Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Is this a repeat?

 

Can't tell, I've lost count. But still interesting . . .


What it’s like to be gay, hairy and fetishized





The hair on my chest, ass, and thighs has been the property of others for as long as I’ve had it.
 
When I was in high school, boys in the gym locker room would make their eyes as big as a tree frog’s and cackle in the direction of the tangled, coarse, chestnut-colored mess of hair on my chest. To avoid unwanted attention, I changed clothes in the bathroom stall.
 
The boys who laughed at the sight of my chest hair did not have as much as me, but were often the same ones who called me “faggot” or confronted me about my sexuality in front of large groups of people in the way that makes closeted, young gay boys’ hearts fall to their feet. My chest hair protected my masculinity in some ways, but also called attention to my difference. It was a weapon, but also a liability.
 
I came out as gay when I was a freshman in college. While my experience with my own body hair has changed, it’s still a point of conversation. Especially when it comes to sex. Often, it’s brought up even before we get into the bedroom.
 
Often, my body hair is sexualized by queer men, with nods to the disruptive perception that my body hair is representative of my masculinity. On the flip side, some queer men have flirted with suggestions of domination in the bedroom due to the inverse relationship between my body mass and the amount of body hair I have.
 
“Is it real?” A drunk guy once breathed into my ear at a club, looking at me with those same tree frog eyes, as he squeezed his hands between the buttons on my shirt and rubbed my chest as if I was some animal.
 
“When was the last time you shaved?” is a bizarre question for someone to ask when they’re lying next to me in bed.
 
“Never shave” were the parting words of a Grindr hookup one Sunday morning. I’ve been called minx, fairy, and otter and coaxed into sexual submission by larger queer men who associate masculinity with bulk and muscle – and hair, lots of hair.
 
These sorts of comments made by queer people have never bothered me the same way as the comments made by straight men. The former are rooted in sexual attraction, but the latter come from an arbitrary, dated idea of gender characteristics based on a Western standard of beauty. However, they both have to do with a relationship between sexualizing body hair and masculinity.
 
While my own experience with being hairy has been one of fetishization, having a lack of has its own set of problems. So says Hamad, a 23-year old queer person living in the Middle East. Hamad lives in Dubai, is half-Arab and half-Filipino and is relatively smooth.
 
“I’m not very hairy,” Hamad tells me. “People are shocked or disappointed [when they see my chest.] Depending on who I hook up with, they either say, ‘You’re so lucky you don’t have body hair,’ or ‘Oh, do you shave? So feminine.’ It’s very femmephobic.”
 
Often, body hair on queer men is an arbiter of masculinity. “You get to flaunt your masculinity with your body hair,” Hamad says. “It’s like peacocking. Muscle guys who are hairy are super desirable, but that’s not the case for fat people or skinny people. There are tribes like bears and otters where it gets fetishized. When you’re supposed to be feminine, you’re not supposed to have body hair. You can only have body hair if you have the masculinity to go with it.”

 

Within queer spaces, there are unwritten standards for these different tribes, and they’re strict. On apps like Scruff and Grindr, the user is given the option to specify what tribe they belong to. For instance, a “bear” is a man of bigger form who has lots of hair. An “otter” is smaller than a bear but equally as hairy. While gay culture has allowed men to become proud of their queer identities, this also has had a detrimental effect – it excludes those who are outside these spheres which are based on sexualizing body hair.
 
These apps go so far as to have a feature in which men can input their own exclusionary sexual preferences in their information section. While they believe this to be “preference,” it’s tied to white supremacy and racism. Often, the ones who are setting these exclusionary sexual rules are the same who self-promote their own idea of masculinity, racism and misogyny with headlines such as “Masc looking for masc,” code for no fats, no femmes, blacks or Asians.
 
This idealization of hyper-masculinity is toxic but it also perpetuates the idea that “an attraction to men is an attraction to masculinity.” At least, according to Duncan Shuckerow, who writes in their thesis, “Take Off Your Masc: The Hegemonic Gay Male’s Gender Performance on Grindr.” Since the thesis was published in 2014, the gay community has outwardly made progressive strides towards embracing diversity and inclusivity- expelling the body shame around sexualizing body hair. But what happens behind closed doors is completely different. The queer community may uplift the voices of femme-presenting queer icons or disenfranchised groups but engage with queer dating apps that dictate who’s invited to the orgy and who need not apply.
 
It’s hypocritical as it is extremely harmful to the psyches of men across the world. Men like Hamad, who may have grown up hairless, thinking body hair was important but after experiencing queer culture and his self-esteem. Years later, he’d learn to love his own body – his own lack of hair – after moving to the U.S. “Body hair is not something I think about too much [anymore],” he says, after years of reflection. “It’s like, do whatever you want and what makes you feel comfortable.”
 
As a young boy, my perception of what it meant to be masculine was tainted by boys who mistook my quiet nature and hairy chest for an oxymoron. Later, I confused my hairy chest for a sexual asset. Today, I question why I gave it all so much power.
 
 

8 comments:

maturegaydude said...

I love this post because it does deal with body shaming and this has become more prevalent in the gay community. For hookups I have one preference, Be Gay and be what you say you are in your profile. Ok that's 2. lol I always tell my hookups, I guarantee nothing until we meet ie: stay hard for hours, cum multiple times or even what actual activity. Cause in the end the chemistry, or lack thereof will decide how great a hookup will be. And I have had great sexual fun with guys as young as twenty, (when I was mid 40s) and as old as 73 about 8 years ago with all body types and races. I'm average, carry a little extra weight not too much, am now mostly grey hair on head face and body and have never been called Handsome or Gorgeous but have been told I look good. I have never had an issue hooking up or getting laid because I don't limit myself to certain types of people. Yes we have preferences, all of us. But variety is the spice of life! Best fuck I've had and still do is an overweight young man that knows how to use his and my body. It's never not hot. He was sure the first time I would not show up or leave as soon as I saw him buy we were naked and fucking most of the night and we'd finish and enjoy the afterglow and then just a touch or look or lick somewhere and I'd be hard and ready to go. My preference s normally for some body hair but he is so naturally smooth all over, and I will keep playing with him as long as he wants.

whkattk said...

Oddly enough, my wife loves a hairy chest. Alas, I do not have one. That's nature for ya.

JiEL said...

Very inspiring text as maculinity isn't according to how much hair you have all over your body.
I often saw those big bears acting and talking in «femenine» way even if at firts sight you could believe them to be very «masculine».

As you know now, I'm almost totally hairless and when I was teaching my students and co workers never put at stake my masculinity.
To me being a «man» is just being yourself no matter the hair or beard you have.

My ex BF (34yo) with whom I (58yo) was from 2009 to 2012 was what you can call «cub bear» with hair all over his body even on his back.
He usely like hairy older men but when we met, he fell in love with me and his preferences on hairy men was shaken.

Hair will always be a constant battle on gay men and even straight ones too.

Many years ago, I had a friend who was few years younger than me. Nice man, very masculine with a chest and belly very hairy BUT he was loosing almost all his hair on his head.
He was jalous of me saying that he would like to be like me to have a hairless body but have them all on his head.

Aging for men is often very damageable and sometimes the hair apparence is much to do about it.

Unknown said...

Whether a little or a lot, I see body hair as part of someone's individual maleness. Which is why I find it a turn-off when obviously altered, i.e., shaved or "groomed." And these days I am seeing a lot of shaved armpits in porn. When did that become a thing? Looks stupid and turns me off--see the first sentence again!

SteveXS said...

;-)

Unknown said...

The more I've thought about it, the more judgmental this article seems. Desire is a very complicated psychological thing. It's largely impossible to figure out why we might prefer some characteristics over others. If it weren't, we'd all follow the biological imperative to reproduce and be heterosexual. I think some people would also be offended by use of the word "fetish" as a negative. People really have very little control over what turns them on; they don't choose it any more than people choose to be gay. A lot of it is culturally constructed, and if that's where our notion of masculinity originates, then it's not surprising, or necessarily a bad thing, if that's what attracts you. We're products of our culture and our upbringing and experience, which are as varied as there are human beings. Which isn't to say there aren't ethical and psychological issues that might be in play. If we're only attracted to men who reject us, maybe there's something going on besides sexual attraction. If someone is most attracted to a type we would be embarassed for our friends to see, then you might be an asshole frankly. If a person of color is only attracted to white people, maybe there's some internalized issue about that--but not one to judge someone over. If we're among the "genetically blessed" as our society defines that, but reject socially everyone not as beautiful (again,culturally constructed), at least don't be cruel about it as sometimes people are. Know thyself, love yourself, respect others, keep an open mind, push on your boundaries a little. If you don't like how people talk to you or about you, tell them so, or choose your partners more carefully. There's nothing wrong about having "types," up to a point. Obviously the more "types" you have, the more likely you are to find satisfaction. I don't feel obliged to apologize for being turned off by body shaving or tattoos, but if I'm turned off by everyone who's racially or ethnically different, there may be something else going on that should be examined. Ditto any time we're ashamed to be seen with someone who isn't what our friends expect, maybe it's time to think about how we're impacted by peer pressure. But if someone is turned on by hairy guys, how about being grateful someone is attracted to you. If a gay man is attracted only to straight guys who aren't available to them, maybe it's time for some therapy. If someone keeps ending up with addicts or abusers, well there's something unhealthy going on, but it's not about sex. Otherwise: live and let live. Here endeth the reading.

SteveXS said...

Affirming not to judge someone about what turns them on as you've addressed. Yes, live and let live!

Anonymous said...

My husband is dark and hairy and appears very masculine with an average penis. I am pale and smooth, although I have a beard and hairy legs. I have been told (reminded) I have a large penis which, unfortunately, often became the main or even only fixation with guys before I met my husband. I learned people had shared that information and one man even wrote of it to mutual friends. I was mortified because it tended to make me feel like I didn't matter at all, only my genitals. I even worried that I couldn't live up to the imagination of others. I should just enjoy it right, but I'm introverted and became quite insecure over it. My husband felt as if men were disappointed when they finally saw him naked when they had the expectation that he should have a larger endowment based on his dark hairiness. Fortunately we found each other and moved beyond the limitations placed on us by others. Sure, I like his hairy body, but I'd be attracted if he were smooth as well. I hope he'd want me even if my cock were smaller ...