Today’s update will be Kito Diaries’ hundredth post. And to commemorate it, I wondered: what other write-up is suitable than something penned by Absalom? Here’s another thinker by Absalom. Read and enjoy.

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Foreword

Some gay guys stick to the story of a “conversion” in their lives, muddling it up with their first sexual experience – all to feel better about a sexual orientation that’s hard to deal with. It’s understandable, but this class of “converts” is not my problem this morning.

A bend in the rod

Some of the most interesting stories we’ll ever hear of sexual encounters are those involving a gay guy and a straight guy. It seems the idea behind describing heterosexuality with the term “straight” has something to do with “non-derailment”, “being on course” – unlike the other kind of guys, you know, we the bent ones.

These stories, about a gay guy and straight guy having sex, make me smolder with quiet envy. I have a pillowcase list of straight guys I really like, but who, remain just friends with me. It’s hard bearing that kind of attraction each time I’m with them, but I’ve survived worse. One of my BEST friends when I was in university – Tonna – was my crush for at least 3 years. We did everything friends do together but I couldn’t tell him how I felt about him. Because he is straight; he was always talking about girls and his woes with them…while I listened patiently and wondered: Why not try me? Many times I came close to pleading with another friend of ours (this one’s gay) to please – please – seduce Tonna, make things easier for me. Then I’d feel ashamed of myself. How could I contemplate something so diabolical towards my own friend? If I didn’t possess the skill to bend him gently without breaking him, perhaps I should just let the attraction go.

And I did eventually.

I used to believe it was morally wrong for a gay guy to sleep with a straight guy. It seemed deceitful, manipulative and even abusive. I don’t think that way much these days; I’ve learnt to own my envies and work on them. If a (gay) guy is skilled enough to get a straight guy to bed, good for them: Someone else has done something I couldn’t do with the likes of Tonna, who am I hit him on the head with The Handbook of Gay Etiquette? In the biblical story of the “fall of man”  at Eden, Adam was as much accountable in eating the forbidden fruit as was Eve; short of drugging a guy or pumping him with alcohol or killing him then fucking his corpse, or (like me) contemplating sending an emissary to him on your behalf, seduction is a two-way street. It’s the rare seduction, if at all, that passes without the consent of the parties concerned.

The question

I loved the comments under *this* post about bisexuality. Nearly all the commenters agreed sexual orientation is not black-and-white, can be fluid and even messy. So, if as gay men, we hold this to be true, where do some peeps get the idea that they can convert a straight man to gayness?

The conversion

In the Christian bible – Luke 15:1-10 – Jesus Christ impressed upon his followers that a sinner who repents and comes to the way of god will be celebrated by the angels in heaven. It’s no wonder today one of the strongest mandates of Christianity is conversion. The average Christian takes it very personal – feels it an obligation – to direct you to Christ, sometimes in the most intrusive ways. Which brings us back to “straight-to-gay conversions”…

First off:There’s a perceptible tone of smug triumph when (some) gay men share stories of hitherto straights they’ve… conquered. Like they’ve scored some goal: Yeah, I converted him. I turned him gay. Oh, he must have been gay all along! I think he’s in denial. He might be bi.

It sounds a tad desperate, like they are titillated that one more (hapless) fellow has been pulled over to join our marginalized demographic and share in our misery.  If we’re not going to have it easy with our sexual orientation, how about we mess yours up a li’l bit? (How quick will we be to re-label a gay guy straight once he starts doing girls too? I bet we’ll scoff at the change. I might, to be honest.)

Perhaps not all “straight-to-gay” men will agonize over their first gay sex (so I’m not interested in devil’s advocacy here), but for those who might, put your gay self in their straight shoes for a minute: You’ve never thought of being with a guy before, and all of a sudden you are. How would you feel? I like to think there’ll be a conflict going on inside you. If you’re religious, you have a boulder of god-guilt crushing on your spine to deal with; plus the implication of this sudden sex act(s) to your orientation as you know it. Has it changed? Or has it only been tweaked? What if you get “too addicted” to this…thing and can’t “quit” it? After all, your friend who “led” you into it has been “into it” for…how long again?

Same-sex attraction is tough shit to handle. What if the straight guy overhears you telling your friends of you “converted” him? Is it something he’d be happy about? That you’re roping him into a situation he’s yet to fully process? Is it fair? He cannot quarrel with god (Remember he is the guilty one.) He cannot just walk into society and challenge the culture, norms and institutions of the day because he – what – kissed a guy 5 minutes ago. (He’ll be buried alive and not be missed.) So who’s likely to be the recipient of his frustrations? You. The tempter.

Now does this fit the profile of some homophobes we have deal with? Those die-hard, foaming-at-the-mouth ones who hate us so violently because they fear they might harbor some unresolved same-sex attraction somewhere. I kissed a guy and liked it…then hated the guy. (Some years ago, a friend told me he made out with me – several times, no less – to “please” me. What will I not hear in this world?)

To find the label on the spectrum…or to not

I think our language could be modified when we talk about gay-guy-straight-guy affairs. I think we should talk about having slept with/seduced a hitherto straight guy. Not having converted one/turned him gay. Because, put that way, it’s impossible. (Can you be turned straight?)

I think we shouldn’t sound so smug when talking about that night with Mr. Ramrod Straight – like we’ve gotten something we want at a loss to him. (As an 18-year-old, newly admitted into university, I used to fantasize about the possible existence of a Gay Secret Cult and that I would like to join, and have sex with broad-chested, dark-skinned guys who wore their hair long and smoked weed and wore boots. Very stupid thoughts like that. But gayness, I think, is a personal thing. Every gay man is not going to think alike or make the same choices. Gayness is not a cult – never has been – and outside of the clamor for equal rights, is not a movement/religion. So homosexuals are not seeking more members/fresh converts/new initiates.)

I think that if we, as gay men, choose to, out of convenience, forget the fluidity of the sexuality spectrum and the complexity of the human being just to promote a conversion agenda, we’ve become hypocrites.

I think we shouldn’t let leave our fingertips the fact that sexual orientation/identity is not reducible to mere sexual acts – else our own claim to a homosexual identity loses its credibility.

I think it is up to the hitherto-straight guy to, on his own terms, draw conclusions on his sexuality after we open to him the door to same-sex attraction. Labels are not always as adequate as they appear. (Some people have described me as atheist; I tick just about all the boxes, I’m more at home in irreligious spaces than religious ones. I’m not atheist, however, I don’t feel atheist. And I’m not agnostic either. But this is not a religion blog, so back to queer matters…)

I think we should respect people for how they choose to define themselves sexually. For the record, a guy who shags guys cannot be strictly straight…or can he? But it doesn’t mean he’s gay either. Or bi. And why should we care anyway? The “straight” guy is not likely to thank you for slamming a sexuality label on him without his consent. Let him drive that conversation, not you, else he might feel trapped and lash out, and become a homophobe, ergo a problem to us.

Most importantly: I think we owe it to our peace of mind to, instead of preaching “conversion” and labels, stress to any hitherto-straight guy who kisses us and likes it that, at any hour of the day, curiosity is an option. ■

Written by Absalom

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