Sex is everywhere you look. On billboards, on television, in the movies, in books, on the internet, all over social media – you can’t escape it. It’s a pervasive part of our culture, for better or for worse.
When you’re gay, this overwhelming saturation of sex is cooked to a boiling point. Many interactions among individuals in the LGBTQ community are either overtly focused on sex or carry sexual undertones, while our community is consistently sexualized by straight people and the world as a whole when viewed from the outside.
Let’s break some of this down, shall we?
First, let’s discuss how we are sexualized from the outside. I’m going to tell a little story. We’ve all heard this one before: two grown men decide to hold hands while walking down the street. A mother with one kid in a stroller and another toddling along next to her, holding her hand, happen to walk by. The mother sees the two men with their conjoined hands and immediately attempts to shuffle her kids by without seeing the men. As she passes, she hisses at the men, “Think about what you are doing in public. There are children here.” Then she disappears in a wisp of self-righteous rage.
To a viewer with common sense, the sight of two men holding hands would be about as shocking as, well… the sight of a man and a woman holding hands. However, because it was two men holding hands, this upstanding member of the straight community immediately viewed it as “inappropriate,” particularly for children.
Why would that be? Obviously, it’s party because there are still many people in this lovely world of ours who think homosexuality is wrong. However, it’s also because straight people tend to sexualize every interaction among gay people. Instead of two people holding hands, it becomes two people who are holding hands and clearly want to have sex. It’s almost as if we cannot have a romantic or physical connection with another gay person without it being seen as a sexual perversion.
Now, the woman in the story is an extreme example of obvious homophobia. However, this view is perpetuated by those who may think they are allies of our community as well. How many times have you seen people you love turn away or shift uncomfortably when they see two men kissing? It’s not that they are being blatantly homophobic, but many people are still uncomfortable with seeing two men or two women express affection with each other because their minds immediately take them down a sexual path when they see it, despite the casual intentions of those involved.
I don’t have a good reason for why this happens, but I think it comes down to the fact that the most vocal opponents of the LGBTQ community often use sexual imagery and language to make their “point” about how inappropriate it is to be an individual who identifies as LGBTQ. Additionally, in movies and television, LGBTQ characters often partake in sex scenes or sexually-charged flirtationships. We see this rhetoric somewhat often, whether we want to or not, so it works its way into the subconscious of our culture.
But we need to take a look within our own community as well. We sexualize ourselves just as much as, if not more than, the straight community does. I want to be careful about implying that this is a bad thing – it isn’t, and our community has a right to express ourselves in whatever way we see fit. However, I think it’s something that deserves commentary.
How do we do it? Well, first, there are the obvious things: the apps we choose to use to connect with one another. Grindr is a sex-pot. There are countless apps just like Grindr that are lesser-known and lesser-used, but serve the same purpose: they allow LGBTQ people to find each other for hookups. These apps are powerful and important and good, because they are used in some restrictive societies as a way for LGBTQ people to communicate with each other and find strength in one another, but they also serve as a means to an end for most people – a way to cure their horniness.
This sexual focus spills over into our in-person interactions, as well. Gay bars are full of unrestrained hormones and hyper-focused sexual tension. People go to gay bars to have fun and feel uninhibited, but you can’t go to one without also feeling judged and sexualized. It’s just part of the culture, particularly among gay men. Even when hanging out in a group of gay friends, many of the conversation topics and jokes tends to center on sex – at least from my personal experience.
The reason for this, I think, is because we feel so forced to restrict ourselves when we are among our straight peers – which is most of the time for most of us. This is not to say that straight people go around talking about sex all the time. They don’t (well, most of them don’t). But they don’t need to feel inhibited if they ever want to do so, because they don’t need to be afraid that others will judge them for their sexual preferences. That’s why gay people, when we are around each other, focus so much on sex: because we have so much tension built up from holding it in a majority of the time.
I think we all need to take a step back and evaluate how much we are sexualizing the LGBTQ community. Straight people need to realize that our identities are not tied to our sexual preferences and what we do behind closed doors. LGBTQ people need to realize that we can have fun with each other and meet each other and date each other without putting such an emphasis on sex.
Again, there’s nothing wrong with what we do now and how we choose to express ourselves. I just think awareness could lead to a slightly more open experience for all of us. Sometimes we just want to have fun (no, not that kind of fun).
“I’m Evan. I’m 24. I live in the good ‘ole United States of America. And I’m gay, which is something that probably doesn’t surprise you considering the fact that I run a gay blog and write tons of LGBTQ content. But, hey, maybe you’re floored. Thanks for stopping by.”
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