It’s kind of a big deal.

I came across this NPR article while waiting for a mango chicken wrap from my local juice bar. “In Changing America, Gay Masculinity Has ‘Many Different Shades.” I chose to read instead of a competing article about the ebola virus because I didn’t want to spoil my appetite with descriptions of death, but also because, hey, I’m gay.

It’s a nice article about how men in Colorado (who are gay!) are playing rugby and acting tough. I scanned the screen of my phone with narrowing eyes waiting to see if the article was going to take it somewhere new or fresh; to me this rugby team was not big news. I play on a gay sports league in New York and I’ll be the first to tell you: it’s competitive. 

The line that stood out the most (the pull quote on the top photo) takes, I think, a very defensive position about homosexuality, quoting one of the players: “I’ve always thought of myself as … the rugby player that happens to be gay… I never want to be the gay man who happens to play rugby.”

I remember thinking that way.  I remember telling people that it’s a small part of who I am. I remember building consensus with my family that it wasn’t important. But that philosophy is a phase, right?

I have just come back from a week-long vacation (or was it work?) hosting Absolut Vodka promos in Provincetown, MA. As I described to my mother on the phone, Ptown is a seaside artists’ colony, with plenty of places to buy lobster or souvenir sweaters, that also happens to be this incredible gay mecca.  Theaters, cute boutiques, gay bars, costume parties, drag acts, art galleries, and a parade. It’s a very special place and I feel blessed to have visited it. I also feel blessed to have claim to it. Being gay is awesome. We create great neighborhoods, great art and culture, and I’m pretty sure a gay high school student just beat an asian high school student at teen Jeopardy (at JEOPARDY, people!).

That above comment isn’t meant to be racists, only funny.  

So, I didn’t mean to write a diatribe this morning, nor did I intend for THIS SUBJECT to be my first post in about two years (eek), but I am really gay… like through and through. And it’s maybe one of the most permanent things about me.  I’m glad that this guy can self-identify as a rugby player who happens to be gay, but my life is in way to much flux to let me feel permanently identified by my career, city, hobbies, sports, etc. 

In 30 years I don’t know what I’ll be doing, who I’ll be with, or where I’ll be, but I’m pretty sure I will still be gay.

Advertisements

the NEXT good thing.

Always be yourself, unless you can be a unicorn.

This past week I went and saw the play Cock at the Duke theater here in New York.  This is a very sparsely written, sparsely staged show in which a young, handsome man must choose between his boyfriend and a woman who he has unexpectedly fallen in love with.  As Boyfriend and Girl battle for the attention of the indecisive, identity crisis victim there are many funny lines urging him to do what is natural: living a heterosexual social existence, or following his “born in” gayness.  Somehow bisexuality as a concept is only briefly mentioned, but mostly this play is about choice. choice choice choice.

Leaving the theatre I was talking to my companions about how much I liked the show, but how I was surprised that it had opened up this debate which I had thought we already finished. Aren’t we, I said, beyond the point where people believe they can choose their sexuality. We are Born This Way to quote Lady Gaga.  The response I got from my friend surprised me, and it was actually the second time in one week that I had someone describe choice as the next era in identity politics.

Please let me backup: Earlier that week my dear friend Cale and I had a long conversation over ramen about  Lady Gaga (it seems she enters all conversations about identity) and how she was “a disappointment” to Cale.  At first I was indignant.  Who could be disappointed? I balked.  I said it not as a worshiping fan, but as a person alive in 2012. Gaga might be an acquired taste, but she is notable enough and successful enough that “disappointed” felt like an odd word.  Cale explained, and I will now paraphrase:

We’ve already had champions for the just be yourself/just love yourself movement. This is something we covered in the 90s and earlier. “it’s ok to be gay.” “black is beautiful.” These kinds expressions are good because they confront discrimination but they are still based on one era of identity politics: the What-you-are is Who-you-are era.  When Gaga first came on the scene and was acting crazy I was really excited because she wasn’t just acting crazy she was defying categories. What type of person wears a meat dress? well no type. Gaga was creating this elaborate personality that wasn’t actually based on race, religion, or gender.  She was simply who she was, with no category of what she was. And so the underlying message wasn’t What-you-are is Who-you-are, it was: Explode-who-you-are and go invent yourself. This is an era of identity politics with much more choice. But then she released the album Born This Way and everything imploded because you don’t have any creative power anymore; you were just born this way. the end.

I’ve shared this conversation with several people and gotten a lot of mixed responses. But it opened up in my head the concept of looking toward choice as the NEXT good thing.  My theatre companion for the show Cock suggested to me: perhaps this play was operating in a space where this man’s sexuality was a choice and not inherent. After all, there was not easy answer for the main character.  He couldn’t just detect who he was attracted to, he had to choose. And it takes him a play’s worth of time.

So what do I think: I want people to believe it’s ok to be gay. And for now having no explanation other than your genetic makeup is nice. The fact that “it’s not a choice” has been a great defense for gay people, disabled people, and minorities. But as two friends in one week have expressed to me, maybe there’s a new era of social justice where (as long as your not hurting anyone) your choices should be respected too, not just traits that you were born with.  That sentence sounds really obvious when I read it back, but in my mind it was a subtle shift. Perhaps we can have it both ways? what you are is ok… and what you choose is ok too.

Seeing Females for the First Time

At my job I spend a lot of time flipping through plays from the past 100 years. And seriously, many of them are actually from the 1920s-60s.  Recently I was preparing an old play titled Backwoods Romeo for reprint when I got caught reading the description.

The basic story is that Romeo has lived in the woods with his grandfather for his first 21 years of life.  The entire time there have been no women.  He has never seen a girl ever. not once. Then, for some reason our backwoods protag goes to town and is surrounded by women for the first time.  I have not yet read the play, but I assume he goes on some sort of spree- that would make good theatre, right?

But of course, this also started me wondering what would happen in reality if someone had no exposure to attractive people during their formative years. Would their sexuality change at all?

I am inclined to believe that you may end up sort of asexual if you grow up without the proper dosages of girl (or boy) in your teenage years. Imagine being 21 and seeing an attractive person for the first time.  Do yo know what to do with them?  Do you have any desire to do anything? Even kissing- I wonder if it is a learned desire, instead of innate desire.

I’ll say that I think it matters hugely whether you know that women exist at all, even if you aren’t hanging out with them.  If grandpa told Romeo that there were these amazing creatures called girls and they were like people, but slightly different, and that you are supposed to be attracted to them– then I think Romeo may be better adjusted when he finally goes to town.

If you did Not know that women existed, I don’t  think you could be attracted to them, because you wouldn’t know what was going on.  They might even scare you.  For fun I just googled “scary women” – it was all bodybuilders…

I do Not expect that people would become gay from lack of girls.  But then, I don’t often like anything that supposes homosexuality can be induced since I think that mode of thinking makes the community vulnerable. I mostly just think that the young man is going to be really frustrated for a while,  and he may develop some strange habits to cope.  There’s that whole thing about farm boys and animals, but I may just ignore that instead of unpacking it’s causation.

It’s a Nature/Nurture argument for sure, and I think I’m going to come down on the side of Nurture.  No Sex symbols until the age of 21? You might be irreversibly screwed up.

Posted in Sex.

Search Terms Make Me Laugh

This is basically the first blog I’ve ever had.  I know I am late to the party, but it was something that I wanted to try and I if I’m in the mood it can be a lot of fun.  One thing I wasn’t prepared for, however, was how addictive it is watching your blogs stats.  Worpress (this blog is a wordpress blog, everyone) has some cool analytics software built in to the back end so you can see how many people came to your site, where they came from, what they clicked on, etc.  Most of my traffic comes directly from Facebook when I post links there, but there are a handful of views each day come from somebody doing a simple google search. Of all the data WordPress gives you, my favorite by far is knowing what search terms somehow landed people here.

I’d like to share some with you.

So this seems like a pretty standard day.  “Sex for Singing” is a little odd, but it makes sense that they would end up here, it has 2 of the 3 title words.  I mostly wonder why it has 4 independent views? did 4 different people google this? if it was just one person, why did they click on my blog 4 times?  You’d think after the first time they would figure out that I’m (probably) not going to hook-up with them no matter how well they sing.

This one is pretty standard. What I realized when I began looking through these is that there are people on the internet that just google Taylor Lautner all day long.  At least this day I also came up in a search including NYC.

Oh Goodness.  I know that “sex” is in the title of the page, but “Hot rough sex” you have come to the wrong place, sorry.
can anyone make sense of “football players downs their short pants”?  at least my friends Jerzy Jung and Christiano Ronaldo made it.

The weird things here are A) the search for “Taylor Laughter” – that made me crack-up.  and B) that I have never in my life blogged about Alan Valdez.  I didn’t even know that was.  just to make sure I wasn’t missing out on anything I googled him myself. … yowza.  I should do a blog or four about this guy:

Mike Fink…. Yes I wrote about my secret crush on a tall tale. I wonder why was he all the rage suddenly on November 2? Meanwhile, Lautner stays in the race.

Seriously, who googles this?  And it was even on 10-10-10.  You should have been out celebrating dude, that only happens once every millenium.  Even the Taylor Lautner people too the day off.

And lastly, today, which seems pretty average up until this one desperate persons cry help (?) at the bottom there.  Luckily I have also blogged about It Gets Better.  Watch a few and know that people out there care.

Anyway.  In general I’m disappointed in what drives people to this blog.  I guess I’m not posting enough intellectual material?  if you’ve got a topic suggestion (about comedy, music, sex or seriously whatever) leave me note and I’ll see if we can make this place more than a stop over for horny Twilight fans.  AND, Thanks very much for being part of my first blog journey, be sure to subscribe if that’s something you do.  Peace out. 🙂

It Gets Better Project

Today has to be one of the most beautiful days that I’ve ever been a part of in NYC. Even after semi-crazy drunken night out at a friends birthday party the sun rejuvenated me and drew me outside. On my walk home from the gym the cool air kept inviting me to race it home. For the most part I was like: “No, Wind.  I’m not racing.”  But then at the last minute I sprinted home and touched the door first. Thus winning.

I’m in a really good mood. Well, it’s bittersweet.

I think part of it is that I woke up really grateful. I have a lot of good stuff happening and I’m glad for it. This week The Boy and I went and saw Brief Encounter at studio 54.  It is a beautiful show with some fantastic stage pictures. The Times says it offers “brief, oddly elegant demonstrations of what lies beneath buttoned-up exteriors”, and I think it’s true.

I also think the Times quote is really powerful. A large part of my transition to adulthood, I feel, was just the ability to vent. Just to vent and be angry and seek solace and let emotions ride. I feel oddly more in control letting my emotions show than stuffing things back down into silence. But it took me several years of “adulthood” before I was really in tune enough to let things show.

In the Brief Encounter‘s world the characters are holding in emotions of love, and lust, and loneliness, and desire. And that is taxing- but I don’t think they were holding back despair.  That’s really hard to take on alone. And unfortunately there are things about our American society and system that sometimes leave the most vulnerable people the most isolated.

There have now been 6 news-discussed gay teen suicides this summer, beginning with Rutgers student Tyler Clemente.  It’s a situation out of control.

I don’t believe that good comes from bad.  I believe that good comes from people, and sometimes bad has to wake us up.  Perhaps it’s just the circles I run in- Perhaps it’s just who I’m friends with on the Facebook, but I feel there has been a change this summer.   People all around me are reacting to these sad facts not only with mourning, but action.  I’m watching members of my generation vigilantly confront this problem, and I’m proud.  I have invites to memorials, fundraisers, community-building events, and volunteer opportunities. The awareness has already been raised- now it’s all action.  Even though I’m sad for the deaths of these kids, I’m glad that people are reaching out and looking for was to make improvements.

Dan Savage‘s It Gets Better project is one of my favorite things I’ve encountered in a while.  For anyone who doesn’t know, it’s a collection of youtube testimonials by queer people offering hope to gay teens trapped in stifling or painful places. The basic message is simple, but I think this project goes beyond saying “hang in there and move to a coast and it’ll get better.” I feel like it’s less a reminder that safe urban places exist and more a reminder that there are people who will take the time to record a message of hope and send it out into the void for young people stranded in the hateful pockets and backward thinking corners of the nation.

It’s a nice reminder of humanity’s better side. I spent a about a half an hour watching through these videos this morning, and I have to say I’m proud of our loud, compassionate counterculture.  So, although I can’t bare to think about the senseless loss of the 6 young kids,  my faith in humanity has received a nice bump this morning.

Christiano Ronaldo in Armani Briefs

Sexy Christiano Ronaldo

Ok.  So multiple people emailed me links to the new Armani underwear ads featuring Christiano Ronaldo.  When I was growing up everyone I knew played soccer  (it was the law in my hometown),  but I haven’t watched it in the past 12 years. Apparently it’s been my loss.

Above is one of my favorite still shots, and here’s the video, “Housekeeping.” What else do I have to say?  I have good friends looking out for me.

Tall Fails

A little while ago I was at a diner party where people began swapping stories about their very first sexual thoughts.  As always it was kind of weird and fun to hear people think back to early (or mid or late)  middle school when they were definitely feeling some urges, but had no idea what was going on. I’ve had these sorts of conversations quite a lot because they are very closely tied in with “when you first knew you were gay” stories which comes up from time to time.

I have one friend at this party who claims that he knew he was gay from a very early age, somewhere around the age of 6. How could you ever know that you were gay from the age of 6? (At 6 you don’t even know what sex is, right?)  My experience was one with a series of odd infatuations which looking back can be viewed as the seeds of homosexuality.

I think my first objects of lust it was probably workout magazines in the checkout aisle .  I remember being at the grocery store with my aunt after she had picked me up from school and struggling to explaining that the guy on the cover of a workout magazine was really cool- I couldn’t place why, but I thought he was just great. Who knows what she thought was going on, but she told me that although it’s probably very nice to be that strong she wouldn’t want to give up the flexibility that you lost from being so bulky.  I think I agreed vocally, but internally had decided she was nuts. Mr. Muscle and Fitness was A-OK by me.

Far weirder than magazine covers was an obsession I developed in school. At some point in my early early adolescence I had a history class in which we studied tall tales.  I have always like tall tales.   I love story telling and I love oral traditions so I being in class hearing about Paul Bunyan or Pecos bill was a fun time.  But I was not prepared to get all hot and bothered by the stories about a particular tall tale: Mike Fink.

For those that do not know him: Mike Fink was a Keelboat man.  Way back when American wild was still being conquered keelboats become the chief vessels of commerce on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. The men who worked the keelboats were stereotypically strong because they had to push the boats against the current.

Of all of the keelboat men, Mike Fink was supposedly the strongest, most masculine, most crazed SOB in the west. In one of his many literary appearances he announces: “I’m a he-bull and a he-rattlesnake and a he-alligator all in one! I’ve beat up so many flatboatmen and thrown them in the river I haven’t kept a count since the food, and I’m a lover of the women like you’ll never see again. I can outrun, outhop, outjump, throw down, drag out, and lick any man in the country!”

I remember sitting in class and hearing the teach read:

Mike’s weight was about one hundred and eighty pounds; height about five feet nine inches; pleasant features, brown skin, tanned by sun and rain; blue, but very expressive eyes; and square brawny form, well proportioned, and every muscle of the arms, thighs and legs, were fully developed, indicating the greatest strength and activity. When he doubled up his fists the muscles rippled up and down his arms as slow as molasses. His person, taken altogether, was a model for a Hercules.

Guh! What was happening inside my 12 year old self! Good grief. Here in class even! this was the best story time ever.

Then it only got worse.  Turns out Mike meets companions on his journeys: one named Carpenter and the other Talbot.  All three of them were keelboat men and met on the river competing to see who was the toughest and buffest.  So my teacher just continues reading about how after Mike met Carpenter and they were traveling Talbot  jumped down from a tree and flexed so that his “muscles bunched up like thunder clouds.”  My teacher keeps reading about how they wrestled on the river’s shore. My teach just keeps reading oblivious to the fact that I am experiencing a very un-formed gang-bang fantasy at the age of twelve.

I recently spent a long time shifting through Mike Fink articles and texts on trying to re-find some of the specific sections and quotes that I remember (in preparation for this post, of course.)  I’ve come across scattered descriptions that that a little sexual in nature.  I actually began reading one out loud to the boy one night until he interrupted me to ask if i was reading him erotica.

And to be honest it’s all very erotic.  He’s a masculine braggart in situations are unreal, larger than life and designed to entertain.  It’s just odd that with no social programming to be attracted to these stories I was, invariably, smitten with them. The older I’ve gotten I keep coming back to one truth: sometimes sex makes no sense at all.

But perhaps a better discovery than that is Mike Fink’s Myspace page.  He’s a single Gemini. Perhaps I have a chance.