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Hey, Faggot:

Why does gay life suck so much? Irregardless of AIDSphobia, homophobia, or whatever, gay men treat each other, mostly, as fantasy sex objects (I too). I've been having sex with men exclusively since I was 17. Although I've always dreamt of romance with Mr. Stud Muffin (kissing me, holding me in his muscular arms, with his wonderful, muscular legs wrapped around me), I have nearly always taken cheap sex in lieu of depression and loneliness, which only leads to more emptiness.

At the ripe old age of 37, I'm ready to call it quits. Maybe two men, no matter how "hot" or "horny" they may be for each other, just aren't meant to be together for more than a few cheap, sexual encounters. I go to the baths, I even worked in one for a month a year or so ago (disgusting: dealing with sheets filled with shit, blood, and who knows what). Yes, hot sex scenes can be fun, but lonely, lonely, lonely after you've shot your load, pulled out, wiped off, and said, "Thanks, pardner!"

Where is the love? Lasting love? True love? Why must gay life be so lonely, bitter, alcoholic, drug addicted, back stabbing? Why can't we band together as gay men and promote "relationships" and love as the ideal, not just firm butts and large cocks? In between all your anatomical descriptions of the g-spot and eating out butthole, talk a little about how fucked up gay life so often is for gay men.

--Peter

Hey, Peter:

Let's get the important stuff out of the way first: it's "regardless," not "irregardless."

On to your question: Why does gay life suck? Gee, that's rather broad. My gay life doesn't suck. My friend Kevin, his life is pretty OK. And Dave, he's having a grand time. And even my boyfriend, lil' Terry, seems content. So the question really isn't "Why does gay life suck?" but rather "Why does your gay life suck?" Not "What's wrong with gay men?" but "What's wrong with you?"

Yes, there are lots of fucked-up gay men in the world. On average, we drink more, smoke more, take more drugs, and fuck more than straight people do. Sometimes for the right reasons: coming out can put us in touch with our desires in a positive, freeing way, resulting in our being more socially and sexually adventurous to the benefit of all mankind. But lots of gay men do these things for the wrong reasons: they're out there trying to destroy themselves and others with drugs, booze, sex, cigs, and bad attitudes. Growing up gay in a homophobic world can be a wildly traumatic experience. A gay man rejected by his family, taught to hate himself by his church, abandoned by his friends--he may grow up and act out on that self-hatred, taking it out on his lovers and his "community." But please note: gay people don't fuck up gay people, straight people do. We are who we are because straight people make us this way. We don't raise ourselves.

Add this to the mix: the fact that gay men are, first and foremost, men, suffering from the same "intimacy issue/fear of commitment" bullshit that plagues our breeder brothers; the not-so-tender mercies of the AIDS crisis; the never-ending slander and assaults on gay people's rather limited rights by the Pat Robertsons of this world--and it's a wonder gay men can get out of bed in the morning, let alone form lasting, loving, healthy relationships.

But: whatever abuse we may suffer as children or be forced to endure as adults does not excuse us from taking responsibility for ourselves and our actions. Whatever (forgive me) self-esteem issues (zzzzz) a guy may be struggling with does not excuse his treating other men like shit, spreading HIV, drinking too much, etc, etc. So, yes, lots of gay men are damaged goods. The trick is to (a) make sure you're not damaged goods yourself, or if you are, to get some help, and (b) avoid gay men who are damaged goods and aren't getting help.

Now, some practical tips. Gay life, like straight life, is a series of what? Of choices, snack tray. You make choices about your priorities, your friends, what "scene" you attach yourself to, etc, etc, etc. If your gay life is a miserable one, it's probably because you're making--what? Bad choices.

From reading your letter, it's pretty clear that you've been looking for love in all the wrong places. You will never meet husband material in a bathhouse. Gay bathhouses are whorehouses, differing from the hetero variety only in that ours are entirely staffed by volunteers. A straight guy looking for a wife in a whorehouse isn't going to have much luck. Not that there aren't any quality women in whorehouses--there are--but they're not there looking for husbands. And you shouldn't be looking for husbands in whorehouses either.

Additionally, you sound like one of those guys who complain about not being able to find a lover when the real problem is that you can't find a lover who looks like Brad Pitt or Cougar Cash. Fantasy boyfriends are often just that. Here's where we can borrow a page from the breeder playbook: average-looking straight people usually settle down with other average-looking straight people.

If settling down is important to you, you're going to have to do a little settling for. No two people are perfect for each other; long-term relationships are a series of tensely negotiated truces. If you can't hack it, get thee to a bathhouse, go! But on your way to the tubs, don't call into question the ability of the rest of the gay men in the world to truly love each other just because you're sexually and socially stunted. And don't have higher expectations of the gay community than you would of any other community. I am sick to fucking death of listening to guys complain about the gay "community" not being a real community because they can't find a lover, or they don't do well at the baths, or they were mistreated by someone or other who happens to be gay. Does everyone in the deaf "community" love each other unreservedly? How about the IV-drug-using "community"? Does the entire Jewish "community" get along? Of course not! The gay community is not a birthday party being thrown for you by your mother. The community is not responsible for making you happy, making you feel welcome, or finding you a boyfriend. That's your job. The gay community is an opportunity, a space you can visit or live in. In this hard-won space, you can find potential friends and lovers--and plenty of enemies and assholes. But it's all up to you.

Finally, the community cannot collectively decide to "promote 'relationships' and love as the ideal, not just firm butts and large cocks." You are perfectly free, however, to promote those values in your own life. Nor can the community "band together" as a whole--it's too large, we're too diverse. We don't all like or agree with each other, and we shouldn't have to--fate, not choice, has thrown us together.

Even if the blessed day comes when gay people are not abused or oppressed, there will still be plenty of fucked-up gay men in the world, just as there are fucked-up people everywhere--gay, straight, whatever. You are perfectly free, however, to band together with other individual gay men you do like, form your own nurturing, loving circle of friends, and change your own life for the better. Good luck.

Send questions to Savage Love, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611.

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