I read this a few weeks ago and my fickle self had been meaning to write a response to how I felt when I first read it. It took me a while but, since it’s raining and my evening plans are no more, without longer ado, and rather than boring you with more of the same drinks/cigarettes/clubs/sex monotonous BS, here it is:
Let’s just start by saying that I find the writer a bit conflicted. I’m almost sure of where he stands, but like I said, only almost. I mostly agree with his points, and I find it really weird that the article turned out to be quite controversial. Where is freedom of expression? And are we really just bitter old queens who are pissed that we had to fight for what we have now, and the newer generation doesn’t? (by we I mean the people who felt the need to leave negative comments. I agree with Paul “I’m not fighting the good fight. It was never mine to fight.”)
Second, what the hell is going on with the pictures of all these men?! It seems like they chose a smorgasbord of the different “flavors” of gays available. I guess they didn’t write the article, but like Paul said, being gay should be secondary or even tertiary, to me they seem like they make it a priority to show it, and again, I might be biased, because I guess I do identify with the more “straight looking/acting” homosexuals out there. The difference is, I always have. I’m gay because I like MEN. This is not a new trend for me, although I will admit that somewhere in my late teens, early 20’s I did give in to shaving religiously and making it a bit apparent I was gay. One way or another, we all have. On a side note, I came out when I was 20, not sure if that’s late or early, but I find it appropriate.
So basically we are talking about how we have it so easy right? And how we seem uninterested and somewhat ungrateful about the past? Well I can definitely say that’s not my case, nor is it the case of plenty of my fellow twenty-somethings here in NYC. I still believe we have a long way to go to get to proper acceptance of homosexuality. New York, as I’m assuming Toronto is (I’ve never been), is pretty liberated. I used to live in LA and although they too are very open minded, I didn’t see as many gays everywhere. I feel they stick to their neighborhoods perhaps, but here I can’t say I spend more than 5 minutes without looking at a fellow ‘mo when I walk down the street. Sure I live in Williamsburg, and I work in SoHo, but still, we are everywhere (as long as you don’t venture into areas where it takes a half hour+ train ride to get to Union Square, but that’s a whole different story).
Like I said, I’m somewhat confused with where he’s going. He’s trying to pitch a new term, the post-mo, and being far too stereotypical about it, and thus ending up with yet another stereotype. I don’t identify with this post-mo. I’m not careless, I’m not reckless, I’m not disinterested in gay rights, I didn’t have it super easy growing up, I’m not big into pride, I’m not big into cliches either. I agree, being gay is secondary, but it is part of who I am and I embrace it, both the good and the bad things that come with it. I feel he is just being antagonistic and trying to prove that he’s anything but typically gay, and it doesn’t go with what he’s trying to achieve, which I assume should be making “gay” a sexual preference and not a defining characteristic. It is never good to be black and white.
More than a direct back and forth between what he said and what I think, I am just going to state how I feel as a gay man in different aspects of my life and hope that gets the point across.
As I’ve stated, I came out when I was 20, I didn’t come from a completely radical PFLAG family. We are Mexicans and, although quite educated, still somewhat attached to the culture and what it entails. My dad constantly made homophobic jokes and hinted that he’d want nothing to do with me if I was gay. Naturally, a teenager would be somewhat scared of exploring his sexuality if threats like these were made. I also went to Christian School where I was constantly reminded it was a sin to “get to know” (as it is stated in Biblical terms) someone of the same sex.
I had my first urges when I was around 11 and, no, I am sorry but I can’t say that I always knew I was gay because when I was 5 I would get turned on by the pictures on baseball cards (as one of my ex’s stated), that was not me. I remember watching a porn at a friend’s house and thinking “hey, that dick is kinda turning me on”, and it started then. Yes, I agree with Paul, the internet has made it extremely easy for us. I surfed the shit out of the macy’s website looking at pictures of dudes in their underwear, and later when I was a bit more adventurous, online porn. I had my first gay experience when I was about 13 with my best friend/neighbor at the time. He suggested we jack each other off, and finally after his third attempt during a slumber party, I gave in. Of course I felt guilty and dirty the next morning, and rightfully so, aside from the obvious omne animal post coitum triste, it had been engrained in my head that what I was doing was wrong (not to mention my crazy overprotective father thinking that most gay men will eventually contract HIV… but more on that later). When I was 15, I had a stalker situation that both scared me and intrigued me, he was older and looking back at it, it was dangerous, but thankfully nothing happened. My mom found out but we didn’t talk it about it. I wasn’t that close to my parents till I came out.
Of course I was pretty much in the closet, even to myself, till I was 18 and I moved out. After my first man on man kiss I went a bit crazy. Blow jobs in a public bathroom stall, instant crushes, anilingus, but still no sex. It was the last strike till I came to terms with who I was, and also I was trying to give the “first time” the very stupid importance we all do. Finally, when I turned 20 and moved to LA I met my first boyfriend, had sex, and came out. My mom was completely fine with it, she already knew. My dad was different. I told him a few weeks later whilst they were visiting me in LA. As expected, he went ape shit. He threatened to cut me off and, instead of me caving in, I bitched back at him by saying: “you don’t want me in your life for being gay?! well I don’t want you in mine for being a close-minded bigot!” and left his hotel room. He called me the next day to apologize and every since then it’s just been getting better and better. He’s even given my ex a christmas present he purchased himself.
And with this I come to my first point. The battle is far from won. There is still a lot more to do. I’ve never been big on pride or gathering a weekend each summer to “celebrate it”. I don’t like pride of any kind for that matter. Gay, brown, white, whatever, it’s just another reason to segregate and alienate. I do enjoy the parties tho, but it wasn’t untill I lived in Paris and my straight friends wanted to go to pride that I started seeing it as just a big party, and not just a reason to parade my homosexuality to end up sleeping with someone that night. I often wonder how many people get carried away, party too hard, and end up with some disease the day after pride, but then again that’s just crazy old hypochondriac me. Yet I see a point in the whole shenanigans. I constantly tell my friends, especially those who are not out but who’s parents obviously know, that if it’s not for them, then do it for others. I was really moved the past year by all the stories of suicide because of gay bullying. We’ve all been there, and thankfully I live in New York Fuckin’ City and I very rarely deal with that, but all those poor kids in the midwest have it hard. I went to visit my ex’s family one time in Wisconsin. My ex isn’t (or wasn’t last time I talked to him over a year and a half ago) out to his parents, although they know. They personally invited me to come visit, so they know. However, my ex’s sister has a friend who is very very effeminate. The kid has long blond hair and dresses in girl clothes. He’s been beat up so many times that they told him at school he couldn’t go there anymore because they couldn’t protect him, yet he’s out there being who he is. What a fuckin’ testament of both pride, and the need to change people’s minds. Again, that’s why I tell my friends, if not for you, then for them. Expose others, especially your loved ones, to the fact that being gay is not aberrant so that slowly, but surely, things can change. You don’t have to wear rainbow flags and hold hands in public, just be proud of who you are. I agree, Paul, pride is not what it was, but we shouldn’t just cross our arms and let it continue to decay.
On the other hand, I also don’t agree with the ubber proud gays. The ones who choose not to befriend straight people. I can think of two friends of mine who are very much like that. One of them said to me “I’d rather help a gay than a straight”. It baffles me to hear such thing. Really?! So are we fighting fire with fire here? Who’s supposed to be the bigger person, because I think everyone should strive for that, gay or straight, and focus on the betterment of society as a whole, regardless of sexual orientation, but really anything else as well. Wouldn’t that be the true meaning of a gay-straight alliance?
While visiting my other friend in London, we were discussing going out. I personally wanted to try East London as I’d never been. When we suggested this to his man, he said “why would you want to go there? it’s a mixed crowd”. I assume he expects me to find “a mixed crowd” an issue? But to me it’s quite the opposite. It’s what I look for when I go out (or at least what I used to back in LA, going out in New York is different, and I do sometimes miss my straight dive bars). Again, ridiculous, but as always, I try to be empathetic. After all he is older and one of those gays who had to “fight the fight”. Sorry but my fight is different. It is not of achieving the same rights only to remain parallel, it is about achieving them to become integrated. My friend joked “segregation now, integration never”.
Earlier I was talking about growing up with this constant anxiety over STD’s (HIV and herpes to be more precise, the rest go away within a week or two of itching and medication). As I mentioned, I grew up with a Mexican father who grew up during the 80’s and thus has his biased opinions about HIV and homosexuality. I don’t blame him, but I can say he did extensive psychological damage to me in terms of that. While I do believe in being extremely safe (although there’s been a time or two when by my high standards I’m far from it), I do not enjoy having ridiculously high levels of anxiety every time I go home with someone. It has definitely gotten better, but it is still a week or two of a constant burn in the pit of my stomach and a persistent “worse case scenario” train of thought. I don’t find Paul’s statements about being safe but sometimes forgetting the condom appropriate, because it is giving sexual health less importance than it should have, and in terms of the older gays who fought for awareness and lost a lot of loved ones it wouldn’t be fair. It is something that should definitely be a constant in our minds, not something that should be treated lightly.
Finally, I truly feel like I’ve grown up a lot as a person. I have become quite comfortable with my stances, my beliefs, and the way I approach situations. I strive to be empathetic and understand others for who and what they are whether I agree or not. I don’t expect people to agree with me, but I do expect them to respect me, and thus I do the same. I constantly push myself to be more open minded, and approach every situation without any preconceived notions. That is what the post-mo should be. One way or another, gay men in metropolitan cities do have an easier life than their straight counterparts. Like Paul stated, it’s trendy, we have more disposable income, and the city can be our oyster. It is time to not just enjoy this but use it towards being the better group, and I don’t mean it in a discriminating, “superior race” kind of way, I mean the more mature, forward group, but really, there shouldn’t be a “group” at all. Just individuals striving to be the “post-man” (and feminists don’t you dare come at me because I used the term “man”, it is short for “human”).