Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Preacher’s Penis: Tops, Bottoms, and Cock Sizes

First of all, let me introduce this entry by stressing that it has absolutely nothing to do with child abuse and paedophilia scandals in the Catholic Church or anywhere else. Everything discussed here is very adult, very legal, very public, and very Protestant. This is an article about penises, and one penis in particular. It is the penis, on top of all the others, that broke the camel’s back!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m fairly used to penises popping up to talk to me these days. I remember when I was just coming out and exploring the gay community online, it used to be a little exciting to accidentally see a photo of someone sporting a penis. This was mostly due to my lack of prior exposure to the adult beast. I’ve actually, even to this day, not seen one (other than my own) in person since childhood. The last one I can remember was a brief flashing glance as a nude man ran by me toward the water on the Red Sand Beach in Maui, 10 years ago. Before that, the last exposure I would have had would have been in the locker room after swimming classes when I was very young. These days, when I see someone whipping one out in public, I tend to look away out of respect rather than gaping at it. In the last couple of years, however, I have become so used to penises popping up to chat with me on gay social networking sites that it hardly phases me anymore. In fact, these days it just grosses me out. While I try to maintain my oath of humanity to everyone, even the cock-flashers, nothing turns me off more than seeing someone’s penis at the first hello. It doesn’t just turn me off, it also makes me angry.

Now, the important question that should stem from this last paragraph: why was I online trying to meet guys again? Well, after months of mourning the loss of my first love, Farid, by February 2011 I felt well enough to test the waters a little and give others a chance. I had a new online profile and found myself popular with a different wave of people. One of these, as it turns out, was a well-educated guy only 10 years older than me. He was an Israeli who had done his PhD at Oxford, and at some point during his education he also became a trained preacher for a popular Protestant sect in which gays are accepted and preachers are allowed to have gay relationships. Intriguing! Since moving here from Oxford, he has also maintained a congregation in Montréal. For his day job, as it turned out, he worked for the same institution as me. Furthermore, in his profile he mentioned that he was an academic conversant on a variety of subjects, and an intellectually-stimulating conversation was what he was really looking for (aren’t we all :D), and that those who weren’t able to engage him intellectually should not expect to meet him. A little presumptuous, but good to hear that he, unlike most others, actually held himself to some standards.

He introduced himself to me, not the other way around, and I must admit that I was not an easy catch (as usual). I would disappear for a week at a time and then pop back up to respond to his message (and all the others I received), just do disappear again for several days. I clearly had other priorities. Once he suggested that we meet in downtown for a coffee during the work week, and I felt like he hadn’t communicated with me enough online yet to warrant a meeting. So I told him no, we needed to wait for a weekend. I think he had had a date in mind on other occasions as well; he’d ask me what I was doing over the weekend, and I said that I was heading out to study Italian, then disappeared again. I must admit, coming out of the situation with Farid, I was slier and cheekier than I am normally.

The Best Date Ever

Finally, we agreed to meet on a Saturday. I could see how my former optimism toward these kinds of dates (and indeed, being gay generally) had evaporated. Normally, I take dates reasonably seriously, as the opportunity to meet someone in person does not come around that often for me (and usually only after a significant online exchange). I always wear my contact lenses, brush my teeth, put on lip balm to moisturize my lips (just in case), wear my most flattering shirt and pant, and eat/drink conservatively throughout the day.

This time I did virtually none of the above—I wore my glasses, threw on the type of outfit I’d wear any old weekend, did not even think to moisturize my lips. I also drank a lot of water and diet coke throughout the day, which makes me seem less thin than I am normally. Even worse, a little over an hour before my date I was eating at Amir (a Lebanese restaurant) consuming gobs and gobs of garlic sauce. I did, however, make an attempt at brushing my teeth before heading downtown to meet him. You could tell that my expectations were not exactly high.

Actually, the coffee-date itself went surprisingly well, perhaps the best I’ve ever had. That surprised me greatly considering my rather ‘used-and-jaded’ attitude going in. He was very punctual (despite the fact that we had not communicated for days), had an adorable British accent, was very considerate with his words, and extremely polite. Not to mention that he was the perfect gentleman: he paid for my drink and offered to purchase me a cake, which I politely declined due to the fact that I had just eaten. We had a very nice discussion on the renaissances of ages past as well as religion (something that was clearly of distinct interest for him, and it was something we both had in common). I knew that this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. I had learned from Farid that his way of inspiring me spiritually was probably what made me fall in love with him, and that’s the part of being with Farid that I enjoyed most—the philosopher. The preacher clearly had a fascinating metaphysical and philosophical side that would be fun discovering and exploring. But unlike Farid, my preacher had one of those wacky academic lives that I could relate to, having a diverse background, having lived all over the world and crossing it several times a year.

The date seemed promising, and we bid each other farewell on a positive note. In sum, I would say that the date with my priest was probably the most civilized rendez-vous I’d ever had, this when most of my dates have been guys who have had at least a masters degree and often a PhD. I’m not sure if he was attracted to me or not, but the smile and optimism when we bid each other goodbye on the metro was uplifting. He had invited me to join him for dinner somewhere, but I told him (in all honesty) that I was still not hungry, having just eaten, so we parted after leaving the coffee house.

For the first time in the history of my dating life, I heard from the guy the day after. He sent me an e-mail to say that he enjoyed meeting me and, perhaps most flattering from a preacher, he said, “you are a good man.” I wrote back thanking him for the compliment and saying something generic. We exchanged a couple of brief e-mails and both agreed that it would be fun to meet for a walk again sometime soon. Again, I started feeling that mix of anticipation and fear: something could really happen this time! This could be both interesting and exciting!

However, he was not going to be available in the near future because he was going to spend the weekend at a friend’s country “chalet.” The very use of the term “chalet” seems dubious for an anglo such as him, which made me wonder from where exactly he knew this friend (most English-speakers and the people in his normal social circles would call such a place a “country home” or a “cottage,” not a “chalet”). I have also had invitations to go to guys’ country chalets (and have never gone); nothing saintly or priestly ever seems to go on at such places.

But all and all, sounds like a great experience, CT! Why is this article about penises then? Well, later that week I took a look at my preacher’s profile again. I had never really paid that much attention to it, having only looked at it only very briefly when he first introduced himself to me and never again during our correspondences after that. I had, over the course of those messages, learned that he was an academic and a preacher, which I must admit both attracted me to him and mesmerised me to some extent. However, something early on must have unsettled me about him beyond his arrogance with regard to his alma mater. It was something that made me treat him with cheeky disinterest and try to push him onto Farid, and I had frankly forgotten why I would do that to such a quality individual (other than the fact that the guy would be a good spiritual and ethnic match for Farid). So I went back to the profile.

His profile was normal enough. He had a charming picture of him in a bowler hat standing on a lawn, probably at Oxford, fully clothed, with a wide North American-style smile. No photos of his penis, thank goodness!

But then I noticed—he indicated on the stats at the top of his profile that he had a 7 inch uncircumcised penis! A preacher, putting his penis size on a public profile, a profile that could be viewed by both people who are members of the site and those who aren’t! I could not believe it! Not only that, I was downright outraged. Even Farid, although making hints to his general penis size at one point, has always had enough class not to reveal such information publically. How could an Oxford-educated, intelligent, diverse and charming man such as this preacher stoop to such levels? Even worse, how could a priest with a sense of moral obligation, someone who sees himself as one of God’s representatives on earth, proffer his penis dimensions on a public site! Learning the details of his cock dimensions was as much of a turnoff as if I had seen his genitals in a photo. Nothing was left to the imagination now, all interest immediately evaporated and was replaced by frustration and disappointment. If our spiritual leaders are to the point of sharing their penis size, then we surely have no hope!

Real-World Reality Check! Sharing Your Penis Size is NOT Normal!

While as an academic and a preacher existing in the real world, the fact that he was sharing his penis size with anyone and everyone he came across would seem abhorrent. It’s the equivalent of him saying, “Hi, nice to meet you! I have a seven-inch, uncircumcised penis.” Behaving like that in real life, I could imagine, would be enough to disperse his congregation through moral outrage. However, as a gay man trying to fit into gay culture, it’s not that unusual. I would go so far as to say that it is something of the norm. It’s not like he was the first profile I came across where the man I met had shared his penis size. Most of the time I had either not paid attention or forgotten, but I did go on one date (Damien) knowing his penis size beforehand (although fortunately, like in the case of my preacher, not having ever seen a photo).

Even Farid, who has been somewhat over-immersed in gay dynamics, was astounded that I didn’t think sharing and asking about penis size was normal. Being of the Arab, non-individualistic, fatalistic, adapt-to-your-surrounding-gay-norm-at-all-cost mentality, he asked me back in August, “why not?” And I said, “because it’s crazy, deviant, disgusting and it’s not what decent, respectable people do!” Not, in any case, in the real world. I couldn’t believe I had to say that to him—I thought such conventions were understood.

Farid claimed that, while penis size wasn’t an important concern for him in choosing a partner, it is for a lot of guys. Gay men generally want larger penises, although sometimes they need smaller penises if they can’t “take” a larger one comfortably. It was apparently a very big deal, and Farid had no qualms either about asking others for their penis sizes or sharing his own. He implied at one point that he had even sent photos of his penis. I had seen photos of him in his underwear (by accident, and they weren’t anything to write home about), but I had fortunately never come across a photo of his penis and never inquired about nor tried to judge his penis dimensions or circumcision status. My belief that sharing penis size was something only crazies did was confirmed in my mind when, a week after having that conversation with Farid, I walked by a homeless, unkempt, psychotic-looking man on Sherbrooke Street who was asking everyone who passed by, “how long is your dick?” Crazy indeed.

Gays seem to have, however, created a subculture counter to the respectability and civility engendered in heterosexual norms. Can you imagine a woman being charmed by learning upfront the dimensions of her date’s penis? She would run immediately the opposite direction and never look back! It’s because her priorities are often not so much physical as they are emotional and affective. If a man comments immediately on his penis size, she will know that her date has only the physical side of the relationship in mind and would not provide the kind of deeper emotional support that she needs. When I told my mom and a few of my male heterosexual friends that it was normal in the gay community to share penis size, they were shocked an appalled. “Why would anyone do that?” one male friend from Chicago said. “I don’t know,” I said, “they seem to care about one thing and one thing only. It’s pointless trying to understand it.”

My attitude is that of a woman’s, plus some. While I’m prone to running around my home (alone with the curtains closed) in my underwear like most single men, I’m certainly not a nudist. I think that human beings have been wearing clothes for thousands of years for a reason. It was not so that we could then write to people about the dimensions of our genitals, thus negating the purpose of attire. Clothes were invented to keep us warm and also for modesty and civility when temperatures rise above 23 C. I believe that such modesty and civility goes out the window when you start advertising your penis size, thus erasing all respectability and leaving absolutely nothing to the imagination. My preacher not only gave his penis size but also claimed upfront that he was “muscular” (haha, he wasn't) with a 44 inch waist, and he also gave dimensions for his chest, which I couldn’t find a context for unless I was looking to buy him tailored clothes! Clearly he knows how to wear them, he just hasn’t yet discovered the meaning behind their utility.

It’s amazing how reality checks from our heterosexual friends can help put our gay lives back into context, and not just through their horror at the fact that gay men freely and willingly display their penises or provide their genital dimensions upfront for everyone to know. Another thing I’ve found that shocks and appals my heterosexual counterparts is the “top or bottom” phenomenon. I’m so used to hearing people describe themselves as tops or bottoms that it seems almost like second nature at this point. I’ve been asked many a time myself, “Are you a top or a bottom,” and I’ve always just replied, “I’m CT!” Or, if I’m feeling a bit cheekier, I’ll even say, “I’m a virgin! LOL.” Fair enough.

But still, the terminology “top” and “bottom” has become so ingrained at this point that it seems like a natural way to communicate or identify oneself. It’s not, it’s as crazy, uncivilized, and dehumanizing as sharing your penis size.

I realized this when I was talking to my heterosexual Australian friend (of over 15 years now) about one guy I had met online named Giuseppe. I’ve never really written anything about Giuseppe in this blog, as he is generally an uninspiring individual all-around. In one of our chat conversations (having never met me personally), he asked me what I liked sexually and concluded that message by saying he was a bottom. My eyebrows now raised, that was one of the times that I said I was a virgin. In any case, I recounted the exchange to my friend from Down Under, who comes from a culture that is rather sexually-liberated and where there are few qualms about discussing sexual issues. My friend asked me, “what’s a bottom?” I said, “well, he was basically saying that he likes to receive.” And to that, he replied, “okaaaaaaay, whacko! :S” I was shocked by his response, having been already rather accustomed to hearing people refer to themselves as tops or bottoms. But with time and reflection, I couldn’t agree more with my friend’s assessment. Let me qualify and explain.

First, I would suspect that any successful sex life dedicated to a monogamous relationship requires versatility and diversity. Otherwise, if you’re doing the same thing every day with the same person, the same moves day in and day out, both parties are likely to get bored and the sexual relationship is going to fall apart. Most of us should at least have a few things that we like to do, instead of engaging in only one role to get off. Variety is the spice of life. Identifying quite explicitly to a single role demonstrates little creativity, limits the scope of future sexual interactions, and vastly constricts the pool of potential partners. Can you imagine the reaction of a woman on a serious first date if her (male) companion turned to her to say, “you know, I can only get off when a woman rides me on top.” She would likely get up immediately and storm off without another word! We as gays should be no more permissive than our heterosexual counterparts: oversharing, over-defining, and over-constricting our sexual roles from the very beginning should equally turn us off.

Second, it’s ok to have a preferred role. I think it’s perfectly fine and great to enjoy receiving more than giving, or vice versa. But it should be stated as such, “I very much enjoy receiving during anal sex.” It should not be used as a way of identifying yourself: “I am a top” or “I am a bottom.” Using the verb “to be” in such a declaration identifies you as a sexual object, not a person. Receiving anally or giving anally is no longer just something you do or enjoy, it’s what you are. That’s downright dehumanizing. Most of us, I’d like to think, have a personality and an identity we would like others to appreciate beyond what we do with our anuses. As such, I think (like my friend) that wearing our anal sex preferences on a banner across our chests, “top” and “bottom,” is just crazy. What we like to do in our rectums, I’d argue, is a personal detail that only those with whom we already have a close physical and emotional relationship have any business knowing. It has nothing to do with our personality or who we are as contributing members of society.

Gays who are used to freely giving their penis size and identifying as a top or bottom will only tell you, like Farid, that they are simply sharing such information to ensure that they are sexually compatible for the partner that they are looking for. It sounds like an important consideration, right? A top needs a bottom, and some bottoms need larger penises, some need smaller ones. It makes sense, from a purely sexual perspective.

But such attention to physicality is neither romantic nor civilized. It’s not even human, it’s animal. Sharing this information bases priorities on the physical aspect of any future relationship, and doing so will ensure that relationships remain primarily physical and, consequently, not lead to anything that is very substantial or long-term. Concerns about sexual compatibility and needs should be, I would argue, subordinate to emotional and social compatibility. Figure out if you like the guy first, then worry about how you’re going to have sex. You might be surprised by all the weird things you could enjoy with a man you truly love.

My attitudes are, once again, primarily heterosexual. I think, if you’re in it for the long term, eventually you’re going to see how long his penis is and what roles he likes to play. Why not enjoy the adventure, the process of discovery, like most of our heterosexual counterparts?

The Fallout with the Preacher

So what happened with the preacher after I learned his penis size? As it turns out, absolutely nothing! He didn’t respond to my last friendly e-mail (from before seeing the penis announcement), and I have not had a subsequent message since. He is, last time I checked, visiting his profile on a daily basis. I’m sure there are other guys he’s interested in, and perhaps I was officially wiped out of his mind by whatever transpired at his “friend’s country chalet."

I was actually a little disappointed that we lost touch, as I was looking forward to confronting him head-on about his penis dimensions. I’m not the kind of person who sits back idly and accepts such behaviour, especially from a potential romantic interest. I also expect spiritual leaders to live by a higher standard. I’m no saint, and yet I manage to behave according to the basic tenets of respectability and civility. Clearly I lost a lot of respect for him in looking at his profile again. Considering how nice he did seem as a person, I could still see myself enjoying being his friend. But I couldn’t take him seriously again, either romantically or sexually. It’s thus probably best that he fell off the radar. And I am happily, like last February, falling off the radar as well. I deleted all online profiles and am never going back; I am SO done!

I’ve talked to others about the preacher’s penis. All heterosexuals, men and women, have been grossed out. Gay men are more likely to sympathise with him and tell me “preachers are human too.” Like I said before, civility is human, displaying your penis (either explicitly or implicitly) is really more base and animal in nature than a part of our distinctly human qualities. And there’s a reason why heterosexuals don’t do it by and large, so let’s go back to the basics and learn from their example. Perhaps when we stop seeing each other in terms of penis sizes, tops, and bottoms, and start seeing the humanity of each person, then there can be some hope for the gay subculture.

2 comments:

  1. While I agree with you on more than one point, you do realize that gay culture mainly revolves around sex, right? Sad but true, in more ways than one.

    As for the "priest", what really frustrates me is that he has NO IDEA you had not noticed the mention of his penis size on his profile! He must think you've agreed to meet him, taking into consideration his appendage. That, alone, makes me feel for you, my dear. :(

    But, hey, haughtiness is a turn-off, right? As such, easy come, easy go. If he wants to impress someone by his British academic achievements, he should meet the Queen. Only she, and his parents, should feel proud. Pfft.

    So, tell me more about your new phone. How big is it? Does its top match its bottom? :D

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  2. Gay culture revolves around sex, right? Yes, I didn't used to, but now I do. That's why I've decided to abstain from it, by erasing my profiles, refusing to go to bars, and no longer participating in LGBT groups. I have no doubt, as such, that I will be forgotten.

    I was writing a blog articile about my decision yesterday, which will likely be the last blog article that I write here. I have tentatively two articles left, and then I'm sending in my resignation. If I have any more experiences or insights of a romantic or sexual nature, I will revive the blog, but I sincerely doubt I will. I am essentially letting go and giving up. I've acquired more gay acquaintances than I know what to do with, and I have virtually nothing in common with most of them, beyond the fact that I'm gay. And now that I've essentially given up and bowed out (I'll wave a white flag if you insist), I probably won't have that in common with them either. In any case, while I was writing in my favourite hang out, Farid was across the street at another resto having a date with some guy. The annoying thing was that he was sitting in the table by the window staring back toward me and pointing toward me while talking. At first I didn't think it could be him, I just thought there was a cute guy in a t-shirt across the street (and Farid rarely wears a t-shirt in the winter, except at home). But then, as his staring became pronounced and the sun set, I still couldn't see him well, but I just knew it was him--the shape of his face, the texture of his beard. Come to think of it, he's had sunday early-evening dates at that restaurant before, and I've been with him at that restaurant on a sunday before, but he never liked to sit by the window. So why was he now sitting at the window closest to where I was sitting in my restaurant, staring back at me? I couldn't focus on that article and stormed out to go downtown and eat a nice dinner in peace. I also wrote Ticklebear on my cell phone. I adore my new cell phone!

    What an ass, showing off his dating life in my face, as if it was some sort of competition. That's the kind of person who enjoys being gay. And it's the kind of guy who is ultimately successful in satisfying his needs in that regard. So kudos to him! I am going to have to come to terms with the fact that my decision to live asexually (despite being homosexual) will have consequences. People who hurt me from my past are going to move on, succeed, and live happily ever after. I've just got to find a way of not letting that bother me, being happy for them in their bliss, and redefining my own priorities. Learning Italian is one!

    And the cell phone has a screen top and a keyboard bottom. Each part plays its role of equal importance to satiate their host :)

    A+

    CT

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