Pageantry in Leather and Lace

Imagine this. You’re sitting in the middle an an auditorium, an amphitheater, felted seat cushions pressing into your bottom and back. Before you, enshrined in a single spot light amid a sea of delicate shadows, the MC takes a bow as he finishes his opening remarks and then takes his place at the podium downstage left.

He brings his lips close to the microphone; he smiles. Video cameras catch the contours of his face, his perfectly coiffed hair, and project his visage onto giant screens.

“Are you ready to meet the contestants?”

The crowd replies with cheering and clapping, at the edge of every seat in anticipation.

One by one the contestants come forth. A few from the US–New Jersey, Philadelphia, three different cities in California–and from Europe in Italy and France, Sweden and the Netherlands; two hail from Latin America, introduced in the MC’s flawless Spanish and Portuguese. One contestant has even come from as far as Israel.

Except instead of women, the contestants are men. And instead of dresses and swimsuits, they’re wearing jock straps and leather harnesses. This isn’t the Miss Universe Pageant. This is the 40th annual International Mr. Leather Competition.

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Five Fast Facts About HIV

In a recent interview, Charlie Sheen disclosed his HIV+ status. I think it takes a lot of courage to do this because, despite science to the contrary, the disease is still stigmatized, both socially and legally, in ways that it shouldn’t be. However, I have to reprimand the reporter for asking questions such as, “Have you knowingly, or even unknowingly, transmitted the disease? Have you ever had unprotected sex since your diagnosis? Have you told each of your partners about your status before sexual intercourse? What risky behaviors did you pursue? And do you know how you contracted the disease?” These are invasive questions that, to me, are just as bad as asking a trans person about genitals and surgery, or maybe even worse.

So let me just say a fast few things about sex, safety, and HIV.

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15 Answers to 30 Questions for Straight Guys

Summer school started today and while I aimlessly wait for textbooks to arrive in the mail and for my professors to get the course websites up and running, I decided to browse Facebook and see what’s going on in the world–or at least in the lives of twenty friends Facebook selected at random, which for today, can be my entire world.

I came across this Buzzfeed article called “30 Questions for Straight Guys” and thought it’d be a fun read. Except when I opened it, I quickly realized directing these questions only to straight guys ignores the fact that gay guys are, in fact, still guys.

To set restless minds at ease, here are 15 answers to 30 questions for straight guys.

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Sexy

Sometimes I lie.

I was walking across campus–I leave for Alaska in 36 hours, and with advising, doctor’s appointments, and laundry to do, I know precisely where all my time must go–when I was approached by a woman handing out flyers for an event tonight.

“Have you heard about the Sexperiment?” she asked.

“No,” I said. “Could you tell me more about it?”

Except I had heard about it.

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When Our Names Expire

There’s a man in my writing class who is perhaps one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met at N.C. State. He’s a little scruffy, has an adorable smile, and says some pretty cool things sometimes. For our second round of short stories, his protagonist was gay, and it made me think, here’s my chance to see where things could go.

So after class, I told him again how believable the character’s voice was (because honestly, it was) and then I asked, “Are you gay?”

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The Downside of Duality

I was talking with a friend the other night and lately she’s been going through some hard times. I often find I’m not much help at giving practical help, so I offer only that which I’m able to offer (an obvious tautology that’s somehow necessary to include): So I do what sometimes I do best–I listen and console and support.

As I typed out my last text, taking special care to ensure every letter appeared in the proper place and only once (I’ve dropped my phone a few times; the keyboard’s become a bit fickle), it occurred to me when I typed “See, you’re looking on the bright side already!” that simply saying there is a bright side acknowledges and presupposes the existence of a side in shadow–and when I realized that, let’s just say the world split in two.

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To the World I’ll Be

I was going to write a sucky-feeling NaNoMonday yesterday, not because NaNoWriMo sucks, but because I felt rather sucky. Heart broken twice in one weak? Seemed like a new record. Then things actually improved drastically yesterday and I felt sucky no longer. So today I was going to write an honorary NaNoTuesday, but then I realised something amazing.

This is my one hundredth blog post.

I can’t believe I’ve already got ninety-nine under my belt. I had to check at first to make sure none of the drafts I’ve written (which are mostly notes to myself containing websites or stories to read) weren’t included in that number, and they weren’t. So. Yeah. This demands something special.

NaNoWriMo, I love you. But you come every year.

This comes only once.

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