The Massage To Nowhere

Question from a new reader:
My roommate and I are best friends. To the point that we consider ourselves “platonic lovers” and really, a sort of couple. Also, we’re in a band together. The situation is weird to our friends, but we've learned to ignore all the questions. We don’t have sex, but we do sleep together and cuddle and massage each other. I'm the gay/bi one in the relationship. And sometimes I worry that the situation is more homoerotic than we like to think.

My friend has never given me the impression that he's turned on by our physical affection. And most of my closest friends in the past have been straight. Sort of intense “bromances.” So I don't think of sex and physical affection as linked. [I know this is probably some fear of intimacy quirk on my part...]

I don’t want to make my friend have same-sex desires. And I worry about his reputation being around me. And he has no previous history of being around gay guys. And I have spent very little time around men in “gay culture” settings. Question: are we kidding ourselves? One of our gal pals recently said “you two are in love, so have sex and get it over with.” Her comment pissed me off, but it stuck in my head.

The two of us are in love, in a way. But if we were to have sex, I’m very sure that our friendship would be ruined. But our “bonding time” -- as we refer to many hours spent in bed being physical but not sexual and chatting -- is suspicious to me. Yet him having a girlfriend only made him more affectionate. On the other hand, I get all my emotional and physical needs from him, so I don't even look at other guys. Am I in love but unable to face it?

I tell him I’m in love with him all the time. But I claim I don't want to have sex, and it's true. If you knew more about my sexual/romantic past with men and women you might understand more. Am I avoiding “the love task” by turning my friendships with straight guys into substitutes for real romance? In the past I consistently turned down approaches by straight guys who are curious. Then I have sought out sex with gay men I don't care about.

Just writing this email makes me feel weird. I know that life and love are sloppy… that all relationships are unique. And that you don't really know us, so it's hard to have input. But I thought the two of you might.

Anyway, just wanted your input.

Oh, cripes. Your roommate has my less-than-sensitive gaydar screaming like an air raid siren. Same with my dramadar, re: you. The fact that you are in a band means NOTHING. The fact that you felt the need to mention it up front speaks volumes about your need for attention.

Anyway, w
ho knew two mostly-gay dudes could cock-block each other into a masochistic stalemate? Instead of someone, anyone, making a move, you're putting all of your effort into maintaining an anguishing status quo. Maybe it's time to rip off the bandaid.

At some point, the bed-sharing, cuddling, and massaging (air raid! air raid!) gets to be too much for the rest of your friends to bear. You're living full-time in the boring, dialog-heavy, porn movie set-up that everyone hates (anything before the boom-chicka-wah-wah!). What your "gal pal" (ugh) meant to say was, "Get a room!" She's doing you a favor by trying to hit fast-forward.
  • Tip 1: No unattached adult is ever ambivalent about getting snuggled and rubbed in bed. If you haven't immediately jumped up and left the room, you're either turned on, being abused, or both. So, your roommate is either gay, bi, or catatonic.
  • Tip 2: Your roommate is more affectionate with you when he has a "girlfriend" because that's the only time he has cover, an alibi, and can better manage his denial.
  • Tip 3: This is one of the rare scenarios where getting wasted may be the solution rather than the problem. What happens when his inhibitions are lowest and you finally shut the eff up?
  • Tip 4: People who put "the love task" in quotes never get laid. Ever. Oh, crap!
Maybe you are damaged goods. I'm sorry, but who isn't? Maybe he's never coming out of his closet. Sorry about that, too. But don't trick yourself into thinking that you are complicated AND unique. You are in love with someone who might not be in love with you... yet. Wait, that's every romantic comedy ever made. How do they end, again? Personally, I know of many successful, long-term, romantic relationships initiated by "ruining the friendship."

It's really not about sexual orientation. You're obviously compatible and certainly sound gay or bi enough to me. It's about taking a chance and hoping for the best. I had a similar massage-to-nowhere problem with a girl in 8th grade. I made a move. Epic fail. It still hurts, but I wouldn't change a thing. Better to have groped and lost, than to have never groped at all.

All in all, I'm still betting on this relationship outlasting the band, which, I am absolutely sure, sucks.

What do you think GG?

--Straight Guy

Let me tell you a little story:

A couple of years ago, I dated a guy for about a month. Like a lot of things that start out red hot, it went cold fast. We, in the way that gay men do, stayed friends. Quite sincerely friends, as in zero lingering sexual tension. One evening he came over to watch TV -- to be precise a State of the Union address, which I specify only because that it must be the most sexless hour broadcast on TV in the course of a year. My TV was in the bedroom. See where this is going?

There we were, stretched out on my bed, fully clothed, shoes still on, not touching. We barely lasted five minutes before we had to call it off. It wasn't some whiff of prior desire raising its head. Lying within a yard of each other was just plain freaky and uncomfortable.

My point: Adult male friends do not sleep together, cuddle, or give massages to each other. Especially if at least one of them is straight. "Bonding time" is based on shared interests not shared body warmth. Adult men do not offer or accept cuddles or massages to anyone unless we mean business.

Here's a free life lesson for you: With the exception of going to work, a funeral, or wearing a sweater your mom knits you, people pretty much do what they want to do. Meaning your pal is exactly where he wants to be, doing exactly what he wants to do -- and so are you. You' re responsible for you own happiness; the only way you are cuddling up without knowing you are hurting yourself is if you are wearing an orange jumpsuit and missing your two front teeth.

I know my share about unrequited love, so in sympathy and with compassion, let me give you some tough love, step by step:
  • Your roommate has never let you know he's turned on by your mutual physical affection? He's not exactly pushing you away.
  • You cannot make someone else have same-sex desires. . . any kind of desire for that matter. If making same-sex desire was possible, I'd be lubing up with Michael Phelps.
  • Many hours spent in bed with you, then revs it up when he's dating a girl? Dr. Freud, call your office, you have a message.
  • Have you never checked him out during some of your massage sessions to see if he's throwing some wood? Never? Are you kidding me?
  • Yes, to answer your question, you are kidding yourself. You're not happy and you are not getting your emotional and physical needs met.
  • You tell him repeatedly that you are in love with him and he hasn't replied with a "Let's just keep it 'het'" conversation?
Sure, he's confused. Very confused. And so are you. I think you need to tell him the truth and ask for his truth in return. Maybe check in with a little therapy first. And, I mean that really kindly.

You asked for our input for a reason, which I assume is because we are a straight guy and a gay guy. Yep, Straight Guy has long been my best friend. I'd do anything I could for him, support him in any joy, sorrow, or trial. However, this does not include shaving his back.

--Gay Guy

Real Men Don't Watch E!

Gay Guy,

Spent part of the weekend in bed watching the E! Entertainment News Network. I know, I know. But give me points for owning up to it.

Seemed like a big week in celebrity gay news.

Clay Aiken is gay. (Next time, can we come up with a better headline than "I'm Gay," or "Yes, I'm Gay."?) Um, no surprise to me. But I do find some humor in the outraged reaction of Claymates. Is that Schadenfreude?

"This is really shocking news as I had no idea he was gay," read a comment... "And now I have to deal with this. I am not sure what to say to people who know I was a fan. ... I didn't go to work today and am not answering the telephone."

Lindsay Lohan MAY be gay. Am I a jerk for qualifying this... assuming that maybe this is just college-aged, girls-gone-wild, experimentation? What do I care? Why the double standard (guys are gay forever, girls are free switch it up)?

Brad Pitt and Steven Speilberg offer pro-gay support (political and financial) in the fight against the California ballot initiative to make same-sex marriage illegal.

Neil Patrick Harris brings his boyfriend to the Emmys including down the red carpet. No fuss no muss.

The celeb support of same-sex marriage and NPH's openness are all good news, I assume. But what's your take on the in/out frenzy re: Lohan and Aiken? These revelations got much more press and attention on the web.

--Straight Guy

I Reserve the Right to Exclude "Liza with a 'Z'"


We've had some great posts about the Out's "100 Greatest, Gayest Albums of All Time": Where's Priscilla, Queen of the Desert? Isn't gay music about male/male love?

As a reminder, to make the list, Out writes that it "polled more than 100 actors, comedians, musicians, writers, critics, performance artists, label reps, and DJs, asking each to list the 10 albums that left the most indelible impressions on their lives." So, there's gay and straight performers; I guess it's really the top "Greatest/Gayest People of All Time and What They Listen To" list.

A short and indulgent list of music that has made the greatest impression on/been the most relevant in my life AND has gay content?
  • B52s, Cosmic Thing
  • Tracy Chapman, Self Titled
  • Everything But the Girl, Amplified Heart
  • Joe Jackson, Night and Day
  • Pet Shop Boys, Discography
The top of the list:

• Priscilla, Queen of the Desert soundtrack

• Patsy Cline, 12 Greatest Hits

• Gayest, greatest of all time? I'd have to advocate for Erasure, The Innocents. Gay men singing about gay love.

• And,
Bronski Beat. Age of Consent. Political AND danceable.

--Gay Guy

If Music Be the Food of Love. . .

Straight Guy,

Out magazine is featuring the Top 100 Greatest, Gayest Albums of All Time.

I'll skip the "how do you define gay music?" brainiac talk and cut to the refrain: I have 32 of the 100. I'm curious, oh, straight friend, how many do you own? Readers, how many CDs are in your stash? Which ones do you love most? Let us know with a comment.

Here's a bit about my top faves on the list.
  • ABBA, Gold: Nothing particularly gay going on here, but "Waterloo" still makes my jump around the apartment with my air guitar.
  • Dusty Springfield, Dusty in Memphis: She had an authentic voice and a knock-out band. Every song is great, but I get carried away by "I Don't Want to Hear it Anymore."
  • Anthony and the Johnsons, "I Am a Bird Now": "This one will tear you up," said the knowing woman in the CD shop as she urged my to buy this a few summers back. How right she was. I'm not even sure I like the music, but the sound is raw and personal.

The Top 100 is a pretty good mix of styles, and not too heavy on the music for those nights spent alone, broken hearted, and newly single. How many nights can you drink a slosh of vodka tonics, put on Judy Garland's Judy at Carnegie Hall, and belt away with her to "The Man That Got Away" before you realize that you're only punishing yourself. Okay. . . well, turns out the answer is many, many times.

--Gay Guy

Thanks GG,

I own 23 of the Gayest Albums of All Time. Interesting criteria though. So Nirvana is gayer than the Village People -- who didn't make the list, at all? It's a schlocky stereotype, sure. But Donna Summer made the list... twice.

One of my college roommates was gay, but not out yet, and only fooling himself. He was also very active in his Jewish faith. So, like a moth to a flame, he was nuts for the Barbara Streisand Christmas Album. It didn't make Out's list, but my memories of him belting out Christmas Carols and mimicking Babs will always make it the Gayest. Album. Ever.

Nice guy.
I'm sure it was a confusing time for him. I give him points for bravery. Whether he was fearless or clueless, I still don't know. But that album basically outed him... and nearly converted him.

A few admissions:
  • The Immaculate Collection: The last, good, greatest hits album. Who does this anymore? Who even qualifies? U2?
  • Freedom 90: Perhaps the greatest pop song of that decade. I once saw a grungy band in a dive bar in Dewey Beach rock their version of this into the stratosphere.
  • Deee-Lite: Yes.
  • Prince: Longtime fan, even of the indulgent stuff (3 out of every 4 albums), but doesn't he deserve his own category, somewhere beyond the LGTBQ spectrum?
I'll have to check out "I Am a Bird Now." Never heard of it before.

--Straight Guy

Straight Guy,

I love the layers of irony in the story about your college room mate. The closeted gay guy who is Jewish thrilling to an album of Christmas songs recorded by a Jewish woman who is a gay icon. The truth is always odder than fiction, isn't it?

--Gay Guy

Disney World. August. Smell the Magic.

Gay Guy,

Here's something else I have in common with gay people: I like Disney World. Spent part of my recent vacation there.

But, like other introverted straight guys I know, it's all the other people who bring me down. If I hate crowds, heat, and waiting in line, what could go wrong?

Oh, who am I kidding? I love rides, pop culture, junk food, and sensory overload.
It brings out the best and worst in people... some folks high on life, others brought to the breaking point, sometimes both on the same day. My peeve: anytime a ride's finale deposits you at the back of a store. I refuse to buy anything from a shop I never planned on entering... unless it's really cool.

So, yes, it's wonderful and horrible all at once.

Still, we did pretty well. A tropical storm kept the temps down and crowds away for a couple of days. And Disney has invented a ride reservation system which gives you a ticket and a designated time to skip the line (so who are those schmoes still waiting?). Added bonus: for whatever reason (weak dollar, school schedules?), the place was teeming with happy, well-mannered Brits.

Sorry to be a hater on this, fellow Americans, but it was a noticeable difference from the usual themepark nonsense. Don't get me wrong, quite a few of the yahoo brigade were there too... easily identified by their brand new sneakers and ultra-aerodynamic sunglasses (keep dreaming, dudes, you're not fooling anyone). I know our tourists get a bad rap overseas, but I think Disney does a good job keeping the worst offenders at home. The biggest yahoos were absolutely befuddled by the chicken-nugget-less fake countries in Epcot, for goodness sake. So I don't think they're off to Machu Picchu anytime soon.

Even given the yahoo factor, your team takes over the Disney empire for weekends at a time, called Gay Days. They even published a themed album available on iTunes. (Which animated classic featured "Different Kind of Love Song - Return to the Five & Dime Mix" by Jimmy James As 'Dark Lady'? I can't place it.)

I understand the choice as a gay destination.
And the scope of Disney World is huge. Wouldn't bother me a bit to share vacation space with them. But, without encouraging any conflict, I'd love to watch unsuspecting yahoos (mentioned above) try to adapt as they wonder how the Magic Kingdom suddenly got so magical. Culture clash. I haven't heard of any trouble, but there must be some tense moments.

We barely left Disney property while we were there, but I did see that Universal Studios is building a Harry Potter and Hogwarts themepark. Now that's more your speed, no?

Like Las Vegas, Disney World is too big to be easily labeled. Or, to be absolutely liked or disliked. Though it is possible to overdose (and overspend).

[The art comes from Hyungkoo Lee's art exhibit, called Animatus. He builds functional skeletons of famous cartoon characters to scale. Cool, but slightly obsessive. On the Disney trip, I noticed that the some of the walking costumed characters' mouths are now animated and synced with dialog (they always used to pantomime, right?). Magical or creepy?]

--Straight Guy
Straight Guy,

Our post on the Sarah Palin buzz inspired this question in the mailbox. Everyone, feel free to chime in on this.
Okay, explain gay conservatives/Republicans. Regardless of political and economic beliefs. . . how do they reconcile the fact that other conservatives want them to burn in hell? Heard any good rationales, in person or in print? In Denver in the 80s I knew the president of the Colorado Gay Republican Caucus and he was all hot for Reagan; he died of AIDS before the end of the decade. How do people live with fatal irony like that?
This is such a great question: Why does anyone want to be part of a group that doesn't want you? Why can't we all just get along?

I've met a few gay Republicans. I feel a bit sad for them actually, they always seem ready for a response ranging from flabbergasted to questioning to outrage. The rationale pretty much always follows this line: "I'm a social liberal, but a fiscal conservative." Or some thing about less government. I guess I'm just not someone to band with my political brothers and my wallet over my friends and my rights. Hey, if big government has the beef to protect my civil rights, then super size it.

In case you want to read up on it, the gay Republicans group is Log Cabin Republicans. Poor Abe Lincoln. (I wonder where Abe would come down on the rights of gays and lesbians. A man of or beyond his time?)

I do understand (and feel) why this becomes a problem in questions of faith. I don't call myself religious, but I did grow up in a faith and it matters to me. It's not great on gay and lesbian issues, but I can't imagine growing up without it.

I recently saw Jihad for Love, a story of lesbian and gay Muslims. If you can see it or just read the web site, please do.

--Gay Guy

Sarah Palin: Hottie or Nottie?

Gay Guy,

I was recently asked about Sarah Palin.
"Is she hot?"

I can't say that she is, exactly. Not my type. But then I saw the audience reaction shots from her nomination acceptance speech. If I grade on a curve based on the sensuality and desirability of the other folks in that arena, then she is Marilyn-Monroe-Happy-Birthday-Mister-President hot. Her case for hotness is bolstered by the fact that she's in line to replace the absolutely asexual VP we have in place now (stop thinking about it). So I understand the fevered reaction since McCain made the announcement.

I agree with other comics who have put her into the "naughty librarian" category. The loose up-do, the skinny glasses... she's just a hair toss away from another naughtier persona, and as a past beauty pageant winner, she's probably aware of that allure.

But being named "America's Hottest Governor" is a distinction based on a low threshold for success. Why don't we reunite the lunch ladies from my high school and decide who's the hottest of that group, too?

[I absolutely love that when Alaska Magazine bestowed the "Hottest" title, she had to share cover space with a feature on halibut fishing techniques.]

So, she's pretty. Maybe she's also got a bit of the Bill Clinton charm, where at a distance, no big deal, but in person, the charisma causes everyone to swoon. But, aside from her looks and charm, she's interesting for any number of reasons. Politically, she's not my type either. But I didn't get the sense that she was a phony. She's a conservative candidate with a non-traditional modus operandi and backstory. She's not boring.

But, so much criticism about her qualification to be only "a heartbeat away" from becoming president... As you hinted, GG, Cindy McCain has a certain drag queen fabulousness about her (didn't I say the same thing about Miss Piggy a few posts ago?). If McCain's heart ever skips a beat, let's first look to the 5-inch heels that Cindy prefers as the source of trouble. Hem down, she might be the hottest first lady we've ever considered.

-Straight Guy

Back on Track


Time to get back to business here at GG/SG. We (especially me) took it slow the last few weeks of summer and have the readership numbers to prove it. (See above. Ouch.)

I've got some posts coming on Sarah Palin (hot or not?) and Disney World (unbearably hot!). What's up your sleeve, GG?

We'd also love to get back to answering some of your questions. So post them in a comment or send us an e-mail.

--Straight Guy

Wake the Eff Up, Dagwood!

Long before the current trend of "schlub marries hottie" sitcoms, Dagwood and Blondie paved the way in making the straight guy the butt of all jokes. I suppose any guy who marries someone so obviously out of his league will always suffer a certain amount of angst over the situation. And that will always be funny, I guess.

But this strip is proof that Dagwood may actually be criminally insane. To stroll the streets of Toontown with Blondie on your arm and be distracted by other women?!? Please. Are you completely blind to the lurid stares and deaf the constant catcalling that Blondie must endure day after day? Wake up!

I can't speak to Gay Guy about comic strip issues just now. He is still in mourning over the passing of "For Better or Worse." I can only assume that strip ended in its typical ultraviolent fashion with Elly and John Patterson meeting their grisly fate head-on, a la Butch and Sundance. Keep your head up, GG.

--Straight Guy


Straight Guy,

Last night, Gay Guy and a friend attended a Dem fund raiser, an Obamarama. (It's not really called Obamarama? I asked, as if it was too good to be true.)

Over dinner, my friend and I picked over McCain's choice of of Sarah Palin for his running mate. I just kept repeating,
"I'm sure she's a perfectly nice person. . . " While my friend pondered over 'liberal bloggers' and their questions about Palin's youngest child, I prayed for the women of American and their ability to see through McCain's pandering. Please just let this be Christmas in August for Democrats, I beg.

The Obamarama was fun. Pretty much what I figured: Nice club, lots of eye candy, music I recognized -- Madonna's got staying power. Drag queens, too. Nothing gay happens today without layer of drag queens. One of the trio, the lovely Blair Michaels, was tall, tanned, teased, and severely in need of moisturizer.

"She's so Cindy McCain," my friend gasped.

--Gay Guy