Do These Upstanding Young Men Look Like Gay Homosexual Butt Chuggers?

No, this one isn’t the work of The Onion. Not only would the large cast of suited and booted fra­tern­ity boys with sol­emn faces and clasped hands stand­ing behind the com­edy attor­ney who can’t stop say­ing ‘butt chug­ging’ break their pro­duc­tion budget, it’s just far too chug­ging crazy. If this uniquely American spec­tacle had been presen­ted as sur­real satire no one would buy it.

Look out for the two frat bros who emerge hast­ily from the bushes at 4.47 and sheep­ishly join their serious-looking broth­ers at the back. ‘Butt’ if you think they might have been enga­ging in a quick spot of that abso­lutely ree-puls-ive prac­tise of butt-chugging, then SHAME. ONYOU.

Tip: Stephane T

Really Rucking Funny: Best Manlove Video of 2011 (SFW)

This clip by Irish com­edy out­fit Dead Cat Bounce called ‘Rugby’ has to be my favour­ite video of 2011. Even if it strongly sug­gests that, in Ireland at least, my work here is done and it’s well past time to retire to the touch-lines.

There’s much to admire here: the light­ness of touch, the hil­ari­ous blend of the accur­ate and the absurd; the josh­ing, ban­ter­ing, boy­ish affec­tion — both for rugby and man­love. I even like the tune. But I find myself espe­cially mes­mer­ised by the lead singer’s vast, match-winning gob. He could swal­low that giant, muddy testicle he’s pre­tend­ing to lick without it so much as touch­ing the sides.

It seems I’m not the only one who rated this man­love bal­lad. Originally broad­cast on their state TV sta­tion RTE, it’s the fifth most pop­u­lar YouTube clip in Ireland this year. Oh, and you can down­load the song from iTunes too.

Below the YouTube clip are scores of com­ments by self-identified straight rugby play­ers and fans, most of whom seem to love it as much as this old homo does:

im a rugby player. i play lock.. which makes me the guy who sticks his head between the guys’ thighs. i still think this is fuck­ing hilarious.’

It’s dif­fi­cult to ima­gine a sim­ilar skit about soc­cer get­ting the same good-humoured response. But then, as sev­eral rugby fans have poin­ted out, soc­cer is for poofs.

Tip: Dermod Moore

Assume the Position: A Queer Defence of Hazing

Mark Simpson wants to be be soundly smacked with a paddle

(Out magazine, 2006)

When I joined my local rugby team, I was made to do ter­rible, awful things. Even now, all these years later, I feel dis­tressed and choked up recount­ing what happened. I had to stand on a chair as a full pint of beer was shoved in my groin, soak­ing it. I then had to drink a yard of ale (three pints in a yard-long horn-shaped glass) with a bucket in front of me. Later, sev­eral of us had to run around the rugby pitch stark naked. In January.

I was trau­mat­ized. I may never recover. This wasn’t what I had signed up for! You see, it was a ter­rible, awful, unfor­get­table, wound­ing dis­ap­point­ment.

It was just all so… restrained. I had been hop­ing that we would be per­form­ing some of the other bond­ing and ini­ti­ation rites that I’d heard about, such as the one where one naked team-mate bends over and a pint is poured over his ass, down his crack, and over his sack while another sits under­neath him with head back and mouth open. Or the soggy bis­cuit game: a circle jerk over a cream cracker where the last one to come has to eat it. Or per­haps the car­rot game, where a root veget­able is shoved up the rookie’s ass and a pink rib­bon tied around his erect penis (some­thing to do with the car­rot I sup­pose), which he has to keep on for two weeks, to be checked at each train­ing session.

Frankly, I would have even been happy with the rel­at­ively vanilla haz­ing that all new recruits to a crack U.K. Army regi­ment have to par­ti­cip­ate in: According to a straight sol­dier pal of mine, the “old-timers” rub their asses and gen­it­als over the faces of the new recruits or “crows”, as they’re called.

But, alas at my rugby club all that was on offer was a wet crotch on my jeans and a frost-shrivelled penis. Judging by the excited media reports, things would have been very dif­fer­ent if I’d been a col­lege fresh­man in the United States and joined the foot­ball team or one of those kinky fra­tern­it­ies with those Greek names.

At the University of Vermont the “ele­phant walk” is, or was, rather pop­u­lar: Pledges drink warm beer and walk naked in a line, hold­ing the gen­it­als of the lucky lad in front of them. At Tiffin University in Ohio the soc­cer team has been known to strip their fresh­men play­ers to their under­wear, hand­cuff them together, scrawl vul­gar­it­ies on their bod­ies, and make them lick one another’s nipples. Sometimes the fun isn’t just reserved for mem­bers of the team. At a Utah high school two wrest­lers stripped a male cheer­leader in the school locker room and “attemp­ted to shave his pubic hair” with an elec­tric clip­per. Attempted? Does that mean they didn’t suc­ceed? That’s some cheerleader.

truth be told, even in the United States, haz­ing isn’t what it used to be. This ancient rite is under attack from all sides: the media, fem­in­ists, moth­ers, edu­ca­tional author­it­ies, legis­lat­ors, police—and also many gays. Hazing is being shamed up and stamped out. The only reason we know about the sor­did goings-on in frat houses across the nation is because the author­it­ies were involved, lit­ig­a­tion was ini­ti­ated, crim­inal charges brought, and the media mobil­ised. A big stink, in other words. Most respect­able people seem to agree haz­ing is wrong, sex­ist, and homo­phobic and must be stopped.

Now, per­haps I’m not ter­ribly respect­able, or maybe I enjoy cham­pi­on­ing lost causes, but I think haz­ing can be a valu­able, ven­er­able mas­cu­line insti­tu­tion that is worth defend­ing, par­tic­u­larly by men who are inter­ested in other men. Hazing is the last rite of pas­sage left for boys in a world that doesn’t seem to want boys to grow into men any more, a very phys­ical form of male bond­ing in a soci­ety that wants us to remain as dis­con­nec­ted as pos­sible, an anti­dote to indi­vidu­al­ism, which in this atom­ized day and age tends to just mean ali­en­ated consumerism.

Yes, I real­ize that haz­ing can be dan­ger­ous. It can turn into abuse and bul­ly­ing or out­right sad­ism, as in those widely repor­ted instances of boys being sod­om­ized with mop handles and pine-cones. Boys, like men, can be plain dumb and dan­ger­ous and occa­sion­ally fatal. Jocks can be obnox­ious, arrog­ant little shits, espe­cially to male cheer­lead­ers. But my point would be that this is all we ever hear about. Hazing has been tarred with one self-righteous pur­it­an­ical brush.

Scandalized media reports and a pro­lif­er­a­tion of anti haz­ing Web sites such as and have helped to decis­ively turn pub­lic opin­ion against haz­ing (though in some cases with an admix­ture of voyeur­ism for the very thing that they are cam­paign­ing against). Hazing is now the sub­ject of a full-fledged moral panic about “our chil­dren”. This September sees the First National Conference on High School Hazing—and you can be sure they’re not teach­ing del­eg­ates how to con­duct a suc­cess­ful ele­phant walk. Most states now have anti-hazing laws, and most uni­ver­sit­ies have dra­conian anti-hazing policies.

Here’s the University of Vermont’s all-embracing defin­i­tion of what haz­ing is and thus what is ver­boten:

any act, whether phys­ical, men­tal, emo­tional, or psy­cho­lo­gical, which sub­jects another per­son, vol­un­tar­ily or invol­un­tar­ily, to any­thing that may abuse, mis­treat, degrade, humi­li­ate, har­ass, or intim­id­ate him/her, or which may in any fash­ion com­prom­ise his/her inher­ent dig­nity as a person”.

Which sounds to me like a recipe for a very dull Saturday night indeed.

Don’t we all want our “inher­ent dig­nity as a per­son” to be com­prom­ised some­times - espe­cially at uni­ver­sity? And why on earth would you join a fra­tern­ity, or an ice-hockey team, or in fact any all-male group if you were so con­cerned about your inher­ent dig­nity as a per­son? Wouldn’t it be wiser just to stay at home knit­ting? Hazing is used by these groups for pre­cisely that pur­pose: to put off those who aren’t really ser­i­ous about put­ting the group or the team above their own damn pre­cious­ness or good sense.

Note how haz­ing is defined as “vol­un­tar­ily or invol­un­tar­ily”: Consent is irrel­ev­ant to the powers that be in their zeal to stamp out haz­ing (just as it used to be with homo­sexu­al­ity). They know best. Nor is it merely extreme cases such as sod­om­iz­ing with pinecones that the anti-hazing zealots are against but “any act, whether phys­ical, men­tal, emo­tional, or psy­cho­lo­gical” that might be kind of naughty, kind of dirty, kind of fun. In itself a rather con­vin­cing argu­ment for haz­ing, at least for young people. Mom and the cops and the col­lege dean don’t like it? Great! Bring on the hand­cuffs, warm beer, and Jell-O!

Which brings me onto the aspect of haz­ing that, as you may pos­sibly have guessed, I have a fond fas­cin­a­tion for, and is a cent­ral part of my desire to defend the practice—and prob­ably why my defense will prob­ably suc­ceed in finally killing it off: the homo­erotic dimen­sion, the “gay­ness” of what these mostly straight guys like to do to one another and their private parts.

Granted, a lot of haz­ing, espe­cially with the crack­down going on today, has little or noth­ing to do with homo-erotics. It may be just Jackass-style crazi­ness involving oncom­ing traffic, gal­lons of water, and jump­ing out of trees. Mind, haz­ing does, like me, keep return­ing to men’s butts and pen­ises and testicles (any­one for “tea-bagging”?) even when it tries not to. Obviously, I think this is entirely under­stand­able and requires no explan­a­tion what­so­ever, let alone patho­lo­giz­ing it and crim­in­al­iz­ing it. But clearly plenty of people think otherwise.

So why is haz­ing so homo? Perhaps because all-male groups, accord­ing to Freud, are bound together by barely sub­lim­ated homo­erotic feel­ings. It’s what inspires them to such heart-warming loy­alty, such pas­sion­ate self-sacrifice and heroic endeavour—Eros can wrestle the instinct for self-preservation to the ground. The haz­ing rituals with their sim­u­lated homo sex could be seen as a sym­bolic group fuck that gets the “sex” over with yet turns all the mem­bers of the team or fra­tern­ity into a band of lov­ers. Of course, I would prefer that they fol­lowed the exem­plar of the Theban Band, or the Spartans of ancient Greece, the warrior-lovers who didn’t stop at sim­u­lated homo sex (and were widely regarded as invin­cible). But you can’t have everything.

There are also putat­ively Darwinian explan­a­tions for the homo-erotics of male groups. In our pre­his­toric past the bond­ing of hunters and war­ri­ors was vital to the sur­vival of the tribe. Those tribes that sur­vived and thrived and passed on their genes were those in which men were will­ing to sac­ri­fice breed­ing oppor­tun­it­ies and com­forts of life with the chicks back at camp for weeks and months of intim­acy with men and a will­ing­ness to serve and take orders. Prehistoric man, in other words, was a bit of a leather queen. This is prob­ably the reason why hyper-masculinity is some­times dif­fi­cult to sep­ar­ate from homo­sexu­al­ity, espe­cially dur­ing Hell Week.

Alas, many gays see haz­ing as neces­sar­ily homo­phobic and appear to buy into the simplistic fem­in­ist ana­lysis of power and dom­in­a­tion. In an online art­icle Cyd Zeigler Jr. of recog­nizes that haz­ing is often deeply homo­erotic (and lists some of the same scan­dals I have), but sees it as essen­tially homo­phobic: “Whether it’s sod­om­iz­ing them or mak­ing them wear women’s panties, the notion of for­cing younger play­ers to sub­mit to team vet­er­ans comes right out of the hand­book of anti-gay ste­reo­types.” Clinching the mat­ter, homo­erotic haz­ing appar­ently “emas­cu­lates the victim”.

Leaving aside that the out-and-proud gay world isn’t exactly free of power, dom­in­a­tion, and humi­li­ation, or for that mat­ter anti-gay ste­reo­types, this asser­tion about the emas­cu­la­tion of the vic­tim doesn’t always hold true. While I have some sym­pathy with this approach, in its attach­ment to victim-hood it seems to be rather more rigidly homo­phobic than haz­ing is.

The curi­ous para­dox of haz­ing is that while it may well regard “fag­gi­ness” and “soft­ness” as undesir­able, it actu­ally makes the homo­erotic cent­ral to mem­ber­ship of the group. Besides, rather than emas­cu­lat­ing the new mem­bers of group, the vet­er­ans wish to ‘mas­culin­ize’ them, and they use homo­erot­ics to that end. Hazing itself is not an act of hos­til­ity but of affec­tion: tough love. While haz­ing can be homo­erotic and homo­phobic, this is not—and it’s dif­fi­cult for us self-centered homos to real­ize this—its point.

The fam­ous Sambia tribe of New Guinea (fam­ous because anthro­po­lo­gists won’t leave them alone) don’t sim­u­late homo­sexu­al­ity in their own haz­ing rituals: they prac­tice it. Adolescent boys are taken from their moth­ers by the older youths and required to repeatedly give oral sex to them—they are told that the semen will mas­culin­ize them. In today’s uni­ver­sit­ies, of course, the semen is replaced by warm Budweiser and pro­tein shakes. From a Sambian point of view, the dom­in­ance of the anti-hazing lobby today would prob­ably rep­res­ent an insuf­fer­able vic­tory of the pro­tec­ted domestic world of Mom, who deep down doesn’t want her cher­ished baby boy to ever be exposed to any­thing extreme or dis­taste­ful or dan­ger­ous or… male.

But then, it some­times seems that our con­tem­por­ary cul­ture has less and less use for, or appre­ci­ation of, mas­culin­ity that isn’t merely dec­or­at­ive or good at DIY. Paradoxically, as the tol­er­a­tion and vis­ib­il­ity of new­fangled gays and gay­ness in our cul­ture has risen, intol­er­ance of old­fangled homo­erotic mas­cu­line rituals has also increased. Very often, society’s pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with haz­ing is, like mine, a pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with its “gay­ness.” But in reverse.

When a private video of drunken off-duty U.K. Royal Marines run­ning around naked together in some god­for­saken place was sold to the tabloids in 2005, it caused an out­cry. Officially, it was because one of the Marines was shown being kicked in the head by a drunken officer, and this was evid­ence of bul­ly­ing. But as the repeated print­ing of the naked pic­tures showed, it was mostly about the fact that they were fit young mar­ines, naked together, being gay.

The (extremely hot) vic­tim, 23-year-old Ray Simmons, came for­ward to say he didn’t hold the officer (who was now the sub­ject of a mil­it­ary police invest­ig­a­tion) respons­ible, and it was just a bit of fun that got out of hand. However, the host of reader let­ters that the stor­ies promp­ted showed the real pre­oc­cu­pa­tion was not the bul­ly­ing but the gay­ness. A typ­ic­ally hissy example from one male reader:

I am utterly dis­gus­ted by the beha­vior of our so-called Marines…. This kind of thing would be bet­ter suited to a gay 18–30 hol­i­day on a remote island some­where. Our enemies across the globe must be laugh­ing at us.”

So soci­ety appar­ently still expects Marines to go and kill and be killed any­where in the world at the drop of a daisy-cutter to defend our ener­vated suburban—and voyeuristic—lifestyle, but ridicules and con­demns them for doing what men have to do and have always done to bond and let off steam. Fortunately, the Marines aren’t tak­ing any notice: “People think a load of men get­ting naked together is a bit gay,” said Simmons, “but we don’t care what oth­ers think. It’s just Marine humor.”

Well said that man. Don’t let the square civvies—or the envi­ous homos like me—try to shame you into being as joy­less, lonely, and bereft of real camaraderie and human con­tact as the rest of us. It’s a sign of our isol­ated times that most people today could never say the words “we don’t care what people think” because:

(a) they don’t belong to a group, or in fact to any­thing except a super­mar­ket loy­alty scheme; and

(b) they care about what people will think rather more than they do about their buddies.

The homo­erot­ics of haz­ing are not, in fact, neces­sar­ily homo­phobic or gay. They’re just guy.

And I don’t know about you, but I’m all in favor of guys.

The Cleanest Bodies & the Filthiest Minds

The skip­per of the nuclear-powered car­rier and Star Trek name­sake the USS Enterprise seems to be in danger of being keel­hauled for ‘raunchy’ on-board videos he made to enter­tain the crew back in 2007 when he was second in com­mand. The videos included male-male and female-female pairs pre­tend­ing to soap one another up in the showers. I’ll admit I haven’t been able to watch all the video, which is full of in-jokes and far too much Capt. Honors and not enough shock­ing foot­age for my lik­ing, but accord­ing to the Virginian Pilot:

In other skits, sail­ors parade in drag, use anti-gay slurs, and sim­u­late mas­turb­a­tion and a rectal exam. Another scene implies that an officer is hav­ing sex in his state­room with a donkey.’

Sailors and Marines behav­ing like sail­ors and Marines! Whoever would have thunk? As someone else once put it:

The Marines I have seen around the world have the clean­est bod­ies, the filthi­est minds, the highest mor­ale, and the low­est mor­als of any group of anim­als I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marine Corps!”

No, that wasn’t my friend ‘military-chaser’ Steve Zeeland, but First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

I don’t rate Capt. Kirk’s — I mean, Owen Honors — chances of sur­viv­ing this scan­dal since it catches him between the Scylla of American polit­ical cor­rect­ness and the Charybdis of American Puritanism. ‘Inappropriate con­duct’ being the magical phrase used to bring these two crush­ing forces together. These are straits from which few mar­iners return. Never mind that the videos were appar­ently very pop­u­lar on board the USS Enterprise – and were never inten­ded to be seen by any­one on land. This was another, rel­at­ively more benign kind of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell — but one that seems in this day and age just as doomed as the other.

As the sailor who made the videos for Capt. Honors put it:

’”In his defense, I’ll say that some­times, when you’ve been out to sea for a while, cut off from everything, you start to think things that you would never nor­mally do are actu­ally a good idea,” he said. “You do stu­pid stuff to stay sane.“‘

Or as the old Navy say­ing has it: It’s never queer unless you’re tied to the pier.  But these days, you’re always tied to the bloody pier.

…elec­tronic com­mu­nic­a­tion with the rest of the world while at sea can be dif­fi­cult; it was nearly impossible to e-mail or upload videos from the car­rier in 2006 and 2007.

He prob­ably figured they’d never get off the ship.“‘

What hap­pens in Fight Club doesn’t stay in Fight Club any more.


I ori­gin­ally viewed the video in the tiny format of the box on the Norfolk Pilot web­site. Seeing it on YouTube in lar­ger res­ol­u­tion I now real­ise that all three char­ac­ters you see sit­ting in Capt. Honor’s state­room at the begin­ning of the vid are in fact Capt. Honors. That the second in com­mand of the USS Enterprise saw fit to split his per­son­al­ity into a nerdy ‘gay’ SWO and a macho, cool air jock is ‘fas­cin­at­ing’, as Spock would put it. Or would be if I fan­cied Honors more.

Homoerotic Horseplay — Not Gay Just Guy


A column of mine on, ‘Men At Play in Afgrabistan’, gal­lantly defends the free­dom of the derided (and now dis­missed) secur­ity guards at the US embassy to get naked with one another and eat potato chips from each other’s butts in their spare time — even if they’re out of shape.  I also point out how every­day and ‘nor­mal’ homo­erot­ics is for many if not most men — but we don’t want to see it, and when we can’t ignore it because it’s thrust in our face by digital cam­eras and the Interweb we patho­lo­gize or crim­in­al­ize it:

…the furor is another reminder that we live in a cul­ture where female bi-curiousness is routinely regarded as nat­ural and almost uni­ver­sal while male bi-curiousness is seen as non-existent — or else it is just “sexu­ally con­fused” (i.e. they’re really gay, but laugh­ably repressed), or it is “devi­ant haz­ing” con­duc­ted by “sexual pred­at­ors” that needs to be eradicated.

In real­ity, to any­one who opens their eyes on a Saturday night on either side of the Atlantic, there’s scads of evid­ence that plenty of “nor­mal” young men who aren’t par­tic­u­larly “sexu­ally con­fused” — espe­cially the most, er, phys­ical types — have a healthy appet­ite for highly homo­erotic beha­vior after a keg or two. It’s what beer seems to have been inven­ted for. In the Middle Ages they thought the cause of sod­omy was drunk­en­ness — they weren’t wrong. By con­trast, I’ve hardly ever seen such homo­erotic horse­play amongst straight women, even des­pite the inven­tion of alco­pops (though admit­tedly I per­haps wasn’t look­ing as closely.)

Some people have a more viol­ently neg­at­ive response to the every­day evid­ence of male homo­erot­ics, lit­er­ally try­ing to stamp it out.  In the UK a straight female Canadian mar­tial arts expert attacked and knocked out a couple of drunken British sol­diers at a disco for kiss­ing and ‘pre­tend­ing to be gay’, scream­ing ‘THIS SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED IN THE BRITISH ARMY!!’.

Living in a gar­rison town I’ve seen plenty of sim­il­ary steamy beha­viour from drunken squad­dies in pubs and on dance-floors, snog­ging and hump­ing and grop­ing one another, so I can under­stand her frus­tra­tion — I’ve wanted to get phys­ical too, but not in quite the same way she did.

Sometimes the response is more gen­teel, but just as vehe­ment.  During the last Rugby World Cup a couple of years ago I was invited on Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio Four to talk about homo­erot­ics and rugby.  I thought it a bit odd that Woman’s Hour wanted to cover this sub­ject, but the pro­du­cer enthused: ‘The presenter Jane is really keen to talk about it’.  It turned out that neither the presenter, a former female sports journ­al­ist, or her guest, another female sports journ­al­ist, wanted to talk about it at all. 

Both of them refused point blank to coun­ten­ance the pos­sib­il­ity that a game that involves men with large thighs wrest­ling in the mud over odd-shaped balls, or tak­ing com­munal baths, or kinky nude drink­ing games that would shock the guards at the American Embassy in Afghanistan, could be in any way homo­erotic.  Only a homo would say such a thing.

Of course you would say that Mark,’ she said at one point, ‘because you’re gay.’

I paused.  Several things occured to me to say to that.  I could have said that droves of gay men were prob­ably rush­ing at that very moment to dis­so­ci­ate them­selves from what I was say­ing (they usu­ally do).  Or I could have said, ‘Well, of course you would say that Jane, as an uptight middle class woman’ (and I wished I had).

Instead I said, ‘It seems that some people have a prob­lem with the word “homo­erotic”.  They think that it means some­thing ‘for gays’.  Perhaps some people would be hap­pier with the word “male bonding”.’

Yes!’ they chor­used, ‘it’s male bonding!’

But,’ I con­tin­ued, ‘it’s male bond­ing with an erotic com­pon­ent so we’re back where we came in.’

They didn’t like that. 

And this just a few weeks after this show had gone out on national UK TV, in which a team of north­ern rugby play­ers had been filmed get­ting drunk and naked with one another, snog­ging, lick­ing each other’s nipples - and play­ing with their captain’s ‘don­key dick’.  Of course, I couldn’t even men­tion it, as on radio — espe­cially Radio Four — you’re not allowed to acknow­ledge that TV exists.

Again, being radio, and posh radio at that, a nice voice whispered in my head­phone just before we went on air. ‘Remember Mark, this is a fam­ily show so please try not to be too rude!.’   This did hamper my case some­what, as rugby homo­erot­ics are meant to be rude.  Though it didn’t stop me from leav­ing some­thing tan­tal­ising hanging in the air: ”The soggy bis­cuit game, for example, isn’t entirely a myth.…’.

I think we’d bet­ter move on,’ said Jane rather quickly.  Apparently the Radio Four switch­board was jammed with retired lady callers demand­ing to know what the soggy bis­cuit game was. 


(This fea­ture of mine from a couple of years back, ‘Assume the pos­i­tion’, offers a more in-depth invest­ig­a­tion of the culture’s crack­down on haz­ing and male horse­play in general.)