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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Gay Bigots - I Hate Them

I loved this image when I saw it, it's  off a t-shirt you can order online.

And there is so much racism out in the gay world, and it really comes through in the online setting. So many ads in NZ that read  "No Asians/Indians". Hmm, so that's over 2 billion people, about 1/3 of the globe's entire population you've decided to dismiss because why...? OK, if it's just the gay portion of that more than 2 billion you're dismissing, it's considerably less, several hundred million men, absloutely none of whom you could ever find sexually interesting.

 Zero. Zip. Nada. Not one.

That's crazy - and no, it's not "just my preference": it's racism pure and simple. And I have a particular loathing for racism and racists.

It's racist because it is firmly and entirely built on the idea of race in the first place. How can you generalise about all men from Korea or Sri Lanka? You can't - if you try to, you are using a tool of racism, and you are racist.

It's racist because it fails to see our shared humanity - you are relegating and dismissing one group of people purely and simply because of your own bigotry based on their ancestry and what this does to their physical appearance.

If it's "just a preference" consider how the sentence reads if you say "No Maoris (it's just a preference) " or "No Jews (it's just a preference)"

Does that feel right? Does that sit well with you? I can't imagine anyone using that on a profile here in NZ, although I know there are men who have that view. I have met loathsome white people in NZ who can't have sex with "brownies" I'm sorry to say.

And can you imagine the effects of that constant negative barrage on people?

It just seems so weird to me - some men are hot, some aren't. I don't care about ethnicity. I've met hot, beautiful and sexy men from all sorts of backgrounds.There are some amazingly unsexy and ugly whites out there, but I wouldn't use that to justify saying "No whites", so to me it comes down to some level of fear of the unkown. Fear of those that are different.

Saying it's "Just a preference" is a load of bullshit. That's a cowardly, mealy-mouthed way of pretending you're not prejudiced - pure and simple. What happens when you walk out of a dark room and find that muscle-god with the 8 inch dick who was banging you into a happy quivering mess turns out to be Chinese, Thai or Indian? Do you turn round and go "Oh dear, I don't like Asians, sorry"

The truth is we are taught to associate certain groups with being sexually desirable and not others. We learn it through porn through our general culture and the images that are put out. So in NZ we see people associating Maori and Pasifika men with being hot and sexy, hence the lack of the "No Maoris (it's just a preference)" in the online world. We've decided they are hot. But that's part of a long tradition of seeing brown-skinned people from the Pacific as sexually freer than uptight "white" culture, freer and available. It's racist, it's exploitative and it's based in fantasy, but it's accepted.

And fear of what is different isn't just about race either. I am still amazed at the well-educated, intelligent men I meet who are completely irrationally terrified of making love with someone who is HIV+. Even when they regularly use condoms, if they know how to have safe sex and do it, if you tell them you're poz they become gibbering wrecks. It seems we embody all their fears about their own behaviour. I can't see what else they are afraid of. If you know what you're doing you're not going to get it, no matter what the HIV status of your partner.

And this is another form of discrimination that's close to racism. It's a refusal to acknowledge that you are dealing with another human being who is just as worthy, just as real, just as human as you are. Yes, I find some Indian and Chinese men unattractive - but I find the same about Germans and Anglo-Americans too, I find some Brazilians deeply unsexy to look at. But I don't dismiss the entire group because of it. Some men with HIV are sex-on-a-stick, some of us aren't.

We gay men came from such a position of fear and discrimination ourselves - I guess this is why I react so strongly to this. For centuries we were persecuted for being who we are, I find it amazing to see the same sort of ignorant nasty bigotry in our own world.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Love and Other Conundrums

Love - it plays on my mind a lot, and not just on mine I know.

I was talking about it with a mate the other day, that need to love someone, and to feel loved back - it's so strong.

And the fear that I or he won't be loved again, won't love again, or worse, won't be loved again, is strong and painful. Especially when you feel, when I feel, like I have so much love to give.

I mean, yeah, of course I'll love - I have friends, family etc who I love. I will have pets again that I love. I won't have a life that is devoid of love, I know that. But that's not really what I mean.

There's that sense of recognition, of knowing and being known so well, so deeply and thoroughly that you only get if you spend lots of time with someone else. I'm talking  about that sense of having that person who knows you so well that they can finish your sentences. They automatically know why you're grumpy, or smiling. That deep and strong sense of intimacy - that's the thing I miss the most in my life at the moment - intimacy and recognition.

I want that intimacy, that closeness, that emotional warmth and depth - but I'm not sure I'll find it again. And I know lots of guys who are in this position and who have these fears. I know this is not at all uncommon, and not just in the gay world either.

It feels so hard at times, to think that all the love I carry , that all the love I want to share, can't find a man who sees it and wants it, and when I talk about it with other friends I hear the same anxieties and fears too. Sometimes I look at all the ads online for "more than sex" and it feels almost crushing, to think of all those guys out there who all say they are looking for the same thing, like me, yet we can't seem to find each other.

At the core, at the heart of this, there's a nagging, doubting little voice in my head that goes "You don't have a lover because you don't deserve one - because you're unloveable." Self-sabotage I know, and untrue, but that doubting little voice can be so powerful, and so corrosive. It takes energy to fight it.

It starts to raise all those questions - maybe if I changed how I looked, exercised more, lost weight, got a tan, changed how I dress, got new friends, moved to another country - maybe then I'd meet someone. But I don't actually beleive that to be what lies at the heart of it all. Just what does though, I'm not so sure.

Why is it so damn fucking hard to meet a guy I can click with? Am I setting my standards too high? I don't think so - I'd say I'm a realist. I just don't seem to have much luck in meeting guys where that "Yes! You're interesting!" response goes both ways. And then sometimes guys fall for me and I don't for them - and I feel like a bit of a shit - one the one hand I say I want love, then when someone offers it to me I go "Um, yes but this just doesn't feel right, so no, thanks." And that hurts them.

But I can't lie, I can't pretend, and I won't settle for second-best - it's not fair to anyone if you do that.

I don't blame the gay scene for it as some guys do. I have plenty of friends who met their partners through it, plenty who happily jump in and out of the scene together. I do know the difference between love and sex, between physical intimacy and emotional intimacy. The scene isn't the easiest place to negotiate it's true, but I don't blame it - it's how we use it that shapes it - and if you look around there are plenty of opportunities outside the scene as well.

I do think a big part of it comes down to luck. There are way less gay men in the world for us to choose from, far fewer to pick from, and so the odds of meeting someone you can have that click with are much worse that they are for straights.

So I go on, and I will go on - and I'm not depressed or crying as I write this or anything, I'm just aware of it, I'm conscious, I can feel it - I can feel that need to love, and to feel loved, that desire to be known, to be recognised.

I live in hope.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Those Strangely Intimate Moments of Gay Male Friendship

On Saturday morning I usually have breakfast with two of my closest and most important friends, have done for years and years and years, but this weekend I cancelled because I had an appointment with some other good mates, let's call them "Ken" and "Spike" (see, I can be discreet!) . Ken and Spike show up at 9:45 with their mate Jim, and we pile into the car and off to Newmarket we go!

You see, Spike has wanted a tattoo for decades, and now that Ken had had one done he decided he simply had to get his done too, and it was an easy birthday present for Ken. And Ken and me, well, we'd decided a few weeks back we wanted to get a Prince Albert, get our cocks pierced, so why not do it together?

Jim? I'd never met him before - he was just their friendly trade from the night before coming along to watch. As you do.

You can just imagine that post-coital conversation:
Spike:"Hey Jim, that was really hot mate, thanks. By the way, I'm getting a tatt done tomorrow morning and Ken and a mate are getting their dicks pierced - wanna come watch?"
Jim: "Hmm, ok, sounds fun, but I have to be somewhere by midday."
Spike: "No worries, it'll all be over by then mate."
Jim: "Yeah, ok, cool."

But I digress.

As we were driving along, with a little nervous laughter all round the car, Ken said "This is one of those strangely intimate moments of gay male friendship" hence the title. And really, when you think about it, it is strangely intimate. It is the sort of thing that is not uncommon among gay men. I bet I know heaps more about my gay mates' bodies, sex-lives and kinks than straight male friends ever do with their mates. We were just your typical urban homos - the happy couple of Ken and Spike, me, and their (very nice and smart) fuck Jim, all off for a morning's fun.

I actually had already had my cock pierced 10 years ago, but a few weeks after I'd had it done I dropped some acid and was tripping at the Grey Lynn Fair and playing with it and got the ball off it and then couldn't get it back in and then the ring came out and by the time I came down next day I simply couldn't get it back in.

Obviously telling stories like these I am never going to run for public office.

So we arrived at Streetwise on Broadway in Newmarket. I'd heard of them before but never been. They do tatts and piercings. I've had tattoos from three different studios around town but never here, might give them a go for the next one. Anyway, nice bright and clean looking premises. Big tick. Staff have tatts and piercings. Big tick. Good. A sign saying "Professional Piercers Don't Use Piercing Guns!" Good - they know their stuff. Spike goes off to his studio to be inked, and we three walk into the piercing room.

Ken had already decided he wanted to go first - the coward was scared if he saw what was involved he'd back down. Jim and I sat there, as Ken lay down on the bench. I looked up and saw they had training diplomas from the Gauntlet, he and his wife had trained there in the late 90s, and immediately I felt fine. This is often seen as the homebase of the modern piercing wave, and had a great reputation so if they'd trained there I was happy. The buzz of Spike's ink getting done came through from  the next room.

As the piercer started in he said "It's probably a bit strange for you having some stranger poke and prod your cock like this" Jim and I started giggling. Nothing strange going on there for Ken at all! He explained the procedure carefully, I really liked the way he did everything, very calm, obviously knew how to keep everything sterile,  he was practical and friendly.

Ken wanted photos, so I took a few as it all was happening. Before he put the guide down Ken's urethra he said "Now you're probably not used to people putting stuff down your cock" and I think all three of us started giggling again. Ken looked nervous, his hands gripping the sides of the bench. I made some crack about him letting a total stranger stick a lump of steel through his cock - not sure if that was helpful or not.

"Take a big breath in! And let it out!" Ken's back arched on the bench, he went red and gritted his teeth (I think he was enjoying it)  and as he breathed out it was all done. It really is very fast. A second of intense pain - then it aches, then it's sort of vaguely uncomfortable, then it's wrapped up and fine. Seriously, after a few minutes, the pain has gone - it's less painful than getting your tit pierced, but probably more than getting your ears done I'd say.

And then it was my turn, and what can I add? It was fine - a big ouch for a second - Jim reached out to give me a steadying hand, but it was already over by the time his arm got that far -  then it was all fine, and hardly any bleeding. We tried to talk Jim into it be he wasn't convinced...yet...

But it was fun, and it is one of those social encounters that I think is normal until someone points out that it's not really. I mean, I've never fucked with any of these guys, Ken and Spike are just mates, but sure I've seen their cocks and we all know what each other gets up to and likes, and that's not that strange for loads of gay guys. It did suddenly strike me as funny  that here I was with Ken, and a total stranger Jim, doing all this, but I also liked the fact.

Why do it? Well I like Prince Alberts on guys - I like the look, I lke the feel,  and I always regretted not being able to keep my first one in. And they do make you more sensitive, no doubt about it. As for the name, as our friendly piercer said, no-one knows for sure if there is any truth behind the story or not, but anthropology tells us guys have been piercing their genitals in all sorts of ways for thousands of years. And Spike's tattoo looks great.

At a bbq later another friend who hadn't been there said as he left "So you two are PA Buddies now!" and we are.

And we got to share in one of those strangely intimate moments of gay male friendship, and I am glad of that.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

No Hookups?

I was sitting in Albert Park the other day, enjoying the sun, having some lunch, the scent of dope floating through the summer air, playing with the phone,  idly looking through Manhunt, Recon, Gaydar, Scruff, Grindr etc and noticed a few profiles saying "No hookups" and then I posted on facebook "I just don't get guys who use sites like Scruff or Grindr and say 'No hookups'".

And so many of those profiles have a headless body-shot, and locked pics sitting there too.

It was just an idle throwaway line, a little query that popped up in my head, sitting in the sun.

Boy, did it  get a response! I think there were over 70 comments on it the last time I looked, with guys from NZ, Australia, the USA, Canada all chipping in. And what a range of opinion.

Some went along the lines of "Not all homos are skanks and some of us actually like to go out for dates without ending up fucking" to others saying "These sites are designed for hooking up and anyone who says they're not there for that is deluding themselves." A few insults got tossed around as well. As one friend in Sydney said "You've opened a hornets' nest!"  The passion and strength of the differing opinions really surprised me.

Guys, guys! Please - play nicely!

It seems to me to raise that old debate that goes on in homoland - do we fuck too much? Do we define ourselves by our sex-lives? Are we so fixated on getting laid that we can't form ordinary loving relationships or even go on a date that doesn't end up with sex?

Or should we just embrace the fact that we can fuck around as much as we like and still have solid, happy relationships as well? And that is the truth for a lot of men - nearly all the guys in LTRs I can think of are not monogamous, and don't need to lie to their partners about it either. And it is just so easy for two guys to meet, whip it out and have fun, then say "Oh, I'm Jack by the way". Someone once said cumming together for gay men is like shaking hands for straights, and that can be the case, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Some guys obviously don't like the more highly sexualised parts of gay life. For them it's a scary and often sad place where they don't find what they want - love. Some of us want to settle down with one man and have a white-picket fence and kids and a poodle. Some of us would slit our wrists at the prospect. If you've been paying attention, you'll know I lean towards the latter camp. I don't think there is anything wrong with hooking up as much or as little as you like, and I don't think having a full and busy sex-life stops you from finding love either, in fact I know it doesn't. Like anything in life, you need to monitor what works for you, like anything, you can let it take over and that isn't a good thing usually.

And sure, these sites all get used for all sorts of things, not just hookups. I set up a time for coffee with a mate on Recon the other day, have swapped jokes with friends on Scruff, chatted to strangers on the other side of the world I'm never going to meet on Grindr. We don't just use these sites for hooking up, we use them for whatever we like. And sometimes if you're new in town they can be good to meet people and find out what's happening, where to go - and yes, you can make friends that way. And even lovers. I know a few guys who've met their partner off these places. I have never hooked up off fb though when I think about it - but I'm sure some of us have.

Over the centuries we have been experts in turning social spaces into cruising spaces - we had to, because we were on the outer, we were persecuted (we still are in fact) we had to hide and pretend to be something we weren't. And finding a fuck is often easier than forming a relaitonship, especially in those bad old days. So we have a cultural history of being adaptable, even if we're not all versatile.

But I'd still argue that basically these site are set up for gay men and if you give us a space we don't just decorate it and make it pretty, we tend to start fucking.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sometimes Love is Not Enough

I just ended a two-year affair. It wasn't a relationship in the sense of being partners or lovers, it was different from that, but it had endured, and it was good most of the time. He already has a lover, and we were clear about the limits on what we did.

And even though we weren't "in love" we did love each other in our own way. You can't really keep on hooking up for that amount of time without caring for the other guy.

But in the end I decided that it just wasn't good for me. It took up a lot of my emotional energy, yet in the cold hard light of day, I could see that it was time to move on. He was surprised and wounded at the rupture, and so was his partner but obviously to a lesser degree. Yes, it hurt , but I know I made the right call.

And it made me think about the huge weight we tend to put on love these days, our expectations that love is the answer to everything, that love makes it all ok. That's asking love to carry a lot, and is a relatively new way of thinking.

In the past relationships were formed more around ideas of how to build a stable family, how to work the farm together, keep the community going, and were often set up by families - the idea that we should fall in love first, then settle down, is a very new one.

Of course, for homos, it's different. We get to chart our own way through the world, as we don't have thousands of years of patterns of same-sex relationships to look back on and model ourselves on. We have the chance to form new ways of relating. I know men who happily manage living as a threesome. I know others who have different networks of lovers, more part of a group than a couple. And I know lots of couples who will never marry, they have been together decades and see no need for it.

But of course, because of the way we're raised, being a couple is seen as the gold standard, and the appeal of the romantic "Love is forever and once" model is strong. It also explains the rise in popularity of gay marriage, something that simply wasn't even on the horizon 30 years ago when Gay Lib was at its most active. Then settling into a couple was almost seen as a bit strange, a bit limiting, blindly following straights, pretending to be like them in a sad little parody of suburban life, when gay men could be out there fucking and loving in all sorts of new ways - or so the theory went.

I know a lot of guys my age and older who are dismissive of gay marriage, see it as conformist, giving in, simply apeing the straights. But for many young guys it's obviously much more important, and I understand and respect that. It is a lovely thing to have your relationship celebrated by the most important people in your life, whatever the gender mix of the couple. It's important to have legal recognition as well. And standing up in front of everyone you care about and committing yourself to another person is a big thing.

But love - that magic word - we ask so much of it. We had both told the other we loved each other, in our own way, we both cared for and liked each other. But in the end, I could tell it wasn't enough.

I know I will love again, and everytime it's different. But as I age, I see more and more, love alone isn't enough.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Food, Sex and Blogging.

I watched the movie "Julie and Julia" last night, about the blogger who spent a year cooking everything out of Julia Child's cookbook, a work of genius.

The film is not a work of genius - Amy Adams, the "Julie" character, is a whiny self-absorbed bore. I wanted way more Meryl Streep as Julia Child, so much more interesting.

But as a blogger, I appreciated what she was doing and saying. I'm a lazy blogger, I don't do it every day the way some do. I share her anxieties too - I write this stuff, but does anyone read it? Do I over-share? Do I tell too much? Do I bore people?

I hardly ever get comments here on the blog, but do on facebook, so I know some of you  do like it - or when you don't you aren't shy about telling me either.

Anyway, her gimmick of cooking her way through Julia Child made me wonder if I could do anything like that, if there was a book I could follow and blog about for a year. The Hudson and Halls cookbook maybe? Maybe one of those "Change your life in three months" programmes? But they all seemed boring.

Then it struck me - if Julia Child's was a masterpiece of introducing French cooking to the wider world, Silverstein and White's "Joy of Gay Sex" was a masterpiece of introducing the wider world of sexual pleasure for gay men. I bought it in 1979 when I was 18, but somewhere along the way it got lost. But you can still get it today.

So what if I decided to work my way through every position and activity described in the book and blog about it? Would it gain me a whole new audience?

Of course, there are practical problems - I'd need to find someone to help out for most of it - and at 50 my libido isn't quite as strong as it was when I was 20. But it could be a fun project to set up for the year.

Where The Joy of Gay Sex works so well is that they were able to describe sex in a convincing, calm and open way. Writing about sex is actually difficult, it's too easy to slip into bad porn, or go to the other extreme and not say enough. it'd be a challenge - but let's see.

On a related note - sex - a guy contacted me online the other day, saying "I want you to breed me, I want to have your HIV+ cum in me and get poz myself. I want to fuck you raw."

My first reaction was to put on my "educators" hat and explain why this wasn't a good idea and maybe he should go get some counselling, living with HIV isn't easy etc. Then I thought "Fuck it, let's mess with his head" so I said "Yeah, I'd be up for that, the trouble is I take all my HIV meds regularly and my viral load has been undetectable for years, so I could probably dump 5 loads up your hole and you wouldn't get infected, sorry. Still wanna fuck though?"

Never heard back from him - I guess I destroyed his fantasy.

And what I said is true. Your chances of getting HIV from somone like me are tiny. It's not impossible, but the odds are it won't happen. It's having bareback sex with guys who don't know their status that is most dangerous, or guys who know they are poz but not taking any medication. Not that this I'd let an HIV neg guy have bareback sex with me anyhow.

I just thought his reaction was interesting - his big dirty jack-off fantasy about "seeding and breeding" suddenly crashed to earth.

And it just struck me - maybe this is my first entry in my "Joy of Sex" blog?