On Gay Modern Love: Let’s Not Get To Know Each Other Better, Let’s Just Fuck

07Jun08

In which The Gay Recluse presents a gay alternative to this week’s Modern Love offering in The Times. Those looking for our quantitative analysis should click here.

Gay Modern Love
Let’s Not Get to Know Each Other Better, Let’s Just Fuck

By JOEL WALKOWSKI and THE GAY RECLUSE
Published: June 7, 2008

A FEW months ago I liked a guy — a fairly common occurrence. We fucked, but then — being slightly ambitious and moreover drunk — I decided to ask him out on a date.

This was a weird choice, as I’m not sure I know anyone who has ever had a real date. Most elect to hang out, hook up, or Skype long-distance relations. The idea of a date (asking in advance, spending rent money on dinner and dealing with the initial awkwardness) is far too concrete and unnecessary. As the adage goes: Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? Why pay for dinner if you can sit around watching TV? If you stay at home, you hardly even need to stand up, let alone put on a nice shirt.

Despite misgivings, this particular foray felt legitimate, a coming-of-age moment “straight” (lol) out of a John Hughes movie. I had always wanted to go on a real date: flowers, dinner and all that. I thought that maybe in doing so I would feel more like an adult and less like a dumb little boy.

So I called this guy, feeling a little sleazy as I searched for the right words: “Hey, um, this is Joel. Do you want to, like, go out? On a date?”

“O.K.,” he said uncertainly, no doubt suspicious the whole thing was a joke.

His positive response did nothing to calm my jitters. Give me a party, a front porch gathering, or a random encounter, and I’m comfortable talking to anyone. But this kind of formal planning unnerved me. Riding my bike home, I realized I didn’t even know what a real date was, beyond some vague Hollywood notion.

In my 21 years, I have had my share of trysts and one-night stands. I’ve been in love. I know it was love because I shamelessly clung to him. I have had my share of ups and downs but have no idea if I’m doing the whole love thing right or wrong. We don’t tend to define it that way.

In this age of cyberselves, with hookups just a Craigslist ad away, the game has evolved to the point of no rules. It’s not the ’50s where I can ask some lucky guy to wear my pin and take a ride in daddy’s car. This change probably benefits me in the end, as I’m sure an offer of a ride in my dad’s Sable would be swiftly rejected.

For my generation – just like Generation X twenty years ago, and probably every other generation since time began except as portrayed in the movies — friendship often morphs into a sexual encounter and then reverts to friendship the next day. And it’s easy as long as you don’t put yourself on the line or try too hard. Don’t have a prospect? Check Facebook. Afraid to call? Text.

With so many avenues for communication, one might expect an onslaught of romantic soliloquies, but that isn’t the case. Casual is sexy. Caring is creepy. Part of this, of course, is because caring is associated with the feminine, which of course – if you’re a guy – is associated with being gay. And what’s really kind of pathetic now is that the same homophobic attitude that keeps straight assholes from ever showing emotion has crept into a lot of gay circles, too, so that a lot of gay guys basically try to “out-straight” their straight counterparts, and end up acting like even bigger assholes! Which means you don’t want to show your hand, and you certainly don’t want to fall in love. At least until you do, and by then it’s too late.

Planned romance is viewed as nothing more than ambition, so it’s important that things be allowed to happen naturally. Sex is great, and so are some relationships, but not to the point that they should be actively pursued.

It’s hard to even flirt with a guy without feeling obvious and embarrassed, since the greatest displays of cheesiness come from the pursuit, making it disgusting: “Oh, you drive a Volvo? What’s that like?” Realizing I’m flirting – which again is essentially an effeminate or “gay” activity – I cringe and do my best to restrain myself. An encounter is best when unsullied by intentions, leaving lust or boredom to take over.

For those born yesterday, the typical sequence goes like this: Friends meet up at some sort of bonfire or impromptu game of night volleyball. Maybe that guy from your history class is there, and you start to talk. Neither of you has expectations. But just hanging out and swapping stories, laughing a little, creates a spark and the attraction builds, eventually leading to the big wet kiss that changes everything and nothing. You fuck in the dunes and then head back to the party and get wasted. Obviously youth has been doing this kind of thing for five thousand years, any I feel bad for anyone who hasn’t had the opportunity to try it.

This is the perfect hookup, a pressure-free surprise. With a stranger, everything is new and acceptable. His quirks are automatically endearing. This first encounter is the perfect place, but where does it lead?

In the best case, nowhere at all! The next time you see him in class, you act the same as you did before, and so does he, except for the knowledge you share that what happened last week might happen again.

If it continues, you have an understanding, physical chemistry and great conversations. You meet two or three times a week for no-strings sex and long-winded “philosophical” talks about like, the new Grand Theft Auto.

Most importantly, you aren’t lonely. Maybe deep in the recesses of your mind you think about possibly loving this person. What’s the standard response? Nothing. If he asks, “How do you feel about me?” you answer from the heart: “I see you as an unexpected treat from the heavens. I don’t know how I deserve this.” And then you both laugh at how corny this sounds, because you both understand that this is not about feelings but simply having a good time for a few seconds before you hit the books.

Your relationship is “good.” Your relationship is “strong.” But it isn’t a relationship, and that’s the key. You aren’t hoping he will become your boyfriend, and ideally he is not looking for anything more, either. Because if he is, it’s basically, “smell you later, butt-munch.”

A friend of mine, a “normal” guy who is neither especially social nor aloof, engages in hookups unabashedly — he’s just doing what he wants and doesn’t regret or overthink it. He prides himself on being a huge asshole! Except for one time when he woke up in some pathetic loser’s embrace, got out of bed and noticed his bookshelf.

I’m not sure what it was about the contents that impressed or moved him; maybe the books suggested a gentle soul. I’ve only read like one or two all the way through – LoTRings! – so I’m just speculating. All I know is what he told me: “I only felt bad after seeing his books.” The books had made him a real person, I guess, one he liked. Or pitied. Because then it was on to the next. Let’s face it: books are for chicks and gay losers.

I might not be a typical youth, and maybe my friends aren’t typical, either, but hardly anyone I know aspires to be “that guy” or “that guy,” those once-dynamic individuals who “found someone” and suddenly weren’t so cool. In short, even if I am a stereotypically masculine homophobic gay guy, I think I’m really great! On some level, we envy anyone with feelings, but we certainly don’t want to become them. Even the word “feelings” = gay = barf.

But because I’m so great — and have a pretty sweet cock that everyone wants to wrap their lips around — staying out of relationships can be just as much work as maintaining one. After hooking up with the same person several times I’m sometimes haunted by the “Relationship Status” question on Facebook, and I’ll linger over the button, wondering whether to make the leap from fun to obligation. I envision holding hands, meeting his parents and getting matching ankle tattoos. (I’m totally lying about those first two, obvs.)

Then I come to my senses – do I want to be a loser? – and close the window.

Sometimes, though, it’s not up to me. I work at one of the campus libraries, and for some obscure reason my bosses, who because this an underpaid service industry are mostly middle-aged and female, decided to hold a Library Prom. How gay, right? But I had to take someone, so I asked a guy I genuinely kind of liked, one of the truly rare fish worth catching (or being caught by).

That didn’t stop me from introducing him as “my friend.”

Which didn’t stop one of my bosses from asking, “Are you two dating?”

“Yeah,” he said.

“Um, we are?”

“Well, this is a date, isn’t it?”

He had me trapped. I nodded blankly. With one word, he had changed everything. Now I’m asked about him at work, even though he is currently hooking up with a friend of mine.

I wish I could explain this to the librarians, who are nice but are a bunch of downtrodden, undersexed cat ladies who had the misfortune of being born straight. They’re sympathetic to my other complaints: about studying, about having my license suspended, about taking care of my pet chicken, and so on. “I was there once,” they tell me. “You’ll be fine.”

But when it comes to love, all they can say is, “How’s that boyfriend of yours?” Sadly, they’re still enslaved by their suburban, bourgeois notions of what’s “right” and “wrong” in love, which is why most of them are doomed.

Maybe this disconnect has always existed. As one of my classmates, a genteel (I don’t even know that means, btw) 60-year-old, said to me, “Every generation thinks they discovered sex.” Which might be true, but I’m not sure any previous generation has our plethora of options and utter lack of protocol. This may reflect how our media obsession has desensitized and hypersexualized us. (Or at least that’s what I read in The Times once.)

But I think it goes beyond that. Our short attention spans tend to be measured in nanoseconds. Like the ancient Greeks, we float from room to room watching TV, surfing the Internet, playing Frisbee and finding satisfaction around every corner, if only for a moment; well, except for the watching TV and surfing the Internet part, but you get the idea.

There’s one big difference that has arisen as a result of living in these new dark ages. Out of a fear of seeming gay, we shrink ourselves. There have been many times I should have cried but stifled the tears. Instances where I should have said, “I love you” but made a joke instead. Once, a guy dumped me and it nearly ruined me. How bad was it? I ate nothing but Wendy’s for an entire week. You see, even here I can’t discuss it with anything even approaching honesty, because I don’t want to seem “gay” even though I’m a cocksucker, if that makes sense.

I’m fairly certain I could have saved the entire endeavor with a soul-baring soliloquy of what was true and what mattered to me, but I couldn’t muster the courage. I don’t know many who can. Plus I already had my eye on this other guy, who was h-o-t.

We’ve grown up in an age of rampant divorce and the accompanying tumult. The idea that two people can be happy together, maturing alongside each other, seems as false as saying that Hillary and Barack are good friends now. So when a relationship ends, it isn’t seen as bad. It’s held as evidence that the relationship was never any good to begin with.

MAYBE it’s just that we have learned nothing can compare to the perfect moment of the unexpected hookup — young teenage cocks, hard and glistening on the beach, lying in the sand — and so we aim to accumulate as many as possible. Or maybe we’re simply too immature to commit. That has been the rap against guys forever, but – from what I’ve heard – now women think the same way. With the world (and the world of sex) at our fingertips, it’s difficult to choose, to settle, to compromise.

But I do occasionally wonder: If we can’t get past ourselves and learn to sacrifice to be with another, then what is in store? A generation of selfish go-getters fueled by nothing more than our own egos, forever seeking that rare dose of self-esteem? An era of loneliness filled with commercial wants and mate selection based on the shallowest of criteria? So many hot guys, so little time.

As a mindlessly staunch proponent of my generation, I believe that, despite what it may seem, we appreciate the ways of love and affection but are simply waiting for them to take over. We too crave the suburban bourgeois dream that – for those actually enduring it – is the greatest nightmare of all. We might dally in the land of easy sex and stilted text-message flirtation, but deep down we crave the warm embrace of all-consuming love.

I do, anyway. What else could have been behind my crazy idea to ask a guy out on a date? Alas, we ended up going to Chili’s – see how classy I am? – and never went out again. But at least we fucked in the men’s room, which was hot. Welcome to adulthood.

Joel Walkowski, a runner-up in the Modern Love College Essay Contest, is a senior at the University of Southern California.

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8 Responses to “On Gay Modern Love: Let’s Not Get To Know Each Other Better, Let’s Just Fuck”

  1. 1 tasithoughts

    Enjoed the writing and unabashed honesty.

  2. 2 Luke Duncan

    What unabashed honesty? The post was taken from a someone elses writings and then edited to have the word gay in it a few times. That’s not honest nor is it writing.

  3. Thanks for reading (if you actually did) and commenting, Luke! Once you become a regular reader of The Gay Recluse, you’ll understand that we pride ourselves on dishonest, lazy manipulation of others’ writing, mostly because we’re sick traffic whores.

  4. 4 fred

    hey I like this how do I post it on my facebook?

  5. 5 c.

    “…so that a lot of gay guys basically try to “out-straight” their straight counterparts…”

    Thanks especially for the paragraph containing this sentiment, which gets at the heart of at least 50% of the problems in contemporary gay life.

  6. Thanks C. Yeah, the level of self-hatred is really staggering (though totally not surprising) and not discussed very much as far as I can tell. Which is kind of strange given how obvious it is; of course I have the benefit/curse of having grown up as a stereotypical straight guy — varsity hockey, popular, friends, loved high school! — and have no desire to return.

  7. 7 Atherton Bartelby

    As someone who has dealt quite frequently over the past year with the themes that your “take” on the above piece clearly illustrates, I thank you very much for posting this. It’s managed to give me great pause, since my first reading of it, when I’ve since thought of myself and my own experiences with relationships.

  8. Thanks, Atherton Bartelby! I appreciate the kind words…it almost makes me want to return to doing the column, but I think that the theme here, i.e., homophobic self-hatred in the gays manifesting as straight-guy/asshole behavior, is one that I can explore in other contexts, and in a way that won’t leave me feeling guilty about mocking other writers (let’s just say that this kid wrote to me and wasn’t happy, which I could understand to a certain degree.)


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