Sunday, August 29, 2010

Out of the Gay Ghetto

Recently I was told by a friend that a friend of his surveyed this blog, and said -- and I paraphrase -- what does he [meaning me] know about anything? He stays in his gay ghetto and doesn't get out in the world [or words to that effect].

I have already posted my qualifications for writing this blog so you can click here and I won't repeat them. Except to say that I have never stayed in a "gay ghetto." I have straight friends and relatives whose company I greatly enjoy, have gone to parties where I may have been the only gay person present, have gone to innumerable non-gay bars and so on. Unlike the fellow who criticized me, I have also traveled extensively. [I don't believe this fellow has ever left the country -- or the state!] I've been to all the world capitols and then some, and have also traveled across the USA, although mostly in the east or south. Being a gay activist does not mean that I am a separatist, and I pretty much go wherever the hell I feel like going. [Ironically, I have been to Cape Cod many times but have never been - so far -- to that "gay ghetto" Provincetown!]

My interests are just as far-flung as my traveling. Some of my interests might be seen -- rightly or wrong -- as "gay," while most wouldn't be. Out of my thirty or so published books, none of them have been "gay" books [that may change in the future] and only a couple may have been seen as being of "gay interest" in publishing classifications.

So my opinions on this blog are informed and educated by a wider view of the world than this critic of mine would suggest.

For example, I always see red when I hear people, gay or straight, saying that gays are obsessed with youth and beauty. First of all, that opinion completely ignores the bear community, where it isn't about being young and pretty, and even more importantly, ignores the fact that virtually everyone in the world, regardless of sex or sexual orientation, has a hang up with age and looks. Some gay people are unaware of this because they are living in a ghetto, rarely interacting with people who aren't exactly like themselves. And superficial people tend to have friends who are just as superficial.

In any case, having a gay identity, being Out and Proud instead of a Self-Hating Homo, does not mean you are living in a "gay ghetto." And yes, I do understand --because I have met and talked with many of them -- those men who are homosexual but still feel full of shame, or are married and in the closet, or who are on the down-low and don't identify as gay, and so on. So I feel qualified to advise them as well.

After all, my message has always been It's Okay to Be Gay -- and what the hell is wrong with that?

Muscle Bears or Chubby Bears?

I got into an argument with some friends over this but I'm getting a little tired with all the inaccurate classifications in the so-called "bear" community. I see guys who are obviously over 50 calling themselves bear cubs, which is supposed to be a young man. My biggest complaint, however, is with the so-called "muscle" bears. I mean, I like muscular guys, but I like muscle not fat, and most of these guys who refer themselves as muscle bears have fat bellies to go with the big arms and chests. In that case, shouldn't they call themselves chubby bears?

LOL, there's often a big difference in the way we see ourselves and the way the world sees us. Understandably a muscular guy -- even one who's [for lack of a better term] gone to fat -- would rather think of himself as a muscle bear than a chubby bear. If their pictures don't reveal all, you can hope they're honest in their vital statistics. I mean, a guy who says he's five feet four and weights 190 lbs is gonna be a big fellow in the waist area no matter how he classifies himself. You also have to remember that some guys are simply attracted to big muscles and don't care if a big stomach is attached. On the other hand, when you think of a muscular man you don't exactly think of a big stomach or of someone who's obese.

Perhaps there should be some new classifications. In addition to musclebear and chubbybear guys can opt for musclechubbybear and leave it at that!

As for those middle-aged guys who call themselves cubs -- and I've come across a lot of them myself -- let's just say they're referring to their state of mind and not to their particular chronology.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Dating a Trans Man

OK, this is an unusual one.

A couple of months back i met this guy, i saw him at this bar, he instantly caught my attention, he's just so handsome! -- nice styled hair, Greek god abs and pecs and charming gray eyes. So i spent the rest of the night chatting him up and trying my charms on him, and by the end of the night i gave him my number and he left me drooling like a high school girl. And so we went out. While at the beginning i was just looking for a quick fling like most boys in their twenties, this seemed to take a more serious turn, but i didn't care.

With a couple of dates past and having come to know each other well, i started making several bold sexual advances, and he would always deflect them. So i started to have my suspicions, and eventually we got a moment in private at his place to talk about that and the conversation took a turn i never saw coming. It turns out the reason he wouldn't respond to my advances is the fact that he is a female to male transsexual. I was prepared for many situations but didn't know how to react to that, and so we talked about that for several hours; he said that he was too afraid of the sex reassignment surgery and besides had heard it didn't have such good results, so eventually i told him that i love him and that it doesn't matter. Then we stepped into the bedroom. I gotta say i love him and all but it was weird, it took some concentration to actually perform, something that had never happened before, but above all i enjoyed it and instead of concentrating on the state of his genitals i just concentrated on who i was with.

So a couple of days later i learned that a good friend of mine is a good friend of his too. He said he had not said a word [about his being a trans man] because he didn't want it to get in the way of a possible relationship. He also understood how the sex could get awkward, but i said that i couldn't tell him that. Truth is every time we have sex i must concentrate beforehand, and even though i enjoy it and it's been good so far i just can't seem to get "ready" without a little mental preparation. I truly love him and i don't want that to get in the way. I mean the rest of his body is clearly and beautifully manly, and i don't feel like me or anyone is in a position to force him into the [sex realignment] procedure.

It's just, i don't want this to get in the way as much as it does. I also do not have that much knowledge about the transsexual community, and it seems that female to males are harder to learn about than the other way around...

To finish i just want to know if there is any case like this that you know of. I have never known another relationship like this and i want it to go nicely. I mean the sex seems to be the only problem, and he hasn't so far known that it is. I mean it's something new to me, and i enjoy it but it still causes some trouble in my head, i just don't know...

Okay, for someone born biologically female to be convincingly masculine, they have to have some procedures of some sort done, even if it's just taking certain hormones, so your boyfriend must have had some work on his body. I take that the problem you have is that he's held on to his vagina instead of getting an artificial penis, which is expensive, and apparently not too convincing. This is fairly common among Trans Men. Since a vagina is so utterly feminine in nature, and gay men are generally attracted to everything that's masculine, I can certainly understand why the sexual experience seems strange to you. You're a gay man who's used to dick, so the whole situation seems a little bizarre and unreal. Yet you also love the guy and seem to be capable of getting beyond your initial -- for lack of a better word -- queasiness. As weeks go by you will probably become more and more comfortable with this situation, especially if you truly see him as a man and if both of you are in love with each other. If you never quite get used to it, then you both may have to face the fact that you just want and need a guy with a penis and that's that. [You can also try alternate sexual positions. If you're a top is your boyfriend willing to be a bottom on the, ahem, other end? If you have to make adjustments, so can he.]

I don't pretend to be an expert on transsexuality so I would suggest searching out web sites devoted to the subject where you can find out more and also possibly get in touch with other gay guys who are dating trans men. I know they exist. While trans men generally wind up dating or in relationships with other trans men -- or trans women, depending on their sexual orientation -- I believe it has become more commonplace of late for transsexuals to have relationships with non-transsexuals. Your situation is still unusual, perhaps, but not that unusual.

In the meantime, I'm not so certain it's a good idea for you to keep from your boyfriend the fact that you're not quite adjusting to the reality of his physical being. He needs to know that there is a problem, and maybe he can help you with it. It's better that he know now instead of finding out after he's hopelessly in love and you realize that you just can't make a complete adjustment.

On the other hand, sometimes love does conquer all.

I suggest you read another post on this blog regarding this very situation, as well as the several comments that follow it.


Hey Bill-

I'm writing to you from StoryCorps, America's largest nonprofit oral history organization. This morning we broadcast an interview on NPR's Morning Edition in time for Gay Pride Week that I thought you might be interested in sharing with your readers. Please have a listen:

Michael Levine and Matthew Merlin
Michael Levine, who witnessed the Stonewall Riots in 1969, speaks with his friend Matthew Merlin.

Each StoryCorps interview is recorded on a free CD for participants to take home and share with their loved one and archived for generations to come at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. StoryCorps currently has one of the country's largest oral history archives—with more than 30,000 interviews recorded in all 50 states.

Please let me know if you have any questions about StoryCorps or today's broadcast. I hope you'll take the time to listen to our stories and to share them with your readers!


Boy, when I get backed up I get backed up! My apologies -- this was supposed to be posted way back during Gay Pride week. Anyway, use the link to check out Michael Levine's story as well as the StoryCorps web site and archives.

Anal Itch or an Internet Twitch?

Folks, I present the following email exactly as I received it a few short weeks ago:

Dear Dr. Bill

Since your blog is one of the most prominent gay health blogs on the Internet we were wondering if you would be interested to “BE THE FIRST” to write an article about “the world’s most expensive remedy.” It is called AnaNOitch . It is a 100% natural remedy to “STOP” anal itching. Prices are around $3,000 but we offer discounts for average income individuals and FREE bottles to low income individuals. With high income customers paying a high price, we are able to help out those who need it.

There are no other products like AnaNOitch on the market. It is sure to create a TON OF BUZZ and draw lots of attention to your blog. Our customers have sent in dozens of handwritten and signed testimonials that you can see on our website, which prove that AnaNOitch is the only remedy in the whole world that will STOP anal itching. Because of that, our competitors have posted negative reviews about AnaNOitch on the Internet, but we leave it up to your intelligence to compare our testimonials with theirs; this is how confident we are about our miraculous (according to our customers) remedy. Let us know if you would like to receive a free bottle. Please check out the website, Facebook, and Twitter pages if this sounds like something you would be interested in:

Thanks, but I think I'll pass on the free bottle. [Though at $3000.00 a shot maybe I should take one just in case ....

P.S. Yes, they do have a web site with testimonials, but I'm still not sure if this is for real or not [although no doubt some people do experience anal itching, I guess.]

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sexy But Gross

I keep myself in shape, exercise, go to the gym, keep what I think is a nice appearance, don't smell or look like I do, practice good personal and dental hygiene, and have been told I am attractive. Yet when I go to a bar I see men that I find attractive dragging home guys who look like something I might find under my sink -- if I didn't ever clean it that is. I know there's a "bear" movement, but aren't things getting out of hand? And since when did obesity and grossness become sexy? I swear it's not that I'm into pretty boys or think that everyone has to have a handsome face, but have utterly repulsive people become sex objects in the gay male community?

Oh, boy! This is one question I'm going to answer verrrry carefully.

First of all, I wouldn't say that "utterly repulsive people" -- or at least people you find utterly repulsive -- have become sex objects in the gay male community. Rather it's that the boundaries of what's attractive have been stretched quite a bit. It used to be that the only gay men who were [generally] considered attractive, were young, pretty, very slender, with posh apartments, expensive aftershave, manicured nails and not a hair out of place. But this was back in the days when the dominant image of a gay male was a swishy "hairdresser" stereotype. We've come a long way since then, baby! [Although to some people, gay and straight, that's still the dominant gay male image unfortunately.]

The reality is that there are hundreds of thousands of gay men who don't fit into the young, pretty, slenderella stereotype and yet are considered "hot" by many other men. I may not get the appeal of "fat," but there are guys who don't get why some fellows are crazy about my -- and others' -- shaved heads. Some like tattoos, and some find them gross. Hairy bodies versus smooth. Facial hair or none. And so on and so on. As I've often said, there's no accounting for taste.

Still, I do admit that sometimes it seems the envelope is being bent way out of shape. I've heard guys on the way home from the gym wondering why they torture themselves to stay physically fit when so many utterly out of shape guys have their admirers. Some of this has to do with a certain masculine image that goes with a pot belly and hairy chest. [But then how do you explain the attraction of effeminate bears, who do exist?]

Don't know how old you are, but I for one am quite happy that men can still be considered sexy in middle-age and afterward, right?

As for the whole "bear" thing, I'll save that for another post.

In the meantime, I still recommend that you stay in shape, practice good personal hygiene, and all the rest. Ultimately -- and I guess I'm being politically incorrect here, not that I give a damn -- an "attractive," fit-looking man will make out better than a "slovenly" one in most instances.

Bi Questions

Hello Bill. I'm not sure if I'm asking you this in the right place, but I'll go ahead and give it a shot anyway. I'm 22 years old and have always been very attracted to females and males. I recently just came to the conclusion that I don't have to be completely straight and can meet girls and go on dates with them. Well, it's been a few months, I've met a lot of females and I'm growing sick of all the games. I don't have a boyfriend, nor do I have the desire for one at the moment, but I'm starting to think that I like men a lot more. Do you think it's possible that I could be bisexual but just haven't met a female that I feel comfortable with? Also, it seems to me that you don't believe in bisexuality. Would I be correct? I have had a boyfriend who was very obviously bi and, yet, still very much in love with me. I can tell you they exist and isn't always a case of "internalized homosexuality", although I do agree this does happen. Thanks!

First, I've never said that bisexuality doesn't exist. Certainly I've met quite a few men and women over the years who, for one reason or another, become sexually and romantically involved with members of both sexes. The only thing I've pointed out is that this doesn't necessarily add up to true bisexuality in many cases. For instance, if a man gets married to a woman because he can't deal with his homosexual feelings, but he is mostly or exclusively attracted [if he's honest with himself] to men, is he is bisexual or a homosexual living a straight lie/life? Some people would classify any gay man who's had any interaction with a woman whatsoever, no matter how fleeting, as a bisexual, while others feel as I do, that a man can have interactions with women -- sometimes many and long-lasting interactions -- while being essentially homosexual. It can sometimes just be a question of semantics.

Notice I'm talking about gay/bi men. I have never pretended to be an expert in female sexuality, but I'll give your question a stab in any case. [First I'll just say in regards to the boyfriend you mention that there is a difference in loving someone and being in love with them with an all-consuming passion. Many men can feign a romantic and passionate interest in a woman -- almost as though they feel if they pretend hard enough it will come true -- while still being essentially homosexual. Not saying that's the case with the fellow you mention, but it does happen. Many homosexual men with wives truly do love their wives -- but more as "bffs" than as lovers they feel strong sexual passion and romantic attachment towards.]

You mention games. I have to tell you that people, especially during the dating stages, do seem to play games [a lot of this is simply that people develop feelings for one another while still being uncertain if a particular person is "the one"] and it happens among both women and men regardless of their sexual orientation. It may be that you simply haven't met the "right" woman or that it's just too soon for you to feel entirely comfortable at the thought of a relationship with someone of your own sex. Someone can be very open-minded and liberal intellectually on the subject of same-sex relationships, and still feel a bit queasy inside when it comes to their actuality.

Don't sweat it. If you are honestly attracted to both men and women, don't worry about preferences for now. Keep the door and your mind open to any and all possibilities. Lesbians/bi women don't "play games" any more than straight/bi -- or gay -- men [or women] do. Once you recognize deep down in your heart -- whatever you may think you feel now -- that a same-sex relationship is as genuine and valid as any other kind, you'll be open to exploring this option in a positive and rewarding manner.

Best of luck!