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Here’s What I Learned After Being Slut-Shamed at a Gay Bar Editors' Picks

Here’s What I Learned After Being Slut-Shamed at a Gay Bar

Written by Hornet User on February 08, 2019

It was 1:50 a.m. at The Eagle in Los Angeles when an acquaintance of mine — we’ll call him Mark — came up to me and said something along the lines of, “Wow! Don’t you ever get tired of fucking every guy in this bar, slut?” He had seen my black and red knees, burning from the bathroom’s pavement. Before I had a chance to respond, the bitter queen walked away, leaving me standing in the intoxicating mix of leather, alcohol and sweat that was in the air.

I stood in shock and confusion for a moment, slut-shamed in a gay bar.

The bar was closing, and many of its bearded, muscular patrons were staggering home through the streets of Silver Lake with their tricks for the night. I was now ready to leave, too, and upon finding my friend, our topic of conversation for the next 45 minutes over bowls of pho was what Mark had said to me.

My take from the incident was a question: Where did all of this slut-shaming come from? Why should I be ashamed of what I did? Like many gay men in Los Angeles and the world, I’m in an open relationship. My partner and I define the terms of how our relationship works. Why are so many other gay men bothered by that?

This was not the first time I’d been slut-shamed, but it was the first time it had happened in one of the country’s most famous gay leather bars. Each time I heard someone calling me those names — whore, slut, skank, puta, homewrecker, disease-spreader — it made me uncomfortable at first. Those words echoed in my head, mixed with the club’s beats, and made me wonder, if only for a second: Was I was really living the low life?

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But whenever I was called those names, I embraced them as a motto. Still, what truly upsets me is that gay men aren’t celebrating sex as the fabulous thing it is. And why are we mimicking the worst aspects of heterosexual relationships, like compulsory monogamy and policing each others’ sexuality?

One of the many wonderful blessings that comes with being gay, besides being able to act like a fool on a dance floor and not care, is all the sex the queer liberation movement has allowed us to have.

Sadly, we see a lot of slut-shaming coming from that other world — the straight one — so shouldn’t the dynamic be different in our glitter and lube-infused world? Gay guys do typically have a lot of sex, but why are some of us singled out and called sluts inside leather bars? Maybe because some of us, myself included, are adventurous and like to disrupt divisions of public and private space, pushing boundaries when it comes to exploring sexuality, and that bothers prudish guys.

My ego would love to think Mark was just jealous of me, but the problem runs much deeper. Our own community seems to have created standards of behavior that every gay man should follow. “Be proper!” “Be respectful!” “Behave nicely so straight people won’t give you a hard time!”

But that’s the opposite of liberation.

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I was in the closet for too long to hide my desires. I have always seen sex as a marvelous, wonderful gift that our bodies can provide us. Sex is a beautiful thing. Treating sex like a dirty, vile thing that we should be ashamed of is alien to me.

I consider slut-shaming to be a toxic trait of our queer community. All the harshness and hatred from these comments aren’t actually towards us; they come from people frustrated with themselves, projecting onto others.

If doing what pleases me, with whomever I please, means I’m a slut, then by all means I want to be founder of the Slut’s Union of Los Angeles. I refuse to live my life through other people’s terms. And I don’t want them to live in accordance with my set of rules (though I highly recommend them).

Following our desires, and our dicks, in this heteronormative society is a genuinely rebellious act. Maybe not as rebellious or revolutionary as cruising Griffith Park in the ’70s, back when the LAPD was still arresting gay men, but when our very existence is a reason for disgust and hate by a large portion of people in this world, we should be revering our bodies and living our sexuality to its fullest.

So, let’s go out to bars and fuck, and let’s go home and cuddle up in front of documentaries. Let’s just go and do things in order to liberate ourselves and be who we aim to be.

Last weekend I went back to the Eagle and spotted Mark. This time he was the one who had black knees while leaving the bathroom — and a much lighter attitude. He saw me and got embarrassed. I thought about calling him out as hypocritical, but I realized that would also be a type of slut-shaming.

I guess we all have our “black knee nights,” and those are moments never to be ashamed of. So I just laughed and went to the bathroom to get my knees dirty as well. And this time I was proud of it.

Do you have personal experiences with slut-shaming? If so, what’s your go-to response?