In November 2014, I wrote an essay entitled “Why I No Longer Want To Be Gay.” In this essay, I chronicled my experience as a gay man and briefly explained why I opted to extricate myself from the life.
My essay was met with mixed reviews, some encouraging and supportive, others derogatory and downright disrespectful. Some applauded my insights and celebrated my transition out of the life. Others trivialized my observations and attributed them to what they assumed to be my age, claiming that with a couple more aches and pains, I will somehow change my tune and adopt a whole new perspective.
There were a handful of gay zealots trying desperately to convince me of the errors of my ways and attempting to return this “lost gay sheep” back to the ravenous fold of thirsty rams. I even had bitter journalists and commentators write inflammatory rebuttal pieces that were insular and chock full of political agenda regaling me with the historical trials and travails of gay men and their undying quest for equality. At first it was annoying, but after having time to digest the information shared, I have to say that I am very appreciative for all comments, even the not-so-kind ones because it was my sincerest hope that my essay sparked a dialogue among gay men and also motivated change. In some ways it did put the issues on the table, but I guess it did not motivate enough change because we are still treating each other as nothing more than human flash jacks. I guess some things will never change.
It’s 2015 and gay men are still reading from the same tired narratives of the 1980s. They are still idealizing and objectifying other men, except now it is starting to not only affect our interactions but also the amount of initiative and interest we show one other. Online, all gay men have to do is flash a dick and guys come running like flies to shit sending the message that our bodies are the only thing that matters and that all we are good for is sex. The fact that we have brains and wonderful personalities means absolutely nothing. Offline, our physiques, our frames, and our parts are gawked and gazed at with the same fervor and desperation given to an online default pic. It’s like online behaviors seem to have leapt off the screen and into our everyday interactions with one another.
I believe that the well is poisoned. The well in this case symbolizes how gay men interact with one another and the archaic mentalities and beliefs under which they operate. No matter how much water—or in this case men—you draw, the water will continue to be poisoned because there is something about the well that isn’t right. The well is hazardous and no longer working to bring fulfillment to the lives of gay men. But we still drink from it. Why?
Aside from the common explanations of loneliness, desperation, and boredom, I think gay men have based their identity so much on their sexuality that they feel being inappropriately aggressive is what they have to do to survive the scene. It is like drivers who feel they are obligated to be obnoxious and aggressive to avoid getting run over. This perception of survival is what causes many gay males to engage in behaviors that are otherwise degrading. This is why they hide their face, show their packages, and ask if you want to have sex before they ask you what your name is. It is what they believe is expected of them in certain settings. They are reading from outdated scripts that have not been updated to reflect the gradual shift in our nation’s perception. So in other words, we are reading from playbooks that haven’t even included all the games. Any wonder why we keep losing? There are no premiums given for personality or having brains.
Now when you’re horny, of course the only brains you want is a guy’s cranium bobbing up and down between your legs as instant gratification, but while you’re on your knees begging for another man’s release, you should also be begging the questions: Does the easy sex affect one’s motivation to take initiative and actually try in dealings with one another? Does the constant revolving door of meaningless hookups eventually lead to the generalized devaluation of the American gay male? I think so.
I know that based on my own experiences with gay men, I have lost a modicum of respect for the gay male which has caused me to devalue any prospective relationship that could be forged and enjoyed with them. Some would accuse me of having a homosexual version of the Madonna-whore complex or a series of blanketed phobias, but that’s hardly the case. I just feel that with the ease with which some gay men share themselves, they obviously devalue both themselves and other men. No desires for intimacy, only exclusive anonymity, headless torsos, and glory holes—GEEZ! Mystery just costs too much these days and the pockets of risk have been dangerously shortchanged. It makes no sense anymore. It’s as if we are operating from the same behaviors that sponsored our death in the first place when our boys, our men are dying! And yet we still are adamant about holding onto what is destroying us under the guise of retaining our identities as “gay men.”
In defense of gay male sexual behaviors, many readers have continued to use references to gay history as explanations for gay male preoccupation with sex, stating that given the unlawful nature of it back in the “bad old days,” most gay men have had to either hide or mask their lust, breeding more of it by the pound in order to compensate for its initial criminalization and proscription.
To me, continuing to posit gay history as an explanation/justification for reckless sexual behaviors absolves gay men from taking responsibility for their poor behaviors and in a way enables them to continue treating one another like disposable pieces of useless desire. The same way we must take accountability for our dysfunctional behaviors despite our less than desirable childhoods is the same way gay men must stop using gay history as an excuse to continue reading from the prehistoric manuscripts of our early beginnings. It’s like trying to play a 45 on a CD player. It just won’t work, as half of the younger gay men of this generation haven’t even heard of a bathhouse let alone been to one. I am well aware of the travails associated with the gay male diaspora. However, when are we going to actually start “dealing” with our traumas as opposed to using them as excuses to continue engaging in maladaptive behaviors? This is the question many gay men want the answer to, as many gay men are tired of attending generational pity parties hosted by centuries of gay struggle and seek to start attending change conventions with less rhetoric and more transformative muscle.
Also, I think a lot of gay men place too much emphasis on their sexual orientation and not enough on their spiritual orientation. From experience, I have seen many gay men struggle with a sense of nihilism due to the belief that God hates them. This causes them to engage in reckless behaviors due to the lack of moral compass usually afforded those with a spiritual orientation. In my past relationships with men who had no spiritual foundation, it became very difficult to reach them or even to elicit remorse for their hurtful behaviors because in their eyes what they were doing wasn’t problematic. I have since realized that this lack of spiritual guidance causes many gay men to adopt attitudes of indifference and carelessness toward their fellow man.
So the question becomes: When will gay men break this vicious cycle of gay male destruction, destroy the well of sex obsessed mentalities, and erase this trend of devaluing each other in order to forge better connections with one another? When will we make it so that our brethren see the gay community as a beacon of hope, a port in the storm instead of just another closet-like void from which to escape?
On a personal note, how will I as a man who acknowledges my attraction to other men but who chooses not to self identify as a gay man now live my life? I guess time and another post will have to answer that for all of us.