Gaydar love

By John Dexter


Salon Staff
October 6, 2000 11:56PM (UTC)

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As a gay man, I find the hetero John Dexter's joy at the attention he receives from others of my ilk delightful.

However, he describes himself as having "fine bones, fair hair, slim hips, full lips and long-lashed eyes sunk into a baby face." If I saw him in public I wouldn't give him a second look. I like masculine men, and so do most of my friends. "Borderline feminine" doesn't cut it for me, and I wonder at my fellow homos in whom it induces salivation. I sometimes think they must be borderline straight.

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-- R.S. Garrett

John Dexter recounts the crystallizing moment of confirmation of his heterosexuality as being a surprise kiss coming from a gay friend who, "in a swaggering show of cocksure one-upmanship, stepped out of the pack and locked his lips on mine. Expecting a peck, I got a whole lot more. And it all felt so wrong -- his strong hand clutching the back of my neck, his tongue pushing roughly against mine, the scratchy friction of his stubble rubbing against my stubble."

It can only be a matter of time before the hair-mussed, hollow-cheeked, fetching Dexter faces, in contrast to this aggressive encounter, another man with "borderline feminine attributes -- fine bones, fair hair, slim hips, full lips and long-lashed eyes sunk into a baby face." When this happens, methinks, Narcissus will fall in the pool and enjoy the swim.

-- Jeffrey Herbst

Like all gays, I admire good looks in men as much as anyone. But certifiably straight men might as well be women, sexually speaking. Since most of them can't get it right with women, how could we possibly think that straight men could satisfy us? A couple of questions for Dexter: What's going to happen when you're not so young and pretty anymore? Will you then be tempted to cross that line (as many so-called "straight" men have been known to do) to feel the validation you so obviously need now from all this flattering male attention? I'd like to hear Dexter's take on this subject 10 or 15 years from now -- after the bloom is off his rose.

-- Daniel Strong

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I'm one of those "queers" that lives in the D.C. neighborhood he's talking about. And the very thought of this straight guy primping in the mirror at one of our clubs and soaking up all that attention is simply nauseating. Don't get me wrong -- I have my straight-guy friends who enjoy coming to clubs with me, too. But they don't make a fetish out of the attention they receive from gay men. And they recognize that gay clubs exist so that gays can avoid not only straight guys who want to bash them, but also straight guys who want to toy with them.

This guy feels "hip" because he hangs out around gays in Dupont Circle, and can write about it in Salon. I thank him for the implied compliment. But I hope the other straights who are flooding into the neighborhood because it is so "cool" will want to keep it that way. That requires respect, and I think John Dexter isn't being respectful -- he is feeding his fragile ego by being exploitative. I just hope he moves back to Arlington.

And I feel bad for his wife, for reasons that should be quite obvious.

-- Joel Levi

How strange that the author could be so honest discussing his feelings regarding being the object of male attraction, yet used a pseudonym. Maybe he is not enlightened or honest as he thinks.

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-- Bryan Harris

I completely identified with John Dexter's joy in basking in the gay male gaze, but for -- shall we say -- inverted reasons. I'm a fairly attractive gay man, as evinced by the same type of unabashed gay male cruising I get that Dexter has received. And Dexter is completely right about the unmistakable mark of desire writ large in the gay cruise. But the sort of pleasure Dexter and no doubt many other straight men get from being sought after and at the same time being already unavailable is similar to the pleasure I get in being cruised by heterosexual women.

It's nice to be cruised, because it can do wonders for your ego. However, with women, you can't be quite sure. I could just happen to fall in her field of vision; she could think I'm someone she knows or has seen before; maybe she's critiquing my ensemble. And it's her subtlety coupled with my own margin for error that pulls me in. I don't want her, but I do want her to want me and if she doesn't, what does that mean about how attractive I really am?

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-- Paul Darrah


Salon Staff

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