Personal Perspective: I'm Not Gay
Never was, never will be. I can't claim to be something I was raised to hate. I'm just me, and I do what makes me feel good. Besides, my folks raised me as a Christian and they would be really disappointed in me if I didn't live my life in the same steps that they were raised. So I'm not gay, even though I have sex with guys. And no, I'm not in denial. There are just some things about the lifestyle that I don't do. I don't club, I don't go to the Village, I don't do that Ball stuff, I don't geek over Beyoncé, I just live my life -- I do what I want to do.
There's such a negative stigma that comes along with identifying yourself as gay. I don't like feeling like I have to participate in a certain set of actions because of who I sleep with. It's the same thing as identifying yourself as black or white or Baptist. There's a set of standards that people automatically are gonna put in your face -- that this is what you do because this is who you are. There are so many things that come with the gay stigma that I just don't want to be a part of. I have a good friend who feels the same way -- he avoids labels.
This all began when I was 12 and my best friend was 15. It just started with, "Oh, do this," or, "How does that feel?" and then kind of progressed into full-fledged sex. When I was 15 we got it on, on the floor of my bathroom in the middle of the night. He topped me. But that was it -- that was the first and last time I had sex with him. I felt disgusted. I thought that it would be different. There wasn't anything good about that situation for me.
So I stopped having sex and started looking for stuff online. I googled "gay porn" and pretty much went through all the previews and free stuff I could find. I was more curious than anything else. I wanted to know what it was about. I lied about my age in chat rooms, told everybody I was from California -- stuff kids do. It was interesting and exhilarating and all this good stuff, but after I began having sex again and started dealing with guys on that level, it changed and I found myself not enjoying it as I thought I would. It was a lot of, "I'm going to do this because I want him to feel this way," or "This is what I think I should be doing." It wasn't stuff that I wanted to do myself. I felt like I had to do it for the other person -- like, if I do it he'll like me or be friends with me.
In high school, we only spent a few days on STDs and HIV in Health class. It was as broad as they could make it -- you learned about everything: the reproductive system, hygiene, brushing your teeth, and then they'd also tell you some stuff like, "You need to use condoms and birth control so you won't get pregnant." They skidded over some stuff, like gonorrhea and chlamydia, but they never said anything about oral sex or about two guys having sex. Anal sex wasn't spoken about at all. The face of HIV was gay men -- I guess it's easy to push it off on gay people cuz "that's where it came from," but they need to teach teenagers that this is real. It affects everybody.
If you go to hang out with a guy, and you're taking condoms and lube because you're expecting to have sex -- that's gay. But if it's like, "Oh, we're just going to hang out," and then we just happen to have sex, then it's just sex.
I ended up learning a lot of stuff from TV. They had this one thing on MTV a long time ago. They had everybody in the TRL studio and they had an open forum for an hour. People could stand up and ask questions. That's where I learned the whole oral sex thing -- that there are certain variables going on that can make it riskier. I didn't know that. I also saw a lot of ads out there that said things like, "I'm gay, I'm HIV positive and my partner isn't, and we play safe." But ads that aim directly at gay people are difficult for me because I think it's not about: "You're gay, you have to be safe." It's about: "You're having sex, you have to be safe." Like, if you go to hang out with a guy, and you're taking condoms and lube because you're expecting to have sex -- that's gay. But if it's like, "Oh, we're just going to hang out," and then we just happen to have sex, then it's just sex. If me and a guy have had sex before, that's just what we do. It's not: "I'm gonna come over and we're gonna have sex." It's like: "We're gonna chill, watch some movies, play some video games," and then if we have sex, we have sex. So it's hard to plan ahead sometimes.
Now I'm 23 and I couldn't even tell you how many dudes I've had sex with. I think I lost count three years ago when the number reached over 100. And with that has come some scares, but I'm lucky enough to have never caught anything serious. One of the biggest problems is just finding a place where I can get tested for free, anonymously, and not have all these people in my face asking me who I'm sleeping with. I went to this testing spot in Harlem a couple months ago. It wasn't terrible, but I knew it was a spot specifically for gay people. If that wasn't the case, then everyone who worked there was gay, and that made me a little uncomfortable. I don't have a problem with anyone who is gay or anything like that, but I just don't connect with them on that level. Maybe there could be some kind of "H.I.V. isn't G.A.Y." campaign -- haha.
I see leaflets about HIV, but you get one and you put it away and then when you get home you forget about it, find it two months later and throw it in the garbage. I don't see people reading stuff like that. It has to be something you hear, something you see, or somebody telling you something. Online, it's so easy to find whatever you want. If you have the intent of, "I'm not gonna use a condom," then you can find 1,800 people who don't use condoms. At the hookup sites, you see profiles that say, "Anything goes, HIV status unknown and don't care," and these other guys who claim they're negative but have raw sex and bareback, and it's like, "You can't possibly think you're negative and you're doing all that with all these random people." And then they have bareback sex parties -- and it feels good, I know it feels good. We all know it feels better, but I can't. Not with strangers. Sometimes I feel guys just don't care.
Make it as serious as it is. You can't sugarcoat it. Sometimes you just need that real good smack on the back of your head to make you obey.
I say just be real and put it out there. You have ads for straight people, you have ads for gay people, you have ads for everybody -- put the message out, no matter who you're having sex with, no matter who you're having a relationship with, no matter who you're in the bed with, you still need to protect yourself. And make it as serious as it is. You can't sugarcoat it. Sometimes you just need that real good smack on the back of your head to make you obey. Like, this is really serious -- you see TV shows about it, you see movies that say, "Oh, he made a mistake, he didn't use a condom, now he has HIV, end result." But people don't talk about it, like, "This is how he got HIV. He got so wrapped up, you know -- he was at the club, he got high off of this, and went home and made a really bad decision." Make that kind of stuff available -- real stories: "This is my life, this is where I'm coming from. This is how I got HIV. It could be you." It's not about: "Oh, I'm gay, I'm straight." It's: "I'm human, I have sex, I could put myself at risk."
This article was provided by ACRIA and GMHC. It is a part of the publication Achieve. Visit ACRIA's website and GMHC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
Comment by: STACY
Mon., Sep. 12, 2011 at 4:59 pm EDT
You are gay, and yes you are in denial. It is like me saying I am not black even though I obviously am. If you'd have sex with men on more than one occassion, yes you are gay because that is the definition.
Comment by: chase
Tue., Mar. 29, 2011 at 1:40 pm EDT
I'am soory brother. I understand you may feel your not gay. But The truth is,if you have Gay sex with MEN. YOU ARE a "GAY MAN." Point blank and simple. Maybe you should try threapy so you could better have a understanding of what you really are.You just didn't have gay sex once or twice just to try it, you slept with over 100 MEN. Please Evaluate yourself and your situation. Glad your protectiong your self.Stay safe Bro.
Comment by: Anonymous
Tue., Mar. 29, 2011 at 1:27 pm EDT
Sorry Boy just to burst you bubble. If to have SEX with "MEN" point blank and SIMPLE. You are GAY" GAY, GAY, GAY.. Enjoy the gay life, it's all love, Just protect yourself In your GAY body.. Smile :)
Comment by: Anonymous
Mon., Nov. 22, 2010 at 10:18 pm EST
@Damian; You misread what I wrote; my response was to SOME people who left comments who get nervous when they see "one of theirs drift away".
You are actually doing just what I wrote about; you are trying to interpret someone else's feelings and actions and glue your values to it. What makes you the expert on what makes someone else "happy"?
What is a far happier, healthier and rewarding life for one person is not the same for another person.
There is nothing wrong with someone's choice to have sex with a lot of different people.
To keep the focus on yourself is probably the better thing to do.
I think that anyone who is not trying to impose their own ideas on someone who tells their story
is a person of who "get's it".
"The reaction you got is the reaction you deserved":
your heart could not have been in this comment; Joseph got many DIFFERENT reactions.
Peace to you and peace to Joseph and to all who took time to read and respond.
I hope one day PEOPLE ( not just men who are attracted to men ) will get along with each other
and not infuse their own anger onto another person.
Replies to this comment:
Comment by: Damian
(Dunedin, New Zealand)
Tue., Nov. 23, 2010 at 3:21 pm EST
"Anonymous", you say that I have misread what you wrote but you don't say who you are. Presumably you are either "Constant" or Joseph.
I refute that I have misinterpreted anything of what "Constant" or Joseph have written and I stand by what I have written in my earlier posts.
I can only think that you are angry because you did not expect the response which your words and thoughts wrought.
Comment by: Peter
Fri., Nov. 19, 2010 at 10:21 am EST
As others have mentioned, we are looking at a symantic issue here. It seems Joseph does not want to carry the "gay" label because of the broad range of things that it CAN imply that are not a part of who he is. People make a lot of assumptions when a label is applied to a person or group of people.
As a truly bisexual man, I have experienced similar feelings. I enjoy sex with men, but I have never desired a romantic relationship with a man. I have had a wife and children and hetero relationships before and after my marriage. Yet people call me gay. It would be more accurate to say I am MSM/W. I only think of myself as gay when I am having gay sex, because that is how my semantic filter works. But I do not do things my gay friends do nor engage in the "Gay Community". Sometimes I feel like a bi-racial person: when someone is half black and half white (Barack Obama, Halley Berry etc.) they are usually called black. When a married man discovers he prefers other men he is suddenly "gay" as though he has changed from being straight. I believe that bi/omnisexuals and homosexuals who do not operate within "gay" parameters of thinking or conduct are misunderstood by gay people even more than straight people. I understand Joseph's feelings of frustration and alienation.
Comment by: Damian
(Dunedin, New Zealand)
Fri., Nov. 19, 2010 at 6:25 am EST
"Constant", you have not actually given Joseph any real support at all. When you told him that "the herd gets very nervous and will demand from you where you should belong" you classify as one category all those who have responded rationally to Joseph's initial article when, in fact, a careful reading of all the comments on this thread reveals people responding from far-flung parts of the globe, from obviously different backgrounds, and from clearly different points of view.
Joseph, regarding your comment of Wed., Nov. 17, it appears that the considerable number of comments that you have received in this thread may have been a help to you.
The terms "homosexual", "queer", gay", as well as others, are all largely interchangeable: they all mean the same thing despite a small number of pedants wishing to be known as "homosexuals" rather than "queers", or "queers" rather than "gays". You could even add the word faggot to the terminology except that that term is almost universally used by those who regard we homosexuals/queers/gays as a low form of life.
In your Comment of today, Joseph, you have now seemed to advise us that at the time that you wrote your initial piece for The Body you fully accepted that you were "homosexual". You are now advising us that you are a self-accepting homosexual who just doesn't like the word gay. This is however not what you stated at the outset and no one can put any blame on readers who carefully read your initial article and responded accordingly. In that article you told the world that you were not gay/homosexual/queer/faggot but that by the age of 20 you had had sex with over 100 men. The reaction you got was the reaction that your words deserved.
As I say, I think this whole process has been valuable for you. It has helped you sort out your ideas. I still hope that as a young homosexual/gay/queer you will find a far better, far healthier, and far more rewarding lifestyle for yourself than that of obsessive sex.
Comment by: Joseph
Wed., Nov. 17, 2010 at 12:46 pm EST
Let me get this out there first. I never did, nor will I ever hate myself, or anyone else, period. My parents will never condone with a homosexual lifestyle and I know that, so maybe "hate" is too harsh of a word. I don't point fingers, nor do I cast stones because of the choices you make. Besides, there is NOTHING wrong with the decisions you make to label yourself - or not to.
Secondly, I am homosexual, and I'm 100% fine with that. I've learned that my life is mine to live and no one else can do it for me. Now my decision to not consider myself "gay" as opposed to homosexual are two, completely, different things. But after the backlash of this article, can you blame me? I will say again, I am not in denial. I know what I am, and I know what I love. But there are too many people... "gay" people out there who read this article and immediately zoned in on the first two paragraphs of the article and COMPLETELY IGNORED the point of it. Maybe, I'm the wrong one for associating being "gay" with the above mentioned, but how am I wrong for having - and valuing - my own opinion? This article was never about a young African American man and his need for acceptance in a hetero-supremacist society - because I am not searching for that. But the first thing the readers from the "gay community" did, who preaches to others, "we want to be loved and we wanted to be treated equally," cast stones, called names and judged me. How the hell am I supposed to turn around and say. "Ok, I'm gay" when you're foaming at the mouth to call me all types of derogatory things. Forgive me if I call you biased and radical in the same sense that you do, when you point fingers at those who oppose and suppress you.
Read the rest of my response at: http://charmursoxoff.tumblr.com/post/1601370774/misunderstood
Comment by: Constant
Tue., Nov. 16, 2010 at 11:57 pm EST
You are, you are, you are, you are, you are, you are, you are, you are, you are, you are.....you are this you are that if not that, than this if not this than WE will tell you what you are, who you are, where you are and where you're going.
I am amazed how nervous some people get when they read a story by someone who has the courage to tell THEIR story and then people comment like; you are in denial, you are kidding yourself, you are not one of us, you are not accepting yourself, you are not one of them,you are this, you are that...when a person- an individual like you Joseph- walks a bit too far away from the herd
the herd get's very nervous and will demand from you where you should belong.
I applaud your honesty and I hope someday people will just listen to people like you rather than trying to set the limits. Don't let ANYBODY f**k
with who you believe you are, because you are the
the one and ONLY expert on yourself!
Comment by: Kenk8
Mon., Nov. 15, 2010 at 10:22 am EST
What's next?... An article entitled "I have HIV, but I'm NOT Positive"? Please-- spare us from any more of these pointless articles splitting semantics!
Comment by: Rick
Sun., Nov. 14, 2010 at 1:04 am EST
The only thing I don't understand is what is wrong with being called 'gay'? As a black male, it does not matter whether someone calls me "black" or whether they call me "African American". Either way, wy skin is still brown and I like the fact that my skin is brown. I l have sex with men. I am monogamous, and I am gay. There are some aspects of the gay culture that I like and some aspects that I dislike just as there are some aspects of the black culture that I like and some aspects that I dislike. However, at the end of the day, I am still black, and I am still gay.
I only date men who refer to themselves as gay. Being gay is only one aspect of my personality, but it is an important aspect of my personality. Heterosexual people constantly announce the fact that they are heterosexual by wearing wedding rings and referring to their husbands and wives and having highly public weddings. If it is ok for heterosexuals to constantly tell the world that they are heterosexual, why isn't it ok for gay people to tell the world that they are gay. Joseph, you need to build up your self confidence and stop being ashamed of the fact that you are gay.
Comment by: Janine
Sat., Nov. 13, 2010 at 9:37 am EST
I have read all of the comments and the article itself, as well as the comments from two people at The Body and Achieve, and I consider the morality involved in allowing Joseph's views to be posted on The Body. Clearly he is a vulnerable young man and clearly he has deep identity problems. It would be quite all right to publish a general article about the identity problems of vulnerable young people but is it acceptable for The Body to be party to letting this young man reveal his problems in public? I suggest it would have been more helpful of the editors to direct him towards psychological counselling and let him deal with his problems that way. If Joseph insisted on publishing his views on the Internet he could do so in any number of blogs and the like. The Body has not acted responsibly in this case. And parading under the excuse that the matter needs to be talked about is not acceptable. The matter can be talked about without assisting a vulnerable and confused young person to make a fool of himself.
Comment by: post gay
Fri., Nov. 12, 2010 at 10:29 am EST
Thank you Joseph for having the courage to stand up for what you believe - despite all the bigoted, name-calling from the holier than thou 'gay' community.I too have sex with men - but do not consider myself 'gay'. I am much too complex a person to be labeled by one word. I am not in denial about who I am, or self hating. I am very comfortable with myself and lifestyle - which is neither gay, straight or bisexual. Gay is a term that describes a culture and lifestyle that I do not want to be a part of. When a person comes out as 'gay' there are a whole bunch of assumptions that go along with that. I am also not a Christian - but I am a 'Follower of Jesus'. If I am to make a differnce in this world, I can't start with people making pre-conceived notions about where I am coming from.
Joseph, keep exploring and learning about who you are. Be strong and be safe. There is nothing 'gay about safe sex.
Comment by: Ryan
Thu., Nov. 11, 2010 at 11:50 pm EST
I've been following this article since it was published and don't usually comment. Just had to say it is nice to see the last comments where people firstly get the message of the story, as well as letting Joseph be, it is his choice to live his life as he wishes. Honestly, I also dont want to be "gay" anymore, looking at the way the gay community does not give you your place in the sun, and just attacks and critises. Go Joseph, be yourself
Comment by: Louis
Thu., Nov. 11, 2010 at 2:23 pm EST
The whole aspect of shame and guilt connected to be 'different' from the norm is in my opinion the result of our ( religious ) culture. Homosexuality is common all over the world, in many tribes is a normal thing to do. Our traditional concept of sexuality I belief constricts us and limits us from truly being free with ourselves and preserve some of our innocence.
Good story and point well made, hiv is something that concerns all and every one without regard of gender. We all are sexual and in my opinion we could do without the words hetero and homo, I believe they create more division than unity.
Comment by: Richard
Thu., Nov. 11, 2010 at 2:09 pm EST
It's sad that the author was taught that "gay" was something to hate and that he was somehow required to hate it, because he was a "Christian." That, of course, is just bad theology. Hate of one's authentic self has nothing to do with Christianity. Being gay (or straight or bisexual) is just a normal, natural variation in human sexuality. The orientation is God-given and morally neutral. One can live one's sexuality in a loving and responisble way or in an irresponsible and selfish way. The author has seen a lot of gay culture that he does not approve of. But there is much that he can admire. I'm just grateful that he is being safe.
Comment by: Nick
Wed., Nov. 10, 2010 at 11:02 pm EST
Most of the readers of this artile missed the point. Lets understand that Joseph's reality of him sexuality is a common practice within the African American community. Joseph is one of many men who have sex with men; that share this same idea about sexuality. But what is most important is that these men get tested and play it safe. Lets aim the bow at the bulls-eye and acknowledge that these type of men exist. Experts in this field of HIV prevention should reach out to these men and educate them(MSM) on safe sex.
Comment by: Rochelle
Wed., Nov. 10, 2010 at 2:36 pm EST
If you don't want the labels, that's okay. Just be safe out there. I totally agree with you about the sugarcoating of the epidemic. Since HIV isn't the "latest fashion craze", people act like it doesn't exist anymore. Our society is so judgemental on everyone and everything that doesn't look, act, walk, talk like them(whoever them are) Keep it Real. Everyone should get tested regularly. Like you said, If your having sex, your at risk.
Comment by: Colin
Wed., Nov. 10, 2010 at 1:36 pm EST
I found this essay very interesting. I am straight and the idea that someone that a man that has sex with another man, over 100 times, and doesn't consider himself homosexual/bisexual (gay?) is rather odd. But I think the important message the author is trying to make is that HIV is considered a gay issue in the cultural sense. He gets treated in a gay way when he goes for a HIV test. HIV education is directed at a culture he feels alien to his character. And maybe Joseph really isn't gay. It's possible that he might meet his woman and live a heterosexual life. It happens the opposite way round right? Why does a man get married, have kids, then all of a sudden realise he is gay and made a mistake? Maybe sexual orientation isn't so fixed as you folks might like to believe. I don't think Joseph is some kind of weakling because he denies something he feels alien to his character. He admits to having sex with other men, but not being gay. Confused? Maybe. But why are folks pushing Bush's "with us or against us" doctrine?
Comment by: Bud H.
Tue., Nov. 9, 2010 at 10:27 am EST
This is a terrific article. Bravo, Joseph, for telling it as you see it and feel it. What is really depressing are the comments by the thought police. Wow, no wonder Joseph doesn't wish to identify as "gay." Who'd want to be a part of this social enforcement mechanism? Honestly, these comments display some of the most unappealing aspects of the self-described gay community. Joseph -- who's only 23, for goodness sake -- knows he's a man who likes having sex with men. But he doesn't connect to all the paraphernalia that he attaches to the notion of being gay. He thinks it's shallow, among other things. Many MSM are in the same boat. Yet the HIV prevention outreach efforts that are largely oriented to the gay community don't quite register with guys like Joseph, who obviously is at risk of catching the virus. That's the value of this essay. It takes us inside the head of a young man who's struggling with his identity and not finding much that he can grasp onto. There are millions like him, and we too rarely hear from them. The rainbow flag warriors have shouted them into silence. Thanks to TheBody for letting us hear an authentic voice.
Comment by: Myles Helfand
Mon., Nov. 8, 2010 at 11:39 am EST
I hope I don't derail this convo by adding my own comment here, but enough of you have written "why did The Body post this?" comments that I think it's important to respond.
As Mark Milano (the editor of 'Achieve') noted in an earlier comment, this personal perspective was published in a recent issue of the HIV/AIDS-focused magazine 'Achieve.' ACRIA and GMHC, the two organizations that produce 'Achieve,' are among the most highly respected HIV/AIDS organizations in the country, and have been content partners with TheBody.com for many years now. We inherently trust that the articles they write are accurate, relevant and important -- all qualities that I feel hold true for Joseph's article.
Mark's comment below, as well as Jason W's, nicely encapsulate precisely what I hoped our readers would get out of reading this article on our site. It saddens me that some have an instinctual need to vilify a young man who is not only still clearly on his path to self-discovery, but whose story really crystallizes many of the challenges that people who work in HIV prevention face when it comes to getting the message out to men who have sex with men.
You can judge this man harshly for his outlook on his sexuality and his life; that's your right, and we'll continue to approve those comments. But I hope there are people out there who feel more empathetic and supportive toward a man who has spent much of his life feeling like he doesn't quite "belong" with any particular group of people. And I also hope that, regardless of how you may feel about Joseph's attitude, you'll read this within the context of HIV stigma and awareness, and *gay* stigma as well -- both of which remain stunningly prevalent in our supposedly ever-more-enlightened society, and both of which conspire to undermine education efforts among an HIV-ignorant American population.
Comment by: Kirk
Sun., Nov. 7, 2010 at 2:34 pm EST
Joseph, thanks for sharing from your heart. I am human and I have sex with men. I made a mistake with two men over 5 years ago, and aquired HIV. I am 38, was a virgin when I married, now divorced, have a great daughter, church attender, in SAA, and now love myself enough to protect me and others. Frankly, it does not matter who you have sex with but honesty is everything. Self-love can continue to be developed within you, me, and everyone else. I don't care what you do next, but please love yourself and embrace healthy sexual interactions. It doesn't matter what you are called. It is most important what you answer to and that comes from your heart. May you have peace.
Comment by: Uhhhhhh.....
Sat., Nov. 6, 2010 at 9:58 pm EDT
I cannot make sense of this article.... Well, correction-- I cannot make sense of the author. Whose idea was it to publish this article? No offense to Joseph, but this man is absolutely delusional. You don't consider yourself gay yet you've slept with 100 men?! I am so tired of Black people blaming the Black Community for their personal hangups when it comes to homosexuality. There comes a point in time when you need to accept responsibility for YOUR OWN actions. If you were so concern about what people would say or think of you-- you wouldn't have slept with more than 100 men! I respect people for who they are, and not who they sleep with. Being gay doesn't define you. It doesn't represent who you are as an individual, and I suppose that is the point you're trying to make. However, it is a representation of your sexual orientation. And you need to own up to that. If you're attracted to men, and you're having sex with them, well guess what, you are gay... It's as simple as that. And the only exception to that rule is if you're also attracted to women, which makes you bisexual. And if that term bothers you as well, go ahead and call yourself a "free spirit" but you need to come to terms with who you are. Being gay doesn't make you any less masculine, or anymore feminine. So stop looking down on gay men as if you're any better when you're doing the same thing behind close doors. You make absolutely no sense to me Joseph. Let me give you an example... Lets say I considered myself a vegan... I swear up and down to friends and family that I despise all things meat and refuse to have it on my plate or in my presence at the dinner table. Yet, when I'm behind close doors, I'm tearing up that bacon, and pork tenderloin, and filet mignon. Now you tell me, am I still vegan? I'm sure you'll say no. After all, how can I be? When clearly, I enjoy meat just as much as the next guy. Now some of you will probably say that's a poor analogy. But let's be real here-- Joseph loves meat.
Comment by: Richard
Sat., Nov. 6, 2010 at 5:35 pm EDT
(sighs) Is Thebody.com seriously trying to win some race to the bottom? I really don't know what I find more appalling, the author's stereotyping of other gay men, or the meta-stereotype repeated articles like this create, of young gay black men being emotionally retarded and avoiding infection by dumb luck. The whole thing makes my skin crawl.
Comment by: jason w
(san francisco, ca)
Fri., Nov. 5, 2010 at 4:10 pm EDT
Wow. This is a powerful article. My first reaction was, you are gay so what? Then as I continued reading including reading the comments I was struck by the same reflected self hate of the gay men who were commenting. He says nothing about what others call themselves. I honestly wonder how we can have a true conversation about the broad spectrum of sexuality without attacking others for their own views of self and identity. I identify as queer, not as gay. Yet I know when people look at me they assume gay. I am married to a man and we are monogamous. To the untrained eye and ear (regardless of what side it is coming from), they can't see queer just like many of the commentors can't see anyting other than gay. Still, I've also had to conform. I've had to learn how and when to use gay as a means to connect to my brethren. It does nothing to affect my personal identity any more. I know who I am. Yet when I was 23 I was a whipsmart firecfacker and no one could get away calling me gay. It's partly why I became at odds with most of the LGBT (q wasn't yet tacked on) orgs. It is amazing what another 11 years have done. I understand nuance. I thank this brave man for speaking his truth. We need more folks doing so. It is the only way we can move forward as a community, a movement, and hopefully this wonderful thing called family. Xx
Comment by: Robert
Fri., Nov. 5, 2010 at 1:24 pm EDT
Gay is just a widely used slang term that has various meanings, especially today. If he chooses not to identify as gay so be it. The important thing is to realize he is a homosexual man (MSM) who is hopefully seaking out only healthy (physical and psychological) relationships.
Comment by: Mary
(South Africa, Polokwane)
Fri., Nov. 5, 2010 at 8:51 am EDT
I'm a st8 woman living in SA n I'm disgraced by what u wrote. What is so wrong with being gay......, it's just about who u r sleeping with n nothing else. There r monogamous men in gay relationships n I respect them coz it takes a lot to "flow against the current " so to say, I'm proud of every gay man who is out of the closet bcos I can imagine the gutts it took. Joseph, u seem like u don't respect urself, I feel pity 4 the men u sleep with coz obviously u think they r dirty. Grow up
Comment by: Alan
Fri., Nov. 5, 2010 at 7:27 am EDT
Man you may as well say your not black cos i'm sure there's just as many sterotypes that you dont fit into there either, time to wake up and smell the the coffee my freind...
" honey child you is Black and you is Gay" said with tongue in cheek irony!
Comment by: Rick
Fri., Nov. 5, 2010 at 12:18 am EDT
I am a masculine black gay man. Many people don't realize that I am gay, so I make a point of verbally telling them that I am gay. When people at my black baptist church ask me if I am married, I tell them that I would love to be married, but I can't get married because they won't allow gay people to get married.
You need to learn to step up to the plate and act like a real man. It takes a real man to stand up to the bigots who call us names like "faggot". Me and a lot of other proud gay men stand up to bullies and bigots and we announce our sexuality just like heterosexual people constantly announce their sexuality. In most states, if a man is wearing a wedding ring, he is announcing his heterosexuality since only heterosexuals can get married. No one has a preoblem with him announcing his heterosexuality so I announce my homosexuality as a part ofr me just like my height and weight are a part of me. If I were to meet you, I would really not be at all attracted to you because I am gay because I date MEN. A guy who is afraid to stand up announce his sexual preference yet does so in secret is a scared little boy, not a grown man.
Are you afraid of the bullies? Many of us "faggots" stand up and confront the bullies by announcing that we are gay, and when we hear anti-gay slurs and bullying, we confront it rather than hiding in the closet.
We don't date or sleep with weak little scaredy cats like you.
Comment by: Russell
Thu., Nov. 4, 2010 at 10:10 pm EDT
Wow. You're even in denial about being in denial. Just because you were brought up to hate yourself doesn't mean you are not who you are. You sleep with men exclusively. That makes you GAY. Many gay men don't go to discos, or go to the village or love Beyonce (that comment pissed me off more than anything lol), but they are men who have sex with men. If you go to a Baptist church (not a Catholic church, or a synagogue) you are probably Baptist, no? And denying your sexuality, I get. But saying you're not gay is repellent. There is nothing wrong with being gay. There is everything wrong with hating gay. Please PLEASE do yourself a favour and get some counselling. If you truly believe in what you just wrote, you need it.
And Thebody.com? WTF is this article in here for? You just almost made me feel bad about myself. Thanks for that.
Comment by: papa_j
Thu., Nov. 4, 2010 at 9:19 pm EDT
I feel your pain, little brother.
For decades I could never admit it to anyone, not even myself that I was a "gay sissy faggot". I was ashamed and I did not identify with the "effeminate and gaudy" queens, either.
Yet everywhere I went, everyone seemed to know anyway. And when I landed in the ICU with AIDS, I had to suffer through what shame my family had for me. But there was only love, support, and prayer. I then realized I couldn't hide the truth, and those who truly love you don't judge you. They respect you more for being yourself, no matter how different (or special) you are!
Hang in there, baby boy!
Comment by: Mark Milano
Thu., Nov. 4, 2010 at 7:57 pm EDT
I am the editor of "Achieve," and the article is absolutely authentic. I interviewed Joseph myself for over an hour. He is educated and articulate, but also uses street language. "Achieve" does not print false Personal Perspectives. We don't even use pseudonyms.
One thing I'd like to clarify: while Joseph doesn't identify as gay, he states that he is not in denial about the fact that he has sex only with men. He just does not use the word "gay" to describe himself. This is not an umcommon phenomenon, and we printed the article to attempt to provide some insight into the thought processes of the many MSM who share Joseph's point of view.
Comment by: Dee M
Thu., Nov. 4, 2010 at 4:48 pm EDT
I think that its a black thing bcause most black men are raised in a so-called closed mind life, its like they speak against being gay but dont say that much about child molesters,drug addicts or black on blk crimes.I was brought up in the holiness church(70s-80s) were they spoke against women wearing fingernail polish, short skirts, short hair and going to thing like carnivals, fairs and footballs games i guess bcause those places were full of sinners(crazy i know). And i was raised in a house with a VERY abusive father who was illiterate and a child molester but he wud put down ppl like he was better than them. My point in saying all of this is that being gay(or not by u) is not the worse thing in the world bcause i lived my life FOR ME(a gay blk man) not what others think of me and just bcause u dont do what ALL of the others do(bcause i think that bath houses and bookstores are just tacky but thats me), i just dont associate myself with them bcause all of any sex arent the same, ppl just like different things. Like an older str8 female friend said to me years ago when i didnt want to do something where there were a lot of str8 ppl bcause of my insecurities she said to me "Everything in life is not meant to be understood" and thats stayed with me even now, as long as i'm not hurting anyone and the "gay" word is just that a word but its not the worst word in the world to be calld bcause, u are gay and when u can come to terms with that then thats when you'll know that you've grown and ur an adult. Being a good person at heart is all that matters not who ur sleeping with. And when ppl speak up it opens others mind to understanding things bcause when things arent being said that means that ppl arent acknowledging or growing. And Btw gay clubs are where gay(and some str8)ppl can be themselves without being judged. Take Care
Comment by: Gurlzone
(New York NY)
Thu., Nov. 4, 2010 at 4:46 pm EDT
There's something fishy about this article. It reads like it was written by at least 2 very different people; or more likely, one person pretending to be someone else. I doubt its authenticity and authorship. How did this article make it onto The Body pages, editors?
Comment by: MC
Thu., Nov. 4, 2010 at 4:16 pm EDT
Ok, so you are not gay. But you are a big homosexual.
Comment by: Douglas
Thu., Nov. 4, 2010 at 3:02 pm EDT
"I say just be real and put it out there."
Yes, why don't you do that?
As someone who is man enough not only to acknowledge but to celebrate my gayness, I found this article to be offensive. I turn to thebody.com for information, support and assurance--not to be insulted.
Comment by: Ken Kavanagh
(Palm Beach Florida)
Thu., Nov. 4, 2010 at 2:29 pm EDT
There's an old proverb that states, “If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck, it must be a duck”-- and, buddy-- call it whatever you want, but you're a duck! Your pathetic self-hate and denial is a danger not only to yourself, but to all young gay men-- especially young gay men of color, who have few positive supportive role models and are rejected by their own religion, families, culture and racist white gay male society in general. It's time you take a long reality check: "straight" man do not sleep with other men-- especially in numbers so high that you've lost count. Call it what you want-- you can deny that you're gay until you turn blue-- but you can't escape the fact that you are a MSM, a man who sleeps with men, and you are not straight. You may well be a "butch", "straight-acting" man, perhaps... but you are still a gay man-- a self-hating homophobic closet-case. Get into some type of support group and get your head together and start accepting yourself. Self-hating is a horible way to live your life, and it's not necessary, man.
Comment by: Damian
(Dunedin, New Zealand)
Thu., Nov. 4, 2010 at 2:21 pm EDT
Joseph, when you wrote "There are just some things about the lifestyle that I don't do" you revealed an error in your thinking. Being gay is NOT a lifestyle, Joseph. Nobody can CHOOSE being gay. Being gay is "in your bones". If you are attracted to men, not women, and if you have sex with men, not women, then you are gay. It's your nature. "Lifestyle" is a completely different matter. Gay men can have all sorts of different lifestyles, just as straight men can. And, obviously, gay men and straight men can have exactly the same lifestyles. The difference between gay men and straight men, however, is in who they are sexually attracted to, who they prefer to have sex with. So, please take on board that your gayness is not a lifestyle. First you are gay and then, secondly, you choose your lifestyle. Yes, some gay men have a lifestyle that is characterised by clubbing, going to the Village, and geeking over Beyoncé. But other gay men have completely different lifestyles. For example, some gay men never go to clubs, never go to the Village, and aren't interested in worshipping any kind of singers at all! Some gay men enjoy white-water rafting and mountain-climbing. Others prefer to potter around the house and do DIY, or grow vegetables or trees. Joseph, I've read through your article trying to find out what kind of lifestyle you have as a gay man and when I came to the line "Now I'm 23 and I couldn't even tell you how many dudes I've had sex with", my heart sank. That line of yours makes it pretty clear that you're one of those gay men who has a lifestyle that revolves around having sex. Well, if that's the lifestyle you really want to have, then fine! I'm glad you appear to be taking care to practise safe-sex. But life is so short, Joseph. I suggest you become a gay man with a better lifestyle than one that is constituted by having endless sex. Have you thought about joining a group that is focussed on some completely non-sexual interest?
Comment by: Ryan
(Canada : Ontario : Toronto)
Thu., Nov. 4, 2010 at 2:07 pm EDT
you're GAY. and the worst kind as far as i'm concerned. it's your own issues with being gay that add to the so called negative stigma that comes with coming out. if not being into the bar scene, and not geeking out over beyonce means that you aren't gay, then i'm not gay either. and that is bull. guys who have sex with other guys are GAY. you can't call it NOT GAY because you don't want your parents to know. do us all a favour, keep it in your pants and stay in the closet, coz our thriving community which is doing it's best to make strides in our world to be accepted and welcomed don't need you. i think it's an understatement to say that this article has infuriated me.
Comment by: Andrew
Thu., Nov. 4, 2010 at 1:42 pm EDT
You are in denial, whatever label you want to put on yourself is up to you but you should always assume the sex partner is HIV positive. If not, you are fooling yourself. Whether you bareback with men or women, you are always at risk for something. Be careful and be happy with yourself. FYI I'm gay but don't go to every gay pride festival or gay club. I'm also Catholic but don't agree with much of their teachings. It's called your personal perspective. No rules other than those you wish to embrace. It's called adulthood. Best of Luck.
Comment by: TES
Thu., Nov. 4, 2010 at 1:36 pm EDT
I think the whole article is delusional. At 52 years old and going into a "Gay" relationship at 23 and now at 28 years and going strong, Joseph has a lot of life experiences to make this distinction about "I'm not Gay." You've had sex with over 100 men so far! unless the sex is one sided and your receiving the benefits of each of your male partner servicing you, which might put you on the bisexual side, buddy you just haven't come to terms with your sexuality. Don't forget that Gay is a culture, homosexual is a sexual attraction acted upon. So perhaps you are right, you aren't gay, but you definitely identify as a bisexual or homosexual in your sexual gratification/urges.
Comment by: Brian
Wed., Nov. 3, 2010 at 9:04 pm EDT
You never mention girl nor woman; no attraction mention; no dude and chick stuff. No I f...ked her three time stories. But, now isn't it all the same; what this man has written...oh and a straight man. I think any straight man that read this "today" would experience confusion...I have my own feeling toward this article, which I will keep to my self. I am, however, so happy to know deep in my heart that I am A GAY MAN, WHOA...YES
Comment by: butterflyboy
Wed., Nov. 3, 2010 at 7:42 pm EDT
Sounds like there is a certain amount of shame he feels over his attraction to men. I wish I could tell him that being gay simply means that you are attracted to the same sex, and all of the gay subculture that everyone is familiar with is optional - you don't have to be involved with that subculture if you identify as gay. I don't, and most of my gay friends don't, either. Those gays who are involved with that subculture are the ones that everyone identifies as gay because they live 'gay lives' that everyone is familiar with and recognizes. Gays who don't live in that subculture are not noticed, as many of them wouldn't even be known as gay unless you asked them. The point is that there are many many gay men who identify as gay but do not go clubbing, listen to Beyonce, use campy and quick-witted quips, gossip about celebrity scandals, etc etc. If you're gay, you're gay. Come out, call yourself gay, and build a circle of friends with similar interests to your own. You may be surprised how many atypical gay men there are out there.
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