Recently, reporting for aidsmap.com, Gus Cairns writes that the “number of male sexual partners MSM reported in the previous year fell significantly…to 2.3.” Basically, this means that gay men are claiming, when asked about their own personal behavior in a telephone interview, that they have sex with only two other men throughout the course of a year.
Thanks to continued success of hook up sites and apps, including GrindR, BBRT, Manhunt, Craigslist, Scruff, and Jack’D along with the fact that the methodology for this “groundbreaking” finding relies exclusively on telephone interviews of subjects, I can faithfully say with the same measure of absolute scientific certainty contained in this finding that this is complete and utter nonsense.
When I posted the finding to my own Facebook account, these were some of the comments from a sampling of my friends, colleagues, and readers:
“hahahaha, this is complete and utter bullshit!”
“back in the day that was per 30 min for me!”
“Ha! 2-3 per day maybe.”
“Just look at their methodology! Phone interviews?!?! They may as well go door to door in Amish country.”
“a year or day??”
“They just forgot to include the young single gay men. Fail.”
Now, I expect some of the traditional, socially-conservative organizations hellbent on forcing the rest of us to swallow their family-values-oriented gay-rights agenda to jump on this report and smugly affirm without a shred of irony that this indicates the “normal” nature of gay people. Certainly, with this data set in mind, we can assuage the fears of god-fearing heterosexual Americans. Going further, by appearing to be completely boring, sanitized, and near-monogamous, we can advance the march toward gay equality more effectively. After all, the combined gay rights efforts of GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, and the Democratic Party seems to be a wheezy race to the blandest bottom imaginable.
Unfortunately, this whimsical fantasy and aping of straight marriage culture is doing us more harm than good. At best, it elicits childish giggling and outright laughter; at worst, however, it’s making a great number of men feel inadequate for their own “disability.” Curiously enough, this so-called disability, an implied dysfunction contained with every network stock roll of asexual lesbians getting married and androgynous young men holding hands, is completely manufactured in order to create a fallacious “if not this then that” situation inward toward the gay community.
More specifically, if we are not on board with this sexual dystopia of 2.3 partners per year, we’re “the problem.” If, however, we lie completely about our behavior, sanctimoniously judge others’ similar behavior, and, if we’re going to behave completely like straight people let’s do so accurately, then run for political office, we’re no longer part of “the problem” but, instead, “the movement.”
“The problem” ranges, typically, from outright illegality to completely innocuous fetish. And, the easiest way to tell if you’re part of “the problem” is if you feel the need to outright lie or perform verbal gymnastics to mitigate your personal behavior when asked about it. For instance, the reliance of human beings on substances, whether they be alcohol or crystal methamphetamine, to provide cover for their own behavior is legendary and has given us some great punchlines, including the answer, “About a six pack,” in response to the question, “What’s the difference between a gay guy and a frat boy?” Indeed, if we’re drunk or high, our sluttiness is perfectly acceptable and provides us the necessary psychological cover in order to operate in this bizarre, through-the-looking-glass world of 2.3 sex partners a year.
Conversely, if we aren’t drunk or high, we have little need or inclination to honestly report about our sexual behavior; most amusingly, a great deal of my friends outright lie to their own doctors about doing drugs or having sex. Personally, I have little desire or inclination to pay an individual so I can lie to him; it’s why I’ve made the decision to not get married so far. Yet, I accepted this adolescent kabuki theater as part of the game of life.
That is, I accepted this kabuki theater as part of the game of life up until the point I started being called reckless or problematic just because I and others like me were being candid and valuing honesty instead of appearance. At this point, it becomes morally untenable to not point out the complete fabrications and hysterical hypocrisy going on in gay society right now in terms of sexual, drug, and romantic behavior as we present it to the general public.
And, frankly, I grow weary of outreach workers and physicians being startled by honesty; for instance, when I pointed out to one physician that the uptick in Hepatitis C infections here in Philadelphia among gay men could probably be attributed more to needle-sharing (whether purposeful or careless) than sexual behavior, this physician was startled. Because of the value of self-reporting, this physician was under the assumption that most gay men snorted tina; the idea that large numbers of gay men were using intravenous drugs had never seemed to factor into the equation.
The same could be said of bareback sex; we hear time and time again conflicting reports and messages regarding “safe sex” and using “a condom every time,” but the fact remains that more men are barebacking than admit it. Even worse, those who honestly assert that they engage in this behavior, and are doing their best to manage any potential risk involved in this behavior, are greeted to stigma, ridicule, or summary dismissal. Unsurprisingly, sex and drug related behaviors seem to elicit the greatest amount of deception from folks.
Then again, we should expect nothing less from a society whose definition of “equality” has had to change repeatedly throughout history in order to actually get near, you know, being equal.