Ryan Lee

Ryan Lee: Pride and promiscuity

There are occasional Sunday evenings when I’m scrolling my social media feeds, and rather than “Most Recent” or “Top Stories,” it feels like my review of that weekend’s happenings should be categorized, “While You Were Hoeing.” It’s startling how much can occur in the world in the time between a Friday night threesome with a married couple, a Saturday visit to an adult bookstore and/or sex club and a Sunday afternoon of responding to Craigslist ads and/or Jack’d messages.

Particularly during current times, it feels important to unplug from the mania seizing our government, culture and media, and indulge in a little personal gratification. And after months of being preoccupied by family obligations and other irritants of adulthood, I’m even more grateful for how the carnal parts of my personality help keep me sane.

I have a long-standing theory that most of the world’s problems are caused by men who were too late in recognizing their narrow window of fuckability, guys who married young or chased career ambitions and became bitter when they realized, in their 40s or 50s, that they could no longer partake in sex without having to pay for it. I now believe the national disaster known as Donald Trump – someone so rich, so “successful,” yet, more than anything, so miserable – is what happens when a guy is aware that no woman has ever validated his manhood without financial compensation.

That’s how essential I view sex to male development and contentment, or my rationalization for embracing slutdom. It’s easy to forget how enjoyable and invigorating gay sex can be since that is not how it is treated in LGBT culture or broader society.

For straight folks, practicing homosexuals are synonymous with disease and deceit. Largely because of this, our movement has branded itself around commitment, even if more gay men are likely to experience parts of the weekend I described above rather than visit their county probate court to get a marriage license.

Surely there is a middle ground between my glory hole and the movement’s wedding altar, but the public image of LGBT Americans, whether in policy debates or via reality TV personalities, is overwhelmingly asexual. Part of that is strategic, but all of it is rooted in shame, and the notion that people are more willing to like us if we help them forget what makes us different.

Some of our most prudish sensibilities arise during Pride weekends, like how the lead-up to Labor Day in Atlanta is always filled with folks bemoaning how sexualized Pride has become (as if attendees at the first Gay Pride in 1970s New York didn’t have an “afterparty” at the docks), and predictions of how many visitors will leave town with a fresh STD. Such sentiments are rarely shared out of concern for the community, but rather by folks whose own pride comes from being recognized as an exceptional gay, a non-gay gay.

I’m not going to pretend like there are not unique risks to anal sex between two men, or ignore that Black Gay Pride serves a demographic that remains the most heavily affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Nor do I mean to disrespect gay men’s historic struggle with sexual health by recognizing two realities, one emerging, the first proven through plague.

Promiscuous sex is not inherently risky sex, as someone who uses protection during 30 encounters is at less risk than someone who has a single unprotected hook-up. Further, “protection” itself is harder to define than it was a decade ago, as there are HIV-positive men who are undetectable/untransmittable, HIV-negative men on PrEP and men in both categories who feel the thrill of being a cumdump for a three-day weekend is worth the shot of penicillin they might need in a few weeks.