A lot of people think that I’m gay, for reasons that are not entirely indiscernible. I try to dress well, to stay in shape, and above all I try to stay single. What these people lose sight of, however, is that I exhibit these tendencies because I am deeply into women and, more importantly, deeply into myself. Seriously, guys, my vanity is nothing short of earth-shattering. I make Narcissus look like a burn victim. I put Dorian Grey to shame. Mine is an ego, so insatiable, as to make supermodels cringe furiously with equal parts disdain, and envy. You’d think every mirror in the world to be my ultimate paramour, were it not for the fact that I’m so obviously committed to myself.
But, that’s not the point. The point is that I’m straight, devotedly so, and that try as they might, the gays just can’t convince me to switch teams. Which is a shame, really. Because I’d slay as a gay (enter intolerable vanity), perhaps even more successfully than I do as a straight guy. What’s more, the gays and I have a great deal of fun. We talk fashion, girls and, not infrequently, sex. They’ve got some pretty wild tricks up their sleeves, those guys. Rest assured fellas, there’s a lot to be learned from the fairer members of the unfair sex.
It should come as no surprise, then, that my friends sometimes refer to me as “gaybait”. So when I say that I recently attended Tuesgays at Austin’s hipster hotspot Barbarella this Tuesday last, you can imagine there were free drinks and good times to be had in abundance (God I’m so fucking vain). And there were. But, what I wasn’t expecting to receive that night, was some much needed (yet very much unwanted) experiential perspective. And the experience was queer, not gay, but queer. I mean yes, it was gay too, but the word is being used here to illustrate the very bizarre, unfamiliar nature of it, viz., the experience.
As a man in his early twenties, I have been exposed to my fair share of sexually predatorial males, seeking brief and illicit relations with unwitting females, on more or less any given night of the week. This practice (often referred to as “hunting”, “scoping”, “prowling” or “the game” by its patrons) is, regrettably, ubiquitous. Worse yet, I have been accomplice to it more times than I care to admit (this being committed in the act of “wingmanning”, which is meant to signify a sort of Top Gun dynamic wherein we habitually ignore the glaring homoerotic sexual tension between Maverick and Goose in the ’80s classic [e.g. shirtless volleyball, excessive high-fiving, piano duets etc.]). Never before, though, have I been in the crosshairs of the scope. Never, prior to that night, had I been the prey.
Now, let’s get one thing straight. Being the object of objectification is, first and foremost, exhausting. I mean it’s just relentless. Whether you’re drop dead gorgeous or haplessly homely, as prey, you are ceaselessly subject to intense scrutiny, and unabashed harassment. Every second that passes ensures you will be shamelessly eye fucked in ways most salacious and vile. Stares bore through your back(side) from what seems like every angle. Your peripherals are filled with the shadows of dimly lit wolves seeking to devour you, whole, right there on the dance floor. Well manicured hands grope you in places you thought to be unreachable while standing. Glitter appears on parts of you that shouldn’t be accessible, inexplicably, and unsettlingly. You cease to retain any value as a human being. Rather, you feel violable, low. You realize that, with the exception of the friends you’ve come with, you are a walking collection of orifices to all parties present. You are something to be mounted and ravaged, defiled.
Note that this is not an attack on gays, or an attack in any capacity, for that matter. What it is is a criticism of men in our society, or more precisely, their voracious libidos (my own very much included). For the first time in my adult life, I genuinely empathized with the women of my generation. Going out with friends is supposed to be a fun and liberating experience, not a demeaning and demoralizing one. The people you’ve come out with become way more than friends. They become your allies, your fellow soldiers in combat. Because make no mistake, when you’re out, you are behind enemy lines. You are being tracked, targeted. The object is to divide and conquer. So you’ve no choice but to cling for dear life to the man or woman at your side. You suddenly regret getting all dressed up for this, and wonder why you make a point of doing so two-to-four times a week (depending on the advancement of your liver’s degeneration), every week, without fail. You want nothing more than to be left alone.
Granted, gay men do have a great deal more tact in their approach to the hunt than we more primordially crude spearmen (I remember some very clever and sidesplitting wordplay paired with tasteful flattery that would have been guaranteed to make my own manties drop, had my heterosexuality been even slightly less established) but still, I just can’t fathom how this environment became not only socially acceptable, but popularly endorsed. Don’t get me wrong, for the first few hours, it can be a damn good time. Being constantly hit on and objectified is quite flattering for those who are crippled simultaneously by vanity and insecurity (i.e. yours truly). The ego boost is electric. Until you realize none of it is authentic. It’s all a ruse, one whose success holds the promise of leaving you with nothing but a deep sense of worthlessness, and a vicious shameover the morning after.
Towards the latter stages of the night, we were approached by a truly enormous black fellow with a distinctly rapey vibe, who succeeded in guessing the size of my penis, exactly, after offering an exorbitant amount of money for a single night with my roommate (yes, I am vain enough both to have measured my manhood, and to have been slightly offended I wasn’t offered a comparable sum for my services). I won’t say I’m a changed man for the experience. I won’t say I plan never to go out again. I won’t even say Tuesgays is off the table for good (although it might be, for the time being). What I will say, is that maybe we as a society need to spend a little less time accusing women of being shameless sluts, and a little more time acknowledging that, on some level, we need them to be. And that is a truly exhausting reality to face, on any given evening. At the end of this one, though, all I felt was weary, ashamed. And it made me really wonder just how you ladies do it every weekend, while somehow managing to preserve your innocence, sort of.