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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Gay men


As we were leaving Club Med Cancun yesterday, we found out that an organization called Atlantis Gay Vacations had booked the entire resort for the next week. We had to leave our room by 11AM, so I hung out for the next hour and a half in the reception area, the only area with wifi internet access.

By this point the gay men were coming in by the busload. You certainly can't blame them for wanting their own exclusively gay vacation destinations, where they can frolic to their hearts' content away from the disapproving glances of straight people, many of whom regard them as freaks.

What struck me yesterday was how freakish many of them actually are. I believe in most of the tenets of the gay liberation movement, first and foremost their right to marry each other. But I also will not shy away from describing them honestly.

The gay men seemed to come in four main flavors. The first was faux macho: many of these guys were obviously on steroids and spent a lot of their spare time in the weight room. But they were often disproportionate, with huge upper bodies perched on scrawny little legs. You could tell they'd never really been athletes; they were just guys with pumped up muscles. Many of these guys sported tattoos and crew cuts or even shaved heads. If you looked closely you'd never mistake any of them for Navy Seals, though that seemed to be the look they were striving for.

Or perhaps they saw themselves as pirates -- who might be captured by the Seals, who would then hold them captive and subject them to unspeakable indignities.

A few of the men were sad sack Nathan Lane-types, with depressed but clownish eyes. These guys, often referred to as "bears" within the community, would never be featured in an ad such as the one above.

The third flavor might be described as "extremely helpful." It's impossible not to find these guys pleasant to be around. They're always cheerful, always polite, always friendly, and always understanding. While they tend to be a little effeminate, they're not drama queens or weird like transvestites. They're just....nice. They remind me of the vivacious hostess at a suburban party who's always making sure everyone is comfortable and has a fresh drink: a little phony maybe, but hard not to like.

The fourth flavor was the type who originally inspired the word "queer" as a description of gay men: they looked as if they had just sucked on a lemon, and had found it far too sour for their finicky palates.

But a lot of the men also seemed to show why homosexuals adopted the preferred term "gay" around forty years ago: there was an air of festive excitement in the reception room that day which definitely outdid the atmosphere surrounding the arrival of the straight newcomers to the club the previous week. Watching them greet each other giddily, one couldn't help but get the impression that being gay is basically a nonstop party.

Many of the men seemed to have a similar fashion sense. (Note to self: throw away all v-neck t-shirts and diamond stud earrings.)

There were a few men who didn't fit into any of the above categories. One guy had very thick and well-kept blond hair all the way down to his lower back. He was actually extraordinarily good-looking, if you could get past the ridiculous hairdo. (Was he an off-duty drag queen?)

Another guy had a bushy blond beard and strong features. He wore a white t-shirt and Bermuda shorts, and was more straight-looking than most straight guys. (If he and I were standing together, somebody might be tempted to ask him, "What are you doing with that faggot?") He resembled a healthy Viking looking for a Scottish village to sack (and Scottish maidens to rape), which made it all the more cringe-inducing when he greeted all his friends by kissing them full on the lips.

It was surprising how many of them came as couples. You'd think they'd have had more of the original (1970's) Club Med spirit, the attitude that they were coming to the tropics for a week of nonstop semi-anonymous debauchery. (I must confess to a sense of relief that we stayed there the week before them, and not the week after.)

After spending an hour in the reception room, I went with my son to lunch. (My wife and daughter had gone for one last ocean swim and were going to join us in a bit.) The Club Med maitre'd put us in the large dining room. The room slowly filled, and all of the other diners seemed to be gay. It seemed that we were one of the last families there. My son shook his head and said, in a low voice, "After we leave God really should rain hellfire and brimstone down on this place."

He was kidding. Sorta.

But then when I went to get seconds at the buffet, and saw all the families in another room, I realized what had happened: the maitre'd had mistaken my son and me for a gay couple.

I guess I look more like Johnny's "uncle" than his father.

I found this funny. But when I got back to the table and explained this to my son, he didn't seem to see the humor.

There is really no word in the dictionary to describe his reaction. "Revulsion" doesn't quite do it justice.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Do they wax, laser or shave??

John Craig said...

I have to admit, I can't really talk there; as a swimmer, I shave.

Anonymous said...

Having looked at a number of your posts, John, it seems to me that you are very interested in men, their bodies, and their sexuality. Over and above your clear bigotry toward gay folk exhibited in this post, I seen a strong desire on your part to become more involved in the gay world. I encourage you to stop hiding your desires and just be the person you truly want to be.

John Craig said...

Anon --
I would, but I just don't have the courage. Can you help me?

Steven said...

I once checked into a hotel with my dad in Munich and the receptionist asked if we wanted a double bed.

I was more disturbed when I was flicking through the tv channels late at night and I went past some naked women dancing or something and my dad told me to put it back on. "Dad! I'm not watching porn with you."

John Craig said...

Steven --
Ha! Very funny.

Yes, for some reason a parent's sexuality always seems grotesque.

Anonymous said...

When I was a kid, almost every summer, I would go with others (family, boss and co-workers, etc.) to Provincetown, MA. I had the opportunity to see gays there, being fascinated by them, feeling like you were in another world. We walked down the streets, shopping, seeing all these men and women who had such non-traditional lifestyles, the men and women having definite "looks" to them. It was fascinating, interesting...

-birdie

John Craig said...

Birdie --
Your reaction is the natural one: not hatred, but simply fascination with people who are different.

Anonymous said...

The only time any of us would see a large number of gays was when we took a day trip to Provincetown, MA (to shop). A person could see different "types" of gays - their clothing, their appearances, their mannerisms - just fascinating... At the end of the day, we would go back to our homes, to our traditional, conventional lives.

-birdie

John Craig said...

Birdie --
In an atmosphere like that they're not trying to hide their true nature, either, in fact I get the impression that some of them even try to exaggerate it.

I know what you mean, it's a little like going to Disneyworld, or a foreign country which hasn't been Westernized, or Oz, or….someplace.

I actually think that a lot of the psychological problems gays have had in the past has come from having had to lead double lives; I'm glad for their sake that they're allowed to be more open about themselves now.

Anonymous said...

This was back in the 1980's. Provincetown was where the gays lived, worked, etc. We would go shopping, seeing the different people on the streets as we walked along. It would be hard to lead a double life. I prefer that people be themselves, who they are. You're right - it is good that they have the freedom to be more open these days, living as they choose to.

John Craig said...

Birdie --
I went to Truro for a weekend in 1976, but didn't see any of that. One town over, I guess everything was still Kansas and not Oz.

I do remember walking around San Francisco in 1974 and having that same feeling, that I was in an alien place. Not bad alien, just weird alien.

arthur thurman said...

That is the problem I have with the new gay movement that has swept the country over the last ten years. Growing up with a gay sibling (figured it out at 15 yrs old that my sister was gay) and being understanding of that, I have a serious problem how it is presented now. The community never wanted to be like the straights. They have a 'lifestyle" and that was fine. You should be able to live your lifestyle. My problem and many gays and lesbians that I have talked to is when then wanted the lifestyle to be shoved in everyone's faces.

John Craig said...

Arthur --
I honestly don't consider that Club Med "gay week" to be shoving their lifestyle in peoples' faces, they were actually sot of doing the opposite by having their own separate week at Club Med; we just happened to overlap for half a day as they were arriving.

I agree with you that they ought to be left alone to do as they please but that it's wherever political correctness rears its ugly head that problems arise. Back in the 80's and 90's ACT UP insisted that we not test people for the AIDS virus before issuing health insurance, otherwise is was prejudice. (Why not test for AIDS when every other pre-existing condition was tested for?) And now, we're not supposed to notice differences like the ones I described in this post, which is equally ridiculous. Whenever people demand willful blindness or willful obtuseness on your part, something is very wrong.

adogaholic said...

OMG. You are an A-1 asshat. Your level of fucktardedness is truly amazing to behold. I'm going to forward this to all of my lovely Big Gay Bears---they love to see endangered species in the wild :) At some point you will be extinct and the world will be a much better place for it. This won't make it to your blog, but I hope you read it and know that for your 1, there are THOUSANDS that aren't so, um...You.

John Craig said...

Adogaholic --
You argue like a perfect liberal, purely at the level of personal insult. Please, tell me where I was wrong in my description of the men that I saw that day.

John Craig said...

PS --
Adogaholic -- Not only did I post your comment, today I've written an entirely new post, devoted entirely to it.

Anonymous said...

Where did your son learn to say such ugly things?

John Craig said...

Anon --
Other than the hellfire and brimstone comment, which was made for humorous effect, it's all just straightforward observation. Where did you learn that the truth is ugly?