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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Love, Lust and Twinks

When I was in the traps, donkey’s years ago, I had never heard of the word "twink".  We had “sexy”, and “handsome” and “attractive”, but (such was my innocence or at least ignorance) I knew nothing about bears or leather or daddies or cubs or lycra or twinks.  Nothing about all the different tribes of gay.  Not that I didn’t find, say, blokes in leather jackets on big bikes hot, or a dancer in lycra sexy.  I just didn’t know about the details of the subcultures involved.  I thought in my inexperience that gay was gay.  When I eventually encountered the word “twink”, I had to look it up.  Wikipedia’s definition is  "a gay slang term describing a young or young-looking gay man with a slender, ectomorph build, little or no body hair, and no facial hair" (1)   I knew at once what was being described, because I once was one.

Some people seem to think the word distasteful, judgmental or patronising.  I’m sorry if you are offended by my using it.  Yet I believe we are too precious about the use of some words.  Today I saw a tweet saying that to be called cute is an insult.  Being Twitter, there wasn’t enough room for the grumbler to say why it was offensive.  I mean, honestly, I wish I was cute.  Cute would do me very nicely, thank you.  Far better, frankly, than its antonym, ugly.

OK, then.  Well, not long ago, I was lunching at a favourite vegetarian resto. The waiter who served us (“Simon”) was simply dazzling, and the perfect example of a twink.  I lusted after every inch of him.  This cute stunning bloke was about 20, slim and hairless, and poured into his skin-tight jeans.  He was … gorgeous, sexy, beaut. Utterly desirable.  I wanted to do him right then, to caress the adorable curves of his bum, to slide slowly into him and feel his pleasure as I did.  And to do it all again in half an hour.

This unseemly lust reminded me of “John”, who used to work in another of my favourite veggie restos.   John was also a twink:  slim, slightly muscled, five o’clock shadow on his chin, beaut jacaranda eyes and thick curly black hair.  He wore skin-tight stretch jeans and t-shirts which revealed his flawless waist and belly-button.  Once he served us wearing a pair of shiny white lycra tights sprinkled with multi-coloured polka dots.  I confess to not being altogether fully attentive to my dinner companions, as he passed within a foot or two, his groin at face height.  Some might have dismissed him because he was a little queeny, but I found him incomparably sexy, in truth sexier because of his androgyny.  Cute, hot, beautiful, slim, delicious, fuckable.  And brave too: dressed like that, to wander the streets at night, even Brunswick Street—that’s brave.  But then it has always seemed to me that swishy queens are particularly valiant: to be who they are, and to flaunt their sexuality and gender dysphoria in the face of a deeply hostile world, takes great courage.

The third example is an incongruous one.  But it made me think (who was it who said curiosity is the sign that your brain is still working? Mine still is, I think, even as the rest of me wears out.)  It was the waitress at our staff Christmas dinner.  Slim, short-cut raven-black hair, perfect sky-blue eyes, boyish enough to be extraordinarily attractive to this mostly gay bloke.  She looked like a female version of Elijah Wood, who played Frodo in the Lord of the Rings.  Lovely.  Desirable, perfect, sexy, fuckable.  Which made me wonder how much of my attraction to the two twinks was because of their androgyny.  Because my attraction to her certainly was.  More of that in a minute.

With neither of these exquisite young men nor this gorgeous woman did I wish to be friends.   An embarrassing confession.  Like so many straight men who are very happy to fuck young women but not have a deep friendship with them (2).  I was profoundly attracted to them, but to their bodies, not to their minds.  Not to them as people. And for someone who claims to so value character and intelligence and personality, that was a revealing and rather unpleasant insight.  It was embarrassing and shaming to me to realise that even at this age, my hormonal fires burn strongly enough to make me not as nice a person as I would like to be.

Let me not exaggerate, and let me say at once, were we to have a relationship (which we wouldn’t because I am faithful to my lady), I would try to be kind and attentive and generous.  I would listen to their problems; take them clubbing (shudder) or whatever it might be that they wanted to do with me; admire their person and the clothes they wore; encourage and support and console; endure des ennuis with fortitude and (I trust) a sense of humour; and so on.  And when the relationship inevitably ended, I would kiss them and send them on their way, my heart mostly untouched, and theirs too, I hope.  More than fuck buddies, but less than lovers.

I feel I have to say this, because there are some men—macho, heterosexual men, so called “real men”—who think it’s OK to treat women like pieces of meat, as this recent case exemplifies (3).  And there are some gay men who are no different, except that it’s men they objectify.  Their partner isn’t a person.  It’s just a living plastic blow-up doll.

These cuties of both genders weren’t quite that for me, but they came uncomfortably close, I fear.  Too close.  An eye-opening insight.

So far so good (are you still with me, or have you pronounced an anathema against me and signed off in disgust?)

Now, also quite recently, I had to have dealings with “Darrell”.  Darrell was in charge of doing the concreting in the extension we’ve done to our house.  Darrell is not a twink.  Darrell is an ocker (4), working-class, bogan (5) Ozzie, with a slight tummy, a developing second chin, dust on his Blundstone boots, and shorts which were so loose they were about to fall off.  Dusty shorts.  Worn shorts.  Incredibly fucking sexy shorts.  Unselfconscious: no careful display of his package or his pectorals; no attempt to make himself attractive or desirable.  Because he didn’t need to.  He was quite secure in himself, in his normality and his maleness.  I was the insecure one.  I found myself in half in love with Darrell.  In love?  Quelle blague!

This is where I had another humiliating insight.  I didn’t lust after him as I lusted after the three cuties.  I didn’t really lust after him at all.  What I wanted was for him to care about me, to accept me, to cuddle me, to be my friend.  Even though I knew we would have nothing to talk about (“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” Would he even know that that was Shakespeare, and written to a man?) and absolutely nothing in common.  Despite knowing this, I wanted his mind, not his body.  Well, not exactly his mind.  His affection, his friendship, his love, his protection, his acceptance.  I wanted him to love me.  It’s true that some part of me was prepared to have sex with him to make him my friend, not because I wanted it but because it was coin I could offer.  A friend once said to me that like a woman with men, I offered sex to men to get them to like me.  I don’t know whether women do that, but his observation struck a chord.  How sad is that, that I try and buy love with my body?  Not least because we all know, of course, that this doesn’t work with straight men.  My rational brain told me not to be a fool, that what I have with my lady and my family is really good and keeps me happy and sane.  That didn’t stop a very primitive chunk of me wanting Darrell’s approval, love, and friendship, and being prepared to fuck to get them.

I was ready to give my heart to Darrell.  Because of a deep manly voice, a pair of dusty shorts, worn Blundstones and an ocker accent.  Darrell didn’t have a perfect body.  Or a slim muscular bum.  He was not beautiful.  He was just a bloke.  A straight bloke.  An ordinary bloke.  A normal bloke.  But he pushed all my buttons.

And here’s a weird thing:  while I was talking to Darrell, after he’d unbent a little, he started to flirt with me.  Quite unconsciously.  In fact, when he became aware of it, he stopped.  In other words, he responded to my … my what? My flirtation?  My attraction?  My longing to be loved by a man like him?  Was I emitting particles which he reacted to?  Setting aside my age and opposite of cuteness, was I the equivalent of a twink to Darrell?

It reminds me of Annie Proulx talking about how she came to write Brokeback Mountain.  She saw an old cowboy in a bar looking with longing at the younger blokes.  Am I as transparent to strangers?  How humiliating!  That my rather pathetic need to be loved should be so obvious even to a straight man.  Being bullied and lonely at school has made some primeval element of my psyche respond to strong “manly” men, the kind who used to beat me up, the kind who so comprehensively rejected me at school.  And would—and do—reject me now.  At the same time, my intellect and my heart make me oppose the type of oppressive manliness they represent and epitomise, where tenderness is unmanly, and caring is a sign of weakness.

How complicated and muddled we are.  Who would have thought that the small boy and teenager bullied mercilessly at school would have grown up to lust after the acceptance and affection of the clones of his tormenters?  How …. bizarre.  How sad.  I thought I understood myself, but what I didn’t realise is how both extremes of my interactions with men are unbalanced.  At one end, lust.  At the other, a sort of grubby and unfulfillable hero-worship.

No wonder I can’t get close to men, straight, gay or whatever.  Because the balanced centre, which combines love with lust; the sacred with the profane (6); soul and body, eludes me.   To most men, I come across as needy and too eager to please.  And they will sense, even if they are not consciously aware of it, the particles I emit, as Darrell did, as Annie Proulx saw with that old cowboy in the bar in Wyoming, and despise me for it.

I am more glad than ever that I have my lady: clever, witty, honourable, sexy.   Who does know where “shall I compare thee to a summer’s day” comes from.  Who thinks my gender dysphoria makes me a better not a worse man, and loves me because of it.


Max said...

A very brave post.

I see it as frank and honest as it is, because I have much the same feelings.

But it is not all regret. If I didn't have lustful feelings, how could I be sure of my self discipline and control? Life would be more dull if we didn't notice the beauty.

I often think that the beauty out there is just for me. The beautiful man does not appreciate his beauty (he seldom sees it). I would imagine it might make it even more difficult for him to find real love (as opposed to being used for his looks).

But I can look and admire, and hopefully realize that I would be no more sexually sated by possessing him as by merely admiring him.

Nikolaos said...

Thank you Max. It seems to me that we must at the very least be honest with ourselves. So I must follow mys personal insights where they lead. Which is sometimes to some very uncomfortable places.