Ask Daddy: This is Why I Hate the Way Gay Men Chat Online

Written by | Lifestyle

Young Man at Computer

Ask Your Daddy is an advice column for LGBTQ readers with questions relating to sexuality, morality, coming out or navigating relationships. And always remember, the best advice this Gay Daddy has for you is that if you have an urgent issue or are in need of regular counseling, seek out a therapist who can offer you individual care in person.

This week, Kevin responds to a writer who wonders why some gay men who would never identify with Donald Trump or Kevin Spacey engage in behavior that is a little too close to theirs.

Dear Daddy,

Maybe you’ll think I’m making a big deal out of nothing, but I just don’t get gay men sometimes.

I’m on a site that posts vintage photos of men — some of them gay, some of them not. Some are old pics of relatives or royals or soldiers dating back to the Civil War. So many of them are inspiring, and not just because the men are, more often than not, handsome. I kind of find it refreshing that what we consider handsome today was just as good-looking more than a hundred years back.

As beautiful as these guys are, it’s the comments that turn me off so much. It’s like that old image of construction workers whistling and making creeper comments when a pretty girl walks by. They post things like, “That one’s mine!” and “I’d put my legs in the air for that!” I find it seriously pervy. It’s the same kind of thing that Donald Trump called “locker room talk,” I guess. But if we condemn him and Kevin Spacey for taking advantage of people, then why should it be okay for us to do something in the same ballpark?

I just wondered what your take on it might be.

—Jon in San Antonio

No Sleaze, Please

Dear Jon,
Well, let’s parse this. As anyone who’s gay already knows, you can’t control what attracts you. So let’s not shame people for that. But there are different kinds of attraction. You might look at these photos and see only handsome men. But it’s hard to believe a gay man like you might not also find some desirable. And that’s fine. Now you already have something in common with the guys whose comments annoy you.

Maybe it’s just the public nature of their catcalling you dislike. Perhaps it’s that the people in the photos can’t defend themselves. Maybe you put yourself in their place and wouldn’t like lurid comments being directed at you or someone who means something to you. But what they’re doing is simply living out a fleeting fantasy of what it might be like (or have been like) to get with a guy with his looks.

Pick Your Battles

I’d say you have the moral high ground on this one, because gutter talk demeans us all. It is a form of objectifying — which we all do — because everyone has a physical ideal. Those archetypes, whether they’re muscle men or the boy next door, are lodged deep in our lizard brains, and there’s a lot to love about celebrating the male image. But when objectifying becomes an act, that’s where you have people grabbing women by their genitals or Hollywood celebrities taking advantage of their status to force themselves on anyone who tickles their fancy. That is never something to condone.

Don’t conflate sexual assault with a random post that turns your stomach. And, if it’s any comfort, try to remember that we live in a heteronormative society where gay guys cannot get away with phrases like “I’d hit that” in most public settings. So maybe it’s not pretty, and maybe it makes us all look like we’d jump anything wearing pants. But the only real harm is how the internet has made us all feel anonymous enough to hang our libidos out like laundry on a clothesline for all to see.

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The Advice

I’d say that you should try to enjoy the site for what it is. If you want to call out the creepers, you can do that, too. But I wouldn’t hold my breath expecting that they’ll change or go away. I’m afraid you may just be too genteel for these times.

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Last modified: November 22, 2019