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What's So Great About Looking Straight?

Illustration: Hilton Dresden

It's time we debunk the myth that "straight-acting" equates with "desirable."

"Straight college bro is blindfolded and tricked into bottoming for his friend's dad for 20 dollars."

What you've just read is an example of a porno I (and 2,456,013) other people watched this week. Logistics of the premise aside, the video is evidence of a truth prevalent throughout the gay community, or, at least, the circles of theater twinks and genderqueer hipsters I spend the majority of my time with: straight guys are really hot.

Is it internalized homophobia that makes, for me, the possibility of seducing a beefy soccer bro in Target basketball shorts much more appealing than getting it on with a boy rocking a V-neck, indigo hair streaks, and a chest tattoo reading "Primadonna Girl?" I'd sure like to think it isn't, opting to say it's instead the challenge of attaining the unattainable, or that it's simply the raw attractiveness of someone who so thoroughly embodies the traits of brutish, bulging, binary masculinity. And, obviously, at the end of the day I'm simply not going to end up getting laid by a guy who isn't into scraggly-haired, maroon-lipped goblins vaquely reminiscent of your grandma's weird friend, Berthe. But, still, I couldn't help but wonder: why do a great many of us think straight-acting guys are so sexy?

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The question first necessitates a deconstruction of the term "straight-acting," binary, heteronormative, and downright bizarre in and of itself. Yet for our purposes, let's acknowledge the problematic nature of the phrase and focus on what it connotes: a lack of flamboyance, a deep voice, an interest in soccer and bean bag tosses, for starters. In essence: Mr. Big. Or Smith. Or Steve. Or, now that I consider it, Harry.

I went to an all-boys, Catholic high school in downtown Milwaukee, and remained closeted the whole time. But I still can feel that squirming in my stomach imagining the most slothish, broad-shouldered hockey jocks of the lot yanking me into a bathroom stall and giving me something to write home about. I used to have sex dreams of my chubby, bearded physics teacher mounting me on a sex swing and giving me an applied science lesson as we soared over desks and baffled yet intrigued seniors waiting on Early Acceptance decisions from Cornell.

My attraction to "straight-acting" is further complicated by my unwavering discomfort interacting with any person who doesn't incorporate lipstick into their regular wardrobe. I haven't had a conversation with a hetero man in years that didn't trigger my irritable bowels into a frenzied waterfall of horror. It follows, then, that anyone with a subscription to Men's Fitness (aside from porn reasons) or a comfortable wielding of the word "bro" in everyday vocabulary cannot possibly make a good partner for me--someone who has not once, in 23 years, been addressed as anything other than "ma'am" when speaking to a customer service rep on the phone (that includes when I've called my bank, my local Indian food supplier, and my own father).

I decided I needed some second opinions about why we associate those who bellow at sports games and call each other "man" with an overwhelming urge for shoving their penis deep into all our orifices. When I conferred with my best friend and (by all heteronormative labels bisexual) goddess Misha, she promptly explained, "Because the patriarchy is emblazoned into our psyche, of course."

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While I've mostly observed those strange male-identifying specimens who don't wear nail polish from a healthy distance, I have, once or twice, made contact with our frightening, sweaty-palm inducing brothers over gay sex apps.

During my freshman year of college, having decided that in order to validate myself as a desirable, sexually evolved member of my peer group I needed to get some penetration under my belt, I responded to a Grindr message from a chiseled, shirtless torso named Steve.

Steve, or, as I've come to call him, the State House guy, worked as a security guard in the boiler room of Boston's State House, just a hop, skip, and a pleie from my shitty college dorm. After exchanging some nudes and downing about five tequila shots alone on my PB Teen blue-and-red striped comforter, I invited him to come over during the break in his shift, where he kept an eye on Boston's most important boilers.

We met in the lobby. Steve's baggy jeans, black hoodie and snapback hat for some reason led me to believe he would be a more satisfying sexual option than the scores of musical theater boys posting pictures of their impressive splits all around me.

Steve's immediate impression on me was weird: in addition to his incredibly hetero drag, he had small, clear glasses that made him look a little bit mole-like. Still, I was determined, and with my head (covered in a layer of Clinique powder to obscure my throbbing red nose and chin zits) held high, I marched the man back up to the elevators, signed him into my dorm, and took a quiet, tense elevator ride up to the 10th floor.

I had had the brilliant idea of having sex in my floor's community gender-neutral bathroom, since my roommate happened to be sick and asleep in my room just feet from my bed. Steve, however, had other ideas: "We'll be quiet," he grunted.

What proceeded is one of the great shameful decisions I've made in my brief and wildly odd life. Steve undressed himself and underneath his Old Navy outerwear was a body composed of big, admittedly unorthodoxly-shaped muscles. Much to my continued chagrin, I let him plow me, all while my poor, feverish roommate feigned sleep a yard away.

I won't bore you with the details. It actually turned out to be somewhat enjoyable in the moment, though in retrospect I can only wonder: why on Earth did a rodent-like stranger, one with whom I had absolutely nothing to talk about, represent a more desirable choice for sex than the slew of funny, intelligent, gorgeous fags flapping about my school's wildly gay (Charlotte's wedding planner Anthony is an alumnus) halls like butterflies with boners?

I'm not saying I'm enlightened now. I just received an anonymous Grindr message that literally reads, "Ever want to hookup with a straight guy? There are a lot of real and curious guys on" and considered typing in the URL. I don't know if we can change our sexual preferences, but what I can say is this: it's time to stop glorifying boys as sexually suitable due to a lack of knowledge about Rent revivals. Dismantle the patriarchy by swapping out your football jock fantasy with, oh, I don't know, someone who looks like orphan Annie meets Sid from Toy Story meets a really unskilled drag queen with a tiny budget.

You just might find out the sex is even better. Though, of course, sex with me is like having sex with a skittish lamb that's prone to involuntary emissions of all kinds of bodily fluids, as well as mental-health related stomach cramps.

Sex and the Shitty is Associate Editor Hilton Dresden's column on sex, bowels and navigating the exhausting complexities of early adulthood in New York City. Dresden's regular reflections also serve as a shrine and humble servant to the iconic '90s show helmed by Our Lord and Savior Sarah Jessica Parker.

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