Why Would Networks Not Include Gay Characters?

KurtGlee GLAAD this week released its annual assessment of gay inclusion in television.

According to their data, Fox is the most inclusive of all the major networks, thanks in large part to Glee, while HBO wins in the cable realm.

Overall, however, gay representation is down a bit from last year, when ABC was tops in terms of LGBT inclusion.

From ABC News:

GLAAD announced that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender characters account for 2.9 percent of regular characters in primetime scripted broadcast TV for the 2011-12 season. That's down from 3.9 percent in 2010.

The percentage of LGBT characters on primetime scripted cable TV also dipped from last year, according to GLAAD.

Still, representatives for the organization said there's much to celebrate: From "Modern Family" to "True Blood" to "Glee," many of the shows acclaimed by both critics and audiences are also invested in developing LGBT characters.

I was actually thinking about this earlier this week, and wondered why more networks don't include queer characters in their line up.

Aside from the obvious reasons for creating LGBT characters — positive portrayal in an era in which LGBT people are becoming more mainstream — it seems to me that network and cable executives would want to stack their shows with gay characters because gays often have tons of disposable income.

Those dollars could then be spent on the advertisers who, if they were smart, specifically bought time on shows with gay characters, thereby increasing the networks' bottom line.

It's just common sense — and cents — to include LGBT characters on television, and anyone who disagrees is either a bigot or incredibly dense.

Comments

  1. Mike says

    You need to Google “myth gay affluence”. Several studies have shown that gay men in particular earn between 7% – 25% less than straight men. Other factors also come into play, resulting in the busting of this myth.

    As for why they don’t include more gay characters? Why should they risk the hassle of dealing with religious groups and jittery advertisers? The networks are run by corporations, and all that matters is money.

  2. Ian says

    It seems to me that the ratio of gay characters on TV is a mostly fair representation of the ratio of gay folks in the real world. I worked for Nielsen for a number of years and I can tell you the networks and advertisers intensely study audience demographics and put great effort into catering to that demographic very precisely. In depth study into the effects that adding/deleting certain characters is common.

    “It’s just common sense — and cents — to include LGBT characters on television, and anyone who disagrees is either a bigot or incredibly dense.”

    I was a bit surprised to read the sentence above. This type of hard-line rhetoric is not what I’m come to except from Towleroad. Who is this Andrew Belonsky character? This type of statement is offensive and only serves to alienate your readers who actually disagree. I expect that from the close-minded extreme right, but not from this site.

  3. says

    I love how the author ends the argument by telling the reader that they are a bigot or an idiot if they dont agree with most of his unsubstantiated claims. Brilliant.

    I would not want Kurt from Glee being the face of any kind of community I was involved with. The only thing he inspires me to do is turn the channel.

  4. says

    Forget the bean counting. It’s not the number of LGBT characters on the tube that matter — it’s the quality of the writing acting and directing. And on that level I’m quite happy with “Glee.” Lord knows it’s not perfect. Far from it. But it took a high dive into a pool no one every thought of swmming in and has become the Esther Williams of Teh Ghey. “Modern Family” liekwise deserves accolades — especially for the way the (quite offbeat) gay cpouple is folded into story featuring straight couples. The results are funny and often really interesting.

  5. says

    Oh PUHLEEZE Lisa. The character of Kurt is an excellent role model! He’s a kid in school, talented etc…who WOULDN’T want him as a role model for any kid. It’s sickening that we truly do “Eat Our Own”

    Did glaad mention the gay character on “Happy Endings”?

  6. Hue-Man says

    The number of gay characters on TV being representative of the gay population is complete nonsense. If we’re going to a quota system for gays, let’s do it for everyone. Let’s start with the super-rich who play such a huge role in many shows. They are “entitled” to 7 minutes a week across the major networks since they represent 0.2% of the population. Who replaces them? More women, more minorities, more old people, the 10% to 25% unemployed (depending on age), the homeless and a lot more prisoners and convicts. “Sweeps week” will have new meaning when the sanitation workers get the screen time they “deserve”.

  7. says

    My biggest problem with gay characters on TV is that they tend to always been shown as the stereotypical gay queens. Some don’t – ‘Happy Endings’ for one, but on that show the guy playing gay is actually a straight, another dislike in my book. It’s like hiring Sidney Toler (an Englishmen) to play Chinese Charlie Chan but a good example if the stereotypical queen is Eric Stonestreet on Modern Family. He plays Cameron father to Lily and Mitchell’s husband. Stereotypical queen.

    I live in downtown San Francisco (Russian Hill), born/raised here, and yes there are the wild flamboyant screaming queens but the reality of gay life is those individuals are now more on the edges of the gay community rather then the center of our world. Gay bars in SF have diminished – not because there are fewer gay people (far from it!) but because gay people are blending in, more apt to be part of the general community and three out of five clubs my husband and I may go out to with other friends tend to be ‘Uni’ (is that a word?) places. Predominately straight but gays are there and cruising all guys without fear of being beaten to death for even looking at a straight guy. A straight guy will tell you he’s not gay and they tend not to fear a gay guy hitting on them or checking them out.

    As the generations move on I can see the lone all-gay bar as historic, like bath-houses (remember those?) and we are starting to see that more and more on television too. Groups of gay and straight friends interacting together with the odd Karofsky type here and there. Swishy girly queens (Kurt is a fine example – sometimes I cringe when he simply pushes it too far, i.e. the Victor/Victoria act – but I applaud the guy’s amazing talent. I simply want to see more gay actors playing gay roles that reflect the reality of gay life – and “The A-List” is total fantasy and hurts the gay community more than helps.

  8. Francis says

    Are people actually arguing against gay characters on TV? Or an accurate presentation of these characters? Well, I wouldn’t call you dense and bigoted, but misguided, most definitely. I agree that quality is more important than quantity, but it doesn’t hurt to see as many positive displays of gay characters on television shows as possible.

    Oh, and what Hue-Man said.

  9. ohplease says

    Is Andrew Belonsky back only to make us appreciate Penn Bullock? Because, sad to say, it’s actually working.

    Seriously, are we supposed to believe that Andy Towle is the only person who can actually write for this site?

  10. Rick says

    It’s funny, the Advocate recently ran a story on the first documentary about gay people back in 1961. In it, members of the Mattachine Society, the very first gay “liberation” organization, were interviewed and stated that one of their principal goals was to eradicate the stereotype of gay men as being “sissies” and “queens”, understanding, as they did, that the principal barrier to acceptance for gay men has always been the perception that they are masculinely deficient.

    Fast forward to 2011, a full half-century later, and virtually every gay man on network television is a stereotypical flaming sissy…..and GLAAD is so stupid as to praise the networks for perpetuating such stereotypes.

    Gay men have become the clowns of network television, caricatured and laughed at in a disrespectful way, the same way that blacks were back in the early days of television via shows like “Amos ‘n Andy” and characters like Step-n-fetch-it, Modern Family being the perfect example of that–one of the gay characters actually having mouthed the line in the episode before last “I just don’t get boys”….(Translation: I have no male identity whatsoever and am nothing but a woman with a beard)

    I am sure that 70 years ago, blacks, too, were just happy to see their own kind on TV, even in stereotypical form, after having been invisible throughout history–and only later did they become angry when they realized that they had just been functioning as entertaining clowns for white people.

    And that appears to be where gay people are now, thinking that even being the clowns of society is better than being invisible, when really it is not.

    A sad reflection on a movement that has lost its focus and become severely misguided, both in its strategies and its tactics, having lost the idealism and sharp analytical edge of its pioneers and apparently delusional in its belief that the world is laughing with us rather than at us.

    Precisely why the movement has stagnated, even among the young, for whom the term “That’s so gay” has become the catch-all phrase for everything uncool and everything you DON’T want to be.

    Quite disheartening.

  11. Tim Hulsey says

    A few speculations: 1. Those lucky gay and lesbian people with “tons of disposable income” probably aren’t spending their evenings watching television.

    2. The FCC ratings system seems automatically to assign at least a TV-14 rating to any show which features gay or lesbian characters (just as the inclusion of openly gay or lesbian characters seems to result in an automatic PG-13 from the MPAA). Producers who create “family shows” must avoid recurring gay and lesbian characters: Only TV-MA shows can depict sexually active gay or lesbian characters.

    3. Right-wing advertiser boycotts are on the decline right now, and that’s just the way the networks like it.

  12. Rowan says

    No need for the name calling, seriously you commenters are so prissy! Chill!

    Now for some intelligent discourse AB, to add to the statistics you have just been given, I will also include that networks also do a helluva lot of market research. Now whether or not some go by this on certain shows-especially when they ship in a character that is hated by the fans, can’t act and is so obviously sleeping with someone at the top-is very, very debatable but believe me that they do research.

    And with that research comes not only seeing people’s reaction to a gay character but also reading comments on blogs, forums etc about that feeling.

    One example is when White Collar on USA gave their lesbian character, gulp, a girlfriend. People were frothing on the mouth on facebook and many said they had quit the show. On Imdb, one of the largest posts is ‘why did they make Diana a lesbian’. The irony that the show is based in one of the most liberal cities in the world, is all-about art, style, has hip music and thrift shop kitsch seems to be lost on these viewers. Suffice to say I don’t think we will see this girlfriend next season.

    I could go on but I would recommend spending some time on fan/show blogs as well as rating sites and tv review sites on the comment blogs. These aren’t right wing sites you can just dismiss, so they unfortunately give a clear view of what the general public think about gay characters.

    And David, Glee isn’t the best example because like True Blood, from the get go it was/is about being gay inclusive as an integral part of the show but even Glee too ages to give Kurt a boyfriend, then a kiss-thank god for those fangurls!-and there was recently a tweet from some college football player moaning about the gay content on True B, I kid you not.

    So even with shows that from the get go are all about gay being front stage, you still get complaints.

    I won’t even go into how long it took for the couple in Modern Family to kiss.

    Luckily Glee, Modern Family and True Blood are all about stereotypes, so the fact that they represent gays in the most typical harmless effeminate weak OTT manner is in keeping with the shows portrayals. Because heck, that is how America likes to see gay people and until that changes, you will continue to get comments on twitter about NPH or Bomer not really being gay because they don’t look it. “but he plays a womanizer!” “he’s athletic!”

    Etc etc

  13. DJSauvage says

    Show me as study where the income disparity effect has been shown to outweigh positive effect on disposable income caused by a lower average number of children, and I’ll believe it’s a myth. Neither of the links above did, I read them both. They both mentioned that gay men and lesbians have less kids, but didn’t quantify the effect on disposable income.

  14. Rick says

    @OS2GUY and ROWAN Thanks for the intersting posts. I read them after I had already posted my comment, but what struck me was how contradictory the comments of the two of you were to each other.

    OS2GUY basically thinks that integration is happening so fast that gay is just not an issue at all for anybody…..and Rowan thinks that the only way straight people can deal with gay men is if they are made into stereotypical clowns.

    So which is it?

    How can it be both.

    I was particularly intrigued by your comment OS2GUY because I have heard all about his “integration” but don’t really buy it. Maybe San Francisco truly is way ahead of the curve, as it often is, but in most of America, cruising a straight guy is still likely to get you a hostile reaction. And even if it did not, how “efficient” is it to cruise guys randomly–or get to know them randomly–in hopes that they will turn out to be gay, when statistically, the likelihood of that being the case is extremely low?

    It is an approach that can lead to a lot of frustration as I have learned from experience. I got so tired of the gay “scene” many years ago that I just started befriending guys I liked, without knowing anything about their sexual orientation……and surprise, surprise, when the moment of truth came, the classic “homosexual panic” ensued, which was not very pleasant to deal with.

    It would be great if we were at the point where men could just explore and experiment different kinds of relationships with other men, sexual and otherwise, without a stigma being attached–that is, in fact, my overriding goal–but I am really, really skeptical that we are anywhere near that point.

    Thoughts?

  15. Mark says

    Stuffed Animal,

    Many Gen X, Gen Y, and younger use the term “queer” instead of LGBT because they feel it more inclusive and less stereotypical. A different generation uses a different term to describe itself is a common theme in history.

    Africa-American > Black > Colored > Negro or

    Native American > Indian

    ________________

    Not having a gay character is like not having a woman or person of color. Sometimes it’s just the context of the story and other times it is bigotry or ignorance at play.

    Look at “Friends.” A show that was set in New York but rarely had any people of color on in its first seasons. That was institutional bigotry.

    On the other hand, a show like the Sopranos, which is about ethnic Italian-American mobsters can exist in a bubble.

  16. Derek says

    Seriously Andy, this is the second time I’ve seen a reference to rich gays with disposable income this month. It is a perception, but it is not the whole truth. It’s not even necessarily the majority. I love your blog but you need to do some reading in this area. You’ve linked to stories by Gary Gates before but have you read through his corpus of work?

    Go here: http://services.law.ucla.edu/williamsinstitute/publications/Policy-Census-index.html

    Download “LGBT Demographics presented at
    2010 Out & Equal Workplace Summit” and go through that. Then read some of the actual reports.

    I think you do a disservice to the community when you focus on this aspect of why the media should play nice with us.

  17. Rick says

    “Look at “Friends.” A show that was set in New York but rarely had any people of color on in its first seasons. That was institutional bigotry”

    @Mark Huh? It is “insitutional bigotry” when there are no racial minorities on a show?

    Look, the reality is that there is very little socializing across racial lines, even in Manhattan. There just isn’t. And what is ridiculous to me is the constant attempts on the part of the networks to ignore this reality and end up creating situations that everybody knows are not reflective of real life, by, for example, placing a single character of a racial minority in amongst a group of white friends (or vice-versa, although you virtually never see a lone white person being portrayed as belonging to a circle of friends who are all black or Asian or whatever.)

    It just comes across as political propaganda rather than as realistic programming.

    And I kind of feel that way about the gay guy in “Happy Endings”. It just seems so forced and unrealistic. I realize that the intention is good and I appreciate the fact that the gay character is portrayed as having a masculine demeanor, but the situations to me are un-believable. I just don’t know of many cases where gay guys are “best buddies” with straight guys, even among younger people.

    Maybe they exist–and I wish to God they did–but I have not seen many of them……but then again, maybe this is good propaganda in the sense of demonstrating that things CAN be that way….and here is how to go about it.

    Just thinking out loud a little in that last paragraph.

  18. ohplease says

    Derek, it’s not Andy posting this time, it’s his sub, Andrew Belonsky. Since the strategy seems to be to only hire subs that make us appreciate Andy more, expect a lot more of the same until Andy gets back.

    This is quite possibly the single most successful blog of its kind — is it asking too much that all of its correspondents be competent?

  19. new-new says

    @ Rick

    Here’s a chair _ Have a seat.

    The truth is that maybe for you there is little socializing across racial lines, but for many people in large cities, such is the norm. I know for a fact that my circle of friends encompasses every minority group. To exclude everyone but the pretty white people from a show is an all too common trope in American film and television. It’s disgusting and a result of ignorance and institutionalized bigotry.

    Also will you please shut up with the schtick about masculine gays. It’s clearly coming from a very misogynistic place and is more tired than a truck stop hooker. Please sit yo’ azz all the way down.

  20. Francis says

    Um, out of my close circle of about 6 people, 3 of them are straight guys, Rick. I don’t know what world or century you’re living in, but not all straight men go out of their way to avoid gays, and vice versa.

    Oh, and I agree with Rowan to a certain extent, I think that the main reason there will always be a cap on the numbers of gay characters on TV comes down to the fact about 40% of our country is homophobic. Then, you have to remember another critical and obvious factor—–which demographics watch the most TV. Statistically that would be middle-aged and older adults, blacks, and Southerners/the Bible Belt overall. Not exactly what most would consider groups who hold a high regard of us. That’s really the biggest issue. Another fact: Self-identifying conservatives watch more TV by quite a margin.

    There is a reason why execs focus on “Middle-Americans”. That’s because, ultimately, that’s the #1 group these sitcoms need to survive. If that means the gays taking a back seat, then that’s what will happen.

  21. C.J. says

    I kinda agree with Lisa – as much as I like Glee, I find Kurt to be somewhat of an offensive stereo-type. I understand that he is a great role model for kids to “be who they are” but to be so extreme is a little rediculous. Kurt would be bullied in any school. Period. However, I also think that on top of using the “gay sterotype” with Kurt, Glee falls victim to using each chracter as a blatant stero-type for that “type” of person.

    On a side note, when Kurt starts to sing, I cringe.

  22. new-new says

    @ Francis

    I hate the myth being perpetrated as fact about black people as being more homophobic than whites.

    child boo, your privilege is showing and it ain’t cute.

  23. Mike says

    Frankly I’m more concerned by the disproportionate number of children on TV who speak like they’re members of a varsity debating team or have done twenty years of stand-up comedy on the club circuit. That’s orders of magnitude more realistic than a small fluctuation in gay representation.

  24. Rick says

    @Francis You have got to be kidding me! The New York/LA bias/focus in TV programming is off the charts. Watch a week’s worth of network prime-time programming and you could easily conclude, if that is all the information you had, that virtually the entire population of the United States of America leaves in a few cities on the east and west coasts.

    In fact, any program set outside New York or LA (or occasionally, Chicago or Seattle or somewhere) is so unusual that it will usually be reflected in the name of the series (as it is in “The Middle”, for example)….and these programs tend to reflect the lifestyles and attitudes of the (generally younger) people who produce them (almost all of whom live in New York or LA), not the values of the Bible Belt.

    What in the world are you talking about?

    As for the other issue, I didn’t say that straight men go out of their way to avoid gays, but the two groups generally don’t “embrace” each other, either. If that were the case, then homophobia would be a thing of the past, wouldn’t it? (which we all, of course, know, is not the case)

    It is really hard sometimes to have an honest discussion on this board because of all the attempts at propagandizing and political posturing by so many–I don’t know why people feel compelled to do that when we are just talking amongst ourselves, but maybe they think the wider world is watching by reading this blog and alter their comments accordingly.

    I tell you what, though. When I see a group of 6 guys, 3 of them gay and 3 of them straight, getting together on a Sunday afternoon to watch the NFL games on TV over beers and pizza–and when I stop hearing young men, in particular, constantly using the term “That’s so gay” in an obviously derogatory manner, then I will believe your claim. Not until then.

  25. says

    RICK – reading your 1st post I am in complete agreement. I ripped off mine, typos and all, because I was also dealing with a 4YO who refused to put on ‘baby’ sneakers (he’s NOT a baby) and I needed to get him off to PreSchool. BTAIM, in your second post you made it clear when you said … “…I started befriending guys I liked..” and that’s exactly my point – that’s how it starts and I’ve seen that attitude progress over the last few years more and more. In life, the majority of guys are straight and hold preconceived attitudes but that is changing – there are those who will panic and those are clearly not the people you want in life. But you don’t give up because there are just as many normal guys who will not panic, won’t give a damn, will sluff it off – especially if they have a connection with you in some way – through other friends, work, hobbies, profession, career, sports, etc.

    And that’s what I would like to see reflected by more gay characters on TV. Normal guys who just happen to be gay. We may see that on “The Good Wife” because they are giving Alicia’s gay brother a lover/partner. Glee is bringing in a new gay character to break Kurt and Blaine up and according to writers, will be the stereo-typical scheming queen. I would much prefer Glee offer us a normal gay couple who end the school year still in love with each other, get engaged and move to NY to begin their respective careers/lifes. Not gonna happen – and that’s annoying.

    Those are some quick thoughts, sadly my morning is slipping away much to fast… :-)

  26. Ummmmm says

    What the hell is this? News or an editorial? This is about the most unscientific expression of an opinion I can fathom; the conclusion (which is pretty offensive) is absolutely unsupported by anything other than the fact that some popular shows have gay characters.

    If you’re going to get into opinion writing, learn how to do it. Andy, this guy is hurting the integrity of your website with crap like this.

  27. Scott says

    Whoa! Again, let’s save the vitriol for our true enemies. Cavalier – yes. Editorializing – yes. Not what we’re used to – sure. Let’s chalk this up to a (new guy?) mis-step and fight those who would have us dead.

  28. sugarrhill says

    OS2Guy, we get it. You have a family. No need to always share your “moments” with us. I think the lady doth protest too much.

    The rest of you please continue with your misogyny.

  29. Reggie says

    I’m glad others on the site recognize what a groan-worthy blogger Andrew Belonsky is. I can only hope that Andy is reading these comments as well. With so many great writers out there to choose from, why do we have to subjected to this guy? His POV is usually facile (in this case, misguided and borderline offensive), and more than anything, completely unnecessary.

  30. Rowan says

    Sugarhill

    Urgh thanks for your rude contribution about a commenter!? I prefer his comments over yours any day and better still-it was funny! I talk about being black or British or my experience at home and this is what makes the commenters on this blog interesting and personal.

  31. Rowan says

    Rick

    I’m giving you facts, not opinion. Just go on any of those blogs and see the comments I read, then make your judgement. This isn’t opinion, it’s fact.

    If gays keep on basing opinions based on their narrow world and thinking everyone loves Glee, they are seriously mistaken.

    And as a black guy living in London, I do agree that having a black person as part of the cast of Friends would be ridiculous BUT without a doubt you would have different ethnicities coming through, esp black people.

    But trust, in London, we are more mixed then you guys interracially but there are still so many groups that don’t mix.

    Liberals mix but your Friend people who are more mainstream, less open minded and cookie cutter-it really is color based. Sad but true.

  32. jaragon says

    I would like to see more gay characters in drama and action shows (I think Glee pretty much covers the musical/comedy spectrum) In Sci-Fi channel “Warehouse 13th” introduced a gay hero but the writers really did not know what to do with him.

  33. Harrison says

    I think I am most confused by the assumption that gay people would choose to watch TV shows simply because they feature gay characters. Maybe I’m a bad gay but I choose to watch TV shows because they have quality actors, crisp writing, and engaging plots.

  34. Nat says

    “It is really hard sometimes to have an honest discussion on this board because of all the attempts at propagandizing and political posturing by so many–I don’t know why people feel compelled to do that when we are just talking amongst ourselves, but maybe they think the wider world is watching by reading this blog and alter their comments accordingly.”

    It’s not propagandizing from us, it’s simple fact. My three closest friends are straight males; indeed most of my friendship circle is comprised of straight males. My sexuality is just one aspect of me, and they’re cognizant enough to realize that.

    Yes there are plenty of homophobic males of all ages out there, but there are also plenty of straight men who just don’t care.

    Honestly, I’ve been derisive of you and your past misogynistic, heterophobic, and racist comments. But I feel more than a little sorry for you now. It sounds like you experience little good in your life and you assume that everyone else experiences the same. But we all don’t. And maybe if you try keeping an open mind for a change – and actually believing people when they tell you that there’s something better – then you can start experiencing it for yourself.

  35. Rin says

    When there are more gays to justify the commercials between the segments you will see more gays on television. As the Hispanic population grew in the US, more Hispanic characters showed up on television.

    Networks are all about money or else they wouldn’t have gotten rid of All My Children :(

    That said, I think that while “Ellen” isn’t a “gay show” she doesn’t hide from it, is very open about it, and reaches middle America–even those pesky right wing Christians watch Ellen. She’s probably the most powerful talk show host going now that O’s out of the way.

    When Anderson stops doing news just to do his show…he will come out and that will be good “gay” television.

  36. Rin says

    @Rick

    You were doubting that gay men and straight men can hang out (Francis’s circle of friends example). Here is why you are having problems and he is not:

    ***
    It would be great if we were at the point where men could just explore and experiment different kinds of relationships with other men, sexual and otherwise, without a stigma being attached–that is, in fact, my overriding goal–but I am really, really skeptical that we are anywhere near that point.

    *****

    Just as you are gay and wouldn’t have sex with a woman, those truly straight guys are straight. Francis probably gets that. When people think you don’t respect their feelings or boundaries…they choose not to hang out with you anymore.

    If I tried to have sex with my gay male friends it would be a violation of trust and their boundaries. It would be wrong.

    Francis probably lets his straight dude friends talk about Megan Fox or burping or Shelby cobras or music or downhill mountain biking…or…well…whatever without trying to convince them that in spite of his obvious set orientation that theirs should not be so rigid or set.

    Many straight guys have this “idea” that gay men are trying to “turn” them, when they find that this is not the case they open up more to the buddy thing.

    If you want to have 3 out of 6 straight guys as your friends like Francis then quit trying to talk them out of their sexual preference. I mean, would you appreciate it if women did that to you?

    Friendship begins and ends with respect.

  37. Rick says

    @RIN Yeah, yeah, yeah. Gay goes in one box and straight goes in the other and there is no ambiguity or in between.

    You know, one of the two examples I gave was of a “straight” guy who, despite his “straightness” allowed me to give him a massage one night when we were out camping, and later in the visit, when we were back at his house–a few days later–he looked at me when I got out of the shower and was wrapped in a towel and nothing more……and later that evening crawled into bed with me, claiming that he only wanted to “sleep” (uh-huh)…..well, long story short, his unceasing erections (and orgasms)revealed him as anything other than “straight”….but he gradually pulled away from me and cut off contact, got married, and had children.

    Do I respect what he did?

    Hell f’in NO. He did not give us a chance because, despite his obvious bisexuality and his liberal social and political leanings, he retreated into the “I am straight” and even had the gall to say “I am just not attracted to you” after having had wild sex with me. He was not “truly straight”–to use your expression–any more than the vast majority of men are.

    You see, that is how denial works in so many men because it is what the culture forces all of us to do. We cannot just be ourselves in all our complexity–we have to put ourselves in a box–to the detriment of all.

    In any case, you and Nat and others misinterpreted my comment by over-personalizing it. There was the personal element, embodied in the story I just told, but there was also–separate from that–a larger societal observation–and these guys know exactly what I am talking about, even though they are pretending not to.

    It depends on how you define “friends”. In this culture, men don’t really have friends–they have “buddies”–and that is what you just described (i.e. Keep your distance emotionally and talk only about impersonal subjects, etc. etc.)

    I can do that and do and I have plenty of straight “buddies”, but I don’t regard that as friendship…..

    But you know as I do–and you have revealed this in your previous posts–that effeminate behavior is not acceptable among straight men….hell, everybody knows that, so these same guys (like Nat) that are railing against my “misogyny” (i.e. effeminacy) would not be compatible with mainstream male culture.

    Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.

  38. Francis says

    Well, Rin, one of my straight male friends is as you describe. The stereotypical straight man, says dude a lot, loves the Atlanta Braves, talks about girls, and he likes rap music. He doesn’t burp or fart openly, I don’t befriend douchebags, lol. You’re totally right, though, I let him do his straight boy thing, we have fun and talk about whatever, he’s just a cool guy. We actually have watched NFL games together with other friends, RICK, you know, a “straight boy” activity. And, ultimately, if you have a personality beyond your sexuality, if you’re a nice, interesting person, people will gravitate towards you, and sexuality becomes irrelevant. If you have hangups and insecurities, people will read that.

    Of course, a lot of straight men are total idiots. But not all are and to typecast all straight guys as bigoted or ultimately uncomfortable with gay people is most certainly heterophobic.

    My other two straight friends are more of the artsy, hip type. I don’t try to have sex with any of the three, I don’t ask or even have the inclination to wonder if they’re secretly bisexual, we hug when we greet and they don’t act like I have cooties, I’ve spent nights at the house of two of them frequently, and I guess they aren’t paranoid about what the homophobic segment of society thinks about gay/straight relationships. Buddies, friendship, you can put whatever title you please on it, I’m very close with these guys, known them for years, and literally never has my sexuality been an issue.

    BTW, Rick, I’m not really overly masculine, not fem, but not a macho jock either. I’m just…………me. Maybe that’s why I and other gay men here do have straight friends. Also, I don’t stereotype all straight men and assume they like or behave a certain way solely because they’re attracted to the opposite sex. But hey, believe what you want. I really couldn’t care less.

  39. Gregv says

    @Rick: individuals decide to have sex with someone for a lot of reasons other than that they are genuinely attracted to someone. You can’t assume someone you had sex with is lying when he/she says he/she is not attracted to you. I’ve had sexual experiences with women for whom I felt no attraction whatsoever. Receiving a massage does not mean someone is attracted to the masseur. If a friend, no matter gay straight or bi, makes a point of averting his eyes when talking to me when I’m wrapped in a towel or even naked, I’d think he’s awkward with nudity and not assume it means something about him being attracted to me or not.
    And I’ll share a bed on vacation with my brother, friends male or female or even a dog, and sharing a bed certainly doesn’t mean I’m attracted to any of those people or things.
    Your friend (or ex-friend) may very well genuinely fall in love with females only. It could have proved hard to maintain a friendship with you stuck on the idea that you could potentially take that kind of place in his life.

  40. Rick says

    “Your friend (or ex-friend) may very well genuinely fall in love with females only”

    Yeah, well I didn’ tell the whole story. We had actually met in South America–I was travelling for pleasure and he was doing anthropological research for his PhD….and we were sitting together at dinner the night before I was to leave…..and out of nowhere, I see a few tears forming in his eyes……and I asked him what was wrong and he said “Nothing”…….but I knew what the reason for the tears was

    So much for genuinely falling in love with females only…..

    And how does that work anyway? How can you only fall in love with someone of one gender or the other? After all, what makes us fall in love with someone is individual characteristics that are independent of gender, right? I mean, many of you people on this board are always talking about how gender is just a “construct”–I don’t buy that, but if it really is and you really believe that, then how could anyone only genuinely fall in love with someone of a certain gender? Would you say the same thing about race? Can certain people only genuinely fall in love with someone of a certain race? Is that not racism?

    See what comes of trying to fit people into boxes? All kinds of dysfunction and unhappiness and confusion.

    (P.S. He only averted his eyes from my bare chest after getting a good long look….and I had “caught” him looking at my bare legs a couple of days before)

  41. Rin says

    @Rick,

    what you are describing is bisexuality (in the first example). Some men/women are bisexual, so use that word. Just as some are “gay” and “straight”. To not acknowledge gay and straight when people tell you…I’m ________ is inconsiderate.

    You identify as “gay”. Then answer me this:

    Could a woman get into your pants? Like if you guys were hanging out, farting together, watching hockey and she suddenly pulled off her blouse and showed you Christina Hendricks sized breasts…could she get you to want to fondle them and then throw her up against the wall for serious banging?

    Now, if you’ve told her that you were gay and she continued to pursue it because, well, let’s be honest you do have the male sex drive…would you find this to be appropriate or inappropriate behavior from her?

    Yes, you can spend months coaxing someone into trying something that they wouldn’t normally do, but its just…not right. They feel horrible later for giving in, and that’s not friendly.

    Let people be who they are.

    I mean, if you keep it up that this is acceptable I’m going to invite even MORE women to come on here just to flirt with you on that 1% chance that we can make some time with the great and powerful RICK.

  42. Rin says

    @Francis,

    :)

    I know…I was just teasing about the burping and farting thing, although… if that’s your bag, baby…go for it.

    In general, I’m not into the same “men” that Rick likes. I like musicians. No, they don’t toss a football (but I can), and no, they aren’t gym rats, but … wow…I love musicians.

    My exception to this rule has become Chris Hemsworth, however.

    Back to my point…

    I don’t think that Tom Brady is any more “manly” in my eyes or attractive to me than say Ray Lamontagne. And as far as sexiest man in history…Robert Plant circa 72-73.

    Rock God, baby.

    What a man!

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