Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Gay Clue in Hawaiian Pidgin

Los Angeles, July 1980

During the 1960s and 1970s, no book would admit that gay people exist.  At least, none on the shelves of the public library in my factory town, or my small private Lutheran college.  I never saw the word "gay" in print.  I saw "homosexual" once, in 1976, in a book on prisons.

The first time I saw the word "gay" in an actual book on a shelf in a bookstore: in 1980, when I was visiting my friend Tom in Los Angeles, and we stopped into a bookstore in Japantown.  I bought Pidgin to the Max (1980), by Douglas Simonson, an illustrated dictionary of Hawaiian slang.



The slang was illustrated by humorous dialogues:
"Junior nice guy. He get ugly face, but."
"Laters wit' dat joke. Tired, but."
"Wow, dis binto so ono!  Scoah, yeah?"

The humorous line drawings showed Hawaiian teenagers and young adults, often male, often cute.









 Risque terms were included, including terms for male sex organs and butts: "Wow, brah! Yo' alu-alus so alu-alu I can see yo' ala-alas!"

Same sex desire appeared with some frequency. At a stoplight, a guy in a car gazes lustfully at the muscleman in the next lane, who responds: "I owe you money, o' wot?"








And The Word:
 One of the entries was Mahu: "guys who like fool around with guys," that is, gay:

"No mess aroun' with dose mahus down Hotel Schtreet, brah!  Dose buggahs radical."

That's all.  But that was enough to break the silence in 1980.

See also: Wade the Beach Boy Cruises in Hawaii






Monday, April 27, 2015

Cut or Uncut? The Joys and Perils of the Foreskin

When you answer personal ads, guys always ask three things:
1. Top or bottom?
2. Size?
3. Cut or uncut?

I don't have a preference.  The foreskin retracts during sex, so who cares?

There are advantages to uncut:

1. It looks bigger, because of the extra covering.

2. You're not brushing up against underwear all day, so you're extra sensitive.


3. You finish faster.  I don't know if that's an advantage or disadvantage.

4. In the U.S., 79% of men are cut, so you become unusual, exotic, sought after.

And disadvantages:

1. It's harder to fit a condom over it.

2. If you don't keep it clean, a waxy buildup develops.  But you can clean it as easily as any other body part.

Why are so many men in the U.S. cut?  Jews and Muslims practice circumcision as part of their religion, but most people in the U.S. are Christians, who don't.

On this map, Green means over 90% circumcized (Muslim countries and South Korea).  Yellow is 30-90% (the U.S.,, Canada, Australia, and mostly-Muslim countries).  Red is less than 30%, usually far less (Europe, Latin America, India, and East Asia).








The rates in the U.S. vary: rich, white, and young are cut more often than poor, black or Hispanic, and old.

And by region:  90% of the boys born in the Midwest, and less than half of the boys born in the West (maybe because so many of them are black and Hispanic).

But why?  What is the origin of this custom of non-religious circumcision?




Turns out it was invented in the late 19th century by doctors who were horrified by masturbation.  They thought the practice caused any number of physical ailments, sterility, insanity, and "homosexuality."

Since circumcision cuts down on sensitivity, they thought it would keep boys from "self-abuse."

There was also some claptrap about preventing the transmission of venereal disease.

Through the 1950s, circumcision was regularly practiced, with or without parents' explicit consent.  It was a standard medical procedure.

Today most physicians don't push for circumcision anymore.   Yet parents still opt for it most of the time.  Studies show that they're not worried about the infant's health.  They're worried that he will be bullied and harassed for his difference, feel an outcast.


They're worried about the guys in the locker room staring at their son's penis in 15 years?

If it's a problem to have your penis stared at, shouldn't they be more worried about its size?

In case you were wondering about me: uncut.  But my brother is cut.  I've never asked my parents why.

And the guys on my Sausage List: #5, #7, #9, #10, and #14 were uncut.

See also: My Sausage List

Sunday, April 26, 2015

My Date Must Be a Boy

Rock Island, Fall 1973

When I was growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, heterosexual desire was assumed a constant, a universal of human experience.  Same-sex desire was not only never mentioned, it could not be mentioned.

It not only didn't exist, it could not be conceived of.

It wasn't just a certainty that no boy on Earth had ever longed for the touch of another boy, not once in the history of the world.

We were unable to even imagine the possibility.

Boys who obviously longed for boys?

They were looking for a buddy or a role model.




Boys who obviously didn't care for girls?

They were shy, or immature, or hadn't found the right girl yet.














Boys who were derided as "fairies" and "fags"?

Their interest in art and ballet, their inability to catch a ball, obviously represented deficient masculinity, but they desired girls as heartily as every other boy.

Desire for the same sex was simply beyond the boundaries of our imagination.

It was easier to conceive of hobbits.









But there were hints, mysteries to mull over, to contemplate like zen koans, to puzzle out like cryptograms.

Men on tv or in movies who cared for each other, fought for each other, and walked side by side into the future.

Men who didn't marry, who lived alone or with other men.

Men who hugged.

Who smiled at me, or touched me on the shoulder.

The sight of a muscular frame that filled me with inexplicable joy.

Small subtle signs.

Through the looking glass.
Take the red pill.
With a bit of a mind flip, you're into the time slip.







Sometime in junior high, I read an one-page story in an Archie comic book.  Big Ethel's friends criticize her for being indiscriminate, accuse her of accepting dates with anyone, anytime, anywhere.

On the contrary, Ethel says, she has very exacting standards.
1. Her date must be a boy.
2. He must be breathing.
3. He must be a slow runner (so she can catch him as he's fleeing in terror).


It was just a throwaway joke with the punch line of "slow runner."  But I was mesmerized.  There was something -- a logical fallacy -- a paradox -- a hint.

Slowly it dawned on me: Ethel has a rule about dating only boys.

Such a rule is necessary only if there are other groups of people whom she could date.

Does she only date teenage boys, and not adult men?
Or only date boys, and not girls?

Could a girl date a girl?
Could a boy date a boy?

It's not raining upstairs.

10 Guys Who Got Away

 I am rarely rejected for  dates or hookups; so rarely, in fact, that when it happens, I'm shocked.  I want to ask "Didn't you understand me?"

But rejections are useful.  You can analyze them, identify your mistakes, and modify your technique for next time.

Here are 10 guys who got away:

1. The Cellist, a quiet, conservative music major named Charlie, one of Joseph's friends from the Gay Student Association at Indiana University.   I don't know why he hung out in Bullwinkle's, a cruise bar.  When I approached with a sleazy double-entendre, he said point blank: "You're not my type, so nothing is going to happen."

But he continued to hang out with us, so I continued to flirt with him.

I asked, with a leer. "What would you do if I groped you right now?"  Buzzkill answered, "I would feel violated."

 I tried to give him my phone number anyway, but he said: "You're not my type, so it would be pointless."

Problem: Trying too hard.



2. Richie Rich.  Not his real name, obviously, but the son of a state senator who drove a Jaguar around campus and had a summer house on Cape Cod.  I wasn't even attracted to him, but I liked the idea of sitting in that Jaguar next to him, and being invited to the summer house.  So I asked him out.  Not a chance!

Problem: Not really interested.

3. The Professor.  When I was living in Hell-fer-Sartain, Texas, the worst place in the world.

We hooked up. He was short, solid, gifted beneath the belt, -- exactly my type!  And a professor of English at the University of Houston, specializing in the Renaissance -- exactly my field of interest!  I may have gone overboard with the "we have everything in common!" and "we were meant to be together!"

After breakfast the next morning, he gave me the wrong phone number.

Problem: Trying too hard.




4. The Widower.  He was a husky blond bear, about 40 years old, a member of the West Hollywood Metropolitan Community Church.  He had lost his lover of 10 years to AIDS a few months before we met.  I asked him out about a year later, shortly after the breakup with my celebrity boyfriend.  He agreed, but the night before our date, he called with an excuse.  I think Alan told him that my preferred sexual positions weren't compatible with his.

A week later, I asked him to a dinner party at Alan's house; he agreed, but insisted on coming in his own car.  He sat next to someone else, and started to leave without any alone time.  "But..I wanted to..." I began.

"I know what you wanted!" he exclaimed, slamming the door behind him.

Problem: Gossip.

5. The Puppy Dog, a cute, cuddly guy that Lane and I decided to share.  Unfortunately, we didn't inform him of our plan in advance.  We just invited him over for dinner, and afterwards sat on the couch on either side of him and started grabbing.

Deer-caught-in-the-headlights staring didn't dissuade us -- we just assumed that he was up for the sharing -- until he bolted to his feet and ran for the door.

(He later dated Cal, who had a new lover every week.)

Problem: Not making our intentions clear in advance.



6. The Filipino Undergrad, #3 on My Sausage List.  He came to my room at Setauket University to interview me on the problems of being a gay academic, and we ended up hooking up four or five times.  Then I emailed him: "I want to be more than just a trick!  Let's go out on a real date, with dinner and dancing and a kiss on the doorstep!"  He bailed.

Problem: Trying too hard.

7. The Hottest Guy in the World. We met at the AIDS Conference in South Africa in the summer of 20000. Short, muscular, dark-skinned, religious, gifted beneath the belt, 6 of the 6 traits I find attractive!  We went out to the bars together, and had an encounter in the dark room, but afterwards he would have nothing to do with me.  Too old.

Problem: No time to work on him.




8. The Theater Buff, one of Blake's friends in Manhattan, an older guy with a nice physique, a hairy chest, and a bad toupee.  Fascinating, with an intimate knowledge of old Hollywood.  He used to go to the Trocadero with Bette Davis!  So I accepted the date.  Afterwards we went back to his elegantly furnished apartment and started making out, but every time I tried to touch his head, he pushed my hand away.

"Everybody knows about your toupee!" I exclaimed in frustration.  "It's no big secret!"

 Shrieking, he ran into the bedroom, slammed the door, and wouldn't come out.

Problem:  Unaware of his quirks




9. The Jerk.  This was in a dark room in France.  The protocol is: since you can't see well enough to make eye contact, you stand directly in front of whoever you're interested in.  If he's not interested, he moves away.  This guy didn't move away.  But when I touched him, he grabbed my hand and roughly pushed it aside.

I tried again, and got pushed away again.

"But...vous ne avez pas deplacer!" I exclaimed.  You didn't move!

He growled: "Casse-toi!"  F*k off! 

"I have every right to be here!" I said in English.

We both stood there facing each other, refusing to move for a long time.

Problem: Guy wasn't interested


10. The Coffee Drinker.  A cute, sleepy-looking lost soul who hung out at the Filling Station in Wilton Manors, Florida, drinking coffee instead of beer or a soft drink.  He never interacted with anyone, but he was so cute, I thought I would try.

Day 1: I nodded in recognition.  He glared.
Day 2: I gave him a friendly shoulder-grab.  He shrugged me off.
Day 3: I said "Hi, my name's Boomer."  He said: "I'm not interested in a relationship."
Day 4: He saw me coming and retreated to the other side of the bar.

Problem: ????

Pop Quiz: Select any three, and explain what I should have done differently.