The biggest cock. The most ripped abs. The prettiest face. Sometimes the whole gay world seems fixated on physical fabulousness. But not everyone is in pursuit of the Impossible Dream. Says one man who’d easily qualify as “very good-looking” himself, “Give me an average guy every time.”
Sure, many men want a boy just like the boys they see on the Internet: buff, handsome, and hung as big as Texas. But there are others who are turned on by dudes who look like they’ve been around the block. Paunchy, maybe. Not so gorgeous. Small-to-average endowment. There can be much to like about the ordinary. Says one fellow who fetishizes the less-than-fashionable, “Perfection is boring. Flaws are hot. Just about the best sex I ever had was with a guy who, in his 20s, still had acne.”
Gay men—with their oft-deserved reputation for placing an overwhelming emphasis on good looks—are bombarded with gay-media images of gorgeous gym rats. That’s who we should want, goes the implied message, and that’s who we should want to be. As one longtime observer of the gay scene says, “There’s nothing wrong with aspiring to be conventionally attractive. It’s just when it becomes an obsession that things get dangerous, leading to eating disorders, steroids, the feeling that you can never be good enough. Or the conviction that you’re so damn hot that you can treat others with contempt.”
A big part of the pecking-order problem is the notion that the “quality” of your sex partners proves your own worth. As one mid-20s hunk says, “I work really hard at keeping myself looking good. Why should I settle for second best?”
But do you remember that cliche about beauty only being skin deep? Our fetishizer of the unfashionable recalls, “When I was younger, I managed to seduce this amazing-looking man. He had a killer body, a stunning face, the works. It was only after I got finished thinking How was I lucky enough to score with him? that I noticed he was really, really boring sex, totally passive and self-involved. Now, I’m not saying that every super-hot guy is that way, but…”
Even plug-ugly guys can be narcissists, of course. But choosing someone who’s not obsessed with hair gel decreases your chances of ending up with Mr. I’m-too-sexy. If you’re on the ordinary end of things yourself, running after unattainable guys can be a form of emotional masochism. Aiming for the fuckable, though, can help you feel attractive, maybe even that you’re the hotter one. “I generally only play with men a lot older than me,” a cute, chubby fellow in his early 30s says. “Not only are they usually experienced and considerate, but they really do make me feel desirable. Maybe it’s a midlife crisis thing, but I like being with guys who treat me like I’m sexy, even when I don’t feel it myself.”
In other instances, such erotic equilibrium may be beside the point. For whatever reason, a man can be turned on by beer bellies, eyeglasses, homely faces, or funky physiques. Maybe it has to do with an early crush on the Maytag repairman, maybe something darker and more complex. But guys like what they like. As long as the sex involved is consensual and kind, the thought police have no business in your bed.
And then there’s the “fat boys are easy” syndrome. That may sound cruel, but our very-good-looking guy has a more generous spin on things. “Listen, I’m kind of lazy, or at least laid-back,” he says. “Why should I bust my balls running after somebody who’s trying to decide if I measure up to him? Better that I should get together with an ordinary dude who’s only too happy to engage in some mutual pleasure. Vulnerability makes me horny. Attitude doesn’t—even if it’s just attitude that I unfairly project onto some hot guy.”
When you grow up gay in a still-homophobic world, feelings of self-worth can be hard to come by, and not everyone can be a rock star or a high-tech billionaire. Small wonder that we tend to focus in on superficialities, especially when male lust is so visually oriented. But if you’re just a Plain Joe—and, buddy, most of us are—take heart. You need not necessarily shell out for Pilates, skin peels, or dubious dick-enlargement methods in order to find happiness.
“I may not be an Adonis,” says a non-Adonis, “but when I see myself reflected in my boyfriend’s eyes, I’m beautiful. And him? He’s gorgeous, too.”
Simon Sheppard is the editor of Homosex: Sixty Years of Gay Erotica, and the author of Sex Parties 101, Kinkorama, and In Deep: Erotic Stories, and can be reached at SexTalk@qsyndicate.com. Visit Simon at www.simonsheppard.com.