Archive for the ‘Walt Whitman’ Category

Bradley Manning: Who Wouldn’t Want To Be A Woman, Except to Be A Man?

August 26, 2013
Thetis Imploring Zeus, painting by Ingres

French classical painter Jean August Dominique Ingres presents Zeus as the ultimate Daddy.


I found the latest wrinkle in the Bradley Manning saga to be really dismaying: his revelation that he wants to “transition” into being a woman named Chelsea, or as we say, become transgendered. The Army is going to give him a huge amount of grief over it, but probably not as much as I would give him.

First of all, let me say that I definitely believe in the reality of transgenderism—that is there simply are people who are born into the wrong bodies, or at least the wrong mentality that went with their bodies. Strangely enough, the veracity of this seems more real to me regarding women who transition into manhood than men who transition into womanhood.

Why is that so?

Because I find the almost universally accepted expectation of femaleness still umpteen times more confining than the same expectation of maleness. Or, as one F to M trans person said: “I realized I was an ‘outie,’ while being female is an ‘innie.’” She—now he—wanted to push out of the female role, wanted to play with hammers and nails and not dolls, loathed what was the enforced passivity of the female role, and hated the obsessions of women: how they look, how they “feel,” and how they act. She didn’t want to “feel.” She just wanted to be, and not have to think about it, the way men, classically, are trained not to think about it.

Or maybe they just don’t.

Maybe it’s another byproduct of testosterone.

But the truth is, you see, I have always been a transgendered man. Inside me is a gorgeous spectacular woman who happens to have a male head on her. Maybe even two male heads: if you include the one down below my regular head. Since the time I was sixteen years old, after a suicide attempt at fifteen (pushed into it by my violent schizophrenic mother and her family in Savannah, GA, as well the kids at my high school who started a whispering campaign against me) I have realized this simple truth: in order to be the man I was going to be—flagrantly accepting and enjoying myself, as I was—I would have to turn into what I called a “spy” for myself.

I was the foreign country of pure queerness, sending out a mercenary into the “straight world,” who would report back to my own inner self—my very real inner self’—in order to promote and survive and in a hostile world.

The question is: who was that inner self, and how did he (or she) evolve enough to become the present me? It took me a long time to understand this, as I’m sure it’s taking Bradley Manning, another spy certainly, if there ever was one. But in the evolution I discovered that this gorgeous female inside me could become this amazing guy who would define “maleness” itself, under his very own rules.

“Maleness:” that is the thing now escaping us. And poor Bradley, it’s escaping you too.

I first began to understand maleness as I came out into the underground queer tribe of the mid-1960s, when you had to sneak into gay bars that were usually hidden inside seedy buildings, down dark streets where you could be bumped off for the wrong wink at the wrong time. But there was this spark between queer men that we passed on to each other, that emotionally nourished us because we didn’t have acceptance of any other sort yet: including self acceptance. We were truly underground. We were moles. We made James Bond look like chicken shit. You had to be tough as nails to survive or you died. Gay kids now who kill themselves: God, do I feel for you.

But I realized back then that if you got through adolescence, there was the reward of having all these brothers around you who could recognize you and keep you going. Now in our age of “gay networking” and the totally bland mainstreaming and corporatization of queer life (if it exists at all anymore)—when everyone is emotionally starved on a high-caffeine Starbucks level (and I hope you get what I mean when I say this)—that queer brotherhood which was so important to me is out in the cold and the dark.

It’s sad. I broke all the rules of manhood and made my own up. To me as a young queer, the male gender was rich, romantic, exciting, affectionate, powerful, and mobile. You could move with it any place. You could pee against any tree. You could become the tree. New York, as my own silver daddy Walt Whitman called it, was “the city of orgies.” It was a place where having balls was fun. Now men here are castrated by corporate life, desperate to get married because they cannot receive any kind of emotional support outside marriage, sports nuts because only Derek and A-Rod can give them the kind of homoerotic charge they’re too scared to find in real life, and so isolated that they are killing themselves at a faster rate than they are killing each other. They are also killing women, a fact which is really sad: 80% of all homicides against women are done by their boyfriends or a male they know. When cops see a female corpse, the first thing they say now is: “Where’s the boyfriend or husband?”

So, Bradley, I don’t blame you for wanting to become a woman. But why don’t you become a man first? My kind of man. Wild, impetuous, romantic, secretive, horny as all get-up for the juices of life. Liberate yourself, and then see if you need to take hormones to do that.

Perry Brass has published 16 books including bestselling The Manly Art of Seduction which starts off with the assumption that “men are not supposed to be seductive.” Which of course is all the fun of being it. And, King of Angels, a gay Southern Jewish coming-of-age novel set in his native Savannah, in 1963, the year of J.F.K’s assassination, a date whose 50th anniversary we are celebrating this year. King of Angels was a finalist for a 2013 Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT fiction. You can learn more about him at his website,

2010 in review

January 2, 2011

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is doing awesome!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The average container ship can carry about 4,500 containers. This blog was viewed about 21,000 times in 2010. If each view were a shipping container, your blog would have filled about 5 fully loaded ships.

In 2010, there were 6 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 22 posts. There were 4 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 592kb.

The busiest day of the year was November 29th with 96 views. The most popular post that day was 37 Ways To Be Seductive With A Man, .

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for how to be seductive, how to be seductive to a man, seductive talk, how to be seductive to my boyfriend, and being seductive.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


37 Ways To Be Seductive With A Man, May 2007
9 comments and 1 Like on,


Tea Room Sex, A Blast from the Old Past? December 2007


The Manly Art of Seduction Gets Banned on FaceBook January 2010


Discovering Manhood and the Work of Branden Charles Wallace March 2010


Malachy McCourt and I discuss aging . . . and fawking. March 2010

Discovering Manhood and the Work of Branden Charles Wallace

March 10, 2010

Image of two men from "The Comfort of Men" series by Branden Wallace

(Note: the following is the text of a piece I read at a panel discussion on Tuesday, March 9, 2010, at the LGBT Community Center in New York on the work of the painter Branden Charles Wallace, as part of the Center’s Second Tuesday Cultural Program. The other panelists were Philip F. Clark, who blogs about art @ BlogSpot; Peter Drake, Dean of Academic Affairs at the New York Academy of Art; Bruce Donnelly, filmmaker working on a documentary about The Comfort of Men; and Jerry Kajpust, M.A., co-leader of the Manly Art of Seduction Workshops, staff member at the Leslie-Lohman Gay Art Foundation.)

Discovering Manhood and the Work of Branden Charles Wallace


            I first saw Branden’s paintings at an Erotic Art Fair at the Center at least a year ago. I thought of all the artists in the room, his work stood out. What attracted me was the sense of casual male power in it, especially in his paintings of men wrestling or playing rugby. They had that feeling of a suppressed, muscular strength that at any moment would unleash itself and bring the viewer along with it. I think it is that sense of a casual even diffident power that so often attracts us to men and the world of men, this secret world in which male intimacy, strength, and vulnerability mix and sometimes collide. Branden and I started talking, and he revealed he was a fan of John Singer Sargeant; of course this too excited me. Sargeant may be the greatest American painter who ever lived—or is certainly in a narrow field of greatest American painters—he was hugely classical, constantly fresh, and also queer as the proverbial 3-dollar bill: something art historians have tried to hide for years. Many are no longer hiding it. But I thought Branden had some of Sargeant’s freshness and that luscious, sexually-energized power waiting to embrace you and invite you into its more private, beautiful regions.      

            Later, I learned that Branden had experience working with the military as an Army contractor; I’d also had 3 years of a similar experience as an “Air Force wife,” when, living with my ex-partner, an Airman, got to experience that paradoxically tender and hard environment of the military—suppressive, disciplined, aggressively egalitarian, at once. The “Comfort of Men” series reminded me of that; in the environment of war, men allow feelings to come out, from heroism and almost bottomless love to extremes of grief that they suppress in everyday life. I felt Branden wanted to take these feelings, which are allowed, even nurtured in a gay environment, and expose them to a larger, more menacing world.

            In a contemporary America, any male efforts toward other men are either identified as gay (and trivialized as such); or desperately try to sneak out of the gay category, often through compulsive commercialism. In other words: if it really sells, it can’t be all queer since selling is what real men do to put food on the table.

            This is sad to me, not because the “normal” man has contracted himself to fit into a narrower range, but because the gay environment itself has become so much bigger, so heroic, that the TV sitcom stereotype that tries to explain us to the world only comes out more moronic—and even teenagers are seeing that.

            How did American men end up where they are now: totally gelded as far as deeper feelings are concerned? Gelded, depressed, alone, often suicidal? If you look back at men from earlier times, the letters they wrote, the pictures they exchanged, and grasp the male tenderness involved, it makes one wonder how did we get to this point?

           Sam Staggs, who made a name for himself in gay porno writing as “Phil Andros,” wrote about gay life in the 1930s, when he was a friend of Gertrude Stein’s: “We existed under the protective umbrella of American sexual naiveté.” In other words, there were fewer categories because sex itself was so forbidden that it was hardly talked about.

            Several things changed this. One was the increasing popularization of Freudian jargon, so millions of people were bandying around terms without ever reading Freud.

            But a pattern of acute, dangerously popular homophobia emerged in the early 1960’s due to two figures. One was Jack Kennedy and his circle which tried to bring a razorish preppy butchness to American culture in order to hide Jack’s own queer fears and tendencies: There were many rumors floating about Senator Kennedy and he knew it. Kennedy loved sexual attention, and probably never cared that much where it came from, although his father Joseph Kennedy did. So this attitude of arrogant sexual defensiveness, with Joe McCarthy’s bigotry behind it, hardened to concrete.

            The other influence was the emergence of the Playboy philosophy, bringing “red-blooded”-American-male heterosexuality out of the closet, and nailing everything else into it. Hugh Hefner was a publishing revolutionary; he knew American men wanted to do a lot more than tiptoe through the tulips. Before Playboy, the stereotype of homosexuality was that it existed because women, put off-limits by Victorian repression, were not available. In this environment of virgin womanhood, homosexuality “swished” in. Also, homosexuality was abetted by the fear of pregnancy, so basically homoeroticism had no reason to exist except as an outlet for desperate, horny men.

            Marshal McLuan, the Media-Maven of the Sixties, declared that with the advent of birth control, women would become “the bomb” of sexuality, constantly exploding, and homosexuality would totally disappear.

            In truth Marshal McLuan has disappeared, but not homosexuality. Still, the Playboy Philosophy and Kennedyism changed the environment in the early 60s. Gay men were no longer sinners and sickos: they were losers. The Playboy brand of Reddi-Whip supermarket sex had become so pushed down America’s throat, that it would remain there until feminism exposed the fact that Playboy was exactly that: for boys. The Playboy image and philosophy would not let men grow up and become actualized people.

            So, where does this leave us?

            My feeling is that currently, gay men are authentically discovering, even inventing the male gender: that is, manhood as something distinct, the way that feminists did for womanhood. Until recently, men were still considered the colorless, odorless, unobtrusive background against which a feminine element could be identified and used. This led men to a negligible position: they could not strive for self-identity and recognition, because that was feminine. They could feel nothing but fatherhood, regular-guyness, sportsmanship, patriotism, and their own willingness to die if necessary for a cause that often they could not define.

            The old male virtues of vigor, self-fulfillment, and sexual attractiveness were in constant question. If you look at pictures from the Renaissance down the emergence of bourgeois culture you see images of fantastic male power and excitement. With the emergence of bourgeois and then consumerist culture, men are deadened to the point of oblivion.

            My favorite example of this is Gerald Critch in D. H. Lawrence’s 1913 novel Women in Love, who can only show feelings that are violent and brutal, and who finally kills himself after he is sexually rejected by a woman. His friend Rupert Birkin who openly adores him, says, “He should have loved me more.” But Gerald cannot. What this has meant in contemporary culture is that gay men are often now in the role of saving other men, of being habitually open to the needs of men and valiant about it. I talk about the male need for valor in my book The Manly Art of Seduction, and it is by pushing valor to include an admission of the beauty of men, something our own society can only merchandize but can’t really honor, that gay men are not only discovering and inventing the gender of manhood, we are saving it.

For more information about Branden Wallace, go to:

Tea Room Sex, A Blast from the Old Past?

December 4, 2007

Today I read a wonderful entry in Jesse Monteagudo’s email journal that he sends out his friends, and also posts in his own blog, about male public restroom encounters. It really made me think about what is happening here, and why we are so appalled at what has basically been going on since guys got together to pee in the back of the cave. Here’s Jesse’s journal entry, and at the end I include my own response, which I thought was interesting, too.

Sex and the Daytona Beach 9

Male homosexual activity in public bathrooms, for decades a fact of gay life, became big news in 2007, thanks to the misadventures of conservative politicos like U.S. Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho) and Florida State Representative Bob Allen (R-Merritt Island) and the (mostly unfounded) complaints of Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle. Now come the “Daytona Beach 9;” nine men who were arrested for lewd behavior during a sex sting operation at a Sears Department Store bathroom in Daytona Beach Nov. 1. According to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, the accused include “a former Daytona Beach city commissioner and a local high school teacher” who promptly resigned from his job. “The reason that we did this sting is we all go to the mall; our kids go into the bathroom,” said Police Chief Mike Chitwood, who could hardly contain his disgust. “That they could be susceptible to this type of behavior is absolutely a disgrace.” (Please note that I refuse to name the Daytona Beach 9. In my opinion, these men have suffered enough already.)

Public sex, especially sex in public toilets or “tearooms,” has always been controversial, even within our GLBT community. Almost without exception, bathroom sex is male masturbatory or male homosexual, proof perhaps of the male’s greater sex drive. (It is not my intent, in writing this article, to condone bathroom sex. In fact, due to its health, safety and legal hazards, I do not recommend it.) There are many reasons why a man would want to have sex in a public restroom. For some men, bathroom sex is a step in the coming out process; a relatively easy way for them to discover the joys of male love before moving on to gay social networks, commercial institutions, or even a life partner. For other men, tearoom trade is their main or only form of sexual expression. Many of these are repressed “closet cases;” men who can not or will not accept their homo- or bisexuality. For them, a quickie in a toilet satisfies their sexual needs but does not require them to be publicly “branded” as queer, which would be the case if they went to a gay bar, sex club, community center, church, etc. This was apparently the case with Sen. Craig, Rep. Allen, and at least some of the “Daytona Beach 9.”

What makes a public bathroom a hotspot for tearoom sex? Though opinions differ, a bathroom’s location often makes it a favored place for sexual activity. College campuses are ideal tearoom locations, if only because colleges are full of testosterone-charged young men who still question their sexuality. Public parks are also popular (ask George Michael) as well as libraries and department stores (like the Sears in Daytona Beach). Once a place gets a “reputation” there is no telling what might happen. A good example is a Home Depot store in Oakland Park, Florida, which in its heyday was notorious for its men’s room activity. How did that Home Depot become so cruisy? Certainly the store’s butch image attracted a certain type of gay man. Perhaps two guys hit it off at the paint section, went off to do their business in the bathroom, and then told their friends. And the rest is history.

Male homosexual activity, especially in public places, threatens a lot of people, which is why the media have a field day with sex stings like the recent one in Daytona Beach. The Daytona Beach News-Journal’s excited coverage of the Nov. 1 arrests is a case in point. The day after the arrests were made the paper (and its Web site) published an article (“Ex Daytona commissioner, teacher charged in sex sting”) which not only published the names, ages and professions of the accused but also their mug shots. The next day the News-Journal ran a second article (“Mall bathroom sex sting spotlights subculture”) that tried to analyze “a subculture in which adult men meet for sex in restrooms designated online as hot spots, almost in plain view of unsuspecting patrons.” In fact, the only explanation of this “subculture” came from police Sgt. Jeff Hoffman, who talked about “coughing, grunting, sharp zipper noises, … tapping on shoes” and other “signals” used by men to attract sex partners. Though the accused limited their sexual activities to masturbation, they were nevertheless arrested “because a bathroom stall doesn’t completely conceal a person” and, thus, “he has no expectation of privacy, making any sexual behavior unlawful.”

As if that was not enough, the paper followed this tidbit with a third article (“Activists say arrests a setback for gay community”) that claimed that “the entire local gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community is going to have a harder time than ever gaining equality and convincing people that only a tiny fraction among them is interested in sex with strangers in public places.” That’s a lot of responsibility to be placed on the shoulders of nine formerly closeted men. Not surprisingly, the News-Journal’s coverage of the arrests “generated more than 120,000 page views and hundreds of comments on the News-Journal’s Web site Friday. That’s more traffic than the entire site gets on a normal day.” Needless to say, most of the comments were even worse than the cops’.

The media justify their lurid reports by protesting that bathroom sex threatens the well-being of “innocent” bystanders, especially children. Leaving aside the question of whether or not witnessing sexual activity is more traumatic than watching a traffic pileup or a Fort Lauderdale City Commission hearing, the fact remains that an unsuspecting child is more likely to be hit by a bolt of lightning or win the lottery than run into sexual activity in a public john (unless he’s looking for it). As any vice cop could tell you, catching men having sex in restrooms is difficult, which is why they often have to resort to entrapment or other extralegal subterfuges. A sting operation like the one in Daytona Beach is newsworthy because it is so unusual.

The media will also deny that they are conducting a witch-hunt against gay or bisexual men. But a witch-hunt it is, and many of our brothers have paid the price for it. Thirty years ago, reporters used hidden cameras to catch men who gathered in gay bars. Today, the media use similar tactics to catch men having sex in public parks or public bathrooms. In fact, today’s accused have it even worse, for they are branded for life thanks to sex offender laws and the Internet. One does not have to condone public sex to agree that media coverage of sex sting operations is often sleazier than any crimes that the stings seek to prevent. We can feel sorry for the accused, which is why we agree with the Rev. Beau McDaniels of Hope Metropolitan Community Church, who “said she can understand why some local gay and bisexual people go underground. It’s a conservative area where people’s sexual preferences can ruin their careers, she said.”

“If people would learn to accept people as God accepts them, we wouldn’t have this issue,” Rev. McDaniels said. “When you’re told it’s wrong and bad, you hide. This will drive us deeper underground.”

I welcome your comments. You may reach me by e-mail at

Dear Jesse,

That was a great journal entry. I really enjoyed it, and thought it was marvelously written, very clear, mostly dispassionate, and “spot on,” as the kids say.

Most gay men who’ve had any experience and fairness out in the world don’t condemn bathroom sex; they may not like it, but to outright condemn it because “I’d never do it,” seems pretty ridiculous. It’s been going on since the early 19th century, at least, when public facilities became available. In fact, one famous “house of comfort” in Central Park was visited by Walt Whitman, and was notorious after the Civil War as a place to meet soldiers, sailors, workers, and other “tradesmen.” In England, it was very popular, especially during Edwardian times, and these places were referred to as “cottages,” so it was called “cottaging.” Since England had ferocious laws about picking up anyone in a bar (constant entrapment), the “cottages” were considered safer. Usually what went on there was not complete sex, just a dangling of equipment, a few winks, and then something was done outside. Although that was not always the case.

A lot of the uproar about bathroom sex, or tearoom sex, really comes from the feminization of our commercial culture. Women, back in the 19th century, were pretty much aghast at the idea of public facilities. They were things men used. Women did not use them; they used facilities in hotels or lady’s shops, if they had to “go” outside the house. Usually, they just held it in, so that women often suffered from terrible bladder problems. But it was considered unladylike to go to do “it” in a place open to the public, so the idea of one of these places being used for sexual as well as excretionary purposes was really disgusting to the WCTU crowd. Men usually laughed at what was going on. It was often considered simply a part of being a man, and the Paris pissoirs were infamous cruising places, and no one ever got busted in one. It would have been considered, in itself, a breach of privacy and manliness. If you did not want the advances of a man, you just let him know and pronto!

I think this attitude was pretty much in force in America, even up until after World War II, when public facilities really started opening up, and women started using them as well. So the old feminine disgust at anything else going on in these places except an “extremely private function,” snowballed. For women, the public bathroom was a place for primping, and anything other than that was totally locked up, with an attendant out in front to make sure it stayed that way. Since no real man ever primped, it meant that he had to get in and out of these places in a nano-second, and any dallying around was considered suspect. In fact, for two men even to go to the bathroom together was considered suspect. A few years ago, a friend of mine and I, who like to go together to piss, were caught by a waiter peeing at once in the same toilet. I thought the waiter was going to faint.

So we now have this idea that bathrooms, or as the Irish say, “shit houses,” are sterile, sacred places where only God, pissing and dumping can take place, and everyone buys into that. Now that the YMCAs of America have all gone co-ed, the parks are patroled to the level of state of prisons (New York’s Central Park is said to have one cop, plainclothed or not, for every 40 visitors), and people are way too tasteful or stylish to consider cruising department store johns (due to the armies of ribbon clerk queens who used to staff department stores, they were infamous), this form of sexual display, in all of its basic, crude, animal splendor, is really off limits. Decent, all-Americans would rather meet via the Web, where they can lie to their hearts content about their assets, age, etc. And there is that most sanitized of all sexual encounters, phone sex, which requires nothing more than a jack and a credit card.

In a way, it’s sad, but I’m sure that a lot of people will say that the Daytona Nine had it coming: they are a throw-back, and as everyone knows, we hate themThe author in his own bath.