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Homoerotic Horseplay – Not Gay Just Guy

A column of mine on Out.com, ‘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 rarely seen such homoerotic horseplay amongst straight women. 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 similarly 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. A couple of years ago during the last Rugby World Cup I was invited on Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio Four to talk about homoerotics and rugby after I wrote a piece for The Times about rugby and sporno. 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 R5 female sports journalist, or her other guest, another R5 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 occurred to me to say to that. I could have replied that droves of gay men were probably rushing at that very moment to dissociate themselves from what I was saying (they usually do). Or “Well, of course you would say that Jane, as an uptight middle class woman.”

Instead I replied, “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.

Just a few weeks earlier this doc had gone out on national UK TV, in which a team of northern rugby players were shown 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, because on radio – especially Radio Four – you’re not allowed to acknowledge that TV exists.

Again, being radio, and posh radio at that, just before we went on air a nice voice whispered in my headphone: “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 unsavoury 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 BBC 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.)

36 thoughts on “Homoerotic Horseplay – Not Gay Just Guy”

  1. @Sisu

    And what you’re describing is not true. There are tons of effeminate homosexuals in the lower classes. It is not a socioeconomic divide. In fact, it is not even a gendertypical divide, because the men that call themselves gay are all effeminate to some degree or the other. Gay men are differenct from stereotypical men, exactly why they can identify each other through the gaydar. If they weere hjust like other men, the word gaydar per itself wouldn’t exist. What happens is that there are some semi heterosexual men who have sex with fairies playing the man role occasionally. These men are not gay, and having nothing in common with gays and they only have sex with mermaids because it is much easier than having it with women. Ok.

  2. @Sisu

    What you describe is disgusting to me. Fucking for the sake of fucking, without even knowing the names of the people you are fucking. This is not homophobia because I am not exactly straight and I would find men who went to have sex with women in public parks disgusting well.

  3. @Mark Walsh

    I think that not even you believe what you just said. So the only reason why all the gay men I know are effeminate is because only the effeminates are visible? Oh, really? I must have heard this argument a billion times. I guess the gay men can’t tell those masculine gay men either, because the most common complain I heard in gay message boards is that there aren’t many masculine gay men around. Maybe you should go there and tell all those gay men where the macho gays are, because they would love to know that. Maybe they are meeting the same men you are talking about, except they don’t think they are as masculine as you think they are. And please don’t use the homophobia card with me. Get real. I am not even what you could call a straight guy, so trying to use the political correct card with me does not work. I actullay had a boyfriend when a teenager, ok? We held hands, French kissed and all those kindfs of things. We didn’t sodomize each other because we found it disrespectful. But we dis everything else. I just don’t think I have nothing in common with gay men. As a little boy, I fished and hunted and had no interest in dressing up in my mother’s clothes like so many boys that grow up to be gay have. I never desired to be a fairy princess or a little mermaid. As a adolescent boy, I was a varsity wrestler in shcool halfback of the football team and yes, even though I was voted the most beautiful boy in school and that is an effeminate title, I never actually pursued it; people just gave it to my person. I never wanted to be cheerleader or a dancer or nothing which girls pursue. As a young men, I did MMA fighting to prove myself and I sustained several exposed fractures. I once went to a gaylub and I found out I had nothin gin common with those guys. The guys were dressed in pink dancing to Donna Summer tunes and flamming like there was no tomorrow. I had nothing to talk about with them. They were talking about how so and so actress looked fabulous in the last Academy Award appearance and how fierce Madonna is and other stuff like that. Most of those guys were exactly like girls but with a dick. And while I do not mind guys being feminine, I must admit I don’t have the patience to deal with grown up men that behave like adolescent girls.

  4. There were once no gay men. Surprising, but true… just men who fucked other men. Then, to cut a long story short, sodomy was seen not as something one did, but something that one was, and the whole irritating homosexual / heterosexual divide began. It later became a gay / straight thing that involved identity politics that later became assimilationist politics, but that is by-the-by.

    Once homosexuals evolved, there were two kinds – the aesthete (upper class, dandyfied, camp) and rough trade (working class, butch, unaffected). Hence began the dichotomy that we have today… the stereotypical queen that lusts after the stereotypical bit o’ rough. And the idea that the camp amongst us can be derided for their status whilst being taken for anything you can get financially.

    Meanwhile, married men, men in relationships with women, men who would in no way identify with the gay movement would still meet at saunas and parks and public toilets and in select groups of like-minded friends for good old fashioned sodomy without labels. And Sisu saw that this was good, as men-with-female-partners do not seek commitment from other men, but often need to be fucked senseless, which is a service Sisu is all too happy to provide.

    Just because a man takes it up the arse is no guarantee that he will flounce and flail; and wanting to sleep with straight-identifying men is not internalised homophobia, and I think we should all stop trying to put men into little boxes and just get on with the sex already.

  5. Also the straight guys downtown today had the shapliest keesters–with the new form fitting undies: they must be trying subconciously to bring attention to that area!

  6. I’d be willing to bet that the only way you have of picking out gay men are if thety correspond to your steriotype of a”gay” person. I spent part of the afternoon down town with a totally gay friend of mine, who like me or even moreso can stare at straight guys asses and they can’t figure out what’s wrong; he’s at least 250# of solid muscle: does heavy manual labor; about your age. In San Francisco I had friends who were bottoms & who were the nastiest looking and acting bikers you would not want to ever run into. They wouldn’t know the Wizard of Oz from an Ouzi. On the other end there are trannys who like acting and dressing like women but prefer women.
    You are just prejudiced by what you see, and what is obvious. Rarely does any even a gay person know I’m “gay “until I tell them.
    Just because the people you know are gay are effeminate sure doesn’t mean most are. It’s not as simple as you want it to be.

    I’m curious about Mark’s contention that “straight men make better bottoms” I have to check that out. I thought they would be squemish about being fucked. Never to old to learn!

  7. @Mark Walsh

    There are lots of masculine gay men, yes, but they are faking it. I have personally met several gay guys with military haircuts and tatoos that watched sports on T.V and they all acted and talked like my little 18 year-old sister. One of these guys, who is a friend of my sister, has told me that he doesen’t care about sports and that he only watches them because it is an act to look butcher. In fact, him and my sister went to see the Gwen Stefani tour here in my country and he became hysterical like a little girl when he knew that Gwen Stefani was coming here. Besides, he actually knows all the lyrics from “The Wizard Of Oz”, for fuck sake. Now, there are some masculine men out there. But they are rare and don’t represent what most gay men are like, just like there are effeminate straight men who do not represent what a typical straight men is like. On average, straightt men are clearly far more masculine and anyone with two eyes and a brain can see that.

  8. @J.C

    What I mean by gay men being attracted to gay men that act like straight men is that these men are very rare and don’t represent the typical gay man. If gay men don’t think that straight men are more masculine than gays, than why prefer the rare – and yes, they are rare. Don’t pretend there are tons of them because there aren’t -masculine gay men over “salon type” queens, which are much more plentiful? And then there’s the phenomena of “straight acting”. Why would otherwise effeminate gays copy straight men’s hobbies and mannerisms if not to become sexier to other gays? The fact that gay men prefer the rare masculine gay men over the typical gay and that millions of gay men try to look as much as possible like straight men is proof that gay men find straight men hotter. It is a very obvious logical conclusion. Please don’t claim otherwise because it is an insult to my intelligence. I believe that actions speak louder than words and that talk is cheap.

  9. p.s. going back to what you said in the first place, Pedro, about feeling like “an old foggy “at 29, it seems that you might be angry , because you are just in your sexual prime. Most people would be happy to be your age. In San Francisco you would have just been getting old enough to have sex with grown people.
    Could it be that you’re sexually frustrated, and don’t kow what to do?

  10. Pedro: anecdotes are exceptions; there are plenty of ‘masculine’ gay men-I’m no exception you apparently just don’t see them! There aregay men who have sex with women(Marcello)& myself E.g. There are many male prostitutes who are straight and have daily sex with men. There are many people who just don’t know where their interests lie, and live straight lives but want sex with men. In prison men have sex with other men all the time, and they are not generally gay.
    Take a look at what J.C says. How do you define ‘masculine”. You seem to have some very personal axe to grind, or be angry and come up short on the statistical generalizations.

  11. @Mark Walsh

    I don’t know whether you’re masculine or feminine. From my experience, all gay guys tell you that they are masculine, but very few are when you meet them in person – and dressing as a straight men and wearing a military haircut does NOT make you masculine. But even if you are masculine, this doesen’t change the fact that the overwhelming majority of gay men are not. So I don’t understand what you have accomplished with your criticism except give an anecdotal testimony of how you are masculine.

  12. @Marcelo

    If a guy has sex with men, then he isn’t straight. Period. Real straight men don’t have sex with men.

  13. I live on the Gold Coast Australia – It’s hot and I’m surrounded by thousands of cute straight men walking around with their shirts off all the time.

    It would be impossible for me to not be attracted to them. How could I call myself a man otherwise?

    I’ve been with a few of these straight boys, and as Mark points out – sex with a straight guy is a ‘guy’ thing not a ‘gay’ thing (alchohol moments mostly/ throw in an E and it doesn’t take much after that).

    Trust me – sex with a straight guy is different than sex with a ‘gay’ guy. I wouldn’t say better or worse – just different.

    And no – It doesn’t mean that all of them are closet cases – sex is fluid – at least for me (and others).

    For example – I consider myself a homo, yet I would have (and have) had sex with women. But I would never call myself straight just because in the past I’ve eaten vagina. And the term BI, just seems unnecessary – I’m a human who enjoys sex – full stop.

  14. Pedro, the thing is you seem to be just as guilty of wanting to have your cake and eat it too as your accusing gay men of being:

    In your first post you accuse gay men of lusting after straight men because we don’t find gay men masculine or attractive, because if they did we would want masculine gay men

    then in your second you’re presenting gay men’s attraction to gay men they do see as masculine to be proof that they really want straight men

    You seem to have picked a conclusion before hand and are willing to change your perceptions around to fit it.

    The real paradox you’ve stumbled onto is that Mark is a gay writer who goes on about straight men but really he thinks everyone is bi (I think, I don’t mean to speak for Mark) and I’m here talking about the politics of masculinity and femininity when I don’t even believe there really are any such things as masculinity or femininity.

  15. R.T.
    I have to sincerely disagree on several points. (1) I am very almost never attracted to straight men, only cute boys occasionally and not seriously because I have always been as or more masculine than them, and have to rely on them for friendship very often. And that you are certainly free to doubt. The most feminine person in my family might be my dad, and he’s not by a long stretch. People are different.
    More importantly though, there is a a really aweful pervasive climate of gay hate loose in the “respectable” gay community in which homophobic gays are really hatefull to many of the ‘nancys'” or people who are obviously gay by virtue of dress, e.g leather, public or anonymous sex, or public affection. They hate the gueens and trannys and are embarrassed by public displays of difference. This is the disease called assimilationism, or mainlining they want to get married , have kids live in the suburbs.
    It’s disgusting and shame based. Mark wrote about” Respectability “not long ago.

  16. Pedro, you’re right – gay men think straight men are sexier. Not sure why we can’t be honest about this particular fact – we are honest enough about everything else. Pretending to fancy John Barrowman more than his hetero-actor sidekick (see AfterElton.com’s Top 100) is the real internalized homophobia.

    Maybe our rampant dishonesty maintains community cohesion – otherwise we would all be running around screaming “Get these nancys away from me!!!”

  17. Who’s a victim of stereotyping? I’ve spent time around the Village People in San Francisco, and they were both exceedingly hot and great fun. I would have hit te sack with any of them. in a second.

  18. @Mark Simpson

    But Mark, most gay men like guys that act, have the interests and mannerisms of stereotypical straight men. Look at the Village People and see what gay men like: cops, firemen, cowboys, etc. Why not interior decorators, fashion designers and salon hairstylists, which are much, much, much more plentiful amongst gays than the fist mentioned kind? They even sing a song called “Macho Man”, obviously implying that they believe that men who hold those professions are more masculine and that is what they fantasize about. Just look at gay message boards. I used to be a part of one, trying to see if I had anything in common with gays, and the most common thread started in those boards were threads where gay guys complained of how few masculine gay men there were out there and how they find the way typical gays act a complete turn-off. And all of them, I mean all of them, prefer straight men over gay men. They all cut their hair short and dressed in “togh guy” clothes and got many compliments from the other gay guys there, but when one of these guys posted a video that showed how feminine his voice and mannerisms were, no one complimented him again. In fact, one poster at another thread made the comment that:

    “I thought he was butch and hot, but then I saw him talking and behaving around his friends and a purse came out.”

    Gay men clearly think straight men are more masculine – hence the preference – and yet they claim that saying otherwise is homophobia. So they hate if anyone says that straight men are more masculine and say it is bullshit and that gay men are just as masculine, but then they criticize typical gay men for being feminine and openly prefer men who behave, act and fake a preference for striaght men’s activities. I believe that actions speak louder than words. Talk is cheap.

  19. Yes Uroskin, we don’t have any fun events like that happen in the U.S and surely they would have thrown more than the book at them. The gays would have been really pissed because a threesome would make a bad marriage group(numberwise) and a display of such loose homosuggestive behavior would have given a nautier than bearable impression on the churchgoing public (virtually everyone) if marriage wasn’t on the horizon.

  20. I would rather have these guys eating potato chips out of each others’ ass cracks than have them lock a woman in a storage container and rape her, as those Blackwater pigs did. I see no harm in this consensual behavior whatsoever.

  21. Pedro: I can’t speak for The Gays – though thanks for casting me in that role – but for me there’s no paradox. Or much of an obsession either. There are just rather more straight men than gay men – and I find they make much better bottoms….

  22. What a charming story about the rugger buggers, Uroskin – sorry I missed it on your blog. The judge was quite right to let them off – if it had happened in the US they’d have thrown the book at them.

  23. Pedro: There is some truth in what you say, You might want a different word than “paradox”. It seems that you’re putting a finger on what seems to be a kind of hypocrisy, bad faith or just confusion..First, I wouldn’t want you to confuse “Mr.” Mark with most other gays: you’ll find yourself more confused than you could possibly want. He is often joking; it’s not his fault
    just growing up in a dysfunctional society.

    The fact is that most gay men are just attracted to men. While there are gay men who pursue “straight” men who are just bisexual or really closeted gays or else prostitutes (trade) it is more often that we might like looking at straight men or pictures of them, and kidding about their attractiveness. The later is all in good fun. It’s true lately, at least in the U.S. that some gay men act masculine– others just simply are. The very last instance is where the “stereotyping” comes in. Some gay men just have masculine female role models, and no feminine ones. By all means that does not apply to most gay men. Gay men who are out come in a whole range of gender identities. Also all men generally have a whole potential range of different sexual attractions Female to Male.
    Some of us don’t care if we chose masculine acting men, or would rather not. I can see that you probably haven’t been around a lot of gay men. Mark has written a lot in articles on this site about sexuality, and you can learn a lot being around different gay men there are many types.

  24. None of these guys are in shape…:)

    Mr.Simpson is going to hate me for saying this, but…why the obsession with straight men? Gay men get angry if you say that gays are not as masculine as straight men, but then they confirm this by lusting over straight men and prefering them over gay men, clearly indicating that even gays agree that straight men are more masculine. This is what I don’t understand about gay men: they claim with great furor that they are just as masculine as straight men and that any claim otherwise is homophobia or “stereotyping”, and yet they show a clear preference for straight men or gay men who fake straight men’s mannerisms, attitudes and interests over typical “salon type” gays. Quite a paradox, I must say.

  25. Sorry Not thinking! I would have to claim gross mental retardation if I really believed otherwise, Mark ! You’ve been scalded enough times at our festive witch burnings to grasp the seriousness of American puritainism.

  26. You surely don’t think that the Afghani contract Soldiers are in any way representative of an American mind set, Mark? Mr. Jays’ argument is very like the hypothesis suggested of the Victorian industrialists, according to Foucault in favor of having a maximally productive work force, and war force, I’m sure
    What if destroying this civilization is just the opposite of not being hampered; to wit, preemptory wars such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan are caused by and can be correlated with the swing toward a Puritanical mind set ; most psychologists would attribute that unnecessary aggression to sublimated sexual energy, and competitiveness in place of affection. Throughout America men go out of their way to avoid even sitting next to each other! Even gay people in the U.S. have become so prudish that Queen Victoria would give them all medals en masse for purity. That could be why they’re so adamant about joining the army now too! I was gang raped psychologically for defending bathhouse & anonymous sex on an American blog recently & further harassed by the management.
    The Wolfowitz Doctrine of 1992, to which the U.S. still follows prescribes “making the world safe for U.S enterprise” by taking it over, country by country is taking presidence. That is in close collaboration with God, of course. How much more” civilized ” and enterprizing can we be?

    Well, it seems , from recent history, that we can’t : if that’s “civilization”. A kinder form of civilization might fare well from a little more “homeland buggery”. I and and a lot of other people can live with that, even if we slow down the overpopulation.

  27. I can’t concieve of any of the dour Lutherans where I grew up having anything like sex except with animals Some of the farm boys managed to corner the girls and get them pregnant. They didn’t know how they got that way, not having a chance to watch the livestock.
    My sister learned about sex riding horses bareback, I did to to a degree standing on a bucket.
    You know those Afganistan contracted guys, are part of the U.S,s’ private army,Blackwater: they got in trouble murdering people. Since, it has been discovered that they buy all (95%)of our “enemy combatants” from local war lords-usually innocent goat farmers etc.and send them to Abu Garib and Benrat. That leaves them lots of spare time to get high on heroine and fuck each other. They are all mercinaries so probably criminals and not even Americans,m so no one cares much. S
    It does sounds like your lady marine was jealous. Why else beat up British lads.

  28. Yes, that’s an important point. And if they weren’t made to feel bad about such urges then they’d probably be having sex with one another instead of us.

  29. Hey lads, don’t be too hard on society and its expectations of proper male etiquette….if it weren’t for the furtive married guys I pick up at saunas and cottages I would have to have sex with a gay guy… ugh. The only continuation of hedonistic, non-commital (but deliciously guilty) sex of which the gay male scene once prided itself is with the hetties and their attraction/aversion dynamic with homoerotism.

  30. Possibly, and that’s certainly how Uncle Sam and that psycho Canadian martial arts woman sees it. Though I suspect civilization will manage to destroy itself even without the Bear Apocalypse you envisage – or by allowing men to enjoy one another’s bodies and not hate themselves quite so much.

  31. Men who are not psychologically hampered from engaging in bisexuality and indulging in homoerotic behavior are too capable of self-satisfaction to willingly bear any of society’s expectations. To allow men this option would result in millions of fat, unmarried, childless, and perfectly content men and would literally destroy civilizations.

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