A short essay about sex, a sports bet and how Edie Windsor inspired me to always insist that I be treated the same way as one would a straight person.
One night, I was listening to some Miami Sound Machine on a study break and I switched on my gay chat roulette. It's usually a nice distraction from some of the tough topics I struggle with into the night and gay men are generally well-raised human beings; nice, friendly and interesting to talk to. To be blunt however, almost everyone on gay chat roulette is constantly just masturbating furiously and I've always felt that if I'm going to be part of the 1 percent someday, I had better not get myself in a position where there's a screen-grab of me out there with a sexually shocked expression on my benign and boring face.
It will be different once I am of a status to spin it into a highly sale-able socialite sex-tape but I am absolutely not there yet. I claim to be sex-positive but I still find myself whispering the word "pre-cum" when I have to say it. Furthermore, I tend to daintily shield that particular worded whisper behind my hand. I am still working hard at dismantling my own internal sense of sexual taboo.
I might achieve this by standing on a mountain and shouting the word "pre-cum" out onto the horizon, but really who knows? I do try to create my own media which is comprised of predominantly gay sexuality in rhyming form, for no other reason that it is so hard to come across in the mainstream, and I need it, and only one of my friends on Tumblr seems to like it, which is still cool.
At the same time, far be it for me to criticize another human being's desire for some kind of sexual interaction. Sex is sex: it's interpersonal and both visual and tactile. It's sensuous in the sense that if you can smell it, taste it, feel it, hear it and see it, then you're probably doing it very well. If you only have the option available to see another consenting human adult's sexuality yet still be somewhat interactive about it, then I also see that as a positive thing.
The cams started flipping by: wanking, wanking, wanking, request to see the soles of my feet, wanking, request to watch me take a dump, wanking, wanking. Then a dark screen with the camera switched off. Then a cut-and-paste message that read:
"I lost a bet on a Cubs game and I have to watch 100 gay guys jerk off on this site as my forfeit. You are number 13. Will you click next please?"
Suddenly, I felt incredibly protective of all the other masturbating gay guys and I very strongly felt like this sports bet forfeit was diminishing, invasive, rude and witheringly hetero-superior. I thought I was equal now. Why the hell did I feel like Laney Boggs does at the end of She's All That, when she asks Freddie Prinze Jnr "Am I a F**KING bet?" And why on earth would she still like him by the final scene?
This sports bet embodied all of these persistent, daily micro-objectifications that permit people to invade and assume about my private aspects of my life, and lately this had been bumming me out. So I smartly replied:
"No. Go watch some straight guys jerk off."
I then informed the Cubs fan that I would not click 'Next,' probably ever. I was listening to the Greatest Hits of Gloria Estefan, and that I could go all night without clicking 'Next,' and that was absolutely what I planned to do because his sports bet was extremely invasive and diminishing of exactly one hundred gay men.
He accused me of being one of these gays that felt like the world was against them and that I was acting out this self-created persecution complex, when there was actually nothing wrong with the way anyone treated me based on my sexuality.
He assured me that he had nothing against "my people."
I reminded him that I was never in a hundred million, billion years going to click 'Next' and if he wanted, he could click 'Next' and start his forfeit from number one (he was only at number 13 out of a hundred after all) or he could sit and listen to some retro pop music and chat with me until he got bored. He was still being very rude, so I put on Lily Allen, "Fuck You" and did a little one-finger dance for him.
The first hour went by. He wasn't enjoying my music or answering my questions properly but he still really wanted me to click 'Next' so he could continue to honor his forfeit -- he took the approach of turning on the charm. He told me that I looked like Chris Hardwick. I asked who Chris Hardwick was. And he said that Chris Hardwick was the only guy he would ever let bend him over and give him one.
I said, "Well that's nice." Then I googled Chris Hardwick -- who is not that good-looking, but probably still better looking than I am and obviously possesses a bunch more charisma, and/or money.
We argued some more about why I was being such a dick and I said that I'm being a dick because I want things to change and I'm literally going to do my part, in any way I can. The Cubs fan said that activism was pointless and social justice struggles were just pie in the sky. I said that I thought he was wrong and it's important to actively dismantle imbalanced systems of abusive power and diminishment, no matter how long it takes, or how exhausted it makes you because the alternative is erasure, which is far worse.
He asked me what happens after you've dismantled these systems of power -- with what do you replace them? It was a sad question because my gut answer was, "More systems that will eventually get re-purposed and corrupted by inevitable human nature, I guess." It was getting existential and I was worried because I felt like my browser was going to crash.
We were deep into the second hour when I asked him if he thought that the friend who had put him up to this forfeit was actually a self-loathing closet case. This annoyed him. So we argued about grammar (his was better than mine) and then I asked him if he wanted to help me edit the paper I was working on, because he obviously had a sharp mind and we could do something productive with our time.
Then we started actually conversing: he asked me what was I writing about and I told him I'm writing a policy paper on class, inequality and cultures of implicit homophobia and how it assists in the depowerment of LGBTQ people in hetero-dominant organizational cultures.
He told me that those were all made up words. I threw out some facts about how 65 percent of Americans live in States where there were no LGBTQ employment protections. He admitted that he probably lived in one of those States (New Mexico). He guessed that I wasn't American from the way I spell it "honour" instead of "honor" and asked me how did I know so much about US politics for an Irish guy?
I told him that I had lived there in 2013 and that I was living there when Edie Windsor successfully challenged DOMA in the Supreme Court. I pulled up a picture of Ms. Windsor on my phone and held it up to my computer cam. I told him that this was the 90-year-old lesbian who created the greatest party of that summer for boys and girls like me in the US, and it was one of my favourite memories of the time I spent in America. It had changed me; started to make me feel like I matter.
I stressed that I didn't know this lady personally but I certainly respected the hell out of her. Edie had dug herself in and insisted that the love she had shared with Thea had been a very human love. She insisted it until SCOTUS finally understood this as fact, and turned her love for Thea into a veritable legacy. What Windsor stood for was what I had learned to stand for, by her example: you treat any of us the same as you would a straight person.
Then he said, "Ok Irish Chris Hardwick. It's been actually really nice talking to you. More than you know but I guess I'm going to go now."
And he clicked 'Next' and then I guess everyone just started wanking again, and honestly, that was okay too. The Cubs fan was gone, and I sat there with my picture of Edie, as a stream of one hundred masturbating men just clicked 'Next.'
I didn't care. I just imagined the real Edie Windsor would be all like: "Good job, kid."
And I'd be like: "Thanks Edie."