Tag Archives: Gay

A Letter To My Allies

(Use of word “faggot”.)

Dear Allies,

Thank you for supporting me being honest about my sexual orientation (pansexual) and gender presentation (nonconforming to the expected male presentation). For me your support seems like a no brainer (I mean, come on, why should you care if I enjoy giving blowjobs and wearing velvet dresses?) but I recognize that some of you have had to overcome a lifetime’s worth of teachings about how homosexual sex is gross and men wearing dresses can only be viewed in terms of comedy so that’s pretty nice of you. Good job on being nice to me about issues that do not actually impact you.

With all this being said there is something I think we should go over.

Allies, sometimes y’all are really irritating. Sometimes I’m tempted to throw up my hands and say, “Enough! I’m done with straight people and done with people whose sex and gender and gender presentation all match society’s expectations! You can all go fuck yourselves for all I care because I am done interacting with you lot.” However not only is this impractical it’s also unproductive. I’d much rather change society than moving to an isolated mountain where you all can’t get to me; which means that I need to teach you what I makes someone a real ally to me.

Here are the ground rules that I expect from my allies:

  1. Don’t Tell Me How I “Should” or “Really” Identify: The labels I use are ones that I feel most at home in, that I feel best represent me. If you’re Straighty McStraight-Straight from Straight St. then I don’t want to hear your opinions on what labels I should be using. You could have a degree in Gender or Queer Studies but if you’re straight I’m not going to let you tell me my identity. Once you know how it feels to live my life that’s when you get to talk to me about my identity/labels.
  2. I Get To Reclaim Slurs, You Don’t: I have a friend that calls me a faggot and I call him faggot as well. If almost any other person called me a faggot I’d probably punch them. My friend and I use such language to each other not only because we know that we both feel safe but because our use of it becomes a “Fuck You” to anyone who has used it as a slur. If you want to use the word faggot around me then talk to me about it first. It may be that I’m comfortable with you using it but I’d rather have you ask then assume. Furthermore if your friend uses a slur as a label that still doesn’t give you permission to use it casually around me or to apply it to me. I respect your friend’s identity but we are two different people.
  3. When I Say “Stop” You Stop: This really should be a given but from my own experiences it isn’t. When we’re talking about gender or sexuality and I get uncomfortable I can shut this motherfucker down. It doesn’t matter if we’re joking around or having a serious conversation, I retain my right to unilaterally stop a situation that makes me feel triggered or unsafe or hurt. Frequently it will have nothing to do with you and everything to do with my own psychological discomfort so know that it’s not personal.
  4. Don’t You Dare Come Into My Safe-Spaces: When it comes to sexual orientations and gender presentations the majority of the world is probably a physical and emotional safe-space for you. In response to this I need to go to spaces that are intentionally created to be safe for people like me. These spaces are safe because people like you aren’t in them. Again, it’s nothing personal but I need the opportunity to be with people like me. You know, like how almost anywhere you go you’ll find other straight and gender-conforming people just like you.
  5. I Am Not Your Punch line: Please, for the love of all that is holy stop trying to make jokes about my identity. Society is full of these jokes and not only do I find them not funny but I find them actually painful. Throughout our relationship I’ll let you know what I’m comfortable with you joking about but unless I say it’s ok please shut your mouth.

Got it? Good.

I know, I know, these four rules seem so utterly basic that it seems almost silly for me to write them down like this but that’s the sad part. This sad part, this utterly tragic part, is that these seemingly obvious rules are violated in my life on a regular basis. On a regular basis I find my identity questioned or my safe-space violated by people who are trying to be my allies and that’s just not cool.

If you read this list and thought, “Oh good! I’m an ally of Samuel and I’ve done none of these things!” then I need you to think long and hard about all of our past interactions. I’m surrounded by wonderful allies but I’m hard pressed to think of a single one who hasn’t broken at least one of these rules at least once. Now that I’ve shared this with you please be mindful. Please remember that sometimes I’m too afraid or too hurt to speak up so you need to take a level of responsibility for your words.

Of course we all make slip-ups. Sometimes we don’t even know that we’re hurting one another but it’s important that we have these conversations to make sure that there’s as little hurt going on as possible. Allies, be aware of what those you support tell you they need or want. Be mindful that sometimes it’s painful or embarrassing or frightening for some of us to tell you that you’re being a shitty ally so don’t assume silence is approval. When you feel that you need to ask questions then ask them (Try to be respectful about this part.) and honor the answers you get.

Thanks a bunch.

Yours,

Samuel A. Zaber

Advertisements

[NSFW/18+] Stop Shitting on the Bottoms

(At some point I was going to title this post “Let’s Hear it for the Bottoms” but that’s way too classy for the likes of me. )

I have had it up to here (Note: I am holding my hand way above my head.) with how our society views male-identified people who enjoy taking penises/strap-ons/what-have-you-who up the butt. I am tired of bottoming being seen as inherently subordinate or somehow emasculating for men to take pleasure from being on the receiving end of anal penetration. I am extremelytired of how certain elements of the gay-male culture have taken these positions on bottoming and somehow codified them into “gay laws” or something (Yes, I am mostly thinking about white, cisgender gay men right now.)

The paragraph you’ve just read is an old complaint. I’ve felt it myself and heard it from others for years but I’ve recently felt moved to vocally speak out on this. On January 28th a music video went up on Willam Belli’s Youtube page that began to pick up attention around the web (There are over 5 million views on it right now.) Here’s the video (Probably not safe for where you work):

It’s really not a terrible music video but it casually brings in some of what I’m talking about.

 

My hackles were first raised pretty early on when the narrators point out that this Boy put “versatile” (As opposed to strict bottom or strict top.) on his Grindr profile and then say, “Versatile, Yea, OK. Girl y’know you’re super Gay.” Here’s the thing: BEING A MAN AND ENJOYING THE SENSATION OF SOMETHING BEING PUT INTO YOUR BUTT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH “HOW GAY” YOU ARE. Got it?

 

I’m a pansexual male who has spent lots of time in various queer communities where there are plenty of gay guys. One thing that I keep noticing is this habit of some of these gays to form a hierarchy based off of how “straight passing” they are. (Another thing- It seems like most of these hierarchy obsessed dudes are also very much in the main-stream gay culture which is heavily white and cisgendered and not very friendly to others.) The issue that I have with this hierarchy (besides being stupid) is that it feels like it was created to give “straight passing” guys a sense of superiority.

 

YOUR EXACT SEXUAL ACTS DON’T DEFINE YOUR SEXUALITY. THAT’S NOT WHAT SEXUALITY MEANS. YOU CAN BE A STRAIGHT WOMAN WHO PREFERS TO WEAR A STRAP-ON AND DOESN’T LIKE TO BE PENETRATED AND THAT DOESN’T MEAN SHE’S NOT STRAIGHT.

 

And that “Never gonna bottom” breakdown? Am I the only one who feels like the singers are almost bragging about how they’re a top? If my interpretation of that section isn’t totally wrong then they’re continuing this idea that it’s shameful to bottom. That whole bit of them running after the Boy and pointing their fingers at him and telling the whole world that he’s a bottom? That whole bit felt like they were accusing him.

So here’s my take away from this- There is NOTHING WRONG WITH RECEIVING DURING ANAL PLAY and doing so TELLS YOU NOTHING ABOUT THAT PERSON OTHER THAN THE FACT THAT THEY HAPPEN TO ENJOY RECEIVING DURING ANAL PLAY. If you like bottoming then you should bottom. If you like topping then you should top. If you like doing both then you should do both. If you like to frot then you should frot.

And m’dear Tops, cool it with the bottom mocking because without bottoms you’re stuck with expensive Fleshlights*.

*Of course if you like Fleshlights better than human butts then that’s great too. Enjoy what you enjoy!

An Open Letter to Alison Bechdel (Review: “The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For”)

Dear Alison Bechdel,

By Michael Rhode (101_3633 Alison Bechdel) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Thank you.

I know, I know, you’ve received ten-thousand letters like this but let’s make it ten-thousand-and-one, shall we?

I grew up a queer outcast in a very heterosexual little rural farming town. My exposure to any sort of queer identities was limited to the occasional “let’s be nice to people” discussion in class. At a very young age I identified as not comfortable with how I related to heteronormativity. True, I didn’t always have the vocabulary to express my thoughts on my gender/sexual identity but I was aware enough to recognize that I was different.

I didn’t have the sorts of role models that my normative friends had. Where were the male superheroes that wore pink and why couldn’t Luke and Han make out? (Answer: Because Luke’s a weenie and Han and Leia are bad-ass soul-mates.) What I did have was 7-Days, the alternative paper that my parents brought home every two weeks. I thank my agnostic deity(ies) that I was introduced to 7-Days while in elementary school. Not only did their “Hot2Trot” personal section help guide me through puberty but it introduced me to your comic.

When I read Dykes to Watch Out For I had role models, I had superheroes. A bearded dad in a utility kilt and a transgender teen and people of color (I’m from the second whitest state in the union so this point is particularly important) and liberal intellectuals and queersDykes to Watch Out For was my exposure to the idea that queers came in all shapes and sizes and that we didn’t have to confirm to stereotypes. Yes, I was a male with same-sex attractions but that didn’t mean I had to be limp wristed and lisping (though I do have a bit of a Jon Inman wrist). There’s nothing wrong with happening to share characteristics with society’s ideas of queers but you helped me see that I didn’t need to let it define me.

For a young boy who was being introduced to sex primarily by his male, similarly aged friends (all of whom had very cis-centered, heterosexual, patriarchy themed ideas about sex that they wanted to share) Dykes to Watch Out For also expanded my ideas about what sex could mean. Your cartoons regularly covered discussions about sex as well as depictions of responsible and healthy sex. I can distinctly remember reading a strip featuring masturbation and realizing, “Oh! I can do that! And that’s not a bad thing and in fact it seems like it’s a good thing!” So on behalf of the sexually frustrated adolescent who relied on masturbation to help get him through years of celibacy I must offer you a tremendous THANK YOU.

One thing that I can’t thank you for is inspiring in me the idea that I could easily find a community like the one you wrote about. First of all I assumed that all the action in DtWOF took place in Burlington, a mere forty-five minutes from my house. I believe it was sometime when I was in high school and your book Fun Home was being promoted that I found out that the city was probably somewhere near Michigan. (I was actually really upset when I found this out.) Even with the knowledge that Burlington wasn’t the city you were writing about I still figured that if I went to a medium/small-sized liberal city then I’d find the queers. Well, Ms. Bechdel, I went to the University of Vermont for a year-and-a-half and didn’t meet as many queers as I would’ve liked. My own antisocial nature and reluctance to interact with humanity might have been a stumbling block but if Mo could find friends like that then why couldn’t I? (Side note- I’m now in Amherst and there are a lot more active queers so things might not be as bleak as I once thought.)

Reading The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For brought me back to my days of smuggling a 7-Days into my room and losing myself in the black-and-white lines of Mo and Co.’s endless pursuit of life, liberty and the perfect lentil soup. I tore through The Essential (even setting aside the book on Catholic priests in Protestant England I was currently reading, so you know, it was pretty serious) only to find myself reaching the end far too soon. When I closed the book I could feel my heart sinking as I realized that the lives of characters who I love and adore were frozen in perpetuity. The ending wasn’t all pain though as I found the fire you helped to light all those years ago suddenly flare up as it feasted. Not only was there a rekindling but a new fire was lit. I’m older and a different person than when I first read DtWOF and I’ve found new ways to connect with the work. Now I’m super-charged and ready to take on the patriarchy. I’m looking for my own Mad Wimmin Books and searching for my own Stuart/Ginger/Clarice (Hey, it’s not my fault you wrote such wonderful characters that I want to be in relationships with.) It’s time to be subversive and time to be radical and time to kvetch over hummus.

Thank you, Ms. Bechdel.

 

Yours most humbly and sincerely,

Samuel Aloysius Zaber

The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For; Alison Bechdel; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Company, copyright 2008.

Sunday Steals: 30.12.12

Quick question: Instead of doing a link-dump post every Sunday or every other Sunday or at the end of each month? If you have an opinion you should let me know. If you don’t have an opinion you should… still let me know? I dunno.

Coming Out At Christmas“, London Gay Men’s Choir: When’s the best time to post a Christmas song? Five days after Christmas.

Dear Defender of the new Atlanta Braves Cap“, (Native Appropriations): Yes. Yes. YES. A well written, gloves off open letter to people who are trying to figure out why some of us are getting upset over the Atlanta Braves’ new baseball cap that exists for practicing batting or something. (I don’t get sports. Why do we need caps just for batting? I don’t get it it.) Even if you’re a person who doesn’t really think that cultural appropriation exist or a person who uses Merriam-Webster’s definition of racism as an argument I’d recommend reading through Native Appropriations. Maybe I’m just another silly old liberal who falls in with every new P.C. fad but I think she’s quite intelligent.

Do We Still Need Libraries?“, (The New York Times): Yes, We Still Need Libraries (If we no longer need libraries than what am I going to do with my hypothetical masters in library sciences that I’m hypothetically getting at some point before I die?) Four concise arguments that I think are fairly solid. The final piece is written by Matthew Battles who not only sports a fabulous bit of facial hair but also is the author of one of my favorite books, Library: An Unquiet History.

TV’s Disappointing Gay Dads“, (The Atlantic): After watching the first few episodes of The New Normal I felt… uncomfortable… My brain was stuck for hours and days trying to put my figure on what exactly it was in the show that struck me like this. Reading this piece sometime in November helped me put my begin to decipher what I was uncomfortable with. I’m still struggling to understand my reaction to The New Normal (It’s possible that I simply don’t like it.) but I’m not struggling with how I react to this article: Yes.

Note Bene- My linking to a post or website or whatever does not necessarily mean that I endorse or agree with its entire content but rather it means that I think it’s interesting.