It wasn’t unusual. I wasn’t surprised. The most common response I get when I reveal my sexuality in conversation has been, “You’re gay? Whoa, I missed seeing that one; your wrists aren’t campy…are you sure?”
I was ready for him, and I satirically replied, “No, I’m not quite certain … do you want to help me out in deciding if I am?” I smirked at him as he took a large swig of his drink.
To any sane person this is not a predatory question, it’s a good nature attempt at humor; a bit of a tease at worst.
I knew he was straight, and that he was gay friendly, but I never suspected that he might judge men’s sexuality by the “limping wrist detection method.”
It seems he had a perception of gay men always acting effeminately, or as he put it, “campy.” It struck me as significant that someone thought of me as being straight, or not being gay. That possibility had never occurred to me.
I have found that nothing melts resistance to homosexuality faster than just showing that you are as human as anyone else. Strangely enough, effeminacy, sensitivity, “camp” or “affectedness,” as my grandmother called it, are not indicative of homosexual men.
I have known quite a few heterosexual men who are way more effeminate than I could ever be, except in short bursts. Some men are just “delicate” and that can pose a problem for them if it causes them to be judged as being gay, whether they are or not.
It’s also a problem for gay men, who mistake effeminacy in others as being a sexual invitation. In the school yard, elegance in a male child can lead to bullying due to their perception and moralizing intolerance of gayness in those “sensitive” boys.
Any hint of effeminacy can be quite dangerous in some situations.
The risk of violence often comes from those people who have never faced their own affection for other people of the same sex. Those people’s ancestors are the ones who made up the anti-homosexuality laws that have, quite frankly, never been necessary.
Indeed without those laws, wars and violence might have been, quelled to become the fires of affection; quenched by the watery springs of love that can exist even between straight men from different cultures, even warring cultures. Long before death, love and acceptance is the great leveler, provided it is allowed to express itself; uncensored.
There is a thin line between bullying and good natured teasing that encourages camaraderie. Unfortunately, if left unguided and unexplained, or if misconstrued, such camaraderie can degenerate into peer group posturing and pressure, ritual victimization of alienated individuals, and rabid violence.
Gossip, innuendo, moralizing and fear of differences can all disrupt what should be a healthy, respectful, even a loving bonding between human beings at any age. That inclusive “club” atmosphere, that camaraderie, that group mentality can all grant its members the ability to hug briefly, pat the shoulder or the back, and even occasionally acknowledge affection, provided they are alone.
Hollywood movies are infamous for displays of affection between straight heroes. The innuendos abound in the movies. Just think of the ending of Casablanca when Humphrey Bogart and Claude Rains walk off together into the evening mist…almost holding hands.
Oh, and let’s not forget those male “friendships” that were alluded to in all those Beach Party movies, vampire movies, and even cowboy movies.
I still remember the excitement of seeing the near naked sweaty male bodies that saturated Cecil B. De Mille’s, The Ten Commandments. Has anyone ever looked more fetching before a Pharaoh than the muscle bound Yul Brynner and Charlton Heston wearing those little Egyptian skirts. How did that get past the censor?
When I was but a budding homosexual in my early teens, I discovered the gratification of seeing photographed males in muscle building magazines. Those were all we had in 1958, and I still wonder that they weren’t banned under the censorship laws of those days. I never did see similar magazines for women. I had heard of ‘Girlie Magazines’ but I never bothered chasing after them. The muscular male models were dressed in skimpy swim suits that would have dissolved in salt water, or saliva.
Even at my tender age of 14, it was plainly obvious to me that these magazines were selling male pornography camouflaged as legitimate muscle building, and what bulging muscles some of them had; all neatly and provocatively packaged. One model stuck in my memory, if not my libido. He had huge muscles, and like me, he was 14, but there the similarity ended. Today, that photo would likely have you prosecuted for possession of an indecent photo of a minor.
The group photos of the muscular models suggested a prelude to an afternoon orgy, rather than being a parade of near naked bodies for other men to judge which one was perfect.
I wondered why these photos weren’t censored, banned or at least a little less prominently displayed. I bought mine from a street stand. Then we come to the junk mail adverts for male underwear. I think my mother was pleased I took an interest in how I might look in the latest underwear fashion. Appearance is so important. Clothes can maketh a man…look good…and at you.
Censorship, to protect the innocence of youth, is always a touchy subject. Perhaps ‘touchy” is an inappropriate word, but why should innocence be protected for the sake of ignorance? Is it because of that wonderfully silly idea that the best years of your life are during childhood; that children are, for the sake of their social acceptance, best kept isolated, surrounded by fairy tales, and deprived of real world experiences.
We see that culture often attempts to inflict overriding morality on people for the sake of the belief of some. Children should not have the dignity of their bodies hidden from them by enforced theocratic beliefs. Of course we should protect children from predators, and that includes moral predators as well as sexual ones. It does not mean children should be made, or kept, ignorant.
Thinking back anthropologically; did our ancestors’ offspring really have their eyes covered and their ears plugged when their cohabitant cave-dwellers had sex in their cave? No, they probably watched, or went to sleep, comforted that love was being expressed nearby. Kids are more than capable of adapting to real life situations. They do, in fact, demand knowledge and truth, not fairy tales. If they weren’t capable of handling real life, the human race would have become extinct eons ago.
Sadly, our culture has degenerated into the creation of one where children must be kept as naïve as possible, for as long as possible, on the supposed grounds of ‘ignorance leading to a blissful childhood’. For the adults it’s an ‘escape’ from responsible child rearing. Such adults spend their lives living in fantasies that encourages them to escape from the clarity of reality. Kids were once treated as young people, not conditioned to be mindless idiots for subservience within a corrupt society.
Of course, we know there was terrible, unjustifiable mistreatment of youngsters being used as slave labor, sex objects, and just plain abused, disrespected and bullied into despair. I’m certain that it happens under the guise of a “happy childhood.”
If anything, it’s worse when you consider that the current indoctrination corrupting infancy leads to adult insanity. It takes a Zen master, a psychotherapist and a great deal of personal effort to even remotely begin to set aside cultural conditioning in order to find and recognize reality; to appreciate its grandeur and beauty; that requires we rebel in the name of life, love and our freedom to be who we are.
The freedom of consensual sexual expression is paramount to the individual’s sanity, and is only possible if we do not hide or censor it from ourselves, including our young.
If you doubt that, just look at the crazy repressive policies of the conservative right wing extremists who seek authority over others, and for profits that are morally bankrupt. They seek to censor sex, conceal it, condemn it, on the grounds of immoral behavior, unless there is money to be made from exploiting naked passion, whilst simultaneously, condoning it for themselves.
They are thought hypocrites by some, but they are best regarded as moral predators, preaching the unethical morality of the sanctimonious.
As for my friend, whose question inspired these thoughts, he is obviously as much at peace with his heterosexuality as he is accepting of me being gay. We don’t need to try to change one another, and we freely admit we love that about each other.
He says he thinks we might lust after each other’s friendship, but I told him lusting after friendship is the same as being a ‘sensitive’ sexual predator. He roared with laughter at the implication and then said’ “As much as I love you, I have to get home to my family.”
“Me too,” I laughed and we finished our drinks.
“Are you married?” he asked me.
“Not yet,” I told him, “but we are hoping, soon.”
“I expect an invitation,” he said, “I love weddings.”
“So do we.” I nodded and gave him a big grin as we each went our own ways, happy in the knowledge that we both valued the affection of yet another human being.
Neither of us are moral predators.