It’s a fact of post-whatever blogging that the most interesting comments on a post are rarely made under the post itself. They happen in venues like Facebook and G+ and Twitter. My G+ friends in particular have been writing down some very interesting and subtle thoughts — many of them longer, and better written, than my actual posts — on the subject of men who have sex with other men. My G+ posts are all marked “public,” so you can go read those great comments, too, even if you don’t have a G+ account. See Jed and Tony’s comments here, for example. Some excerpts:
From Jed Alexander:
I think there’s value in distinguishing where desire comes from, in figuring out how certain kinds of sexual expression differ in their motivations, which is what I think you’re trying to do. At the same time, you’re also narrowing in further on the distinction of what gay is, and what gay isn’t. This is what I think is the root problem in mainstream gay culture, that what gay is must me identified and defined and institutionalized, but once again, we’re marginalizing people who don’t fit the definition in a way that also mirrors straight culture. In trying to gain acceptance from the dominant culture, as in straight culturem rather than promoting greater diversity in general, you also embrace some of the worst aspects of the dominant culture, the exclusion that marginalized gay culture in the first place. And that kind of sucks.
And from Tony Demetriou:
(And, of course, this whole topic totally ignores the current research on how humans make their decisions, where the difference between being “forced” to do something, or “choosing” to do it is pretty meaningless. We’re decision-making machines, that will make a decision based on the way we’re wired, and the input we’re given. Whether that “decision” was a “choice” or not doesn’t really mean anything, since “choice” is really a mental illusion that our brains hold. It’s like asking what “choices” this computer is making. It’s making “choices” that let it display this web browser to me. But they’re determinative “choices.” But I digress…)
My Facebook is not public, but there have been some interesting reactions over there as well. In particular, my friend Dale linked me to a Salon article by gay writer and porn star Conner Habib, Rest Stop Confidential, in which Habib describes the sex he frequently has with other men at Interestate rest areas. These two paragraphs seem to sum up some of what I have been trying to say:
This has been going on for a long, long time. The new ways that men meet — endlessly staring into phones, searching on hookup apps like Grindr or sites like Manhunt — haven’t changed the fact that we’re still having sex at rest areas, because they offer something different. For the man who is unsure of his sexuality, or unsure of how to tell others about it, for the man who has a family but feels new desires (or old, hidden ones) unfolding inside of him, the website and the phone apps are just too certain of themselves. They’re for gay men who want to have gay sex. Sex at the rest area, instead, abolishes identity; there’s a sort of freedom there to not be anything – instead, men just meet other men there; men who want the same sort of freedom.
Is it any wonder why people who feel the weight of their identities have been caught having sex at rest areas? Sen. Larry Craig and pop star George Michael were both discovered having sex at them. There is an appeal not just to having sex, but to having anonymous sex — not because you want to hide your identity from the other person; surely the other men recognized George Michael — but to feeling your own identity left behind. And this freedom is open to everyone, even those comfortable with their sexuality.
I don’t think this is the last time I will write on this subject, but I do think it’s the last time I will write on this subject for a little while. Feel free to comment, though, and write on the subject yourself — either down here under this post, or wherever you do your commenting!