Memories of Failed Masculinity

Age 6. I start getting called a girl everyday. Kindergarten starts and so does the name calling. “Joey you’re in the wrong line. The girl’s line is over there.” It’s the mid 80’s and my classmates don’t know the word gay yet. Therefore a long tradition of getting called a girl begins. It will last for years.

Age 7. The name calling has become a regular occurrence at school however my home life is a much different story. I cover my bedroom walls with pictures of New Kids on the Block. Regardless of what my parents may think they support me in every way and never give me any indication that I should act differently. When I’m asked what I want to be when I grow up no one bats an eye at my answer of an interior decorator.

Age 8. Some adults start to ask me if I have any crushes on the girls in school. The question is stupid but I learn quickly that if I just say a name they’ll leave me alone. So begins my fake 3 year crush on Jamie Bennett. I choose her because I like her hair and she’s about to move away so I’ll never really have to deal with it.

Age 9. I routinely practice my runway walk on the way to the bus stop every morning. The trick is to cross one foot over the other and swing your hips.

Age 10. Puberty hits and I seek out porn. When no one is looking I snag a few glances at Playboy and it’s get me excited. With all these raging hormones anyone naked gets me excited. I start to wonder if the guys in Playgirl also get fully naked. Isn’t that what most 10 year old boys are curious about? Thinking nothing about my sexuality I go to Barnes and Noble to take a look. I like what I see as I flip through the page. This excites me a lot more than girls ever do. In this moment the light bulb goes on in my head. “Oh…. I’m gay!” The thought comes with a giant sense of relief. Like I’ve finally found the last clue in an escape room.

Age 11. I successfully steel a Playgirl magazine from Walden Books in the Meriden Mall. I get A LOT of use out of it.

Age 12. The (masculine) boys in school ask me out on dates trying and trick me into admitting I’m gay. With a heavy eye roll I decline their advances thinking what jerks they are. When I get home I fantasize about kissing them. This unfortunately plants the seeds of a long trend of being attracted to assholes.

Age 13. Being in the closet starts to feel claustrophobic. Making use of my sister’s old Seventeen magazines, I tear out and hang half naked pictures of Eric Nies (Real World season 1) on my bedroom wall as a passive aggressive way of forcing my mom to ask me if I’m gay. When I say yes she responds with “We already knew.”

Age 14. I’m looking forward to graduating and getting away from these kids. High school will bring hundreds of new faces and hopefully new opportunities. I’m getting to the point where the name calling is becoming more annoying rather than hurtful. The boys in my class start making fun of me for wearing corduroy pants. They are convinced that if the corduroy between my legs rubs together I’ll start a fire. (I swear I’m not making this up) I’m only 14 but even my young brain says “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me right?” It’s my first Ah-ha moment. Any lingering hurt and pain I have bottled up inside fizzles out with the realization that they’ve been full of shit the whole time.

Age 16. We have the internet at home and my favorite sites are PlanetOut and Chubnet. High school is going well. Amongst a larger class I’m able to blend in and largely go unbothered even while wearing my favorite electric blue Doc Martins. A small handful of friends know I’m gay but I don’t come out to the entire school. I’m less worried about the students’ reaction and more worried about the catholic school faculty’s reaction. The administration has already fired a teacher for marrying a divorced woman. While I don’t outwardly say that I’m gay I refuse to pretend to be straight.

Age 19. I start college at UMass Amherst and move directly into a dorm for queer students.

Age 20. I have my first kiss.

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Everyday Drag

 

  1. Work Drag- Work you is quiet and polite. Work you laughs at the 4 year old meme your middle age mom coworker shows you. Work you says things like “I really didn’t do much over the weekend” because the honest answer would be too hard to explain and would probably land you in the HR office. “My third was in town so we went to the Find A Cure for AIDS circuit party when the molly kicked in and next thing I knew…”
  2. Family Drag- See work drag but replace the mom coworker with your actual mom. Family you is also in a monogamous relationship and acts horrified at the thought of your partner having sex with someone else. “Gasp! I can’t imagine such a betrayal.”
  3. Elitist Drag- When you’re in elitist drag you make sure everyone knows how absolutely fantastic your life is. If your declining a Facebook invite you make a point of giving every detail of the fantastic plans that are keeping you away. When elitist you returns from a vacation say phrases like “The trip was fantastic but I didn’t take any photographs because I really wanted to be in the moment.”
  4. App Drag- Whether it’s Growlr, Scruff, or Grindr everyone has that very specific drag character. Start with a shirtless profile pic that shows skin but isn’t too trashy. The profile text is as simple as possible because we all know the more you write the crazier you are. Sure you’re a pup bottom who wants to live with a cage on your cock and a dog mask on your head… but really you’re just a simple guy looking for some buds to hang out with.  “Woof.”
  5. Facebook Drag- Everyone has a social media drag persona. Are you the introvert who puts on Facebook drag so you can be a loud mouth whose only joy comes from correcting and educating people in the comments. “Actually what most people refer to simply as Star Wars is really episode 4 and…”  Or maybe you’re an extrovert who gets into into Facebook drag to become a silent lurker who only wants to watch the dumpster fire from a safe distance.
  6. Bar Drag- Bar you ignores the guy you’ve fucked 5 times because you’re embarrassed by him even though the sex is good. Bar you talks endlessly with those people who you only ever see at a bar and never in real life. In fact you probably don’t even remember their name. Bar you wears a harness and cargo shorts because you don’t care about fashion. Thank god masculinity is always real and has nothing to do with drag.

One Last Time 


Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t written a blog post in a while. Well I’m here to make it official and tell you that I’m closing the door on the Gay Gasp. While my original intention was to go quietly it occurred to me that my loyal readers deserved some closure.  Some of you have reached out to me to ask about my lack of posts and reasons for stopping so I thought I would write one last post explaining why now was the time to stop.

  1. I’ve run out of stuff to talk about. For most of 2016 I struggled to come up with new and interesting topics. Blogging became more of a chore than the joy it once was for me. I found myself wanting to go back to the same issues over and over again and it started to creep into online therapy territory rather than witty observation. While I could continue to write about my feeling that everyone around me in more attractive than I am it’s clear that problem is just my own insecurity and I should tell a therapist not the internet. Rather than rehash the same topics over and over again I’m choosing to quit while I’m ahead.
  2. It’s not my job to fix your life. This has become my new motto. Part of my intent with blogging was to expose people to different ideas and opinions. After 6 years I am now at the point where I feel like it’s not my job to expose you to new things or educate you on ideas that already exist. My very average self was able to find all of these topics and so should you. It sounds harsh but I can’t continue to think it’s my responsibility to educate the masses. I’ll give you an example, recently Buzzfeed publish a listicle called “Gays Literally Yell Every Single Time You Play These Songs.” I posted it to Facebook because it was fun and rang very true to me. Later in the day a person on my friends list posted the same article damning it for assuming all gay men listen to that shitty music. Reading his reaction and the subsequent comments was very disheartening. It felt like everyone just wanted to say “I’m not one of those girly boys who listens to that fag music.” The rage grew inside me and my first instinct was to make an aggressive comment calling out his internalized homophobia.  Luckily reason took over and I instead made one simple comment about how I enjoyed the list and music it featured. There was no need to call him out because call out culture is gross and self serving. Before defriending him I considered keeping him on my friends list because I felt it was my duty to expose him to the a more flamboyant gay sensibility. However I remembered my motto and told myself it wasn’t my job to fix his life or defend mine. A respectful defriend is all that was needed.
  3. Everyone thinks their opinion matters. Everyone has an uneducated opinion on every topic that they feel is very important and their opinions must be heard. Don’t worry, I’m not talking about you. I’m sure the articles you share on Facebook are different. Rather than feed into this culture I decided to opt out and simply shut up. I still have opinions but I don’t need to publish them on the internet anymore.
  4. What you want to read is not what I want to write. My most popular posts have usually been in reference to bear runs and pool parties. While those topics are fun they provide a very shallow pool from which to draw inspiration. I truly love the bear community but I don’t find it interesting or complex enough to write about. On the flip side the posts that I’ve been the proudest of haven’t made much of an impact. There’s no right or wrong here just a disconnect of interest.

I’d like to thank everyone for reading and enjoying my writing over the past 6 years. Even though I’m closing the door on The Gay Gasp I’m leaving that door unlocked. I’m not ruling out the possibility of one day returning with more writing. For now though I must say good.

The Gay Gasp

40 Questions for the Future

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  1. What if Donald Trump gets re-elected?
  2. How do we prevent Pulse from being forgotten?
  3. Will I end up turning into the cranky old man afraid of change that I hate?
  4. Will Queen Latifa and Tyler Perry ever come out?
  5. Why is sucking cock so incredibly wonderful?
  6. Is it possible to complain about social media without sounding like an old man yelling at the clouds?
  7. If we let conservative racists use the N word can we call them Nazis in return?
  8. Are you as excited as I am that Hulu will start streaming The Golden Girls in February?
  9. Who will win in the final face off, John Snow or Daenerys?
  10. When there is a study linking shitty behavior (messiness, ignoring texts, etc) to intelligence does that excuse the shitty behavior?
  11. Can “Now that Trump is the president I can’t be your friend on social media” be a new Hallmark card?
  12. When will Miss Piggy get the late night talk show I feel she deserves?
  13. If I wrote an advice book do you think they’d let me call it Advanced Faggotry?
  14. Do I have to pretend to have respect for someone after they buy a gun?
  15. Will my anxiety over passing out ever go away?
  16. Why isn’t there a fast food restaurant with the food quality of Whataburger and the drive through speed of McDonald’s?
  17. When will I finally get to see Hamilton?
  18. If you won the lottery would you stay in your current city or move?
  19. Will we ever lose our body issues?
  20. Will orgies ever be popular again?
  21. If given the option would you pick Donald Trump as president or a 3rd term for George W Bush?
  22. Where have all the cowboys gone?
  23. Are Trump voters excited about the future?
  24. Will I ever enjoy sci-fi fantasy?
  25. Is Lena Dunham a pioneering feminist or or just a whinny rich girl?
  26. Why aren’t there more gay comedians?
  27. Will bears ever be willing to openly admit to using steroids?
  28. Once marijuana is legal throughout the country will it become as lame as cigarettes are now?
  29. Will I ever have money in my savings account?
  30. Is it bad that I’m kind of hoping for another housing crash so that I’m able to afford a home?
  31. How long will it take for there to be an openly gay player in every major sport?
  32. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?
  33. Will Lorde ever release a second album?
  34. Can anyone successfully follow Anna Wintour as editor and chief of Vogue?
  35. Which part of history are we repeating?
  36. When will we have a gay president?
  37. Will there ever be a cartoon with characters who change clothes every episode?
  38. Will Apple ever truly surprise and excite customers at an iPhone launch again?
  39. When will I start attracting daddy lovers?
  40. Will this all work out in the end?

Movie Review: Rogue One


Rogue One is the worst of all the Star Wars movies. Absolutely awful. This latest incarnation takes a deep dive into the Star Wars timeline between episodes 3 and 4. Unfortunately the plot of the movie is terribly derivative which is only made worse by the cast of forgettable actors and actresses. It’s clear that now with Disney in control of the franchise they are going to churn out cookie cutter versions of an old story just for quick money. I wish Hollywood would stop relying on sequels and start creating more original content. Skip this movie at all costs. I give it a solid D-. 

I guess I should mention that I haven’t actually seen Rogue One. However I’ve seen other space movies so my opinion is important and matters. 

Last week I posted a link for The Great Instagram Experiment on Facebook and it got a lot of attention resulting in more comments than usual. The post touched on a sensitive topic so naturally many people had their opinions. I was happy to see people engaging with the article but the comments were a bit baffling. The majority of people sharing their opinions were not Instagram users themselves. That didn’t stop them from trying to explain to me what I might have missed or why I might be wrong. While I’m happy to hear from other IG users about their experience I don’t really know what to do with the opinions of people who don’t use the app. It’s like reading a movie review written by a guy who hasn’t watched the movie. So rather than write long paragraphs about how our society is filling up with people who feel their opinions, no matter how uneducated, are important I decided to write a movie review for a film I haven’t seen. 

In conclusion I leave you with some final thoughts: 

  • Just because you use Facebook doesn’t make you an expert on social media. Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and Pariscope are all different with different purposes. 
  • Not all media is for everyone. As our culture diversifies there are more and more movies, tv shows, and books that a created for a specific group of people and that might not include you and I. Rogue One is a deep dive for Star Wars fans who have seen all the episodes and understand the timeline. Rogue One isn’t for me and thats alright. In the same way a straight guy might not get the comedy of Girls Will Be Girls or a white person might not understand all of the nuances of Atlanta and Insecure. 
  • I have the right to my own opinion but just because I have an opinion doesn’t mean it matters. 

The Great Instagram Experiment 


Over the past year I’ve being conducting an informal experiment on Instagram. Starting on January 1, 2016 I challenged myself to post a picture to Instagram every single day of the year. Even though it was challenging at times I kept up with it and never missed a day. The idea started when I saw the compilation of my 9 most liked images of 2015. Of the 9 pictures I was only in 7 of them and there was only 1 picture of me alone. Most of the pictures were of me and my boyfriend Russ which resulted in him also being in 7 of the pictures. My first instinct tugged at my low self-esteem and I instantly assumed that everyone’s favorite part of my account was my boyfriend and therefore I must be irrelevant. Before letting the negative shame spiral go too far I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and take action to change things. Whenever there is a problem I want to fix I always start by looking at what I can change or possibly do better. I considered the fact that I might not be putting in a solid effort with the app. Maybe there was a link between popularity and frequency. If I used the app more maybe I would get more attention. I had only been a casual user in the past so inconsistency might be to blame. If there was a secret algorithm that boosted visibility based on how often pictures where posted I was going to find it. I decided to give my thesis a try to see if I could win Instagram without being the hottest in the room. After a year of posts I learned a lot and got answers to all of my questions.  

At the beginning of the year when I started this experiment I investigated techniques for gaining followers and likes. For example I read a blog advising that posting pictures at the same time every day helps increase stats. It was also recommended to post pictures earlier in the day because most users look at Instagram early rather than later. Even though weekends tend to provide the most picture taking opportunities it’s not when people are actually looking at the app the most. In fact Instagram reports that week days, Tuesday morning specifically, is when the most people are using the app. It was useful information to learn. Other ways to connect with people such as using a lot of hashtags and following an excessive number of accounts to try and get them to follow you back felt a little less genuine and manufactured so I skipped those. After a couple weeks of consistent posting I did start to noticed a gradual increase in likes and followers. It was small but still an improvement.  

The more I used Instagram the more I noticed the 10% threshold. Regardless of how many followers a person had, it was difficult to get more than 10% of those followers to like a single post. When someone had hundreds of likes on a picture I would check their follower count and do the math. The ratio was almost always very similar. After looking at accounts of all different types I realized that the average post got 5% to 6% of a person’s followers to double tap. A special post, the type that will later be included in the best of the year, only got about 8% to 10% of a person’s followers to double tap. That means that about 90% of people ignore most posts. Either that or 90% of users rarely look at IG and therefore just miss a post all together. It was the great equalizer and I got some comfort to know that no matter what the follower count is we all are getting the same level of interaction.

In March I started to see the cracks in my experiment start to show. While out at a bar during TBRU I posted a picture of 4 of my friends. When the picture started to rack up tons of likes I was shocked because it broke all the rules that I had read about. There were no hashtags and it was posted late on Saturday night which in theory was the least ideal time for a post. The common denominator I was trying to ignore and overcome was staring me in the face. They were all hot. My 4 wonderful friends were and are all very good looking and incidentally I was not in the picture. At the time I shrugged it off as a freak occurrence and continued to tell myself that I would win in the end. I was certain this experiment would pay off. There must be a way to get attention on IG without being the hottest guy in the room. 

Now that the year has come to an end I looked my top 9 most liked images of the year. After 154 selfies I was hopeful that my efforts would pay off and I would end up being a bigger focus of my own account. Unfortunately when I saw the results it just confirmed what I had learned but tried to ignore over the past year. Of the 9 most liked pictures this year I was only in 5 of them with on 1 being a picture of me alone. All my diligent posting efforts resulted in me being included in even less pictures than the year before. Clearly success equals cuteness and there is no big secret to winning the IG game because it all boils down to looks. By the way that TBRU picture from March was included as one of the top 9. What I learned was that Instagram is not the level playing field I wanted it to be. Instead the app is just another reflection of our culture. A cute person (or even a dog) will rack up followers and likes much quicker than an average Joe like myself. While I consider myself to be handsome my looks don’t make me stand out from the crowd and therefore I guess I was fighting a losing battle from the start.

I must admit I’m really looking forward to January when I don’t need to post a picture every day. However after this year long process I still have a great fondness for Instagram. Even though it’s not perfect I like it better than Facebook because it’s all visual. It is and will continue to be my escape from the self-important political rants and ‘pick a number to get something special in your inbox’ bullshit of Facebook. Instagram is a shallow app ruled by hot people and I’m totally ok with that. In the end I’d much rather look at a picture of a wanna-be power lifter than read about his opinions on Aleppo.  


Instagram Stats for 2016: 

  • Number of pictures posted: 428
  • Number of followers gained: approx 600
  • Number of selfies (pictures of me alone or with Phoebe the dog): 154