On One Hand

November 17, 2007

Mars Transit

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 6:13 pm

I miss kegs and keg stands, being loud and reckless, and starting pseudo-fights. Even though I never really started any; I mean, it’s just something I wish I had done.

“You don’t seem like much of a brawler,” he interjected.

Well not a brawler, but I mean, I’m talking about pseudo-fights with buddies, messing around. I like the kind of energy it cultivates, a sense of companionship and trust. I tried being playfully aggressive with past boyfriends, and they would try to play along but didn’t get it right. They thought they were wrestling – and it was pathetic. One of them would just sort of grab my writs and hold me there, another would slap and flick at me, or bite. They just didn’t have the same drive, didn’t understand what we were supposed to be doing. I probably wasn’t the best example of masculinity for them, but they definitely didn’t contribute. That’s part of the reason my relationships have been so frustrating.

Romantic relationships never feel like peer relationships to me. Me and whatever guy I’m with; we’ll try to be very mutual and equal, but we aren’t truly peers. Someone always has the upper hand. One is critical and the other tries to measure up, someone is into it and the other is disenchanted. There is a weird gender element and we feud over who is in the masculine or feminine role. I’ve been thinking it’s my own fault. I’ve been thinking it’s because of the way I grew up, where I never really connected with my peers who bullied me, and I don’t know how to connect now because I never learned to do it then.

Now I’m going to sound like a homophobe when I say this, and I hate that, but I don’t know how else to say that I don’t connect very well with guys who are gay. The problem might originate in me, or it might be something I am picking up from experiences we all share. But when I am talking to a presumably heterosexual guy I am not interested in, and he is just a regular guy, I don’t have any problems with feeling like “peers.” I don’t have a hard time figuring out what we are going to talk about, as long as he’s into art or politics or science. I don’t have a hard time knowing if our values are the same or not. I don’t feel a hidden agenda or that the person could pretend to respect me and actually not respect me. I feel that these guys are instantly on my level.

I think I am a masculine person by nature, but in my youth I associated masculinity with homophobia, with cruelty, with an intentional lack of femininity or sensitivity, and I was too afraid to talk or connect to a heterosexual guy. After I realized I was gay, I avoided straight guys like they were zombies. At the same time, I thought that people were always picking up on subtle signs and assuming I was gay, peering into dark parts of my consciousness I didn’t want anyone to see. That made me draw away from straight guys even more. The farther I got from masculine men, the more I thought that the essence of what it is to be masculine is to disrespect women, to break things and to smell bad. I also avoided things I associated with masculinity; I hated the idea of working out, hated sports, hated cars. I thought straight guys had no sense of emotion whatsoever, that they never hurt or thought something deep. Eventually, the only interaction I was having with straight guys was when they were threatening to beat me up in the park or ripping down the Gay-Straight Alliance signs I hung around the school. That has a lot to do with the neighborhood I grew up in; it took coming to college and finding straight guys who would treat me like a normal human being to shatter that illusion.

“That’s pretty intense.”

“Well it’s a summary. I still had a few straight friends; they would be dorky guys who weren’t that masculine, or people I had been friends with for so long I just trusted them. Anyway, it’s not true anymore. I am really realizing how wrong I was about all that, because today it is the opposite. I have plenty of straight guy friends, love to go to the gym and can get into sports if I want to.”

“But you don’t like the gay scene?”

“Yeah. I don’t get gay guys,” I said. “It’s fucking sad.”

“What about them don’t you get?”

“The obsession with self. Narcisism.”


“We never get on the same page. Whenever I’m hanging out with a gay guy, there’s a sort of competition between us, because we’re both sizing each other up, sexually, I guess. Or I think that gay guys are thinking to themselves, this guy is in to me, or, he wants me but I am out of his league. I’m feeling judged. It offends me, because whether I am actually interested or not is my own fucking business. When I hang out with a straight guy, there is this kind of respect there, and an I-got-your-back cohesion. I’ve never looked at another gay guy and felt, hey, we’re cool, this guy has my back.”


“Does that make me a homophobe?”

“I don’t think you can be gay and a homophobe.”

“I just don’t like feeling as though I’m back in high school.”

He said, “But gay guys are just cute. Practically begging to get fucked.”

“That’s not hot to me, either.”


“Who the fuck invented anal sex anyway?”

“Are you kidding?”

It doesn’t seem like a natural thing, to me. It’s an improvization. It’s an, ok, I guess this is what we do now. I’m attracted to a guy’s body, yes, I can be turned on by that, I can be turned on by touching, kissing, whatever, but who the fuck decided that an asshole is an erogenous zone? It’s like we’re just trying to mimic heterosexual sex, and to do that you have to find a hole, and the only hole in the lower half of a guy’s body is his ass, so that’s what they use.

“There are nerve endings…”

OK, I get that, and I see that some people like it, but it isn’t the default for me. I can see why people do it, because it feels good to them, but their interest in anal sex goes beyond the physical sensation, because some people think that even just looking at or touching an asshole is extremely erotic. They would look at it in porn, or just want to touch a person there; I don’t understand that impulse at all.

I used to be offended by the “are you a top or a bottom” question. I would basically say, fuck you, it’s none of your business. Now I understand that sex is such an open thing in the gay community that it’s considered OK to ask that, and I don’t mind anymore, and I would just say “top” because I am definitely that one more than the other. But really, I’m just adapting to what the other guy wants, because the anus is not an erogenous area for me. It’s like an ear or a nostril.

When straight people are confused and curious about what it’s all about, I want to say “lots of gay guys don’t really like anal sex.” Because I think that so much of homophobia has to do with the idea that anal sex is gross, so I want to explain that being a gay man not about anal sex at all. It’s the truth; being gay is not about anal sex, it’s about being attracted to men while being a man. But I haven’t found it to be true that some gay guys don’t do it; anal sex practically ubiquetous among gay men, in my experience. I hoped there would be someone out there who agrees with me that anal sex is sort of weird, or says, like I do, that it can be an expression of a commitment or love, maybe an every-now-and-then thing after you’ve been together as long as you remember, but up until that point it has no redeeming value. And I’m also thinking, now, it’s OK to fool around or have sex in other ways, but if guys would just quit fucking each other in the ass, we wouldn’t have to worry about things like AIDS. Yeah, I probably shouldn’t say that – no one deserves to get AIDS, no matter what – but for me, it’s just easy to say no to the whole thing, no to anal sex outside extremely serious relationships, and then I don’t have to worry about HIV or anything like that.

“Hmm. Is it that you don’t want gay men to emulate women? You see wanting to be penetrated as acting like a woman and you’d rather they just act like men?”

No way, that has nothing to do with this. I have no problem with any sort of gender situation you want to express. Plenty of guys say they want someone “masculine” or “straightacting” or that they “hate fem guys,” which only pisses me off, because it’s a fucking intolerant attitude. I’ve fallen in love with guys who were extremely effeminate and I think it’s perfectly doable. But I think it’s ironic that these same guys who say they are for “dudes who act like dudes” make me feel far more creeped out than any other kind of gay person, because they’re that much more conceited to think they are manly men when other people aren’t, and that much more conceited about their willingness to make effeminate guys feel like shit about who they are.

When I say “masculine,” I don’t mean a deep voice or certain mannerisms. I don’t even know what I mean. Maybe it’s just a tolerance for clutter, or an aversion to gossip, or something like that. Actually, I think that masculinity – at least the kind of masculinity that I say I am attracted to – is about physicality and playfulness. A sort of fun competitiveness – not a serious competitiveness – and a very physical, spacial way of communicating. I’m very attracted to that because I understand it, that person is not likely to pick at me for doing things I think are trivial, and the messages I get from a person communicating in that way are very clear to me.

“That has nothing to do with anal sex.”

“Yeah, that was just a side issue. To me, I guess it’s true that it isn’t a masculine way of communicating, or of showing affection, but for the most part that is a side issue.”

“Could you adapt?”

“As much as I’ve needed to.”


  1. you do a good job of describing the weird sort of tension/awkwardness between gay men. i totally feel the same. but also, do you think theres that tension between straight men and women or between lesbians, too? maybe its just a reaction to mutually recognized shared/compatible sexuality.
    i also have to say that i am another gay guy who doesnt get anal sex. ive never really done it with anyone, even long term boyfriends…and i have never fantasized about it. its just about as foriegn as vaginal sex to me. ive never defined sex as penetration.
    also, as a gay man, i think i am narcisistic because i have been forced to look at myself a little harder because of the place society put me as a “gay”. its not the norm, and its something bad, dangerous to be, even. yet i have no control over it. its a huge social label to bare, and i think it takes a bit more tact to get through life with it sometimes, in certain situations… and thats what the narcisism is about..figuring out how exactly you are presenting yourself.

    Comment by theplanklength — November 18, 2007 @ 8:28 am | Reply

    • I draw a distinction between self-reflection and narcisism. Perhaps to a person on the outside, they appear to be the same thing. But I think a reflective, self-aware person is attractive, but I am not attracted to someone who seems especially fixated on his own image.

      I was criticized by a former boyfriend for being “too concerned about what people think” because I didn’t want everyone to know that we were in an “open relationship;” I didn’t want the relationship to be open, I wasn’t taking advantage of the fact that it was open, and I was uncomfortable with him telling our common friends that it was. Meanwhile, I could have criticized him for the way he sang opera in public places or would openly critique the quality of wine so that people would think of him as cultured and talented. I think there’s a difference between our impulses to be aware of how we were being percieved. I’m not trying to bash on an ex and build up myself, but I think it’s a good example of what I think is the difference between self-awareness and narcisism.

      I think you’re right, all people are basically the same; they are all prone to conceit, to selfishness, to judgement, superficialism, or any other bad trait, which is only human. I think I judge gay guys harsher because there is that potential relationship there, and while a backstabbing friend can hurt you, a backstabbing boyfriend who you’re in love with is fucking hell. So I’m extra cautious about gay men I might be interested in because the stakes are higher. Maybe the real reason I avoid gay men is that, on a deep level, I don’t think I’m ready to deal with a deep romantic relationship with someone who might do that.

      I think the tension between gay men is multiplied by the fact that, not only are you prone to rejection, but you are also competing with that person for other guys. It is completely possible to steal your ex-boyfriend’s new interest. In heterosexual relationships, that competition is directed towards members of the same sex; a straight guy isn’t going to hook up with his ex-girlfriend’s new guy. Well, probably not. So if approaching an attractive member of the opposite sex is weighted with an element of risk, approaching an attractive member of the same sex is weighted with multiple layers of risk.

      All those issues make finding relationships a complicated mess, and require a different kind of approach to love. I don’t think that the high-school-type drama you find in the gay scene (or any scene of young, attractive people) is accomodating to a different approach. So I don’t really know what route to take. There is an incredible emphasis on youth and beauty in the gay scene. There is also a bizarre fixation with straight or “str8-acting” guys. How does anyone get out of that fog?

      I don’t think this is about “presentation” because I am comfortable with the way I present, comfortable with whatever level of masculinity I portray. People usually define me as masculine but I don’t care if I am really masculine or not.

      Comment by ononehand — November 19, 2007 @ 4:48 am | Reply

  2. “Who invented anal sex?”
    This is the most backwater and ignorant post I’ve read yet.
    The way you talk about homosexuality, you make it sound like a choice. I don’t get it.
    You know better, dude.

    Comment by pickupthepeices — November 18, 2007 @ 1:03 pm | Reply

    • I am very conflicted about these things. I don’t know how to express my frustrations with identity except through a fictionalized conversation where I can take both sides and say things that I don’t really agree with. I don’t think all the positions taken here are OK. But they are all things I feel or have felt. That’s why I went through fiction to express it.

      I don’t see what I said that makes anything sound like homosexuality is a choice; you don’t choose who you’re attracted to. However, having anal sex is a choice, so is coming out, so is any sexual activity for anyone. I don’t think I talked about that here, but it does reflect something I’m frustrated with. I don’t like anal sex. I have accomodated partners enough times to know what it is like, usually without even saying anything to indicate I was making a compromise (it wouldn’t really be accomodating if I talked about the fact that I was making an accomodation) and I still don’t think it is a hot or erotic thing. But all the time I am told that there’s something wrong with that, that I still have “a lot to learn” about sex and I will “grow into it.” I’ve been told I haven’t fully accepted myself as gay because I don’t like anal sex. I don’t beleive that at all. Being gay has nothing to do with any specific sexual act, it has to do with gender.

      Anyway, sorry if I came across as offensive. People will come away finding a multiplicity of false messages in this post, but it isn’t going to be published for a wide audience with an intention of influencing people, so I don’t think it’s a big deal.

      Comment by ononehand — November 19, 2007 @ 4:20 am | Reply

      • I didn’t mean to imply that homosexuality is dependent upon any one sexual act, I think I just reacted strongly to the line I quoted previously.
        What it boils down to for me is this: I act, talk, and have sex the way I am comfortable with. Trying to define it to someone else is both frustrating and hilarious because I identify as a “straight guy” to most people I come across socially. I, like you and a lot of kids our age, don’t fit neatly into those labels that roll off the tongue in that “myspace interests table” way. More often than not, I find myself explaining how yes, I am bisexual, but no, I don’t date women or really enjoy having sex with them other than penile/vaginal contact. That is met usually with: “A gay guy who likes vagina? That’s an oxymoron.”
        So, I guess “I feel your pain” is what I was trying to say. And there’s no need to apologize, this is your journal after all, and I’m just adding my two cents.
        And no, there’s nothing wrong with you for not being ecstatic about being on the “receiving end.”
        As I realized after I posted my last comment, oral sex is definitely worth writing home about. XD

        Comment by pickupthepeices — November 19, 2007 @ 11:04 pm

  3. I agree – I don’t get the anus-fixation. It’s really not my thing at all. Though pardon the pun – I suppose this is a case of different strokes for different folks.

    Comment by lancerboi — November 18, 2007 @ 10:33 pm | Reply

    • I guess so, but I wish I heard from the guys who agreed with that more often.

      Comment by ononehand — November 19, 2007 @ 4:55 am | Reply

  4. I don’t think roughhousing is “hot;” I mean, it could be, but I am talking about it in a pretty platonic way. It’s not about sexual foreplay or stuff like that.

    And yeah, maybe I’ll eventually get the anal thing. Everyone says that; “oh, you just haven’t done it enough.” But they’ve been saying it for years and it hasn’t happened. I’ve had relationships crumble partly because I couldn’t get into it enough.

    Comment by ononehand — November 19, 2007 @ 4:54 am | Reply

  5. Oh, ok. Dude – you seem pretty interesting, I’m curious to know more about you. I can’t read the parts of your journal that are in French and I can’t find a good explanation of where you are and where you’re from.

    Comment by ononehand — November 19, 2007 @ 6:27 am | Reply

  6. Then why is your journal in French? I was thinking you were from Quebec.

    Comment by ononehand — November 19, 2007 @ 6:26 pm | Reply

  7. There are so many interesting things about gay culture. We’re all told to “be yourself!” And then we’re sent all these messages explaining exactly how to do that. Apparently “being yourself” means that you also crave lots of anal sex (amongst other things like being particular about your style, only voting Democrat, keeping up with celebrity gossip, etc.)

    I’ve messed around with my fair share of guys; a few dozen or so. But I’ve really only had anal sex with two. These were guys I was very serious with for a very long time, and it wasn’t something that we took lightly.

    I know other gay guys my age who haven’t ever had anal sex. Multiple guys. I think it’s becoming more and more common, at least in my little circle of friends.

    When I first started dating my current boyfriend, we had a very frank discussion about sex. I wanted to make sure that we both understood what each other enjoyed and didn’t enjoy. We had messed around a few times before, and it was interesting to find out that a lot of the things we had done, neither of us particularly loved doing.

    It was a very important discussion. Since then, neither of us feels that sense of obligation to do things that they don’t enjoy. None of that “I don’t really want to suck his dick, but I guess he probably expects it.”

    All of that to say that it’s important not to do things just because you feel like you’re supposed to do them and/or like them. It’s ok to be an individual.

    Comment by bradfordneal — November 20, 2007 @ 5:23 pm | Reply

  8. really like this entry. very interesting and well-written 🙂 i had more to say, but i’ve totally forgotten what i was gonna write :\

    have a happy turkey day!!!

    Comment by culive2ride — November 22, 2007 @ 10:39 am | Reply

  9. [Anal sex] doesn’t seem like a natural thing, to me. It’s an improvization.

    I think you’re right. I seem to recall reading somewhere that the prominence of anal sex within the “gay” community is a relatively recent phenomenon; I think it’d be interesting to study why it seems to be gaining in both popularity and importance. Has the gay community mimicked the straight community sexually, in the way you suggest, as a concomitant part of its move into the mainstream of acceptability? Or is this a case of the stigmatized minority taking on the stigma imposed by the oppressive majority as that stigma has become increasingly central to the majority’s self-definition?

    [B]eing gay is not about anal sex, it’s about being attracted to men while being a man.

    I think I’d take this statement a step forward and fold it back into the discussion. For me, being gay is also about having the audacity to step outside the heteronormative framework in which we’re raised, around which so much of our culture revolves, and imagining something different. When we, as men, pursue other men, I think we’re rejecting something very important about western culture, in the same way that feminists do, in the same way that genderqueers/fucks do, in the same way that polyamorous people do, and so on. I think this holds true in the realm of sex, as well.

    As gay men, we have a tremendous opportunity to really take apart “sex” and ask—what is sex? Why is it important? The fact that we don’t have an obvious Tab A-Slot B solution to the question, “How do we have sex?” in the same way that straights do surrounds our sexual acts with some ambiguity. Granted, with gay men these days that ambiguity seems to be dissipating, but I think we can see it preserved in the common understanding of lesbian sex. I doubt that all lesbian women are fucking each other with strap-ons, and I don’t think most people assume that they are, for example.

    That ambiguity allows us to really look at sex and figure it out. For straights, the roles and the methods seem fairly mapped out, so that they’re kind of trapped within those roles. For straights, there’s vaginal sex, and then there are these sort of extras they can get, these variations on the standard model. No one bothers to ask whether you can have sex without trying to get off. No one carefully examines what sex is supposed to feel like (save, perhaps, BDSM-types). No one really asks why sex is so frequently considered to be the apogee of human intimacy. I think we can ask those questions more easily, as gay men, at least in theory. As young gay men these days, (as I once was), of course, the reality of our need for companionship can constrain the radical possibilities somewhat.

    In the end, I am like you in that I’m not horribly enamored with anal sex. My partner is also not horribly fond of it, though he appreciates it for many of the reasons you suggest might make the act worthwhile—it’s about expressing intimacy, trust, and the like. Prior to my current relationship, I tried to avoid it as much as possible. It helped that I didn’t get out much!

    Comment by oslo — November 24, 2007 @ 8:08 pm | Reply

    • When we, as men, pursue other men, I think we’re rejecting something very important about western culture, in the same way that feminists do, in the same way that genderqueers/fucks do, in the same way that polyamorous people do, and so on. I think this holds true in the realm of sex, as well.

      I agree almost all of what you said in your comment, even the line I quoted above. But I’m also a bit conflicted with this acknowledgment. Of course being “gay” is a political identity a person with same-sex attraction adopts, but I’m not sure how much it is really a rejection of a wider culture. I love the idea, it rings true for me and it’s why I don’t mind calling myself gay, but as I tried to express in the original post, I don’t know how different I really am. I don’t know if there is something innate to masculinity, femininity or sexuality that makes my attractions work the way they do, or if it’s a social construction, but I do find myself often wanting to reject what I see in the “gay scene” just as much as I want to reject what I see in Western culture.

      I wish that just being a marginalized minority gave everyone insight into the way dominance and hierarchy works, so that they can learn to avoid it. But I see just as much prejudice, intolerance and judgement in the gay community as I see outside it. There is an awful fixation on youth and beauty which is devastating to many people; that “one in three gay teens attemps suicide” statistic we always hear could be enlightened if we looked into whether or not those 1/3 of gay teens are, overwhelmingly, the ones who are overweight or consider themselves unattractive (my antecdotal experience would say yes). I’ve heard gay men having open conversations about how much they dislike low-income people. I’ve heard awful things said about the portion of the community that has HIV or AIDS. If you read most gay magazines, you’ll notice that commericalism and materialism – especially in the form of advertising – are just as bad, if not worse, than they are in the broader culture.

      I think there was once a time when coming out as gay gave a person a new community that really felt like “home” to them. I think the gay and lesbian community still feels like “home” to many people to this day. But it doesn’t really feel like home to me; it seems like an alien world where I’m not judged for my sexual behavior anymore, but I’m judged just as heavily by my appearence, material success, and age.

      I sort of look for a sub-community within the wider gay community that might cater to me, but the truth is, I don’t think one is there, and it has led me to reject the idea that any subsect of the gay scene will ever feel like home to me. If I have to choose an identity that feels really right, it’s as a Unitarian Universalist. So far in my life, that’s the only place I really felt like I fit in.

      Comment by ononehand — November 24, 2007 @ 8:59 pm | Reply

      • so many points so little time

        there are so many points in this thread to respond too, but i’ve got homework so i’ll have to just hit the ones i feel strongly about…

        I also have ‘spontaneous exclusion’ when it comes to other gay guys. i don’t have any gay friends and social situations with them are uncomfortable alot of the time for the reasons you mentioned. it seems like they are all on the “me plan” and i just don’t get into people that are self obsessed. i have nothing in common with them. i don’t fit the mold that they are all trying so desperately to fill. it’s hard to even keep small talk going sometimes. i don’t listen to the same music, i don’t read gay magazines, i have no idea who is the latest teen heart throb. i long for the days when we all have this awakening and realize that this whole gay culture is a sham and we start working together to help one another. i know, not gonna happen but i can dream of my gaytopia. the frustrating thing is that if all of us who aren’t like them somehow got together i think there are actually more of us, we just aren’t as visible.

        as far as anal sex, i really don’t think that all gay people are into it. i’ve been with my partner for 10 years and we don’t do it. we tried it in the beginning but never got into it. we have a fantastic sex life so we never missed it i guess. this may be TMI, but we do this ‘between the legs thing’ that is amazing. sometimes i wonder if we are the only ones that do it. i’ve never heard or read much about it, but other people have to do it too because it’s incredible. but i digress…
        i totally agree that on some level it has to do with hetero-imitation. that seems to be a recurring motif for us lately. trying to be like heterosexual people. i also agree that it seems anal sex is often used to define us. there have been times when i’ve wanted a t shirt that says i’m gay, but i don’t do anal. i mean, what is the preoccupation? but again, who’s putting that stereotype out there? us of course. we are the most self-defeating group of people in history.

        Comment by Anonymous — November 27, 2007 @ 4:57 am

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