Tag Archives: straight acting

The All Too Relevant Myth About Bisexuality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hey Dude, You’re So Masc…

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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.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.