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What does it mean to be gay?


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This post is really in response to the dialog currently going on between Skeptic and Rod Hagen, but I didn't want to hijack that thread any farther than it has already been taken.

 

Skeptic's points are extremely thought-provoking, as have been Rod's responses -- although it seems to me that Rod is taking a stance that is so unyielding toward the concept of "trade" that it would be hard for him not to be wrong in at least some cases.

 

But that is not the point here. Rather, their dialog has caused me to re-think a question so basic that it surprised me: what does it mean to be gay?

 

This is certainly an issue I thought I had laid to rest a very long time ago. But in reading what they had to say, I began to wonder about someone who was "straight" but had sex with men for pay -- sort of the classic "trade".

 

And I began to wonder if Skeptic and Rod were arguing the right question: namely, should the question be whether these men are straight or gay or should we instead possibly question the meaning of gay itself. And of straight.

 

For example, does being gay mean someone who has sex with other men? If so, then these men would be gay. Or does it mean someone who self-identifies as gay? If so, they would mostly be straight? Or does it mean, as Skeptic claims, lusting after men in one's own private thoughts? If that, then once again most of these men go back to being straight, unless of course they occasionally have fantasies about Skeptic's genius-level blow jobs, in which case they momentarily fly back into the gay camp. Until the moment has ended and they fly back to a straight haven.

 

You get the point: is gay or straight something we are, internally and immutably? Or is it something we become based on our behaviour? Is it changeable or quixotic? Or a rock of strength we can depend on?

 

Or are we perhaps so many butterflies of so many hues that two poor words -- straight and gay -- are not enough to contain our glory? And is it possible that being gay or straight are in the eye of the beholder? Or are they truths no matter what the perception of those doing the perceiving?

 

Can Skeptic accurately see a straight man where Rod can accurately see a gay one? And is there such a thing as bisexual? Or is that just some other gradation between gay and straight?

 

And, finally, does the money being paid to "trade" or others make a difference? I know many straight men who would not have sex with other men for any realistic amount of money. In desperation they would turn to other avenues. Are they "straighter" than "straight" men who will have sex with men for money? Or are they both equally straight if they equally lust after women? Does a willingness to have sex with men for any reason, including money, compromise straightness, whatever that means?

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Guest Skeptic

Or how about this? That all the labeling is merely a clumsy convenience, one of limited use that happens to distort reality.

 

Look: when I say I prefer trade, what I mean is that my passionate idealization of masculinity seems to be rewarded only in sex with men who happen to perceive themselves as straight(and whose whole existence objectively supports that notion.) The butchest gay guy just can't provide me with a comparable sexual thrill or feeling of sexual contentment. (Please note use of 'sexual' in both instances.)

 

And here's the big point: I'm just stating a fact, not laying down conditions. So it's really a matter of perception on both sides--and labels be damned!

 

Let Aaron and Rod fret about the gay-for-pay stuff--and sort out the apparent confict between THEIR perceptions.

 

That's about all I have to say on the subject. At least for now. . .

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LAST EDITED ON May-18-00 AT 11:50PM (EST)[p]LAST EDITED ON May-18-00 AT 11:50 PM (EST)

 

Yes, I think you're right when you say the labeling distorts reality. And it's good when we each understand what makes us happy.

 

And a most interesting thread could certainly be built around what makes some of us choose "straight" guys and others prefer queens -- and I can't help but wonder if your very strong dislike for Aaron is at least partially based in the fact that he is sort of the antithesis of the kind of guys you are attracted to.

 

But, our personal preferences aside, I'd really be interested, Skeptic, in your thoughts on the general top of gay vs. straight labelling and gay vs. straight reality: is it in the head of the person himself? The beholder? Is it reality? Perception? Or what?

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GREAT TOPIC, thanks. RIGHT UP MY ALLEY.

 

Not everything is subjective. Just because I have one opionion, and someone else-in this case Skeptic-has another, doesn't mean both of us are right. The best way to support a theory is not with lots of iliteration, as seems to be Skeptic's tactic. But instead to substantiate it with well formed hypothesis, either your own or others. People who shrug their shoulders and mutter "labels are a clumsy convenience" fear rigor.

 

I brought up Kinsey because in the scientific community his 4 identifiers of sexual orientation are considered the most sound. skeptic's PERCEPTIONS are definetly not objective, as he says, but by definition are SUBJECTIVE. For the benefit of those unfamiliar with Kinsey, you are forgiven, and here's a summary: Sexual orientation has NOTHING to do with Queeny or butch, or for pay or for free. Rather there are 4 specific identifiers: what gender an individual is usually sexualy involved with (1. behavior), the gender they primarily fantasize about (2. fantasy), the gender they are mostly attracted to (3. attraction), and where on the continum-mostly gay or mostly straight-they identify themselves (4. self-identification). 4 identifiers, there's no need to break these up, and indeed no significant study has. Actual sexuality has far sharper teeth than "perceived" sexuality.

 

Science defines the Straight/Gay "reality" you ask after. Use perception as your measuring rod and you do not have a leg to stand on.

 

Intellectually I find this all very interesting,thank you again for creating this post, and am sorry that Skeptic thinks this is neither here nor there. He should be more concerned with the premises hehind the assertions of his Trade.

 

-Hagen

-RH

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LAST EDITED ON May-19-00 AT 07:00AM (EST)[p]i feel that orientation is on a continum and that people can move on that continum over time. one escort i see is at one end of the continum and completely gay(tried sex with a female twice as a teen and did not like it).he is over 40 now and the last two decades been exclusively with men.

 

another escort i see is right in the middle of the continum. likes both men and women; he is just sexual and loves affection from anyone and has sex on his own free time (not for pay) with both men and women.

 

a third escort i see is bisexual but favors women. enjoys sex with men and has dated and had sex with men in his non-escort life. however, if given a choice, he would rather be with a woman.

 

finally, a past escort i've seen(i sound like a real slut) is totally straight. i could see he was having a hard time (use to dance at the gaiety) and he is now retired; we are still friends and see each other as friends. he never had any sexual interest in men.

 

i give these examples to show people on the continum. to me, being gay is people who have fantasies of men, are attracted to men, and if possible act on that behavior.

 

i have been with several "straight" men known as trade. like skeptic, i like these men and there is a strange sense of power in having sex with them and seeing them submit to the desires of a "gay" man. there is a thrill to having sex with a straight man like the infamous kirk and seeing him submissive.

 

my personal preference is sex with a gay or bisexual where both of us are having a good time; the companionship is important to me and normally it is better with the gay or bisexual.i look at sex as just part of a relationship and just feel more comfortable with the gay or bisexual; i tend to hire escorts for overnights or weekends so having common interests is important when spending time together. all that said, there is nothing like the occasional "quickie" with a hunky straight trade but it doesn't work for a long term relationship.

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Big Joey;

 

I think that you make the most sense of anyone on this thread so far. I too beleive that there is a continuum of sexuality, and that some people are just more sexual and sensual than others.

 

I have had great times with some of my French-Canadian friends, who then go home to a girlfreind. I don't think ot them as "trade", but rather as very sexual beings who have a much wider range than I do. Of course, I do not enjoy guys who identify as "straight" and just lie there passively. But just because someone also has sex with women, doesn't mean that there can not be great sex and even enjoyment when having sex with men. Everyone is different.

 

Now with an escort experience, we need to remember that fantasy is a big part of it. So for Skeptic, it seems as his fantasy only works if he beleives that his partner is straight and masculine. So if that is his fantasy, and there are those who provide it, let him enjoy.

 

I on the other hand beleive that so-called "straight" men who have sex with men, even for pay, somehow need intimacy with a male in thier life. I am not qualified as a shrink, but these guys have some need for sex with men. Does that make them gay? Does that make them less straight? Who cares. We get too hung up on lables. Its jsut part of thier particular sexuality.

 

It seems as though Skeptic's fantasty involves some sort of power trip by having a straight man be submissive to him. But I also beleive that his so-called "trade" is also having some emothional need met. Maybe they need intimacy from a man, or maybe they are doing some sort of power trip, by having a man service them. They do it with gay men, or johns, but maybe they are having a fantasy about being serviced by a straight man. The possibilities are endless, but there is something going on in thier heads too. It usually isn't a simple money thing.

 

Now, I am reluctant to stir up Skeptic (except that it is fun), but what is that only servicing trade thing all about. I grant you that it is a pretty good fantasy, and can be a lot of fun, but if that is all that you are interested in (by your own admission) have you given up on any kind of reciprocal type of sex with a loving partner. Or is servicing trade the only choice that you see for yourself. There may be some head shrinkage issues there.

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I think that all this verbiage is obfuscating the obvious (which, of course, is always fun). Gay is a political/psychological term that refers to how one identifies his desires, and homosexual refers to actual behavior. Therefore, the classic "trade" is a straight homosexual and the married man who has sex in highway rest stops is a gay heterosexual.

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Guest Skeptic

Paul, your post has arrived just in time--just as I was thinking through some kind of addendum to my first post here and my last post (#11) to the Haus Weston one. I've really got to bail out of this discussion, and you've shown me the only honorable way.

 

You hit the nail on the head when you wondered if the sexual preference I hold to represents a lack of interest in reciprocal action. That's very definitely part of it. Even so, I have to question whether this translates into some desire of mine (conscious or otherwise) to wield 'power' over my partners. (I guess we'd have to ask THEM to get the full answer on that one!)

 

Otherwise, the dynamics are pretty simple. I like blowing straight guys. They like getting blown. Most of the time I pay them for the 'privilege'. (Silly? Illogical? You bet! But that's the game--and it has more to do with sociocultural issues than psychopathology.) And sometimes, I DON'T pay for it, even though the situation is precisely the same--as in the mutually gratifying blowjob I gave a hardhat at a GH place in downtown DC yesterday afternoon.

 

None of this means I've 'given up on love,' or reciprocal sex. But the last time I looked, this site was dedicated to reviewing sex with prostitutes. I truly enjoy sex with prostitutes, but that's what it is--sex, not love. Is a site called 'Male4Malescorts' the proper forum for discussions of 'love'?

 

Yet deep thinkers like Rod Hagen (who is a prostitute as well as a deep thinker) speak patronizingly about my 'fantasies,' and try to 'talk sense' into me as I go my seemingly deluded (and non-PC!) way. I guess it's my failure to seek 'love' in all the right places (i.e. between the legs of some other gay guy) that has brought all this disapproval--not to say pity--down upon me. Should I be grateful? Amused? Bored?

 

Don't get me wrong here, Paul. I think that what you, BostonGuy, Will & BigJoey have begun talking about in this thread is worthy of respect and attention. (Without wanting to slam him, I'm a good deal less persuaded by Rod's role in the proceedings--but you and he must know that already.)

 

In signing off on the topic, let me point out (with a modesty some will doubtless say could only be a pose on my part) that the phenomenon of homosexuality--the what, why and whence of it--is arguably the greatest and most abiding mystery in humankind's ongoing attempt to understand itself. And dealing with in on the chatroom level is probably not going to contribute much to solving it.

 

In parting, and on a much less exalted note, I ought to point out that my admittedly intense dislike of Aaron Lawrence has nothing whatever to do with his being the 'antithesis' of a piece of trade. Indeed, if assertiveness and self-confidence are, as I opined elsewhere, the very hallmarks of masculinity, he may rate even higher on the butch-o-meter than yesterday's hardhat. (Joan Crawford had wide shoulders, too, of course. Little Aaron's on the other hand, are almost too narrow to secure that 'happy traveler' backpack he sports in the Unzipped ad. But, believe me, he's every bit as tough & organized a businesswoman as Joan ever was.) No, my distaste for AL is based on his being a pushy, pretentious hypocrite--and not exactly easy on the eyes, either.

 

Hope to see you all on some other thread!

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Guest Polly

Hi you guys!

 

Skep went to lie down for a bit. Said he just HAD to. So I popped out and here I am!

 

While he was getting his cold compress ready, I heard him leave a message on Dr. Lecter's answering machine, telling him not to miss Charlie's post. Something about 'brilliant (sp?), on-target, probably too honest for some of those BS types to handle."

 

OOOPS! Phone rang! Skep may be getting up! Gotta scram!

 

Love 'n' kisses (with a Hooboy heart to dot the 'i'!)

 

Polly

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I obviously made an error in my previous post. Married men who have sex in highway reststops are gay bisexuals; married men who masturbate to fantasies about butch truckdrivers or who devour male pornography are gay heterosexuals. Men who fantasize about sex with men but never do it are gay asexuals. Men who don't masturbate or have fantasies about anyone are unwell.

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"The phenomenon of homosexuality--the what, why and whence of it--is arguably the greatest and most abiding mystery in humankind's ongoing attempt to understand itself. And dealing with in on the chatroom level is probably not going to contribute much to solving it." These are some of the wisest and sanest words I have ever read in cyberspace, and I thank Skeptic for having written them (as well as hundreds of other wise and sane words). I promise to make every effort to restrain myself on this thread, but I should warn everybody watching that I am now, and have been for some time, in the throes of writing a book on the male nude in Western art from the Renaissance of the 15th century to the present day. This is not to be a coffee-table book at all, but serious history. Nor, let me hasten to add, is it to be an ideologically-driven contribution to (shudder) "queer studies." Indeed, male/male eroticism is only one of its many themes.

 

But it is, for reasons that should be obvious, the theme that concerns me most, personally. In grappling with the enormous problem that Boston Guy has raised on this thread and Skeptic has so clearly set for us, I have learned one thing and learned it well. "Straight" and "gay" are not descriptive categories that can be empirically applied to people of all places and all times. In fact, as a professional historian, I am absolutely certain that the even the notion of what we call "sexual orientation" is a phenomenon of the very recent past, and one that is highly concentrated in certain social and even national groups. English- and German-speaking men with university educations and upper-bourgeois or aristocratic social locations were the ONLY human beings on the planet as late as the 1870s who can be shown to have had such a notion. That isn't to say that there weren't then, and have always been, men whose "sexual orientation" was exclusively towards the same or the opposite sex. But it is to say that one would have a very, very difficult time in proving (by citing texts or letters, for instance) that such consciousness existed even among educated, upper-bourgeois Spanish-, French- and Italian-speaking men at the same time. When I first began to spend big chunks of time in Italy thirty-five years ago, for instance, I don't think I could have found an Italian man who would have identified himself as "gay," or who would have understood what I meant when I called myself "gay" (not that I was so self-aware myself thirty-five years ago). But these same men would spend as much as two hours of every day in the bushes of the Circus Maximus in Rome both giving and getting blowjobs and even "sweeping" (the Italian for the f-word that we aren't supposed to use on this forum) each other instead of wolfing down plates of pasta. In the evening, they would either go home to the wife and kids, or to the girlfriend. Most important, neither they nor anyone else thought much about it. Certainly, I doubt that they would have considered this behavior as indicative of a particular sexual orientation, nor would they have considered their homosexual romps as in any way constitutive of their selves.

 

When one looks beyond Europe and further back than the nineteenth century, the more obvious it becomes that the rigid dialectic of "straight" versus "gay" is almost nonsensical when one tries to use it as a theory to explain the sexual behavior of men. Therefore, as a historical hypothesis, it simply fails.

 

To me, what this means is that we are living in a period of intense erotic consciousness. I have heard it said on good authority that the only age that has given as much attention to its orgasms and everything that surrounds them was the period around the turn of the first century of the Common Era. Furthermore, if my own admittedly anecdotal experience is any guide, young men now coming into sexual maturity, as well as their seniors now in their twenties and early thirties, are themselves proving the inadequacy of "straight" vs. "gay" as useful for anything but shorthand among people who are already familiar with the code.

 

I rather suspect that the currency of the terms themselves derives from one source and one alone, and that is the heterosexual fear of homosexual self-consciousness and self-expression. Historically, the term "homosexual" and its now outmoded cognates like "urning" came into being as responses to the repressive development of the term "heterosexual," which arose in reaction to the increasing visiblity of what I would call (pace Skeptic) gay men in the nineteenth century. Anybody old enough to remember Jesse Helm's hysterical (carefully chosen word there) reaction to the Robert Mapplethorpe retrospective only ten years ago will be aware of the strategic political importance of keeping the word "gay" up-front and center.

 

As a concept with which we can navigate the always treacherous waters of our sexual and emotional and spiritual lives, however, it's my experience that the words are rapidly becoming archaic because they simply don't reflect current thought and practice. Rod Hagen is right to cite Kinsey, I think. But he might also have remarked that Kinsey was extremely conscious of a graded scale from "pure" straight to "pure" gay. If I remember correctly, a Kinsey 1 was exclusively heterosexual, and a Kinsey 6 was exclusively homosexual. But there were lots and lots of men who fell in as 2s and 3s and 4s and 5s.

 

Loathe to admit it though I may be, I must also confess that my life experience bears out Kinsey's distinctions. There is something about me that is to the 2-5 category what honey is to flies. I cannot tell you how much smoother would have been the course of my erotic career if all men were either "straight" or "gay." But they aren't, God love them, no matter how much I wish it were otherwise!

 

Thanks for this subject, Boston Guy!

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Great post Will.

 

>"The phenomenon of homosexuality--the what, why

>and whence of it--is arguably

>the greatest and most abiding

>mystery in humankind's ongoing attempt

>to understand itself. And dealing

>with in on the chatroom

>level is probably not going

>to contribute much to solving

>it."

 

We may not solve it, but discussing it does little harm, and can be quite thought provoking.

 

Will, Maybe I misunderstood, but why just because a term "sexual orientation" is a recent construct, in this case to identify degrees of a type of behavior, yearning, attraction, and self identification, can we not now apply it to the "then and there" as well as the "here and now"? Just because they didn't? Gravity as a term may not have existed 1000 years ago, but as a force it certainly did.

 

Charlie, I submit that where a person decides to put their own, or somebody else's, penis is a biological compulsion, and not a political or sociological, decision.

 

> "Straight" and

>"gay" are not descriptive categories

>that can be empirically applied

>to people of all places

>and all times.

 

Which is why a continuum (thank you Kinsey) is so helpful. Can't we now apply that continuum to your men of the past who covorted in the bushes, as well as the men Skeptic now hires? And if so, then why can we not attempt to test or refer to orientation empirically? Simply because nobody did in the past?

 

I did mention Kinsey's graded scale, but I am more concerned with the means by which he came to the degrees (kinsey 1,2,3,4,5,6) than with what people choose to label themselves w/o being familiar with the study. Don't feel bad, applying his 4 criteria (behavior, fantasy, attraction and self Identification) I think I may actually be a Kinsey 5 !!

 

>if all

>men were either "straight" or

>"gay." But they aren't,

>God love them, no matter

>how much I wish it

>were otherwise!

 

I agree. It is it's lazy and simplistic to label all people as either gay or straight. This is why I become so infuriated with Skeptic when he refers to the men whose dicks he sucks simply as "straight". I say bullshit to that. However, only now do I realize I may have been too picky, but I'm too stubborn to admit I was wrong (read: I overreacted). -Hagen

-RH

Fun, Fit, Friendly in West Hollywood/Los Angeles and Southern California

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Rod - I'm glad you were being stubborn, because it was the black-and-white nature of your (and Skeptic's) arguments that provoked my own thoughts. And I think that might be a very common thing, indeed, when it comes to sexuality today.

 

There are very few public figures talking about how it's okay to be Kinsey 3 but "damn those 6's!" Instead, we all talk in terms of black and white, gay and straight, good and bad -- it's just too easy to fall into that.

 

Even Skeptic, whose intellect I have come to respect and whose insights I often find extremely interesting and thought-provoking, seems to fall into the trap here. And his reluctance to continue this particular discussion may be due to another side of this whole issue, namely that it strikes so close to home to all of us.

 

As individuals we are immensely complicated, yet we cannot always view the complexity because it would just take too much time and effort. So we invent shortcuts that help us understand our place in the world. We do the same thing with those around us.

 

So if we wake up one day, having gotten really comfortable with our gay identity, and find ourselves thinking "today I'll be a Kinsey 3", one of the truths about ourselves that we tend to accept without thinking will have just been shaken. Not that one thing is better than the other, for they certainly aren't. But the fact that we have a stable self image and we understand the role of others in our life as well is important. To pick on poor Skeptic slightly more, if he were to suddenly decide that all of his straight boys were actually gay, it would change some of the conditions underlying something he has accepted for quite some time.

 

Because he's so bright, he would adapt. But sometimes we don't want our world view changed, because we are quite comfortable with it just the way it is.

 

Similarly, a gay friend of mine recently found himself very attracted sexually to a woman. This particular discovery might have made his mother extremely happy, but it depressed him quite a bit -- again, not because it was a bad thing, but because it raised some serious issues and some possibilities in his mind that he had thought through during a difficult period in his life and then put to rest. To suddenly have to re-question his life and his being was not all that pleasant.

 

So I think the black and white, gay and straight view of the world is very useful on a day by day basis, but also very dangerous. Can you imagine Jesse Helms if he had to deal with 6 gradations of sexuality? Or Dr. Laura? And who says Kinsey is right -- maybe there are 20 gradations?

 

Finally, one of the questions I posed is still bothering me and I really hope Skeptic will come back and help us with this one: if we have a straight guy and he decides to start having sex with other men for money (even if that sex is always receiving blow jobs and nothing more, he is still having sex with those men), does that change or affect his basic sexuality? And, to complicate it a bit more, does the money really matter? For example, if a straight guy decided to have sex with another guy for another reason, would that be different? If, for example, it was for another kind of reward? Or to make a friend feel better? What if it was sex for money but more involved sex, possibly involving reciprocation? At what point do we think that this straight guy starts becoming not so straight? Or does he stay a straight guy, even in the context of the above discussions?

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LAST EDITED ON May-20-00 AT 00:07AM (EST)[p]>At what point do we

>think that this straight guy

>starts becoming not so straight?

> Or does he stay

>a straight guy, even in

>the context of the above

>discussions?

Excellent question. Of course I do not believe he does, and also believe that he gave up being truely straight the moment he let some man's mouth land on his dick...and then probably moaned (or actually the first time he entertained the notion). But I am very curious to read what others have to say to you about this.

-RH

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Thanks to both of you, Rod and BG, for your responses. Rod raises what is to my mind THE question about all of this, when he notes that the law of gravity existed before we had a name (or an explanation) for it. If that is true, he asks, what difference does it make whether the term "sexual orientation" existed in one culture or another?

 

The law of gravity, I would say, is comparable with the biological sex of a human being, but not with sexual orientation as commonly understood. Every human being has either the X chromosome or the Y chromosome, and every society I know of develops its sexual codes around the consequences of that dialectic. But every society also has to come to grips with the fact that babies are born and children develop whose bodies do not show the clear, unambiguous signs of their genetic signatures (and of course most societies haven't known that there was such a thing as a genetic signature in the first place). Thus terms like "hermaphrodite" get invented, along with a kind of mythology or rationale whose purpose is to account for this deviation from the norm.

 

As I understand it, however, "sexual orientation" is a far more complex phenomenon even than sex/gender itself, for it implies that a person's erotic and affective impulses lie close to the heart of who that person is, in the most profound existential sense of what it means to be a Person. The intelligentsia of developed societies now operate with the collective memory of 100 years of Freud's telling us that Eros is the chief motivating force in our psyches. Whether that is actually so (to say nothing of how we could prove or disprove it), of course, is a matter of much debate and much intelligent dissent. But if we BELIEVE that Eros rules Psyche, we begin to act accordingly, to explain ourselves accordingly, to understand others accordingly, to organize our moral and political careers accordingly. Once the entire decision-making population buys into a particular set of values and explanations (i.e., myths), it begins to legislate the distribution of public goods and services, to establish cultural institutions whose purpose is to promulgate the collective aspirations, and to develop all sorts of enforceable moral and ethical codes that rest on the assumption that the myth-of-the-moment is an empirical expression of natural law.

 

Thus I think that sexual orientation is a group of interrelated values, behavioral conventions, and codes of communication that we develop around the biological phenomena of sex itself. Furthermore, our common experiences of the last thirty years in the United States should be enough to show that any notion of sexual orientation is extremely labile, subject to rapid change. Which is also to say that I do not think that sexual orientation is somehow inevitable or the blind, culture-free dictates of biology itself.

 

While I fully agree with you, Rod, that there have always been "gay" men everywhere, there has not always been a way for them to understand themselves, whether negatively or positively. In many ways this whole development, it seems to me, has points of comparison with the women's movement or even the civil rights movement. Those show that consciousness-of-being is at least as important as being itself. And isn't this the real human dilemma? Am I because I think I am? Would I be if I didn't know that I am? People who work with children and adolescents know how necessary is a concept of self that is all-inclusive. In the end, human beings need each other, and they need ways of organizing themselves into groups small enough not to drown in nameless isolation.

 

Arbitrary loneliness is one of the deadliest weapons a repressive society can wield against those it considers to be enemies of the common good. And "solitary isolation" is a precisely accurate term for describing the ways in which so many gay men and lesbians have lived and died, and continue to live (and to die) even today. Indeed I doubt that we'd find ourselves having this discussion in the first place if it weren't for the fact that we have found safe places to talk in public about being gay.

 

That is a rare and precious thing. It's also one benefit of sexual orientation as a way of thinking, as well as of other social and economic factors. But I'd also guess that there lots of men, regular visitors to this website, who still think that they are completely alone in the universe because they grew up in a time or a place when such a notion was the common, "natural," view and it is hard to grow beyond that kind of indoctrination. Although the discourse of sexual orientation may be only marginally useful as a path to orgasm, as a means of learning that I am not, in the end, alone, it may literally be a life-saver.

 

So I say, let's keep GAY as a term, weak though it may be in many ways, for as long as the Helms Gang shoots STRAIGHT. But that's for political purposes. For personal purposes, I'll try to remember BG's astute remark that the simplification process may be more hurtful than helpful. Thanks again to you both for this intelligent, civilized, and salutary conversation.

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Guest longtimelurker

What does it mean to be gay?

What CAN it mean to be gay?

What HAS it meant to be gay?

 

>As I understand it, however, "sexual

>orientation" is a far more

>complex phenomenon even than sex/gender

>itself, for it implies that

>a person's erotic and affective

>impulses lie close to the

>heart of who that person

>is, in the most profound

>existential sense of what it

>means to be a Person.

>

>.

>In the end, human beings

>need each other, and they

>need ways of organizing themselves

>into groups small enough not

>to drown in nameless isolation.

>

>

>Arbitrary loneliness is one of the

>deadliest weapons a repressive society

>can wield against those it

>considers to be enemies of

>the common good. And

>"solitary isolation" is a precisely

>accurate term for describing the

>ways in which so many

>gay men and lesbians have

>lived and died, and continue

>to live (and to die)

>even today. Indeed I

>doubt that we'd find ourselves

>having this discussion in the

>first place if it weren't

>for the fact that we

>have found safe places to

>talk in public about being

>gay.

>

>

>But I'd also guess that there

>lots of men, regular visitors

>to this website, who still

>think that they are completely

>alone in the universe because

>they grew up in a

>time or a place when

>such a notion was the

>common, "natural," view and it

>is hard to grow beyond

>that kind of indoctrination.

>Although the discourse of sexual

>orientation may be only marginally

>useful as a path to

>orgasm, as a means of

>learning that I am not,

>in the end, alone, it

>may literally be a life-saver.

>

>

>Thanks again

>to you both for this

>intelligent, civilized, and salutary conversation.

 

 

This goes beyond conversation.

 

This is the naming of true things.

 

Thank you, Will, for being one of the life-savers.

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Guest Tampa Yankee

This is one of the more thoughtful and thought-provoking threads I have encountered -- something that really never occurred to me that I would find here. It has reminded me of my grappling with similar issues, in the guise of what consitutes natural and unnatural behavior, as a youth and young married man. A considerable amount of high quality food for thought has been displayed for consideration by all contributors. I think it deserves a second reading on my part -- perhaps over a glass of brandy.

 

Ironic given the mission of this cite, but I never expected to find intellectual

gratification here too!!

 

Thanks to Boston Guy and all the contributors.

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Guest fortuin

To suggest that the issue of homosexuality is the greatest and most abiding mystery in humankinds attempt to understand itself reflects no modesty, only an overriding narcissism which is at the core of all of Skeptic's posts. That said, I really don't understand Rod's intense frustration in Skeptic's preference for men he perceives as "straight." I doubt if Skeptic cares what these men do when they aren't being serviced by him. As long as he percieves them as heterosexual, it is arousing for him. They are providing a service. What's the problem? And while I do believe that behaviour influences perception and self identification, I don't have any problem with someone who considers themself "straight" providing sexual services for a man. There is a phenomenon known as cognitive dissonance. It allows us to disregard information which might be counter to our opinion or perception in service of supporting our actions. The "straight" men who are serviced by Skeptic can maintain their self identification of heterosexual by rationalizing their actions ( I'm being paid for it, or, I'm just letting some guy suck my dick and it feels good, I'm not reciprocating). As has been pointed out already, actions alone do not suffice to define an individual. How many "straight" guys would submit to a blow job by another man for a million dollars? If they did, would that make them gay? What if they were blindfolded and didn't actually know who was doing the sucking? Would that make them gay? And finally, why should anyone be surprised that sexuality is on a continuum? With a few exceptions, aren't almost all human characteristics on a continuum (height, hair color, fondness for show tunes)? The kinds of discussions being had here seem to me to reflect, as has been already noted, a kind of politicalization of human sexuality that is a contemporary phenomenon.

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Guest Polly

Morning, guyz!

 

I guess Skep woke up long enuf to read through the end of this thread before turning in for the night. Scribbled some notes on the pad by the phone. "lots of nice stuff, but topic still too vast for here. . . fortuin (who he?) can picture something overriding (my 'narcissism') being at the CORE of something else (all my posts)??? Must be looking at too many Esch prints. . . Will as fervent as ever. Upcoming book sounds fascinating. . . Glad to see that Rod (illegible). . ."

 

Gotta run! 'Cheerleader Competition" just started on USA! Hope Skep sleeps late today.

 

Hugs 'n' kisses (with a Hooboy heart to dot the 'i') !

 

Polly

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I am going to go away and then reread this entire thread again later for fear that I might have missed something. It is wonderful and thought provoking and wherever anything like that can happen, it should be appreciated and encouraged.

One major disagreement is that of who has the power and who is being subjugated when a gay man does trade orally. If the trade is thinking as the Helmsites have tried to train him to, then that which most approximates being a middleclass white male is that which has the power. Therefore, I would postulate that the trade, in his mind, is not only enforcing his power over the perceived gay client by the sex act, but is having that perception enforced by the monetary payment. Thus he sees gay men agreeing to their own oppression. Is this not more personal and therefore a more powerful message than listening to Dr. Laura on the radio? If our community moves to try to block her message getting onto the TV airwaves, what then are our feelings about trade escorts?

This is only made more confusing when we "sweep" the trade, n'est pas? That might so confuse a person with a low self esteem and possibly a drug habit that he might go beat up on the people confusing him or those who resemble him, I would think.

So while I sincerely feel that who and why an individual has sex with is none of my business, in the aggragate I wonder, in this instance, if I can afford to stand by that principle?

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We went through the subject of what we can surmise about each other from our vocabularies a few months ago, it seems like. I wouldn't mind reopening the subject at all, but how can we do handwriting analysis on our typing, all in the same font?

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  • 4 years later...
Guest Tampa Yankee

Lucky made me do it!!

 

It is clear that Lucky has siezed control of my mind or at least seeded it with subliminal messages that I cannot resist. :p

 

IMO a very interesting read from the archives for members that weren't around at the time and have yet to stumble through the archives. My thanks to Boston Guy, Will, Skeptic and many others. There are several more gems to be found for those willing to search.

 

Enjoy.

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