you’ve bumped into each other (literally). He reassures you by an earnest pat on the shoulder and a smile. Then as you make eye contact he looks down as he shuffles his feet with an even more incredibly sexy smile and you are smitten.
Caught off guard as you’ve let the earlier detective work of the day to slip your mind. And to now be presented with a new opportunity to interact by almost walking into each other you both apologize for the harmless confrontation and are reminded of why you were so attracted to this man. You work up the courage to finally ask more about this man so you can ask him out, an almost paralyzing sensation is brought on the fact that you don’t know if this man plays on the same team you’re on. Is he gay?
This was a situation that I had recently where I was presented with questions on whether the gut that I was immensely attracted to and was not quite sure if the interaction we had was simple banter or flirting. This guy could have just been a courteous polite straight man. I could have been forward and just asked him out like I wanted to or invoked 20 questions to see if he was gay but would that gesture been rude or was I just being too shy with my own advances?
We’ve all played this guessing game before and this discussion is not about condemning the practice. At some point every gay man has encountered a situation like this where you’re attracted to a guy and seems to be everything you’re looking for, whether that’s for just a few but worthwhile nights of heated passionate sex or for a loving long term relationship. There’s attraction and intrigue but you aren’t completely sure if he’s gay. It can happen like the scenario described or the some variant or not at all. Just say that your curiosity and attraction wants you to know if it’s possible. So what do you do? Do you trust your instincts? Do you just ask him if he’s gay and if you do should you be direct or apply some well-rehearsed wit?
It’s not always as easy when you meet men outside the world of gay social dating apps like Grindr or Scruff (or OKCupid, Adam4Adam, etc.,.). Most of us don’t reside in gay oases like New York’s Chelsea or West Hollywood because our world is much bigger than we believe. Remember that I’m from the south, where nearly everyone greets you with a smile and chivalry is still very much alive. Everyone has a little saunter to their step and sweetness in their voice. So how do we approach this without turning this into an embarrassing situation?
Even with all the debate, our concept as a society of what is masculinity has changed. Of course some in the gay community place this attributes at the highest of hierarchy it isn’t always so apparent in the rest society. Some would argue that these social constructs on gender roles are much more layered and less rigid than say even ten years ago. It is becoming more and more acceptable for men to be more expressive in their mannerisms that would’ve been seen as feminine a few years ago. Men can have playful banter and physical contact that are not necessarily due to sports or any other male display of strength. We can’t always go by what we see.
What other ways can we sense when someone is gay? What do we use to tell in order to make an advance or cool it off. Is it right to just go off of what they look like? Cause unless the verbally confirm or deny their sexuality or are wearing t-shirts that say it you can’t be certain. Remember that we live in a day and age where a well groomed man in tailored clothes is not an indication of sexual orientation but rather a metropolitan in the know of the latest trends. Maybe a scientific approach would provide more sound methods with better reliability.
There are actually studies that suggest we are drawn and attracted to others of the same sexual orientation by the pheromones that our bodies release chemically. Researchers are basing this off a theory that gay men respond to the actual sweat from men the same way women do. The findings also revealed that gay men tend to prefer the smell of other gay men rather than straight men. Based on this research, is it possible for us as gay men to actually sense each other by smell?
When we are in the same proximity of another gay men do we release a sent on some unconscious level tells us that our instincts about the guy we are interested in may also be interested in us? I wouldn’t be surprised if further research suggests that as a result of our pheromones we can decipher who is gay or not, simply by the way they smell. Naturally I’m not suggesting that every man that smells good means that he’s gay. But I do think it’s interesting to examine how our own biological makeup can possibly tell us more things about people our surroundings than we ever believed possible.
Why not as we already have similar research that suggests we can detect who’s gay by the proportions of the eyes as well as our own hands. Maybe in time more sophisticated approaches will be able to discern as homosexuality as a science has been at best subjective in their findings and at worse grossly inaccurate assumptions that are at times insulting. So maybe we shouldn’t use those methods in the scenario I experienced. Because we know how unfair it is to assume things as experience has taught us that assumptions are most likely due to what we want to see in an individual rather than who that person is in reality. So if we can’t always rely on nature or science or even direct approach, what else is left?
Lots of questions with unclear answers is what we are often left with when we truly take a moment to examine our ways of categorization. This discussion was not created to detour anyone from meeting other men in environments where these answers are not as clear cut as we’d like them. Far from it. But we should question how we base some of our actions on the conclusions we arrive at because they are not always accurate.
Here’s my thing; the concept of having gaydar in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing or barbaric in how we identify others like us. I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all as we all have a natural ability to observe characteristics that are similar to us, regardless of sexuality. Problems could arise however when we rely on only those innate measures of deduction that creates issues. So while using all these methods we employ to remember to not those methods be the only thing we use. Sometimes its worth it to let them confirm it for us like the gentlemen in the earlier scenario finally did for me.
Whatever the case, it’s always important to remember that whatever way a guy presents himself to not just openly assume his sexuality is one way or another. And in whatever way he presents his sexuality to you or anyone else, accept that. No matter the hunches or years of expertise you have in detecting who’s gay or not, respect that whatever he says, as you’d be want to be treated and respected the same way. The whole point of this was to show how much effort, either consciously or unconsciously we observe who among us are like us. Instincts are great but aren’t always reliable.
One of the most profound changes that occur after we realize that we are LGBT is how we begin to analyze every other facet of our lives. As a result of realizing our sexual identity and nature, we question the validity of everything we’ve been told to believe throughout our lives. From rules set by our caregivers that guide and discipline us to what our religious and spiritual leaders tell us about God, this becomes a time of great introspection and discovery. Most notably the time is marked by a series of questions and what religion and our faith are able to bring to our lives. We question if we can still believe in a religion or rather teachers of that religion that being gay is wrong.
Faith is believed to be blueprint to our morality as it sets to guide us through all aspects of our existence. To an extent, faith is believed to be the figurative parent to our morality. We know that this construct of what faith means is different for everyone. As we have our own unique experiences and upbringings we discover that no two people believe in the same way. So when I was asked a while back to discuss religion and sexuality I had a hard time collecting my thoughts in a way that made sense.
Luckily through social media I had the great privilege of getting to know author and interfaith leader Chris Stedman and he was able to shed some light on how our beliefs growing up may effect how and when we come out. And as time went on he agreed to have a phone interview to learn about his latest book, Faitheist. This narrative work that is both biopic and applicable principles to today’s society chronicles Stedman’s journey of self-discovery as a result of initially wanting others to come together and share differing ideas all the while building a sense of community and acceptance. This serves as a steady bridge for me to approach the subject of faith and sexuality.
I knew that discussing Stedman and his principles would provide clarity of my own thoughts on religion/faith in this discussion and how it could relate to the LGBT community. Let’s face facts; this is a sensitive issue regardless of your stance because our beliefs are always associated with our morality. We are passionate about what we believe in and too often when the subject comes up, especially when it relates to members of the LGBT community, emotions are heightened to a state where emotions overcompensate for reason. Facts are misconstrued and beliefs are treated as vengeful weapons against any opposition. I don’t want this discussion to go in that direction. That’s why reviewing Stedman’s position on the matter shows how differences in beliefs can come together.
Within the first five minutes I learned initially as we discussed atheism and group identity how different my own beliefs are from Stedman’s principles but still related to so much with what he advocates. Always at the ready to having meaningful dialogue, whether that be on his blog or his twitter account, I know that we can discuss this without conflict. When he explained pluralism and how Faitheist demonstrates inclusion of all beliefs it helped erode this stoic, detached persona so erroneously associated with atheists because of their beliefs. Even when Stedman admitted he feels that most of those that have a belief in God or deities are wrong that does not prevent us from knowing one another. His belief does not condemn me or anyone else and we can still relate to each other.
To further advance the reasoning behind his principles, Stedman brought up that while growing up he felt that he couldn’t be both gay and a Christian. He then told me about a religious cross he wore as a symbol of his faith and how he received a lot of teasing and criticism. Of course he was not suggesting that this lead him to atheism but it is something we need to observe because it shows an example that as LGBT men and women we do not belong to just one identity or community. Dichotomies exist within our community that we often enough do not discuss and duality can affect many aspects of our lives. Not only in faith but in racial/ethnic minorities, and even gender and socioeconomic status… Stedman believes that when we talk about this it creates an ethos that will foster experience.
Stedman helped me realize again how cooperation and acceptance are paramount as he discussed how his experiences shaped this principle. When he talked about him growing up in what he described as an irreglious home, he became a born again Christian at age 11 after his parents separated. Before he recommitted to the church he read about different cultures and perspectives and it taught him a greater depth of empathy. Shortly after his parents separated he sought out religion for normality and structure, and a community that was willing to support him all the while giving guidance from a position of authority. Felt their rigidity would provide clear answers.
As I write this I remember a song by George Michael, How you gotta have faith. The video was expressive about sexuality and having faith in your ability to love yourself. Looking back on it now I know the reason I was so drawn to this music video at 8 years old was because George Michael had a nice smile was doing throughout it was because of my developing sexuality. But it also made me question what faith was because I remember asking my mom after watching it what faith meant. She simply referred to it as “something you know to be true”. At that time I wanted faith because I thought it was cool. But I did begin to seek out comfort from it.
Both of our narratives, though completely different in our youth were looking for answers to faith with different environments and outcomes but the stories do reflect how we search for meaning at a young age. Looking for answers to why we feel the need to belong and what that means for ourselves. I think one of the greatest lessons we learn is deciphering what faith means to our self-worth. No matter what one’s own beliefs of faith or non-faith you have to reach a point in which you rely on the strength that resides inside you. A willingness to trust that we are indeed made this way naturally as it was meant to be, by biology or God.
We know that there can be many obstacles that we face before, during, and sometimes even after we come out of the closet. One of the things that we question most is our belief in God. We begin to speculate if we were truly meant to be LGBT because of what we’re taught about homosexuality and wonder if our sexuality is natural. Faitheist is a narrative of someone’s own journey that is continually seeking a sense of community and a celebration of our various differences. The concept of pluralism the respects the differing opinions, beliefs, and philosophies without the need of ostracizing. It gives the reader a relatable account of coming to terms with faith and sexuality.
I loved how inclusive his work is in both his literary work and his ability to apply that people of all walks of life. Faitheist is at its most general definition a story of inclusion. I truly marvel out how when there is conflict of beliefs, whether it’s critics or social media can be done diplomatically. As we delved deeper into this interview I asked Stedman about if the nature and principles of atheism makes it easier for LGBT men and women to process and accept their sexuality and come out. Detailing later in a humble response noted that the issues that face as we process our sexuality and our experiences are not that simple:
Once I began to question certain norms, it opened me up to questioning others, including the normative religious beliefs I had adopted. But I wouldn’t say that I became an atheist as a direct result of coming out, since I was a Christian for the first number of years that I was out of the closer as a queer person. Whether a queer person is religious or not, and whether or not that changes in conjunction with the coming out process, I think that there is a common experience of challenging assumptions and traditional ideas that most of us experience as we come out.
This is one of the reasons that I discuss the topic of coming out so much. Because so often when a person surprises one aspect of themselves, they are likely suppressing their ability to actively question other aspects of who they are. During our conversation I was completely fascinated with the empathy and compassion expresses throughout his work and his pluralistic approach. Onward as we discussed more about the principles he felt necessary like open dialogue are necessary to bridge understanding between belief and non-belief:
Sometimes it isn’t always clear which came first, but they necessarily inform and support one another. Meaningful dialogue, where all parties listen and strive to understand, engenders compassion and empathy; likewise, a compassionate approach enables dialogue in the pursuit of common ground, making it more accessible and more effective.
It takes people out of these their comfort zones when we discuss differences. When we hear stories about conflicts driven by media that are divisive “conflict is the exception to the rule” he stated which suggests that instead of defending their own beliefs we are simply arguing to see who’s right. So we need to approach of our own stories, our own identity as a whole, and not just about what we believe. It’s all about humanizing our differences. Options that both Stedman and I did were not afforded growing up.
But this made me think about the process more and how difficult it can be as a result of religion so I asked if he felt this would eliminate prejudices. We know how religion is used against this community so it’s understandable why many feel that if religion no longer existed that we would have an easier time processing and accepting our sexuality. However, during our conversation this assumption was the one thing that Stedman disagreed with most.
Stedman did not feel that the elimination of religion would lessen our issues as we are naturally have the dynamics of tribalism and a feeling of wanting to fit in with the majority. After thinking about it for a while I see why he came to that conclusion. We will always want to feel like we belong and as a result any inherent differences would potentially stagnate acceptance. It’s also important to note that Stedman expressed that the first people to accept his sexuality were his brothers and sisters from his church before realizing he was an atheist. He hadn’t accepted atheism until years after he came out.. So it is not about beliefs in God, it’s about tribal natural need to belong.
Attempting to think in even more abstract terms I asked Stedman if he felt that atheism was more a philosophy than a grounded, secular belief. When he decided he didn’t believe in God it was sadness and the way he expressed this epiphany felt to me that he was describing the loss of a loved one. Letting go of a concept that you have believed in your entire life has to take some time to process. But atheism brought comfort to Stedman because it taught him fortitude and a faith in himself because no one else could accomplish his goals and overcome any challenges. It motivated and empowered him to become more active.
The incentive of taking ownership becomes stronger and more rich. This concept reminds Stedman to live in the moment as time is finite. It suggests that at some point when we are accepting who we are that we have to take the initiative to persevere no matter what. We have to take control of our challenges and look at our actions in how they will affect that outcome. Being LGBT teaches us that it is up to us to make our lives and our environment better. It may not always come easy or in the time of our choosing but when we hold ourselves accountable for the direction our lives are going it truly invites us to be who we are. It encourages us to live. This point is what resonated with me the most during our discussion. You become appreciative of time when you know it is limited.
It’s important to note that Stedman and I are not suggesting that this discussion was meant to suggest we believe people who are LGBT and in the process of coming out would have an easier time if they became atheists. Far from it. But I do believe those that are going through this process should be ready for how this aspect may have on a subconscious level affected many other facets of their lives and personality.
I believe what Stedman expressed both in his book, and in our conversation, is that examining our beliefs in all areas of our lives gives us a greater sense of self. Throughout this process that we go through in coming to terms with our sexuality and our beliefs we have to trust ourselves more than anyone else, regardless of whether or not you believe in God. Homogeneity is celebrated in our community more than individuality and Faitheist provides examples of how we can approach our different outlooks with diplomacy.
The biggest advantage to reading Faitheist or starting any discussion about faith is that dialogue will allow you to process your opinion and your beliefs openly. No matter those beliefs, with an open mind you can be honest about them and I will always advocate for that. We need more dialogue and opinions and beliefs not only in this community but society as a whole. You can have meaningful relationships with people of different backgrounds and beliefs with respect. This interview along with Stedman;s book accurately and passionately demonstrates that faith is not synonymous with morality. Morality should always be met with humanity and respect. We have to always remember that when we talk about faith, no matter what you believe. But we have to be willing to make that first step. So reach out. Talk.
If you follow me on twitter, then you may have noticed that lately more of my tweets are filled with vinegar than with sugar. I won’t pretend that there hasn’t been something that’s been bothering me lately about the LGBT community. And if you’ve ever read my articles, one of my biggest talking points is about how important it is to communicate our feelings in order to bring forth discussion about the issue. So I need to rant about how I feel these issues are problematic to me.
At first I thought maybe I was making all this up in my overactive imagination because by nature I resist many notions of conformity. I don’t go out of my way to avoid it but it’s definitely not a concept that I subscribe to very often. But lately I’ve noticed this trend about our community that gives off a unified front when in honestly it feels anything but together. It feels cool, detached and rigid.
It feels like more and more that LGBT only shows this one facet of our diverse community that echoes how the straight politicians and businessmen that openly oppose us. We’ve gone from picketing in streets to this homogeneous corporate feel that recognizes people that have made small strides instead of those that have been in this fight all of their lives fighting for our rights. It looks too much like we’re trying to be straight when we aren’t.
One thing that has been bothering me lately is about sex. Lately there’s this insinuation by some to assimilate in relation to our sexual nature that seems to be taking place with this community. References made about how we can’t show our sexual nature and must be like that of our straight counterparts and not openly display our love for sex. More and more it feels like the things that should be recognized like advocating for understanding our complex and differing sexual nature aren’t and the things we shouldn’t give too much credence are the things that are overly praised, lacking in substance and importance.
I know that to some of the outside observers it seems that we are nothing more than a bunch of materialistic, selfish, superficial sex crazed fiends. And to a degree I could not care less what those outsiders believe so long as they do not impede on our freedoms or our customs or our rights. But it bothers me when we have members within our community insisting that we do all we can to resemble all heteronormative actions and behaviors Like how we should be advocating for monogamous relationships that want to get married and nine to five jobs with the picket fence two dogs and kids.
Anything that deviates from that is not only rejected as a normal concept but actually looked down on. Some go as far as to condemn other gay men saying that they are the reason that the rest of society has an issue with us. Blaming our sexual nature, that is no different in any aspect from our straight counterparts other than how we express it. And I do not like it at all. It enrages me in fact. Look. if nuclear style family is for you then that is perfectly fine. I hope you are able to fulfill that wish and prosper for all your days.
But if someone is inclined to work hard as a bar owner that enjoys polyamorous relationships then he/she should be able to do so without disdain and criticism from members of this community Especially with the fact that you know damn well what it feels like to be discriminated against for being who you are. Stop trying to put your perfect image of what people are supposed to be like and be concerned with making your own utopia for yourself.
We are sexual beings with varying levels of desires and characteristics that are unique (as it is for everyone). Let two (or more) consenting adults that have sound reasoning, are protecting themselves and their partners by engaging in safe sexual practices they should be able to do whatever they want with their bodies. They should be able to participate in whatever sexual activity they see fit without this slut shaming.
Another thing that bothered me recently is when I read about Bret Ratner being recognized by GLAAD with an Ally Award. You may remember that Ratner last year went on an anti-gay rant before he was slated to produce the Oscars. After being confronted by LGBT advocates and activists for his bigoted tantrum he made a vow to rectify his ways. And he has taken steps by producing videos of other straight celebrities advocating for equality. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate and welcome any form of advocacy for equal rights.
But it has only been a year. Even when you take time out of the equation we have to also consider that there are a plethora of LGBT activists that hardly ever get recognized for all the hard work and dedication they put into this movement every day. People that risk their lives are not even noticed unless it makes the news. It’s funny (not really) how the people that are condemning gay men and the rest of the community into this ideal of conformity are the very ones that are conforming to the heteronormative “acceptable” behaviors that are even more vain, superficial and lacking in substance than anyone else is doing.
This trend of assimilation was confirmed even more for me when a friend pointed out an article by Joshua Gamson that questions the identity we develop when we are a part of a movement. In The Dilemmas of Identity Politics, Gamson points out that even though having parts of our identity that resemble the rest of society that we have to ensure that we don’t lose the rest of our identity in the process. We need to be careful that in our efforts to show how alike we are with the rest of society that we don’t become the very things we advocated against.
To me that’s what it feels like some within the community are doing. All this suggests that in order for us to make advances that we have to modify our behavior and our culture. It’s too dangerously close to internalized homophobia or mocking and discrimination of other LGBT that don’t fit into this model that can be displayed as normal. Instead of displaying the true diversity of our community, we show the same representation in our movement.
The majority of our leaders are gay Caucasian men that the rest of society deems acceptable and appropriate with no consideration or discernible effort to the rest of this community. There’s hardly any recognition to lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered. Even less with minority LGBT members. Let me once again make it clear that I’m not saying that mediation and finding common ground isn’t a good thing.
It has always proven to be an effective means to enact change that I support. But I can’t abide that we have to do all we can to fit in to mainstream society. I still wonder all these years later if that was the reason I was told not to be in front of a gay pride rally because they didn’t want to “incite more tensions” as I was told because it didn’t fit the model of what LGBT are supposed to look like. And it needs to stop. We shouldn’t have to fit in just to be accepted.
I understand the need to distance ourselves from the stereotypes that are created out of hate, ignorance, bigotry and sometimes our own behavior as a community. But at the same time that doesn’t mean we should whitewash every aspect of our diverse and unique nature. We shouldn’t disregard the customs we have developed or the culture that we have nurtured to fit the status quo. We need to be unafraid to show those that are most geeky, or feminine, gothic, of different ethnic minorities/races, ages instead of this plastic, uniformed representation now.
We have a rainbow that represents us so let’s show that and respect how different we really are. We are not straight so we shouldn’t have to amend characteristics of ourselves for the movement. The movement exists to show that even though our sexuality is different that we should not be treated differently. And we need to actively make sure that we are not adopting those same conformist attitudes of others in this or any community.
We are officially in the season of love. A time we know will soon be perfumed with flowers that bloom and sweeten the air. The days become longer now and the sun greets us after a long hard day’s work. Our urges to hibernate from the cold ebb away and our mood is lighter with each passing day. We are more likely to seek out new people and places to go and endlessly imagine all we want to do when summer arrives. By nature, we as gay men are more expressive in how we show love and just become so much more livelier during this time of year. We begin to listen to more songs that speak to the beginning of love to welcome new possibilities…but this time is not all rosy.
Even though we love all aspects of love this is also the time of year when we measure our entire worth based on whether or not we have a relationship. The subject of love is always looming to the point that it feels like it’s taunting us because we are examining what love or lack there of, we have in our own lives. And we begin to dread the international day of love. A day that is penned as the day of expressing our love turns into a diatribe about shattered hearts from inflated egos of our exes. We being to relive betrayal from infidelities and show apathy towards love that did not last. We lament on missed opportunities that we fear may never grace us again, Love consumes us in every aspect of our lives around Valentine’s Day.
If we’re single, we incessantly examine if it is the men we’ve been pursuing in the past calendar year. So we begin this at first objective list of what we are looking for in our potential soulmate, with trepidation and fear. It starts off innocently enough. First we may wonder are we looking for the wrong attributes in a man, how that can be tough. We ask if our standards too hard to obtain. Should we settle for the guy that completely lacks ambition but looks great naked, or should we abstain? Is the city I live in just lacking in worthy men or can we never win at love again? And then we turn this one day into the biggest self-deprecating examination into our looks and personality.
Are we too fat? Too skinny? Too tall? Too short even in top hats? Too much or not enough muscle? Too little ambition with not enough hustle? We will go on dissecting every single inch of our bodies with great care, to find a flaw that is not there. Then we examine our faces as aging in the gay community is hardly granted any graces. We’ll ask if our eyes are too close/far apart, and if our noses are too big/small by just an ounce.
Are our brows too pronounced or are our ears too big by just an ounce. Do we allow our scruff to sprout or just all hair out. Should our clothes mismatch or is there another reason we can’t find the ultimate catch. We’ll pull at our lips to see if they’re gigantic or in desperate need of snips. Is it our voice or a bad accessories choice, our walk our smile too wild, our laughs, our dancing has too much prancing… It all begins to sound like a bad rhyme in our heads.
We’ll ask ourselves if we’re too needy or too detached. We’ll begin to wonder if we’re not affectionate enough or if we flirt too much with other guys. Are we too political or not worldly enough. Maybe we’re just boring/bland or too adventurous and spontaneous. Ponder extensively if we don’t communicate enough or know when to leave well enough alone. Could it be we’re too dry or never takes anything seriously. Are we too trusting or should we have trusted our instincts. Maybe we’re too cocky or too insecure. Constantly questioning how our past is affecting our present.
No matter how much friends and loved ones convince us otherwise. Their words are hallow to us now and facetious to boot. We feel patronized because we want to see what the guys we pursue don’t like about us. We’ll listen to sad songs, write sad, dark poetry and darker clothes. We get angry at even the slightest mention of love, the one thing we crave with our entire being. All we crave is to feel anything other than this constant drive to fill this void placed in our hearts.
Single people aren’t the only ones that do this. If we’re in a relationship we are constantly evaluating if that relationship measures up to not only our standards but the standards of everyone else. Wondering how to spice things up and try new things. Speculating at how truthful those relationships that make everything seem easy when you have to put so much work into your own. Wondering why the passion has left your relationship. Maybe even if only for a minute wondering if the love has ended and you both settled for comfort. Also, you’re wondering if he feels the same way. So the day of love becomes a critique of both yours and his performance up until this point.
I have been through all of these stages just like everyone else, especially when I first came out. So often we critique ourselves to our communities standards whether we blindly follow them or not. It resulted in bad hair experiments and excruciating muscle building regimes. Attempted a really bad clothing makeover. Stared at myself in the mirror off and on for hours readying myself for discovering something heinous that was preventing me from finding “the one”. Made a list and called my exes to see what I could’ve done differently. Secretly studying other happy couples seething at how effortlessly they made their relationship seem and comparing how my interactions with past loves measured up. Hey, I’m human just like everyone else.
I was examining what I’ve done right or did wrong in all aspects of my life for the pursuit of love. Wondering what other measures I could take to make myself more desirable both inside and out. Inspecting my body and my behavior to see what I thought others would see, through their eyes. I did this regardless of whether or not I was in a relationship or not. Constant speculation of failed relationships and lack of consistency when I had a boyfriend. All these negative thoughts about myself going round and round like a bad rhyme.
Then I remembered what love really was. How the beginning wraps you up in euphoria. How when he mentions your name you get week in the knees. How hearing his name can make your day infinitely better. The little things like small notes or buying your favorite brand of cereal to show you he cares. How kisses are electric and holding hands makes you feel immortal. How love gives you the strength you never thought you had. How you are more focused than ever on your dreams and making them come true for the both of you.
Or when after a long very difficult end to a relationship you are able to look at yourself in the mirror and smile. That even though you want love, your life is what you worked hard to make of it. That loved ones are there for you to make you laugh and smile. And even when you are not alone you are not lonely. All those moments came from confidence They come not just from the fact that someone loves you, but also the belief that you are in fact worthy of love. And that you love yourself.
Both of those moments of strength came from self love. And as the depth of how I loved myself grew so did the love I gave and received from others. The point of this is first to not let this day be a measurement of how successful you are in the arena of love. Too often, in the season of love, we forget to love ourselves because we are too busy evaluating what love is given to us. What constantly ask what kind of love we want in relationships, whether we’re looking for one or attempting to reinvent the one we’re currently in. Being single is not a weakness and being unhappy about some aspects of your relationships is not the end of love. And we should also remember to give the same kind of love we are seeking to ourselves.
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.