(For a longer, much less entertaining, prose version of this see my post ‘Curiouser and Curiouser: The Strange Disappearance of Male Bisexuality’.)
Tip: Dermod Moore
(For a longer, much less entertaining, prose version of this see my post ‘Curiouser and Curiouser: The Strange Disappearance of Male Bisexuality’.)
Tip: Dermod Moore
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:
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 continuum 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
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 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 lady porn star ‘slut’.
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.
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.
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.
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 many 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:
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.
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!!
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 suggest: 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 mandingo 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 coordinator 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’….