Mar 20, 2011

[Technicolor Musings] A Place For Fidelity In Gay Culture

Whether we like to admit it or not, promiscuity is one of the better known aspects of gay culture. Some people are somewhat ashamed of this fact while others in the community celebrate it as somehow a key part of who we're supposed to be. And of course the religious groups capitalize on this fact and use it to condemn us.

Flickr: Roy Sinai - Dark Meat or Light?
Dark Meat or Light?
by Roy Sinai via Flickr/

To be fair, one could argue that genetics are probably against the efforts to remain firm. The human male has generally been the more sexually aggressive one in contrast to females. In a heterosexual relationship, you can naturally temper the male advances with the need to respect the integrity of the female (along with their differing sexual drives and appetites). But when you return to the gay context where both members of the union are of a more similar level of sexual hunger, you do get a lot of sleeping around.

Sex is far too often the equivalent of a handshake within a gay dating context. Heck, people sleep around and avoid the term dating entirely. But why should we enshrine the supposed single gay lifestyle as something great in itself? It happens, yes, but it doesn't mean we should be content with just that.

Because as ironic as it sounds, the same queers who obsess about their appearance and go after the next hot body that they spot in the bar are those that also whine about their single lives and complain about why they still haven't found the right guy. Rather than contribute to the continued decline of gay culture and contribute to the negative concepts associated with our unions, why not take an active step towards changing things? Why not believe and live principles like honesty and more importantly fidelity? Why does being loyal and even monogamous have to be anathema to the gay mindset?

Now I'm not saying sexual compatibility isn't important. I enjoy sex too and it's always better when all the pipes align in the right way rather than having to play rock-paper-scissors to figure out who does what in the bedroom, if you catch my meaning. Nor is this a call for no sex outside of marriage, since frankly we don't have marriage rights yet. Even if we did, I wouldn't be as unrealistic to expect that we'd never give in to attraction (or even just hormones) by not jumping into the sack with a guy you really like.

When I call for fidelity and why this should be something to aspire to or work towards, I'm talking about loyalty in two main areas.

Flickr: thelazydesigner - promiscuity shot #008
promiscuity shot #008
by Lorenzo Colloreta / thelazydesigner via Flickr.

First, there's the need for fidelity within the context of relationships. I know, this sounds like a no-brainer but when you're a sexually-active (and probably hungry) gay man, then you know how the draw of the next hot guy can be pretty powerful at times. That doesn't justify anything of course - unless you want to be thought of us nothing more than a base animal running on instincts. When you get into a relationship, it's never an accident or something forced upon you. At one point or another, the two of you chose to be together and made a commitment. So now it's up to you to actually live up to it.

Now I'm not a big believer in open relationships as a general concept since more often than not, this is easily mismanaged and leads to inevitable confusion. The on-going flirting with other guys, the one-on-one interactions with strangers and all that leads to a major disaster sooner or later. And then the hurt parties end up scratching their heads and wondering what happened when really, they know exactly what happened. When you let your junk do all the thinking for you as you pursue more and more hot guys while not thinking about the man you claim to have committed to love, you end up losing all that and more.

Relationships are about commitments and for commitments to work, you kind of need rules, for lack of a better term. As with any other agreement between two parties, you need to come from a position of equality. If those terms include the right to bring in a third or fourth person to spice up an evening together, then I can see that working. However when you stop operating as a couple and allow for the other person to pair off with a hot stranger, then you're really setting yourself up for failure.

Flickr: Fritz Liess - Shirtless Guy After Phoenix Gay Pride Parade
Shirtless Guy After Phoenix Gay Pride Parade
by Fritz Liess via Flickr.

Hot guys like the one in the image above are NOT the enemy in your relationship. You are if you agreed to rules that allowed your partner to go off with him for a night without you. When people come up with their respective relationship rules, be sure to understand what's important to you. What are the lines that you never want to cross? If you can't admit what those limits are to yourself, then don't expect your potential boyfriend to follow them unless you tell him. The keys to fidelity are all about understanding and clear communication between the two of you. They're really not that difficult, unless you're the kind of person who doesn't know how to keep any kind of promise.

So what's the big payoff for making this supposedly huge sacrifice of your ability to sleep around? Oh please, where do I begin? You finally get the attention and respect that you want and all you need to do is to be willing to show that same kind of respect and affection for your partner. Your chances of a long and lasting relationship are going to be a heck of a lot better than if you decide that in order to "fix" things, you need to "loosen the leash" and give your partner time to meet other people while returning to you. You're his partner, not his mother.

And I know, a lot of you will claim that people aren't like that and how can we trust guys to do that. Well, if you can't trust yourself to be faithful, then my expect others? Rather than point fingers at other guys being sleazy, why don't you first make sure you're not one of those guys? Did you get rid of your gay dating site profiles when you made that commitment? Have you stopped scheduling hook-ups with guys you just absolutely have to sleep with? Let's be honest here - people say "sex is just sex" when they want to trivialize sleeping around with other people. While it can be just that kind of an activity on some level, the inevitability of emotional entanglements is really high in these situations. Face a little reality here.

Flickr: calvinfleming - Gay Days at Disneyland Kingdom Party October 2010 049
Gay Days at Disneyland Kingdom Party October 2010 049
by Calvin Fleming / calvinfleming via Flickr.

The second aspect we need to consider is for all the single folks. Of course at first this seems silly - who does a single guy need to be faithful to, right? Well, let's think about this as the need to practice fidelity with yourself. It's something I've coined for this piece, so give me time to explain.

Sex with other people is inevitable, not just for the gay world but for consenting adults everywhere. However too often to I encounter single gay men who claim that the single life is all about as many sexual experiences as possible.

Now you can call me a prude, but come on, what do you get out of that kind of a life? You maybe have a great story to tell your friends the next time you meet up to drink in a bar. But then what? You end up going home alone then you start to feel miserable that you're single and then you feel angry at how unfair life is, how all the good men are supposedly taken and how the world owes you so much. That really doesn't make sense - how can you expect that kind of an ideal result when you're not putting in the work?

Fidelity to yourself (and probably fidelity in general) is all about thinking about what sex means to you and more importantly what value you place in sexual encounters. Sex is never a good basis for a relationship, since it's a skill. It's not integral to a person - it's learned and mastered like how some people totally kick ass at sports while others solve sudoku puzzles while under the influence. If you feel that the empty part of your life can be filled up with sexual experiences, that never happens.

Flickr: Fritz Liess - Shirtless Guy in the Phoenix Gay Pride Parade
Shirtless Guy in the Phoenix Gay Pride Parade
by Fritz Liess via Flickr.

Sex is fun - yes I get it. I like having fun to. But eventually you need to get serious and think about whether or not you know how to meet a guy. For real. And no, opening lines in meeting worthwhile people do not involve "Have a pic?" or "Top or bottom?" Or worse, classic chat lines "I want to have a sensible conversation - no chubs, effems and gays please." Hello!

Learn how to get to know people and actually have valid social interactions. Figure out what they like. Know what they do. And be ready to share similar information in turn. I'm not saying expect every person you try to meet in this manner to be your new boyfriend. But genuinely try to take an interest in other people without expectations. You're going to make a few new friends, which is cool. You'll also meet some people that you'll wonder why the gods haven't killed yet. And you'll meet the occasional brainless boob that just might be fun in bed - so yeah you can still go for it.

The thesis statement here is that you try to add some degree of quality or better yet integrity to your social interactions. Get to know who the person is first rather than using their sexual prowess act as a barometer if you want to know the person more. Let's be honest enough to admit that it gets really sickening first realize what kind of a guy you've just slept with based on how his room is arranged - something you're only now seeing as you scramble to gather your clothes and belongings.

I'm not saying that we need to "be like the straights" and avoid sex altogether. I'm still in support of a healthy and mature understanding of what it means to have sexual relations. But I am saying that sex shouldn't always come first since at the end of the day the bedroom is a lousy measure of a man. And thus you end up cheating yourself out of the great guys out there.

Be the change that you want to be. Don't wait for everyone else to somehow change and become better for your own benefit when you're pretty much a manslut, as my friend likes to term it. When you find the courage to make that kind of a change, you'll suddenly realize there are much better guys all around and for some reason the sleazy ones aren't quite as numerous as you first thought.
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