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Every hot Hollywood hunk at one time or another has to deal with rumors about being gay. Some more than others. Some, like John and Tom, make a career of it. And some, like Hugh Jackman, find themselves addressing the issue again and again. And again. In the past, he’s denied being gay. And his wife has denied it too. As has his adopted kids. Still, those rumors persist. Maybe it’s because he’s photographed lovingly frolicking in the ocean with another man so often. Or his love of musicals. Or that he’s included in every list of closeted celebrities. Or that he flames so well. But now that the character he’s most often associated with, Wolverine, has come out of the closet, Hugh too has finally boldly gone where no straight man has gone before, by admitting he prefers men. And Asian men at that.
Or not. But considering the date, this does make for a good Photo of the Week, no?
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Years ago I had a roommate who was addicted to gay porn. Not a boyfriend, just a roommate. Okay, so he’d been a boyfriend, but by the time we moved in together the bloom was off the rose and we’d just became friends. With an occasional upgrade to fuck buddy status. As roommates go, it was an ideal living situation. I worked a regular Monday through Friday, 9 to 5 job, he worked late nights and weekends. I rarely saw him since our time at the house seldom over-lapped. Unfortunately, when it did I’d see far too much of him. He spent all of his free time splayed out naked in the living room watching gay porn on the wide screen. Which accounts for his occasional upgrade to fuck buddy status.
You’d think coming home to a hot naked stud who was always primed, ready, and willing would be a little slice of heaven. Especially one whose birthday you didn’t have to remember. Or your anniversary. Or any of the other stupid occasions that cause turmoil for forgetting when two guys become a couple and one of them starts acting like a little bitch. ‘Cuz a bitch in heat only cares that you remembered to bring the lube. But a surround sound system blaring Jeff Stryker’s catch phrase, “Yeah, suck that big cock!” in THX isn’t quite the, “Hi honey, how was work today?” you’d expect, and it got old pretty fast. Like about eight months after we’d signed the lease.
His porn hobby was an all encompassing one. He was always either watching porn, or making a trip to the local video rental shop for a new batch of porn tapes, or copying his favorite porn scenes onto his collection of gay porn mixed video tapes. He had several hundred of them. Stored in what should have been the coat closet. Which invariably led to a first-time visitor to the house thinking he was gonna hang up his coat only to be greeted by shelves full of homemade videos with titles like Best Blow Jobs, Biggest Black Cocks, and Anal Action +++, instead of the hanger he’d expected to find. Most took it in stride. My moms, not so much.
Not quite knowing the best way to stage an intervention for someone addicted to watching gay porn, one day I suggested that perhaps his hobby was keeping him from enjoying sex with an actual human being. Other than himself. His reply was a garbled, “Mmmurghph.” So I took my dick out of his mouth and told him I didn’t think his obsession with gay porn was a healthy pastime. He claimed watching porn was educational. Even if it was obvious he’d already earned his PhD. And while his actual male-on-male body contact was limited, he said by watching all that porn he was becoming a better lover, that he’d been learning new and better techniques. Which I couldn’t really argue with. Other than that watching a porn star use an orange traffic cone as a dildo might not be the type of sexual repertoire that would lead to a satisfied bed partner. I’m sure he had some excuse for that point too, but by then I couldn’t understand anything he was saying again. So at least he’d learned not to talk when your mouth is full.
Despite a roommate whose availability for giving blow jobs was more reliable than the refrigerator’s ice maker doing its job, his claim that watching porn made him a better lover smelled like a bunch of lame excuses. But researchers at Concordia University and UCLA recently reported that watching lots of porn may in fact mean a healthier sex life. And that change in scents means yup, it smells like science to me.
The study published in the online journal Sexual Medicine suggests that men who regularly watch porn may enjoy greater desire and sexual arousal when having sex with their partners. Researchers surveyed 280 men, asking them how many hours per week they spent watching porn, their levels of sexual desire, and their experiences with erectile function. Their findings suggest that many popular stereotypes about porn don’t hold up and that watching porn may indeed have a place in a healthy sex life within a relationship.
Previously, the general opinion of porn addicts was that their obsession with watching porn could lead to problems with getting or sustaining an erection; that men who love their porn become desensitized to the actual act of having sex. But Nicole Prause, associate research scientist in the Department of Psychiatry in the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, and Jim Pfaus, professor in Concordia’s Department of Psychology and Center for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology, says their study shows the opposite to be true.
“When we analyzed the data from these prior studies, we found that the men who had watched more sex films at home were more aroused when they watched sex films in the lab,” says Prause. He says their research showed that men who watched more than 25 porn tapes per week responded more strongly to sexual stimuli – even very vanilla erotica – than the guys for whom porn movies were more novel. “While this association doesn’t establish a cause, it proves viewing erotica at home is not desensitizing and perhaps even sensitized the men to respond more strongly,” he says.
And Pfaus says that watching porn is not only good for you, but good for your relationship too. “Many clinicians claim that watching erotica makes men unable to respond sexually to ‘normal’ sexual situations with a partner,” he says. “That was not the case in our sample.”
Pfaus says that of the 280 volunteers who agreed to stroke it in the name of science, 127 were in a relationship with a regular sex partner, representing a good cross-section of men that view porn on a regular basis. He claims that his research shows that rather than porn hijacking men’s libidos and setting up unrealistic expectations for real-life sex, viewing more sex films is associated with a stronger sex drive, including the desire to have sex with a partner. “Sex films,” Pfaus says, “may be able to ‘stoke the fire.’” And that’s a lot of stroking going on.
Despite their study’s results backing up their hypothesis that an overindulgence in porn can turn you into a little sex machine, the pair of men in white coats acknowledged that it was possible the men in their study who watched more porn had a stronger sex drive in the first place. But that doesn’t stop them from claiming that watching porn can be good for what ails you. “The most common error of thinking with respect to men and porn is that all porn is bad for men all of the time,” Prause said. “The truth is probably that some porn is good for some men in some situations. The challenge is to identify when sex films are most likely to be helpful.” And that was a challenge my old roommate was always up for.
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Old hands and sexpats love nothing more than bitching about the high drinks cost at gogo bars on Soi Twilight. Okay, old hands and sexpats love to bitch period. But a perennial favorite is whining about how much that first drink at a Bangkok gogo bar costs. It’s around ten bucks these days. Which does sound pricey. Until you remember you are not just paying for a drink, you are paying for the treat of watching a bunch of naked dudes cavorting around the stage. Which the old hands and sexpats never seem capable of remembering. Or they wouldn’t whine so much. ‘Cuz getting to watch a bunch of naked guys do those things naked guys tend to do is priceless.
While none of those whiners actually knows what it cost to run a bar that offers hot and cold running boys in Bangkok, they will gladly tell you the exorbitant prices charged for drinks are because bar owners are greedy and care more about profits than they do about their customers. And predicting the downfall of those bars because of that greed is almost as enjoyable as bitching about how much they’re charging. Dreamboys – who tends to lead the price increase in each round – is often cited as an example of owner greed. Yet that bar has been going strong for years, with no sign its popularity is waning. Huh. So are gogo bar owners greedy bastards who deserve the bankruptcy surely headed their way? Or are they just astute businessmen who know what their product is worth?
Yup. Smells like science to me.
It turns out portraying gogo bar owners are uncaring capitalistic pigs is a disservice to the industry. ‘Cuz science says, just like the boys in their stables, bar owners’ real concern is about taking care of you. And considering what they have to work with, that ain’t no easy job. Finding boys to willingly strut their stuff on stage isn’t difficult. Enticing sex tourists into their establishment to drool over those boys isn’t much of a task either. But convincing the boys to spend a night going one-on-one with an ancient, gelatinously obese, smelly, myopic, bald, farang whose cynicism, anger and disillusionment are palpable can be a Herculean task. Unless you get them drunk first. And I don’t mean the boys.
No problemo. Researchers at the University of Bristol have just discovered what Bangkok’s gogo bar owners already knew to be true. Your attractiveness increases greatly after you’ve had a shot of your favorite liquor. In the study, published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism – which wouldn’t be a bad new catch phrase for Pattaya – 40 participants were photographed three times — sober, after one glass of wine, and after two glasses of wine. Then their photos were shown to a new group of people who were asked to rate their attractiveness in side-by-side comparisons. They were either shown a participant’s sober photo nest to his one-drink shot, or his sober photo against the two-drink shot.
Invariably, participants selected the photos of those who had downed a drink as being the most attractive the majority of the time. The researchers are not sure why, but suggest it could be due to pupil dilation – which is a positive trait to viewers – or muscle relation, or rosier cheeks. In any case the results are the same. “It suggests that people are rated as more attractive once they’ve consumed a small amount of alcohol,” said the study’s senior researcher, Marcus Munafò, a professor of biological psychology. “What it means is that alcohol is sort of hijacking that mechanism, or promoting the aspects of facial features that we regard as attractive for other reasons,” he says.
The conclusion of the study was that in addition to perceiving others as more attractive, a mildly intoxicated alcohol consumer may also be perceived as more attractive by others. Which in turn may play a role in the relationship between alcohol consumption and risky sexual behavior. “You consume a drink, so you see other people as more attractive,” Munafò said. “But you also become more attractive yourself because you’ve consumed a drink.” And that’s a win-win in anyone’s book.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that there is a limit to how attractive booze can make you. A quick glance in the mirror should clue you into that fact. ‘Cuz while study participants found a single shot upped the attractiveness level of drinkers, drink #2 made that rating head south. After two drinks, participants found their sober photos more attractive than the high-alcohol head shots. And that’s a sobering bit of news.
The researchers did not test the attractiveness of subjects who had drank more than two shots. ‘Cuz even scientists wouldn’t attempt to float the hypothesis that anyone finds a falling-down drunk attractive. Even one with a fat wallet. Or at last call.
So despite all those nasty things you’ve been saying about Bangkok’s gogo bar owners, the truth is they know their business, they know their boys, and they care about you. Demanding that you buy a drink – which is considered a cover charge everywhere else in the world – is ‘cuz they know it will help you appear just a bit more attractive to the boys. And by pricing their drinks high, they discourage you from drinking the amount that will allow the boys to remember just how disgusting you really are. That those prices add to their bottom line is just a happy coincidence. Because what they really care about is your happy ending.
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While the rest of the world is coming to love us, within the rainbow community we still haven’t learned to love each other. Earlier this week, Russell Tovey, an actor currently strutting his occasionally naked stuff on HBO’s Looking, gave an interview to the UK Observer during which he said he was glad his father had not allowed him to attend theatre school or otherwise there’d have been a good chance he would have become some tap dancing freak without qualifications. “I feel like I could have been really effeminate if I hadn’t gone to the school I went to. Where I felt like I had to toughen up,” Tovey said. And the queens of the internet went ballistic.
Never mind that he was attempting to articulate why he tends to play both straight and gay roles equally well, he used the Eff word in what the gay media decided was a derogatory manner. And if there is one thing the princesses of the Rainbow Brigade won’t stand for, it’s anyone dissing the fem boys. Collectively, their panties got into a wad not seen since Jared Leto won an Oscar for being a straight man (maybe) playing a transgendered hooker. ‘Cuz when you are out in a politically correct way, outrage over anyone who doesn’t view the world through your pink-colored glasses is your stock in trade. And boy are those queens vocal with their outrage.
Tovey, immediately branded homophobic and The Worst Gay Ever, tweeted a white flag and apologized (kinda, sorta) for his statement about effeminacy, even though his comment was not the implied insult to effeminate men that said effeminate men inferred it to be. Perhaps he should have worn a tiara while doing so; his apology was not universally accepted. ‘Cuz angry queens like holding a grudge almost as much as they do a feathered boa.
Today, as gay men we are told being visibly gay is the only way to go. If you are not in touch with your inner effeminate self, you’re only “acting straight”. And that, as we all know, is nothing more than internalized homophobia. Those who would never win an Oscar for their straight acting abilities tell us that if you are not the flamboyant gay the world has come to know and love, you’re full of self-hate. And it’s all just an act. Angelo Pezzote, author of Straight Acting – a title that should be read with heavy sarcasm – says gay guys who act straight are merely conforming to society’s expectations of masculine behaviors. He says we’re “behaving as we’re expected to rather than how we really are” because we don’t want to stand out, and to varying degrees are trying to avoid the stigma of being too flamboyant. Well, excuse me for knowing how to use a nail gun, but some of us are just being true to ourselves. And just because I don’t know what my foot size equates to in women’s shoes doesn’t mean I’m not proud to be a gay man.
In response to Tovey’s interview, Wade Davis published an op-ed piece in The Advocate which pretty well summed up his stance with its title, Russell Tovey, Sexism, and Imaginary Masculinity. Like most of the visibly gay, Davis can only perceive a gay man’s masculinity as being imaginary. And instead of attempting to come to terms with the fact that some gay guys are just guys, hones in on the ‘acting’ part of the straight-acting moniker instead. “Acting is the key,” he says. “Masculinity is an act or a performance that many individuals try to master with great success, or great imagined success.” ‘Cuz as a gay man, if you are not exactly sure what eyeliner is, or why you’d wear it, there is obviously something very wrong with you.
Davis goes on to relate that he once considered himself to be a “straight-acting” gay, but now realizes how “sadly silly” such a statement was, as it was “obviously based on deep insecurities and ridiculous stereotypes.” Until his epiphany. “It wasn’t until Whitney Houston’s album The Bodyguard came out that I realized how odd and unhip my friend masculinity was,” he says. “I was in Chicago, alone at my uncle’s house, playing Queen of the Night on repeat. As I spun around the living room, arms extended, singing the entire song with everything I had for probably the eighth time, something stopped me. It was masculinity, asking, “What the hell are you doing?” It was that moment I realized how much I betrayed myself by hanging out with masculinity.”
Um, when your masculinity starts speaking to you, you may have a bigger problem than that no hairstyle is off-limits to you. And when you’ve been channeling Whitney Houston, you probably weren’t all that masculine to begin with. I won’t even mention the obvious when your choice of tunes is Queen of the Night. But Davis channels his mom too and concludes his piece saying that in her infinite wisdom she once told him, ” “If you look at your friends, you can see your future.” Davis says he saw his future very clearly on that day in that living room. “And the future I saw never included me,” he says. I’m not sure what he meant by that. But I am sure Davis knows who won Season 1 of Project Runway.
Some of us have never dreamed of having back-up singers, have never called someone “girl friend” who was neither a girl nor a friend, and realized they were gay because they loved gladiator movies as a pre-teen, not because the immediately got Liza Minnelli. But because we have never paid over $50 for a haircut and do not have an opinion on who makes the best messenger bag for men, within the gay community we’re ostracized. Thanks to the Rainbow Brigade, we’re not being the gay men we’re suppose to be unless we are at least a little bit fem, have a cologne collection that shames Bloomingdale’s, know how to “air kiss”, and are just one bad vodka away from wearing heels.
If you’re a dyke on a bike you get to lead the Gay Pride parade. If you look no different than the brother or father of everyone in town, not so much. ‘Cuz celebrating pride is about glitter and rainbows shooting out of your ass. The new normal is to applaud drag queens ‘cuz they’re all so fierce. We’re supposed to admire them for living their lives large, for ignoring those who would put them down for being the non-conformists that they are. Drag queens get brownie points for having the balls (or not as the case may be) for standing up proudly and being true to who they are. While those of us who never watched Sex In The City and would have been unable to empathize with the girls if we had are ridiculed for knowing how many yards there are in the end zones on a football field. The visibly gay effeminate men like to tell you how many hurdles they’ve had to overcome to not change who they are, but never stop to think what it means to be a gay man who knows how to change a tire.
The visibly gay may well understand how uncomfortable it is for them to walk into a straight bar, but have no understanding how uncomfortable it is when a non-effeminate gay man walks into a gay bar. Or how uncomfortable we are wearing a deep V T-shirt. Which is never quite enough of an effort at effeminizing ourselves to fit into the gay world. So instead of finally feeling accepted and secure in our sexuality, we end up feeling straight instead. Even when the DJ cranks up Born This Way, we still feel like we have to apologize for being who we are. Or at least learn to call another dude Mary with a straight face. Or a straight-acting face. Just because we’re not all that familiar with the Kinsey scale and have spent little time deciding exactly where we fit on that spectrum, we end up being the odd man out. Or if a lesbian, a fish out of water. Because in the LGBTI world, there’s no room for the SA.
Evidently, because we are gay, we’re supposed to know the word please has more than one syllable and is not supposed to be used when trying to be polite. And while we are encouraged to celebrate diversity, if we fail to allow our effeminate side to shine brightly, we’re only acting and, obviously, our masculinity is dependent upon a high level of anti-femininity and homophobia; our image of masculinity is an adopted one that promotes the very values that straight society has used to tyrannize the gay community in the past. Because it’s not enough for the visibly gay to insist they be respected for who they are, it’s also incumbent upon every gay man to be just like them. Otherwise we’re phonies who hate themselves and spend our lives trying to hide who we really are. Even when that is who we really are.
So Chris Colfer is awarded accolades for prancing across the set of Glee, even though he exhibits the gay stereotypes we were once supposed to rally against, while Russell Tovey is vilified for being a gay man proud of his abilities to land straight roles. Because as gay men we are no longer allowed to act straight, we’re supposed to act gay instead. Even if you are a gay actor in a straight role.
Okay. I get it. I want to be a good gay. I want to fit in and be accepted by the community, even if that means hiding my natural masculine tendencies in the closet. I want to march in this year’s Gay Pride parade – not on one of the floats mind you, ‘cuz the bulge I sport these days isn’t the bulge that qualifies you for prime viewing, but at least it’d be nice to not be automatically assumed to be marching with PFLAG. So maybe I’ll binge watch every Rodgers & Hammerstein musical ever made this weekend. ‘Cuz watching Russell Tovey having sex with another man on Looking just ain’t enough to qualify me as a card-carrying member of the tribe any longer.
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