“If you’re going to be in my apartment, there won’t be any screaming like a girl.” This statement by my roommate to his best guy friend who screamed in the key of Mariah Carey sharp was admittedly funny — fucking hilarious — but also a cause for reflection. In elementary school, perhaps 4th grade, my music teacher — the chillest closet pothead mom ever — once overheard another student picking on a boy with a soprano voice. Before putting the hater in time out, she said, “He doesn’t sing like a girl — he sings like a child.” I always remembered that. At present, if a girl screamed in our apartment, is she then banished? What’s wrong with a man screaming like a girl? Why does the tone of ones voice, or their bone structure, the clothes they wear, their sexual activities, etc. all need to be thrown into a binary of this/that — his/hers — male/female? AND, on what basis can one group validate their reason to demean the other?
In recent months, Caitlyn Jenner, Kitana Kiki Rodriguez of the film Tangerine (the sexual contents of which Neflix describes as “strong and disturbing”), Jaden Smith’s womenswear campaign for Louis Vuitton, and the documented, heart-breaking murders of India Clarke, Zella Ziona, Elisha Walker, and the 18 other transgender women in 2015 have brought the concept of gender fluidity to the masses. There was a time, not long ago, when I would try to categorize a beautiful woman with broad shoulders walking toward me on the street. If a straight man seemed to know a little too much about Sex and the City, I’d exhaust myself trying to pull him out of the closet in which I locked him. Categorization is a natural process of the human psyche. It allows us to understand the role something or someone plays in our environment to therefore feel comfortable in that environment. Contrarily, categorization also causes emotional and physical anxiety, hatred toward an entity which differs from us, violence, and death when it is used selfishly. Determining whether or not someone is queer or transgender in an attempt to understand their life experiences is much different than asking, “what are you?” in order to put someone in a transgender, effeminate, sinful, unfuckable box.
While attending a friend’s recent get-together to watch the VMAs, a bowl set atop his coffee table became very popular amongst the group (of all gay men). It contained a handful of rubbery, slip-on fingers with bright red-painted nails that you win in an arcade. As they slipped the prizes on their fingers, their reactions were expected: daintily touching their pursed lips, dramatic batting of eyelashes, and the signature exclamation, “Oooh, girl!” I couldn’t help but overthink their reactions. In the past, a number of these men playing dress-up expressed the type of man they prefer (either as a long-term or 4am partner): “muscular and masculine.” As a man whose nails are always painted and whose closet is 90% fem, imagine my disdain at the thought of people I love deeming me sexually unattractive while fostering mockery of what they believe it means to be a man with painted nails.
A few months prior, I found myself inebriated in my bed with someone for whom I once had really strong feelings. As we made out — passionately and less sloppily than expected — he began positioning my body to fuck me. Having topped exclusively since 2008 (I tried bottoming a few times in high school and HATED it), my defense mechanism kicked in: “I’m not a bottom…I haven’t tried in a really long time.” We instantly stopped kissing…his reaction was as if I took my nails and clawed his dick off in one slashing motion. He says, “…what? I can’t believe you’re saying this now. You come off as sexually fluid! Like, one of the reasons I’m attracted to you is how you carry yourself…why would you tell me that?” Long story short, he and I only speak to each other on Grindr at 4am to flirt and pretend one is going to Uber to the other. Despite his complete misunderstanding of who I am, as well as his inability to communicate or accept a man who looks like a bottom but isn’t a bottom, I don’t hate him. That awkward instance was the first time someone expressed what I know a lot of gay men feel towards someone who looks like me.
Any time I reference Alfred Kinsey’s revolutionary Heterosexual-Homosexual rating scale, people drone on and on about how simple-minded and dated it is. “Sexuality is actually on a spectrum…” they say. While I agree that sexuality today is influenced by many factors once unheard of during the scale’s inception in 1948, it’s interesting to note how gay men today still choose their partners based on binaries: masculine vs. feminine, top vs. bottom, etc. As a devout top my entire life, I recently decided to (literally) open-up and purchase my first dildo from my talented, glassblowing friend (bless his heterosexual heart…he sat on my couch and collaborated with me for over an hour as I rummaged through his collection and talked about my sexual history and the importance of this purchase.) While I am in no way a power-bottom (yet) after one stab, I no longer want to limit myself to one end of any particular spectrum or binary. There’s nothing quite like cabbing home from Queen at Smart Bar as the sun is coming up, groping and pushing a man upstairs, taking his clothes off, and learning he, too, is strictly a top. NEVER. AGAIN.
Fluidity in life, whether it’s with the type of food you eat, the brands you buy, the drugs you consume, or with whom you lie in bed, progresses and develops as you get older. Or, that’s the hope, any way. As much as people over 30 seem to place a deep or intimate relationship on a higher pedestal than looks alone, I’m fatigued by the number of mature adults who scream “EQUALITY!” but only top white boys with no body hair. If you consistently date someone who looks exactly like you —or, if you can line up pictures of the different people you’ve dated in front of a stranger and he or she can’t tell them apart — TRY BEING WITH SOMEONE WHO LOOKS TOTALLY DIFFERENT THAN YOUR NORM. People don’t love you until you love yourself. And, since your thoughts, intellect, interests, tastes, etc. all change with age and time and experience, your inability to progress and maintain your intimate life is a direct reflection of self-mutilation. Open your heart. Open your ass. Open your fucking eyes.