Delta Airlines is going to remove Chris Rock’s Kill the Messenger HBO comedy special from in-flight entertainment systems after Jeremy Foreshew, a Grindr employee, complained to Delta officials about a scene in which Rock explains the proper context in which it’s okay to use the word “faggot”.
“I just came to a place where I couldn’t believe this was something happening in 2016. When you think of the number of people who fly Delta every day and have access to that language… it just shocked me.” Foreshew said.
Delta which recently made headlines after cutting lesbian kissing scenes out of the Oscar-nominated Todd Haynes film Carol released the following statement to GayTravel.com.
“The Chris Rock ‘Kill the Messenger’ segment should not have been uploaded on flights based on our criteria for excluding onboard programming that includes content featuring explicit language, slurs, extreme violence, and explicit scenes. We apologize to any customers who were offended by the content or our airing of the segment, and we are working as quickly as possible to remove it from our aircraft. Our commitment to inclusion and respect of all customers is rooted in Delta’s values and culture, and we proudly embrace diverse people, thinking and styles.”
Rock has been using the “faggot” routine since before 2008 when the comedy special was filmed along with other “sensitive” segments as Black People VS. Niggaz and White Girls.
There was no word weather or not Foreshew, who works for the gay sex app w/race filters gasped and clutched his pearls on the flight.
The International Olympic Committee has condemned as “simply unacceptable” a since-deleted story on the Daily Beast where a straight reporter posed as gay on Grindr to do a feature on sex at the Olympics. The IOC indicated in an email to Outsports that the writer, Nico Hines, is no longer in Rio.
“We understand the organization concerned recalled the journalist after complaints and withdrew the story,” an IOC spokesperson told Outsports today in an email statement. “This kind of reporting is simply unacceptable.” It’s the IOC’s first response since the controversy broke on Thursday.
It could not be immediately confirmed if Hines is still in Rio. However, his last story on the Daily Beast‘s website was Aug. 9, two days before his story about Olympics sex was posted. He also has not tweeted since Aug. 10, a day before the story appeared. An email to the Daily Beast concerning Hines’ status has not been answered as of now.
Over 9000 signatures have been gathered to have Hines fired. But in all honestly that would be a sacrificial goat for the Daily Beast who in reality not only shares the guilt with Hines but is even more guilty for allowing the article to be published in the first place. The Daily Beast which was founded in 2008 is not a blog. It is a legitimate news source which was part of of Newsweek for sometime. The DB has 21 million unique visitors – a 60% year-over-year increase in readers, accompanied by a 300% increase in the overall size of its social media community. It is a legit news site that can afford to send “journalists” to the Olympic and around the world but obviously cannot or will not properly vet their work.
How often do you think about what attracts you to another person? Better yet does what attract you to someone affect how you treat others? What about how you view people that have relationships with different groups? These are questions I ask and write about a lot because I feel that once we truly understand what these questions mean along with all that encompasses them the closer we are to being able to truly have meaningful dialogue in recognizing if there are issues involving a prejudice towards a group of people.
It’s a mouthful while also being the opening to a very long-winded rant that involves being gay, being an African American and loving football but they all seem to relate to each other in my rambling thoughts. And I’ll try to show how sports are a lot like life in how we communicate with each other in our relationships. Improve your skills by playing at 918kiss the best online casino games.
You see the reason I’m on this topic again is because today, while watching the Titans game, I received a message from a so called friend who just casually wanted to chat and catch up (aka gossip). This guy loves to talk about who’s hot and who he’d like to date (and hell I love doing that too) but the Titans are my home team that I root for even when their defensive line is abysmal and offense is all over the place. So I wanted to watch (also scream at my TV when they’re doing great or awful or both) without any distractions.
But my friend is persistent and somewhat of an inquisitor of the human condition (or maybe I’m a pushover). Anyway, I yield on watching the game to focus on what he’s saying. He then asks why I don’t like black men (…what). Naturally the question both confused and angered me at the same time because for one it was random and came completely out of left field and secondly because I always know how conversations like this go. Someone will say something completely untrue and downright dumb followed by me very bluntly stating that their opinion is not only false but also dated.
They will then quickly try to recover by providing some “empirical evidence” to support their lofty opinion. But I will then proceed to pass over any reductive laundry list of examples to addressing why the question itself is out of bounds leaving them stumped and angry because they realize that the way they asked the question was insensitive and more than likely prejudiced.
And wouldn’t you know it the situation went exactly like I predicted it would. He went on saying that it bothers him when people don’t date their own race while I pointed out that sounds like his problem not mine. But I couldn’t leave it there and had to expand on it and figure out what this dated opinion came from so I asked for clarification.
He couldn’t think of a way to explain his point without making it sound worse so he then talked about tastes are innate also leading him to the conclusion that sexuality is concrete with no fluidity meaning he believes there’s no such thing as bisexual men. So he choose to go all in on his ridiculous small minded opinions.
If you follow football, or rather any sport, this conversation and ones like this are a lot like the game. Two opponents standing their ground making large plays to score points and win. Either opponent can fumble the ball (or the point they were trying to make). Either opponent can intercept the ball (conversation) to score another point (in support of their opinion). The time runs out and the person who’s made enough right points wins the game (argument/debate).
So at this point of the conversation it should be enough when I say that you know what? Even though the majority of men I’ve dated have been Caucasian that I’ve not only attracted to but have also had romantic relationships with every race and a diverse amount of a different ethnicity. That yes I am aware of race and color and ethnicity and aware of the differences and while I acknowledge those differences it does not inhibit arousal or sexual attraction.
But it doesn’t. Saying that will only add to his warped way of thinking. My explanations or reasoning would only exacerbate whatever closed minded opinion someone else is voicing while making me doubt how aware I am of these cultural aspects when dating.
If I had brought up how at one time I was foolish enough to believe that the societal norms, including sticking to your race, did not extend to the gay community when in fact in some settings it is amplified. Maybe that is due to not wanting to stick out more in society by engaging in an interracial relationship on top of a gay relationship. In my experience this is more true here in the south.
And some may say the same can be said about acceptance of the gay community by the African American community but that too is subjective. Fair points but in this setting it would’ve come off as trying to give all the responsibility on society when ultimately that decision will always be mine and mine alone, no matter the lifetime of influences.
Why do we even care that they have an opinion on who we should do/be/say/date/have sex with/love/marry could’ve been another point to win this argument. I could have expanded on how sexuality is a breathing changing entity of our being and as our tastes change so may how we define our sexual identity. Yet talking about it will always seem like defensive bitterness and frustration. And it is that, but not for the reasons some may think.
Because it’s not for your pity. Never for that so you can keep it or throw it away or better yet not pity people because its degrading and treats someone like they’re subhuman. But it’s important because we do need to know how and why people are drawn to each other. It helps us in a very delicate, subtle way understand where our negative beliefs began. While we are not initially hate and attraction are innate how we perceive them is learned. But bring that up still would not have proven my point.
Do you see now how conversations like this become a game? You on defense trying to make as many points to defend your opinion and your pride before the conversation ends. There’s interruptions (interceptions), Hell sometimes there’s even snarling. The only thing that really sets it apart is that there’s no gentle slap on the ass at the end.
The only time you should be concerned with who someone dates or what their dating preferences are is when they stereotype or categorize an entire group and completely exclude them from based on that backwards opinion. Like Grindr profiles that have “no chicken (people of African Decent) rice (Asian) but spice (Hispanic nonblack) is alright”. Those are the “it’s just a preference” people you should direct these conversations towards. I am not one of those people. But again that would give a point to him because it would appear that I may subconsciously do the same thing as the inept men that have racist dating profiles.
The whole conversation made me defensive as it always does because I never want to be made to feel like I have some quota to fill and should have to seek out other gay African American man in order for it to “look right”. And I don’t want anyone questioning the legitimacy of bisexuality. But either consciously or subconsciously that’ll be what runs through people’s mind for a split second when they don’t understand. That logic would mean that I question whether the next time I’m attracted to another African American man is that guilt or actual physical arousal.
This should be entertaining to the outside observer and the victor afterwards but conversations like this don’t turn out that way. It’s life. Because even though I won the argument I don’t feel like a winner. Especially when this exhausting exercise in logic always leaves you feeling on guard for the decisions you make solely based on your race or sexuality or both. Then you hopefully reach the moment of asking yourself why the opinions of others matter in what a person sees in a race or sexual orientation.
In the end I didn’t use the points that I knew both from experience and studying human behavior meant that instead of answering a question we have to ask more questions. Ask why it feels right to you when two people of the same race are together and uneasy when it’s two different races together. Ask yourself why you need to define what someone else’s sexuality is for them and why that bothers you when it’s different from your beliefs.
My point is that it’s circular and reductive and repetitive and you will again have to go out on the field and be ready to defend your position every single time you’re challenged if you go into conversations like this with that mindset. And the thought of having to repeat the same plays can at times be daunting leading up to confusion and doubt and uncertainty that anything was accomplished at all.
All puns intended when we take on this dynamic in discussing race or sexuality it sets up an us vs them mentality rather than exploring why some have these inaccurate convoluted beliefs. And even when they are right in questioning a person exhibiting self hating tendencies or homophobia (ie not dating one’s own race or trying to define someone else’s sexuality) we have to ask what lead them to see this and open the dialogue even more.
So sports can often reflect the strategies we partake in when we have these types of conversations. Like how some people need to fight in a relationship to prove they’re right just for the sake of argument because it gives them power rather than actually having a legitimate point. Now while I’m not saying life is a game but the way that we interact and choose to have these conversations do take on these dynamics.
Even though this form of communication is the way we are taught to settle debates it is not the way we should be discussing race or sexuality. We need to examine where these questions come from before answering them because when people have questions like my friend that is where he’ll find the answers.
And next time, let me enjoy the damn game in peace.
We are yours, completely, to do all that you desire for only one night. One night only do we exist upon the same plane. We are your conscious come to life. A sexual yearning that needed scratching and the awakening of sexual arousal to satiate your physical appetite. The one wish you dare not speak aloud. But we will fulfill all that you require for just one night. And we will disappear in the first light of dawn, by your request, as usual. Our only purpose is to satisfy you for one night. Only one night.
We are selected from various social venues then inspected to ensure we meet the vision of your specifications. Your fantasies. We do not exist outside of the concepts of double rainbows and blue moons. Only between your sheets and between your thighs are we made salient. We are judged to make sure we can lift you and grab you, squeeze you tight in the rare moments when you seek our comfort. Your eyes calculate and measure to ensure that our mythical horn is what you’ve heard about behind closed doors. But if we appear too wild, surly, or untamed we are asked to leave because we may be too dangerous for your tastes. Then you relay this to us, politely, covertly, or bluntly.
Our mahogany, ebony, caramel skin absorbs the soft light of midnight, the only time in which you have the courage to summon us. While the rest of the world sleeps so they dare not discover this sinful encounter. Few words are exchanged both in text and in person. But we don’t need words because we will let our bodies speak for us. As the descendants of Mother Africa society sees us as the beast of humanity and throughout time has always been reduced to sex. To fuck. We have only one task to perform tonight. Just this night.
Our desires are made into yours. Our dreams of closeness and family and picket fences and soulmates and..love are extinct in this moment. We are not to be seen in daylight. We are the sexual beasts your fantasies yearn for. Our shaft your thighs our hands your sides. Smooth long strokes that shock and bounce you into place. You want us to massage and excite. We see the fear mixed with intrigue and desire in your eyes but we pretend to not notice. We are a mystery you dare not investigate beyond the faint breaths of passion to separate myth and lore from the real being inside of you. A man. You marvel at how much it aches to feel this good. This is your version of living on the wild side. For tonight only.
Our fingers electrify and excite you as you wonder what will happen next. Soft lip biting as our bodies groove into one. Our tongues explore and sensually sear the skin, igniting your body and mind. Then we stride inside, hard and slow, fast and rough. Each thrust and stroke to make your pulse race and raise your body temperature. The sweat only makes us work harder. It’s an elaborate dance we have done time and again. To you, sex is our only purpose only for tonight.
Standing up, sitting in a chair, tied to the floor or bed, pulling you up and down on us. You want us to stretch and collide inside your walls. Going as long and as hard and as deep as you wish. Then deeper. Your moans of delight as we await words or body movement to instruct us further. We whisper how good it feels and move our bodies with enough fervor to make your knees buckle. We will continue this mechanical dance until your toes curl and your back arches to the floor and await the moment you explode from inside and the orgasms lead us panting, gasping for air and some semblance of reality. We are your farm boy, your masseuse, chiropractor, doctor, chef, and lover all at once.For tonight only.
Our supple lips trace with excruciating precision all over your body. You have been convinced we are the experts and are to implement all activities while you can lay back and enjoy all of our efforts. To you we are the beasts of night and only when deemed tame enough are we permitted with going through your checklist of explicit challenges designed to stimulate. But only until the sun rises.
You will ask us to role play for you. To be the aggressive representation the media portrays us as. To playfully reverse centuries old roles and be the master while you are our slave. The beast. Soul is only required in rhythm. Because, in your mind, this is our only specialty. Because to you outside this sexual sanctuary we do not exist. We are just a fantasy.
We are artists, doctors, lawyers, mental health professionals, teachers, construction workers, students, businessmen, investment bankers, activists, and leaders but all that fades in the allure of moonlight. Because we can only serve one purpose, you, for only one night.
And you may call upon us again when you allow your mind to think of we satisfied your thirst, when you are ready to drink from us again and require your body to be caressed and satiated with sexual fantasies. We are not to call or text you, we are not to want to know more about you, we are not even allowed to address that we know each other in daylight for fear that it will expose our sinful transgressions.
Because we are not suitable to meet your friends and loved ones because they either come from a different time or would be unable to appreciate our nights of passion. We cannot make them or you uncomfortable. And for the most part, we at one point in time, will silently accept these terms, out of necessity to satisfy our own desires. Or to somehow prove we are more than the shapely figures you passionately hold onto while driving you into ecstasy. Or when we aren’t strong enough to see differently believe that is our sole purpose. That we exist, to you, for only one night.
The above is a compilation of conversations and submitted writings I’ve collected over the past several months from some of the experiences that gay men of color have experienced. Often we are only seen as sexual beings only capable for having a hot passionate night of sex. We are fetishized and perceived be to voyeuristic and exhibitionists that sometimes borders on sadomasochism. Some of us are but not all just as any other race. But sometimes we are only seen as this stereotype.
Not even necessarily saying the stereotype or rather the hypersexualization of African American men and other men of color is necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, (with the exception of referring to us as sexual beasts cause that is offensive. And racially insensitive). Remember this is the stereotype that is supposed to work in our favor.
But a real problem arises when you only think of us as sexual beings that only want to have sex all the time. That we don’t have dreams and aspirations and goals outside of that. That we don’t want to build lives together with significant others, to someday have families and being a part of healthy, successful long-term relationships when most of us do want that. This is a perfect example of how some so called good stereotypes still work out negatively for that biased group of people.
When only these stereotypes are believed it can make venturing into interracial dating difficult. How are we going to be able to interact with those that believe that’s all we are capable of being? How are we to overcome being interested in someone or trying to invest time into knowing someone who is terrified of introducing us to their parents and friends?
What do we tell the gay people of color that are apprehensive of having interracial relationships when they’ve been told, “This would be so much easier/less complicated/better if you weren’t black”? Can’t tell us to just stick to our race because not only is that racist but also not always feasible, especially when you live in areas or cities where there are only a handful of out gay men of the same race. Is it our responsibility to challenge these misconceptions every single time we come across them?
These questions are why I reached out over the past few months to some of the gay African American and other gay men I knew to talk about some of the issues we’ve come across in our experiences. We discussed how sometimes we are referred to the mythical beast, a belief that transcends sexual orientation. Because sometimes we are sexualized and made to feel like we can only have one purpose, sex. Now don’t get us wrong, the men and myself included love sex. Love everything about sex. But it is jarring to only be seen as a sexual object. That us dating and interacting with interracial relationships it is something we come across from time to time.
While discussing this we were also aware that there are a few gay men of color that may use this stereotype to their advantage. They may play into the troupe to get what they want and it’s so easy to just go with the vibe of having a great night of sex with no anticipation of commitment. It could be that these men have completely bought into this stereotype and see no reason to investigate further that is reflective of a learned helplessness. But I have found that this is likely the exception to the rule.
And the men and I that have discussed this topic are not saying that this happens every single time we involved with interracial relationships but it does happen often. We brought this up for those that do only see us as sexual beings and remind them that no one with self-worth wants to be seen as a robot that only exists to fill some sexual request. We just wanted to shine a light on how marginalizing a group of people to having only one purpose still is negative, no matter how purportedly good the origins.
It is only our responsibility as gay men of color to be aware of this for our own well-being and not have to teach this each time we come across it. We’re saying everyone should actively investigate the perceptions they have about a group of people, even when that stereotype is perceived to be inherently good.
By sharing this unique collaboration of experiences that we encourage people to think about the perceptions they have a group of people and go beyond that. Learn and investigate on your own. To make note of when you only see people that way, you end up missing out on truly knowing us and finding out the things about us that have much more significance than a fun night of sex.
*Special Thanks to the seven extraordinary men that helped contribute their experiences into this article. And as always my journals for helping me recognize my worth early on when I first came out.*
“Thirsty. Not for something that comes out from faucet, but gravity in equation. It adds and divides, multiplies and subtracts and always equaling desire. This desire yearns to be met with solution. A remedy. For fires to burn and bodies meld. All this for man. Man wishes to drink fully to stifle flames only contact makes solutions hotter and harder to come by. It is our function. Our dysfunction. Lust is the only bodily function I give credence right now. Smells and tastes from lips and tingles between thighs while the glass remains empty. It mocks as we mock ourselves. Mouth is dry and muscles ache, for physical connection. This remedy brief, but satisfying.”
Sounds so dramatic doesn’t it? Or romantic. Or both or not at all. The inner monologue can come up with some really embarrassing commentary on desire as evident from the above entry of my journal over seven years ago. Suffice it to say that as eloquent as I was trying to be in that passage it shows that we are not always coherent when under the influence of our desires. As gay men, well really all men, we always have those moments when all we can think about is satisfying our thirst. And when we’re single it feels like that drive is magnified by just about everything because it seems to occupy so much of our thoughts.
Some may be asking what thirst is well honestly it’s a lot of things. But mostly, thirst is merely the expression of one’s desires for another. Sometimes romantic, almost always sexual, and hardly ever platonic, it is the nature of wanting to be close to someone. A feeling of wanting to show this person of interest every single time you have a chance how much you like them. Always greeting him with an enthusiastic smile. Laughing at all of his jokes. Then we may start to be a bit craftier in expressing our desire.
Showing support for every cause he stands for. Reciting every literary work you learned in high school thinking he may notice. Being irrationally vitriol towards another when he’s angry at someone. Telling him about music you oh so quietly noticed he was into. Instantly disliking anyone he flirts with but still making conversation with them to show that you’re cool and laid back. Being the first to answer any inquiry he asks on social media. Favoriting every tweet he writes and liking every Instagram picture. Waiting until a really good moment you two share before direct messaging him your number. Has to be at the right time or else you’ll seem too needy or reckless or eager. The whole thing becomes meticulous after a while.
Then if he positively responds to any of our previous attempts we escalate our efforts because our thirst has not been quenched. This positive reinforcement means we have to ramp up whatever initiative we have available to attract this man to us. In fact the attention that we received only made the thirst worse so now we want more. As a result we may find ourselves saying or doing things we swore we would never ever do. The thirst is not about being rational or logical; it’s about having our desires satiated. Even if that awkwardly showing off your own physical features of your body you think he may like. Eventually this may mean finding unique ways to bring up how talented you are in sexual exploits.
“Accidentally” posting a pic of you casually getting out of the shower that your bestie took while you were both wasted or the one where you were only taking a pic of your thighs to measure how much gym progress you’ve made when really it’s about showing off the goods. Eventually you become hell-bent on showing this guy that you are the total package that he may or may not have known he always wanted. You want to be noticed. It’s a balancing act because you are constantly micromanaging what you should and should not say or do. Keep in mind that this all happens fast as we keep displaying how we feel until our thirst is satiated and he is the only thing that can squelch that sensation. Or how agile and flexible you are. As men it is natural for us to notice what we see before anything else, in fact we are hard wired to do so.
Then there’s the waiting. Waiting to see if you’ve made some progress on your goal of obtaining this man, agonizing over those first few moments (or seconds) that you’re eagerly awaiting some kind of reply of all your efforts. The great moments when he shows enthusiasm for your latest attempt or slight depression when he either doesn’t show enough enthusiasm or doesn’t reply at all. Eventually we are so into making progress that we don’t notice how some are witnessing how much we are falling all over ourselves to win favor with this guy.
It’s all subtle and direct and blatant and covert. It is the modern way of showing a crush that you’re interested in him. Not at all to confuse this with obsession as that is about completely losing yourself. This is all about expression. Our focus is a little off and we come off as awkward. Meaning literally everything and everyone diverts our attention back to quenching the sexual thirst we have. But we still have our own lives; we still go to work and socialize with our friends. We still pay our bills and plan for our future regardless of relationship status. And eventually we let go if it doesn’t work out. Whether this desire was rooted in wanting a long term relationship where you build lives together or a one night stand you eventually move on.
And people will notice. Family, coworkers, and most certainly those friends that are a part of your inner circle. As a result some will choose to point it out. Or call you out on it, whether it’s appropriate or their place to do so is moot. We have a tendency to rib each other when we notice someone being a bit more exuberant with someone that they like for whatever reasons. That can come from the shame we feel about our own thirst and project that on to other men. Sometimes it’s just jealously because the two people lusting after each other at one point was someone you were once (or possibly still) have some interest or desire in. Or maybe you just feel uncomfortable about it because it’s not the heteronormative way of romantically socializing that were taught was appropriate by society or our parents. Or the worst which is there is no reason.
Sadly some choose to take advantage of the thirst. Some feel that it warrants them to ask for favors knowing full well that being the object of affection gives them power over another. Whether that involves something as simple as asking them to promote something they’re invested in or as out there as having them buy things for them off an Amazon Wish List they know that they are using the real feelings of another to forward their own objective and that’s an awful thing to do to another person.
With all this, you know what I’ve found to be the most helpful in moments like this? Owning it. Admit to yourself that you are a human being that has a sexual appetite just like everyone else, regardless of how willing they are to admit it. Taking ownership of your feelings always gives you power and control. Maybe not over this situation and definitely not over the guy you’re interested in but power over yourself. To accept the state of the situation no matter what. To know that while it is okay for you to feel this way it is never okay for someone to take advantage of that. And enough insight and confidence to be able to tell any hecklers to mind their own damn business.
But mostly, guys don’t beat yourself up for being human. Don’t feel like it’s something that you have to have to hide in shame from your buddies. You may well be an awkward, embarrassing mess since we are not always able to express how we feel in a more sophisticated way. But until then you will most likely say something that upon reflection is completely cringe worthy and all out embarrassing but again, you are human. So let your friends laugh, or judge, or mock because they don’t have the jewels to admit that under the same circumstances they have said and done much worse. And you know what else? That guy you have your eye on will probably show more interest when it comes from a real, honest place.
Dating can be rough, regardless of sexual orientation but sometimes we can make it a lot harder than it has to be. There’s also a lot of things to consider when romantically pursuing someone you’re interested in, regardless of whether it’s for something long term or just a one night stand. There are things we know we have to be aware of and keep in mind the entire time we’re interacting with these other guys. With that said you’d think there are certain things you should already know when interacting with someone you’re trying to get to know better.
For instance if a person is extremely short you aren’t going to make a comment about how it must be easy for them to reach smaller cupboards are you? No you aren’t. Well at least you shouldn’t bring attention to it. Why? Because it’s rude and whether or not they’ve had with it. Or it could make them self-conscious about something they never had a problem with? And that goes for other physical attributes like birthmarks, speech impediments, physical or mental differentiation in ability. And race, which is what I’ll be focusing on today.
Earlier this week after picking up some healthy nutrition (more like 3 family sized bags of Peanut M&M’s) I noticed a guy was watching my every move. It wasn’t a stare so much as it was one of those looks that someone gives that wants you to notice them. So I turned around and did my default response of whenever someone seems interesting which is an eyebrow raised and I lite tilt of the head. He smiled and returned the gesture.
His eyes appraised me from top to bottom (no pun intended) It appeared that I had passed whatever requirements he had in deciding if someone was attractive/interesting. I have this thing where my eyebrow goes up when I’m smiling and he placed his hand on my shoulder and he commented on how strong he presumed I could be. Then that proceeded into me saying a few sexual innuendos that I won’t bore you with as they were a bit off the cuff and a bit dirty.
All really fun and playful banter. He had an amazing smile and a sweet airy laugh. He loved shifting his weight on either foot to begin and end his thought process. It was all endearing within those first few moments. I was really enjoying the conversation and was ready to forget everything else I had planned for the day go hang out with him right at that moment. But then as he was laughing at our small talk, his expression changed slightly to what only I assume to mean he had something serious to say. He lightly touched my arm and said,
“You’re so cute. Funny. I’d like to get to know you.Seem like one of the good blacks that speak well.”
Seem like one of the good blacks that speak well
THE GOOD BLACKS
All the smiles and playfulness on my face was immediately replaced with revulsion and intense anger. I replied saying why the hell he would say something so racist, forgetting temporarily in that moment that when people say things like that they truly believe they’re paying you a compliment when in fact it’s a huge insult. Needless to as that it completely desiccated any amorous feelings I had for this effervescent man. So instead of enlisting into what I’m sure would’ve been a very heated debate on manners, I collected my belongings and left him standing there in the parking lot.
I wish I could say that this was the first and only time someone has said something like this. Or that I’ve only heard it a dozen times or so. But in reality I have heard this phrase too many times to count from some well-meaning guy something so crass. So many decisions are based on the potential length of the relationship with the first few minutes. You have to convey so much within the first few seconds that you all attributes you want to be known (single/married, looking for sex/looking for love, top/bottom/vers). But when you say something completely asinine like the gentleman in this story you eviscerate any ground you made.
All the things you were silently trying to micromanage onside your head becomes only focused on what you believe he’s focused on. Since he brought up my race, then how am I supposed to focus on anything else? Sure there is a lot of pressure from your inner monologue tell you to decide within this small frame of time what to say and what you should not say. These situations seem to be magnified when there
You see what the problem is with comparing someone to the rest of their race, or other tall or short people, guys with birthmarks, stutters or any other thing that you see as unique, different or outside the box, is that it is a problem for you because that is all you seem to focus on. Too often talking about race in the gay community is dismissed and made taboo because it is just assumed that you can’t be racist if you’re gay. But just because you come from one oppressed group does not mean you know everything there is to know about every other oppressed group.
As I was discussing this with colleagues and close friends they wanted me to elaborate on a few points about intersectionality and how race does affect dating in this community. So I wanted to write about some of the things I feel are the biggest issues and point out some things that I feel arise in these situations that if we remember in these situations you won’t offend a person and actually see them as a person. But more specifically these are some of the issues that arise the most.
You don’t have to tell us that this is the first time you’ve ever went out with an African American or anyone outside your race because more than likely we are the first. Even though we are becoming more diverse by the day, most of the dating pool is in the gay community is comprised of Caucasian males. I know you aren’t going to know each and every phrase. No you don’t need some special manual to interact with me. Just be authentic and treat me as I do you’ as a person.
That doesn’t give you an excuse when you’ve said something we feel is insensitive. You can express how you didn’t see it as offensive but try to understand why we are upset. Just like with being gay, there are a lot of intricate levels of insensitivity to institutionalization of racism. In any case when you’ve offended someone you care about, apologize first then talk about it.
No you are not responsible for knowing every sensitive, intricate detail of what it means to be an African American in this country for the man you’re dating. You don’t have to know the reasoning of every time we are offended by something that is insensitive to the color of our skin. But understand there are so many varying levels you may not see. So when your guy points it out, both of you should be willing to listen to both sides.
Remember how it is when someone straight dismisses you for something you feel is homophobic/insensitive to LGBT? The same rule applies here. Because you may not notice the same things that we do. And we see it from a lifetime of patterns that let us know that the intent of statements like “you’re so articulate” can sometimes mean “I don’t think African Americans are smart, intelligent human beings”
So don’t ever dismiss the way we feel. Ever. Even if you don’t agree and are unable to see what we see. Just because you don’t see what the issue may be known that it may not always affect you even though we are together that it will always affect me.
Yes you can engage in conversations about race and race relations. It affects you just as much as it affects me, just not in the same way. You sitting there listening to me giving a speech about what you did wrong or what I found offensive by what someone has said or done will do nothing but make both of us resentful. Open dialogue is what changes perspectives and fosters understanding.
Don’t tell us why you think we are the exception to our race like the story I shared earlier. It makes us feel like we are some type of anomaly of an otherwise undesirable race of people we belong to and are a part of. Telling us we are a contradiction to a stereotype given to our race implies to us that you believe those stereotypes to be true and that even though you show no evidence to the contrary that we are still capable of those behaviors. So on some level you only see the person as a stereotype or a contradiction of a stereotype, and not the person. Stereotypes imply that we are susceptible, regardless of action and behavior.
You see color. Unless you have some kind of differentiation that does not allow you to see color or are visually blind you see color. When someone says “I don’t see color” that means that you are going to ignore when (sadly not if, but when) something comes up about race. Whether that be an inappropriate comment from you or someone else. See the current politically correct thing to say is phrases like I don’t see color to show that it doesn’t factor in who you’ll choose to date. You can’t say that you enjoy learning about different cultures and perspectives and say you don’t see color. Because you do see color.
But again it’s a generalization, and no one ever wants to be considered the “other”. We all notice differences in culture, race, and ethnicity. All of us need to learn that when it comes to race, sexuality, pretty much anything that is innately different to us, does not equal better or worse. Just different. We are still a society that is obsessed with hierarchy and order instead of incorporating even playing fields for everyone.
I am not just my race so when you focus on that it is all I believe you will ever see when you look at me. If all I believe you can see is what’s on the surface then why would I want to go deeper with you? Spoil you? To put all the effort necessary into building a strong stable relationship or one of the hottest, most passionate hookups ever? Because you are only seeing the surface. And I am better than that. Even certain myths and stereotypes (no matter how true they may be) that on the surface shows a group in a positive light are based in discrimination and hate.
Be open and ask. Be open to the fact that perspectives are going to be different. Patience and understanding is rewarded to those that are willing to hear both sides of an argument/view/opinion. When we listen even when we don’t agree because it allows us to see why we feel the way we do.You should never be afraid to ask someone you’re with why something is the way it is. Just don’t treat it like a science project that you’re collecting data for. Don’t understand something? Ask. We are not silently blaming you for the actions of ancestors long gone, but we cannot ignore that their actions still affect us. So talk. As often as necessary.
Not everything will be about race, Far from it. But don’t pretend that these issues won’t arise because they will, just like every relationship. This isn’t to detour you from pursuing someone you’re interested in. These situations only become a big issue is because as a community we actively choose to ignore it and not talk about it. And just like any relationship when communication is down, everything falls apart.
But let me make this clear that this is no more work than if you were dating someone of the same race. I’m pointing this out because it is obvious and something you can see thus making it easier to address. This is to remind those that have always wondered but been unaware of how to approach it. We can’t change it if we ignore it. So scenarios like the story I told earlier still being a reality today fade into history where they belong.
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.
Today while attempting to research for something to blog about I came across this article in the Advocate titled, Six Reasons Why it Sucks to Be a Gay Man, that discussed the different ways that being gay has its downfalls. Never mind the negative tone the name of the article has as it is apparent after reading the first two paragraphs that the author was satirically making a point through humor and I can’t fault him for that.
However there was one particular point on the list that really frustrated me. Maybe frustrate is too strong a word as it’s not so much that I have hostility towards this point, but rather I question the point itself. It talked about how not knowing a potential partner’s sexual role early on can pose problems later on in the relationship. The author implies how it sucks when two gay men get together and are dating only later to find out that they are first in fact bottoms:
4. “Wait … we are both bottoms?”
It’s the third date and you have been on your best behavior with that gorgeous man across the dinner table. That means no “sexting,” no more than two cocktails, and nothing below the waist … until now.
You think, Finally, this is how dating is supposed to be! You didn’t meet on Grindr or sleep with each other on the first date. You have the same taste in music and even talked about how you both want kids. Everything is perfect!
That is, until things finally start heating up and your thighs keep wanting to go in the same direction as his. After a frustrating make-out session and an awkward discussion in the nude, the reality of your preferred position becomes apparent. Even if one of you may be more “versatile” than the other, you are both bottoms.
So there went the wedding bells, but it could be worse. At least you have a new shopping pal.
This of course would cause problems in any relationship when you have a preference to a specific sexual role; if you’re not into it, you just aren’t. But the first thought I had when I read this point is why would this information be something that you would find out on the third date? When is the right time to ask this question.
And I know that most already know the answers to this question depending on their own experience or belief in common sense but some of us are not as clear on parameters because of inexperience. Or the fact that as the more men you interact with, the sooner you realize that the answer is not as clear cut as you once believed.
Because despite what the media, and sometimes what our own beliefs about the validity in stereotypes of gay men, we know deep down that we are a very diverse group of men so you can’t just go by appearance. Or how they walk. Or how they talk. Their profession. All of these demographics don’t automatically tell you this crucial information that will at some point will mean something to both of you. And despite their popularity, we don’t always have the convenience of social dating apps like Grindr to blatantly list what are our sexual preferences.
Some may be saying right now, “all that stuff doesn’t matter, it’s all about the connection”. Well like it or not sex is a component of that connection. Granted, it is not the only connection two people can share with each other or the only way to physically express affections for one another but it is still an important part to intimacy. Remember that as men we react first by what they see, so we also base our future behaviors on what we see in the present and foreseeable future.
You may have sex on the first date or may not have sex for the first six months of dating someone new, but a lot of the attraction may be centered on how you were attracted to him in the first place. So the discussion needs to happen at some point well before you make it to the bedroom one night to take your relationship further. So this will come up at some point.
But the question is of course when. When do approach sex roles in potential partners? So how would you approach the matter if it weren’t so apparent? Would you bluntly ask? Going up to someone and saying hi, I’m (insert name) and I’m wanted to know if you’re a top or bottom” probably won’t go over too smoothly. We can all appreciate a direct inquiry but you’re more than likely to offend someone with a question that is so intimate and private.
Would a better way to approach the dilemma be to enact on a series of vague questions to find out the answer? What an icebreaker that could be, if done correctly. There’s drawback to that as well. A lot of guys do not like these types of long-winded, mull around the bush questions (including myself). After a while they can come off as condescending and suggests that you are too much the inquisitor rather than potential lover.
Maybe the best approach would be a combination of the first two scenarios. But instead of asking them, under no uncertain terms declaring what sexual role you prefer. For instance at some point providing information about your own preferred sexual role (without being vulgar or inappropriate), you suggest how much you love leading your dance partner on the floor and doing a very sensual rumba. And that doesn’t have to include actually discussing sex itself. But that can be seen as being too forward.
Maybe that approach is too forward as well, suggesting cockiness and that you just assumed what you believe is their sexual role. the whole guessing game and these tactics you employ can be tiresome. Honestly I don’t think this situation of later on finding out two guys are both bottoms happens that often as natural chemistry will express what each of your roles are. So maybe listening is the true key. Maybe there are subtle indications that can help that we don’t pay attention to often. Maybe that was what the author was suggesting.
I believe it’s important to ask why we have such a hard time approaching this topic in the first place. The biggest reason is the result of what the roles themselves imply. Being a top implies masculinity and strength as well as dominance while being the bottom signifies submissive, feminine attributes. One of the problems arises is when we take those sexual roles we assign ourselves outside the bedroom and apply it to everyday life.
It’s no secret that in the gay community that the bottom is the brunt (no pun intended) of many jokes. And is seen as a negative attribute, especially by those that carry heteronormative practices of misogyny into the gay community. That means they, like chauvinistic men in the rest of society associate anything feminine as being weak.
We can blame it on media, or upbringing as much as we want but the truth is we are responsible for correcting those ill-conceived beliefs into the community. As I’ve stated before, we have to take accountability for not repeating the mistakes we advocate against. Basically, remember what I said earlier about every guy being different? That’s the most important thing you can do. And be honest in however you discuss it.
Lastly, don’t ever question what sexual role he says he prefers and take him at his word. Just the way you would want to not be scrutinized by whatever your preferred sexual role is for you. If you either don’t believe or accept that then kindly move on to some other topic or someone else.
I won’t tell you which method is right or wrong because that is not my job description in this setting However I will say to always remember how you want to be addressed when this question is asked of you and how you’d respond accordingly. The chemistry will say more than any line of questioning you can think up and provide you with the answer when necessary. And guys, always do it with respect. Perceive each man, regardless of the position he prefers, is still a man and a human being. Remember and respect that.
Several weeks ago I was asked to do an Op-Ed on whether an HIV negative man should date someone who is positive. Being completely honest, I was nervous. Not because the subject matter of discussing HIV/AIDS makes me nervous, but for fear that I wouldn’t fully encapsulate my point correctly or present each side of the argument accurately. So I held off for a while to ruminate and collect my thoughts. Methodically trying to map out how to present it to a community that has such a taboo about even discussing the subject, fearing an association to something that affects the entire community.
During this process I kept revisiting excerpts of different points I wanted to bring up and as time went on thought they were too convoluted or sounded insulting or just was too random to be of use in the article. I then came across a brilliant and honest depiction of what it was like for a man living with HIV to go out seeking romance or possibly love. David Duran’s story about being positive and navigating through social dating apps really touched me because I truly felt the frustration he expressed about disclosing his status to men he could have some potential sexual relationship. I related to it because I felt frustrations when I’m discounted or erroneously judged because of race in the gay community, another taboo subject rarely discussed.
As I thought about the comparisons it made me think of how taxing that has to be on the gay men that have to endure the silent ridicule and muffled disdain for something that could have happened to any of us. Now some may chagrin to that statement I just made but they would do well to remember that condoms do sometimes break. They should remember that just because someone says that their STI test came back negative doesn’t always mean that they don’t have the virus because it hasn’t shown up yet. So yes it can happen to any of one of us.
This reflective journey made me remember an incident about understanding what HIV is after I came out. I came across a journal entry dated a little over six years ago where I attempt to process whether or not I would date a man living with the virus. I’m going to share a part of this entry to show some of the mistakes I made as a younger gay man and how this experience may resemble the reactions that David and other men have faced. I hope that even though it shows a bit of my own ignorance back then that it may also open eyes to the misconceptions and negative attitudes surrounding it. Because as I always state in these articles, nothing ever changes if we don’t talk about where we went wrong and how we can overcome these flaws.
Saturday January 27th 2007
Tonight I feel like I messed up big time. My first real venture into socializing with gay men, something I dreamed about was a wash. I was finally able to openly flirting with a guy..but in the end it just came out awkward. I was grateful that William had invited me out cause even though it’s been over a year since I came out I don’t know anyone other than the man I’d loved and lost as a circumstance of bad timing and a couple of random guys I fooled around with. This was supposed to be a big step but it..just didn’t turn out right.
I got along with everyone and flirted with the guys and that was received well. Later on this guy walked in. Black hair and the most brilliant luminescent emerald green eyes I can remember. Checkered shoes with a matching scarf and pinstripe suspenders. A hipster from head to toe. I was so taken by him. A few drinks and I felt comfortable enough to say more than hey. We talked about school and politics. He was as so sharp and articulate as I always think I am.. Sweet smile and his butt. Amazing. After we went out back to talk more we leaned in to kiss but he stopped before we made contact. Saying he had to tell me about his status and I was so in the moment it wasn’t clicking to what he was referring to. He said he was positive.
A few seconds of confusion until I realized he was talking about HIV. I was just so caught up in the moment..but I wasn’t able to hide how hard the statement had brought me back down from fantasizing about us throwing each other against the house and me having my way with him. The starry gaze in my eyes was replaced with shock. I could tell he’s seen this expression before and it makes the whole thing worse. And I noticed that he noticed my initial reaction that was in my face that easily to him said “no” when I didn’t know what I would do. But I know he’s seen that face before and a resolve that nothing would come of our earlier flirtation. Shaking and so upset, probably heightened by the alcohol, my reaction condemned this man and I felt so ashamed, that I may have hurt his feelings. I began to cry.
Spontaneously crying, like I always do when I feel I’ve deeply offended someone unintentionally. He was trying to say something like “it’s okay, I understand” but all I could do was profusely yell how sorry I was if I made him feel bad or that he wasn’t desirable. Because I felt like at that point I couldn’t just save face and say of course it’s not an issue but my reaction said differently. Even worse that I know what that feels like on some level to be rejected on something you can’t change, though not to the degree that he had to have felt. Too often I’ve had resolve to rejection as sometimes as an African American you have to brace yourself as some people do react to you this way.
And here I am most likely making this guy feel that way. Both of us embarrassed at the moment I was having I flagged a sober friend to drive me home…Could it have been the era I grew up in? Definitely. I grew up in the 80s and 90s in the south, the time of the Cold War and the Reagan era that seemed to completely and utterly fail to diminish the impact of the virus. AIDS was on the news almost every night. And people were terrified I was terrified. These all sound like more excuses about whatever I’m subconsciously afraid to say.
Growing up I remember so often when the subject of gay came up it was automatically synonymous with AIDS and then death. Back then it due to the reprehensible negligence by the government so it really was a death sentence. I wonder if that image was ingrained as I was processing the fact that I was gay; maybe that had some weight in how I reacted. I just remember being so afraid growing up thinking if I’m gay then I’m automatically destined to inherit this disease? Of course I know better than that now. I know antivirals helps a person live normally. But back then that was all I knew. Maybe it’s all an excuse.
Why did I react that way? Why am I trying to justify being so wrong. This isn’t like me. It’s not like I have anything to worry about. I get tested for STD’s at least once every six months. And if we were intimate together I would take the same precautions that I always do. So why did I respond that way. William called and said the guy wasn’t offended and understood but I still feel like a horrible human being. I wonder if it wasn’t completely subconscious, or lingering fear. Maybe that’s why I panicked because I had internalized all the lies and manipulation I had been taught growing up from the media. All I know is that I was embarrassing tonight. And probably hurt someone’s feelings. I hate this feeling and sorry for all this,
I remember during this whole ordeal I kept thinking that if I referred to it as a disease instead of a virus that it was insulting. Or what if it’s the other way around or both or neither. I was just so afraid of offending this man and those amazingly beautiful emerald eyes of his. More likely it was fear that I still had not dealt with and it all came to the surface that night. I needed to reconcile that because no matter how open minded I believed I was, for whatever reason I was seeing a status rather than a person. That was why I had that reaction. For me, I needed to change that outlook immediately and I believe that I’ve done so.
Some things are the same as they were then. I still slightly look away when I make eye contact with someone I’m extremely attracted to and smile. I still have terrible one liners that somehow makes the guy I’m talking to laugh..still don’t know if it’s out of civility or genuine affection. I’m still immensely drawn to hipster. I still use protection every time I have a sexual encounter and get tested at least once every six months to make sure that I don’t have any STD’s. But now I do not treat a man that is positive as some fragile being I need to tiptoe around. No longer through my awkward, panicked behavior do I treat these men as though their status is the only thing I see. I view these men as men, just as deserving of love and affection as anyone else. As it should be.
So maybe the worse thing I did through that experience was be afraid of offending someone else’s feelings (which is at times still a flaw). But it was necessary for me to go through and learn some of the prejudices that I may not have been aware of back then. As the years have went on I grew to see people as people, no matter their circumstance. I now know that I would consider dating an HIV positive man the same way I’d consider dating any other gay man. Would there be lengthy discussions and all precautions before during and after sex be taken? Absolutely as I take those precautions with every man I’m with sexually, as we all should be.
So how do we challenge ourselves to stop letting stigma dictate how we treat these men? How do we evolve and overcome the insensitive and sometimes downright ugly reactions that we may have when these men are looking for the same things we’re looking for? Talk. Just as we did when we first discovered that we’re gay. We sought out after answers about what our sexuality meant and what sex would someday mean to us. We learned the mechanics of protecting ourselves and those we sexually engage. We learned that we don’t want to be treated differently on the basis of one aspect of ourselves.
Sometimes it is necessary for us to revisit the lessons of the past and apply them to a different situation. The one thing all of us can do, regardless of status, is talk openly about HIV. I’m not saying that anyone has to share the exact same opinion on this because I understand why people would have reservations about it. Who knows, maybe I still do as I have not dated anyone who is positive. But at least I am ready to talk about it and learning more. Because I do believe there are valid concerns, just like any relationship you embark upon. Education is paramount, not only in prevention but in understanding what it means to those living with the virus.
All relationships have obstacles that we will all have to face. But that doesn’t mean that you have to treat these men so distastefully. As David has said, we are all kin, and status doesn’t remove our sexual nature or desire or our humanity. Basically the only thing I ask every gay man to do is challenge and examine why they have a certain view on this topic. Question where your beliefs come from, question what you fear, and ultimately do what’s right for you. And always protect yourself. Talk.
Thank you David for being my muse and inspiring me to find the right words to express how I feel. And my journals for yet again showing me how reflection is always necessary for growth.
“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.