Hit or Miss

In which Matt writes about sex.

Shortly after coming out, some of the early writers I read and held dear in my budding gay heart included Andrew Sullivan and Michelangelo Signorile. As a child of the South and the recipient of lifelong white male privilege, no matter how hard I try to think of myself as a liberal, I’ve never moved beyond being a closet Republican. The assimilationist tactics and strategies espoused by Sullivan and Signorile were very attractive to me. Still handicapped by the internalized homophobia which I have yet to shake off, the idea of trying to normalize the gay community and show mainstream American how “we’re just like you” became my personal mission.

Every statement or move that I made after becoming a member of various Gay student groups was motivated by the desire to project a respectable image of the “gay community.” I placed my personal life on hold and became a “professional queer,” focusing the majority of my final papers in various classes on GLBT topics and trying to educate peers. I also lost most of my sense of humor, which was replaced by a rabid sense of paralyzing political correctiveness.

Oh yeah, I also never grew up and got a sex life. Sure, I dated Jeff for a couple of months, but our relationship never really progressed (my fault) past heavy petting and at the end I wasn’t even up for that.

Then I moved to rural Missouri, to work at a university radically unprepared to face the emergence of homosexuality in the public consciousness, where queer students have no institutional support and only 3 or 4 out faculty/staff to turn to. My efforts to broaden students’ horizons ran quickly into a brick wall as I discovered that the largely homogenous student body has no apparent interest in discussing any topics of diversity at all. I’ve had positive interactions with gay students, but there is no real momentum for the student glbt group on campus.

Without being able to fulfill my “mission” here at Truman, I have felt like a hollow person. And any enjoyment I once received from my other passions (web design and musical theatre) has slowly died within as well.

It doesn’t really matter that there are virtually no gay men my age around in the area that I’d want to date because I probably wouldn’t date them even if I had the chance. In my quest to lead the exemplary gay political life, I’ve transformed myself into a enuch and become very afraid of confronting the reality of a sex life for myself.

Now, I realized all this a few months ago, but it wasn’t until I started taking the Queer Theory class here (thank god for Prof. Doug Steward) that I began to have some language for what I was stuggling with. We’re reading Michael Warner’s The Trouble with Normal now, and I’m understanding how harmful the assimilationist strategies of the conservative arm of the gay community can be. Through his writing, I can now see the scary irony of taking sex out of the discussion when discussing queer politics. That’s what brings the various constituents of the gay community together and without it there is nothing to hold us together. Warner asks us to reject the shame that dominant culture tries to place on us by discussing and embracing our sexual identities and the sexual acts that shade them. He asks us also to reject what mainstream America has defined as “normal” — scientific study and averages of a norm (like sexual activity) should not then be extended to create a moralistic normative.

I’ve been itching to explore my sexuality and the obvious answer would seem to be a forum like this, which I’ve been using for almost a year and a half and which affords interaction and feedback from readers. But I hesitate. The inclusion of a sexual identity based on some act or wish is something I’ve consciously and unconsciously tried to supress in this blog — I post links to gay stories and link other gay blogs, but I haven’t represented my own base gay feelings. I’m afraid of scaring people off. I’ve become too used to the acceptance I think I must be getting from the straight world. I’m letting the dominant culture shame me into not representing the entire picture of myself.

I’ve toyed around with the idea of creating a secret weblog that I would only invite certain people to see — or creating a new weblog under a secret identity. Neither solution seems appropriate. I think what I must face up to is that if I am going to develop a mature and healthy viewpoint on sexuality and my own sexual identity, I must be willing to discuss it openly and integrate it into my personal conception of myself.

And if certain people don’t want to read this weblog anymore, it’s their problem.

7 responses so far (Respond)

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Matt,

I think this is a brave stance you’re taking, or maybe more like a brave journey that you’re embarking on. I suspect that anyone who would have a problem with the content of your site would have one whether you write about your sexual identity or not.

Of course, I don’t write about sex all that much on my site, so what can I say? I’m on the sidelines here. Reading your journal entry is making me rethink that. Why can’t I write about sex, as a part of my life, on my blog?

Bill | 24 Jan 2001
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I’m happy for you, Matt, seems like this is a big step for you to take. Honestly, I don’t talk about sex on my blog mostly because I know my dad reads it… 🙂
Makes me wonder what that says about me. Nice to have you as an impetus for me to challenge myself. Thanks!

Anil Dash | 24 Jan 2001
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Eek! I’m never coming back! Just kidding. I was as hesitant in revealing anything about myself sexually in my online writings. At first, anyway.

The first three online journals by other gay males I read were Jon Jon, Queerscribe, and Donny of Notahilbilly, and while their influence may not be directly visible on my writing, their candor has broken down a lot of those inhibitions. In six months, I’ve gone from meekly muttering that I um… *like* someone to declaring that I want to ride Joey Fatone’s face like a fucking hobbyhorse.

It’s really a matter of what you let yourself say rather than what others will let you say.

Mr. Plutonium | 24 Jan 2001
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Oooh… well I am most excited about this new point-of-view, Matt! Does this mean we can cross-blog about cute guys now? 😉

Steve G | 24 Jan 2001
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Matt,

QueerScribe and I are planning a discussion/dissection/debate of The Trouble With Normal in our on-line journals. Maybe you and others might wish to join in. QS picked up a copy of the book on his trip to Montreal and I am awaiting delivery from Amazon. We and others had a running discussion about the benefit/harm of the wilder side of gay life and gays in society back in December and early January and this is kind of a logical extension. It could be interesting.

Also, thanks for the review on Maupin’s book. It is another I want to read.

Tim

Tim | 25 Jan 2001
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Wow, Matt, what a powerful entry! I’m excited for you, eh? My experience over on Queer Scribbles is that most of my readers (gay *and* straight) appreciate the candor with which I try to write about these issues. I expect you will find the same.

As Tim mentioned, he and I are going to read THE TROUBLE WITH NORMAL “together” and talk about our responses in our journals; your comments on this book make me that much more eager to delve into it!

All the best, SEXY Matt! 🙂

Hugs
QS

Queerscribe | 26 Jan 2001
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You know, I, too, was inspired by Michael Warner’s The Trouble with Normal. Just thought I’d add (though Warner somewhat slams it in his book), Urvashi Vaid’s work in Virtual Equality about the mainstreaming of gay liberation movements.

Paul the Duck | 27 Jan 2001