Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

10 Reasons Gays Chase Straights: We've All Done It, and Some of Us Do It over and over Again. What Leads Lesbian and Gay Grown-Ups to Abandon Reason and Pursue the Sexually Unobtainable? (Commentary)

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

10 Reasons Gays Chase Straights: We've All Done It, and Some of Us Do It over and over Again. What Leads Lesbian and Gay Grown-Ups to Abandon Reason and Pursue the Sexually Unobtainable? (Commentary)

Article excerpt

1 EVERYONE IS STRAIGHT To paraphrase Harvey Fierstein in Torch Song Trilogy, we live in a world where every movie, every TV show, and every billboard tells us we're straight. Heck, even the flagrantly homoerotic Abercrombie & Fitch ads toss in a bikini-clad woman for every 10 buff shiftless dudes, lest we think the fellas aren't hankering for female companionship. With such a thick coat of heterosexual whitewash splashed over every sexual image, it takes a powerfully queer imagination--and sometimes many nights at Crazy Nanny's or the Spike, or years in therapy--to construct an object of desire that's truly our own, fully hetero-free.

Every time some gossip rag talks about how "no man can resist" J. Lo's derriere or how "women everywhere" are swooning over Ashton Kutcher, it's a reminder that for a shocking number of people in this culture, gay people just don't exist. Who else are we supposed to find attractive when we're living in a gay-free zone?

2 EVERYONE CAN BE HAD Straight people are just like Tootsie Pops, and it's just a matter of time before you get to their chewy gay center. Right?

Some gay people take the slow, wear-down-the-straight-object-of-your-affection approach: flirting, teasing, touching, and telephoning until--they hope--the other person gives in. Others, like the Tootsie Pop-crunching Mr. Owl, go right in for the kill: After all, who has the patience to wait around?

The myth of the "do-able" hetero--or its twin fable, the deep closet case just waiting for the right same-sex key to unlock them--is everywhere in gay culture. Whispers of Marlene Dietrich's seduction of straight women and outright boasting from the likes of Truman Capote and Joe Orton morph into soft-focus gay romances like Desert Hearts or Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss, in which heterosexuality is tossed aside in the third act and "You know you want it" is revealed as the ultimate truth.

Of course, some people who say they're straight really do want it (because they're not really straight), and some hets are willing to be led for a walk on the wild side if the invitation comes from the right person at the right moment. So some straight-chasers win, some lose, and some end up with black eyes. But the next time you set your sight on some hetero eye candy, ask yourself something first: What kind of opposite-sex invitation would you need to make you switch teams?

3 WE SAW THEM FIRST What stirs in us our first same-sex attractions, our first crushes? For most budding gay and lesbian kids becoming aware of their sexuality, it's the straight schoolmates who surround them. As the wise devil Hannibal Lecter said in The Silence of the Lambs, we begin by coveting what we see every day. A quick glance at the person next to you in the locker room or a late-night conversation about sex during a sleepover with a best friend--those experiences confirmed for us what we wanted and whom we would become.

But for many of us, those moments also confirmed the fear that we were the only ones like ourselves, since as far as we knew, every object of our burning desire was straight. As adults we learn that's not the case, but the allure of that initial magnetism is difficult to shake, and it's bound to haunt our dreams and fantasies for the rest of our lives.

4 THEY LOVE THE ATTENTION Straight people, like all of us, enjoy being lifted onto an ardent admirer's pedestal. With that in mind, some of them know that there's a wealth of wooing to be had if they flirt-even if only ever so slightly--with their gay friends. A straight lipstick-lesbian look-alike will lean in and coo, "What's it really like to be with a lady?" Or your married racquetball partner at the gym will declare between serves, "You look pretty good in those shorts."

Purr back "Divine" if you want. Compliment him back if you care to. But keep in mind that you always hold the power in these plays for attention. …

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