Gay promiscuity may occur for a number of reasons. Is it just because that is ‘just how men are’ or is there a deeper underlying cause? When your relationships are not seen as real, or worst, they are seen as an abomination, then it is very hard to hold you head up high. What kind of sexual behaviors do the mores of society, the pressures of religion, and the disapproval of family drive in men?
Growing up in the 1960’s and 1970’s the idea of two men having a tender, loving, intimate relationship did not seem possible to me. The roll models I had, such as the 1970’s movie, The Boys In The Band, painted a bleak picture of angry tart queens and self hatred. Even thought the world has changed dramatically since that movie came out, it has only been in the past ten to fifteen years that my perspective slowly began to change.
The changes that have taken place in the culture have had a huge effect on me. For example, seeing the warmth and intimacy between the two gay male characters, Kurt and Blaine, on the TV show, Glee, had a huge effect on my image of gay relationships. In recent years the number of gay men and women proudly being affectionate with their partners publicly has encouraged my public display of affection with my boyfriend.
When loving, committed relationships can not occur. When they are outlawed by either religion, (search the web on the most recent rule changes by the Mormon Church), or by a country’s laws, it forces people to go underground. It forces them to take would could be a beautiful love on public display and hide it away like something dirty. So what becomes available to these individuals is primarily something quick and hidden.
When I look back at my own life and the years that I was in the closet, I was mostly celibate with men, but still that did not stop me from looking at men, masturbating to gay pornography, and having an internal fight about my sexual orientation all the time. At the end of my marriage when I did engage sexually with men, it was quick, anonymous and furtive, because that was all available to me as a man still in the closet.
It was only after coming out and leaving my marriage that the possibility of finding a loving partner in which I could have a deeply intimate and loving relationship begun to become real for me. My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost ten months. We have a level of intimacy and closeness that is wonderful. Very early in our relationship we both agreed that we wanted, for many reasons, an open relationship. I like idea of having a level of freedom to be able to go outside the relationship, but, at this point, have no desire to be with anyone but my boyfriend. When I think of having a sexual encounter outside of our relationship I feel I would miss the intimacy and closeness that we have, that is for me such a large part of our sexuality.
I do believe a dimension of male promiscuity in our culture has to do with the way gay men have been seen and treated historically. It will be interesting to see how the youth coming out today will see their sexuality and their relationships. There does seem to me to be an openness in young people, at least in the more liberal areas of the USA, where gay and straight all mix and the historical cultural lines between the gay ghetto and the straight world have disappeared.
As I walk around Washington, D.C. with my boyfriend, I have wanted to have an open display of affection. The first time we walked down 17th street last winter and I put my arm through his, it was a lovely and powerful moment. Even at events with work colleagues I want to be open about my affection towards him. For me that public display of affection is a direct smack in the face to the closet. I think this new world that we are in, where two men or two women can display a level of affection and intimacy publicly will make for a new era of deep and lasting commitments in relationships and a change in how we see promiscuity.