The Strength in being a Queen

The Strength in being a Queen

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As the mainstream image of what a gay man continues to morph into more of a hero and less of a victim, we continue to cast our most handsome, athletic, and masculine men in the leading roles of the gay movement. Society now understands that gay men can be just like the rest of mainstream society as our rainbow fades to more pastel. Our community has a new cast of gay heroes, putting our most chiseled, scruffy-jawline face forward for everyone to see. With gays represented by movie stars like Wentworth Miller and athletes like Jason Collins, the world now knows that we can be strong and manly, and fit right in with the rest of the boys. But there is a different kind of strength that has always existed within the gay culture, although it might not come in the form of bulging muscles and bass voices.

Unlike their masculine counterparts, effeminate gay men don’t have the luxury of hiding behind a butch facade until they are comfortable with coming out of the closet. You know the type. They can learn the choreography to the latest pop song faster than you can learn the lyrics. In high school, they had to make a beeline to their car the minute the bell rang to avoid the worn-out name-calling, bullying, or even violence. The Bedazzler was, is, and always will be their best childhood friend. Yes, these queeny gays maybe were born with a serious masculinity deficiency, but that is exactly what makes them the epitome of strength.

As someone who has always straddled the line of the masculine/feminine divide, I desperately sought to play up my butch qualities and minimize my fairy wings as much as humanly possible. Thankfully, I excelled at sports; I had a muscular build and a sort of all-American, generic white boy appeal. That was, of course, until I opened my mouth. I sounded more like a chipmunk with a lisp than the boy who just made the game-winning play on the soccer field. Eventually, it was the only thing people noticed.

Even after I accepted my sexuality, I struggled with my femininity. I spent hours in the gym, building my body and trying to emulate the idea of what men should look like. I stopped applying my coveted bronzer and shaved my head like a G.I. Joe. I even opted for a more understated wardrobe over the tight, bright T-shirts that I secretly loved. But the nasal voice and extra bounce in my step were inescapable. No matter what I tried, I always received degrading comments and snickers about my disposition, but not from the straight community. This came from gay men.

A girl can only take so much. I have learned to embrace and enjoy my feminine qualities just as much as my masculine ones. If masculinity is the paramount strength for all men to strive for, then gay men by definition will always be lesser than their hetero counterparts. As gay men, we know that there isn’t one definition of what man is defined by. Hell, we are living proof. So to discount or stifle any feminine characteristics that we have is a slap in the face to our own culture and an admission to others that there is something to suppress. The gay men who can’t help but radiate glitter from every orifice are the ones who propelled gay rights into the mainstream. As we get closer to becoming more integrated with heterosexual people, it is important that we do not allow any segment of our own pool to suffer in the process.

The measure of a gay man’s femininity in a heteronormative society is much like the measure of an African-American’s skin color in a society of white privilege. The most feminine of men are equal to the darkest of skin color, while the men who can most closely assimilate to mainstream culture share the same privileges equal to the fairest of black skin. This is a construct that is placed on both groups by a segment of society that demands we be most like “them.” Those who exist furthest from their litmus test of worth garner the least of the ruling party’s love. As proud gay men, we should demand within our own community that the measure of femininity not be an indicator of worth and that we respect each other regardless of our differences.

To the queens who have been beaten up, marginalized, and mangled for refusing to cave into the norm, you are the true heroes of the gay movement. It is to these men that we owe the freedom to be the exact type of gay men that we were made to be, and nothing else.

So, even with my nasal voice and knack for choreography, I realize that I am as much boy as I need to be and as much girl as I want. That is strength.

Snap.

Duck Dynasty, DOMA and the Battle of Conviction

Duck Dynasty, DOMA and the Battle of Conviction

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Recently, Phillip Robertson released a slew of comments likening homosexuality to bestiality, prostitution, adultery and alcoholism.  In his interview, he also called homosexuals illogical sinners. His grounding for his beliefs? His convictions based on the words of the bible. Those who support him, including Sarah Palin and several other prominent tea party members, have rallied behind the man who stood up for his convictions in the face of popular opinion.

The word stuck with me all this morning. What is conviction? It is simply a firmly held belief or opinion. For decades, homosexual men and women have weathered insults, abuse, even death for their firmly held conviction. These firm beliefs show more muscle than those who quote the bible because dusty books and worldwide support don’t share the weight of judgment when a homosexual’s feet are too tired. These convictions aren’t recognized by organized religions nor have they historically rallied support from others with similar beliefs.  These convictions are so firm and so resilient that they have compelled those who hold them to stand up to ignorance, hate and misunderstanding just because they know in their heart that what they are is good. They showed strength in their convictions because they knew that their love was just love and no one could tell them otherwise.

Those who believe that homosexuality represents anything other than different combinations of two people in love have always belittled the strength of their opposition.  They have continuously underestimated the backbones of gay men and women while resting their convictions on loosely interpreted scripture. It only takes a moment to reflect on the past decade to grasp just how strong our backbones can be.

So when people oppose homosexuality based on their religious beliefs, I just wonder… Whose conviction would you put your money on?

Those who need to reference someone else’s writing to tell you what they believe, or someone who is their own testament to what is true.

Threesomes: Are You The Odd Man Out?

Threesomes: Are You The Odd Man Out?

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The introduction of a third party into the bedroom hardly raises an eyebrow in the gay community. The inevitable flirtation with the idea has fluttered through the minds (and computer screens) of every gay man at one point in time. And how could it not?

A threesome used to be something confined to the late hours of a Saturday night or a winter getaway to Fort Lauderdale. But ever more often, we see the guest star stay over and even show up at the brunch table the next morning for what is typically reserved for gossip about the night before. Yes, threesome relationships are practically a trend in gay culture. However, it seems only a matter of time after the third person hops into the bed that someone inevitably falls out.

Over the past decade, I have observed several of these “thruples” in action. Although the beginning might bring back a spark that had all but fizzled out in an existing relationship, the spark typically leads to a flame that turns into a fire. Eventually, one of the three lovebirds is burned altogether and we’re back to two.

In every gay man’s circle of friends, there is always that couple known for owning a “California King” for a good reason. I know that in my gaggle, I can think of more than a few.

Usually, one person in a relationship has more of a wandering eye than the other. The other may enjoy the act but is more concerned with keeping his boyfriend content (come hell or high sex drive). To this man I give caution. Far too often I have seen this poor guy eventually annexed only to have the new fixation take his place on the Christmas card.

If you must allow your boyfriend to bring home strays, keep an eye on them and kindly prepare their belongings once you all have caught your breath. If you notice that your boyfriend is interested in cuddling afterward, you have a problem on your hands. Nobody wants to cuddle after sex unless there are feelings involved. Nobody.

Now, if you are reading this on the doorstep of what used to be the house you two shared, don’t fret. The type of man who requires an extra in the bedroom and wants to keep him around for breakfast is never satisfied. He’s the kind of guy who typically holds the power in the relationship (whether that be money, good looks, or both) and is used to getting what he wants. Eventually, the bedroom will start taking applications again, and the new boyfriend will start to sweat. So if you are still sore after the fall from the bedside, don’t worry. They go out the same way they came in.

Sometimes two men of the same insatiable disposition will meet. This couple can create a bond that withstands a repeat guest. They might even develop feelings for their newfound plaything, but don’t be fooled. If two men can build a life together where their “happily ever after” includes a few guest stars here and there who are welcome to take an extended stay in domestic bliss, it is the third party who should take heed. If you meet this couple, don’t be fooled by their sweet talk, beautiful home decor and stellar cooking skills. You are a pawn in their game, and the pawn always gets played. In this case, it is you who needs to make a swift exit before the sun rises.

Of course, discerning between the desires that straddle the line of love and sex is about as easy as trying to talk some sense into a Tea Party member. No matter how logical your reasoning may be, it can be lost once tight T-shirts, cute smiles, and vodka come into play. But in the cold light of day, there is still a method to how the heart works once our libido has waned.

Dating is tricky, to say the least. More and more so in the gay community, the barrier lines that define a couple become blurred. For the romantic at heart, this can lead to unrealistic expectations — especially if there is one of the two in particular that strikes your fancy. That handsome face may light up for you at night, but most likely it will still hold allegiance to the boyfriend who is now making you coffee. And if you do, in fact, succeed in stealing one of them, you better have a strategy in place to ensure the 2.0 version of you doesn’t come along and do the same.

Ultimately, it’s your choice to flirt with a threesome every now and then. But if it’s love you are looking for, just remember you deserve more than playing the understudy when you should be the leading man. Whether you are a couple or the new edition, make sure to never compromise what you want for someone else’s benefit. Sex can be just that, but if your heart is in play, then it will surely get hurt when you share the spotlight.

And no matter what, “thruples” will never be the new couple.

That Awkward Moment: When to Disclose your HIV Status

That Awkward Moment: When to Disclose your HIV Status

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As I prepare to say goodbye to my 20s, I’ve noticed that getting older has its perks. Department store salesmen no longer roll their eyes when I ask to be fitted for a new suit, I no longer feel the need to sleep until just before the sun starts to set, and my car insurance company no longer hates me. It would seem that this so-called “midlife” isn’t so bad after all — that is, unless you are single, about to go on the dreaded first date and have to find a way to casually disclose that you are HIV-positive.

Now, I still don’t believe getting older is all that bad, but it is definitely a hell of a lot more complicated. Over the past several months I have been grappling with the question of just when is the right time to disclose my HIV status. This has led to many hypotheticals posed over bottles of wine with friends, both positive and negative. Several of my friends say that the cliché third date is most appropriate.

Assuming that sex is still off the table, this is the point at which both parties have had enough time to get to know one another for who they are, not what disease they are carrying. The danger of the “third-date rule” is that it allows for feelings to develop, albeit little baby ones. Disclosing your status once a semblance of trust has formed is like placing a loaded gun in front of a person and asking them not to shoot you with it. I don’t know about you, but I am still reeling from the shotgun that tried to take me down when I found out about my status.

Now, I prefer to hedge my bets and avoid the firing range as much as possible. A person who is opposed to dating you because of your HIV-positive status will not be swayed by your charm, your smile or your fancy words. It is not that they think a person who is HIV-positive has a fundamental character flaw that makes them pull the trigger. As tough as this may sound, two dates and some heavy petting are not the panacea for the cloud of fear and do not allow him to see you for all you have to offer.

Frankly, it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with him. A person who rejects a possible love interest because of his HIV status is terrified of many things. He is terrified of being subjected to the stigma that he himself is perpetuating. He is afraid of contracting the disease through something as harmless as kissing, because his fear outweighs his logic. Mostly, he just wants to avoid the reality of the virus, because it means facing the question marks that he so easily assumes are negative signs.

Now, this is not to say that a gay man doesn’t have every right to choose whether he will or will not engage in a relationship with someone who is HIV-positive. Quite the opposite, in fact, as I believe in divulging my status before I even agree to the first date. I am not invested before the first date. I haven’t begun to scribble his name on my desk pad, incessantly lurk on his Facebook wall and wonder if the feelings are mutual.In fact, revealing my status before a first date spares both parties feelings and satisfies both of our choices. I choose not to have to sit across the dinner table from some scaredy-cat ignoramus who would potentially miss out on a good thing because I am HIV-positive.

Being diagnosed with HIV can be a critical blow to a person’s sense of self-worth. We lie awake at night and ruminate over whether or not our next potential boyfriend might be a “never-was” because of an outdated perception of what it means to be HIV-positive. In the light of day, we pop our little pill, and we are still left to lead the rest of our long lives dodging bullets. It is my firm belief that immediate disclosure is the best way to avoid a shot in the back.

It has been my experience that disclosing my status in the beginning has typically been met with an appreciation of my honesty and a first order of drinks. Dating is still a crapshoot, and being HIV-positive adds a new level of doubt, no matter how you approach the situation. But being up front is the best way, for me at least, to preserve my dignity while I battle it out in the trenches of singledom. Truthfully, it is your choice to decide when to disclose, as long as you do in fact disclose. What is important is that you recognize your value regardless of your potential partner’s hangups and insecurities.

Those of us living with HIV face plenty of challenges already. There is no need for us to go around painting targets on our chests.