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Gay sex: dangerous climax.

Now that the false word is dangerously being spread that AIDS, the deadliest assault on our sexuality, may be about to be conquered and now that orgy rooms are resurging, several considerations about the future of gay sexuality are pertinent. The only way to attempt to "predict" is by looking at the past for elements of continuity and at the present for trends The following are trends I detect and outcomes that may be inferred.

1 Accounts from the sexual battlegrounds of the '70s abound among veterans in nostalgic conversations, in celebratory back-dated stories and novels. "Was it true that at the Mineshaft ... ?" a young man asks me about the most infamous of the "sex pig" establishments of the '70s. The young man asks his questions in admiration and goes on to delineate the most extreme acts that occurred within that monument to sleaze, acts that soon confused sex with punishment, humiliation, even violence. The young man asks his questions in admiration.

If his admiration is typical of his peers, that generation will celebrate the "end of AIDS" by resuming where the '70s left off. They will play "catch-up." Belts, chains, spittle, and piss will not be contemptuous enough--one fist, not violative enough.

There will be those who ask admonishing questions before the future constructs another terrible trap: How did sexual abundance as an enhancement of gay life twist into the only thing that mattered? Is it? Do we lead such barren lives? If ADDS had not disastrously struck, would we have moved into another danger, the danger of throttling all feelings, pursuing only sensation, moving past that to the point where nothing would be enough?

2 The physical appearance of gay men is determined by considerations of sexual attraction. A new breed of gay men is being shaped by its aversion to "femmishness." The trend is toward a body with tight muscles formed by machines that will not disturb hairstyle. The walk is becoming a strut in equal parts Madonna and Clint Eastwood. Hands increasingly cling to the hips in horror that idle hands may relax into a limp wrist, that hips may swish. The laughter, consciously brusque, often breaks into,a shriek in the late hours of nonsexual contact. If that direction is pursued, there will emerge a figure of effeminate masculinity, a new, conforming "stereotype" as identifiably gay as drag or leather--created to avoid "looking gay."

3 Within the heady atmosphere that may result from the unfounded supposition that we are seeing the "end of AIDS," we will see extreme factions--one championing abundant sex without qualification, another banishing sex as tantamount to death.

4 For many gay men, our history occurs in terms of sexuality. Some measure history by the last time they had sex. Others indulge another historical confusion, the distortions that the mythologizing of Stonewall created, relegating everything before it as "bad old repressive times" and everything after it as "liberated good times" although our darkest hours were still to come. Extended, that arbitrary demarcation will cop us off from our brave history.

5 A new generation is welcoming In the word queer. If that entrenches, the word itself will extend one of our continuing problems, the arbitrary split among generations. Pioneers who fought the good fight will always detest the word, used only when it preceded gay bashings, cruel arrests, murder.

6 The festering dilemma of self-hatred is epitomized by S/M. The paradox in the spectacle of gay men enchained and handcuffed while marching in our increasingly silly "gay pride" parades is rejected. If such examination continues to be banished, the true meaning of gay pride will elude us. Self-hatred will burrow even more deeply within acceptable rites of degradation.

7 Pornography plays a significant part in gay life. Since it often provides the fantasies that shape us, it can educate. A positive element in such education will come about through an extension of less rigid attitudes on role-playing. The posturing of "straight studs" as objects of longing and rejection will be seen as undesirable. That will help in a constructive way to illustrate the interchange-ability of sexual roles among the vast majority of gay men.

8 Monogamy is increasingly propounded as an alternative to "promiscuity." The emphasis on the legalization of gay marriages will ignore the difficulty of finding a loving companion--what is often called, reductively, a "lover." The pressures to find such an illusive companion may result in judgment on those who remain "single," especially beyond their choice.

Finally, gay people have displayed vast courage during the extending AIDS crisis. If the same type of courage--and just a fraction of the energy gay men pour into Saturday night sex-hunting--is employed to solve problems on our troubled sexual horizon, the future will be less grim for the only children we'll ever have: those who come after us.

Rechy is the author of the upcoming gay novel The Coming of the Night and the recipient of PEN Center USA West's 1997 Lifetime Achievement Award.
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Title Annotation:promiscuity among gays forecast to increase
Author:Rechy, John
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Date:Oct 14, 1997
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