When one thinks of bulimia, most people associate the female gender with this disorder. Of course, bulimia is not gender specific. But, given the nature of this disorder and that gay men tend to be more concerned with self-image and appearance than the typical straight guy, they are more likely to be susceptible to it.
1998 was a year of great change in my life. I had been living in Canada for 5 years, and had never lived anywhere other than with my parents and brothers. That year, my parents decided that they were going to move back to South Africa. I was in the middle of my degree, and decided that I should stay and finish it. Both my brothers went back with my parents. I moved into an apartment by myself and was alone for the first time. I don’t really remember specifically what the trigger was: it was probably a combination of factors. But, I became obsessed with my body and what I ate.
I know the news about Ricky Martin coming out is already old. After he came out I kept reading a lot of articles speculating that his career was going down hill, specially as a Latin star. As a Latin myself, I was quite content to see that someone like Martin came out. In my opinion this might help to stop ridiculous stereotypes and clichés.
However, that is not the point of my article. What triggered my curiosity is to know how much celebrities benefit from coming out vs. professionals or every day people.
The celebrities I will mention are not in order of importance or chronological order of them coming out; they are just a few examples of how they somehow benefited from coming out.
Attention Edmonton gays! There is a new club in town and its ready to make its mark as ‘Edmonton’s Hottest Gay Club’. I had the privilege of attending the opening last night and got a chance to speak to the owners. Here’s my two cents.
Flash Night Club is located in downtown Edmonton at 10018 105th St, just south of Jasper Avenue. This venue used to be an after-hours club titled Twilight before new management bought the property only a short two weeks ago. Flash will be Edmonton’s 4th Gay “nite club” joining the ranks of Prism (Primarily Lesbian), Play and Buddy’s.
I spoke to both Simon and Jeannine (managers and owners) who were busy mingling with the crowd. Both were so excited to see the house packed. Simon told me that this was such a quick flip and was even applying finishing touches up until 2 hours prior to opening. With only one week of promotion, the small but open club was filled with wall to wall excitement as the DJ played remixes of golden oldies and new faves.
Me: “Uhm, I’m sorry?”
Guy: “Ya, you hang with the ‘tight shirt, hot body’ crew”
(Cough – he just said I was skinny, marry me! – cough)
Me: “Oh… uh, thank you?” (All the while, thinking to myself, “since when did being gay involve a social hierarchy?)
If you’ve seen Mean Girls (and hopefully all of you gays have, if not, gimme your gay card) then you’re familiar with the scene where Janice draws out the social map of North Shore High. Let me refresh your memory, “You’ve got your JV Jocks, Varsity Jocks, Sexually Overactive Band Geeks, Cool Asians, the best people you’ll ever meet and the worst. Beware of the plastics.” So this is all-good in a movie plot, in Jr High, definitely HS and occasionally creeps up in the college (university for you Northerners) years. But where is the line drawn when we can drop those titles and just be who we are with the friends we have? As much as I love Regina George, I’m not sure I want to be considered a “plastic.”
Now, us gays love to put titles on the types of guys in our community, anything from bears, to jocks and daddies to twinks. But these titles, at least for me, don’t carry any sort of social status, so when someone told me that I was included in what they considered the “A-Gays,” I was intrigued. When I asked him to explain what he meant, he just said that he had always noticed my group of friends, myself included, as the people who always dressed in the latest trends, always had worked-out bodies (who me? HA), were generally very attractive, were always laughing and looking like we have the times of our lives and so on and so on. On the one hand, I was flattered that someone had noticed things like that, but on the other hand, I was confused.
So sitting at dinner in Palm Springs a few weeks ago with a group of guys we like to refer to as the “A-Gays” – defined as the smart, sophisticated, classy gays, haha. There was all of these amazing, intellectual conversations going on about Prop 8 and gay marriage and politics and all sorts of things that were way over my head – being a 23 year old gay from a small town without much of a strong view on any political topic. All of these discussions I found fascinating and for the first time left me thinking for the first time, “how can I help people see gays in a more positive light?” or “what can I do to contribute?”.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, we definitely have it better than any gay man 20 years ago and being gay is so much more accepted now days, even kind of trendy (See Glee, modern family, etc). That being said, we do have a long way to go to reach true equality, with Prop 8 just being turned down and people still being killed for being gay in some parts of the world (Won’t be rushing off to Saudi Arabia anytime soon!)
Young or old. Black or white. Short or tall. Fat or skinny. Big or little. Republican or democrat. Rich or poor. Jewish or Christian. Gay or straight …. This is America, and here, everything and everyone has a label.
Sure, there are in-betweens, maybe you’re not a Democrat or a Republican, maybe you’re multi-racial or Muslim or Mormon or Atheist. But we prefer things in, well, black and white. We like simple answers and concise labels. You are one or the other, and when you try to change a practice so customary to our way of life, well then things just get messy, conflicted, and downright tumultuous. Labeling, which most certainly dates back to the Paleolithic Era when you were either hunter (ancestors of moi) or gatherers, (the earliest PETA members), has evolved in such a way that we not only want to be label the world around us, but we ourselves want labels. Your mother is white and your father is black? Hurry, you better choose a race to identify with. Pick a color people. Mom’s a Jew and dad’s a non-believer? Do you want Bar Mitzvah money or not? You don’t get a dime from Uncle Saul if you turn thirteen and sprout your first non-believing pube too dangerously close to that dirty goyim foreskin.
Here in America we are one or the other, with very, very little room for gray area. I will now confess my exasperatingly mountainous dilemma … I am, if we are to toss out a label- a bisexual woman; not because I consider myself bisexual, but because that’s the only acceptable label for what I am. I am not just any equal opportunity lover, I am a woman with no past interest, attraction to, or experience with any other women aside from my current, only and first-ever girlfriend. Without her I can honestly say I would not be with another woman. As unbelievable as this seems, she is literally the only girl for me. Since I really cannot afford either therapy or a drug habit, I am stuck dealing with this delicate situation by choking down a near-lethal combination of the following:
Since I’m being such an open book here, I’ll be frank when I tell you; I have generally chosen option C as my go-to. Still, I feel like all I do is explain. Explain. Explain. People don’t get it. People who have known me since that age when sex was a dirty deed that none of us actually understood or ever, ever wanted to have any part of are now lumping me into lesbian world. Sure, some of my friends dress like total dykes but dare I leave the house in a Polo all hell breaks loose and I’m a one-woman pride parade. My love of baseball was never a problem until I started sleeping with a girl, who, by the way, couldn’t be less interested in sports. If I don’t know some stupid sexual term my friends use, they laugh that it’s because apparently I eat too much box, and I’m also supposed to have answers to every lesbian question they can muster up.
Okay…so I’ve been out now for about a little over a year now. Until this day, people can either instantly tell that I am gay upon meeting me (excellent gaydar), but then there are the people who have no idea until I tell them (terrible gaydar). Even when I was “straight” people would still ask me if I was gay and others wouldn’t know a thing. All of us gays are blessed with a “gaydar” because after all they are our own kind.
Usually, after I become somewhat close to a person and they haven’t ask me about my sexual orientation, I will just flat out say it or make comment like “That guy is really cute.” That was the exact situation with one of my really good new friends. At first, she thought I was trying to play some kind of joke on her. But seriously, what kind of straight guy would try and pretend they’re gay? This is a prime example of a girl was a terrible “gaydar”.
Now, I am proud of being gay, so when people can’t tell, I am somewhat disappointed. When i let new people into my life and they don’t know I am gay, I ask them why they didn’t think that. They respond with various reasons like “you don’t walk like you’re gay” or “you don’t talk like you’re gay.” These are very common stereotypes that I receive from people. Not ALL gay people have to act a certain way. We are just normal people who were born this way and I don’t think a lot of people are educated of that.
Words cannot adequately describe the experience of attending the Coachella Music and Arts Festival, but this is a blog so words will have to suffice, and I will just have to hope that you have enough jealousy and empathy to try and put yourself if my now dirty as hell white shoes so that you can try and feel what I am describing.
We arrived to Palm Springs and after a few u-turns and a pit stop to pick up some beer and snacks for the next three days [and some Panda Express – OMG I. DIE. I haven’t had that forever], we headed off into the desert towards Indio, “Rude Boy” blaring and windows down. The 90 degree weather was a welcome change from the slow-coming Spring that Seattle had to offer. The sea of cars that awaited us at the car-inspection check point was only the beginning. Hundreds of cars would soon turn into thousands, and they would keep filing into the fields of the Empire Polo Club where the festival has been held since its inception 11 years ago [and now for the next decade with a new deal signed between the Polo Club and Golden Voice Promotions, the parent company that puts on Coachella and a few other festivals and concerts around the country].
Coming in to the field and setting up shop with your tent, you could feel the energy pulsing through the masses. You were now a part of something truly special, something that, at the time, you felt would connect you personally to each and every person there for all time. This feeling was sealed with my new Coachella 2010 bracelet given to me by one of our awesome self-proclaimed hippie kid neighbors from Ventura. As the cars came piling in, a tent at the far end of the 90 acre polo field lit up with DJ’s until 3 am, setting off a dance party to really give a hard kick to the weekend ahead of us.