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#203263 - 02/02/08 11:08 PM To me, being gay means .........
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA
In a recent thread I commented on how child abuse has nothing to do with homosexuality and a gay friend here, Raul (rcm), took my comment to mean I thought that a guy is gay as a matter of choice. I tried to explain that this isn't what I meant at all, but the disagreement seemed to continue. Anyway, it got lost in the larger issues of that thread and just disappeared.

Some of you may also have seen the discussions I have had with Jarrad, David (memoryvault) and a few other guys in the books and films forum about the film Mysterious Skin. One point I raised was my doubt that Neil, the central character, is gay, even though the author of the book, Scott Helm, and the director of the film, Gregg Araki, certainly want him to be seen as gay. How that discussion went you can check out if you are interested, but what struck me about the whole thing was that my views on the film seems so absolutely wrong to some gay friends whom I really respect.

It occurred to me that perhaps my view of "gay" is too sexual. That is, perhaps I am placing too much emphasis on sexual behavior when I look at or think about gays and what it means to them to be gay. This comes up again now, because for a book I am writing about the way CSA is portrayed in world cinema, I have just finished the chapter on the film Eban and Charley, and again, I don't see one of the central characters (Eban) as gay. Or at least, what is offered on the screen doesn't show me a gay character.

I have never had problems relating to gays or lesbians, but though I do know that being gay has to do with more than sex, gay identity has always seemed to me to revolve around issues of sexual behavior, just by definition. But clearly that's being too cold and analytical.

Hence my question to gay survivors here: What does it mean to you to be gay, other than the obvious point of who one has sex with? I could probably come up with some answers by myself, but they would be the responses of a guy who isn't gay. Wouldn't it be better, I thought, to refer to the guys for whom this is an issue of how they live their lives and what they want and strive for?

So here you go: What does it mean to you to be gay?

Much love,
Larry

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#203282 - 02/03/08 02:27 AM Re: To me, being gay means ......... [Re: roadrunner]
Jarrad Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/27/06
Posts: 1071
Loc: arizona
there are a lot of layers to that question. yes, the obvious answer is being gay is about sex. how we have sex. its not exactly easy to describe. like, how you would describe being straight excluding sex. i could rattle off the normal things.. the feeling i get when i see a hot guy.. the excitment of being twitterpated, but that is no different than being straight. i just feel it about a guy. but then there is the whole community thing. like, being gay is a exclusive club that not everyone can join. and if you can, than you are part of something bigger. a group of the most couragous men. i could go on and rant on the history of homosexuals, the prosecution, the "mental diease," the "gay plague" but i will spare you. because of all that, gay guys have this built in sense of community and pride. being 24 i have not lived through the harder "gay" times, but its still part of me. i guess what i am trying to say, i always feel like i am part of something bigger.

we extend beyond the sterotypes. we aren't all the hair stylist and the interior decorators. we dont have lisps. we dont all have large amounts of sex. since you mentioned how csa is portrayed in cinema, gay guys have their own representation. typically, gay guys are the comic relief. rarely showing sex. rarely showing how we love. more like dancing smiling eunichs stripped of sexuality entirely. and since the mass population sees these films, gay guys get put in this small box. so being on the outside of the group, you dont really get the full spectrum of who we are, how we live, how we love.

if your strip away the community. strip away everythign and isolate a gay relationship, it really doesn't differ fundementally from a straight one. the only difference is that we are the same sex. we date. we have movie night. we argue about leaving the cap off the toothpaste.

there was an article in times last issue about love. it was divided into categories. why we flirt, famouse couples, animal love. etc. and one of them was "are gay relationships differnt."
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1704660,00.html
check it out. it's worth a read.


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#203298 - 02/03/08 07:32 AM Re: To me, being gay means ......... *DELETED* [Re: roadrunner]
krayoss Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/18/01
Posts: 112
Loc: west
Post deleted by krayoss


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#203318 - 02/03/08 11:01 AM Re: To me, being gay means ......... [Re: krayoss]
MagRaith Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/24/07
Posts: 69
Loc: Salt Lake City, UT
Larry -

I completely agree with Jarrad and Krayoss - there really is no difference in my mind between gay and straight except who you are sexually attracted to. I don't fit a gay "stereotype" (or so I'm told) in fact even in groups of gay men most assume I am straight (also been told many times). I like sports, I like art - lots of diverse interests that are not defined by being gay. I have three kids from the time when I tried to be straight (big mistake) so really from any perspective the only difference I see between myself and so called straight men is that I am not sexually attracted to women. Never have been, never will be.

When I read your post, my thought was - Tell me what it means to be straight, write it out, then substitute the word "gay" for "straight" - men for women. Its the same.

To answer your question "what does it mean to be gay" beyond the sexual attraction issue - I would answer (1) fundamentally, the same thing it means to you to be straight, living life, building a family, having hobbies and interests, etc. (2) the only complication is that, different from straight men, we deal with homophobia, people who hate us for being who we are - so we have the added complication of being ignorantly judged, unfairly hated, persecuted, discriminated against, ridiculed by outrageous and inaccurate stereotypes in films and other media, etc.

As Jarrad said, this could be a very complicated issue but really in my mind it can be as simple as what I have said. At least this is my opinion and experience.

Kurt


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#203320 - 02/03/08 11:18 AM Re: To me, being gay means ......... [Re: MagRaith]
froggy12 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/12/06
Posts: 527
Loc: Marlboro, MA 01752
Ditto Kayross. By the way, asshole is non-sexist, most folks have one.

froggy

_________________________
??

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#203330 - 02/03/08 12:29 PM Re: To me, being gay means ......... [Re: krayoss]
LandOfShadow Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 684
Loc: Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
Actually, since jarred did do so well, I'll just add a little perspective of mine to the "our gay relationships are really no different that straight relationships..." by saying that in a lot of ways, I feel NOW (having had 25 years to get used to the idea) that being gay is kind of largely defined by the way straight people see us as "different". It's the minority experience to have to completely adapt to the majority culture, so I feel partly different as gay because I have to deal so much with people who seem to fundamentally see me as "different". I always wonder what they think, but I can't get people to really say. I think they just accept I'm different and don't think about it. There's very few ways I feel I truly different.

_________________________
Et par le pouvoir d’un mot Je recommence ma vie, Je suis né pour te connaître, Pour te nommer
Liberté

And by the power of a single word I can begin my life again, I was born to know you, to name you
Freedom

Paul Eluard

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#203331 - 02/03/08 12:30 PM Re: To me, being gay means ......... [Re: MagRaith]
Lazarus Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 07/01/07
Posts: 851
Loc: Below the radar, USA
What does it mean to be gay? Larry, you always ask the most interesting questions...

I could say it's only about sex; the fact that I prefer having sex with men rather than women is a big part of why I am who I am. Personally, that preference may be derived from some sort of phychosis; I am afraid of women in general, I don't trust them, I don't understand them and I find it very hard to relate to them. Perhaps there is something in my past that caused me to feel that way. I was married to a woman for 21 years and I never really understood or related to her. A guy I can understand, I know where he's coming from and I pretty much know what to expect from his actions and reactions. Did my ex-wife turn me gay? No, but she definately added to my stigma against relationships with women.

Did my abuser make me gay? Probably not, but there is the distinct possibility that he made being gay acceptible to me, in the long run. It was definately because of him that the first significant love of my life was another boy. And if I was not gay to start with he gave me the impression that gay was OK. (I didn't realize that my abuse WAS abusive until many years later). I considered myself bisexual for many many years, and switched back and forth between gay and straight so often everybody was confused. Sexuality is a sliding scale, and since I didn't have the stigma that only straight sex was acceptible, (and I agree with Kayross that 'straight' as opposed to 'twisted' is derogatory, so what else is new...) I was free to explore both worlds. In that regard, living a gay lifestyle WAS a choice for me.

A lot of the stereotypes about gay men are, in fact, true - not to all gay men, but most gay men fit some of the stereotypes - queer eye types, artsey, screaming queens... and also sensitive, nurturing, socially conscious men who aren't afraid NOT to be Macho all the time. However, these terms describe almost as many straight men as it does gay men. What you won't find very often in the gay community are the kinds of men I really don't care for either; crass, insensitive, beer-swilling sports fanatics who would rather shoot some furry creature than photograph it. I have never met a gay man like that, and I hope I never do.

There's a lot of community among gays because of our shared discrimination. There is also a lot of phychosis in 'gayland' (as Jarrad calls it) for the same reason. It's not hard to understand why some gays are militantly anti-establishment because 'the establishment' has treated them poorly for many years. That tide is turning, however and I'm glad to see it. When who you love is no longer a stigma, many more people will lead happier, healthier lives.

Gay men are also more promiscuous than straights as a rule, because for gay men there are so many more opportunities for sex. You'll never find a woman in a bathhouse, unless she's a spectator or an accomplice for a gay man. That's not to say that straight men wouldn't be just as promiscuous as gay men IF they had the opportunity... how many straight guys will fuck anything that walks if given the chance? That's also probably why a lot of straight guys have annonymous sex with gay guys - maybe it's not their first choice, but it's more easily available. Gays don't have as many inhibitions as straights; if we meet someone we are attracted to, we're more likely to bring him home and share him than to have an extra-relationship affair.

I am lucky enough to be one of the NEW stereotypical gay men; monogamously coupled, kids, house in the suburbs, identical to any straight family with the exception that we are two guys instead of a man and a woman. We are as stable (if not more stable) than any straight couple I know. We are moderately active in the community, both straight and gay, and we go to work, pay our taxes and live normal lives. The good news for gay men in particular and all of society in general is that it's been a long time since anybody has shown us any negativity because of our being gay. My kids school even let us chaperone a school field trip, knowing full well our situation. We have come a long way, baby.

So let's say that I emote with other gay men better than I do with women and to me that is more important than sex. I am active in trying to get equal treatment in society, but I'm not militant about it. I sing in the Gay Men's Choir, I'm a Court Appointed Special Advocate for abused and neglected children, and I work in construction. I'm so far out of the closet that I don't even remember where the light switch is, and everybody in my life knows who I am, but I don't wear it on my sleve. It's really a non-issue in who I am.

To me, being gay means very little. It's just who I am. I'm far more discriminated against because I'm a smoker. Being gay impacts almost every part of my life, but not in a bad way. I have grey hair, blue eyes and a wonderful husband and kids. I'm more comfortable in my own skin than I ever was as a 'straight' man.

Respectfully submitted,

Lazarus

_________________________
"That which does not kill us, surely makes us stonger." - Neitsche

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#203332 - 02/03/08 12:40 PM Re: To me, being gay means ......... [Re: Lazarus]
Dude. Offline
Guest

Registered: 01/26/08
Posts: 106
Loc: USA
Lazarus, you were married to a woman?


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#203338 - 02/03/08 12:59 PM Re: To me, being gay means ......... [Re: Dude.]
Lazarus Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 07/01/07
Posts: 851
Loc: Below the radar, USA
Yes, Dude. I was married to her for 7 years, divorced her and lived with a guy for 4 years, remarried her for another 9 years and divorced her again. Kinda weird, eh? You can read the whole sordid story in Survivor Stories if you look back a year or so.

Weirder still is the fact that she and I are now good friends. We both help each other as much as we can. The basis for our marriage was the children, but the basis for our friendship goes well beyond that.

Lazarus

P.S. No offense intended, but I find it interesting that you are reading in the Gay Forum. I didn't think it would interest you at all...

_________________________
"That which does not kill us, surely makes us stonger." - Neitsche

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#203339 - 02/03/08 01:01 PM Re: To me, being gay means ......... [Re: Lazarus]
Jarrad Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/27/06
Posts: 1071
Loc: arizona
kryoss, you bring up a good point about lesbians. when i think of "my community" it has little to do with lesbians. they have their own and i only see them during gay pride. well thats a little exagerated but, over all, gay guys don't really get along with lesbians. we are like polar opposites. the community itself is divided into pockets. gay. lesbian. trans. bi. all have thier nieche. then they are subdivided. for the gay group, you can divide it in a number of ways. butch. fem. tops. bottoms. leather daddies. bears. cubs. otters. poz. neg. queens. twinks. club kids. gym bunnies. tools. each little sub group is part of the whole.

i think for me, the whole idea of community is so important. my parents, back in the day, didnt like the idea of having a gay HIV+ teen living in their house so i was kicked out. the community then became my family. i finally learned what a family should be like. there is a support stucture set up so when shit happens, you have someplace to go. of course, its not all sunshine and rainbows in gayland. we still have the fair share of shit, politics, random gay bashings, unequality.. but it's still a family. i honestly wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the community. i have mooched off of so many programs they offer. housing. rehab. medical treatment. grants for school. eventually i will be in a position to give back, which i think its part of the cycle.


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