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Category: bisexuality (page 3 of 6)

The Homosexual is 140 – And Showing His Age

Karl Maria Kertbeny

The father of the metrosexual on the father of the homosexual – and the birth of the  ‘-sexual’ era

(Out, September 2009)

As you may have noticed, the out-and-proud modern gay, born amidst protest, shouting and flying bottles outside the Stonewall Inn in 1969, is now forty years old. But you may be less aware that this year is also the 140th birthday of a much more discreet and distinguished (if pathologized and sometimes pitiful) figure that Stonewall is often seen as making obsolete:

The homosexual.

The offspring of Austrian-born Hungarian journalist Karl-Maria Kertbeny, the homosexual was delivered to the world in a couple of pamphlets he published anonymously in 1869 arguing against the Prussian anti sodomy law Paragraph 143 – the first appearance in print of the word.

Kertbeny argued that attraction to the same sex was inborn and unchangeable and that besides, the law violated the rights of man: men should be free to do with their bodies as they pleased, so long as others were not harmed. Kertbeny maintained strenuously that he himself was ‘sexually normal’ (and there is no evidence to suggest otherwise, save perhaps his strenuousness).

Kertbeny’s ‘homosexual’, itself a disapproved conjugation of Greek and Latin, was part of a larger classificatory system of human sexual behaviour he conceived which included quaint terms such as ‘monosexuals’ (masturbators), and ‘pygists’ (aficionados of anal sex), most of which have not survived. However, another of his quaint categories has persisted and ultimately proved even more popular than the ‘homosexual’: the vast majority of people in the US today would happily and perhaps rather too hastily describe themselves as ‘heterosexual’ – despite the fact that the ‘father’ of heterosexuality, as Jonathan Ned Katz has pointed out in ‘The Invention of Heterosexuality’ (1995), seemed to conceive of heterosexuals as more sex-obsessed than homosexuals and more open to ‘unfettered degeneracy’.

Words like most offspring have a life of their own of course, and in this case one that worked against the coiner’s intentions. Despite Kertbeny’s libertarian if not actually homo-chauvinist sentiments, we might never have heard of the ‘homosexual’ (or indeed the ‘heterosexual’) if the word had not been adopted by Richard von Krafft-Ebing a few years later as a diagnosis for mental illness, setting the medical tone for much of the coming Twentieth Century with its aversion therapies, sex-lie detectors and psychiatric water-boarding.

Kertbeny’s double-edged legacy isn’t just the coining of the word ‘homosexual’, but helping to invent ‘sexuality’ itself: the very modern idea that there are different species of people constituted by their sexual preference alone – ‘heterosexuals’ and ‘homosexuals’ (and ‘bisexuals’ as an exception-to-prove-the-rule afterthought). Kertbeny invented the homosexual because he considered the other available terms, ‘pederast’, ‘sodomite’ and ‘invert’ too judgemental. He also saw no link between homosexuality and effeminacy – which he didn’t mind being judgemental about: he detested it.

As the brilliant sexual historian David Halperin puts it in his book ‘How To Do the History of Male Homosexuality’ (2002), pre-homosexual discourses referred to only one of the sexual partners: the “active” partner in the case of sodomy; the effeminate male or masculine female in the case of inversion. ‘The hallmark of “homosexuality”…’ he writes, ‘is the refusal to distinguish between same-sex sexual partners or to rank them by treating one of them as more (or less) homosexual than the other.’

The concept of the ‘homosexual’, medicalized or not, ultimately made possible the rise of the out-and-proud gay man, regardless of his own ‘role’ in bed or gender style, and also a gay community of equals. But it also tended to make all sex between men, however fleeting, however drunken, however positioned, ‘homo’ – along with all the participants, regardless of their sexual preference.

With the paradoxical result that there’s probably now rather less erotic contact – or in fact any physical contact at all – between males than there was when the homosexual was born, 140 years ago. The homosexual, in effect, monopolised same-sex erotics and intimacy.

Which is, frankly, a bit greedy.

This essay is collected in Metrosexy: A 21st Century Self-Love Story

Banana-Curious: Why Men Throat Curved Fruit on YouTube

 

Male bi-curiousness may not be as ‘cool’ as The Daily Beast thinks, but banana-curiousity is clearly all the rage.

There has been a bit of a vogue for young men videoing themselves greedily downloading curved phallic fruit and uploading the sometimes messy, sometimes awe-inspiring results to YouTube. I’ve collected a few examples which may put you off your packed lunch. Or make you want to get to know it a whole lot better.

Because it’s a fruit that looks like a penis and is not an actual penis, fruit fellatio is something you can perform for your helplessly sniggering male buddies on buses, in barracks and canteens and post on YouTube for the world to see without age restrictions or, apparently, any embarrassment.

Nor does it tell us anything about your sexuality – save that you’re probably ridiculously heterosexual. Though it may suggest that, like most straight men nowadays, you spend rather a lot of time masturbating furiously over porn featuring gargantuan penises while wondering – just before you shoot all over the monitor again – whether or not you could do a better job of swallowing it than the lady porn star ‘slut’.

It’s a shame that male bi-curiousness couldn’t be treated the way banana-curiousness is by most people: just an eye-watering laugh that doesn’t mean anything, still less revealing some ‘inner truth’ about who or what you really are – or aren’t.  In other words, a bit like female bi-curiousness.

In fact, let’s just scrub the word ‘bi-curious’ for men, since it is apparently such a charged term, and replace it with ‘banana-curious’. Banana-curious guys could discretely flag up their interest to other banana-curious males by including a picture of them eating a banana on their online profiles.

Sadly though, such is the stigma still attached to men’s interest in other men and their bits that even banana-curiousness will sometimes get you flamed as… FAGGOT!!!!!  And even lads who like to throat twelve-inch ‘cock bananas’ on camera will fall over to prove themselves fag-haters because that of course proves their heterosexuality.

There’s a furious exchange on YouTube between the young chap above, who manfully attempts what he describes as ‘a cock banana’ (of Holmesian proportions that would have me hiding under the bed, quaking like a wet chihuahua) and a clearly envious if somewhat conflicted commenter who starts off by screaming:

‘GAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY !!!!!!!! ‘

The banana-throater responds wittily:

‘your the gay one fuck head ‘

Which leads inevitably to the riposte:

‘your gay for makin’ this video ‘

Fascinating epistemological question, that. Who is gayer? The uptight straight boy throating a twelve inch ‘cock banana’ on YouTube or the straight boy watching it and working himself into a homophobic froth about it?

‘your the faggot who searched for it ,if you like men youtube aint the place’

‘you’re gay for makin’ the video for us to search for,and I never searched for it. It came up when I was lookingh for something of a completely different category.’

Yes! That’s exactly how I came across this clip too!

Maybe it’s just me, but whenever I come across this kind of exchange between young males it always seems clear as day that such passionate denunciations of one another as ‘faggots’ is only possible – in fact only makes any kind of sense – if ‘faggot’ thoughts are extremely common amongst young males and they are forever fretting that they’ll be found out.

The banana-throater’s girlfriend makes a somewhat convenient appearance to prove he’s not gay – which of course in itself proves he couldn’t possibly be interested in penises – and to shoo away the gays that are circling around her talented boyfriend in language suspiciously similar to that used by him:

‘sorry gay boy its only a banana if you want to see cock why dont you go buy a poofs magazine’

Mind you, dear, as one of the posters points out, your boyfriend did title his charming video ‘cock banana’, so you can hardly blame the gay boy poofs can you? Your boyfriend, like you, does appear to have ‘issues’.

Here’s the banana-cock-throating boy’s own response to another poster’s offer to let him try out his skills on the real thing:

‘no thanks gay boy, women are suppose to do that kind of thing. its adam and eve not adam and steve.’

Whereas deep-throating bananas is of course entirely natural and normal and as God intended.

But the really important, urgent question, er, ‘thrown up’ by these clips is of course: who has the best technique? No.2 looks to have the most capacious throat, but I’m tickled by No.5’s enthusiasm, while No.6 has a very cheeky finish. Please post your reviews….

And to all you banana-curious lads out there wondering how to suppress that tricky gag-reflex: try taking a deep breath before swallowing. Poppers, relaxing music and a hand around the back of the head helps too.

Health and Safety Notice: if you really are going to try this at home I should probably point out that an actual penis or proper plastic dildo is probably less dangerous down your throat than a banana as they’re both somewhat less likely to break in two and choke you to death.

3.

“I hurt my throat!” (Yeah, right.)

4.

“It’s a big dick!” Not really, dear….

5.

Lots of eye-contact here.

6.

A cheeky finish.

 

UPDATE 1/4/12

A few years on and it seems one or two of the banana-throaters posted above have become a tad shy about their talents and pulled their clips. So I had a quick look on YouTube and found a new banana star – a cute blond jarhead who deep throats curved fruit in the barracks for a dollar. “Will you go out with me?” jokes his clearly impressed bunk buddy.

Meanwhile someone has kindly collected a ‘bunch’ of YouTube banana-throating vids and spliced them together:

 

Bisexuals Musto Be Gay

Michael Musto, a very gay man, had this to say in The Village Voice recently about those perfidious, untrustworthy bisexuals:

Everyone always says they’re bisexual, blabbing on and on about how “sexuality is fluid, and I don’t really like labels”–but usually I find these are just gay men who are afraid to come out. I know there are real bisexuals out there–mainly because I’ve heard that there are–and I do think it’s a lovely idea to actually crave sex with people regardless of gender. I’m just wondering how real a phenomenon this is, as opposed to a smoke-and-mirrors coverup designed to keep antsy gays in the closet.

‘Most of the guys I know who say they’re bisexual end up doing Bette Davis impersonations after a few drinks, and when you invite them to an all-girl bar, they get excited, thinking you mean Splash. But do you know anyone who REALLY is equally attracted to both men and women and effortlessly glides between those two dating pools without a second’s thought or self-consciousness? If so, do you ever suspect they’re full of shit?

Musto was perhaps being deliberately crass, but he should probably be thanked for voicing what many gay men think about bisexual men (and note that he starts talking about ‘bisexuality’ but it quickly becomes clear that, like me, he’s only interested in bisexual men).

Stripped down and lubed up, here’s what Musto was really saying about those flakey bi guys:

  1. They’re lying
  2. They really want to be Michael Musto
  3. Real bisexuality is about ‘craving’ men and women because bisexuals are greedy
  4. If they’re not greedy and equally attracted to both men and women – and of course Musto gets to decide whether they are or not – then we’re back to where we came in – 1.

Funny how many gay men appear to want to exterminate male bisexuality as a category even though they often find the idea of bisexual men a big turn on. Each man kills the thing he loves….

Of course, for some men declaring themselves ‘bi’ is a way of edging out of heterosexuality into full-time all-singing, all-dancing homosexuality and evenings out with Michael Musto. But that’s not why gay men are often so hostile to male bisexuality. The real reason is that, like most straight people, they want every man who touches another man’s pee-pee to have to join the gay team. They want to own mansex. And they want all those who have mansex to be just like them.

Sorry, but I’m going to quote myself again, this time from three years ago when the NYT ran a much worse article than Musto’s musings called ‘Gay, Straight Or Lying?’:

Fear and loathing of male bisexuality is something that tends to bring heterosexuals and homosexuals together. Instead of pondering the possibility that public attitudes towards male bisexuality are a truer, less censored indication of what many people actually feel about male homosexuality in general and its enforced incompatibility with masculinity, gay men too often rush to condemn bisexual men and reassure heterosexuals: Don’t worry! You’re not being homophobic when mouthing off about bisexual men! Coz we hate them too!!

Male Bisexuality: Is it Cool?

Rachel Kramer Bussel at The Daily Beast thinks that male bisexuality has become ‘cool’.

‘…whereas bisexual women had their fling with pop culture in the 1990s-when everyone from Drew Barrymore to Madonna messed around with women, not to mention the famous Vanity Fair cover showing Cindy Crawford shaving k.d. lang-“bromances” are now the driving force behind Hollywood comedies and Style section features, as men find more ways to play for both teams, or at least act like they do.

Examples are everywhere. In John Hamburg’s recent movie, I Love You, Man, the gay guy who unwittingly goes on a date with Paul Rudd isn’t just played for laughs, but to some degree, sympathy. This summer will also see Lynn Shelton’s buzzed-about Humpday, in which two straight male friends decide to make a homemade porn video. And Brody Jenner’s reality show Bromance blurs the line separating friendship and attraction in what Videogum’s Gabe Delahaye calls “basically the gayest thing ever, made more gay by everyone’s desperate attempts to provide chest-bumping proof of their heterosexuality.”‘

For my part however, I’m not entirely convinced that male bisexuality has become ‘cool’, not least because most of the bisexual guys I meet are still terrified anyone will find out – and I still can’t name off the top of my head a single out male bisexual celeb in the UK (aside from my friend the novelist Jake Arnott – but as a self-described ‘gay bisexual’ he is rather exceptional).

Whereas almost any female star under the age of 40 has to pretend to be bi-crazed or else risk that Nuts/FHM cover.

And the recent trend for ‘bromance,’ far from proving the hipness of male swinging is, as the name suggests, almost defined by its incest-taboo-driven need to purge the male love affair of the possibility of anything physical, any trace of erotics whatsoever – to a degree which male buddy flicks in the past didn’t, and in fact often went out of their way to suggest: e.g. Top Gun, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Thunder & Lightfoot, Midnight Cowboy.

By contrast these modern buddy flicks make me think ‘bromance’ is just another word for ‘bromide‘. Or lesbian bed-death for straight men without the honeymoon. (The arthouse movie Humpday seems to be another story – and precisely because it is another story, it is highly unlikely to be a hit.)

But we are certainly living in interesting times, and the culture is slowly – and frantically – trying to negotiate, however ineptly, however deceptively, the thing staring them in the face like the outsize erections in the mandingo gang-bang porn so popular with straight guys these days: male bi-responsiveness is probably very common, rather than the deviant, bizarre, incredulous exception. (It certainly was at my boarding school.)

The metrosexual is also, of course, part of this journey – and also sometimes perhaps part of the attempt to deflect it.

But there’s a long, long way to go before male bisexuality is even approaching the same level of acceptability let alone coolness as female bisexuality. A recent study published in the Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality found that the famous ‘sexual double standard’ has now reversed polarity and shifted in the direction of inhibiting men’s sexual adventurousness while encouraging women’s. According to The National Post men are:

‘…more limited by what is considered taboo in the bedroom; hit by a new double standard that expects men to be highly sexual, and yet expects them to be less experimental – while the opposite is true for women.

The study, published in the Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, found that society accords men less “sexual latitude” than women, deeming it abnormal for a man to be disinterested in sex, to engage in homosexual fantasy, and to engage in submissive sexual acts.

“The double standard used to give men more sexual freedom than women, but these findings indicate that the dynamic is changing” said Alex McKay, research coordinator for the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada. “Men are forced to abide by a certain gender role, while women are today more free to be themselves. In this sense, the standard actually works against the man.”‘

I came to the same conclusion three years ago in a piece posted on here called ‘Curiouser and Curiouser‘ – based on my own very private ‘research’:

‘That women are being encouraged to talk about their bisexuality as an enhancement of their femininity and sexuality is rather marvellous – but it also heightens the double standard about male bisexuality, one as pronounced than the double standard about promiscuity used to be (men were ‘studs’ and women were ‘slags’), and makes it more inevitable that male bisexuality – by which I simply mean ‘straight’ male sexuality that doesn’t fit into heterosexuality, and boy, there’s a lot of that – will have to be addressed candidly sooner or later.

The tidy-minded inhibitions which keep male bi-curiousness under wraps are still powerful, but have largely lost their social value, their attachment to anything real; they are mostly remnants from a Judeo-Christian (re)productive, world that doesn’t exist any more, except perhaps in Utah, every other Sunday…. When enough young men realise this – or maybe just the desperate preposterousness of the prejudice and ‘science’ deployed against male bi-curiousness – the change in attitudes will occur very quickly and dramatically indeed.’

As the Canadian report suggests – and Canada is about as liberal and relaxed a country as you could conceive – that day is not yet here. However, the fact that such a study exists at all is perhaps a sign that that it’s coming closer.

Either way, more research is needed. And I need a grant to conduct some more ‘interviews’….

How Eighties Advertising Made Everyone Gay

Tom H

by Mark Simpson

(GT Magazine, November 2008)

Why, I wonder, are gays -- or at least the busybody, button-holing, milk-monitor types -- so keen on ads being nice to them and telling the world it’s OK to be homo? Especially when this strategy frequently leaves them with mayo on their faces?

Stonewall’s apoplexy over the pulling of the Heinz ‘gay kiss’ ad earlier this year is a messy case-in-point. Excuse me, but it wasn’t a gay kiss, it was a joke: Heinz’s sandwich spread is so good, it turns mum into an ugly New York deli short-order chef whom dad pecks on the cheek before leaving in the morning. They’re not a gay couple. The fact it wasn’t a very good joke doesn’t make the sulky gay boycott of Heinz for pulling the ad look any less humourless than the literalist Christians and ‘family-values’ freaks who complained about it in the first place.

Likewise, whatever Snickers were saying in that TV ad featuring Mr T barking, “Get some nuts!” while firing candybars at a swishy speed-walker, the much swishier response of gay groups on both sides of the Atlantic who succeeded in getting it banned sent out the entirely unambiguous message that gays don’t have any.

More to the point, who besides Stonewall and pensioners, actually watches TV ads these days? Isn’t that what the fast-forward button was invented for? Gay people, and for that matter most straights, are too busy uploading their ‘home movies’ onto their on-line profile to watch TV in real time.

‘Impressionable’ kids that the gay busybodies want to protect certainly aren’t watching: they don’t see the point of TV that doesn’t turn the world into a lake of fire at the touch of an Xbox controller.

I’ll bet ready money most people only heard about these ads after the gay milk monitors started huffing, “How very dare you!” -- and driving even more traffic to YouTube. It was the only place I actually saw either ad.

Gay protests about ‘homophobic’ ads today sometimes seem to exist in a virtual world, defending virtual people from virtual slights where the only thing that’s real is pointlessness. I’m old enough to remember when people did watch ads. It was a time when they were, as everyone used to say repeatedly, “the best thing on telly,” when, instead of diving for the mute button, people would turn the sound up.

And it was a time when ads were doing their damndest to turn everyone gay. It was called the 1980s.

In the 1980s, advertising was gay porn -- and the only gay porn generally available. Which is why it was so powerful. Now, thanks to the net, porn is porn -- or rather, porn is advertising: I want those pubes/ that body/ that cock/ that orifice/ that surgery/ that lampshade.

The legendary UK Levi’s male striptease ads of the mid-1980s (inspired by the success of the 1983 Calvin Klein underwear poster campaign featuring a giant Tom Hintnaus stripped down to his Y fronts in Times Square) in which humpy young men took their clothes off in our living rooms -- and introduced the existence of the worked-out, attention-hungry, proudly passive male body to an equally astonished and enraptured British public -- not only brainwashed an entire generation of straight boys into joining the gym and then going to gay discos and starting boybands to show off the results.

It also succeeded in making even straight women gay. After all, in place of cooing about “twinkly eyes,” it taught women to look at the male body with the same critical, impossibly demanding, carnivorous eye that gay men had used for years. (And in fact, so much have all our expectations been inflated that Nick Kamen’s ‘fabulously hunky’ body as it was described back then by the tabs, today probably wouldn’t get past the audition stage -- he’d be told to go back to the gym and inject some horse steroids.)

Levi's commercial - Laundrette

Pre-1980s there wasn’t much gay lust in ads or, for that matter, Britain. I remember as a kid spending most of the 1970s watching an Old Spice Aftershave ‘Mark of a Man’ commercial, which featured a surfer riding a vast, spuming wave in very long-shot, to the climactic strains of ‘O Fortuna’ from Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana. The number of times I waited for that ad to come on as a kid, hoping, praying that this time the camera would move in closer.

In the 1980s, my prayers were answered and the lens moved in, big time. Since then, it’s never moved back. It has zoomed ever closer, until now we’re looking at the mitochondria on the walls of men’s small intestines.

Maybe I’m an incurable romantic/masochist, but I sometimes find myself missing the aching, blurry, long-shot tease of 1970s’ Old Spice masculinity. Because it never quite delivers, it never disappoints.

Old Spice after shave man on a surfboard

You might think my take on how 1980s advertising queered up Britain and made it safe for metrosexuality fanciful, but there were lots of people who objected to the Levi’s commercials back then because they saw them as promoting sodomitic immorality. If those nay-gay-sayers had succeeded in having the ads pulled -- in the way that gay groups succeed today with ads they deem to be immoral -- who knows what kind of pec-less, ab-less world we might be living in?

In the post-advertising, post-gay porn world we’re living in, there’s an American website called Commercial Closet devoted to how ads treat homosexuals, which you can visit if you want to get worked up over ads you haven’t seen -- most of them foreign. It has a gay grading system for each ad that, using a complicated very American formula, scores them from 0 to 100. Anything under 49 is deemed ‘Negative’, between 49-69 is ‘Caution’; 69-89 ‘Equal’; and 89-100 ‘Elton John’ (OK, I made that last bit up).

One of the more interesting contributions is a series of ads for the trainers ASICS, which ran in France this year. In them, two male French comedians, Omar & Fred, one black, one white, ‘go gay’, making passes at one another. Sans ASICS, they’re rebuffed indignantly by the other party. Avec, they go gaga for them. There’s nothing especially offensive about the ads. They resort to fewer stereotypes than gay-adored Little Britain and, more importantly, are (mildly) funny and seem to be entirely accurate in what they’re saying about the effect that consumerism in general -- and advertising in particular -- have had on men.

How does it score according to Commercial Closet’s gay-friendly grading system? ‘40: Negative’.