Let’s Talk About (Gay) Sex. Or Not.

Amsterdaym 1959 Rijksmuseum photo by uair01

JJ Vincent realizes we still live in a (relatively) heteronormative society. And all he wants is a place at the table to talk about the stuff guys talk about.

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How many times have you hung out with your buddies, talking about women you’ve seen, women you’ve flirted with, the ones who got away, women you’ve done, women you haven’t done, their physical attributes, the body parts you like, the ones you don’t, the ones you wish you’d done, the ones you with you’d done more. Just guy talk, right? Still going, still talking, and then your buddy across from you says, “Yeah, she sounds like this guy I saw last night, best ass ever, perfectly round, tight, man, he was hot!”

What would you do if you heard this? Think about it for a moment. I’m not going to answer for you.

Now imagine you knew he was gay. Does your answer change?

Another time, you’re in a mixed group, men and women, attached and single, talking about your first times. The stories are all over the board, some funny, some cringe-worthy, some just sort of sad. And one guy adds, “Oh, the first time I went down on a guy, I was so worried I was going to bite him or choke or something.” Several of the women nod and laugh.

What do you think you would do? What would the other guys do?

And this weekend, you are going to a wedding with your wife. It’s for your wife’s yoga instructor and his soon-to-be-husband. She’s already told you that there’s going to be a lot of gay guys there. Fine with you. During the toast, the best man asks if they have a king-sized bed for their wedding night, because they are going to need it. The grooms raise their glasses and the room laughs.

What do you do? What do you want to do?

♦◊♦

The last scenario is by far the most realistic. The first two are pretty much pure fantasy. A gay man joining in the “sex chat” with straight men is pretty rare. It’s generally assumed that straight men, no matter how open-minded they seem, are squicked out by gay sex. If you’re not, that’s awesome. Too often, it’s the elephant in the room. Gay men, gay friends are ok as long as no one talks about what they are doing. The straight guy(s) may not mind seeing two men sit close, or hold hands, or maybe even kiss…a little. But bring gay sex into their reality, and comfort level changes rapidly.

So most of us don’t talk about it. It’s just another chunk of our lives that we spend in a language and place of exclusion. It’s much more subtle than open discrimination. And you don’t even have to talk about it  to make people uncomfortable. If you’re around a bunch of straight guys, chances are at least one of them is hoping and praying you don’t say anything. I’m not going to call it homophobia. It’s not that they are scared of gay men, or dislike them. They just don’t want to think about what they do, or be perceived as being gay themselves based on their response.

IF they think about it at all. IF.

The vast majority of our language and interactions are hetero-centric, no matter how enlightened or noble we try to be. Popular media is hetero-centric. Sports, ditto. In news, unless the story is about a protest, a victory, or a victim, gays are largely absent. Hetero husbands and wives are mentioned, same-sex ones, not so much. Entertainment is the one place where there’s near-parity, but it’s also the one realm where a person can be out, reporters can report on it, and no one really cares anymore.

Our workplaces and conversations, hetero-centric. If you are a man with a ring, people will generally ask about your wife. Medical settings, your contact is assumed to be your wife, maybe your girlfriend. Educational settings, same. No ring? Unless you have adopted mannerisms that make your orientation stereotypically clear, you’d better believe someone will want to set you up with a woman they know, or a friend of their significant other. Set the record straight in any of these situations, and everything may be fine…but there will be an awkward few seconds while the other party figures out what to say (“Oh, that’s cool…I have lots of gay friends.” is a common comeback). Maybe they’ll try to bolster their “gay-friendly” credentials with the gays they’ve known, or the celebrities they like, or the drag show they once went to. Maybe they’ll shrug and the conversation will continue on. Maybe it will be a full-stop.

♦◊♦

I’m not asking straight guys to stop talking about sex. It’s a topic of conversation, maybe not one we should be proud of, but it is. Would it be nice if people were less objectified? Yes. Am I saying that gay men don’t talk like this? No. We do. I’ll admit it.

What I am asking is that you guys who cringe, visibly or not, when the gay at the table talks, knock it off. Please.

We endure the language of exclusion every day. We know how to be silent. We know how to listen to stories that, quite frankly, make some of us want to gag.

All we ask for is a voice at the table. To mention that kiss from our boyfriend that made our lips melt. To mention the guy who flirted with us on the bus. To talk about the things that average guys do, around average guys, without worrying about someone getting that deer-in-the-headlights look, or looking at us like we’re something on the bottom of their shoe. We’re not trying to shock you. We’re not trying to flirt with you.

Sometimes, we just want to be as “average” as everyone else.

Image: Amsterdam 1959 Rijksmuseum / uair01 / flickr

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About JJ Vincent

JJ Vincent is a 40-year-old guy who lives in north Alabama...by choice. He is a graphic designer and multi-crafter who is equally fond of knitting and NASCAR and bakes wicked good chocolate chip cookies.

Comments

  1. Hi JJ,

    I really appreciate this post; thanks for writing it! I agree that heteronormatiivity can unfortunately put a limit on what is or what feels permissible in conversations. However, I have a reaction to the notion of “adopting” mannerisms based on orientation. While some folks may consciously take on behaviors to be consistent (or inconsistent) with others view them, I think that for other people, the mannerisms are just part of their authentic gender expression, not a role they are trying to play. Hope that makes sense and I am open to further dialogue ;)

    • JJ Vincent says:

      Hi, Sem. Regarding mannerisms, yep, I’ve got some of them. A recent acquaintance said he loved how I talked, that it went perfectly with my hands (which do a lot of fluttering and flapping). It had never occurred to me that my diction and intonation could be described as “fluttering and flapping”, which is much kinder than the usual “totally flaming”.

      I think that for a lot of people, the mannerisms are just there, else how do you explain the number of common traits between men raised with an awareness of stereotypical gay men and those raised with minimal or no exposure. Or the reverse, gay men raised in gay meccas with no “mannerisms” at all.

      In the heteronormative world, I’m not interested in giving the intimate details of “things”. I’m not really interested in doing that in ANY world. I don’t think most of us are. But to not be able to share even PG details is a little sad.

  2. Great article… Reminds me of when my husband and I were playing cards one night after dinner with his family… Parents, brother and his wife, plus a cousin and her boyfriend… Things were getting rowdy and the two younger women responded to their men’s competitive play with “Don’t think you’re getting any later!” To everyone’s amusement…. Later in the game, when my husband said the same to me there was an absolute and uncomfortable silence. We laughed about it later, and still do…. But it was still a reminder of the line that exists.

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