When I want to connet to "gay culture," I always pick up lesbian magazines. I don't read publications like OUT, where page after page consists of full-page photographs of six packs and bulging pecs and perfectly molded hair. I visit political and social events rather than dance clubs where half-naked men are rubbing against each other, toned bodies appearing perfect in the dim, angled light. I hate websites like connexion.org where hundreds of profiles consist of unnatural and self-posed bodies, heads cut off, looking as ideal as possible in the glow of yellowed bathroom incandescent lightbulbs.
It's not that I identify more with lesbians or refuse to associate with gay men. It's not that I don't think dance clubs can be fun or that there is no value in the ideal human form. It's not that I am a monogamy-only puritan who loathes sexual adventure or nudity. To the contrary, I am as sexually liberal as reason permits and believe that any consensual, safe encounter is wholesome. And it isn't that I have a problem with porn. I love porn. Porn is about having something to do when you're lonely, it's raw and dirty and isn't trying to say something.
Advertisements and profiles clearly have a message. They're asking you to do something, besides jack off in front of a computer screen. And I ask myself, what is that advertisement really saying with that picture, and what are the boys in the dance club really doing when they prance around with their chests out and oogle at each others' crotches? What is the nineteen year old really trying to say when his profile picture consists of a bare chest, low-rise jeans, flexed abs and no face?
When I see those stunning bodies spread across the page, dopamine triggers fire in my brain and my heart quickens. Whether or not I am physically aroused, my mental stimulation kicks up a notch and I enjoy what I see. But the problem is that the overriding feeling I get is not lust or joy, but JEALOUSY.
My body doesn't look like any of those images on that page. I'll never look like that, and I'll never have anyone who looks like that. Hell, the models don't even look like the the images on the page. Sometimes I think, if only I worked out more, ate more protein, I would look that good. That's how powerful the message is - it makes me want to change my entire lifestyle for something absolutely meaningless in the end. This is how we all feel, so we all, in our angst, try so hard to replicate in ourselves and our partners what we see in the impossible forms in gay male media.
So back to the question: when an entire magazine consists of images of only the most glossy, muscular, and romantacized men, and when boys pose themselves like mannequins on personal websites, what are they really trying to say?
I'm seeing someone right now, and he's not perfect. When I saw him the first time I didn't think to myself shit, look at that bulge. (I would have been intimidated if I had.) When I run my hands across his body I don't feel ripping, sinewy flesh or perfectly waxy skin. But I can say with utter certainly that I am every bit as attracted to him as I am to those images, and it isn't because of what he is but the because of the way I know him. He makes me smile. He makes me sweat. I look into his big blue eyes and he's gorgeous, and his smile melts me. He is as perfect as anything I could ever ask for and I feel no need to think of any more "ideal" form when I am with him. Why pollute my mind browsing through images of what I can never have, when there is something so goddamn beautiful in front of me? Why pollute my mind with something that gives me initial gratification and desire but ultimate unhappiness?
So I look through lesbian magazines to see what's going on. Somehow, women understand something that men don't, probably because they've been objectified for thousands of years while men are only beginning to experience the phoenomenon. Lesbian magazines show real, normal, beautiful women and don't say "this is what you should have." I see no point in looking for the perfect sex encounter when I'll have the perfect person sleeping next to me tonight.