The couple are close to most of their siblings, nieces and nephews, and extended kin. A biracial and cross-class couple who have been together five years, they speak of falling in love at first sight on a Parisian street. There, Harry, an affluent, Jewish, ivy-league educated, successful screenwriter spotted and cruised Pierre, a gorgeous, younger, undereducated West Indian from an impoverished single-mother family who was serving in the French military. After conducting a transatlantic courtship for the year before Pierre's release from military service, Harry sponsored his beloved's immigration to the U.
Through Growing Generations, they employed a "traditional" surrogate who conceived baby Ari with Harry's sperm and has agreed to serve as surrogate for them again when they are ready to conceive a second child with Pierre's sperm. Harry is the family's primary breadwinner and Pierre currently the primary caretaker, and they are very close with Harry's sister, a divorced mother who lives nearby with her six-year old son;.
Scott, a white gay social service director served as the sperm donor for his close friend Sally, and he and Joaquin, a Latino graphic designer, are starry-eyed co-fathers who spend at least half of every week-end with Gregg and contribute financially to his care. They plan to conceive another child with Sally and all four parents are discussing the racial and kinship implications of doing so this time with Joaquin's sperm or once again with Scott's.
Sally, Elena, Scott and Joaquin all regard each other as chosen kin, and three of the four sets of potential grandparents recognize and dote on Gregg. Birthmother Sally, however, is estranged from her homophobic parents. What happens to gendered conventions of sexuality, kinship and care when men come out of the heteronormative family regime in so many different ways? Early in my fieldwork, I became intrigued by two somewhat paradoxical features I detected beneath the kaleidoscopic patterns of intimacy among gay men.
Meaning of "tented" in the English dictionary
Perils and pleasures of the male gaze. It is not merely a cultural stereotype to observe that many gay men tend to be even more preoccupied than most straight women with their bodies, physical attractiveness, attire, adornment and self-presentation. Advertisements for every conceivable manner of corporeal beautification and modification flood the pages, airwaves, and websites of the gay male press: familiar and exotic cosmetic surgery and body sculpture procedures, including penile, buttock and pec implants; liposuction; laser resurfacing; hair removal or extensions; cosmetic dentisty; personal trainers and gym rat regimens; tattooing and tattoo removal; body piercing; hair coloring and styling; tinted contact lenses; manicures, pedicures and waxing; as well as color, style and fashion consultants and the commodified universe of couture, cosmetics, and personal grooming implements which they serve.
No doubt, the tinseltown culture of L. Similarly, many gay men, like many straight women, but unlike most lesbians or straight men, suffer from eating disorders. Arguably, therefore, gay men are even more oppressed than heterosexual women by injurious effects of what feminists termed "sexual objectification" and of the ageism that accompanies an emphasis on visual criteria for intimacy. Why, I began to wonder, would men impose this merciless regime on other men? Cliches from my "Men are Pigs" file above ignited my preliminary reflections on this puzzle.
Recall: "We all know how men are-Dogs. Absolute dogs! In cruising culture, the gay male sexual sport arena, it's all in the gaze. Erotic attraction and connection occur or fail in the blink of an eye.
Paradoxically, as a result, gay male access to the untrammeled field of masculine sexual pursuit that Levine depicts as "hyper-masculinity" Levine , converts male sexual subjects into a feminine status of hyper-sexual objects. Participants all are predators and prey at once, and it seems likely that this dual status fosters an internalization of the harsh discriminatory judgements of the gaze that can only intensify its effects.
The extraordinary emphasis on the visual at the core of this dynamic imposes painful challenges for gay men seeking eros and intimacy who fall outside desirable standards of beauty and youth. Michael, for example, the Black gay single informant depicted above is not single by choice. Although he has a sunny, welcoming demeanor and an attractive face, he also stutters and is overweight, particularly when judged by predominant gay standards. A victim of the male gaze, Michael reports that women are much more likely to pursue him than men: "women seem to see me as open, friendly, and sensitive.
I don't do too well in the gay bar scene. On the other hand, cruising culture also fosters, or enables, some creative, expansive approaches to intimacy and kinship. Because gay men can more readily separate physical sex from social attachment, they enjoy greater latitude in which to negotiate diverse terms for meeting their sexual and social needs within and beyond dyadic couple arrangements. Not only do some gay men engage in triads, as noted above, more than a few of the committed gay couples I have interviewed allow themselves to indulge in extra-curricular cruising or "fuck-buddy" liasons under a variety of rules in some cases jointly frequenting cruising bars, baths, or the internet.
Recall the generous, asymmetrical form of open relationship that Robert negotiated with his younger, lifetime companion Matthew after his own sexual desires waned. Likewise, gay male culture rightfully prides itself on greater comfort with the fluidity and ambiguity of boundaries between lover and friend. Former lovers become integrated into chosen kin sets more readily than among heterosexuals, as happened with John's Latino-Asian ex-lover depicted above, and friends not infrequently become lovers, or sexual playmates. Although the greater capacity and license that gay men enjoy to separate physical from emotional forms of intimacy has obvious costs, it also facilitates creative departures from the heteronormative regime of conjugal monogamy.
Some of these innovations mitigate stereotypical snares of loneliness, sexual frustration or incompatibility that many heterosexual singles and couples suffer. They can also have social mobility consequences, as I suggest below. Learning not to labour.
Understandably research on gay youth concentrates primarily on the heightened social hazards and risks they confront-hazing, bashing, isolation, substance abuse, sexual exploitation, isolation, depression, rejection by family and community, as well as suicide and homicide. Also understandably, the predominant view portrays these risks as particularly high for gay youth who must contend with the masculinity cultures of subordinate racial-ethnic, underclass, working-class and rural communities. At the same time, however, my field research has led me to speculate that many male youth from these environments who experience homoerotic desires may also garner unacknowledged, indirect social advantages from their subjective awareness of sexual difference.
I first arrived at this notion while viewing " Nuyorican Dream " at the annual gay Outfest film festival in Los Angeles with one of my research informants. A superb documentary, the film portrays the familial bonds and troubled lives of three generations of an underclass, single-mother, Puerto Rican family in Brooklyn, New York Robert Torres, a thirty-year-old gay high school teacher is the film's protagonist and narrator and the only one of his five siblings who escapes their impoverished ghetto environment to achieve educational and social mobility.
Devoted to his mother and family, Robert struggles, with scant success, to rescue his siblings from the ubiquitous pitfalls of poverty and racism-the lure of drugs, crime, violence, truancy, and teen pregnancy. His strong familial commitment and unpredictable social mobility reminded me instantly of Michael, the Black "Horatio Alger" informant described above.
Ruminating later, I realized that variations on this theme applied to the family histories of a startling number of my gay interviewees, including my immediate viewing companion at the time, a thirty-year-old white AIDS prevention worker from a midwestern, working-class family whose older brother served time in prison. Each achieved a social mobility trajectory against the odds and in contrast to the troubled trails that the rest of their siblings followed.
This raises a provocative, albeit challenging, empirical research question about the impact of homoerotic desire and gender on educational and social mobility. Although we do not yet possess adequate data to assess how gay youth fare when compared with their siblings, I believe it likely that there are significant differences that point in contradictory directions. I would predict a U-curve in which underprivileged homoerotically-inclined young males would evince both the downward pressures of the heightened risks they confront and the upward effects of greater exit routes available for those who don't succumb.
Synonyms and antonyms of tented in the English dictionary of synonyms
I believe that youthful awareness of homoerotic desire unleashes push and pull factors that disproportionately draw adolescent boys out of depressed, lower-class environments. In direct contrast with the working-class "lads" who, by succeeding at adolescent, heterosexual, working-class norms of masculinity, were unwittingly "learning to labour" Willis, in subordinated, working-class jobs, homoerotically-inclined boys are apt to fail at the harsh macho curriculum. However, those who survive the potentially lethal dangers of doing so, also less frequently learn to labor.
Gay-oriented youth have good cause to seek alternative routes to self-esteem and escape from the self-destructive, dangerous, "live fast and die young" culture of what Connell has called "protest masculinity": "a marginalized masculinity which picks up themes of hegemonic masculinity in the society at large but reworks them in a context of poverty" Connell, Rather than learn to labor, gay youth are apt to feel more compelled than their brothers to pursue "feminine" strategies for cultural affirmation and social success.
As feminist scholars have argued, working-class and middle-class identities are strongly gender-coded. Whereas images of blue-collar and working-class workers are decidedly masculine Stacey, ; Bettie, , femininity signals middle-class conformity and propriety Ortner, Bettie. Like Michael, Robert Torres, Pierre, and John, gay-inclined adolescent boys are more likely than their macho brothers to pursue educational and aesthetic sources of gratification. Moreover, they are more inclined to escape their homophobic natal communities, migrating in search of more gay-tolerant urban or progressive milieus.
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Cantu; G. John, as we saw, became a chef and fled his repressive, hostile working-class Dublin origins. Michael pursued a college scholarship to escape semi-homelessness.
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Pierre migrated to France and enlisted in military service to secure vocational training. In their efforts not to learn to labor, gay males also can derive some of the gender benefits of male privilege. They avoid many of the social constraints and risks that confront their sisters irrespective of homoerotic desires. Sons shoulder fewer domestic responsibilities than daughters and enjoy greater sexual freedom without the risk of pregnancy , personal autonomy and physical mobility. In addition, those males who do not learn to labor, enjoy far greater career and earnings opportunities than comparable females.
In short, this appears to be a situation in which a subordinate sexual identity can intersect with gender privilege to promote upward social class, and often racial mobility along with sexual migration. One final, more speculative observation about how the sexual economy of the gay male gaze may intersect with these mobility dynamics of sex, class, race, and gender. Some gay men benefit from an alternative, rather old-fashioned feminine gender strategy for upward mobility-a form of gay hypergamy.
Gay male cultural emphasis on youth and beauty as well as specialized erotic preferences for an exotic racial or cultural other enable some gay youth to enter the classic hypergamous patriarchal bargain of "marrying up.
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Pierre's marriage to Harry is an unusually successful, ideal-typical instance of this pattern. To a lesser degree, similar dynamics structure the relationship of Robert and Matthew, while their brothers-in-law appear to be jointly sponsoring their youthful, adopted "boy-toy. Holleran, etc. The love of strangers, or the love of loving strangers, teaches us that one man can touch the soul of another before he knows the size of his companion's shoes or paycheck. Non-conventional conclusions.
Judged by the prevailing "contemporary community standards"of social and sexual mores in Anglo-American societies, much about the genres of intimacy and kinship depicted above certainly qualify as non-conventional, if not exotic. Matthew and Robert honestly faced their incompatible sexual desires and openly negotiated the turn to an asexual, but committed, loving civil union with asymmetrical extra-marital sexual opportunities. Matthew is titillated by his gay brother-in-law's domestic-erotic triad. Baby Gregg basks in or perhaps will feel smothered by! John and Jake blend natal and chosen kin, including former lovers, who traverse a splendid range of demographic boundaries-race, nation, social class, education, age, gender, sexual identity, marital status.
At the same time, I also have sketched a host of familial desires, behaviors, patterns, and conflicts by no means unfamiliar to mainstream heterosexual culture: Pierre's romantic, hypergamous patriarchal bargain with Harry, as well as their "Ozzie and Harry" division of labor; John's struggles for commitment and greater economic responsibility from Jake; Michael's painful search for a man who cares more about personality, character, and convictions than about excess body mass.
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Although all of these patterns echo conventional features of heterosexual relationships, the gender difference or similarity of the usual suspects helps to illuminate, and perhaps to challenge, many otherwise naturalized conventions of gender and sexual practice. The gender twist involved when men complain of male piggery, trade sexual for cultural capital, or struggle over the domestic division of labor raises cultural curtains that allow us to inspect some of the backstage props and the cultural stage-sets in which we ordinarily enact our particular gender, sexual and familial scripts.
These family fellows complicate and challenge conventional understandings of masculinity, femininity and sexuality and raise anew ancient questions about the sources and meanings of diverse desires and attachments. Both the familiar and more exotic forms of intimacy forged by the gay family fellows I am studying suggest the inadequacy of continuing to regard them, or any other genre of contemporary family, as "non-conventional.