4 min

Being a man who plays the girl

Sexy men have some feminine in them

No matter how liberated we are on the Drive, queer men don’t kiss in public. We’re not sure it is safe; or is it internalized homophobia, that complex disease of the mind?

Or maybe it is our civic duty not to baffle others, because many of you wonder… who plays girl?

I dedicate these musings to a number of “straights” who read this. You know who you are! You have many earnest intellectual questions for gays, but one invariably lingers, “who plays girl?”

I have a job dealing with sex and such human prickly activities: how it is done, with how many, how folks “serosort” (you look HIV, you look “clean”… ), or “sero-position” (deciding who is at highest risk on top/bottom) or what private acts have what private consequences.

The oldest activity in humankind will always take you where there is a boom or bust.

This winter, I have dined in Montreal with a lovely young gentle soul who once hit the big time in the sex trade abroad and now is a fabulous writer, I saw a couple of leathermen be bloodcurdling “in session” yet turn fidgeting, punctilious and opinionated in plainclothes.

In Kelowna, I discussed with health professionals salacious details of how to positively engage rural physicians with the lives of family men who are not gay but take it up the ass. One bitter cold night, at supper, I heard the sweet story of a lovely mid-40s émigré gay man recently widowed to AIDS starting a new life there and his puzzlement at how entrenched the “who plays girl?” thing is there.

I am a girly man. For long, I was ashamed of not being masculine enough until I wondered, “what the fuck am I so scared about?” and realized that sexy men have some feminine in them, not swishy, but cool and collected sensuality.

So, “Who plays girl?” is a valid, candid, and yet unspoken question when you see two men together, be they hockey buddies, twins, lovers or enemies.

People think they know the answer when they see a couple like me and my man, the “Inside Job” handyman painter par excellence, in his smeared overalls tapping his exposed steel toe — the strong silent type ruminating in his gorgeous big blonde head about which gaping hole to fit a 2 X 4 — and they see me prancing by his side.

Heck! People ask who plays girl when they see Hillary and Bill in the greatest election show on earth. Who plays girl in metrosexual, interracial couples?

The answer is rarely definitive, but straights need their reassurances; they figure that two men cannot possibly give it to each other equally, that would not be gay – that would be what… lesbian?

An old tip I grew up with and still holds true is “the bottom is in control” and gives you a clue that it is not so much who plays girl but what one gets for playing girl. Now that the Drive sees an invasion of hetero-flexible men pushing baby strollers, one wonders what pacifiers are they getting for playing yummy mummies?

Of course, if you are self-righteous enough to ask such questions, you should be prepared to answer them, which inverts the question to “who takes it up the ass?”

In 1989, in the thick midst of the AIDS epidemic, a cultural theorist Leo Bersani asked “Is The Rectum a Grave?” (Ya’ gotta love the French, so romantic). The question has been remixed hopefully with a bit of joy now that it is certain we will die from the bisphenol-A in our water bottles, global warming and too much plastic surgery. More men of any ilk are, shall we say, double-decking it as part of their repertoire.

However, the stigma remains about what body parts we hide in our trunks.

We load it at night and out of sight, possibly out of shame that one keeps an unkempt trunk (which is a basic in gay life, like scraping frost from your windshield). We fear the medical authorities, taking the risks more than we fear taxes, or the stereotype that putting things in the trunk is queer, no matter how comfortably they fit in and how much stress and carbon print one can reduce by keeping the habit of a well packed trunk.

Pull up to the bumper baby, and think about it.

The boys are sensitive about it ’cause this piece of chassis reveals much about how hard a bargain a man drives. Mounted on curved booted legs on a Harley is a sight to behold, a compact but nimble Asian economic model is not shabby, a roaring Pinto never goes out of style, and a hybrid is often fuelled for two separate rides.

I suspect that Kevin Falcon, our Minister of Transportation, might be keeping a good trunk and the best ride he has to offer away from sight.

How about the dreamy Gregor Robertson? Should he show us what he’s got, he might just be the next mayor since our Eastside wonderboy Sam Sullivan has been rather disappointing.

In the east, the boys at Fire Hall 20 keep it hand-detailed, the Britannia swimmers stroke hard at keeping it perky, that leather daddy on Strathcona can get you in shape with some paddling, but many of our Eastside boys are still wearing the pants draped at their lower hip – no butt pride on that.

The best lookouts to watch them stop on a dime and bounce it are Havana’s, Fets and Stella’s patios. Beware. If a butt comes tight and languid, the personality contained therein can be selfish and conceited. If not visible because the guy is thin with crouching shoulders and pelvis turned Elvis, be scared — particularly if you play girl — he packs heat.

Men are sensitive about giving up this last bastion of manhood, but even the staunchest straight ego when patted properly gets flattered. No need to get that trunk packed when you can get it spit-shined nicely!