Meat the Spornosexual

The second gen­er­a­tion of met­ro­sexu­als are cum­ming. And this time it’s hardcore

Dan-Osborne-Spornosexual

by Mark Simpson

What is it about male hip­sters and their strange, pal­lid, highly ambi­val­ent fas­cin­a­tion with bod­ies beefier and sex­ier than their own? Which means, of course, pretty much everyone?

You may remem­ber last year that last year the Guardian colum­nist and TV presenter Charlton Brooker had a very messy bowel-evacuating panic attack over the self-sexualisation of the male body exhib­ited in real­ity show Geordie Shore.

Now the hip­ster bible Vice have run a long, pas­sion­ate – and some­times quite funny – com­plaint about today’s sexu­al­ised male body by a Brooker wan­nabe (and lookali­kee) titled ‘How sad young douchebags took over mod­ern Britain’.

At least the Vice writer isn’t in total denial. Brooker was so threatened by the brazen male hussies on Geordie Shore and the con­fu­sion their pumped, shaved ‘sex doll’ bod­ies, plucked eye­brows and pen­ises the size of a Sky remote pro­voked in him that the poor love had to pre­tend that they didn’t exist out­side of real­ity TV. That they were some kind of sci­ence fic­tion inven­ted to tor­ment and bewilder him and his nerdy body. Perhaps because he’s rather younger than Brooker, Mr Vice on the other hand has actu­ally noticed that these guys really do exist and are in fact pretty much every­where today, dipped in fake tan and designer tatts and ‘wear­ing’ plunging ‘heav­age’ condom-tight T-s.

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In a media world which largely ignores what’s happened to young men Mr Vice is to be com­men­ded that he’s clearly spent a great deal of time study­ing them. Albeit with a mix­ture of envy and desire, fear and loath­ing – and a large side order of self-contradiction and sexual confusion.

He laments that these ‘pumped, primed, ter­ri­fy­ingly sexu­al­ised high-street gigo­los’ have been impor­ted from America, but uses the exec­rable impor­ted Americanism ‘douchebag’ to describe them – over and over again. What’s a douchebag? Someone with big­ger arms than you, who’s get­ting more sex than you – and prob­ably earn­ing more than you, des­pite being con­sid­er­ably less expens­ively edu­cated than you.

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But by far the most infuri­at­ing thing about ‘sad young douchebags’ is that they are so very obvi­ously not sad at all. They and their shame­less, slutty bod­ies are hav­ing a whale of a time, thank you very much. They’re far too happy being ‘sad young douchebags’ to sit down and write lengthy, angry ration­al­ising essays about why someone else’s idea of a good time is WRONG. Or read one. Or read any­thing, in fact. Apart maybe from Men’s Health.

A strong smell of nos­tal­gia eman­ates from this Vice jeremiad, like a pickled onion burp. The writer laments a lost Eden of mas­cu­line cer­tain­ties and whinges that these young men with their sexu­al­ised ‘gym bunny wanker’ bod­ies have replaced older, more ‘authen­tic’ English mas­cu­line arche­types, ‘the charmer’, ‘the bit of rough’, ‘the sul­len thinker’ (which, I won­der, applies to him?) and that as a result:

Nobody wants to be Sean Connery any more. With their buff, waxed bod­ies and stu­pid hair­cuts, the mod­ern British douchebag looks more like a model from an Attitude chat­line ad than a poten­tial Bond.

Ah yes, Sean Connery – the former Mr Scotland gym bunny wanker ex chorus boy who wore a wig and fake tan in those glossy, slutty Bond films. Masculinity is never what it used to be. Even back in Ancient Greece every­one was whin­ing that real men went out of fash­ion with the Trojan War. And what’s so wrong with want­ing to look like an Attitude chat line ad, rather than a hired killer?

Oh, that’s right – coz it looks gay.

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All this moan­ing, along with the writer’s com­plaints that these buff young men are dis­ap­point­ingly ‘soft’, crap in a fight and don’t have nearly enough scars, reminds me of those gays on Grindr who stip­u­late in their pro­file ‘I like my men to be MEN!!’. Or the camp queens who over the years who have sol­emnly informed me: ‘If there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s camp queens!!’ Actually, it reminds me of myself when I was much more hope­lessly romantic than I am today, and before I real­ised real men were really slutty.

There is noth­ing gayer than the long­ing for mas­cu­line cer­tain­ties like this. Especially since they never really exis­ted any­way. It’s like believ­ing that the phal­lus is the real thing and the penis is just a sym­bol. It’s Quentin Crisp’s Great Dark Man syn­drome, but sans the self-awareness, or the arch­ness and the henna.

In fact Mr Vice is so nos­tal­gic – and so young – that he seems to think met­ro­sexu­al­ity is some­thing prior to, dis­tinct from and more taste­ful than these sexed-up shame­lessly slutty male bod­ies that insist on grabbing his atten­tion, wist­fully con­trast­ing how the ‘nat­ural con­fid­ence’ of met­ro­sexu­al­ity ‘has been replaced by some­thing far more flag­rant’. Take it from metrodaddy, today’s flag­rantly sexu­al­ised male body is merely more met­ro­sexu­al­ity. More sexy, more tarty, more porny, more slapped in your face. So stop bitch­ing and suck on it. Metrosexuality has gone hard-core –the ‘sexu­al­ity’ part has gone ‘hyper’.

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The met­ro­sexual was born twenty years ago and had to struggle to sur­vive in an untucked ‘no-homo’ 1990s — but the second wave take the revolu­tion he brought about in mas­cu­line aes­thet­ics for gran­ted. Steeped in images of male desirab­il­ity from birth and mas­turb­at­ing furi­ously to hard-core online porn from puberty, they have totally sexed-up the male body and turbo-charged the male desire to be desired, which was always at the heart of met­ro­sexu­al­ity rather than expens­ive fash­ion spreads and fas­ti­di­ous lists of ‘dos and don’ts’. Their own bod­ies rather than clob­ber and cos­met­ics have become the ulti­mate access­ory, fash­ion­ing them at the gym into a hot com­mod­ity. Nakedly met­ro­sexy.

If we need to give this new gen­er­a­tion of hyper met­ro­sexu­als a name – other than total tarts – we should per­haps dub them sporno­sexu­als. These mostly straight-identified young men are happy to advert­ise, like an Attitude chat line, their love of the pornolised, sporting-spurting male body – par­tic­u­larly their own. Along with their very gen­er­ous avail­ab­il­ity to anyone’s gaze-graze. Especially at premium rates.

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And every­one is call­ing their num­ber. Though admit­tedly not many do it via the extremely kinky route of writ­ing long essays denoun­cing them and explain­ing why they’re TOTALLY NOT INTERESTED. Hipsters, who of course think them­selves above the vul­gar­ity of sex­i­ness, are simply the ironic, anti-sexual wing of met­ro­sexu­al­ity – which is to say, abso­lutely fuck­ing point­less.

It’s the obvi­ous, if often obli­vi­ous, visual bi-curiosity of today’s totally tarty, hyper met­ro­sexu­al­ity that alarms people even more than its ‘vul­gar­ity’. Male bisexu­al­ity is still largely a taboo pre­cisely because it threatens the final, fond, sac­red, and highly phal­lic myth of mas­culin­ity: that it has an (het­ero­norm­at­ive) ‘aim’ and ‘pur­pose’. The scat­ter­shot slut­ti­ness of sporno­sexu­als sig­nals a very sticky end to that virile delusion.

Mr Vice argues repeatedly that these young men enjoy­ing their bod­ies and their lack of inhib­i­tion com­pared to their fath­ers and grand­fath­ers, are hav­ing a ‘crisis of mas­culin­ity’. This just smacks of more middle class resent­ment dressed up as ‘con­cern’ – a pissy, pass­ive aggress­ive way of call­ing them ‘sad douchebags’ again. Or ‘gay’. When people talk about a ‘crisis of mas­culin­ity’ they’re usu­ally talk­ing about their own – in deal­ing with the fact that mas­culin­ity isn’t what they want it to be. And par­tic­u­larly when work­ing class chaps aren’t what middle class chaps want them to be.

It’s true that our post-industrial land­scape often doesn’t know what to do with the male body apart from shag it or sell it, but that’s not neces­sar­ily such a ter­rible con­trast with the ‘glor­i­ous’ past. For a younger gen­er­a­tion of young men no longer afraid of their own bod­ies there’s no crisis – but rather a lib­er­a­tion. From the dehu­man­ising, sex­ist con­straints of their fore­fath­ers. Men’s bod­ies are no longer simply instru­mental things – for fight­ing wars, extract­ing coal, build­ing ships, scor­ing goals, mak­ing babies and put­ting the rub­bish out that must renounce pleas­ure, van­ity, sen­su­al­ity and a really good fin­ger­ing and leave that to women and pooves.

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Instead the male body has been rad­ic­ally redesigned, with the help of some blue­prints from Tom of Finland, as a sen­sual sex toy designed to give and par­tic­u­larly to receive pleas­ure. Maybe it’s not ter­ribly heroic, and admit­tedly some of the tatts are really grotty, but there are much worse things to be. Such as a slut-shaming writer for a hip­ster magazine.

Of course, I would say that. Because I find these sporno­sexual, totally tarty young men fuck­able. But that’s kind of the point. They des­per­ately want to be found fuck­able. It would be extremely rude and ungrate­ful not to find them fuck­able when they have gone to so much trouble doing all those bubble-butt build­ing bar­bell lunges at the gym for me.

And in fuck­able fact, it’s their fuckab­il­ity which makes the unfuck­ables hate them so fuck­ing much.

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© Mark Simpson 2014

Mark Simpson’s Metrosexy: A 21st Century Self-Love Story is avail­able on Kindle.

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Totally tarty Dan Osborne gifs from here - h/t DAKrolak

It’s a Queer World

Deviant Adventures in Pop Culture

Saint Morrissey

The acclaimed ‘psycho-bio’ of England’s most charm­ing – and alarm­ing – pop star.

Metrosexy

A bio­graphy of the metrosexual.

By his dad.

End of Gays?

What’s left of gay­ness when the homo­pho­bia stops?

Male Impersonators

The book that changed the way the world looks at men.

Sex Terror

This book will change the way you think about sex. It may even put you off it altogether.

God Save The Sea Queen

An excerpt from Mark Simpson’s Sex Terror: Erotic Misadventures in Pop Culture’, now avail­able on Kindle

Gibraltar, oth­er­wise known as ‘The Rock’, is the full stop to the sen­tence of Europe. It has been besieged no less than four­teen times. The Ancients thought it was a pil­lar hold­ing up the end of the World. In the Middle Ages Jews fled here from the red-hot instru­ments of the Spanish Inquisition. Aeons ago, the last sur­viv­ors of the ancest­ors of Homo sapi­ens also retreated to this toothy promon­tory of the Iberian pen­in­sula, last­ing a few, increas­ingly lonely, thou­sand years more in the dark caves that abound here, before being finally snuffed out by Progress.

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Even today, rare and exotic creatures sur­vive here that have long since become extinct else­where in Continental Europe. Off one of the nar­row, steep, cobbled streets, down some worn steps, there’s a dark cel­lar bar, that holds out against not only the Twenty First Century but much of the lat­ter half of the Twentieth. This is the domain and refuge of the last of the Sea Queens, Lovely Charlie, land­locked in the last corner of the British Empire.

The brick walls and vaul­ted ceil­ing of Charlie’s domain are com­pletely covered in battered Royal Navy Ensign flags. All of them have per­sonal mes­sages scrawled across them in Secondary Modern hands: ‘To Lovely Charlie, from the lads on HMS Sheffield — We think you’re magic!’ (dated 1981, the year before it was sunk by an Argentine Exocet in The Falklands); ‘Donkey Nob Was Here – 1979’’; and ‘Royal Marine Commandos do it in boats – 1989’. Signed pho­tos of sun­burnt, laugh­ing young men with cans of lager in their hands and their arms around each other’s shoulders cover the wall next to the bar, together with post­cards from Hong Kong, Belize, Brunei, Germany and Kuwait.

Tonight how­ever Charles’ Hole-in-the-Wall bar — the finest bar on the Seven Seas — is com­pletely empty, except for Charles him­self, a well-preserved, hand­some middle-aged man with glit­tery ear-studs and immacu­late hair, sit­ting at the bar, and his snooz­ing big black lab­rador, heavy eye­lids sag­ging. ‘Well, come in, luv,’ he says, happy to see a face. ‘Sorry it’s so quiet tonight. The Fleet’s out. Mind, it always fookin’ is these days! Are you a mate­lot? ‘No? What’s that you say? You’re look­ing for one? Aren’t we all, luv!’ he laughs, and gets me a bottled beer.

It was best when the fron­tier with Spain was closed,’ he remin­isces, in his effort­lessly camp but strangely butch Gibraltarian English, com­ic­ally spiked with some coarse, regional Brit expres­sions he’s obvi­ously picked up from his cli­en­tele. ‘When Franco shut the bor­der in 1967 that was the begin­ning of twenty years of bloody bliss, y’know. When hun­dreds of sail­ors have been out at sea for weeks and they dock here, they’re not going to let the fact that there aren’t enough single women on Gib to make a foot­ball team stop them hav­ing a fookin’ good time, luv!’

And they didn’t mind their mates find­ing out; they’d just say, “I bet you had a fookin’ good time with Charlie gob­blin’ yer last night!” and every­body would laugh. Of course, who gobbled whom wasn’t always the way they painted it – but that was some­thing private between me and them. Things aren’t the same now. I still get offers – but they’re much more furt­ive; they’re afraid that every­one will think they’re gay just because they had a bit of fun with Charlie. And then in 1987 they only went and opened the fookin’ fron­tier, didn’t they? Now most of the lads head off for the bright lights of Marbella. I can’t com­pete with dolly-birds and disco, can I luv?’

But it isn’t about sex,’ explains Charlie, sip­ping a min­eral water (he’s tee­total). ‘It’s the com­pany. The camaraderie. It’s my duty to run this bar! I’m a legend in the Royal Navy, y’know. I’ve been to Portsmouth and Plymouth. They treated me like a real Queen. There was noth­ing they wouldn’t do for me. I was really moved. I was in Edinburgh once, and a lad came up to me and said, “It’s Lovely Charlie, isn’t it!’ He was very sweet. He whispered, “Look, Charles, you can’t wear that much jew­ellery around here. They won’t under­stand”.’

I’m passed down, father to son. I had an eighteen-year-old sailor come in here last month, his first time. He said: “That door’s new,” point­ing to that door over there to the pool-room which I had installed about ten year ago. “How did you know that?” I asked. “Oh,” he said, ‘my dad’s got a pic­ture of him sit­ting on your knee. It was the year before he met me mam.”

They like to tell the new­bies that they’re going to sell them to me for a round of drinks, y’know. Of course, that doesn’t hap­pen. I’d never take advant­age. But they like to wind up the young­sters. One lad came here with his Dad – the Navy has a Father’s week where they fly fath­ers who were in the Navy out here to travel home on board ship with their sons. He said: “Well, ‘ere you go Charles, you can ‘ave your wicked way wiv ‘im if you keep the drinks comin’!” I laughed and said, “Well, you’re his dad, so I sup­pose that makes it legal!” You should have seen the poor boy’s face!’

Oh yes, occa­sion­ally you get trouble-makers. They come here say­ing how much they “’ate fookin’ queers”. Everyone goes quiet because they know he’s going to get a tongue lash­ing from me. I usu­ally say some­thing like, “And I ‘ate fookin’ ugly cunts like you, luv!” Everyone usu­ally pisses them­selves laugh­ing. And usu­ally,’ adds Charlie, wink­ing, ‘they end up stay­ing the night…’.

I can’t go on forever, though y’know. I’m not as young as I used to be. But the mate­lots, bless ‘em, they don’t notice any of this decay! They always say, “Oh, Charlie, you never change!” and I say to them, “Well, no, but the wattage does!” Charlie laughs. ‘Every year a bit less. I star­ted off here with 100W bulbs. Now I’m down to 10W. And tin­ted!

What’s that? Why do the lads love me so? Oh it’s because they know I love them,’ he explains with a shrug. ‘And I’m always here. Unlike bar­maids, I don’t regard them as a prob­lem or as a meal-ticket. And, of course,’ he smiles, wink­ing, ‘they do like my out­rageous beha­viour. They always insist that I wear all my jew­ellery when they come to visit.’

A few hours and a crate of beer later I’m stag­ger­ing back to my hotel and can’t help think­ing that the reason the sail­ors treat Charlie like a star is simply because they recog­nise one when they see one. Lovely Charlie is, well, lovely. And price­less. When he finally calls last orders, or runs out of wattage, a little but pre­cious piece of British mari­time and marytime his­tory will be lost forever.

This piece was ori­gin­ally writ­ten back in 2000, but I’m very happy to report that Charles is still going full steam ahead, and so is a recently-refurbished Charles’ Hole-in-the-Wall bar — he’s even upped the wattage! (Castle Street, Gibraltar; opens at 9pm.) 

Bisexual Men Exist! But Does Scientific Sex Research?

Those kinky penile plethysmo­graph fet­ish­ists at Northwestern University just can’t get enough cock.

Dr JM Bailey and his chums have been strap­ping a fresh batch of pen­ises into their sex-lie detector machines again, show­ing them porn and fever­ishly twid­dling their knobs. But this time – hold the front page! – their ‘sci­entific’ find­ings very kindly allow men who like cock and pussy to actu­ally exist.

Which might not in the real world seem such a major find­ing – but it rep­res­ents a major flip flop for this out­fit. Six years ago, using the same cranky equip­ment, they claimed they had demon­strated that male bisexu­al­ity didn’t exist. That their data sug­ges­ted that bisexual men were in fact ‘really’ homosexual.

A ‘find­ing’ that was trum­peted around the world. Because of course it told people, straight and gay, what they wanted to hear, and what com­mon sense tells them to be the case. Gays have always wanted bisexual men to join ‘their’ team. While straights don’t want the dirty dogs on theirs. However lib­eral they might be. Especially in the devoutly mono­sexual USA. ‘Straight, Gay or Lying?’ was the infam­ous, shame­ful head­line in the New York Times which greeted the 2005 paper from Bailey ‘prov­ing’ male bisexu­al­ity doesn’t exist.

Just as all women are ‘really bisexual’, no men really are. Since vir­il­ity is dir­ectly related to a man’s abil­ity to per­form com­puls­ory het­ero­sexu­al­ity, any man who is aroused by cock can’t be virile. He is, by defin­i­tion, emas­cu­lated. Impotent. A fag. Or ‘gay’ if you’re lib­eral. No won­der the vast major­ity of men attrac­ted to other men don’t advert­ise the fact.

All this des­pite of course the way hard­core ‘straight’ porn watched by most men when they’re not strapped to a plethysmo­graph in Northwestern University fea­tures pussies AND cock. Usually lots and lots of ENORMOUS cocks – and a sorely-tested pussy or two. By way of con­trast, I’d point out that I’ve never seen a single pussy in gay porn. (Except once in the art-house porn of Bruce La Bruce – who was any­way only doing it to wind up The Gays.)

In my own private ‘researches’ I’ve come across – and over – scores of straight/bi-curious/bisexual men who want to re-enact the straight hard­core porn they’ve been watch­ing. With them as the ‘greedy slut’. They tell me they decided that it looked like fun. And besides, they thought they could do a bet­ter job. (Probably cor­rectly, since the ‘slut’ fantasy of straight porn is of course a largely male construction.)

But Bailey’s yen to strap pen­ises into sex-lie detect­ors is much more respect­able than my private per­ving. The jaw-droppingly dread­ful recent C4 doc­u­ment­ary series The Sex Researchers presen­ted Bailey as some kind of sexual seer, rather than the highly con­tro­ver­sial and frankly rather dodgy fig­ure he is. Worse, it gave his favour­ite sex toy, the penile plethysmo­graph, a star­ring role in the first and last epis­ode, present­ing a con­trap­tion which is prob­ably even less reli­able than a non-kinky ordin­ary lie detector, as a pure, object­ive and accur­ate way of meas­ur­ing and study­ing sexu­al­ity, in con­trast to all that sub­ject­ive tosh and ‘dirty data’ that Kinsey and Freud came out with. By listen­ing to people.

Likewise, the series began and ended with the ludicrous but appar­ently highly reas­sur­ing asser­tion, based on this object­ive and sci­entific research, that most women are bisexual and hardly any men are.

In keep­ing with this ‘Loaded’ ideo­logy – and it really is an ideo­logy, make no mis­take – the entire series on sex research, lav­ishly illus­trated with ‘ironic’ vin­tage soft porn foot­age of naked ladies play­ing with them­selves and jig­gling their boobies, the penis and the male body was almost com­pletely absent – except when under­go­ing grue­some ‘cor­rect­ive sur­gery’ or being sub­jec­ted to ‘test­ing’ in the plethysmo­graph. We were repeatedly told that female sexu­al­ity is ‘com­plic­ated’ but men’s sexu­al­ity is… mech­an­ical.

The denial of male bisexu­al­ity and bi-curiousness has its roots in a sex­ism that keeps men in their place even more than women.

Sex’ for the C4 doc­u­ment­ary makers meant (a very par­tic­u­lar kind of) ‘female body’. It was as if the doc­u­ment­ary had been dir­ec­ted by Benny Hill, but without the laughs. The com­mer­cial breaks, fea­tur­ing tarty half-naked men selling break­fast cer­eals and mois­tur­iser were much more enlightened and real­istic than any­thing in this series based on an already highly dated het­ero­norm­ativ­ity (which incid­ent­ally is the sub­ject of an offi­cial com­plaint to Channel 4 about its inac­cur­ate and mis­lead­ing nature by sev­eral of the sex research­ers inter­viewed for it).

So why the turn­around by Bailey? Well, it seems the loud and angry protests from bisexual organ­isa­tions that Bailey’s 2005 find­ings under­stand­ably aroused has taken its toll -– and indeed one bisexual organ­isa­tion even fun­ded this recent research.

They got the res­ult they wanted, but I fear they’re wast­ing their money and merely encour­aging more bad sci­ence. Some of course will hold these find­ings up as proof that this Heath Robinson kind of bio-mechanical sex research can cor­rect itself. But they would have to be true believ­ers to see it that way. All that has been proven is that meas­ur­ing penile blood-flow in a labor­at­ory is a highly reduct­ive and highly abnor­mal meas­ure of male sexu­al­ity. Men are not just pen­ises. They are also pro­state glands. Perineums. Earlobes. Inner thighs. Brains. Nipples.

It also shows that you get the res­ult you’re look­ing for. In 2005 Bailey wanted to prove that male bisexu­al­ity didn’t exist. In 2011 he didn’t. QED.

Perhaps the worst thing about this new find­ing is that Bailey et al will now try to turn male bisexu­als into a ‘spe­cies’ to be stud­ied and dis­sec­ted. Bisexual men may quickly come to the con­clu­sion that they were much bet­ter off when they didn’t exist.

Unless of course they them­selves have a bit of a fet­ish for penile plethysmo­graph play.

 

The End of Heterosexuality (As We’ve Known It)

By Mark Simpson

A bullet-pointed column in the NYT by Charles M. Blow exam­ines a sea-change in atti­tudes towards homo­sexu­al­ity sug­ges­ted by a recent Gallup poll which found that, for the first time, the per­cent­age of Americans who per­ceive “gay and les­bian rela­tions” as “mor­ally accept­able” has crossed the sym­bol­ic­ally import­ant 50 per­cent mark.

Also for the first time, and even more sig­ni­fic­antly, more men than women hold that view. While women’s atti­tudes have stayed about the same over the past four years, the per­cent­age of men over 50 who con­sider homo­sexu­al­ity mor­ally accept­able rose by a by an eyebrow-raising 26% –and for those aged 18–49 by an eye­pop­ping 48%.

What on earth has happened in the US since 2006? How did the American male lose his world-famous Christian sphincter-cramp and right­eous loath­ing of sod­omy? Have the gays been secretly put­ting pop­pers in the locker-room vent­il­a­tion shaft?

Alas, Gallup doesn’t say.  So Mr Blow does what you do at the NYT when you’re stumped: ask some aca­dem­ics.  They came up with three theories:

    1. As more gay people come out more straight people get to per­son­ally know gay people which makes it more dif­fi­cult to discriminate.
    2. Men may be becom­ing more ‘egal­it­arian’ in gen­eral, partly thanks to feminism.
    3. Virulent homo­phobes are increas­ingly being exposed for enga­ging in homosexuality”.

Now, the first two of these the­or­ies seem to me fairly plaus­ible explan­a­tions for increased accept­ance of homo­sexu­al­ity at any time, but not espe­cially in the last few years – let alone that whop­ping 48% rise for 18–49 year olds. But the third the­ory about pub­lic homo­phobes being exposed as secretly gay per­haps goes too far in the oppos­ite dir­ec­tion and is too current-news spe­cific. As if the dis­cov­ery that fam­ous homo­phobe George Rekkers hired a rent boy to give him ‘spe­cial’ mas­sages could trans­form atti­tudes towards man-love overnight – rather than just change atti­tudes towards George Rekkers.

So I give them all just a C minus.

And, as Blow points out, none of these the­or­ies address the main find­ing – that men now are more accept­ing than women, revers­ing the gender split on this sub­ject that has held since poll­sters star­ted bug­ging people with ques­tions about ‘homo­sexual relations’.

In my own spec­u­lat­ive opin­ion, none of these the­or­ies can see the rain­forest for the trees. Of course young men in the US are much more accept­ing of homo­sexu­al­ity – because so many of them are now way gay them­selves. It’s not really an issue of ‘tol­er­ance’ or ‘accept­ance’ of ‘oth­er­ness’ at all. It’s about self-interest – quite lit­er­ally. About men being less down on the gays because they’re less hard on them­selves now – in fact, rather sweet on them­selves instead.

It’s about men in gen­eral not being so quick to renounce and con­demn their own ‘unmanly’ desires or nar­ciss­ism – or pro­ject it into ‘faggots’.

Which from the point of view of today’s sen­su­ally greedy male would be a ter­rible waste of a pro­state gland. Probably most young men are now doing pretty much everything that freaky gay men were once abhorred for doing – from anal play (both ways) to no-strings fuck-buddies, to cry­ing over Glee, and using buff-puffs in the shower while demand­ing as their male birth­right ‘com­fort­able skin’ (as the recent massive ad cam­paign for Dove for Men puts it).

And the tim­ing fits almost as snugly as a fin­ger or three where the sun don’t shine. It was after all only in 2003 that the Supreme Court finally struck down the anti sod­omy laws still on the stat­ute books of some US states as uncon­sti­tu­tional. It was also in the early Noughties that met­ro­sexu­al­ity really took off in the US.

Despite a mid-Noughties anti-metro, anti-gay mar­riage back­lash that helped re-elect Bush, in the Tweenies the male desire to be desired, and his eager­ness to use product – and body parts and prac­tises – once deemed ‘gay’ or ‘fem­in­ine’ or just ‘wrong’ to achieve this, seems to have become pretty much accep­ted amongst most American males under 45. It’s con­sumer­ism and advert­ising of course not the gays that has been put­ting the pop­pers in the men’s locker room.

Along the way, many young men have twigged that in a post-feminist world of com­mod­i­fied bod­ies and online tarti­ness there is decidedly no advant­age to them any more in an essen­tially Victorian sexual divi­sion of labour in the bed­room and bath­room that insists only women are looked at and men do the look­ing, that women are always pass­ive and men are always act­ive – or in the homo­pho­bia that was used to enforce it. Men now want it all.  Both ends.

And per­haps American women aren’t keep­ing up with men’s chan­ging atti­tudes because some are real­ising how ‘gay’ their boy­friends and hus­bands are already and won­der­ing where this is all leading.

There’s plenty to won­der about.  After all, it’s the end of the road for that holi­est American insti­tu­tion of all: Heterosexuality. Not cross-sex attrac­tion, of course, or repro­duc­tion – but that sys­tem of com­puls­ory, full-time, always-asserted straight­ness for men which stray­ing from moment­ar­ily, or even just fail­ing to show suf­fi­cient respect towards in the past could cost you your cojones. What, you a FAG??

If met­ro­sexu­al­ity is based on van­ity, ret­ro­sexu­al­ity, it needs to be poin­ted out, was based partly on self-loathing. ‘Real men’ were sup­posed to be repulsed by their own bod­ies at least as much as they were repulsed by other men’s. (If they were really lucky they might get away with pas­sion­ate indifference.)

After a dec­ade or so of met­ro­sexu­al­ity a tip­ping point seems to have been reached. Men’s self-loving bi-sensuality and appre­ci­ation of male beauty, awakened and increas­ingly nor­m­al­ised by our medi­ated world, seems to be here to stay. Even in the God-fearing USA. And might now, if it’s in the mood and treated right, choose to be con­sum­mated rather than just deflec­ted into con­sumer­ism again.

When I first wrote about how the future of men was met­ro­sexual, back in 1994, it was clear to me that met­ro­sexu­al­ity was to some degree the flip­side of the then emer­ging fash­ion for female bi-curiousness. I didn’t talk about this much at the time because I knew no one would listen if I did.  (I needn’t have wor­ried – they didn’t anyway.)

In this regard, one of the aca­dem­ics in the NYT piece was (finally) quoted as say­ing some­thing inter­est­ing, right at the end:

Professor Savin-Williams says that his cur­rent research reveals that the fastest-growing group along the sexu­al­ity con­tinuüm are men who self-identify as “mostly straight” as opposed to labels like “straight,” “gay” or “bisexual.”  They acknow­ledge some level of attrac­tion to other men even as they say that they prob­ably wouldn’t act on it, but … the right guy, the right day, a few beers and who knows. As the pro­fessor points out, you would never have heard that in years past.’

An A ++ to Dr Savin-Williams. Not so long ago, when Heterosexuality was a proper belief sys­tem that com­manded round-the-clock obeis­ance, ‘mostly straight’ would have been a heretical con­tra­dic­tion in terms – like half preg­nant. But in this Brave New World of male need­i­ness it’s just a state­ment of where we’re at.

For today’s young men the fear of fag­gotry is fast being replaced by the fear of miss­ing out.

Tip: Dermod Moore

MM4W — No Dudes! Not Gay!! We Don’t Touch Each Other!!!

Some amus­ing — and pos­sibly dis­turb­ing — MM4W Craiglist per­sonal ads spot­ted on the rather fas­cin­at­ing NattySoltesz.com (not entirely office safe).

My per­sonal favour­ite is the one head­lined: ‘Probably the 2 Best Looking Men You’ll Find On Here’, which insists:

No tran­nies, no dudes, none of that creepy stuff — we’re straight!’

The pic­tures attached of the two buffed, preen­ing male tarts are indeed a test­a­ment to where straight men are at these days. The state of straight.

Now, there’s noth­ing wrong with some bud­dies want­ing to re-enacct the gang-bang, several-outsized-penises-pester-one-pussy porn that is so pop­u­lar with straight men these days.  And if they’re buffed — even bet­ter. It doesn’t mean they’re gay. It doesn’t even mean that they’re par­tic­u­larly bisexual. It just means that, like most men, they’re rather keen on cocks.

But the hys­ter­ical lengths men still feel they have to go to to refute any of ‘that creepy stuff’ — even as they spit-roast or DP an obli­ging lady together, admir­ing each other’s sweat­ing, flex­ing muscles and per­haps enjoy­ing the sen­sa­tion of their buddy’s erect penis ham­mer­ing away on the other side of the pel­vic area — or per­haps in the same ori­fice — is a bit sad. If under­stand­able. Because of course, if you’re male and ‘touch one another’, even just once, then you are GAY!!!!! Forever. Whereas if you’re female and touch one another you’re… HOT!!!!!

The slightly, how shall I put it, impen­et­rable French Freudian fem­in­ist Luce Irigary (impen­et­rable even by the stand­ards of French fem­in­ism) wrote back in the 1980s about the ‘mas­cu­line homo­sexual eco­nomy’ (of het­ero­sexu­als) in which women are merely objects and tokens to be exchanged between men — men in pat­ri­arch­ical sys­tems being sup­posedly far more inter­ested in other men than in women.

In the 21st Century we have moved on from that, of course. Now men appear to be using women as double-ended Fleshlites.

Banana-Curious: Why Men Throat Curved Fruit on YouTube

Male bi-curiousness may not be as ‘cool’ as The Daily Beast thinks, but banana-curiousity is clearly all the rage.

There has been a bit of a vogue for young men video­ing them­selves greed­ily down­load­ing curved phal­lic fruit and upload­ing the some­times messy, some­times awe-inspiring res­ults to YouTube. I’ve col­lec­ted a few examples which may put you off your packed lunch. Or make you want to get to know it a whole lot better.

Because it’s a fruit that looks like a penis and is not an actual penis, fruit fel­la­tio is some­thing you can per­form for your help­lessly snig­ger­ing male bud­dies on buses, in bar­racks and canteens and post on YouTube for the world to see without age restric­tions or, appar­ently, any embarrassment.

Nor does it tell us any­thing about your sexu­al­ity — save that you’re prob­ably ridicu­lously het­ero­sexual. Though it may sug­gest that, like most straight men nowadays, you spend rather a lot of time mas­turb­at­ing furi­ously over porn fea­tur­ing gar­gan­tuan pen­ises more animal or veget­able than human while won­der­ing — just before you shoot all over the mon­itor again — whether or not you could do a bet­ter job of swal­low­ing it than the ladies.

It’s a shame that male bi-curiousness couldn’t be treated the way banana-curiousness is by most people: just an eye-watering laugh that doesn’t mean any­thing, still less reveal­ing some ‘inner truth’ about who or what you really are — or aren’t.  In other words, a bit like female bi-curiousness.

In fact, let’s just scrub the word ‘bi-curious’ for men, since it is appar­ently such a charged term, and replace it with ‘banana-curious’. Banana-curious guys could dis­cretely flag up their interest to other banana-curious males by includ­ing a pic­ture of them eat­ing a banana on their online profiles.

Sadly though, such is the stigma still attached to men’s interest in other men and their bits that even banana-curiousness will some­times get you flamed as… FAGGOT!!!!!  And even lads who like to throat twelve-inch ‘cock bana­nas’ on cam­era will fall over to prove them­selves fag-haters because that of course proves their heterosexuality.

There’s a furi­ous exchange on YouTube between the young chap above, who man­fully attempts what he describes as ‘a cock banana’ (of Holmesian pro­por­tions that would have me hid­ing under the bed, quak­ing like a wet chi­hua­hua) and a clearly envi­ous if some­what con­flic­ted com­menter who starts off by screaming:

GAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY !!!!!!!! ’

The banana-throater responds wittily:

your the gay one fuck head ’

Which leads inev­it­ably to the riposte:

your gay for makin’ this video ’

Fascinating epi­stem­o­lo­gical ques­tion, that. Who is gayer? The uptight straight boy throat­ing a twelve inch ‘cock banana’ on YouTube or the straight boy watch­ing it and work­ing him­self into a homo­phobic froth about it?

your the fag­got who searched for it ‚if you like men you­tube aint the place’

you’re gay for makin’ the video for us to search for,and I never searched for it. It came up when I was look­ingh for some­thing of a com­pletely dif­fer­ent category.’

Yes! That’s exactly how I came across this clip too!

Maybe it’s just me, but whenever I come across this kind of exchange between young males it always seems clear as day that such pas­sion­ate denun­ci­ations of one another as ‘fag­gots’ is only pos­sible — in fact only makes any kind of sense — if ‘fag­got’ thoughts are extremely com­mon amongst young males and they are forever fret­ting that they’ll be found out. (This is also very prob­ably the reason why male bisexu­al­ity is much more prob­lem­atic than the female vari­ety: because they’re so com­mon the repu­di­ation of ‘fag­got’ thoughts is a more deeply ingrained aspect of mas­culin­ity — almost its defin­i­tion, in fact.)

The banana-throater’s girl­friend makes a some­what con­veni­ent appear­ance to prove he’s not gay — which of course in itself proves he couldn’t pos­sibly be inter­ested in pen­ises — and to shoo away the gays that are circ­ling around her tal­en­ted boy­friend in lan­guage sus­pi­ciously sim­ilar to that used by him:

sorry gay boy its only a banana if you want to see cock why dont you go buy a poofs magazine’

Mind you, dear, as one of the posters points out, your boy­friend did title his charm­ing video ‘cock banana’, so you can hardly blame the gay boy poofs can you? Your boy­friend, like you, does appear to have ‘issues’. Here’s the banana-cock-throating boy’s own response to another poster’s offer to let him try out his skills on the real thing:

no thanks gay boy, women are sup­pose to do that kind of thing. its adam and eve not adam and steve.’

Whereas deep-throating bana­nas is of course entirely nat­ural and nor­mal and as God intended.

But the really import­ant, urgent ques­tion, er, ‘thrown up’ by these clips is of course: who has the best tech­nique? No.2 looks to have the most capa­cious throat, but I’m tickled by No.5’s enthu­si­asm, while No.6 has a very cheeky fin­ish.  Please post your reviews.…

And to all you banana-curious lads out there won­der­ing how to sup­press that tricky gag-reflex: try tak­ing a deep breath before swal­low­ing. Poppers, relax­ing music and a hand around the back of the head helps too.

Health and Safety Notice: if you really are going to try this at home I should prob­ably point out that an actual penis or proper plastic dildo is prob­ably less dan­ger­ous down your throat than a banana as they’re both some­what less likely to break in two and choke you to death.

3.

I hurt my throat!” (Yeah, right.)

4.

It’s a big dick!” Not really, dear.…

5.

Lots of eye-contact here.

6.

A cheeky finish.

 

UPDATE 1/4/12

A few years on and it seems one or two of the banana-throaters pos­ted above have become a tad shy about their tal­ents and pulled their clips. So I had a quick look on YouTube and found a new banana star — a cute blond jar­head who deep throats curved fruit in the bar­racks for a dol­lar. “Will you go out with me?” jokes his clearly impressed bunk buddy.

Meanwhile someone has kindly col­lec­ted a ‘bunch’ of Youtube banana-throating vids and spliced them together:

 

Bisexuals Musto Be Gay

Michael Musto, a very gay man, had this to say in The Village Voice recently about those per­fi­di­ous, untrust­worthy bisexuals:

Everyone always says they’re bisexual, blab­bing on and on about how “sexu­al­ity is fluid, and I don’t really like labels”–but usu­ally I find these are just gay men who are afraid to come out. I know there are real bisexu­als out there–mainly because I’ve heard that there are–and I do think it’s a lovely idea to actu­ally crave sex with people regard­less of gender. I’m just won­der­ing how real a phe­nomenon this is, as opposed to a smoke-and-mirrors coverup designed to keep antsy gays in the closet.

Most of the guys I know who say they’re bisexual end up doing Bette Davis imper­son­a­tions after a few drinks, and when you invite them to an all-girl bar, they get excited, think­ing you mean Splash. But do you know any­one who REALLY is equally attrac­ted to both men and women and effort­lessly glides between those two dat­ing pools without a second’s thought or self-consciousness? If so, do you ever sus­pect they’re full of shit?

Musto was per­haps being delib­er­ately crass, but he should prob­ably be thanked for voicing what prob­ably most gay men think about bisexual men (and note that he starts talk­ing about ‘bisexu­al­ity’ but it quickly becomes clear that, like me, he’s only inter­ested in bisexual men).

Stripped down and lubed up, here’s what Musto was really say­ing about those flakey bi guys:

  1. They’re lying
  2. They really want to be Michael Musto
  3. Real bisexu­al­ity is about ‘crav­ing’ men and women because bisexu­als are greedy
  4. If they’re not greedy and equally attrac­ted to both men and women — and of course Musto gets to decide whether they are or not — then we’re back to where we came in.
  5. Will Musto get to suck his cock?

Funny how many gay men appear to want to exterm­in­ate male bisexu­al­ity as a cat­egory even though they often find the idea of bisexual men a big turn on. Each man kills the thing he loves….

Of course, for some men declar­ing them­selves ‘bi’ is a way of edging out of het­ero­sexu­al­ity into full-time all-singing, all-dancing homo­sexu­al­ity and even­ings out with Michael Musto. But that’s not why gay men are often so hos­tile to male bisexu­al­ity. The real reason is that, like most straight people, they want every man who touches another man’s pee-pee to have to join the gay team. They want to own man­sex. And they want all those who have man­sex to be just like them. Which, if they look like Musto is, I’d ven­ture, a slightly dysto­pian dream.

Sorry, but I’m going to quote myself again, this time from three years ago when the NYT ran a much worse art­icle than Musto’s mus­ings called ‘Gay, Straight Or Lying?’:

Fear and loath­ing of male bisexu­al­ity is some­thing that tends to bring het­ero­sexu­als and homo­sexu­als together. Instead of pon­der­ing the pos­sib­il­ity that pub­lic atti­tudes towards male bisexu­al­ity are a truer, less cen­sored indic­a­tion of what many people actu­ally feel about male homo­sexu­al­ity in gen­eral and its enforced incom­pat­ib­il­ity with mas­culin­ity, gay men too often rush to con­demn bisexual men and reas­sure het­ero­sexu­als: Don’t worry! You’re not being homo­phobic when mouth­ing off about bisexual men! Coz we hate them too!!

Male Bisexuality: Is it Cool?

Rachel Kramer Bussel at The Daily Beast thinks that male bisexu­al­ity has become ‘cool’.

…whereas bisexual women had their fling with pop cul­ture in the 1990s-when every­one from Drew Barrymore to Madonna messed around with women, not to men­tion the fam­ous Vanity Fair cover show­ing Cindy Crawford shav­ing k.d. lang-“bromances” are now the driv­ing force behind Hollywood com­ed­ies and Style sec­tion fea­tures, as men find more ways to play for both teams, or at least act like they do.

Examples are every­where. In John Hamburg’s recent movie, I Love You, Man, the gay guy who unwit­tingly goes on a date with Paul Rudd isn’t just played for laughs, but to some degree, sym­pathy. This sum­mer will also see Lynn Shelton’s buzzed-about Humpday, in which two straight male friends decide to make a homemade porn video. And Brody Jenner’s real­ity show Bromance blurs the line sep­ar­at­ing friend­ship and attrac­tion in what Videogum’s Gabe Delahaye calls “basic­ally the gay­est thing ever, made more gay by everyone’s des­per­ate attempts to provide chest-bumping proof of their heterosexuality.“‘

For my part how­ever, I’m not entirely con­vinced that male bisexu­al­ity has become ‘cool’, not least because most of the bisexual guys I meet are still ter­ri­fied any­one will find out — and I still can’t name off the top of my head a single out male bisexual celeb in the UK (aside from my friend the nov­el­ist Jake Arnott — but as a self-described ‘gay bisexual’ he is rather excep­tional). Whereas almost any female star under the age of 40 has to pre­tend to be bi–crazed or else risk that Nuts/FHM cover.

And the recent trend for ‘bromance,’ far from prov­ing the hip­ness of male swinging is, as the name sug­gests, almost defined by its incest-taboo-driven need to purge the male love affair of the pos­sib­il­ity of any­thing phys­ical, any trace of erot­ics what­so­ever, to a degree which male buddy flicks in the past didn’t, and in fact often went out of their way to inject: e.g. Top Gun, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Thunder & Lightfoot, Midnight Cowboy. By con­trast these mod­ern buddy flicks make me think ‘bromance’ is just another word for ‘brom­ide’.  Or les­bian bed-death for straight men without the hon­ey­moon. (The art­house movie ‘Humpday’ seems to be another story — and pre­cisely because it is another story, it is highly unlikely to be a hit.)

But we are cer­tainly liv­ing in inter­est­ing times, and the cul­ture is slowly — and frantic­ally — try­ing to nego­ti­ate, how­ever ineptly, how­ever decept­ively, the thing star­ing them in the face like the out­size erec­tions in the mandigo gang-bang porn so pop­u­lar with straight guys these days: male bi-responsiveness is prob­ably very com­mon, rather than the devi­ant, bizarre, incred­u­lous excep­tion (it cer­tainly was at my board­ing school).

The met­ro­sexual is also, of course, part of this jour­ney — and also some­times per­haps part of the attempt to deflect it.

But there’s a long, long way to go before male bisexu­al­ity is even approach­ing the same level of accept­ab­il­ity let alone cool­ness as female bisexu­al­ity.  A recent study pub­lished in the Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality found that the fam­ous ‘sexual double stand­ard’ has now reversed polar­ity and shif­ted in the dir­ec­tion of inhib­it­ing men’s sexual adven­tur­ous­ness while encour­aging women’s.  According to The National Post men are:

…more lim­ited by what is con­sidered taboo in the bed­room; hit by a new double stand­ard that expects men to be highly sexual, and yet expects them to be less exper­i­mental — while the oppos­ite is true for women.

The study, pub­lished in the Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, found that soci­ety accords men less “sexual lat­it­ude” than women, deem­ing it abnor­mal for a man to be dis­in­ter­ested in sex, to engage in homo­sexual fantasy, and to engage in sub­missive sexual acts.

The double stand­ard used to give men more sexual free­dom than women, but these find­ings indic­ate that the dynamic is chan­ging” said Alex McKay, research coördin­ator for the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada. “Men are forced to abide by a cer­tain gender role, while women are today more free to be them­selves. In this sense, the stand­ard actu­ally works against the man.“‘

I came to the same con­clu­sion three years ago in a piece pos­ted on here called ‘Curiouser and curi­ouser’ — based on my own very private ‘research’:

That women are being encour­aged to talk about their bisexu­al­ity as an enhance­ment of their fem­in­in­ity and sexu­al­ity is rather mar­vel­lous — but it also height­ens the double stand­ard about male bisexu­al­ity, one as pro­nounced than the double stand­ard about promis­cu­ity used to be (men were ‘studs’ and women were ‘slags’), and makes it more inev­it­able that male bisexu­al­ity — by which I simply mean ‘straight’ male sexu­al­ity that doesn’t fit into het­ero­sexu­al­ity, and boy, there’s a lot of that — will have to be addressed can­didly sooner or later.

The tidy-minded inhib­i­tions which keep male bi-curiousness under wraps are still power­ful, but have largely lost their social value, their attach­ment to any­thing real; they are mostly rem­nants from a Judeo-Christian (re)productive, world that doesn’t exist any more, except per­haps in Utah, every other Sunday.… When enough young men real­ise this — or maybe just the des­per­ate pre­pos­ter­ous­ness of the pre­ju­dice and ‘sci­ence’ deployed against male bi-curiousness — the change in atti­tudes will occur very quickly and dra­mat­ic­ally indeed.’

As the Canadian report sug­gests — and Canada is about as lib­eral and relaxed a coun­try as you could con­ceive — that day is not yet here.  However, the fact that such a study exists at all is per­haps a sign that that it’s com­ing closer.

Either way, more research is needed.  And I need a grant to con­duct some more ‘interviews’.…

Trading in the past: Queer London

sailor-soldier.jpg

Once upon a time the streets of the cap­ital heaved with jolly sail­ors and guards­men look­ing for gen­tle­men to have fun with. Then gay lib­er­a­tion came along and ruined it for every­one, com­plains Mark Simpson

(Independent on Sunday — 11 September, 2005)

I con­sider myself some­thing of a tra­di­tion­al­ist. I enjoy tra­di­tional activ­it­ies, such as cruis­ing the Dilly, pick­ing up guards­men, sail­ors, dock­ers and young work­ing men.

I am, in other words, a hope­less romantic. For trade, the mas­cu­line erotic eco­nomy which girded the loins of the greatest city in the world, lub­ric­ated the pis­tons of the greatest Empire and made saucy sense of the British class sys­tem is gone forever. The docks have gone, the sail­ors and guards­men are all but gone — and, crim­in­ally, don’t wear their uni­forms on the street any more, mak­ing them very dif­fi­cult to spot. And as for the work­ing men, well, they all live so far out of town these days and drive so fast in their white vans that it’s almost impossible to col­lar any.

All that’s left is a gay disco in the East End called Trade, where you can find shirt­less gay law­yers on horse-tranquilizers eye­ing one another up while dan­cing frantic­ally at 5am. If you really want to.

Gone too are the painted queans, such as Quentin Crisp, and the respect­able gen­tle­men in even­ing dress who pur­sued trade — trade who, for sex, for viol­ence, for love, for money, for a few beers, for some­thing to tell their mates about, fre­quently allowed them­selves to be caught. Gone are the jost­ling, smoke-filled “known” (not “gay”) pubs. Gone is the whole vibrant and com­plex pre-gay bach­elor world of male-male intim­ate rela­tions that meant that per­haps most sexual activ­ity between men before the 1967 decrim­in­al­isa­tion involved men who were not queer. What we now call “homo­sexu­al­ity” or “the gay scene” was a much, much big­ger busi­ness before so-called liberalisation.

Contrary to received wis­dom, today’s out-and-proud gay world is in many ways a mar­gin­al­ised, air­less, inces­tu­ous one com­pared to what went before in the “bad old days”. It’s only in the last 30 years or so, in other words, the period cor­res­pond­ing to the rise of “gay lib­er­a­tion”, that we have begun to believe that to have sex with another male you have to belong to a sep­ar­ate spe­cies; that, regard­less of your interest in the ladies, if you wake up in bed with another male you have to move to Old Compton Street or the Castro, pronto.

As Houlbrook’s Queer London: Perils and Pleasures in the Sexual Metropolis 1918–1957 makes remark­ably clear, just a few dec­ades ago, sig­ni­fic­ant num­bers of (working-class) young men were not only mov­ing freely between male and female part­ners but were happy to brag about it. So long as they were “butch” and act­ive — or claimed they were — it would merely enhance their repu­ta­tion with the lads. It cer­tainly didn’t mean that they were “con­fused about their sexuality”.

Though you, dear reader, may be about theirs. It is, after all, a world that is almost unin­tel­li­gible to us today. Even my nos­tal­gia for “tra­di­tional” activ­it­ies is pre­cisely that: nos­tal­gia. A slightly per­verse, con­tem­por­ary pro­jec­tion on to the past — a past that is now too “queer” and unfa­mil­iar to grasp fully, pos­sibly even by those who are still alive to remem­ber it. As Houlbrook puts it: “Working class encoun­ters with the queer tran­scen­ded con­tem­por­ary under­stand­ings of ‘homo­sexu­al­ity’ or ‘homo­pho­bia’. Intimacy, sex, black­mail, theft, and assault con­sti­tuted a con­tinuüm…” A rather more excit­ing con­tinuüm than most homos today can handle — or would want to.

Perhaps this is why many gays today simply refuse to believe such a world exis­ted, except as some failed pro­to­type for the won­der­ful, self-contained, self-centred gay world they now live in: “God, all those sad, oppressed, self-hating homos chas­ing after straight men — why didn’t they get them­selves down to the gym and buy some cam­ou­flage trousers?”

Thankfully, Houlbrook isn’t one of those gays. He’s a his­tor­ian. “The world mapped out in this book is not a ‘gay’ world as we would cur­rently under­stand it,” he writes. “The places are dif­fer­ent. Soho has retained its import­ance, but today it seems almost impossible that Waterloo Road or Edgware Road could have been the site of equally import­ant, diverse, extens­ive, and vital queer enclaves between the wars.” Edgware Road was the site of a large bar­racks; Waterloo Road the home of the Union Jack Club, a hotel for hun­dreds of randy young sail­ors on leave. As one con­tem­por­ary put it: “The Waterloo Road was awash with sea­men, most of whose bod­ies… were not only able but willing.”

Queer London, with chapters on “Geographies of Public Sex” and “Piccadilly Palare: the world of the West End poof” (spot the Moz ref­er­ence) goes out of its way to present a map of London’s queer past that doesn’t merely see it as a world that was strug­gling to turn into Soho dur­ing Pride Week: “In explor­ing the his­tory of queer London in the first half of the 20th cen­tury, we should lament pos­sib­il­it­ies long lost as we cel­eb­rate oppor­tun­it­ies newly acquired.”

Obviously, it is the lost pos­sib­il­ity of sex — and lov­ing rela­tion­ships — with sail­ors, sol­diers and young work­ing men men that I most lament. So does Houlbrook; or, at least, he sees this as the cru­cial dif­fer­ence between London’s con­tem­por­ary gay world and its queer past. Unlike many other recent urban gay his­torys, this book gives equal atten­tion to those who con­sidered them­selves “nor­mal” but non­ethe­less social­ised with, had sex with, and often loved other men. In other words: trade. The men who were at the very centre of the queer erotic eco­nomy and without whom Saturday nights in 1930s Soho would have been very dull indeed.

So we learn that “the most dis­tinct­ive ven­ues” were either mil­it­ary pick-up joints like the Grenadier (Wilton Place), Tattershalls Tavern (Knightsbridge Green), the Alexandra Hotel (Hyde Park Corner), and the Packenham and Swan (I’ll be vis­it­ing them all very soon, just to make sure they’re no longer “in busi­ness”); or those in working-class neigh­bour­hoods in east and south London: dock­side pubs like the Prospect of Whitby (Wapping Stairs), or Charlie Brown’s (West India Dock Road). In these ven­ues, dock labour­ers, sail­ors from across the world, and fam­il­ies “mingled freely with flam­boy­ant local queans and slum­ming gen­tle­men in a pro­tean milieu where queer men and cas­ual homo­sexual encoun­ters were an accep­ted part of every­day life”. Perhaps Houlbrook is a little nos­tal­gic too, after all.

To regard London’s trad­ing scene as merely “pros­ti­tu­tion” or “exploit­a­tion”, as many are inclined, is again to impose mod­ern, pat­ron­ising val­ues on trans­ac­tions: “Working men’s desires were more com­plex than the term ‘pros­ti­tu­tion’ allows.” Money was not always exchanged (espe­cially with sail­ors), but even when it was, most of the “nor­mal” men trad­ing them­selves had jobs. For the most part, trade was an enjoy­able and reward­ing past-time activ­ity that could also become a last­ing emo­tional attachment.

Guardsman were notori­ously rough renters (very cap­able of black­mail and viol­ence, which was per­haps part of their appeal), but as one inter­viewed in 1960 admit­ted: “Some of us get quite fond of the blokes we see reg­u­larly… they’re nice fel­lows… and inter­est­ing to listen to. As for the sex… some of the younger ones aren’t bad looking…”

Or like the newly mar­ried Jim writ­ing rather sweetly to his gen­tle­man friend, John Lehmann: “I wish I was still see­ing you Jack as you were the best friend I ever had… you were always such a good friend to me we had good times together Jack and I hope I shall see you some time.” Trade was a young man’s game, which usu­ally las­ted only for the period between adoles­cence and mar­riage. Once mar­ried, working-class men and their unruly erec­tions would “move on”.

Why did the world of trade end? In part, because, like Jim, it got mar­ried. The post-war years saw a rise in prosper­ity which not only under­mined the eco­nomic rationale for trade, it also made mar­riage pos­sible much sooner. Rather than get­ting mar­ried in their late twen­ties and early thirties, young men were mar­ry­ing in their late teens and early twen­ties. The rough and tumble world of “rauc­ous male homoso­cial­ity” was dis­ap­pear­ing. Young men were social­ising much more with women, who were now enter­ing pub­lic life with money to spend them­selves (and today, if the tabloid stor­ies are to be believed, are lin­ing up to be smuggled into Knightsbridge Barracks). Trade ended because the bachelor-culture of pre-war London ended.

Ironically, the final blow to trade and the pub­lic world of queer sex was delivered by Wolfenden Report of 1957 and the Act which decrim­in­al­ised sex between con­sent­ing adult males in private 10 years later.

Key Wolfenden wit­nesses, Patrick Trevor-Roper (a Harley Street con­sult­ant) and Peter Wildeblood (dip­lo­matic cor­res­pond­ent for The Daily Mail) pleaded for homo­sexual respect­ab­il­ity in the lan­guage of the private middle-class home (sound­ing uncan­nily like gay mar­riage lob­by­ists today). Wildeblood claimed: “I seek only to apply to my life the rules which gov­ern the lives of all good men; free­dom to choose a part­ner and… to live with him dis­creetly and faith­fully… the right to choose the per­son whom I love.”

However, as Houlbrook points out, both wit­nesses glossed over the queer spaces in which they were going to meet that part­ner. Wildeblood fam­ously met the air­man McNally in a Piccadilly Circus sub­way; Trevor-Roper was cau­tioned by a police­man in St James’s Park, a ver­it­able bazaar for strap­ping Guardsman dur­ing the war.

To which I might add that for Wolfenden the “real per­verts” were not the “con­gen­ital inverts”, but the “oth­er­wise nor­mal men” who took part in these aber­rant activ­it­ies, often in pub­lic. This is why pro­sec­u­tions for inde­cency actu­ally doubled in the 10 years fol­low­ing “decrim­in­al­isa­tion” in 1967 (many of those con­victed were mar­ried). Wolfenden, which was also a report into street pros­ti­tu­tion, encour­aged the law to go after the “real per­verts”. All male sexual con­tact involving those under 21, those stay­ing in hos­tels or hotels, room­ing houses or prison, meet­ing in parks and pubic toi­lets (they were not “in private”), or while serving in the Armed Forces and Merchant Navy, remained illegal. In other words, prob­ably the vast major­ity of homo­sex in the earlier part of the 20th century.

Even the con­sen­sual activ­it­ies that led to the Montagu Scandal and pub­lic back­lash which promp­ted the Wolfenden Report and even­tu­ally the 1967 reform itself would still have been illi­cit after ‘decrim­in­al­isa­tion’ as they involved mem­bers of the RAF and were not con­duc­ted ‘in private’ — and would remain so for much of the next 40 years.

It’s prob­ably just more sour grapes on my part, but it’s tempt­ing to con­clude that the law reforms of the last few years, such as the equal­isa­tion of the age of con­sent, end­ing the ban in the Armed Forces and Merchant Navy, and relax­a­tion of the laws against “inde­cency” in pub­lic, happened not so much because of the tire­less cam­paigns by gay equal­ity reformers, or even the inter­ven­tion of the European Court of Human Rights, but simply because, one or two crui­sey parks aside, most “tra­di­tional activ­it­ies” in London had already come to an end.

Copyright Mark Simpson 2007

Sexual Outlaws: ‘Gay For Pay’ Paratroopers

This month’s Details magazine car­ries a let­ter (which Details strangely neg­lected to show to me) by vet­eran gay writer John Rechy, author of the cult 60s hust­ler nov­els ‘City of Night’ and ‘Numbers’, and the 70s plea for homo tol­er­ance ‘The Sexual Outlaw’ (books I enjoyed as teen­ager in the 80s). He takes issue with my recent story on the gay porn scan­dal involving the 82nd Airborne.

After agree­ing that it was wrong for the young enlis­ted para­troop­ers to be pun­ished so severely by the mighty US Army for what they did in their own time and with their own bod­ies – lit­er­ally out of uni­form – he gets to the main busi­ness of his letter:

…Simpson is entirely naïve when he upholds the absurdity that “straight” men who per­form – for pay or oth­er­wise – con­sen­sual gay sex are still straight, des­pite being aroused to the point of orgasm. This is strictly a lure by the cun­ning oper­at­ors of these sites to their gull­ible cli­ents who want to believe the fantasy. Those seven para­troop­ers should not have been pro­sec­uted, but they should not claim to be “straight” either. By doing so, they com­pound the dis­hon­esty of the whole situation.’

In other words, they shouldn’t be pun­ished for appear­ing in a gay video – but they deserve to be horse­whipped in the let­ters pages for their ‘dishonesty’.

I’m grate­ful to Rechy for cla­ri­fy­ing mat­ters. For years I’ve laboured under the naïve and absurd delu­sion that I was homo because I pre­ferred males. Now I real­ise my dis­hon­esty: how can I be homo? I’ve had sex with women! ‘To the point of orgasm’. And I wasn’t filmed. Or even paid.

It is per­haps too easy to make fun of his argu­ment. Lots of people have dif­fi­culty today accept­ing the idea that when two males have sex with another this does not neces­sar­ily mean that, before the spilled semen has even had time to cool, they have to book their own float at Pride. Once upon a Kinseyian time, prob­ably most male-on-male sex involved men who were oth­er­wise het­ero­sexual. In the 1940s Dr Sex fam­ously found that 37% of his inter­viewees admit­ted to sex ‘to orgasm’ with other males. (Though he was of course attacked for this find­ing by those who claimed he was entirely naïve and hadn’t inter­viewed enough ‘nor­mal’ men.)

As recently as the 1960s, a pan­icked British Navy called off an invest­ig­a­tion into homo­sexu­al­ity on Her Majesty’s ships because it was found that at least ’50% of the fleet have sinned homo­sexu­ally.’ Understandably, the author­it­ies hast­ily decided they would rather have a fleet than kick out every man who had ever engaged in spot of sod­omy, with or without the lash.

Though some gays seem unwill­ing to be as prag­matic or tol­er­ant as the 1960s Royal Navy. They seem, like Rechy, to want to press-gang any man who touches another man’s penis into the gay iden­tity. Or, as a fall­back pos­i­tion: ‘bisexual’ — in the sense of ‘nearly-gay’.

Obviously a pro­por­tion of Dink’s ActiveDuty mod­els must be gay or bisexual. After all, I appeared in an ActiveDuty video — and in fact not all of them are presen­ted as straight. And of course a cer­tain amount of scep­ti­cism is under­stand­able, advis­able even. And Dink him­self told me that he thought that quite a few of his mod­els were prob­ably ‘bi-curious’, and that iron­ic­ally, appear­ing in his videos for cash was for them a ‘safe’ way of explor­ing this.

But what is remark­able is just how reli­giously cer­tain Rechy et al are that these chaps can’t be straight. None of them.

My sense how­ever, as someone who has actu­ally met some of them — and per­formed with them — is that many if not most of them are prob­ably oth­er­wise het­ero­sexual. I can’t of course prove this, and per­haps it really is my gull­ible fantasy – but then neither can Rechy prove they’re not. And the onus of proof is with the pro­sec­u­tion. Besides, if you really do think that hav­ing sex with another male means you de facto can’t be straight, then you are effect­ively say­ing that any and all male-on-male sex auto­mat­ic­ally con­signs you into a sep­ar­ate, abnor­mal spe­cies of male.

Alas, male-on-male sex is not some magical, irres­ist­ible juju that robs hetero men of their pref­er­ence for pussy should they ever exper­i­ence it. Even when it’s me they have sex with (I like to think my dick is magical, but non­ethe­less…). For quite a few straight men, espe­cially those who aren’t schooled in bour­geois niceties, like the coun­try boys who become para­troop­ers, ‘cock fun’ is much less of a deal than it is for many gays. It’s just a naughty giggle. Or a quick way of earn­ing some cash. Something Rechy should know from his hust­ler nov­els — though as I recall they were usu­ally about hust­lers who thought they were straight but even­tu­ally real­ised that they were actu­ally John Rechy.

I sus­pect that part of the reason so many homos want to see straight guys hav­ing sex with one another — and will pay good money for it — is the para­dox­ical appeal of see­ing inno­cence ‘cor­rup­ted’, and cor­rup­tion rendered ‘inno­cent’. Straight gay porn, when it’s done right (and Dink seems to know exactly how), looks like a ful­fil­ment of the fantasy of much of gay porn: a care­free, smil­ing, laugh­ing, ras­cal­ish dis­cov­ery of mas­cu­line erotic pleas­ure — free of shame and pride, free in fact of ‘sexu­al­ity’. Tom of Finland draw­ings, pre 1970s, brought to life. Ironically, straight guys are some­times bet­ter able to embody the gay ideal than gays.

Speculation aside, the ‘bot­tom’, slightly coun­ter­intutive line here is that the fact that someone appeared in a gay porn video, even with an out­sized mem­brum virile in one or both of his ori­fices, doesn’t tell you what his sexual pref­er­ence is. All it tells you is that he appeared in a gay porn video. And per­haps that he can take it like a trooper.

As one of the para­trooper mod­els replied when con­fron­ted by a shell-shocked Fayetteville woman who’d recog­nised him on the ActiveDuty site demand­ing to know how he could have done such a thing:

It was no big deal,’ he replied lac­on­ic­ally. ‘And besides, I got paid.’

A per­fect response to the mil­it­ary, to offended/confused straights and gays alike. And to explan­a­tions in gen­eral. Foucault would have approved — even if it does some­what under­mine the need for three volumes of ‘A History of Sexuality’.
———

Salon vs Details: James Collard of The London Times speaks to Salon.com editor Kerry Lauerman about his decision to spike Simpson’s ori­ginal piece because it was deemed ‘too risqué’ for Salon — two years before the Active Duty scan­dal became a major inter­na­tional story — and a major fea­ture in Details magazine. [link removed as page no longer active.]


Curiouser and Curiouser: the Strange ‘Disappearance’ of Male Bisexuality

 

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The recent spate of media reports of the com­mon­ness of female bisexu­al­ity — and the ‘non-existence’ of the male vari­ety — inclines Mark Simpson to won­der why we seem to be kid­ding ourselves about the real, red-blooded nature of the ‘bi-curious’ times we’re liv­ing in

Male bisexu­al­ity doesn’t exist. Or it’s very, very rare. Or it’s really just gay men in denial. Yeah, it’s offi­cial: bi guys are freaks and liars as well as non-existent.

Female bisexu­al­ity, on the other hand, is almost uni­ver­sal. It’s as nat­ural and as true as it is won­der­ful and real and… hot!

Or so you would be for­given for think­ing if you had read the effus­ive reports in the papers about California State University’s recently pub­lished sex-research which claims that women are 27 times more likely to become attrac­ted to their own sex than men. I haven’t yet been able to study the research quoted, but any sex sur­vey that claims to have inter­viewed 3,500 people and show that 0.3% of men are attrac­ted to the same sex com­pared to 8% of women (as quoted in the Independent on Sunday 12/2/06) is dif­fi­cult to take ser­i­ously. Except as a meas­ure of social atti­tudes rather than sexuality.

Maybe it’s because some of my best shags are bisexual men, but I’m begin­ning to get a bit teed off with this drive to make male bisexu­al­ity dis­ap­pear, either into stat­ist­ics smal­ler than a micro-penis or obscured behind a flurry of girl-on-girl action. A few months ago The New York Times pub­lished an art­icle called ‘Straight, gay or lying?’ which seemed to be a press release for the hil­ari­ously cranky research of Dr J. Michael Bailey at Northwestern University.

Apparently this research involves wir­ing up people’s gen­it­als and show­ing them dirty pic­tures and then claim­ing to have ‘proved’ that male bisexu­al­ity doesn’t exist — while the female vari­ety is com­mon­place. Which seems a much more tenu­ous con­clu­sion to reach, rather than, for instance: most psy­cho­lo­gists at Northwestern University are very strange indeed. (Amongst other extraordin­ary omis­sions, the art­icle neg­lected to men­tion that Dr Bailey has more than one ‘pre­vi­ous’ in his area: he thinks trans­sexu­als are also ‘really’ gay men).

I hate to break it to you guys, but most of the evid­ence, his­tor­ical, anthro­po­lo­gical and sex­olo­gical, sug­gests that if any­thing, male ‘bisexu­al­ity’ – it’s a ter­rible word, almost as bad as ‘het­ero­sexual’ and ‘homo­sexual’, but it will have to do for now – is much more com­mon than the female vari­ety. After all, entire civil­iz­a­tions such as Ancient (and accord­ing to some accounts, Modern) Greece have been based on it. Not to men­tion pub­lic schools, the Royal Navy and Hollywood….

It’s unques­tion­able that female bisexu­al­ity is today much more socially accept­able than male bisexu­al­ity, and in fact fre­quently pos­it­ively encour­aged, both by many voyeur­istic men and an equally voyeur­istic pop cul­ture and also, per­haps slightly para­dox­ic­ally, by women’s new-found desire to assert them­selves sexu­ally. What’s more, female homo­sex has never been leg­ally or socially stig­mat­ized to any­thing like the same degree as male homosex.

It’s a fond myth that the Victorians exemp­ted female homo­sex from legal cen­sure because Queen Victoria couldn’t con­ceive of it (apart from any­thing else, the young Victoria was a fan of the poet Sappho). Woman-on-woman love action wasn’t legis­lated against because, unlike male homo­sex, it simply wasn’t con­sidered of much con­sequence. It may be dif­fi­cult for fem­in­ists to grasp, but ‘pat­ri­archy’ was always much more con­cerned about where men’s pen­ises went than women’s tongues.

Straight women now have some­thing to gain and little to lose by admit­ting an interest in other women. Rather than exile them to the acrylic mines of Planet Lesbo, it makes them more inter­est­ing, more adven­tur­ous, more mod­ern… just more. For the most part, how­ever, straight men still have noth­ing to gain and everything to lose by mak­ing a sim­ilar admis­sion. It renders them con­sid­er­ably… less. Unlike women, men’s gender is imme­di­ately sus­pect if they express an interest in the same sex.

What’s more, any male homo­sexu­al­ity still tends to be seen as an expres­sion of impot­ence with women. In other words: men’s attrac­tion to men is equi­val­ent to and prob­ably a product of emas­cu­la­tion. A straight man admit­ting that he finds mas­culin­ity desir­able – as so many clearly, thrill­ingly do – threatens to cost him the very thing he val­ues most: not only his own man­hood and his potency, his repu­ta­tion with the ladies, but his lads-together homoso­cial intim­acy with other men.

It’s a nasty, vicious, bitchy trick to play on mil­lions of red-blooded men, but this is what passes for com­mon sense in the mod­ern, Anglo-Saxon world. When a male in pub­lic life is outed as bisexual – and, with the excep­tion of controversy-courting David Bowie in the 1970s, who now denies he ever was, they almost never come out will­ingly – he is imme­di­ately rep­res­en­ted as ‘gay’.

For a man, unlike a woman, there is no such thing as ‘half gay’. It’s tan­tamount to being half preg­nant. Exhibits A and B: the recent out­ings of British Lib-Dem Members of Parliament Michael Oaten and bach­elor Simon Hughes by the press as ‘gay’ – or rather ‘GAY!’ This des­pite the fact that Oaten is a mar­ried man with chil­dren and Hughes’ own care­ful present­a­tion of him­self in his (clearly arm-twisted) admis­sion as bisexual.

All those witty ‘LIMP-DEMS’ head­lines illus­trat­ing once again that any male homo­sexu­al­ity is seen as emas­cu­la­tion. If a male celeb’s sexu­al­ity is ‘ques­tioned’ (a tellingly pop­u­lar phrase, sug­gest­ing his gen­it­als have been taken down the police sta­tion) by the tabs, they fre­quently run front page head­lines by some tart claim­ing ‘HE’S NO GAY! HE’S ALL MAN! WE ROMPED SEVEN TIMESNIGHT!’

Naturally, a man’s prowess with the ladies is proof pos­it­ive that he couldn’t pos­sibly be ever inter­ested in men. Hence the pop­ular­ity of the expres­sion ‘red-blooded het­ero­sexual male’. It goes without say­ing, doesn’t it, that non-heterosexual men have pink blood. Real men don’t do dick; and if they do, well, they’re not real men. Can I have my pro­fess­or­ship at Northwestern University now, please?

Speaking of unreal men, Robbie Williams, the drag king of Britpop, was recently awar­ded large dam­ages over news­pa­per reports that he had GAY HOMOSEXUAL SEX with ANOTHER MAN!. Many poin­ted out his libel action of his over accus­a­tions of GAY HOMOSEXUAL SEX was rather odd, hypo­crit­ical even, given this former mem­ber of gay disco dan­cing baby Chippendale troupe Take That’s care­ful cul­tiv­a­tion of his ‘ambigu­ous’ sexu­al­ity over the years, and its cru­cial role in mak­ing him seem much more inter­est­ing that he actu­ally is. However, Williams’ flir­ta­tion with ‘gay rumours’ was prob­ably more a I’m-so-secure-in-my-sexuality post­mod­ern strategy for dis­pelling the pos­sib­il­ity that he was homo at all.

Williams spent a great deal of time and money pub­li­cising his affairs with the ladies. This care­ful invest­ment threatened to be rendered worth­less by this story. In keep­ing with their reflex­ive denial of male bisexu­al­ity, the news­pa­per alleg­a­tions of his ‘homo­sexual affair’ also sug­ges­ted that his very high pro­file rela­tion­ships with women were a sham and that he was a GAY HOMOSEXUAL really. Hence Robbie ‘red-blooded’ Williams had to sue.

When men have sex with one another it is never sex – it is, you guessed it, GAY HOMOSEXUAL SEX! Last week British scan­dal sheet the News of the World ran a story about a ‘secret’ (i.e. unlaw­fully obtained) film of two bisexual English Premier League foot­ballers… hav­ing sex. The head­line for the story used the word GAY in font so large it covered more than half the page. (The words ‘sor­did’ and ‘per­ver­ted’ and ‘obscene’ were also much in evid­ence; in a story about bisexual women the words would be: ‘saucy’ ‘steamy’ and ‘sexy’.)

Likewise, ‘Brokeback Mountain’ was pop­ularly dubbed the ‘gay cow­boy’ movie, but in fact both the prot­ag­on­ists are bisexu­ally act­ive, and there’s rather more straight sex than gay sex in the film. Actor Jake Gyllenhaal has felt obliged to tell inter­view­ers how ‘uncom­fort­able’ it was for him to per­form the ‘gay sex’ scenes – des­pite there being almost none and that this is a film that likes to lec­ture us, rather tedi­ously, on how awful homo­pho­bia is. I sup­pose some would say we should com­mend his hon­esty; but then, this is a guy, remem­ber, who lives in LA and works in a pro­fes­sion where every­one smooches whenever they meet, when they leave, and when they’re feel­ing espe­cially emo­tional – like when they win an Oscar.

And I’m not even men­tion­ing that one of the prob­lems with ‘Brokeback’ was that Jakey boy was just too gay look­ing. If you’re a man who loves women, admit­ting a sexual interest in other men – or even fail­ing to men­tion how uncomfortable/ill the very idea of it makes you feel – can appar­ently cost you your vir­il­ity, and expose you to pub­lic ridicule of a kind that people might think twice about if you were actu­ally gay. Partly because a degree of polit­ical cor­rect­ness now pro­tects gays, and partly because gays, unlike bis, ‘can’t help them­selves’. And at least you know where you are with them.

You won’t even be praised for your ‘hon­esty’ as every­one will think you’re ‘really’ gay any­way. Why do bisexual men not come out? Because when a bisexual man comes out people shut their minds. Fear and loath­ing of male bisexu­al­ity is some­thing tends to bring het­ero­sexu­als and homo­sexu­als together. Instead of pon­der­ing the pos­sib­il­ity that pub­lic atti­tudes towards male bisexu­al­ity are a truer, less cen­sored indic­a­tion of what many people actu­ally feel about male homo­sexu­al­ity in gen­eral and its enforced incom­pat­ib­il­ity with mas­culin­ity, gay men too often rush to con­demn bisexual men and reas­sure het­ero­sexu­als: don’t worry, you’re not being homo­phobic when mouth­ing off about bisexual men coz we hate them too!

Gays, when they’re not eagerly cruis­ing bisexual men in laybys, saunas and chat-rooms, are too often keen to denounce the ‘dis­hon­esty’ and ‘double lives’ and ‘repres­sion’ of bisexual men – because they have the temer­ity to not be just like them, and instead lead ‘nor­mal’ lives that hap­pen to include a dis­creet, ‘devi­ant’ side­line, rather than order their lives and their ward­robe around their deviation.

In fact, the fet­ish might be on the other foot. The very exist­ence of male bisexu­al­ity threatens to put exclus­ive homo­sexu­al­ity into a neg­at­ive rather than a pos­it­ive light: per­haps you’re not gay because you love men but because you don’t love women. Another, per­haps more elit­ist gay response to male bisexu­al­ity is to insist that men are not ‘really’ bisexual unless they take it up the arse. This seems to me to be a pecu­liar require­ment. Would they also insist that a woman not be con­sidered ‘really’ bisexual until she had fucked a woman with a strap-on? Why priv­ilege some prac­tices above oth­ers? Many homo­sexual men are exclus­ively act­ive; are they not ‘really’ homo? Besides, it’s not for het­eros or homos to define what is ‘really’ bisexual. If it were left to them, there would be no such thing as bisexu­al­ity at all.

After all, bisexu­al­ity is ‘really’ the parts of human beha­viour that under­mine the very idea idea of ‘het­ero­sexual’ and ‘homo­sexual’ – of ‘sexu­al­ity’ itself. Male bisexu­al­ity may be still offi­cially invis­ible, but chat lines, mobile phones, chat rooms and the gen­eral frag­ment­a­tion of mod­ern iden­tit­ies has made it much easier for oth­er­wise het­ero­sexual men to dis­creetly explore their ‘bi-curiousness’ (a recent, erotic paddling-pool coin­age which attempts to avoid the plunge-pool iden­tity of ‘bisexual’). There are vast and grow­ing num­bers of these ‘bi-curious’ men, espe­cially those under 35 (some of them are prob­ably cruis­ing the chat rooms and rest rooms of California State University).

These are, after all, a gen­er­a­tion of men who have grown up with frank dis­cus­sions of homo­sexu­al­ity in the media and, more cru­cially, glossy, glam­or­ous images of male desirab­il­ity rammed down their throats, on bill­boards, magazines, films, pop music, TV and even and espe­cially on the play­ing field. Metrosexuality was in large part a response to this – and a socially accept­able, commodity-focussed male com­ple­ment to the media-generated trend towards female bisexu­al­ity which many men, while appre­ci­at­ing enorm­ously, felt some­what short-changed by. If the sex roles have broken down – nay, been battered down – why should women be allowed to main­tain the mono­poly on sen­su­al­ity and men be forced to con­tinue to merely per­form? Why the ana­chron­istic divi­sion of labour in the High Street and the bed­room? Why shouldn’t men exper­i­ment as well, and dis­cover, for example, their own pro­file – or their own G-spot? Why should Adam not be as curi­ous and as vain as… Eve?

Especially since the arrival of that boon to bound­less curi­os­ity as the Internet. This is a gen­er­a­tion of men who have grown up with easy access to hard­core porn; which, by the way, means: mas­turb­at­ing over images of pussies and dicks. In fact, dicks are fre­quently the only con­stant. Anyone claim­ing that men simply don’t have a bisexual respons­ive­ness should be made to watch the porn con­sumed by straight men today. Not only do all the most pop­u­lar scenes (anal and vaginal pen­et­ra­tion, blow jobs and ‘money shots’) star — very large — pen­ises, but more and more fre­quently, they are attached to young, attract­ive, smooth, worked out men that the cam­era lingers over much more than in the past.

Forget the sex-researchers with their clunky elec­trodes; the porn industry knows what today’s males like. You might counter that the met­ro­sexual male porn model phe­nomenon is simply a res­ult of the industry’s mostly fruit­less attempts to encour­age women to con­sume more porn; if you did you’d be even wider of the mark than those who have tried to explain away met­ro­sexual advert­ising entirely in terms of mar­ket­ing to women and met­ro­sexual men entirely in terms of pleas­ing women. Most ‘bi-curious’ men I’ve met – usu­ally very anonym­ously and very dis­creetly – express a very strong desire to try oral sex with a man, often as a res­ult of watch­ing so many women enjoy it.

Or maybe just because most men would suck their own penis if they could, but most can’t, so have to ‘phone a friend’. Or rather, a stranger. More often than not they have had these fantas­ies for an achingly long time before act­ing on them; and they def­in­itely haven’t spoken to any­one, espe­cially sex research­ers, about them. In fact, they are usu­ally ter­ri­fied that any­one might find out and this has been the main reason why they haven’t yet acted on these fantasies.

And these, remem­ber, are the most adven­tur­ous bi-curious men; the unad­ven­tur­ous bi-curious men simply stay curi­ous. This is prob­ably the oppos­ite for bi-curious women, who, it seems, tend to talk about it a lot before try­ing it. The most ludicrous aspect of today’s ‘sex­ist’ taboo on male bisexu­al­ity is that, after all, is it really so strange that males who are very inter­ested in mas­culin­ity quite often end up inter­ested in men. This is part of the reason why it used be thought of as a ‘phase’ that all male youths went through. There seems to me to be some­thing rather prissy and effem­in­ate about a mas­culin­ity that refuses any phys­ical intim­acy with men, ever. (Well, that’s what I say to straight men I fancy.)

At its most basic, most ‘rudi­ment­ary’, male ‘homo­sexu­al­ity’ is noth­ing more than a shared wank. All men, how­ever straight, know how to please a prick and have been doing so reg­u­larly, for most of their lives – many times more often than they’ve been pleas­ing pussy.

As for bug­gery – if God hadn’t inten­ded men to get fucked he wouldn’t have given them a pro­state gland. I don’t have any doubt that most of these bi-curious men really love women and always will, and in most cases rather more than they will ever love men. They are not mak­ing their first steps ‘out of the closet’ into a gay iden­tity. Many will lose their interest in hav­ing sex with another male. And there are, it is abund­antly clear to me from my own exhaust­ive sex-research, sev­eral ‘bi-curious’ straight men for every gay man. Exclusive, life-long male homo­sexu­al­ity is the excep­tional, not the nor­mal form of male-on-male desire.

Male bisexu­al­ity as a phe­nomenon is here already and is some­thing that soci­ety is going to have to get used to, or at least stop pre­tend­ing doesn’t exist – except when it wants to make money out of it in the form of advert­ising, fash­ion, pop-promos, movies and porn. If I was Herbert Marcuse I might argue that reach­ing for your buddy’s shorts instead of your wal­let – choos­ing the Real Thing over Diesel and Nike — is still ver­boten because cor­por­a­tions are mak­ing so much money selling straight men ersatz homosexuality.

That women are being encour­aged to talk about their bisexu­al­ity as an enhance­ment of their fem­in­in­ity and sexu­al­ity is rather mar­vel­lous – but it also height­ens the double stand­ard about male bisexu­al­ity, one as pro­nounced as the double stand­ard about promis­cu­ity used to be (men were ‘studs’ and women were ‘slags’), and makes it more inev­it­able that male bisexu­al­ity – by which I simply mean ‘straight’ male sexu­al­ity that doesn’t fit into het­ero­sexu­al­ity, and boy, there’s a lot of that – will have to be addressed can­didly sooner or later.

The tidy-minded inhib­i­tions which keep male bi-curiousness under wraps are still power­ful, but have largely lost their social value, their attach­ment to any­thing real; they are mostly rem­nants from a Judeo-Christian (re)productive, world that doesn’t exist any more, except per­haps in Utah, every other Sunday. Dr Bailey with his ter­ri­fy­ing sex lie-detectors is the (slightly camp) voice of the Superannuated Super-Ego. When enough young men real­ise this – or maybe just the des­per­ate pre­pos­ter­ous­ness of the argu­ments and ‘sci­ence’ deployed against male bi-curiousness – the change in atti­tudes will occur very quickly and dra­mat­ic­ally indeed.

Not least because the ‘bi-curiousness’ of some women seems almost bi-curious enough for both sexes. Women are begin­ning to talk about their interest in boy-on-boy bonk­ing as loudly as men have for years bragged about their interest in girl-on-girl action. Some are even try­ing to per­suade their boy­friends to return the ‘les­bian’ favour so often reques­ted of them in the past.

A sep­ar­ated ‘bi-curious’ fire­man in rural England I met a few times before he went back to his wife recently con­tac­ted me to tell me some­thing rather alarm­ing. ‘She found out about you,’ he said. ‘She hacked into my Hotmail account.’ ‘Oh, shit,’ I said. ‘What did she do? Throw you out?’ ‘No,’ he said. ‘She got turned on! She wants to watch.’ The poor guy had to tell her that that this really was a kinky bridge too far for him. That he was too much a tra­di­tion­al­ist to go down that path….

However the media tries to deny it, or oblit­er­ate it with another fever­ish dis­cus­sion of female bi-curiousness, it’s just a mat­ter of time before male bi-curiousness goes main­stream. These are inter­est­ing times. What we mean by ‘straight’ is chan­ging so rap­idly that the straight­est of straight men might soon find them­selves hav­ing to at least flirt with bi-curiousness – just to lay women.

© Mark Simpson 2006

UPDATE

In 2011 Dr Bailey recan­ted and very kindly allowed bisexual men to exist.

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