Category Archives: Homophobia

My First Love

It’s Pride Month! So we’ll be spending a little time each week hearing the thoughts and concerns of the LGBT community.

Name: Jaymie
Gender: Male
Age: 16
Location:
Hi, my name is Jaymie. I am a 16-year-old guy. I have a best friend (Jared) also 16, who I have been in love with for 3 years now. I know, you probably think, “he’s too young to fall in love”. Well I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s the only thing I’ve ever been so sure of in my life.

Anyways, I am bisexual. He knows that. I told him about 4 months ago that I was in love with him and he told me he already knew and that he was ok with it. A few years ago, we made out one night when we were kind of drunk and that scared him. He recently told me that he used to have feelings for me, but he got rid of them because “that’s not the kind of person he is”. I’m guessing by that he means that he couldn’t do it because he is not “gay”. He’s had a girlfriend now and they’ve been together for about 10 months and he’s supposedly in love with her. Even though there relationship is shit and they are always fighting.

We’ve always been really flirty with each other (cuddling, tickling, spooning, touching each others penis’ etc.) but all that has kind of gone down hill because of his parents catching us spooning and giving him SO much shit about it. Now we just cuddle once in a while.

I have a couple of questions, and you seem like a smart man. 1. What should I do about him? Should I give up on him? I cry all the time about it because I feel he’s the only one for me that I will ever love this much. 2. I know this might be a little weird, but when we were sleeping next to each other, I always stick my hands down his pants and play with his penis. Sometimes for fun, sometimes I jack him off while I jack off (I know, so I’m a little obsessed) he never wakes up though. He ALWAYS gets a boner when I do it but never moves and stays “asleep”. Can he get a boner from me touching him while he’s sleeping? Or does this mean that he’s faking it and knows I am doing it? If you could answer me that would be great. It’s really important.

You know what? You’re right; I’m a smart man. Smart enough to recognize that you too are pretty damn smart yourself. This is so curious to me. I know men more than twice your age who, in comparison to you, are absolutely clueless about who they are and what they desire. You, on the other hand, are very precocious. And that, my friend, is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you have extraordinary clarity about yourself and what makes you tick. On the other hand, being as advanced as you are, you leave your age peers in the dust, so to speak. The young man you mention, Jared, he is nowhere near as confident as you with regard to who he is and what he wants. That’s not unusual. In fact, as I suggest, that’s par for the course for a young man his age. You are the one who is unusual. And I’m not talking about your sexual preferences, just your emotional maturity.

I’m receiving an ever-increasing number of messages from young people, just like you, who are in the throws of adolescent anxiety. Everything seems topsy-turvy in their life including their sexual awakenings. These young people’s hormones are raging and they don’t know how to direct them.

You, Jaymie, say you love your friend. You suspect that I will disregard the whole idea as preposterous, because of your age. On the contrary, I take what you say at face value. I know for certain that young people have the capacity to feel as deeply and as passionately about things as older people. What may be lacking in younger people is a frame of reference — a means of tempering their unruly passions — because that come only by way of life experience. I hasten to add that a good number of us older folks don’t have the ability rule our passion very well either, even though we have a shit-load of life experience. This is truly unfortunate, because our lack of insight makes for some pretty messy lives and seriously diminishes the number of good role models of living healthy emotional lives. Perhaps if you get the hang of this while in your teens, Jaymie, you’ll be much better situated as an adult.

I note that you say you cry all the time. You claim you know your friend is the only guy for you and this causes this emotional distress. Here’s where I believe the whole life experience thing could help temper your passions. But since this is your first time out the gate, let me make some predictions. I’d be willing to bet my last dollar that this guy, as pivotal as he is to you today, is not the only man for you. In fact, I’ll wager that by the time you finish college, you’ll barely remember this fellow’s name. I’d also be willing to bet that most of your tears are tears of frustration, because the young man in question is unwilling, or more likely unable, to return your affections as you think he should. And unrequited love stings like the dickens. But I think you already know that part.

I have another prediction for you. You will have several of these unrequited love experiences in your life. I can predict this with absolute certainty, because lots of people just like you have traveled this same path. So if you allow me to offer you some advice, it would be to try to go with the flow. Take the joys with the pain and try not to fly apart in the process. Destiny has lots of things in store for you. And Jared is just the first of many of his kind.

As you make your way in life, particularly as a bisexual or gay man, you will discover a sad fact. Many other men with the same longings as you, some of which will be the objects of your affections, will not be able to acknowledge or reciprocate your feelings. This is because they are unable or unwilling to acknowledge their own feelings. The world is full of these kinds of men. So prepare to meet more than your share.

Jared’s pretending to be asleep while you fondle and jerk him off, is his way of avoiding both you and himself. Trust me, if he didn’t want you to do what you are doing, he’d sure enough let you know in no uncertain terms. Exclusively straight boys and men are like that. They’re like totally not down with the gay sex thing. Again, I’d wager he’s accepting your sexual advances and even enjoying them as much as he allows him himself to. What he can’t or won’t do is be upfront about it with you.

No doubt he’s scared shitless about all of this. On the one hand he’s being intensely pleasured by you, another guy. On the other he must be crippled with guilt and shame, aware of how inappropriate this is in terms of his parents value system, his religious upbringing and a good portion of our sex negative culture. I’d also be willing to bet that despite the fact that you are touching him out of your deep feelings for him, your touch only adds to his internal conflict and anxiety.

Most guys who receive the sexual attentions of another dude, but fake being absent through out, like feigning sleep or being drunk, can avoid some of the internal conflict by telling themselves that they are not like the guy doling out the sexual touch. That is in fact a delusion, but many a man gets through his life on delusion alone. You will discover this for yourself as your life unfolds before you.

Finally, to your question should you quit Jared? I think that you and I both know that despite your deep feelings for him, he’s not gonna wake up from one of your sexually charged naps and proclaim his love for you…at least not anytime soon. In fact, if you continue along the path, you risk ruining any chance that he could come to an awakening and acceptance of his sexuality on his own. Constantly pressuring him and mooning over him is counterproductive. And I also foresee a major confrontation erupting soon. Here’s a tip: some even ostensibly straight guys can groove on the whole sex thing with another dude, but they choke on the emotional attachment that often comes with the proffered blowjob.

So it’s pretty much your call, Jaymie. Will you continue to assail Jared for your own selfish pleasure knowing as you do that he can’t or won’t respond as you want him to? Or do you back off and allow him the time and space he needs to come to awareness on his own?

I think we both know what the mature choice is, don’t we? If you love this guy as much as you say, you’re gonna have to cool your jets and give him room to mature at his own pace. Remember he has some ways to go to catch up with you.

Good luck

The Dark Heart of Homophobia

No podcast today, but there is this…

I’m riding the bus when we come to a stop near a local high school. Five teenage boys get on. They’re all jocks—football, probably. Their jackets are emblazoned with varsity letters and they appear to be fresh from practice. Each carries an oversized duffel.

They are boisterous and full of menacing bravado. The bus is immediately overwhelmed with a rush of testosterone. As they move toward the back of the bus, they purposely jostle everyone in their path. They’re rude and crude and every other word is fuck.

The bus lurches forward, and my fellow passengers instinctively know not to make eye contact. The older women clutch their belongings tight to their bosom. Everyone is tense.

The pack mentality emboldens the young men, who are flush with their newly discovered sense of male privilege. Hormones rage in their adolescent bodies, yet there is an awkward childishness about them too. They are alpha, but only in as much as they are part of a pack.

They have off-color comments for everyone around them. Girls are singled out for the most abuse. They make insinuations about their sexual prowess, while pawing at their groins. The women blush with embarrassment.

Despite being loud, obnoxious and brutish, they lack conviction. They giggle too much, indicating self-consciousness. It’s apparent that, at their core, they are still very uneasy about themselves, and have yet to grow into and own the alpha maleness they mimic.

The bus approaches the next stop, and several of us get up to exit. A nerdy boy with glasses and a violin case accidentally trips over one of the teen’s duffel bags. This is the spark. The jocks erupt, lunging at the offending kid. He is easy prey. He’s petrified, but his survival instincts kick in, and he quickly maneuvers further up the aisle. I grab his shoulder and push him toward the door ahead of me. He makes his escape.

Now I’m in the line of fire. The rear door is only a couple steps away, but I stand my ground. The jocks size me up. I’m not an easy mark; I’m older and more dominant than any of them as individuals, but they trump me as a group. I may even be dangerous. In a split-second, the teens reevaluate the situation and instead of coming at me, they try to take me down with their best verbal shot: “You motherfucking fag!”

I move to the door. This could end very badly for me, but I will not show any weakness. Adrenaline courses through my bloodstream. I alight from the bus, holding the door open so I can briefly yell back. “Hey, thanks for the recognition. Oh, and for your information, its father-fucking, brother-fucking and/or son-fucking fag, never mother-fucking. Get it?”

By the time the jocks realize what’s happened, the bus is in motion, and I am safe.

The teens thought better of physically attacking me, so they did the next best thing. It’s what most threatened males do: they tried to diminish the threat by calling into question my masculinity.  And they do it in that time-honored way—by inferring I was a defective male, a queer, and a sissy. Trouble is, I am queer, and I owned it—right in their faces. On top of that, I stood up to them and even had the temerity to publicly shame them. So that had to be unsettling to them on several levels.

How did the derogatory epithet fag become the quintessential means of destroying the male ego? Why has the only somewhat less offensive slur, “that’s so gay,” become emblematic for everything stupid, negative or girly? These questions get to the root of our culture’s deeply ingrained homophobia.

I contend that homophobia is rooted in a fear and hatred of women. It’s no accident that when we want to denigrate a man we call him a pussy—the same word we use to refer to female genitals. In our culture, men are superior to women—it’s the oily by-product of male privilege. A man who falls short of this lofty ideal, or, god forbid, assumes a passive role in sex, cheapens the “privilege” for all other males. This is a particularly sensitive issue for ostensibly heterosexual men.

This prohibition is so deep-seated in our culture, one can trace its roots back to the Bible. Leviticus 20:13: “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death.” In biblical days, women were nothing more than chattel. For a man to behave like a woman—particularly in a passive, receptive sexual way—back then was an even greater insult to the male privilege than it is nowadays (which explains the whole capital punishment thing.)

Women are also objectified as sexual objects before men dominate them. A woman is not so much a person as she is a collection of parts—tits, pussy, ass, etc. A heterosexual man, familiar with and practiced in this dynamic, will not tolerate another male objectifying him as a sexual object, either real or imagined.

These cultural triggers are exceptionally easy to trip. With very little effort at all, we can debase a man simply by suggesting that there’s a whiff of the feminine about him. In turn, the slandered male is burdened with proving the contrary, which often leads to overcompensation. To deflect suspicion, some men affect a macho bravado so as to appear even more masculine than their peers. And how better to do that than to suggest someone else is a pansy?

I can say for certain that all those boys on the bus had been, at one time or another, accused of being a fag. It’s exceedingly common in sports for even teammates to insinuate a fellow athlete is not performing up to expectations. Each of them must have known the sting of that reproach. Some may even have had self-doubt about their own sexual tendencies. That’s why they hurled at me what they knew would hurt any other self-respecting male the most.

What they didn’t count on was that I had, long ago, inoculated myself against this poison. I own, even revel, in my queer sexuality. An insult doesn’t work if the one insulted self-identifies as the slur.

Institutionalized homophobia, on the other hand, is more insidious. The dominant culture enshrines male privilege and, like the boys on the bus, punishes anyone who attempts to undercut the paradigm. Discrimination is so widespread, ingrained—and sometimes so subtle—that many non-gay people don’t even notice most of it. But those of us on the receiving end of the bigotry are keenly aware.

It’s a particularly acute problem for young people who know they are different, and different in a way that isn’t tolerated of by the dominant culture. They are much more vulnerable because they have yet to developed the emotional resources to counteract the oppression. They don’t yet realize that it’s society’s problem, not theirs. Their peers mercilessly persecute them. And for the most part, authority figures don’t even try to stop the torment. That’s why young gay people commit suicide at a rate of about seven times that of straight kids.

You may have noticed that I’ve framed this presentation in terms of the natural world. Dominant and submissive behaviors in other species often have sexual overtones, especially in other primate species. A dominant male will harass a male subordinate until he submits and presents his rump. This establishes a pecking order in the troupe: a subordinate male is submissive and the dominant male is in control.

Some straight men see gay men as a threat, instinctively fearing a supposed challenge to the established order of things; who is in control. It’s basically a struggle for dominance and troupe status. A gay person who is a productive member of society, who is indistinguishable from his heterosexual counterparts, ups the ante. He’s a threat to anyone who believes what he may have been told all his life—that gays are perverted, miserable, lonely people who live short, desperate lives.

Institutionalized homophobia impacts so many aspects of our culture. It may be obvious how it skews our notions of sex and sexuality, of who can do what to whom and when. But did you know that it is often an underlying cause of much male sexual dysfunction? It also contaminates national policy in terms of public health issues, military readiness and the rights and freedoms we afford our citizenry. The business sector also suffers. Harassment and intimidation of gay workers result in loss of productivity costing businesses millions every year. But the most tragic is the toll it takes on individual relationships. Families are torn apart, friendships end, and people sometimes are killed or kill themselves over a futile and misguided attempt to uphold the status quo.

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