EEvery once in awhile I like a dick up my ass. Not always; but when it works it’s wonderful. Gay men are not supposed to admit such things, unless they’re porn stars or searching for sex online. It’s a bit like “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” even though most people know that gay men engage in anal sex, and when we “bottom” we’re in the same company as about 50 percent of homosexuals (about 90 percent if gays actually admitted it), a few straight men, and Jake Gyllenhaal’s alter-ego in Brokeback Mountain.
The submissive position is considered taboo, effeminate, emasculating, something the “fairer queer sex” practices. The, ahem, butt of most gay-sex jokes revolves around who’s a closet bottom and how much of a woman it makes him. Real gay men don’t open their legs. Yes, it’s homophobic, because the underlying connotation is that if you love a man, kiss a man, suck a man, rim a man, and penetrate a man you are somehow “less gay” than the man who does all of the above, but is penetrated.
Gay men are full of dirty little secrets, and our rights and tolerance and marriage and gentrification are not necessarily bringing them into the light. Sometimes, familiarity breeds the contempt of an all too uncivilized, male-dominated society.
Pride too often equals shame, and as you get older the untreated wounds fester. Gay Pride Weekend more often than not resembles drunken girls at a frat party. Slutty drunk girls at that. The beauty of celebrating along Fifth Avenue and loving in public and ending up under a fireworks-burst sky on hot Village streets is tainted by grown-up boys seeking other grown-up boys who, in temporary light, look infinitely better than responsibility. Congratulations, though; you’ve just entered Sigma Chi.
Last New York Pride I was asked out on a date by a 40-something guy visiting from L.A. He’d never been, and wanted to experience the holiday with the help of a reliable guide. At 11:30 the night before our reserved dinner reservation, he emailed, said he’d met a guy at a Pride party and didn’t want to date me, ever. He wrote that he was ashamed of himself, and that he wouldn’t blame me if I never spoke to him again. He didn’t, however, offer to talk on the phone or meet for coffee. This guy had asked me out, via text, months earlier, and I only knew him through mutual friends. He’d spent dozens of emails telling me about his life, his school teaching, his new-found sobriety, his excitement about adopting a child. But the date clincher was the full-frontal, professional hard-on shots he’d sent before any of this—his real name the only thing not visible in the pictures. His dirty little secret is that he’s still using sex as a toy, a dangerous toy. It’s my dirty little secret that I enjoyed the seduction.
This past winter, I met a guy on Match.com, boyishly handsome, successful, divorced with a kid, who told me of his struggles with coming out, of his near-suicide, his new-found friendship with his wife and son, his hatred of dating and bars and the gay scene, and his ex who he’d never forgive for cheating on him. He called me every day for over a week until I agreed to meet. After our date, which started with flowers, he seduced me in my apartment, pulling my clothes off and telling me to submit to his touch. His actions were as unexpected as his walking out the door right after he’d pulled my jeans off.
He called me a few days later to apologize. Turns out, he knew that any guy who’d done what I’d done was probably diseased and unworthy of his money or his family or his morals. His seduction, he told me, was a test of my character, and I’d failed. He ended the call by saying that he didn’t want to hurt my feelings, but that his true love, the cheating ex-boyfriend, had just made up with him and their relationship was pure. It was an apology, apparently, because he should have told me I was impure while he was stroking my cock and demanding that I cum on his chest. The more gay things change, the more they stay like the straight men who raised us.
Bob Bergeron had a dirty little aging secret. The 49-year-old Manhattan therapist, motivational speaker, and Poster Boy for the Gay and Gorgeous, had just written a self-help book called The Right Side of Forty: Happiness for Gay Men at Midlife and Beyond, but killed himself before publication. He was discovered on January 5 of this year, in his bedroom with a plastic bag tied around his head. His suicide note, written on the title page of his book, said “It’s a lie based on false information,” with an arrow leading to the title. It’s a plotline right out of Desperate Housewives, and it speaks volumes about our community’s attempt to hide the ugly side of growing older. We deny our imperfections the way we deny our indiscretions.
Gay, married men and gay, partnered men are often the worst offenders, using their conformity, not just as a free-sex pass, but as a “do not disturb my private life” sign to keep the help outside. You wanna quickie? Find a married man. You want to be humiliated? Remind him that his sexual behavior is not any holier than your own. When a former employer of mine got married three years ago, he Instant Messaged me to let me know he was available for hook-ups. Now that he and his boyfriend had legalized their life, he felt liberated enough to let everyone know it was safe to play.
Last year a friend of mine’s partner of ten year’s died of natural causes. The very attractive couple had lots of homes and lots of friends and lots of money and were upstanding examples of The New Respected Gay. When, in a previous column, I touched on people’s assumptions that beautiful, young men usually die of AIDS, and referenced their relationship without using names, my friend told me I’d soiled their relationship, cheapened it, reduced them to mere party boys with no sense of responsibility or commitment, and to never contact him again. I told him that I’d meant nothing of the sort. My point was to show how often our initial perceptions are incorrect.
I didn’t tell him that, were it my intention to denigrate his lifestyle, I would have written about how, at the memorial service, the all-male caterers were hand-picked by the widower for how “hot” each one was, and how he spent a good half-hour cruising them, right after the glorious speech he delivered about the deceased. I could also have written about the three-ways they’d invited into their homes for years—I was one of, probably hundreds, who were on that lucky list—and I could have mentioned how, within a month of the funeral, he’d gone through two new boyfriends, the current one with whom he was off to travel the continent. Promiscuity doesn’t exist when you’re attached by rings and papers and status. It’s a deserved self-indulgence, like a fine wine.
At a press cocktail party I attended this spring, I met a popular, openly gay, married-with-children politician who’s a hero in some parts. When he introduced himself, I gave him my card as I’d wanted to interview him for months. He said yes, grabbed another drink, and asked me if I wanted to fool around. His flirtations and come-ons were so blunt I half expected him to say, “Unzip my jeans: It gets better.” When I asked him, somewhat rhetorically, if he thought requesting sex from a journalist was wise, he flashed his wedding band and answered that it’s only sex if we exchange bodily fluids. Politicians really do say these things. Later that night, after he gave me his private phone number and after a group limo ride in which he asked me if I wanted to make out, in the car, he was whisked away amid a throng of his co-workers.
I woke up the next day to find out, from another writer in attendance, that people had seen us flirting and the politician had complained to the party’s hosts that I’d made unwarranted advances. I did my best to set the record straight, and was told not to worry; my story was collaborated by others in the crowd. Besides, it wouldn’t have been his first time. No one apologized to me, and I was the one left feeling as if my dirty little secret had been exposed. The respected politician of the new “committed gay,” who’d played with my chest hairs and told me Jesus wouldn’t want me to clip them and who’d pointed out another man at the party he’d “not had sex with,” was safely pulled away from the potential offender, his libido as buttoned up as his conservative suits.
It’s no secret that, had circumstances ended up differently, I would have slept with that man. I found him quite attractive, I’m not in a monogamous relationship, and I believe that people’s private lives are their own business. Were I a creep I would have accepted his earlier offers and made damn sure someone snapped a photo. I’m proud to live in a society where I can discuss my feelings about gay relationships without recriminations, just as I am proud that others can disagree with my views. It’s not about sex outside of a relationship; it’s about the responsibility that comes with that choice.
I’m not proud that, perhaps buoyed by the thrill of acceptance, we’re often consumed to prove to the world, to our partners, and to ourselves, that we are above something we’re not. The site I’m writing this piece for has a hook-up component: Call it what you want; social networking, dating; GuySpy is where people go to find sex. There have been many people who’ve refused to work for us because of this element. While I would never tell someone what forms of media they should affiliate themselves with, there’s tremendous hypocrisy from the men who mock my affiliation but are linked in to any one of the numerous cybersphere hook-up sites. And proudly so. That’s like the straight, male honchos determined to rid the world of un-family values, who then go home, pop open a beer, and turn on the porn. All men, as long as I’ve been aware of them, have been sexual predators. Put two men together and the appetite is ravenous.
The last time I wrote a column about male relationships, a 20-something reader responded with a note saying how sad it was that, unlike his generation, the over-35 set were so emotionally damaged. I hope that he’s right. I hope that young, gay men are living up to the rights afforded them; not taking their freedoms for granted. I hope that with legal marriage and legal children and the President’s blessing gay men are setting positive examples for an unprecedented time in history. It’s not the biggest secret in the world that we enjoy anal sex; but it’s our dirty little secret when it smells like shit.