Feb 14, 2015

The Violet Quill: Sex, Drugs, and Elitism in 1980s New York

Did you ever wonder about the origin of the stereotype of gay men as wealthy, over-educated, over-sophisticated, and indolent, doing nothing all day but lounging on the beach, so they can spend their nights disco dancing, taking drugs, and having meaningless sex with strangers?

I blame the Violet Quill.

During the early 1980s, there was very little gay fiction available, even at gay themed bookstores like Wilde and Stein in Houston and A Different Light in West Hollywood.  You could get a few classics, like Remembrance of Things Past, The Immoralist, The City and the Pillar, and Berlin Stories, but contemporary gay literature was dominated by novels published by the Violet Quill.


They were a group of young, sophisticated, wealthy gay men who lived in the Village and wrote about young, sophisticated, wealthy gay men who lived in the Village.

The seven novels that constituted Gay Literature:

1. Dancer from the Dance (Andrew Holleran, 1978).  Sophisticated, indolent young hedonists divide their time between the Village and Fire Island, having lots of meaningless sex with strangers, and eventually die.

2. Nocturnes for the King of Naples (Edmund White, 1978): A stream-of-consciousness tale of lost love while having lots of meaningless sex with strangers. Don't be fooled: it's set in the Village, not Naples.

3. The Confessions of Danny Slocum (George Whitmore, 1980).  His confessions involve lots of meaningless sex with strangers while searching for love in the Village.

4. Late in the Season (Felice Picano, 1981). More sophisticated, indolent young hedonists divide their time between the Village and Fire Island, while having lots of meaningless sex with strangers and competing over lovers.  It's "late" because Fire Island empties out in September, not because of AIDS.

5. A Boy's Own Story (Edmund White, 1982): the boy lives in the Village, but goes back home to come out to his wealthy relatives, who are shocked.

6. Nights in Aruba (Andrew Holleran, 1983).  Don't be fooled: the boy lives in the Village, but goes back home to come out to his wealthy relatives, who are shocked.

7. The Family of Max Desir (Robert Ferro, 1983).  Max lives in the Village, but goes back home to try to reconcile with his wealthy relatives, who disowned him when he came out.



Noticing a pattern here?  Sex, alienation, and death.  Not a lot of Gay Pride here: it's a picture of gay life about as sordid and depressing as any of the homophobic novels of the 1930s.

And very, very insular.  No one working class or poor, few racial minorities, and no one who doesn't live in the Village or on Fire Island.

Gay people simply do not exist elsewhere.

Later in the 1980s, Gay Literature became dominated by novels about gay men dying of AIDS.  Strangely, they were no more depressing than the endless sex-drugs-and-alienation of the Violet Quill.

See also: Dancer from the Dance; Frank O'Hara


15 Rules of Public Hookups

"Cruising" is my generation's word for "hooking up": searching for a sex partner as a form of recreation.  No ongoing friendship or romance is expected, although one might develop, and the hunt is nearly as much fun as the act itself.

Cruising has a bad rap.  People complain that it's an addiction.
But any activity can be addictive if it takes over your life.

It's meaningless, leading nowhere.
Who said that sex always has to lead to something? 

It's dangerous, leaving you open to robbery, violence, and HIV.
Not if you follow a few simple rules.


The full post is on Tales of West Hollywood.

Feb 13, 2015

Why Gay Men Read "Dykes to Watch Out For"

In the 1980s and 1990s, gay men and lesbians both called West Hollywood home, but it was two different West Hollywoods that rarely interacted, with different bars, restaurants, gyms, bookstores, parties, and organizations.  We came together for a few causes of common interest, like Gay Pride, but we rarely became friends.

If you did become friends, it was hard to find a place to hang out.  Lesbian bars charged men exhorbitant covers to keep them out, and the various womyn's spaces in town didn't allow men inside at all.
But we all read Alison Bechdel's comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For in the local gay newspapers, and collected the small paperback reprint books: New Improved Dykes, Unnatural Dykes, Invasion of the Dykes, Split-Level Dykes.  

They gave an interesting glimpse into lesbian experience, so close to our own: growing up amid a "what boy do you like?" brainwashing,  being told that same-sex desire does not exist, escaping to a gay haven, looking for love in a paradise of feminine beauty.

But also so different.  And, perhaps, with lessons we could learn.

1. Gay men paid little attention to events taking place outside West Hollywood, except for homophobes plotting our destruction.  We barely knew that the Gulf War was happening, but Mo, the central character, was devastated by it.  Ecology, big business, politics, poverty, patriarchy -- the Dykes to Watch Out For seemed less insular, ready to fight for many causes in the wider world.


2. Gay men knew other gay men, period.  You might know heterosexuals at work, but you didn't number them among your friends.  You could easily go for weeks without speaking to a woman. But the Dykes to Watch Out For sometimes had children from heterosexual marriages before they came out.  That meant ex-husbands and the current partners of those ex-husbands, and so on, and so on, until their address books swelled with names of friends from every gender and sexual orientation.

3. The acronym LGBT had not yet caught on; gay men recognized same-sex desire, period.  Even vague statements like "what a beautiful woman!" were likely to get you laughed at, if not branded a "traitor."  But early on, Dykes to Watch Out For began to explore the fluidity of desire, with transwomen, bisexuals, and a woman who insists that she's a lesbian, not bisexual, even though she's in a relationship with a man.

See also: The Princess: Sometimes Boys Are Girls.


Feb 11, 2015

Summer 1999: Third Wheel to a Muscle God


In gay neighborhoods, the custom of "sharing" one's boyfriend with friends and roommates applied only to guys in committed relationships.  It was practically unheard of  for you to be invited into your friend's bed during a hookup or first or second date, for obvious reasons:

The date might like you better. 
Or
He might not like you at all.

I learned that the hard way in 1999, when Yuri and I were visiting Basque Country, in search of the World's Biggest Penis.

After the Euskaldun Tournament in Vittoria-Gasteiz, where Yuri got "acquainted" with bicyclist Ruben Oarbeaskoa, we spent a weekend in San Sebastian, aka Donostia, the heart of Basque Country.

On Friday afternoon, after sightseeing, I wanted to go to the Donosti Libreria, a gigantic bookstore, to get some Basque books, but Yuri wanted to go to the gay beach. 

When we met up later, he exclaimed, "I met a hot Basque guy! His name is Garan.  Volosaty (hairy), big muscles, and a big package, too!  He invites us to have dinner with him tonight!"

"Are you sure he meant the two of us?" I asked.  "Remember last year in Estonia, when you met that Swedish guy who looked like a serial killer?"

"No, no, I tell him we are visiting Spain together.  He invited you, too. 10:00 pm."

So at 10:00 pm we arrived at the Bokado, a romantic restaurant with a beautiful view of the Bahia de la Concha.

My heart sank.  Was I really expected?

"Yuri!  Que tal?"  A gigantic, bearded bear with a massive chest and impressive biceps rushed across the foyer and enveloped Yuri in a bear hug.  He was so much bigger than Yuri that they looked like father and son.

Then he blinked and stared at me.  "Who is this?"  he asked in English.

Turns out I wasn't expected, but that may have just been the language barrier -- Garan didn't speak English well, and Yuri didn't speak Spanish or Basque.

But Garan was gracious about me tagging along on their date.  In fact, he gave me the embarrassing job of translating his Spanish, including compliments of Yuri's eyes and descriptions of his favored sexual positions.

After dinner Garan took us on a tour of Donostio by night.  I sat cramped in the tiny back seat of his car while he drove with one hand and fondled Yuri with the other.


Then he invited us back to his apartment on the Lizardi Kalea in Intxaurrondo.

"Thank you, but this is your date," I said.  "No me gusta andar como chaperon.  I would be a third wheel."

"Nonsense!" Garan exclaimed in Spanish.  "It is only hospitality.  Yuri's friend is my friend!"

So we went into his apartment, and I got to sit on the couch next to Garan and Yuri while they kissed.

A lot.

Occasionally Yuri would lean over and give me a "pity kiss."


Then we moved into the bedroom for more of the same.

Watching Garan and Yuri ripping off each other's clothes and exploring each other's tonsils wasn't fun.  It made me feel lonely and jealous.

When Yuri reached over and pulled me into the clinch,  Garan obligingly gave me a brief fondle.

Eventually he let me share his Kielbasa, which was enormous, #5 on my Sausage List.

But only as a courtesy.  He was too into Yuri to really notice that I was there.

He did put his massive bear arms around us both to fall asleep.

In the morning, I watched more rolling around and tonsil-swallowing.  Then Garan made coffee, put out some hard rolls, and asked "Who wants to go to Saturday Mass?"

Yuri opted to go for a run and then hang around the apartment, but I was anxious to hear a religious service in Basque.

Besides, if I could get Garan alone, I would feel less like a third wheel.


But it turned out to be a Spanish mass!

"Why do you want to hear a mass in Basque?" Garan asked  "It's only for old ladies.  It's what you speak when you go home to visit your mother!"

And he spent the entire morning talking about Yuri.  "He's so cute!  He's so hot!  You must convince him to stay in Europe longer -- I can come to Paris to visit you in a few weeks!"

On Sunday afternoon, when Garan took us to the train station for our trip back to Paris, he said "Call me when you return to Europe -- or if you want to move here and be my lover."

Later Yuri revealed that, for all of their passion, Garan wasn't really his type.  He was a little clingy, and his Kielbasa just wasn't big enough -- Yuri wanted Mortadella+!

See also: the 15 Biggest Sausages I've Ever "Cooked"; and Sharing Jim the Baseball Player.

Parry Glasspool: Naked and Proud on Hollyoaks

Parry Glasspool has been making his mark on the British stage in comedies and dramas of gay interest:

Proud (2012): Lewis, an 18-year old Olympic boxing hopeful with a 40-ish boyfriend who comes out to his homophobic coach at a birthday party thrown by his parents (bottom photo).

Festen (2012): Christian, a boy who accuses his father of sexual abuse while everyone is gathered for a family dinner.







The Pillowman (2013): Ariel, survivor of a child murderer.

What the Butler Saw (2013): Nick, who is having an affair with Mrs. Prentice, and spends about half the production fully nude.














The 21 year old actor, who graduated from the University of West London in 2013, has also done some tv commercials and music videos, and he's a gifted gymnast.  This is a really difficult stunt.






He recently landed a role on Hollyoaks Later, the edgier, "sexier" spin-off of the long-running teen soap.  He plays Harry, estranged son of main character Tony Thompson, who joins his father for a wedding in Spain and becomes involved in a feud with a mysterious stranger.

There have been gay characters on Hollyoaks Later throughout its six-year history.  Maybe Harry is another.

What's Wrong with the Word "Homosexual"?

Some people who comment on this blog actually use the term "homosexual."  I delete their comments.

The word makes my ears hurt.  I will not permit it to be said in my classrooms.  I never use it in my writing.  I will purchase no book with that term in the title.

The English language didn’t have a word for people who are exclusively drawn to one sex or another until 1892, when the English translation of Richard Von Krafft-Ebing’s Psychopathia Sexualis appeared.  It divided human beings into two populations, the heterosexual and the homosexual, the one normal, natural, benign, the other contingent, abnormal, unnatural, purveyors of evil, victims of an insidious and destructive psychopathology.  Psychiatrists, criminologists, teachers, and journalists continued to talk about the dark, sinister “homosexual” psychopath for the next 70 years.

Meanwhile, in subcultures organized by people with exclusive same-sex desires and behaviors, the common term was “gay,” probably derived from prostitute slang of the 1890s.  We don’t know how early it was used, but at least by 1932, when Noel Coward wrote the song “Mad About the Boy”:  “He has a gay appeal that makes me feel there’s maybe something sad about the boy.”

Certainly by 1938, when, in the movie Bringing Up Baby, Cary Grant must answer the door in a lady’s nightgown, and he tells the startled caller, “I’ve just gone gay all of a sudden.”  The bisexual actor ad-libbed the line as an in-joke for his friends, assuming it would go over the  heads of the audience.

It was deliberately meant as a code term, used only by members of the subculture.  As late as the 1960s, you could say “I’m going to a gay party tonight,” and judge by the reaction of the listener if they got it or not.

Most outsiders preferred not to "name" same-sex desire at all -- it was much too sinister – but if they had no choice, they used the word “homosexual.”  The first gay rights organization, the Mattachine Society, used the word “homosexual,” reasoning that otherwise no one would know what they were talking about.

In 1969, the Gay Liberation Front, and the subsequent Gay Rights Movement, made two significant changes.  First, they believed that they were not psychotic, not abominations, not evil.   They chanted “Gay is just as good as straight."

Second, the word “homosexual” had to go.  It was old-fashioned and bigoted. It referred to a mental disorder.  Besides, it had to do with who you have sex with, and they were about so much more than that.  They were about living and working together, sharing a history and a destiny, being a community.  They were not homosexuals, skulking in the darkness, seeking out anonymous liaisons in t-rooms.  They were gay.

The term “gay” was not without detractors.  Many famous homophiles, such as Gore Vidal, Christopher Isherwood, and Truman Capote, said it was much too frivolous for a bona fide minority group.  Many people said that it was sexist, like using “men” to mean “all people,” ignoring the women.  It also assumed exclusive same-sex desire, behavior, and romance, whereas the community also included bisexuals and transgendered persons.  Eventually LGBT appeared an alternative, and then "queer."

Regardless, “homosexual” was gone, and would remain out of favor among gay people for the next 40 year.  In an Advocate poll in 2000, in answer to the question “What should we be called?”, 95% of respondents said gay or LGBT; 3% homosexual.

There are over 5000 gay or LGBT organizations in the United States, and no homosexual ones.

Barnes & Noble lists 3,389 books with “gay” in their titles and 305 with “homosexual,”  most written to argue that “homosexuals” are bad, evil, and psychotic after all: The Homosexual Neurosis, Hope and Healing for the Homosexual, The Homosexual Agenda.

The Gay Rights Movement had a good precedent for a society-wide name change. In 1965, the Civil Rights Movement objected to the term “Negro,” then used by government agencies, journalists, and on the streets.  Negro was old-fashioned and bigoted.  They chanted “Black is Beautiful!”  They wanted to be called Black.

Mass media changed instantly.  Within 2 years, no one was saying “Negro” except for the incredibly old-fashioned and the bigoted.  In Julia, in 1966, the titular character is on the telephone, & identifies herself as “a Negro.”  The white man she is talking to, not wanting to appear bigoted, pretends that he has no idea what she means, forcing her to use the new term “Black.”

But “homosexual” didn’t change easily. Even though gay people yelled, picketed, conducted sit-ins, and so on, it took until 1985 for the New York Times to agree to substitute gay for homosexual.  In 1976, in the Doonesbury comic strip, Joannie’s law school classmate says “I’m gay,” and she doesn’t understand.

The American Psychiatric Association removed gay people from their list of dangerous psychotics in 1973, but refused to call them “gay” until 1997.  About 20% of scholarly articles today still have “homosexual” rather than “gay” in their titles.  In newspapers and magazines, “gay” tends to win out in titles, but in the articles “homosexual” pops in as if it an exact synonym.

Every time I tell students that the word "gay" is appropriate and the word “homosexual” old-fashioned and bigoted, they are astonished.  They tell me, “But every other teacher I have ever had in my life said ‘homosexual’ was good and 'gay' was bad.”   They then trot out a gay friend who says “I have no problem with homosexual.” I ask if they are aware of the century of oppression centered on that word.  They are not.  They think of “gay” as bigoted!

Elfquest

When I was an undergrad at Augustana College in the early 1980s, the Bookstore Gang was all wild over Elfquest, a comic book series created by Richard and Wendy Pini in 1978, and still going on in various incarnations.  It is popular for cosplay today.

Combining heroic fantasy with science fiction, it was set on an alien planet with two moons, where spacefaring Elves settled thousands of years ago.  They now co-exist, sort of, with tribes of evil Trolls, insect-like Preservers, and humans.











The main character in the beginning was a Wolfrider Elf named Cutter, son of tribal chiefs Bearclaw and Joyleaf, who must lead his people to safety when their home is destroyed.  He also finds a "Partner in Recognition" in Letah of the Sun Folk,   Later other characters took center stage, a cast of thousands in stories extending over tens of thousands of years.  It became very complicated, and I lost track.

All of the Elves were drawn as pretty and androgynous -- you could distinguish the men only by their bare chests, with the muscular pecs of teen idols.  And they had sex a lot -- a tumble on the grass at the drop of a kilt became a mainstay of the series.  But, at least in the comics I read in college, all of the tumbling and romance were strictly heterosexual.



I hear that some later storylines included same-sex romances, and Wendy Pini stated that "all of the Elves are bisexual."  But Augustana, they only contributed to the erasure of gay people from the world.

Feb 10, 2015

The Mystery Man of the Little River Band

I happened upon this picture on the internet.  A shirtless hippie, short, beautifully sculpted, standing in a group of his mates. The caption read: "Russ Johnson, Mississippi."

Ok, I figured it was some guys from Mississippi, one of them named Russ Johnson.

Turns that an Australian rock band got its start as Allison Gros in 1970, changed its name to Mississippi in 1972, and broke up in 1975.

They released an album and five singles, most not particularly heterosexist.  Like "Kings of the World," which reached #7 on Australian charts in 1972: 

Robbers on the highway, beggars in the street
Everyone is lonely, no one is tryin' to meet


But wait -- here's another picture of the same guy, except it's captioned Derek Pellicci.

When Mississippi split up in 1975, he became one of the founders of the Little River Band.

They hit #3 on U.S. charts in 1978 with "Reminiscing", about growing old together:

When we're old, we'll go dancing in the dark, 
Walking through the park, and reminiscing

I was around in 1978, but I don't remember any of their other hits.






Here's the Little River Band in 1978, taken directly from Glen Horrock's website.  Derek Pellicci is in the middle.   Definitely not the muscular hippie in the top photo: his hair is too dark, and he has a hairy chest.

So who is the mystery man of the Little River Band?

Feb 9, 2015

Mikel Murfi: Intellectual, Avant-Garde, Gifted Beneath the Belt

Speaking of Irish men that I want to see a lot more of:

I saw the movie The Last September (1999) because Elizabeth Bowen, who wrote the 1929 novel, often included gay-coded characters.  So I figured there would be gay subtexts.

It was set during the Irish War of Independence in 1920, when a wealthy Anglo-Irish family go through romantic intrigues against the backdrop of the political crisis. I didn't see much gay subtext.

But there's a three-scene minor character, Sergeant Wilson, who terrorizes and humiliates the Irish villagers.

They get revenge by kidnapping him, stripping him naked, and sexually assaulting him (off camera).  But there's a frontal nude shot.

You have to freeze frame to see it, but his beneath-the-belt gift is astounding. Easily Mortadella+.  Definitely deserving a place on my Sausage List.

Sergeant Wilson was played by Mikel Murfi (great name!).  The Internet Movie Database lists some screen appearances, mostly in Irish movies that I haven't seen: After Midnight (1990),  Guiltrip (1995), The Butcher Boy (1997).  

In 2014 he starred in Edwart and Arlette, a gender-bending take on the Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of the Cardboard Box."



Most of his work has been on stage, a lot of avant-garde theater, with some gay subtext potential:

The Man in Woman's Shoes: about a man walking to town to deliver a pair of shoes in rural Ireland in 1978.

Sick Dying Dead Buried Out: the relationship between two clowns who are dying.

Ballyturk: Two men (Mikel Murfi, Cilian Murphy) trapped in a room, don't know how they got there or how to get out..

Murfi has also produced and directed a lot of avant garde plays through his theater company, Barabbas.  He's particularly interested in works that invoke the spirit of playwright Samuel Beckett.

And, apparently, have gay subtext potential.

The Country Girls: two girls from the west of Ireland in the 1950s have a relationship.

The Last Days of Ollie Deasey: a man searches through Ireland for his long-lost father.


Penelope: four men at the bottom of a swimming pool wait to die.

Knowing that he's done so much intellectual creative work, it's rather embarrassing to be thinking about something so mundane as Murfi's package.

But it was a magnificent sight.

See also: Bachelor Weekend: Six Irish Guys Get Naked.; and My Sausage List.

Feb 8, 2015

Bachelor Weekend: Six Irish Guys Get Naked on Holiday


You're probably wondering about muscular, bulgeworthy, and otherwise memorable actors illustrating my post on James Joyce.

They're from a 2013 Irish film called The Stag, or in America The Bachelor Weekend, about a group of guys giving their mate one last taste of freedom before his wedding.

In American films, this sort of party involves hookers and girls jumping out of cakes, but in Ireland, it's a weekend trek through the countryside, where they get lost and naked.




The six mates are:

Right: Wimpy groom Fionnan, whose fiancee Ruth insists on the weekend in the country, even though he hates the outdoors (Hugh O'Conor, who played Stephen Dedalus in a 2003 version of Ulysses).

Left: The Machine, Ruth's psychotic brother, who pushes his way into the weekend and causes havoc  (Peter McDonald, a familiar face on Irish television).









Right: Davin, the macho best man, who was dumped by Ruth before she started dating Fionnan, and isn't happy about it (Andrew Scott, Moriarty in the tv series Sherlock).

Left: Depressed businessman Simon (Brian Gleeson, known for Snow White and the Huntsman).













Left: Little Kevin, Fionnan's younger brother, who is gay (Michael Legge, the teenage Frank in Angela's Ashes).

Right: Large Kevin, his drug-addled older boyfriend (Andrew Bennett, the narrator in Angela's Ashes, and Edwart in the gender-bending Sherlock Holmes short Edwart & Arlette).

I haven't seen it; the trailer looks fine, but the reviews are atrocious.  Apparently there are many homophobic and transphobic jokes, in spite of the gay characters and the "group hug" ending.

But I do want to see a lot more of Little Kevin.


Spring 1983: Is Joseph Gay or Bisexual?

When I was in grad school in English in the early 1980s, we had to learn all about Great Literature, which meant long, boring novels about heterosexual men lusting after women.

And we had to watch Great Movies, which meant long, boring movies about heterosexual men lusting after women.

A group of English grad students went to the Nuart Cinema for "art films" every couple of weeks.  All horrible AND heterosexist:

Tempest, with John Cassavetes having sex with Susan Sarandon on the beach.
The Return of Martin Guerre, about a Medieval Frenchman who comes back to his loving family.
Sophie's Choice, about a young writer (Peter MacNicol) who falls in love with an elderly concentration camp survivor.
Koyaanisqatsi, shots of crowded city streets and things going by on conveyor belts.
The Year of Living Dangerously, with Mel Gibson falling in love in Indonesia
Liquid Sky,  about heroin users who kill each other while aliens watch.
Fanny and Alexander, 3 hours of Swedish kids watching their relatives do boring things.

I dragged my friend Joseph, one of the "Gays of Eigenmann Hall," along to share in the torture.

Joseph ("Joe" in the straight world) was a grad student in history, concentrating in Enlightenment Europe, fluent in French and German, and a fencing enthusiast with an impressive physique.

I tried hard to date him, and he did consent to share my bed a couple of times, but he wasn't particularly interested.  He liked husky, hairy blue collar types, auto mechanics and repairmen.  One day he was elated because he had managed to seduce the custodian at Ballantine Hall, right down in the boiler room!

At the Nuart, we were strictly closeted, of course -- coming out to a heterosexual friend in 1983 would result in, at best, a horrified stare and a stammer of  "Whoa, back off, man!"

So I didn't talk about gay subtexts, or point out attractive men on screen.

But Joseph went even farther to maintain a heterosexual facade. He joined in the nonstop discussions of feminine beauty, saying things like "You'd have to be an idiot to leave a hottie like Nathalie Baye (in Martin Guerre)"  and "I kept waiting for Susan Sarandon (in Living Dangerously) to show her breasts!"

One night he kept it up even after we said goodnight to the other guys and returned to Eigenmann Hall: "I can't believe how sexy Meryl Streep (in Sophie's Choice) was!"

"Don't you mean Peter MacNichol?"

"Oh, right, right."  He grinned sheepishly.  "Sorry, I was still pretending to be straight."

But I was suspicious.

When you grow up being told over and over that same-sex desire does not and cannot exist, you become very sensitive to subtle signs of erotic interest: a glance that is a little too open, a little too much attention to detail.

Gradually I became aware that Joseph noticed women.  When I referred to a female classmate, I might say "She sits behind us in Chaucer class."  He would describe her hair and face.  He looked women up and down, evaluating their breasts and curves in the same way that he evaluated the biceps and baskets of burly truck drivers.

Was it possible that Joseph could be bisexual, and not know it?

One day I invited him to my room for a Domino's pizza, and asked "Did you ever have sex with girls, before you realized that you were gay?"

"Oh, yeah, sure, who hasn't?  How could you avoid it?  When you're on the fencing team, the girls are all over you. Hotties, too!"  He caught himself.  "I mean...well, you know what I mean..."

"Not really.  I'm not attracted to women at all."

"Me, neither!" Joseph protested.  "I'm gay!  I mean, what straight guy fantasizes about big, burly truck drivers with gigantic stick shifts?"

"It's not always a matter of one or the other.  Some guys like both."  I picked up a copy of Playboy (displayed prominently on my desk to keep up my heterosexual facade) and opened to a page at random.  "For instance, if she walked into this room and offered to kiss you, would you accept?"

"Well, sure, who wouldn't?  Being gay doesn't mean I'm dead!"

"I wouldn't.  No way!"

He stared.  "But...I like guys...." he said in a small voice.

"I know.  It's like, after a lifetime of heterosexual brainwashing, realizing that you like guys is a joyous, liberating experience.  Then, when you find yourself attracted to women, you think that the brainwashing worked after all.  You feel like a traitor.  But let's face it -- some guys like guys, some guys like girls, and some guys like both.  There's nothing you can do about it."

Joseph denied it again, but soon he revealed, with a sigh of relief, that for dating, romance, and long-term relationships, it was men only.  But for sex, and for noticing attractive people on the street, he was into both hairy, husky truck drivers with gigantic stick shifts, and thin, athletic women with long brown hair.  It was nice to not have to hide anymore.  At least among his gay friends.

Fine, always nice to help someone recognize their true nature.  Except Joseph somehow got the idea that all gay men were attracted to thin, athletic women with long hair.  He began pointing them out to me with the avidness of a hetero-horny jock.


One Sunday night he knocked on my door to tell me that I had missed a really good episode of One Day at a Time.  

"Why, did Max (Michael Lembeck) take his shirt off?" I asked.

"What?  Are you kidding?"  he exclaimed.  "There was a really hot close-up of Barbara (Valerie Bertinelli), cleavage and all!"

"But...she's a woman.  Why would I...."

"Who cares if you're gay or straight?  If Barbara's cleavage doesn't get you going, man, you don't have a pulse!"

Um...some people are straight, some are bi, and some are gay.  They all have pulses.

See also: The Gays of Eigenmann Hall; Cruising Dublin with James Joyce.; and the Halloween Homophobe.