Gay Men Should Be Ashamed of Slut-Shaming

Gay Men Should Be Ashamed of Slut-Shaming

In this article, originally published on advocate.com, the creator of EastSiders, Kit Williamson speaks out about the backlash to his show’s depiction of a gay open relationship.

Read below.

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Looking creator Andrew Haigh caught some flak from the gay Internet a few months back when he responded to the scrutiny that many gay men had laid upon his show.

In an interview with Attitude magazine, he criticized many for “making a judgment on two seasons of a show after watching just five minutes, and [turning] it off because somebody was being jerked off in a wood and you didn’t like what that said about gay people.”

As a gay filmmaker, I can relate to Haigh’s frustration, and I would add that gay people are often as dismissive of other human beings in real life as they are of characters on television. Every group is guilty of this, but I think that gay people in particular should ask themselves why their desire to judge outweighs their capacity for empathy.

The second season of my series EastSiders centers around a couple experimenting with opening up their relationship sexually. The first episode actually begins the morning after a couple’s first threesome, as they navigate the awkwardness of making coffee while a stranger takes a shower in the other room. Another episode includes a montage of threesomes as the characters explore their sexuality (and encounter a cavalcade of weirdos in the process).

The show isn’t making an argument for or against promiscuity, but I knew that some would assume that it did, probably because they didn’t make it past the fun stuff to the episode in the STD clinic.

I was prepared for some backlash, given the irreverence with which the subject is approached, but I was surprised to find the majority of the vitriol coming from other gay men. I pulled the following gems from the comments on an Out magazine article about the show:

“Why the hell are you in an ‘open relationship’ to begin with if you’re going to hook up with other guys? so trashy!”

“Sluttiness and having multiple sex partner beside your boyfriend, for me it’s disgusting.”

“If you publicly announce you have an open relationship then be prepared for comments. I think an open relationship is bullshit. Ditto bisexuality.”

“You are a slut.”

“Skank!”

Many of the commenters expressed concern about gay men being viewed as promiscuous. If these commenters desire to combat stereotypes, then I’d suggest they start by not contributing to the stereotype that gay men are catty, bitter, backbiting queens. We all share a common struggle, and I believe we have a responsibility to be kinder to each other than society has been to us. Yes, some people are promiscuous — that doesn’t mean their stories are any less worthy of being told.

As LGBTQ people who have been told since we were young that our sexuality is an abomination, I believe we have a duty to stand up against the morality police. Who are we to govern the sexual practices of others? Who are we performing for? Why do we need to criticize others to affirm our own decisions? Do we really want the same societal pressure placed upon our relationships that straight people have to contend with? Just because I’m engaged to my partner doesn’t mean that marriage is right for everybody. Some people might actually be happy being single — that doesn’t threaten me. Today, it seems as though any individual’s expression of sexual desire outside of the confines of marriage is seen as a threat to our hard-earned place in society.

We’ve all heard the counterargument. How are we supposed to convince everyone we deserve equal rights when Larry’s on Grindr every night and Sarah, Kim, and Suzy are raising a kid in a triad? Guess what? Larry is getting laid, and three women throupling isn’t any more of a threat to two men getting married than two men getting married is a threat to a straight couple tying the knot.

Sex is also nobody’s business except for the “sluts” in question. This kind of pearl-clutching recalls the respectability politics of Bill Cosby, and we know just how respectable he turned out to be. I’ve overheard an acquaintance at a bar trashing a friend of mine who occasionally performs in adult films, only to find out that they hooked up later that week!

I can certainly understand why promiscuity fell out of fashion in the wake of the AIDS crisis. At 16, I convinced myself that I had contracted HIV from kissing another guy. It’s not an uncommon story. When my mother found out I was gay later that year, she told me she was afraid I had HIV. I was a virgin.

Growing up in Mississippi, I hadn’t actually met another gay man I wanted to have sex with. And if I had, I would’ve definitely been too afraid to act on it. We’re finally at a place where we aren’t immediately equating sex with death, and I think that’s a wonderful thing. But the fear many of us felt growing up has left scars that have twisted into hatred — hatred of other gay men and hatred of ourselves. As a late bloomer, I certainly did my share of slut-shaming, and I think back on both my bitterness and naivety with deep regret.

Seeing upstanding, attractive gay people profess their love and devotion to one another on TV has certainly helped the movement for equal rights for same-sex couples. But the end goal, for me, is not equal rights for gay couples; it’s equal rights for all people. I want to live in a society predicated on mutual respect and civility, where no one feels ownership over anyone else’s sexuality.

I want to live in a society without slut-shaming, because I can see what it’s done to women. Society’s desire to police female bodies has resulted in employers limiting access to contraception, state lawmakers championing transvaginal ultrasounds, and Republican presidential candidates quibbling over who would make the most severe cuts to funding for the largest provider of women’s health services in the country. This attack on women’s reproductive rights is one of the reasons I chose to include an abortion storyline for Constance Wu’s character, Kathy, in the first season of EastSiders.

We are living in an incredible moment in history. We finally have the right to marry, and public opinion has shifted dramatically in our favor regarding other forms of discrimination. One need only look as far as the national ridicule of Kim “Eye of the Tiger” Davis to see how far we have come.

While there are some extremists who have rallied to her side, a few short years ago, her refusal to do her job would have been reported in a drastically different manner, with her personal beliefs weighed equally with the civil liberties of LGBT citizens. But we have a responsibility to look past assimilation and continue to act as leaders toward a more loving, egalitarian society.

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35 Comments

  1. pete
    November 15, 07:12 Reply

    I don’t slut-shame but I have issues with people who don’t practise safe sex especially if they are promiscuous.

  2. Mandy
    November 15, 07:12 Reply

    I’m almost not surprised that this was posted following PP’s epic rant on Twitter against (how did he put it again sef?) ‘the self-appointed sex dictators we have in d gay community.’ LOL!

  3. ken
    November 15, 07:13 Reply

    We judge bcos its easier to understand people when they are placed in boxes, and going outside the box is a big NO-NO!

    While some of us (like me) are old fashioned and dont care for threesomes, or open relationships or any other form of sexual “experimenting”, I believe life is all about tolerance – to each his own. Afterall, marriage and monogamy doesnt always translate to happiness.

    I think the important thing is honesty and being true to yourself. If you know monogamy is not for you, then dont deceive or lie to your partner. And if you know monogamy is what you want, then dont play the victim card and suffer in silence. Kapish!

    • Pink Panther
      November 15, 07:16 Reply

      *staring with open-mouthed shock* Whodathunkit? 🙂

      • ken
        November 15, 07:33 Reply

        Lol, u can close that mouth now Barbie!

    • ambivalentone
      November 15, 18:17 Reply

      Preach!!! Hence the need to slut-shame all dishonest folks. Saves lives.

      • Masked Man
        November 15, 07:49 Reply

        Bhet how na?
        I can’t say hi to one someborri again?

    • Max
      November 15, 19:33 Reply

      Hey hoe, what’s up?

      • Masked Man
        November 15, 20:55 Reply

        Aha!
        The virgin prostitute.
        The chaste slut.
        Nno!

        • Dominic
          November 16, 12:15 Reply

          Lmao @virgin prostitute. The hoely one of kd.

  4. Masked Man
    November 15, 07:51 Reply

    Ah! KD’s colour pink.
    What a relief.
    All I’ve been seeing since yesterday is the French flag on every profile.

  5. Chuck
    November 15, 07:51 Reply

    Eventually an open relationship becomes an ended relationship. Discuss.

    • sensei
      November 15, 09:41 Reply

      What’s the average shelf-life of exclusive relationships in the gay community? Do you see how people react when they hear that two gay men have been dating for over a year?
      Don’t assume. I even suspect open relationships would last longer and with reasons.

  6. Chizzie
    November 15, 09:51 Reply

    I stopped reading when I saw “…we have a responsibility to be kinder to each other” Which to me was sentimental and utter crap. This is the kind of unrealistic and kumbaya mentality that gets to me.

    First of all, if straight people have the right to slut shame, why shouldn’t we? A show that begins with and proceeds to several threesomes from what I can see, deserves to be slut shamed, whether it were straight or gay. If we want equal rights with straight people, then we should also be accorded slut shaming rights as well.

    Secondly, just because we are gay doesn’t mean we should hold hands in a circle and sing Let It Go together. No! We are first people, then gay. And like people in any given group, there would always be mean ones, nice ones, sluty ones, bitchy ones, ones you don’t get along with, fat ones ad infinitum.

    So where does this notion of lets be kind to each other because we are a minority come from? Watching too much Disney cartoons? Living in lala land? This is real life at the end of the day not a Miss America pageant

    I will slut shame,be mean to or kind to anything or one I want regardless of whether they are gay or not.

    • Marc Francis of Chelsea
      November 15, 16:02 Reply

      We should sing kumbaya and hold hands because society views us as gay men before they view us as people, especially in Nigeria. That’s why you go online and read a story about Isis throwing gay men off a roof and see comments like they deserve it for being gay. While we cannot all get along, we can at least try on the little things like not judging each other for what we don’t understand.

      • Chuck
        November 15, 19:11 Reply

        So instead of pushing back against the ‘otherisation’ that homosexuals,face you want to re-ify that ghettoization by giving sexual orientation an outsized importance/ bias?

        • Marc Francis of Chelsea
          November 15, 23:05 Reply

          What do “outsized importance” and “ghettoization” mean?

          I’m saying we shouldn’t be shunning and shaming ourselves to prove that we are like everyone else when they don’t see us that way. The fact is that homosexuality is a oversize issue as someone can kill/disown/excommunicate you because you are gay. So we should form a supportive community for each other rather than strive for “normalisation” by shaming others like us.

  7. Teflondon
    November 15, 10:15 Reply

    How people are able to make sense of this article marvels me… It was just loads of bulony and gibberish.

    How one person sits down and begin to write stuffs like this thinking he/she is passing a message to the general public is beyond my reasoning.

    I read the piece like 3 times to try to make a meaning of it, however I was only able to get the word ‘slut shaming’ which to me is not new. As a professed slut myself, I experience it every now and then, does this mean Ill like slut shaming to stop? No! Because I’m realistic enough to know it can’t. If I were str8 I would still be a slut and would still get slut shamed. So in essence, what is the article talking about? Or maybe I got this all wrong. Anyways fuck it!

    We need to stop clamouring for a world were everyone would hold hands, walking towards the settling sunset.. Whilst thinking we would live happily ever after, it’s never going to happen. Gay people will encounter problems, same with str8 people. We need to learn to deal with it rather than going to write an article the moment we encounter a difficulty.

    • Mandy
      November 15, 14:13 Reply

      Teflondon, I’m glad you think this way. Perhaps the next time keredim fires a shot at you for being such a barebacking whore, you won’t get so defensive and start crying about how KD is intolerable. You know, seeing as you’re here giving your endorsement to slut-shaming.

      • Keredim
        November 15, 18:44 Reply

        Wow, kudos to you Mandy for understanding the “B-A-L-O-N-E-Y”, God knows I didn’t..

  8. Delle
    November 15, 11:55 Reply

    I don’t slut-shame but I’m so not a fan of promiscuity. Gay men tend to have more sex and that’s because apparently, gay sex is the coming together of two males, two of the horniest species in the world! But then again, it’s more or less like being gay equates being lackadaisical with your sex life. Shouldn’t be.
    Threesomes, an auditorium of orgy and all worth not isn’t for me. Maybe we should for once practice a monogamous gay relationship. No third party!
    But like someone said, to each his own. Some people don’t do well with only one partner…I’m sure that’s the reason three men would come together in matrimony…haha.
    *reading a novel on gay romance*

  9. Rev: Hot
    November 15, 12:15 Reply

    sorry ooooooo. it’s just my opinion…. but the title vexed me…. why can’t gays slut shame??? being gay and slutty are not the same nah!

    lemme goan read the article again incase I missed something

  10. Marc Francis of Chelsea
    November 15, 15:55 Reply

    It’s easy to feel better about yourself and your situation when you look down on someone else’s situation that’s dissimilar to yours. “Eh, I slept with my friend’s boo, but at least I’m not a whore like Nnanna” “And so what if I wear ripped jeans, at least it’s not bum shorts like Emeka.” I believe that’s the whole purpose of slut shaming. That and of course trying to convince ourselves that we are on higher grounds morally.

    Live and let live. If someone wants to fuck raw and have orgies with their five boyfriends, it is their business. The most you should do is advise them on the dangers of that, not go on a slut shaming rampage.

  11. Duke
    November 15, 18:23 Reply

    I think the line between telling someone to be careful in their sexual exploration and slut shaming is often blurred. There is nothing wrong in telling somebody to explore wisely.

  12. Max
    November 15, 19:31 Reply

    Blah blah blah blah.. I’m not surprised you posted this, since it’s always been your duty to promote sluttiness!. The dude is just sad because they canceled his show.
    Just because I’m gay doesn’t mean I have to tolerate all the crap in the gay community. We are a group of marginalized people and should be trying to show ourself in a better light and having threesomes and jerking off in the woods isn’t going to get us any closer to the acceptance we all desperately crave for.

    • Marc Francis of Chelsea
      November 15, 23:18 Reply

      But then that means you don’t want to see accurate or at least realistic portrayals of gay men on tv. The men that have threesomes in the woods are real people and that is their reality. Portrayals of gay men in the media don’t all have to be about the nerdy queen who gets the jock or the perfect looking guys who live next door.

      • Max
        November 16, 06:25 Reply

        @Chelsea, portraying black men as thugs and drug dealers in movies has done more damage to the black community more than you know. In the same light, portraying gay men as trashy hoes who jerk off and have sex in the woods does the same damage.
        Let’s face it, most gay characters in movies are always portrayed in a bad light, never to be taken serious, they never get the lead role and they’re always killed off at some point in the motion picture. They’re portrayed as weave flinging overly flamboyant dudes who is made fun of throughout the movie. Up until recently, TV shows never had strong gay characters, we’ve always been the dispensable hoes who are never meant to be taken seriously. Straight people can get away with portraying anything on TV, because guess what, they’re not being oppressed or marginalised. They’re the majority and we are the minority fighting for acceptance. And we can’t do that by showing men having orgies and doing stuff in the woods.

        Never compare straight people with gay people, we are the ones fighting for acceptance, not them.

    • Pink Panther
      November 16, 04:13 Reply

      It’s my duty to promote sluttiness? Seriously, Max?

  13. Dickson Clement
    November 15, 20:42 Reply

    I have never being in a relationship and for heaven sake am getting all the sex I need from all the RIGHT source available! Call me a slut, that’s your cup of coffe. I probably have screwed your BF over!

  14. Nefretiti
    November 16, 07:05 Reply

    Everyone has their life 2 live , I believe its all about what suits u….if u enjoy having threesomes and multiple sex partners then its ur cup of tasty time and do let ur hair down and don’t b a hypocite about it . Monogamy is also a choice, deciding 2 b faithful 2 one person isn’t as easy as we make it seem , so we can cut the sluts some slack .lol. Sha practise safe sex.
    Btw this is my first comment*shy*

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