The Fierce Tribe: Masculine Identity and Performance in the Circuit

The Fierce Tribe: Masculine Identity and Performance in the Circuit

The Fierce Tribe: Masculine Identity and Performance in the Circuit

The Fierce Tribe: Masculine Identity and Performance in the Circuit

Excerpt

For too long, we [Gay men] have lied about our best selves.…
By rote we rag about too many drugs, moan over meaningless sex,
complain over too many muscles and too much competition,
censure the circuit, decry shallowness, bitch over body obsession …
muscles (bad), too much sex (bad), too little sex (bad),
circuit and [illegal] substances (bad and worse),
barebacking (REALLY bad) …
and oh, did I mention body fascism?

—David Nimmons, The Soul Beneath the Skin (214)

The Circuit, a series of dance parties where thousands of shirtless men get inebriated, flirt, and dance with each other, caters to a community full of narcissists and drug users. Two Circuit stereotypes say it all: body fascists, men who judge others solely on physical beauty, and crack whores, those who use illegal intoxicants. Like most stereotypes, they reflect a facet of the truth. Although narcissism and illegal drug use have never been prerequisites for membership, and not everybody in the Circuit is a body fascist and/or a crack whore, these stereotypes give critics of the Circuit plenty of reasons to condemn it.

As a playground for body fascists and crack whores, the Circuit has a sacred dimension. This is based upon my own experiences on the dance floor and the testimonies of countless participants over the years, often reported to me at the very moment they are in the throes of ecstatic rapture. These fascists and whores are not violent, even though they might be more muscular, do more drugs, and be much more sensual in public when compared to the average man. In much of Straight male culture, muscle equals potential to inflict physical harm, drugs are associated with thugs, and sex is an incentive to fight with potential rivals. The spirituality of the Circuit subverts these basic masculine premises.

My research has an agenda: I am appalled by the wars, terrorist acts, riots, drive-by shootings, physical assaults, and infatuation with violence that my fellow men consider to be essential to performances of masculinity. If many men have to be excessive (a human trait that is culturally gendered), and if the expression of masculine excess must

1. Unprotected anal sex.

2. Every Circuit event without exception discourages illegal drugs.

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.