He’s Got Spunk: It’s okay to have bad sex (and tell all your friends about it)

“Alright,” I said, hurling my tacos into a garbage can. “I’m going to go have sex with him.” 

“What?” my friend Nicole asked. 

It was around 1 a.m. and we were crossfaded, slowly making our way home from a party. I had spent the past week talking to a guy from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design who I’ll call Tim. He was the typical collegiate Boston gay; that is to say, he worked at Urban Outfitters. Earlier that night he told me that if the party I went to was a dud, I should come over and “hang out.” Hang out, in this context, means “bang until the sun comes up.” 

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Full of alcohol and incredibly spicy tacos, I made my way back to my dorm. I don’t know what it was, but for some reason, I went all out while getting ready—it was more than a “Tinder Swipe” this time. I showered, I shaved, I put on a cute outfit, I did everything. Once I was properly groomed, I called an Uber and sped towards Tim’s place.

 He greeted me in front of his apartment and after letting me in, he led me to his bedroom. I was promptly hit by a tirade of red flags. His mattress was on the floor and it was inflatable. These weren’t red flags, this was the factory where they make the red flags—no, this was the corporation that oversees thousands of red-flag-factories across the Western Hemisphere. And when he kissed me, it was more teeth than lips. It felt like he was eating my face. 

To avoid whatever toothy horror was about to happen to my genitals, I did what anyone in that situation would do: I told him I had to leave. Usually, my default excuse in a situation like this is something a little more editorial like, “I have to go feed my cat,” or, “I must go to the bank!” But the mattress rattled me so severely that I just told him my friend was in danger and I had to leave. Immediately. 

As I sat in my Uber home, I started to think of ways I could explain to Nicole why I had left Tim’s after being there for only 15 minutes. Maybe Tim was sick, maybe I got sick, maybe I puked and was so embarrassed I just couldn’t bear to stay. Nicole knew me as the funny, wacky, sexually liberated Gary—I couldn’t just tell her I had a bad hookup. What would she say? What would she think of me? But then I started to wonder: What’s so bad about having bad sex?     

For most of my life I’ve hung out—in a non-sexual way—with girls, and I usually felt the need to come off as overly-theatrical in order to impress them. I started to evaluate this after my encounter with Tim. Why, whenever I hung around girls, particularly straight girls, did I feel like I had to keep up this heavily animated character?

Looking at the way LGBTQ men are portrayed in popular media, I started to understand why I felt the need to play into stereotypes. We’re always characterized as over-dramatic, flamboyant, and even the dreaded … fabulous. We’re club kids sipping on fruity cocktails, rolling on Molly, willing to dance and grind with any straight girl we see. We’re fun. Always in service to straight people’s need for stories. Whether it’s as a quippy gay friend, a fashion advisor, or an interior decorator, we’re never given control over our narratives. We’re background dressing for the hotter, straighter, more-developed protagonists. 

Look at a show like Queer Eye, which on the surface seems like a forward-thinking program. It champions the friendship of five gay men, showcasing how all of them are thoughtful people with the ability to change people’s minds and expand their horizons. But, at the same time, the Queer Eye cast members are flawless, attractive, hyper-positive people specializing in one talent. At a certain point they become neutered, we rarely hear about their personal struggles or internal lives unless it pertains to the straight person getting made-over in the episode.    

Look at Todrick Hall’s song “Nails Hair Hips Heels,” where the lyrics comprise a list of femme-y gay things spoken against a beat. It might as well be called, “Brunch, Mimosas, Guacamole and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Now, I have never, never, heard a gay person describe this song as anything but annoying. But whenever I’m pregaming with my girlfriends, they need to blast this song so they can poorly vogue while quipping the latest slang from RuPaul’s Drag Race. Comedian Eliot Glazer noticed this trend of queer gifs and sayings gaining popularity—we all remember “and I oop!”—and he characterized it as “homonormativism.”

Glazer labels this as the pressure we, as gay people, feel to play into stereotypes that at first seem positive. We feel that in order to be accepted by straight people, we have to play up the campier aspects of our personality. More so, if one doesn’t play into those stereotypes, there’s a big fear of coming off as self-hating, internally homophobic, or worse: like systemic homophobia has affected you emotionally.

It’s important to remember that we don’t always have to be flippant or in character. There’s a lot of fun that can come from voguing to shitty house music or drinking vibrant pink cocktails. Trust me, I’ve certainly screamed along to Roxxxy Andrews’ “Read U Wrote U” verse once or twice—okay, five or six times. But when we start to pressure ourselves into feeding these stereotypes as a way to appease straight society, we lose our ability to be respected for the more cerebral parts of our personalities. 

After leaving Tim’s apartment and trekking home, the Uber finally pulled up to my dorm. I sighed. I felt like I was about to face judgment at the hands of my friends. I made my way to the elevators and waited. God, what am I going to tell Nicole? I thought. Maybe she won’t notice I’m back so early. She would. I just have to find a way to make it funny. The doors slid open and I stepped inside. Maybe if I just throw an “ooh gurl” into my story she’ll laugh. The elevator reached my floor and I shuffled to my door, unlocked it, and stepped inside my suite. Immediately I saw Nicole reclining on my suitemate’s bed playing on her phone.

“Hey, dude!” She said. “What’s up? You were barely gone for an hour.”

I stood in my hallway trying to figure out something to tell her. Something charming or funny, anything but the truth. I was just about to give a funny quip when something hit me. I shouldn’t just boil down my experiences to something witty that devalues them.

So, instead of being charming, I told her what actually happened: “Dude, it suuuuuuuucked.” 

She paused for a second. Then immediately demanded I tell her everything. And, of course, I did.

“That sounds like a horror story,” she said after I told her about his floor-mattress. “You’ve got to write an article about this.” 

And so, I did.

In short, be a messy gay, be a boring gay, have bad sex, then tell all your friends, an, if you’re anything like me, let your mom read all about it.

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