University of Wisconsin Press, $24.95, ISBN 0-299-15084-4
This review originally appeared on The Naughty Bits, which is sadly no longer around. It’s now here with Teddypig’s permission.
Today’s topic is fetishizing “straight boy sexual encounters” mixed with gay porn and calling into question gay men and their self image issues. Anyone who has seen me commenting on other people’s blogs lately probably has picked up that I find the whole topic to be old hat and actually sorta (how shall I say this nicely?) much to do about loathing.
The problems I find with those blogging on this topic are simply that they do not have enough of a background in porn to even begin to have an honest and intelligent discussion on the matter. Sorry, but as a professor in college once told me, when cherry picking your arguments, get to know the orchard you are standing in. In other words, where are the bloggers who have been blogging gay porn since I first ventured into gay bloggers blogging? People like BJ and his wonderful gay vintage porn blog and whom is someone I consider to be an expert on the subject. Someone namely who has an opinion I would respect when talking about this, that is if you wanted to use porn as a foundation for the topic of your discussion.
See, to me it seems almost dishonest to pick out gay porn and that subset in particular dealing with “straight men doing gay things” as the real issue when it’s quite obvious to me at least where the whole discussion came to a head and that would most likely be over the love story involved in Brokeback Mountain and how faddish the gay media has been in describing it as the first “gay romance” movie.
The first “gay romance”? I think not, I did not think so and to hell if I think so after seeing the movie either. First “tragic gay angst” perhaps, because let’s face it, they never got past the sex to actually have the boring part of any real relationship that entails living together and waking up to each other every single fucking day and weathering out the tossing and turning of simply being together and dealing with the big issues of commitment, communication and compromise and change and…
You get the picture?
It was tragic because it was a realistic depiction of a relationship in denial of what it was and what it meant to the characters involved. Much like Jeff Stryker and a lot of men I have met while growing up. I once worked on a loading dock in East San Jose. While working there, I was a known fag who was also the boss’s son – my dad got me the job just outta high school. Anyway, there was this biker guy who worked there… let’s see if I can describe him appropriately. Vietnam Vet type with scraggly hair and full beard with a Harley and an ever present scrawny blonde chick in a tube top riding “bitch”. I think that gives the appropriate picture. Anywho, we became sorta friends and used to come over to each others stations and talk every so often. Then one day we decided to go for drinks at the local truck drivers bar and proceeded to get trashed. While walking back to our cars behind the bar in the dark gravel strewn back lot he pulled me into a corner and proceeded to deep throat me like no tomorrow. Let’s see, Hell’s Angel type, messy kisser, big burly bear, biker guy, and this was back in the Castro Clone years… Well one thing lead to another and back at my place we rolled around on the living room carpet because we could not even wait to go upstairs to the bedroom and pull each others clothes off in a drunken brawl of hard cocks and sweaty male lust.
He then threw his legs up in the air and, in the most disappointing moment in my entire sex life, he grunted “fuck me”. Sigh.
The fact is, real life tends to be like that and using fantasies like porn or over hyped movies to provide a foundation for social commentary is tricky at best. Most adults understand the difference between fantasy, even sexual fantasy and reality and have the experience to discern these things. I’d stick with real stories like those found in this book Farm Boys: Lives of Gay Men from the Rural Midwest. It’s not always totally depressing but with true story after true story – about 30 or so individuals give full stories of their lives – well, it comes pretty damn close while showing you everything, from child abuse to ex-gay Christian ministry victims. Hey, there’s even a story by some guy who REALLY loved his barnyard animals; oh yeah cringe inducing material is to be had. All real and valid stories from the heartland. It also shows men surviving the loneliness and isolation and becoming more accepting of themselves and their lives and even enjoying their rural existence and thats the few good parts. Give it a spin so you can have a reference when looking at Brokeback Mountain and doing so in an honest way. Brokeback Mountain is damn good writing, but in being damn good fiction it had to have drama and conflict and the writer is straight so she chose what she chose after the whole Matthew Shepard murder hit Wyoming. But… If you are looking for The Desert of the Real I suggest reading this one for that.