I saw a series of backs and forths on the local craigslist missed connections, and I was going to post them, but they weren't that interesting, and while we all know that I have no trouble making a lame post with hot pictures, the post was going to be so lame that I was going to have to post cumshots, and after looking at too many cumshot pictures, I decided that I don't like them. I like cumshots just fine on video, but there's something about a still picture of a man ejaculating on another man that stimulates my gag reflex. Which, yes, I still have, thank you very much.
Anyway, this particular series of missed connections started with a post entitled "Yates" (Yates, apparently, is the athletic facility at Georgetown, so if you want to stop for a moment to picture young, fit men sweating and then ogling each other in the showers, I can't very well stop you, can I?). One young man posited that another young man may have been "checking [him] out," but provided no other details. This prompted another young man to reply that at any given moment, at least a hundred guys were checking out other guys at Yates and to opine that some sort of description, date, time, and/or more specific location might be in order if the original poster wanted to increase his odds from none to slim.
Then someone else joined the fray to say that there were many, many hot guys at Yates, but he could never be sure which ones were gay. Yet another man whom we must presume to be sexually active wrote to say that the pretty ones with the tightest clothes were the gay ones, or at least that those are the ones who he sees at Cobalt and Apex. But a couple of correspondents were not satisfied with this sensible advice and suggested that some sort of characteristic signal or garment should be instituted to facilitate, one presumes, the procurement of smoking hot butt sex.
It strikes me that the need for such a symbol surely must be anachronistic at Georgetown. I'm not at all familiar with the institution, but I'd have to guess that it must be relatively progressive when it comes to matters of sexuality. I'm sure that it's possible to so offend some breeder that he'd take a swipe at you, but probably only if you make a pass at him in the showers, which is always rude if you haven't been specifically invited. You have to figure that every hot straight guy at a major urban university will at some point have had a gay guy interested in him and will have learned how to laugh it off. Is it really that hard to say, "I apologize if I'm barking up the wrong tree here, but if you're gay, I'd like to get a beer sometime"? Aren't you supposed to be pumping up your confidence along with your pecs and guns?
But I'm interested in the larger issue of veiled homosexuality. There are, after all, plenty of places where it's still not safe to be open about your orientation or your interests. I'd have to guess that at, say, BYU, you'd get in trouble by mentioning either that you hope a guy's gay or that you'd like to get a beer. (I do have Latter Days on DVD, after all.) And, of course, there are still countries where preferring the company of your own gender can get you seriously killed. What do guys in those countries do?
I'm sure that in a lot of those places, they use the Internet. But there's a pretty strong inverse correlation between how easy it is to be out in a society and that society's Internet access. Isn't that why we're all so excited about the $100 laptop? We're not doing it to bring Excel to the masses, I hope. (Actually, we're probably doing it to bring ebay to the masses. Because, you know, physically starving most of the world isn't enough: we have to starve them morally and spiritually as well. Now I'm depressed. Ok, I'm over it.)
Presumably, the gays in places where there's a lot of repression and very little broadband rely on what the gays in the U.S. relied on forty or fifty years ago. My knowledge here is very limited. I think it would make an interesting book, or at least article, though. You've got to figure the book's already been written, if only by some Ph.D. who did his dissertation in queer studies on the topic. A cursory search didn't bring such a book to the fore, but I'm sure if I mention it idly to b&c, he won't sleep until he's found it and ordered it. Then I can skim it after he's done. I do a lot of my gay reading that way, though mostly I read the trashy gay novels he's finished. A lot of them are tedious, but at least they're quick reads, and there's usually some, though not enough, sex in them. HELLO! HAS ANYONE SEEN MY POINT? IT WAS HERE A MINUTE AGO AND THEN I LOST IT IN THE TANGENT. Sorry about the all caps, but I'd have been writing this paragraph for the next two hours if I hadn't staged that autointervention.
Anyway, my limited knowledge of pre-Lawrence v. Texas hidden homosexuality in the Industrialized West (I smell a PBS series!) indicates that people used a combination of code phrases, symbols, and ghettoization. I think (and, again, I could be talking out my ass on this one: I'm no academic, and I've done no research; I've just listened to people) that one of the more common code phrases was to ask someone whether he was "a friend of Dorothy." Not particularly imaginative, surely, but much more discreet than, say, wearing ruby slippers. The code phrases live on, I'm sure. A more recent example that springs to mind is from some old Oprah/Donohue/SallyJessy type show where the topic was gay men and their married lovers. One of the gay guys (the married lovers were only interviewed over the phone, naturally) said that he never approached married men. They always approached him and asked him something like whether he'd ever been to a particular bar. The bar, of course, would be a gay bar, and only a gay guy would be likely to know about it. This strategy, I suppose, is still somewhat effective, though what with the advent of the metrosexual and all that, you can't really ask a guy what he thinks of Brokeback Mountain or David Beckham's abs and be sure that an appreciation of same equates to an appreciation of pole smoking. More's the pity, I suppose.
Ghettoization (I don't mean the word to have a negative connotation, but I'm sure it does) is fairly obvious. If you live or hang out in an area that's predominantly homosexual, you're not only more likely to come into contact with other homosexuals, but the breeders you see are more likely to be tolerant of being mistaken for a homosexual. I'm kind of over discussions of to what extent such areas were or remain a positive phenomenon for the gays. If you want to see someone prattle about that sort of thing, you can always read Andrew Sullivan, who never ceases to remind me that the first four letters of "prattle" spell, well, you know.
The use of symbols I find more interesting. Oscar Wilde's green carnations represent an older example. I suppose the hanky code is a more recent example, though I think that the hanky code probably only really worked in combination with ghettoization because the thing was so damned complicated that you wouldn't bother to use it unless people had studied the meanings. And, of course, a hanky wasn't meant to indicate that you were gay so much as to indicate what sort of HQT you most enjoyed engaging in, though I suppose it's a highly related phenomenon. I'm thankful that the Internet has made the hanky code a thing of the past. I would never have been able to narrow down all the things I enjoy to a single hanky, and if I had to wear one hanky for each thing that I like, I'm not sure I could afford them all. Besides, my left side would be a giant mass of hankies, and my right side would feel left out. Simultaneously assymetrical and tacky.
Symbols would seem to remain a good idea (not at Yates, though: those boys just need to grow a pair). The problem lies in finding a symbol that's discreet enough to be worn every day and everywhere but uncommon enough that breeders won't accidentally be flagging down unwanted blowjobs. (Yes, I know: "unwanted blowjobs" should be an oxymoron, but sometimes it isn't. Go figure.) And it has to be something that either won't be discovered or where there's very plausible deniability if someone does discover the meaning. I'm thinking something like a charcoal wife beater, but that's probably only because I'd really enjoy seeing lots of guys -- who are young enough not to be entirely out and fit enough to pull it off -- wearing them. I can see how that particular symbol might be problematic in, say, Jordan. (Fortunately, b&c assures me that the Internet works very well in Jordan. I think he was sore for a week after he got back from there.) Anyway, I'll continue to mull the problem over, and if I come up with a suitable solution, I'll be sure to let the world know.