Tuesday, October 21, 2008


A propos the percentages:

As the Singapore site said: the question is virtually unanswerable. The main reason, of course, is that nobody agrees what or whom they are counting. (And most people haven't tried as hard as we have in the US, either, from either side of the Great Divide.) There are the people who count everyone who ever slept with a man [though even doing that, the Brits' NATSAL II only came up with 2.8%], thereby including people like Winston Churchill, who once slept with Ivor Novello, a big matinee heart-throb of the time, just to find out what it was like. There are the people who make a great leap from some married men sleeping on the wrong side of the street to the idea that many, most, or all men would or could or want to, or that the occasional event means more than it does to the guy involved. And then there are the headcases who can't make up their minds, or who do first one thing and then the other, who with any luck will remain nameless.

Sometimes I think that there is a certain air of "misery loves company" in all this. Or a hint of "let's drag them all down to our level," which I can't help seeing in most drag queens' idea of women. OK, I know, I have put women on a pedestal too much for my own good, or theirs, but what else is a Momma's Boy to do?

My parents had a psychiatrist acquaintance who consulted for the state prison system, and he once opined to my parents, around the time I first came out, that as far as he was concerned, there were two distinct groups of people who got lumped together under the heading of "homosexuals": men who really were focused, sexually and emotionally, on other men; and men who would put their equipment to any use available at the time as long as it felt good.

Frankly, I'm not sure the two groups divide that neatly, but that was another opinion. And God only knows what my parents thought, if they were still applying his system, when I got married...

It will not have escaped notice [at least, not Paul's] that while I am completely at home as a gay man personally, I have a lot of baggage about gay life in general, the complex of social and public stuff that makes up what Steven [click here] calls the "box" of "gayness". This is borne in on me at the moment, of course, by the fact that I have yet to really get underway in my new life except as the Goat's partner, all my own fault for not picking up the threads of work and social life in a new place, I know. One of these days I will get my act together and take it on the road, or at least beyond the driveway...

I still have trouble with the need of so many people to "act out" or "act up" rather than just be themselves. [Mind you, I do understand that it can take a while to figure out who or what that might be--been there, done that.] It sometimes seems there is as much facade and imposture involved in people's gay personas as in the "images" they maintain in the straight world: whether the drag is leathers or feathers, it seems not to have much to do with reality--I certainly know it doesn't in my own case. One friend, a theater-based life form, never stops "performing" as long as there is one other person in the room. I find that exhausting even as the audience, let alone contemplating keeping up a performance like that from dawn to dusk... And I am so tired of hearing everything negative about the "gay community" blamed on homophobia--I'll buy half, three-quarters, maybe even 90%, but not everything. Life isn't that simple.

Well, if all of the stuff that pisses me off has disappeared in thirty years, I'll believe it; till then, my doubts remain. It seems to me that the younger generation, growing up in an atmosphere of acceptance and support unimaginable to us dinosaurs, an atmosphere that the Stonewall crowd fought for, in some cases died for, aren't doing particularly better than we did. Maybe they're still figuring it out. What the hell do I know?

Oh, well, who said homophobia had to be internalized?

On the one hand, Joe over at Joe.My.God [click here] weighs in with this:
There's an adage in internet culture called Godwin's Law, the essence of which is this: As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.

According to Godwin's Law, a person that invokes such comparisons has instantly lost whatever argument he is making.
For the last couple of years I've been noticing a similar situation arising around usage of the pop psychology term "self-loathing". Lately, if one describes a gay person as self-loathing, usually meaning that you believe that person's actions or opinions are reflective of their regret over their homosexuality, often the term is dismissed as archaic, no longer valid in modern discussion of queer culture.

Gay Republicans in particular reject the term, saying that just because they may support an administration that loathes
them, doesn't mean they loathe themselves. I've noticed lately that if you judge someone's motivations as being based on self-loathing, you are often quickly denounced as a gay ghettoist, one who can't picture a gay person as having motivations or opinions unrelated to their homosexuality. Calling self-loathing on someone is now the gay version of Godwin's Law.

But just as I believe that Godwin's Law is often used to silence those making completely valid comparisons between the rise of fascism and the current American administration, I feel that self-loathing is a completely apt term in describing certain aspects of gay behavior.

In my opinion, self-loathing is the defining negative characteristic of modern homosexuals. There are many, many positive defining characteristics: creativity, artistry, empathy, intuitiveness, generosity. But on the flip side of all of that, self-loathing stands starkly alone. From the moment we know what gay is, and that it's what we are, we endure and internalize an incessant, heavy, debilitating, enervating barrage of anti-gay messages from our families, our churches, our teachers, and our leaders. Every bit of popular culture, from sappy Lifetime romance movies to saccharine hit singles on the radio, underscores our outsider status, our otherness.

Processing these messages, exorcising our internalized homophobia, is a lifelong exercise. We are never done working through it. Never. Just as coming out, once begun, is a never-ending experience, we must always work towards becoming self-actualized, to make the most of our unique abilities as gay people. Only a completely self-deluded queer can ever sit back and say "That's it. I'm done. I am now totally free of self-loathing and my being gay no longer has any influence on how I see myself and my place in the world."

Evidence of self-loathing is rampant is modern gay male culture. You can see it in the hypermasculine leather and bear subcultures where fear of appearing feminine informs every aspect of image and action. You can see it in gay men who falsely profess an interest in sports, because they think it makes them seem straighter, and therefore: hotter.

ou can see it in the online hook-up world, in the words "straight acting" and "no fems". You can see it in the rampant eroticizing of straight men and the hetero-fetishizing world of SeanCody.com and Amateur- StraightGuys.com. You can see it, in boatloads, in the way that some gay people marginalize and reject feminine men and masculine women.

You can see self-loathing in drug abuse, in male body dismorphia, in unsafe sex. And you can see it in gay bashing, the most tragic manifestation of self-loathing.

defines us, and all any of us can do is own that, and work towards evolving to a better place. I remember when I first came out, seeing drag queens proudly strutting on the stage and hearing audience members shout out "Own it, honey! OWN IT!" What those queens were "owning" was their own unique expression of their homosexuality and I envied them for it. I still do.

Sometimes I play a little game with friends. I'll say, "You are standing in front of identical twins. Everything about them is the same, their personalities, their livelihoods, their mannerisms. They share the same unique DNA and even their mother cannot tell them apart. They are handsome and sexy and have great bodies. They are totally your type. One of them is gay and one of them is straight. Which one do you want to have sex with?"

The conversation that follows their answer is always very interesting.
On the other, ATLMalcontent [click here] posted these quotes:
I think all these pride marches have lost their center slightly. If you encountered them in the beginning of the 1980s when the gay community was really in crisis with its back against the wall, they were very highly charged events about survival and trying to define ourselves and keep our heads up.

Now, because of all the fighting that those people did, there is a generation of mindless drug addicts – party-grazing cows who move from one side of the planet to the other, getting high and fucking each other. I’m not saying whether that’s good or bad, but it’s not political anymore.

Maybe the thing we have to protest most is our behavior within ourselves – maybe it’s interior, not exterior. It’s up to us to see where our image to the outside world now is – because that is what’s potentially dangerous.

--Actor/writer Rupert Everett, quoted today by SX News.

The gay movement hasn't matured; it's grown stale. Pride marches have turned into shopworn cavalcades of been-there, done-that decadence. While society as a whole has embraced the flock mentality, it seems even more concentrated among homosexuals. When's the last time you went into a gay club in West Stepford (er, Hollywood) and did not hear the familiar pulsing of techno/groove/ambient (whatever it's now called) sounds? And how many gay men bought Mazda Miatas when they first came out? As if the cars hit the road affixed with rainbow stickers on the bumper.

Sadly, far too many of us seem content fulfilling the roles society and the media (including the gay media) expect: gossipy "girlfriends" who love to party and shop. We may be born homosexual, but we're not all born addicted to the E! network.

Before I'm branded as some kind of gay version of Ward Connerly, let me set the record straight. I'm glad to see more gays represented in movies and TV, both in front of and behind the camera. But is it quantity we're concerned with, or quality? Here's wishing the millennium brings us a few more Tennessee Williamses and a few less Kevin Williamsons. I hope a new wave is in the offing--one that recognizes an anachronism when it sees it. Remember, we're here, we're queer--and we're not all caricatures.

--ATLmalcontent, in a LA Times column

Reality may be inconvenient, but we avoid it at our peril. The gay community's justifiable struggle for relevance also requires a look inward. We may compare our crusade to the civil rights movement of the 1950 and 60s, but can we honestly say we comport ourselves with the dignity of those who marched on Selma?
--ATLmalcontent, 6/23/06

I wonder if Everett's homosexual bona fides will be called into question?

Hang in there, everyone.


  1. As a nameless headcase, I will defend my behavior thus: I don't really believe that there is any gay or straight. You had a relationship with a woman, a loving and sexual relationshp in spite of your orientation toward men. So did I. The reverse is also therefore true: lots of straight guys, given the right situation and incentive, could have loving and sexual relationships with other men. If there's any splitting the human race into gay and straight, it's because in a situation where all things are equal and both options are available, we tend to consistently choose one option over the other. Those guys who choose other guys more often than women are queer, I guess, and those who choose women more often are straight... But it still seems a futile effort to me to impose black and white lines on something that's murky and gray all over.

  2. Biggo:

    I didn't have you in mind, or anyone else who doesn't post blog entries here, for that matter.

    What I think is clear for me, at least, is this: we are hard-wired one way [witness all the research about reaction to male or female scent, etc., etc.] and events produce other input, some of which lines up, and some of which doesn't. We are caught in the middle. There is no separating nature and nurture, because it is all one big messy soup we swim in, though the things that settle out of that solution can be... unsettling, sometimes.

    I think this comes back to the problem that no one can agree whom to count, and how; if we could agree, it would still be almost impossible, except as a statistical abstract.

    Real people are going to follow their hearts or the will-o-the-wisps of their fantasies, or whatever else has the upper hand at the moment. And real people are not going to fit into ANY cookie-cutter version of reality, because reality is endlessly messy.

    I guess what I'm saying is that "at night all cats are gray." I'm gray, you're gray, almost all of us are gray, and at night even the few who for whatever reason are convinced they are black or white look gray to the rest of us.

    Did I say something else in my post? I certainly can't tell, at this point. I am, after all, the guy who starts with the the archangel's premise that "with God, nothing is impossible."


  3. Percentages, I used to hear the number 1 in 100 and trust me, growing up in the country I felt it was true. At times I wondered if it was not one in one million. I won't guess at the numbers of gay, lesbian & bi people out there because as you are trying to say it is too difficult when a lot of people are not 100% straight but are not sure where they fit in. All I know is this, when I started to come out a lot of people who I knew for years came out to me and others who are married with kids (both men & women) have told me that they have played for both teams (so to speak), so I would not even take a guess at percentages, except I feel 100% less alone in the world now than two years ago. What is that saying... the more I know, the more I know how little I really knew. ;)

  4. Yes, I've noticed.

    - - -

    I've personally come to the self-conclusion that there's a lot of gray. A heck of a lot of gray. And in that case, there's an element of choice about how you define it. And live it.