NO SHADE REQUIRED – Youth, Entitlement and the Dance of the Sexes
A random generalization…
Author’s Note: Okay, apologies – I’m all over the map on this one – it’s more of a stream of consciousness… sorry!
This one is both historical in reference as it is in the moment. It has to be. There is no other way to deal with what I want to explore here. It has to have context and only time will provide that.
Primarily because it deals with time. It deals with aging.
And before we get started let me be clear – it is (as I clearly state above) a generalization. I am completely aware and cop to the fact that there are anomalies within the spectrum of youth that don’t adhere to this generalization I am commenting on – either they’ve been brought up to respect the value of age or they just don’t feel the need to express their ideas and opinions when they clearly don’t have the life experience to back it up.
This was born from a post from Instinct Magazine that hit my FaceBook account this AM. The original Instinct Mag article can be found here.
Now, admittedly my first reaction was to do a stupid knee-jerk response and go all postal on their ass – succinctly demonstrated by one such responder to the story by posting a fairly accurate summation of my in the moment response:
It all stems from what seems (on the surface) to be a carefully metered expression of why this certain boy (and in this case I am using the term deliberately) decided to make his point about those of his age bracket and how immature they are only to subvert his argument that the older men who congregated or patronized the local gay bars or clubs as ghosts of their former selves – the Peter Pan Syndrome is the term he cites. Needless to say his youthful myopic observations were completely colored by his youth striving to rise above his own at the expense of those who came before him.
You can read his original post here.
While I believe I understand what he is saying, he doesn’t realize that by using older (gay) men who seek a life outside of the clubs as the ideal progression, he completely undermines it with a rampant disrespect of other’s freedoms or those who have paid the social price (something his generation NEVER had to deal with on the scale we older cats have) and therefore he feels an entitlement to take what he perceives is his turf and scold those who aren’t “moving on” to “better” things in life.
Many men have commented on this posting and it has created a social media shit-storm both within and external to the community.
While I think it’s admirable that he is willing to cop to the fact that life beyond the clubs is the end goal for achieving a degree of personal success in life, it is by no means the barometer for how we choose to express what is success for any of us – whether it be individual or as a greater community.
Secondly, the myopic expression of how the men who are in the clubs past 30 are ghosts of their former youthful selves is both ludicrous in the extreme as it is laughable that he even pretended to use it as a sound footing to begin his position.
You see sweetie, as Edina Monsoon would say (and if you don’t know who she is then your pop-culture refs need some brushing up), age happens to all of us. There’s no escaping it. You’d do well to embrace it because the only way to stop it in its tracks is to die young. And that’s not really a viable option, or at least, it shouldn’t be.
The folly of youth is that once they achieve the blessed state of adulthood, eschewing their teen years and the awkward expressions of emotions that clouded them as they struggled to establish who they were going to be, they seem to think that that act (in and of itself) has earned them something that they can postalize to the greater (and decidedly more aged) community.
To put it bluntly – as my mother says – Kid, you ain’t old enough to know how to wipe your ass correctly let alone talk about things you have no business talking about. Yeah, mom can be like that. She is very good about kicking you in the rubber parts to knock you down a peg or two.
But to understand this, you’d have to know something about my past. You see, in my house the family dinner table was ground zero for debate and discussion.
Nothing was sacred.
We talked about it all. From the weather, to relationships, to sex and yes even the topic of shit came up once that ended in a hysterical fit of laughs to where dinner had almost grown cold before we could finish. You don’t want to know how that one got started… it’s innocuous enough as a discussion of linguistics was the topic of debate but then devolved rather quickly to the evolution of the word shit. It started there.
Why did I take you down that dark and scat laden road of my youth? Because I wanted you to know that my parents withheld nothing. Not a damned thing. If we asked, and it was in earnest, then we got an answer – straight up. My parents were strong proponents of knowledge at all costs. In that I learned a very valuable lesson: my elders did know a thing or two about life.
Did I take their advice at every turn? Hell no. I was a teenager for fuck’s sake. We teens are driven to separate from our parents only to try like hell to ally ourselves with another group our age where we can blend in and become just like them. Seriously, sometimes I wonder how any of us make it through our teen years (I guess the reverse is that some of us sadly don’t). I lament these lost souls – probably far more than it’s healthy for me to do so.
I remember being boastful with what I’d learned in life as I had conversations with others. But here is the rub – here is what separates me from the guy who posted this drivel of an argument – I was fully willing and able to pick up my stick I’d put in the sand on any given topic and be willing to move it once I had new information that bore contemplation and reflection. That came from my elders. The ability to step back from my own youthful exuberance and to listen, truly listen, to what was being given to me by my elders.
The “gay community” (I often use the term with implied air quotes because I feel we haven’t really reached a communal level yet – we still bicker and pick and throw shade upon our own when we get enough of that from the conservative segment of the hetero-normative quadrant) is not much of one. We’d do well to embrace and take care of our own. We’re down enough in many people’s eyes – no need to do it ourselves. Though sadly, we do. This article from this well intentioned but maligned young man, as highlighted by Instinct Magazine, points to that fact.
So on one hand I commend this misguided young man for holding to an ideal. BUT it is in the expression of how he sees the path to it as the definition of success on the backs of his elder brethren, those that have paid a price to society for the freedoms he takes for granted, that shows his lack of maturity that only years and experience can supply. Say nothing that he is trying to apply the hetero-normative standard as the benchmark of success. Believe me, there are many hetero counterparts that have no business being in the business of breeding and having families. Though sadly, they do and they fail spectacularly. Sometimes, news worthy and epically so.
Ya know, I never thought I’d get to the age where I could look back and see what asinine things I got up to thinking I knew better only to look back on them now and face palm my youthful self. But I have oodles and oodles of fucked up moments in my past. Years and years of it to draw on and say I learned. I got by. Perhaps this young man will one day look back with a face-palm moment of his own. In that, he will grow and mature immensely.
My mother has a head of silver hair. When it first started to come in she used to color it. Pushing back on it’s advancing sign of age creeping in on her. Then she had a sudden (well, it seemed sudden to me, anyway) change and let it all go grey. I asked her why she was no longer coloring it. I thought she’d say that it grew tiresome to keep chasing that youthful rabbit. But no, you’d have to know my mother, she has a unique way of looking at things that truly astounds me from time to time.
She’s a bitty thing, but her wisdom is monumental and often knocks me on my butt time and again. So when I asked her why she wasn’t coloring her hair she said,
“I just realized that my grey hair wasn’t something to be ashamed of. I call them my trophies. They let the world know I survived, and I earned every single one of them.”
Yeah, I needed to take a page out of that book, I’ll tell ya.
It’s something I try to impart to my granddaughter. Learn from our pasts to get ahead where and when you can. I think she gets it. My granddaughter can be quite humble at times. Humility, when called for, can be a beautiful thing.
Part of me thinks this club happy gay guy poked the ageist hornets nest just because he knew it would get a rise and thus, gain him notoriety. He epically succeeded on that front.
But I am also cognizant of youth in it’s other folly where they try to stake a claim as they mature. Young adults and sex. The internet is rife with it. Something my generation certainly didn’t have anything of the sort to stand upon and learn from.
I am taking a Human Sexuality class right now. Being an erotic writer I thought it prudent to get the official 411 on the topic. We’ve had one meeting but the takeaway from it was rather astounding. To set the mood it was in a collection of portable trailers that are now somehow permanent when they were supposed to be transitory. I suppose that the subject of talking about sex was such an awkward one (though from the turn out immensely popular) that we had to be relegated to the outskirts of the campus (beyond the Physical Ed building which you need three donkeys and a camel to get to, but I digress).
I took a seat along the far wall in the front row. From my perspective, it was a proper viewing spot to gauge the rest of the class. I’m a people watcher – it stems from my being on the stage since I was a child. Actors are trained to watch people because it is those observations that color how we play who we play on the stage. You can’t breathe life into a blow-up doll so flesh and bone people are the only real source.
It is very interesting to watch the faces and listen to the comments (or lack thereof in most cases) from the young people who are taking the class. On one hand it is emboldening to see so many youthful faces on a topic that, while it has importance in their young lives, often is an awkward one to approach openly. Some of the young men tried to project that they were über cool with it. They had it down. They were bonafied stud material.
If they only knew of my past… but again, I digress. (Very, very few would probably exceed the breadth of my experiences.)
Some of those young men walked in with no small degree of swagger – all tatted up and seemingly confident in their skins. Their body language professing their assumed comfortability with the topic and their prowess in the bedroom (or whatever room is at hand). I get that. Even being young and gay at one time, I had no small degree of that – now, compound that in a room of other men with the exact same drive and the situation escalates. This is something our straight brethren don’t seem to fathom.
Our straight brethren seem to hold onto the old (and foolish) concept that all fags are swishing queens. Nothing could be further from the truth, though I suppose (and this is just a generalization but there are ample proof around that the perception is still pervasive) that their belief in this somehow keeps them elevated about those swishing queens who crave cock. This is why I write and blog about this misconception – to put our voice out there. I have my work reviewed by every gay man I can get my hands on (head out of the gutter now, I am a happily and devote married man – the openness of our relationship is confined to the characters I play with in my head and on digital paper in my books) – I want my stories to ring with a degree of truth in how we experience our lives – as gay men of every spectrum.
Sadly, M/M romance is the equivalent to mommy-porn for the most part. It is rife with novels written BY women FOR women. Often they devolve to chicks with dicks, in my opinion. In fact you’ll find I only have a couple of female authors I follow. The majority of them are male. It may be prejudiced, but there is something intrinsically male that all the wishing from a female just can’t put her finger to it quite as well. Which is why I am adding my voice to the mix. I need to represent and clear the air from a real gay man’s perspective. It may not win me many female author friendships but I am not doing it for that. I will write what I want to write and I really am not considering whether there’s even a market for it (though my beta readers would disagree whole-heartedly – they are fairly across the board ravenous to find out what’s next… so that’s a good sign that there is an audience out there for what I do).
Yeah, here’s the deal: At least, as gay men, we own our shit (in this hopefully ever increasing world of tolerance) and are man enough to swim upstream while owning it. It would be akin to a straight boy trying to get married to a girl, have babies and such with no sex organs to speak of with which to accomplish the task. It can be debilitating. It can be extremely tiring to have to keep coming out to people and clear up the fog that permeates their hetero-normative and myopic precepts when it comes to queer life.
You may be the majority, though I’ve certainly seen enough on the down-low to challenge that concept in its entirety, where enough “straight” boys/men have played the other side quite passionately as long as it wasn’t talked about or that no one else knew. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge… yeah. They’d be surprised how many “straight” men were doing gay porn (and sure it’s for the money… yeah, that paycheck ain’t gonna keep it hard or allow you to fully “go there” if there isn’t some facet of who you are that is intrigued and titillated with the prospect of slamming man on man action – just sayin’…).
And the gay porn stars who are gay – and own it whole heartedly – get my absolute respect. This is a muthafucker who owns his shit – and how! I fucking LOVE this guy! Levi Michaels is very witty and he is doing something so sex positive that I find it utterly amazing to watch. He’s humanizing the industry, putting a normal face to it – a human face in all its varities. I think it’s bang over the moon brilliant. He and Colby Keller totally rock my senses on all levels and are wickedly sexy guys because they are brilliant and so thoughtful in how they express themselves. I admire them both greatly – and the sex scene they did together was one of the hottest in gay porn history in my book!
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On the flip side though, emotively those gay for pay sex workers may connect with the opposite sex, but the homosex is undeniably hot when they are banging some guy on a video set- they’re into it on some level. And before there are any detractors, let’s be clear – I’ve been on porn sets, I’ve been on “legit” sets, I know it’s work. Hey, I’m on your side when it comes to the porn industry you glorious sex workers. So no bones there. If you’re in the drivers seat in your life and are controlling your own destiny and OWNING YOUR SHIT, then I am all for ya.
But the reality is that it’s much more basic than that. Society places restrictions or boundaries on men in the arena of sex (and to a great degree on women as well, but my blog isn’t about that side of the fence so I’ll stick with what I know).
Men love to seed – it’s how we’re built. We think about it on average every 8 seconds. We can condition ourselves or convince ourselves that it doesn’t happen, but it does. It’s in our DNA to so what we’re anatomically and biologically built to do. To seed, to breed. We smell it, we see it, we taste it (even if it’s just on the air). Pheromones. Heady, musky stuff that it is. One of my all time favorite smells is a debauched bath house or an adult bookstore with a particular “reputation.”
Is it pervey of me to say that? I don’t think so. It is what it is.
What I find interesting is what will become of that swagger these boys/young men express now with potential women partners in the classroom or beyond (and don’t kid yourselves boys, I know exactly how you “see” the room you walk into). I may be gay, but I know my sex – probably because I’ve spent a great deal of time with it – in the gay and straight world. I get you far more than you know.
I write about male relationships in all their varying degrees. I get how we think about them. I listen, and I listen, and I listen – whether I am listening with my eyes or my ears. As my father said, if your talking too much then you’re not listening and therefore you aren’t learning. Men get a lot of grief from their female counterparts that they don’t share enough about themselves.
Here’s the secret – they do. But what those women don’t often understand is that they share it usually with their male friends in ways that men understand. Men bond in a way that women don’t get or often don’t understand. And often if we really click it is for life. We need to – its what we count on in times of war and strife.
We may go our separate ways for a bit, but when we come back together it’s like the party never ended. We need to. It’s how we survived defending and hunting back in our Lower Paleolithic ancestry days.
Men are very expressive creatures. It’s just a cleaner line in how they do it (even when they’re messy about it).
I’ve found that women often want to examine a singular thought or emotion from every angle. To the point of ad nauseam. Men state their feelings plainly – at face value. There is nothing there to mine that’s deeper. But that’s what women want – depth. What they fail to realize is that men feel deeply. We’re just direct and succinct in how we communicate that. Brevity is key. Men can often communicate with one word or two to convey what it takes women several words to accomplish. Sex is the same thing.
It doesn’t mean we don’t like conversation. We just don’t have the need to over examine every subtle nuance. It’s not because we can’t – we’re often accused of this – but because it isn’t worth our time to do so – and not because we don’t value our partners, we do, we just have other things that press upon us that we’re better at. Men are still very much the hunter gatherers. We are pressed from the time we’re small to produce. If we err, as we no doubt do, we learn, adapt and move on. Women, on the other hand, when they err, have to examine it to the point of absurdity. It is this over indulgence of examining a point or facet of an emotive moment that separates us. Perhaps the ideal is more in the middle.
This is where gay people can be ideal. It’s something that a few have figured out.
In Native American cultures (many of them – though not all) have traditional values that recognized the duality of gay people in carrying ‘two-spirits’ – a blending of the two. In some nations with those native peoples, they even held an elevated position within the greater community. It was just another facet of life but one that was valued because gay people appeared to be of a balanced nature and the community recognized it and put it to work to help them prosper as a whole.
Sex, when it’s hot and heavy and coordinated, is a dance. No matter the partnership arrangements – though, to be honest, my lesbian friends would say it is dancing with a huge amount of critique because again, they over analyze about everything. Seriously – the joke goes: how do lesbians have a three way? Two women go at it while the third sits nearby and discusses what it means. I make light of it but it’s just how people are.
I am excited to see how this Human Sexuality class will play out. The girls not so much. But don’t get me wrong ladies, I think you’ve got it in the can. Women are far more empathic and inclined to absorb so they can analyze it later, with careful reflection. The men however, I can’t wait to see them lean into what makes them feel awkward and uncomfortable. Something tells me when the gaybone gets thrown into the room there will be some fairly awkward moments to be had. That’s what I can’t wait to see.
American males are so fucking hung up on themselves.
They are such damed babies about what’s out there that isn’t like them. The straight guys I think are sexy? Fucking smart guys (James Franco, Mark Morford, and Jared Leto to name a few) who have figured it all out and while it may not be their particular cup of tea, they are not freaked out about it – they chose to lean INTO it. They also don’t pay it lip service in that they’re cool about it like most American men do when their eyes and physical deportment clearly reveal it is the reverse. Men from around the world are far better with it than their American counterparts – a generalization too, I grant you. But one that does bear out.
So back to my entitled youth.
Quick switch, right? Not necessarily so. What I did want to swing back to so I can tie it all up is that while the impetus for this little rant of mine has covered quite a bit, it is all about the folly of youth and the on-going, ever meandering conversations between and within the sexes. I find it all utterly fascinating to watch. Sometimes it’s quite breathtakingly beautiful – and at other times, it is like watching a slow train wreck with no signs of stopping. Either way its awesome to behold.
Such was the case with that seemingly well intentioned but grossly maligned young man who penned that absurd blog post.
I hope what he was really after was his 15 seconds of fame. Cause that’s what he ultimately got.
Now to keep them coming back, he’s got to top himself – which means he’ll have to make himself more absurd to garner the same or greater level of interest. Eventually he’ll become a caricature of himself (*cough* Perez Hilton *cough*).
That would really be a sad way to carry forth. I hope the maturity that he holds in high regard actually comes to him and he gets what he professes he wants: a life outside the clubs – after 30 of course if we’re following his template for success, with a man by his side in a steady and domesticated relationship (and PLEASE refrain yourselves from guessing who will be the woman – we’re gay, fuckers, women don’t enter the equation – period) with the 2.5 kids (though I never got the whole .5 of a kid thing cause uh, yeah, bun in the oven not on my list of thinking even when kids were on the way in our family) and the big home with a two car garage and the… wait, whose dream is this?
I mean, I live it.
But my success in this doesn’t mean it’s someone else’s. And therein lies the rub of that silly blog entry – each person gets to define success for themselves (man/woman – gay/straight or anything in-between).
It’s like I tell my girls (especially when I see a fucking diamond commercial – don’t get me started on those fucked up pieces of shit marketing) – “Don’t buy into that get the rocks before you suck the cocks” mentality. That relegates you to being a whore. If you want to be a success as a woman – do it on your own terms, but not at the expense of your partner (no matter what sex they are). And if your goal is to be a whore, then fucking embrace it but don’t say your not and then go about setting a double standard by driving your man to bedazzle you like some fucked up Disney Princess. Set a goal for yourself and do everything in your power to get there. You may not be perfect, you may not get there in one piece, but godddamn it it will be your journey, your achievement and nobody or no one can take that away from you… and that makes you a success! Your terms, your life, your control.
Freedom to be – it’s a beautiful thing.
No SHADE required.