Comment: We must stop apologising for being like everybody else

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Writing for, Chris Ward takes celebrity heiress Paris Hilton to task over her recent homophobic outburst.

For those of us who’ve never felt the inclination to find out more about Paris Hilton, our views are probably informed by her South Park parody which concentrates heavily on her occupation (“But what does she DO?”) and her secondment of cute tiny animals consistently driven to suicide by her trashy “socialite” lifestyle. In reality, this position is probably reserved for her gay friends. “Gay guys are the horniest people in the world. They’re disgusting. Dude, most of them probably have AIDS… I would be so scared if I were a gay guy”, she eloquently relayed to her friend who tried to explain to her the racier motivations for using Grindr.

Of course, the friend in question was being quite blunt about the one-night-stand opportunities presented by the app, so Paris simply made the common assumption that we’re all horny buggers always looking for the next shag. Grindr can be used for such adventures and it certainly is; this cannot be denied.

But it’s important to take into account why apps like Grindr exist. It’s a nice idea to know that you can suddenly summon a list of the local gays – I know many people who’ve never used it for hooking up, but primarily find it a way of meeting new friends who they can feel comfortable being open with. The USP though is obvious. It is still not so simple to walk into your average local (non-gay) pub or nightclub, see a guy you like and flirt with him. Unlike many of my straight friends who are particularly successful at this exercise, they fear rejection, not a punch.

There is a temptation to reject the notion of promiscuity within the “gay community”, particularly as I know many gay men who don’t really go out on the scene or engage with the stereotypical lifestyle. However, doing so would not only be as anecdotal as the insistence that gays are more promiscuous, but it would also perpetuate frankly silly views on sexual morality.

The words “slut”, “slag”, etc all have their origins in misogyny, but are often heard attributed to gay men who opt for a less monogamous approach to their relationships. The question is why? If somebody wishes to engage in such a lifestyle and they are safe, why should they be subject to such standards? Let people who engage in consensual adult sexual activity get on with it; unless you’re in the room with them, it really is none of your business.

What is particularly dangerous is not the view that gay men are having lots of casual sex; but the perception that this is happening against a backdrop of prim and proper innocence from our heterosexual friends. Whilst the notion is commonly pushed by opponents of equal marriage as a reason not to allow us the right, it’s also sadly held by many gay men. It can be rather lonely, being gay, as a lot of readers will know.

The frustration of singledom and the fact that most people consider gay clubs and Grindr as the only outlet to find a partner means their perception of gay men will be informed by the individuals who frequent and use them. I commonly console friends who tell me that they’ll never find love because “gay men are more promiscuous than everyone else”. What they fail to realise, of course, is that they’re trying to find love in a nightclub.

If we are to achieve equal marriage, we can’t be unnecessarily and wrongly self-deprecating. To suggest that gay men are far too promiscuous is to ignore the many people who have threesomes, foursomes, whateversomes, swingers’ parties, orgies, etc. but can still get married and do these things whilst they’re married.

Opponents of equal marriage are trying to assert criteria upon same-sex couples that simply do not apply to mixed-sex couples. Hilton’s views may have been provoked by the discovery of an app that lists nearby men, presumably on the basis that straight men don’t have a similar app, so therefore gay men must be more promiscuous?

Well, the default societal expectation of heterosexuality means straight men don’t really need such an app, although that hasn’t stopped many of them demanding one. This is, of course, not to denigrate them. That would be deeply hypocritical. My observation is on the behaviour of humanity, not on drawing correlations between someone’s sexuality and their consequent behaviour.

So let’s stop apologising for that humanity. Doing so only plays into the hands of those who have historically accused us of being guilty of inherent evil and immorality. Indeed, when it comes to certain Churches who have done so, they have a tiny bit more to worry about than consensual adult sexuality. If and when we achieve equal marriage, of course there will be affairs, threesomes, orgies, swinging parties, sex tapes (yes Paris, much like the one you featured in), divorces, etc.

This is not because gays cannot be monogamous, it’s because they’re just like everybody else. There will also be a number of gay couples who are entirely monogamous, once again, because they are like everybody else. Reject being exclusively attributed to promiscuity simply because you like guys, especially when such views come from a self-absorbed “socialite” in her palatial glass house.