Category Archives: Sexuality

Five Ways To Embrace & Enjoy Your Kinky Fetish

A fetish might be the shiny black leather boots the man at the grocery store has on, or the white cotton jockstraps you see at the gym, or the way you murmur “Daddy…”when your horned up partner is having his way with you. But where did we get our kinks, and do they represent something… bad?
Therapist and author David Fawcett (Lust, Men, and Meth: A Gay Man’s Guide to Sex and Recovery) thinks our kinky side is actually good for us, he came up with some juicy insights into our naughty obsessions.
“A fetish is not a disorder at all, unless it causes personal distress or is harmful to others,” David told Queerty’s Mark King. So if you’ve been transfixed by the uniform worn by the hot Castro cop, relax. “The most common fetish is a body part, like feet. Second would be objects such as clothing, and finally, a fetish can be a behavior, like a role play fantasy.”
David provided us these five helpful things to know about your kinky fetish:
 
1. Assess your fetish to be sure it is a healthy one
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David is supportive of our kinky sides. “Think of your fetish as something that ‘adds value’ to your sexuality,” he says. “By far, most fetishes are perfectly normal. Our own shame about having one is usually the most unhealthy thing about it. If it is a fantasy of some sort, remember this: the vast majority of people are clear about the difference between fantasy and reality.”
But why on earth do white briefs drive you wild, you ask? “Why we develop a fetish is largely unknown,” David says, “but they are most often in place during childhood. They pair our earliest sexual arousal with a non-sexual object – the cute boy you saw in the locker room was wearing white briefs, for instance. Importantly, though, a fetish can also result from trauma or a strong emotional experience.”
If you’re concerned, ask yourself if your fetish is emotionally or physically harmful to yourself or to your partner. And David asks that you give something else some thought. “Is indulging your fetish ‘re-wounding’ you somehow? Is it linked to something that should be allowed to heal, and you’re keeping it fresh, and harmful?” If the answer is yes or you’re not certain, you might want to consider talking it through with a professional.
And by all means, if the fetish involves sex that puts you or your partner at risk for HIV transmission, then check out PrEP if you’re negative, or learn why positive guys with an undetectable viral load are not infecting their partners.
 
2. Reveal your fetish to your partner thoughtfully
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Sure, telling your date or your husband that his leather boots are hot is easy. Getting him to wear a pair during sex might be a little trickier. The key is being prepared.
“Most couples don’t have great communication skills about sex, and that includes gay men,” says the expert. “So be sure you are comfortable discussing sex in the first place. You might want to just describe why the fetish gives you pleasure, without any expectations that your partner will join in. And it is important that you discuss it as something that is intimate, not a source of shame or some kind of awful confession.”
Once you’ve had the Big Reveal, give your partner time to process it. You can always circle back to it later.
 
3. You fetish probably isn’t going anywhere
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“A fetish is part of your sexual template that probably won’t go away,” says David. “Even if we try to repress them, they tend to re-emerge.”
So, someone in a relationship that has a fetish might want to do their best to incorporate it, advises David. That means ground rules, respect for limits, and managing the complicated balance between loving and respecting your partner while honoring your own needs. “Communication is the key, of course,” David says. “And it is also true that sometimes couples are just incompatible.”
 
4. Be sure you don’t need drugs or alcohol to enjoy your fetish
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The more dangerous your fetish might potentially be, the greater the importance of having a clear head. Obviously, this applies to domination and submission scenes or anything involving being at the physical mercy of your partner. “Always incorporate consent and respect,” advises our expert. “And you can’t give your consent if you are under the influence.”
David firmly believes that some fetishes are the result of drug use and may not even be organic to the individual. “These kind of drug-driven behaviors do not increase intimacy,” he says. “They are actually destructive.”
“If a fetish is keeping someone stuck in self-destructive behaviors like drug addiction, this suggests a level of shame that needs to be addressed in therapy,” David says.
 
5. Men love to grab that brass (nipple) ring
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Fetishes are a guy thing. “95% of people with a fetish are male,” David tells us. “Straight men fetishize feminine things, gay men fetishize masculine things. They are the objects that represent those we desire.” Of course many gay men love feminine things, too.
So embrace all that you are, men. Keep communication open, play it safe, and get on with your kinky selves. “By far, most fetishes enhance healthy sexuality,” David adds. “So have fun!”

What’s Your “Number”?

  
We aren’t talking telephone number either. Can anything good come from telling your partner(s) how many people you’ve slept with before you met them? Many people would say, “no way.” The very idea of revealing that number can be terrifying because they’re afraid that they’ll be judged for having had too many intimate encounters — or too few — and they worry that the information could harm their relationship. It’s also probably not a good answer when you say, “Um, I lost count. The orgy in Italy threw my numbers off a bit.” Yeah, not a good answer, but some of us were sluts when we were younger, had more hair, and were better looking.

“[What happens when you reveal your number] depends on what are the attitudes and values of the people involved and what their reactions are going to be,” Dr. Zhana Vrangalova , a sex expert and professor at New York University, told the co-hosts of HuffPost Love+Sex Podcast, Carina Kolodny and Noah Michelson . “My husband has actually had that experience with a couple of his friends and girlfriends. They would share the number and he would be so accepting of whatever the number was that they walked away thinking, Oh my God — I’m not this dirty slut that everyone has been telling me I was. So if you have a positive reaction to that, or your partner has a positive reaction to that, it can be a really empowering and really anti-slut shaming that I think a lot of [people] could benefit from it.”

To hear more about what can happen when you share “your number,” as well as questions about everything from the above question about “numbers” to “what should I do if I only want to date ‘daddies’ and they all think I’m too young for them,” listen to the podcast go to iTunes to download it.


Two Interesting Studies

  

How Do You Feel About Your Nether Regions?

A new study found that regardless of sexual orientation, people who either feel good about their genitals look or are not self-conscious about them are more likely to have good sexual self-esteem and feel sexually attractive. The study examined the relationship between perceptions of genital appearance and self-perceived sexual attractiveness. The study sample included men and women aged 18-45 who identified as heterosexual, gay or lesbian, or bisexual. Participants responded to an online survey assessing their self-perceived sexual attractiveness, genital self-image, genital self-consciousness during sexual activity, and sexual esteem. Based on previous findings, the study hypothesized a positive link between genital self-perceptions and self-perceived sexual attractiveness, with sexual esteem acting as a mediator. Analyses revealed a significant association between both genital self-image and genital self-consciousness and self-perceived sexual attractiveness. However, these relationships were at least partially mediated by sexual esteem, across both gender and sexual orientation. The findings suggest that, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, individuals who maintain a positive genital self-image or lack genital self-consciousness, are more likely to experience greater sexual esteem, and in turn, feel more sexually attractive. The findings have implications for the importance of genital appearance perceptions and improving individuals’ sexual esteem and self-perceived sexual attractiveness.

Freud would agree. I think that when someone is confident in the way their genitals look, then they are overall more confident and have greater self-esteem. The same i believe is true of people who are happy with their body image. It gives the person more confidence and self-esteem. The problem is that for some of these people who are happy with their bodies become overly conceited and obnoxious to deal with overall.
Science: Gay Dudes Like Muscly Hunks

Yeah, this is real: researchers recently counted and analyzed the photos and comments posted on Queerty.com, a blog mostly for gay men. The overwhelming majority of pics and comments celebrated hunky, muscly men with basically zero body fat. The downside: not critiquing these images might be reinforcing an unhealthy body image among blog visitors. This study conducted a content analysis of 243 photographic images of men published on the gay male-oriented blog Queerty.com. The study also analyzed 435 user-generated comments from a randomly selected one-year sample. Focusing on images’ body types, the study found that the range of body types featured on the blog was quite narrow-the vast majority of images had very low levels of body fat and very high levels of muscularity. Users’ body image-related comments typically endorsed and celebrated images; critiques of images were comparatively rare. 

First of all, Queerty is the worst place on the net to read comments. Their commenters tend to be the bitterest queens on the planet. However, if you look at this from an evolutionary standpoint, those with less body fat and nice musculature look healthier, meaning that our minds perceive them to be people who will live longer. Attraction often has to do with having a male partner who will love a long time. When it comes to women, heterosexual men tend to find a woman with large breasts and nice hips to be seen as more fertile, just as healthy men are seen as more virile. So when we look at what we find attractive, it comes down to who the evolution of the human species will take the best care of us and who will be the best at procreation. While this may seem to exclude homosexuals, it does not. We still want virility. Whatever sex we are attracted to, we still have the evolutionary genes that tell us the same things about the same sex we are attracted to as it does when opposite sexes are attracted.


Offensive, Deplorable, Insensitive, Cruel, and Insulting

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Last night I was watching the World Series (I’m rooting for the Royals). I just couldn’t handle watching the Republican debate. I find all of the candidates offensive, but I didn’t expect to be offended during the World Series. However, a DIRECTV advertisement with Peyton Manning came on. I’ve seen it before, and its incredible offensiveness and makes my blood boil every time is see it. I never have particularly liked Peyton Manning, but even if I had been a huge fan of his, this commercial would have made me hate him with a passion. Before I say more, I’m going to let you read what the commercial says (I could have posted a YouTube video of the commercial, but I find it too offensive to post):

Hi I’m Peyton Manning and I have DIRECTV.

And I’m really high voice Peyton Manning and I have cable.

Only DIRECTV lets you watch NFL Sunday Ticket games live on all your devices.

With cable I can’t do that it’s like – ahhhhhhh! [high-pitched]

I get to take all the games with me.

I sing with the Four Tunesmen.

Camptown ladies sing a song
Doo dah, doo Dah
Camptown racetrack five miles long
Oh the doo dah day

Don’t be like this me get NFL SUNDAY TICKET only on DIRECTV.

To understand why I find this really offensive, I have to tell you something about myself that I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned on this blog before: I have a high voice. My voice is the stereotypical “gay voice.” I get mistaken for a woman on the phone and at drive-thru restaurants. All of my life, bullies have imitated my voice as a way to call me a faggot, usually while using the word fag or faggot and limp wrist hand gestures along with it. My voice has been an embarrassment to me all my life, but I am learning to accept it. It does help that with my new job, my voice plays a major component in said job. However, every time I see this commercial, it brings up all the bullying I faced in my life, and I’m not just talking about my teenage years but my adult life too. It still happens. Imagine calling your bank to straighten out an issue that has to be done over the phone and the person you are speaking with refuses to believe you are who you say you are. They thought by your name you were a man, but when they speak to you they are sure you are female and cannot be convinced otherwise. So they try every security question they can think of and after you answer all of them promptly and correctly, they reluctantly agree to speak with you, but remain skeptical you are who you say you are.

So when I see this commercial and I hear, “And I’m really high voice Peyton Manning and I have cable,” what I really hear is “And I’m faggot Peyton Manning and I have cable.” I don’t know how many of you watch NBC’s The Voice, but this season there is a male contestant named Jordan. He also has a high voice and during the blind auditions, everyone turned around and was shocked that he was a guy. Then they all said, especially Adam Levine, how important a contestant he was because he was so brave. I admire Jordan immensely for having the courage to stand up there knowing the judges would turn around and be shocked that he was a guy. I couldn’t have done it. Sadly, I don’t think he will make it far when America begins to vote because guys with high/effeminate/”gay” voices are discriminated against everyday. We constantly have our manhood questioned because we don’t have a deep voice. We are constantly discriminated because of it. We are made fun of by athletes and bullies, and now even on a national television commercial.
I find this commercial to be one of the most offensive, deplorable, insensitive, cruel, and insulting commercial that I have ever seen. DIRECTV has been called out before on these types of commercials, but they continue to make more of them. Who else will they be allowed to insult before they stop using these commercials? I find this one even worse because without saying it directly, it hits on two major stereotypes of gay men: that we have “gay voices” and we don’t like sports. After all, this is a commercial about NFL Sunday Ticket on DIRECTV. This commercial invites ridicule for those men who don’t have deep voices. DIRECTV should be ashamed of themselves for such a blatantly homophobic commercial. The sad thing is, I doubt DIRECTV nor Peyton Manning realize just how hurtful and insensitive this commercial is. They merely think it’s funny. There is nothing funny about condoning bullying and homophobia, directly or indirectly.


Man’s Best Friend 

  

I saw this on Wicked Gay Blog (one of my favorite blogs, so much interesting stuff) and had to share it. You can read it at the source at: http://www.wickedgayblog.com/2015/10/mans-best-friend-is-his-penis.html or you can read it below. I found it kind of interesting.

Man’s Best Friend

By Lawrence Pfeil, Jr.

Whoever called the dog, “man’s best friend” obviously never had a penis (aka dick, cock, pecker, wiener, joystick, schlong, man meat, tally whacker, John Thomas, and/or Schwanzstucker) because men embrace theirs from the get-go. Ultrasounds have shown male fetuses in the last trimester with in utero erections and tiny hands clutching on. By the time “the boys” drop around age 12 or 13 and the package is complete; and the once friendship has grown into a lifetime obsession filled with prowess and pride, comparisons, and above all pleasure. 

But what do we really know about every man’s penile pal? 

Let’s start at the beginning, which usually depends on your perspective i.e., if it’s your tool or someone else’s, but in this case the word itself. Penis, typically referring to the shaft, is Latin for “tail,” while testes (aka nads, balls, plumbs, rocks, and/or bollox) share the Latin root for “witness” which according to Dr. Steven Lamm, MD’s book. The Hardness Factor comes from the Roman law practice of a man holding his junk while “testifying” in court. (Or possibly it was just a way of distracting opposing counsel millennia before “Basic Instinct,” but the jury is still out.) 

Dr. Lamm also cites the men of Australia’s Walibri tribe who greet each other, by shaking Johnsons instead of hands. Apparently it’s not just gay men in America who enjoy this custom. Men the world over, whether ancient or modern, developed or primitive, all value taking matters into their own hands. 

As for the actual nuts and bolt, everyone “says” size isn’t important, unless of course you’re walking around naked in the locker room at the gym. FYI… gymnasium comes from the Greek word “gymnazo” meaning “to exercise naked” (yet another reason to go Greek). 

For most men, their left gonad hangs lower than the other. But in approximately 10% of men, the right one hangs lower, because they’re left-handed. Seriously, it’s a proven fact. But do the research, and if they’re wrong, it won’t be a waste of time finding out. 

It has been said, “God’s only design flaw in man is that He gave him two heads but only enough blood to use one or the other, but not both at the same time.” It’s hard to argue with that. Considering the average erection only requires about two to three tablespoons of blood, it doesn’t say much for the brain activity of most men when it’s channeled to the other head either. 

As for length, width, girth, circumference, cut/uncut, ethnic stereotypes, and grow-ers vs show-ers, no study, statistics, or evidence is going to change the perceptions and preferences of anyone. He’s your best friend who has been with you since the beginning and will be with you till the end. Who else can you say that about? So like anyone with you through thick and thin, you love him for his strengths as well as whatever his shortcomings may be because he is yours. 


Gaydar

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I saw this on HuffPost Gay Voices and found it pretty interesting.

Is Gaydar Real?
By Rebecca Adams

Academic studies can be fascinating… and totally confusing. So we decided to strip away all of the scientific jargon and break them down for you.

The Background

Whether or not “gaydar” — a supposed intuitive ability to identify gay people — is real, many people believe it’s possible to tell someone’s sexual orientation just by looking at them. The problem is, research (and anecdotal evidence) has found that gaydar tends to rely on stereotypical attributes — like the way someone dresses or how they style their hair — that don’t actually tell you anything about who someone’s attracted to. Gaydar, therefore, seems to legitimize these stereotypical myths, something that’s been shown to lead to prejudice and oppression. Unlike other forms of stereotypes, however, gaydar has seeped it’s way into popular culture, and it’s considered relatively harmless and socially acceptable.

In a new five-part study, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison set out to see if what they refer to as “the gaydar myth” is as “harmless” as some people may think or if it’s just a veiled method of perpetuating gay stereotypes.

The Setup

In the first study, participants looked at pictures of 55 gay men and 50 straight men’s faces selected from an online dating site. Each photo was rated for overall quality, from “very poor” to “excellent,” by a set of student raters before the study. Then, the researchers randomly paired the photos with a supposed descriptive statement about the person that was either gay-stereotypic (“He likes shopping.”), stereotype-neutral (“He likes to read.”) or straight-stereotypic (“He likes football.”). These weren’t actually applicable to the men in the photos, but participants didn’t know that. They were then instructed to determine whether or not the man in the photo was gay. For the second study, the researchers repeated the first study, but this time they only chose photos that were rated highest in quality from both the straight and gay men groups of photos.

Both the first and second studies found that when participants were given stereotypically gay personal statements with photos, they were much more likely to guess that the man in the photo was gay. Meaning: The pictures didn’t matter nearly as much as the stereotypes did.

The third study had participants categorize the same gay and straight men’s pictures without the accompanying stereotypic statements. The researchers found that people were more likely to assume men in higher quality photos were gay — they seemingly assumed gay men would take better photos. The fourth study replicated the third with women’s photos instead of men’s to see if the same was true for lesbians. Participants were unable to gauge sexual orientation simply by looking at a person’s face.

Finally, the researchers did their fifth study to determine whether or not gaydar serves as a legitimizing myth for these stereotypes. They gathered 233 undergraduate participants and divided them into three groups: one that would be told that gaydar is stereotyping, one that would be told that gaydar is real and one that would be given no information regarding gaydar. Participants then completed a modified version of the first study, using the same pictures and statements. This time, however, participants could refrain from guessing the person’s sexual orientation if they wanted.

The Findings

In the final study, participants’ answers depended on which group they were in. Those in the “gaydar is real” group tended to believe in gaydar more than the other groups, and people in the “gaydar is stereotyping” group believed in it less than the control group. In this final version of the study, it was easy to see that people didn’t assign sexual orientation simply because they were forced to choose — participants had a “no idea” option, yet they chose it “very infrequently,” according to the study.

As the researchers put it: “The evidence provided in Study 5 indicates that the folk concept of gaydar serves as a legitimizing myth, promoting stereotyping to infer orientation by giving that stereotyping process the alternate label of ‘gaydar.'” Basically, when people slap on a euphemism for stereotyping — in this case, “gaydar” — they feel free to judge groups of people by very limited parameters which legitimize societal myths. These findings build on past research about how stereotypes that seem plausible will likely lead to inaccurate assumptions.

The Takeaway

Taken at face value, the concept of gaydar may not seem like such a big deal, but there’s one big problem with stereotyping: It often leads to inaccurate conclusions. The researchers put it in terms of the “gay men like shopping” trope. If people assume gay men like shopping, that doesn’t mean that all men who like shopping are gay (or that all gay men like shopping). Not to mention, if gay men make up 1.8 percent of the male population in America, even if they’re ten times more likely to enjoy shopping, men who like shopping are still more likely to be straight — there are simply more men who identify as straight out there.

Perhaps the researchers put it best: “Whether people fit or violate their group’s stereotypes is immaterial to their value — we would hope that, rather than being judged or pressured based on the existence of a stereotype, people can be treated as individuals and judged on their own merit.” Amen.

The Closet Professor’s Conclusion

It seems to me that the study has two major flaws. First, it assumes that gaydar is purely visual and can be determined by a picture of a face. When my “gaydar” goes off, it’s more than just a picture of a face. It has to do with how he moves, how he talks, and basically, how he carries himself. The most sure fire way is to watch his eyes. If a hot guy walks by and his eyes follow, then he is probably gay, but if a hot girl walks by and his eyes follow her, then he is probably straight. You have to watch the eyes though, because head movements can be misleading, especially for someone in the closet.

Second, the study assumes that gaydar is something that heterosexual men possess. While I do think that some women possess gaydar, most straight men do not. Heterosexual men often use all kinds of bad stereotypes to identify gay men; however, gay men and some women use more subtle stereotypes to identify gay men. I do not dispute that a large part of gaydar is stereotyping, but I think gay men tend to be more careful with stereotyping and are more intuitive. Many gay men were stereotyped before they came out, so they aren’t as quick to judge others unfairly. That being said, I will postulate that wishful thinking does occasionally interferes with gaydar.

Finally, I think gaydar is possibly an evolutionary characteristic. Gay men have always existed, but we had to find one another. Historically, if a gay man hit on the wrong man, i.e. a straight man, then he might not survive the attempt. Therefore, I think along with the genetic code that makes us gay, we also have the ability to find one another. Then again, gaydar could be a complete myth built on stereotypes, but I think it is very real, some people just have better gaydar than others. I tend to think mine is pretty good.


Hard Times by Brandon Haynes

 

Hard Times
By Brandon Haynes

Growing up in hard times 
i’m always stuck with a struggle
Every since i can remember
i’ve been getting in trouble
If it wasn’t skipping school
or running from them boys in blue
then i was beating up the dudes
that i sold the dope too
Thats not a lifestyle that i choose to go through.
Trying to make money on the streets
while other hustlers compete
they wanna run us off the block
but theres no way we will retreat
but thats just everyday street life
now pass the peace pipe
So i can just blaze
while i pray for better days
& try to think of clever ways
that i can make the chedder stay
This life is just not right
i’m in debt
& i cant stop smoking on these damn cigarettes
whats happened in the past has got me livin with regrets
but everybody has hard times so try not stress
Lord, i must confess im doing my best to proceed
but the devil will possess
& he’s flexing on me
hes got me stuck
stuck between a rock and hard place
so i’m slanging this cocaine
so i can come up like scareface
& it makes my heart ache
that i stay stuck in this dark space
harsh days got me feeling like its time to part ways

I saw an article yesterday on Steve’s “All Natural & More” blog talking about casual gay prostitution.  The article was originally in Fusion’s online magazine.  In the article, Taryn Hillin writes about “The rise of the part-time gay prostitute.”  The article inspired me to look for a poem about hustlers, and I found the one above, “Hard Times” by Brandon Haynes, which seemed to fit well with this article. (I left the punctuation and capitalization just as it was, as much as it pained me to want to edit it.)  The article itself can be found at http://fusion.net/story/107376/part-time-male-gay-sex-work/ or by clicking the link above to Steve’s blog.  Here are a few excerpts from the article:

Over the past few years, more gay men have begun to sell sex on the side like it’s no big deal—and for these men, it’s not. The rise, according to researchers, can be traced to the explosion of social networking sites combined with a less-than-stable job market—along with increasingly permissive cultural views toward casual sex. 

“Previously, men had to go to an outdoor venue, work for an agency, or advertise in the back pages of magazines and phone books to sell sex, now they can do it right from their phone,” said Kevin Walby, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Winnipeg and author of Touching Encounters: Sex, Work, and Male-for-Male Internet Escorting.

*****

While casual sex workers’ primary motivation is earning extra cash, many also see the work as having larger value. They see it as a form of care work, akin to being a therapist or masseuse. 

“The way that these guys approach what they do is not strictly commercial. They do feel like they’re helping people,” Walby told Fusion. “Whether it’s psychological or physical, they talk about their work like occupational therapy or nursing.” 

Several men we spoke with said much of the work involves touching, hugging, and baths. Most of the clients don’t have time for a relationship, don’t have a lot of options in the love department for physical reasons (weight, age, disability), or simply haven’t come out yet—making open intimacy difficult for them. 

With this in mind, Walby said society’s perception of sex work as shameful is dated. “It’s bizarre that we don’t include anything sexual in approaches to care or therapy,” he said—“that we divorce sexual touching from the notion of healing and caring.” 

Numerous studies have indeed shown the health benefits of intimacy and cuddling. For men who are unable to get it in their “real lives” and not bothered by the transactional nature of the encounter, paying a couple hundred dollars for sex or intimate behavior can help fill a painful void. 

*****

Men’s sex work does, of course, come with risks, but it tends to be safer than women’s sex work. “The risk profile for women and transgender workers is more complicated,” said Walby. For example, it’s pretty standard that female escorts will visit clients with bodyguards—active female prostitutes are 18 times more likely to be murdered than the general population. 

Walby, who has also researched female sex workers, said that while many women feel empowered by their work, they also tend to be more afraid of potential repercussions. “In my research the women were definitely more worried about violence and more worried about stigmatization—if word got out, they seemed to feel it would be more damaging for their lives than the men did.” 

*****

While these casual sex workers aren’t shouting about their work from the rooftops, the men we spoke with said they aren’t burdened by feelings of worry, guilt, or shame. True, they aren’t telling their mothers (too personal) or bosses (for fear of discrimination or other repercussions), but they’re open about the work with close friends. 


Blurred Lines

In the early 1950s when the homophile movement (the early name for the gay rifts movement) began, the U.S. government didn’t differentiate between homosexual rights manifestos, gay erotica or dirty pictures. All were considered illegal, and using the postal service to distribute any of them could and did result in long prison sentences.
 
So perhaps it’s not surprising that pornographers, who had years of experience fighting those battles, were often prominent figures in the emerging homophile movement’s leadership. Jim Kepner, founder of the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, was a noted author of gay erotica. Hal Call, one of the first presidents of the Mattachine Society, the pioneering gay rights organization in San Francisco, was an adult film director and owner of the Adonis Bookstore.
 
Chuck Holmes made a fortune as the founder of the Falcon Studios, a wildly successful gay porn studio who was one of the first to switch from film to videocassette in the 1980s.  He later directed his fortune toward philanthropy, funding HIV/AIDS outreach programs, as well as San Francisco Community Center Project, Amnesty International, Global Green, Sierra Club, The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund and the Human Rights Campaign. He was also active in supporting political campaigns both locally in San Francisco, and at the national level.
In 2002, Holmes’ name was installed over the San Francisco LGBT Center, and public outrage was swift. Detractors called the move, which was in recognition of the late gay mogul’s $1 million bequest to the beleaguered center, “insane.”  The detractors feared it would only fuel right-wing allegations about the gay community’s obsession with sex. What those critics missed, and what continues to missed over a decade later, is the role pornographers like Holmes played in building the gay rights movement we know today.
 
In 2013, Equality Florida’s Tampa Steering Committee presented Jason Gibson, CEO and founder of Corbin Fisher, a leading “amateur” gay porn website, with its Service and Leadership Award.  The award honors an individual whose tremendous support has directly contributed to Equality Florida’s ability to break through to a new level of outreach and effectiveness in the effort to secure full equality for Florida’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
 
Corbin Fisher and Gibson gave more than $120,000 to Equality Florida in recent years, and employees have also contributed video editing and production skills to public service announcements. During the 2008 campaign seasons, Corbin Fisher assisted Equality Florida in developing a mobile voting website and provided legal services to the organization. These contributions continued even after Corbin Fisher moved its base of operations from Florida to Nevada in 2010.  Since arriving in Nevada, Corbin Fisher and Gibson have contributed more than $25,000 to local and national LGBT advocacy organizations, Las Vegas’ arts and culture community, and the city’s new gay and lesbian center. Beyond financial contributions to LGBT groups and non-profits, the company said it encourages activism and philanthropy among staff — all employees of the company are given paid time off to volunteer for charitable organizations, continuing its policy where charitable donations made by individual employees to non-profit groups are matched by the company.
Rather than be a liability, pornographers can provide a strategic advantage to the movement. They not only know the legal restrictions and how to get around them both then and now,  but the early gay pornographers had the money to fight the obscenity battles that cleared the way for greater discussions of sexuality. Pornographers were the advance troops of our sexual revolution.
 
Homophile organizations like Mattachine and Daughters of Bilitis had publications, of course, but their reach was miniscule compared to that of “posing strap” magazines like Physique Pictorial and Tomorrow’s Man. It wasn’t political tracts, but pornography that provided most gay men with their first connection to — and awareness of — a larger gay culture.  The same exists today with the internet, though the GLBT community is presented more in the mainstream media as well.
 
From the early days of gay liberation, porn has been embraced as a vital part of our cultural fabric. The very first issue of The Advocate celebrated a court victory won by two pornographers, Conrad Germain and Lloyd Spinar, who had faced 145 years in prison for sending nudes through the mail, on its front page. Gay sexuality was dangerous and subversive, and any chance to speak it, explicitly or otherwise, was a strike for freedom and visibility.
 
And at a time when mainstream media portrayed homosexuals as pathological, depressive and criminal, porn offered a sunny alternative. We might scoff at porn theaters now, but looking up at that screen, a closeted man could see a promise of gay life that was open and positive, with larger-than-life men who were bold and unashamed in ways he might only aspire to be.
For those who lived outside city centers, that same promise came in the form of mail-order magazines and 8mm loops, which was Chuck Holmes’ business. As the owner of the legendary Falcon Studios, Holmes had the widest reach of the early pornographers, and he was vocal about creating imagery that would make gay men feel proud of their sexuality. For tens of thousands of closeted customers in small towns across the country, those Falcon films were the “It Gets Better” videos of their day.
 
Pornographers contributed in thousands of other ways, of course — by funding the movement directly, by lending resources and distribution, by educating audiences about safer sex during the AIDS crisis, and by lending their mailing lists to fledgling organizations like the Human Rights Campaign Fund. Holmes served on the HRC’s Board of Directors.
 
But as the movement moved more into the mainstream, adult filmmakers were less and less welcome; their contributions pushed back into the closet. Checks, literally and metaphorically, were returned. Despite his tireless work on behalf of gay and progressive causes, only in recent years have pornographers been welcomed with open arms as Jason Gibson has been.
 
Some of you may see this history as a black eye on the movement, something that will hurt us in political fights over issues like marriage. I believe detractors and anti-gay politicians will always find something to hurt us until attitudes across America change enough that homophobic comments will only hurt those who say them.  If we allow our sexuality to be a source of shame, and hide our history to appease our critics, we’re not nearly as out or proud as we think we are.

“Stay weird. Stay different”

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Last night I watched the Oscars. I usually don’t, and I have to say, they were a bit dull and disappointing. I expected better of Neil Patrick Harris as the host, but he does a much better job with the Tonys. I thought that the most elegant speech of the night was that of Julianne Moore for Best Actress. I think Moore is a classy lady and she showed just how classy the Oscars can be.

However, the best speech of that night was by Graham Moore. Moore won Best Adapted Screenplay for “The Imitation Game,” and he used the win to give a powerful speech about suicide awareness and depression.

“I tried to commit suicide at 16 and now I’m standing here,” he said. “I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she doesn’t fit in anywhere. You do. Stay weird. Stay different, and then when it’s your turn and you are standing on this stage please pass the same message along.”

I was that weird and awkward kid when I was sixteen. I even tried to commit suicide, and I thank God each and every day that I was not successful. I may not have the life I’d expected to have, but it’s not over yet. There are many teenagers, especially gay teenagers, who have faced depression and attempted suicide. Sadly, far too many are successful. We have to make this world a better place so that teenagers who face depression and suicidal thoughts can understand that the world is a better place. The phrase “It gets better!” may be a bit cliche these days, but it really is true. It does get better.

On Saturday afternoon, I went to see “The Imitation Game.” If you’re not familiar with the movie, it is about the life and achievements of the late Alan Turing, the British mathematician and cryptanalyst who helped solve the Enigma code during World War II. After the war he was prosecuted for homosexuality in Britain and died by suicide in 1954 at 41 years old. I’ve written about Turing before on this blog, and this movie was a great movie. I honestly thought it deserved much more recognition than it received last night. If you haven’t seen it, I hope you will.


Why I Went Back, Why I Stay…For Now

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Since I began this blog, I have always posted a poem every Tuesday. This week will be different. I will post the poem that I had ready for today, tomorrow. I’m doing this because I wanted to address a few things about my post yesterday. I would have answered these things in a comment or two, but there was a lot I wanted to say, more than I wanted to leave in a comment. I want to thank everyone for their comments and for reading what I wrote, but I think a few things were misunderstood.

First, let me make it very clear that I was not attempting to have a pity party. Yes, when I wrote that I was in a very depressive mood, and I was extremely worried about an event that had occurred and been on my mind. I often deal with those issues by either talking them out, or writing about them. This time, I chose to write about being in the closet on my blog. It’s my prerogative to be able to do so. I apologize if it sounded like I was whining. However, I wanted it to be in writing what it was like for me personally to be in the closet. Many times I find that by writing about an aspect of my life, others can identify, and maybe for some it makes them feel better about their own situation to know that their own life is either better than someone else’s, or to realize that they are not alone. This blog is about all things gay, and it is my way of stating how I fit into that world and to put forth my knowledge of the gay world, however limited that might be.

Second, it was said that I was overly hyperbolic when I wrote, “Being in the closet is one of the most humiliating, degrading, and torturous things I can imagine.” First of all, I said “one of the most,” I realize there are many other life circumstances that fall under that category. However, I do believe that being forced to live a closeted life is a demeaning life. People live closeted lives for many different reasons. I have my own reasons, and while there are things I could do to change those circumstances, right now the cost would be too high. Furthermore, before returning to Alabama, I lived an out and proud life. I did not care who knew I was gay, nor did I care what they thought. Those circumstances changed when I moved back.

Also, as it was pointed out, I’m a 37 year-old man who has never been married and loves poetry and literature. My sexuality is an open secret. Gay men who have lived in larger more metropolitan areas may not understand the full dynamics of what that means. People may suspect, they may “know,” but they can ignore it and merely snicker and gossip behind your back as long as they do not have proof. Once they have proof, then they cannot ignore the facts, and they will decide to act and most will act negatively.

You might ask then, “Why the hell did you move back to Alabama?” One word: MONEY. I was a graduate student, and I was at the limits of my finances. I believed at the time that I had three choices. I could continue working a meaningless job and continue to be non-productive with my dissertation; I could find a teaching job that would pay enough for me to finish my research; or I could move home with my parents, finish my dissertation, and save some money.

The first option was not possible because my job did not pay enough for me to continue living over there and get a new apartment that I needed because my lease was up and my home was being rented to a family member of my landlord. I worked extremely hard for the second option; however, after more than forty applications and several interviews, the economy bottomed out, and all but two of the jobs I applied for, cancelled their job searches. In the case of one of those jobs I applied for, they had posted the wrong job description and when I was interviewed it became readily apparent that the job I’d applied for was no longer the job being offered. That left me, with what I believed at the time to be my only choice: move home.

It was supposed to be for one year as I finished my dissertation and looked for a job. Little did I realize that my graduate advisor would take a job elsewhere, and I would be stuck with a graduate advisor that neither believed in my research project nor believed in me. He consistently did everything to hold back any progress on my degree. My own bouts with depression over what I felt was my own failure in addition to living with my parents again, did not help the situation. However, I continued to pursue jobs elsewhere, all while realizing (remembering) why I’d worked so hard to get away from home in the first place. I do not get along with my father, not in the least, and my mother thinks I’m an abomination for being gay and pretends that conversation never existed. I had thought we had each matured to an understanding that we could all live with. I was wrong. After application after application was sent through the local post office, the local postmaster stopped me one day to tell me that the local private school was hiring. Unlike all of the other places I applied for, they were thrilled to have me, so I took the job.

My new job basically paid peanuts and my financial situation worsened considerably, especially after moving out of my parents’ house. For the first time in a year, I had some freedom. Money continues to be what holds me back. I cannot afford to quit my job, and I can barely afford to keep it. I realize now that I made a terrible mistake moving back to Alabama, but it’s too late to change that now. What is left is to attempt to escape again. If you have ever been deeply in debt, barely treading water, and drowning little by little, then you may understand the depths of my despair. It has been suggested that I just leave my job, move elsewhere, and force myself to land on my feet, but when circumstances keep going against me, and it seems like every decision I make is a bad one, there does not seem much hope at the end of the tunnel. I am forced, for now, to keep my job and hope that as I continue to send in application after application to other places, one of those places might hire me. Teaching jobs may be abundant in many places, but if you were to pay attention, the teaching positions in demand are not social studies or English positions. So, I continue putting in applications. I have applied to positions across the country and even some beyond, so geography is not an issue for me. I will go where a job takes me. Until one of those schools or colleges hires me, I feel trapped. And before anyone asks if I have considered non-teaching positions, be assured that I am looking at all avenues for which I am qualified, but teaching is my passion.

Furthermore, I do not blame my current circumstances on anyone but myself. I am merely attempting to explain and not make excuses. However, because I have a precarious situation, not all of which I am willing to outline on this blog, I do feel that my statement of “Being in the closet is one of the most humiliating, degrading, and torturous things I can imagine,” is an accurate statement. Maybe I should have said instead that being poor, drowning in debt, and in the closet after previously being out and open are a few of the most humiliating, degrading, and torturous things I can imagine, and I do live that everyday. To at one time have my freedom and have it yanked out from under me due to a series of unfortunate events, some of which I was all too willing to do to myself, is very disheartening. I made mistakes, and I am addressing those mistakes and making progress. I will be the first to admit my mistakes and believe that we pay for those mistakes. My job is currently my security, and trust me when I say that if I were out, I’d lose my job. It might not be the reason they found for getting rid of me, but they would find a reason.

Finally, let me make it clear, I am not looking for your pity. This is my fault. I will find a way out of my current situation. It will take time, but it will get better. Of that, I have no doubt; God does have a plan for me and it does not include this current torture. It’s just a detour through the briar patches. I may get a few scrapes and scratches, but I’ll make it to the other side. On that day, I will rejoice, but until then, I will trudge through using every resource available to me to overcome the obstacles in my way.