DATE: The Gay Dirty Four-Letter-Word
This odd ambiguous labeling doesn’t apply to heterosexuals. If a straight man meets a woman at a house party, grocery store, church or night club and they go out the next day for drinks, dinner or a movie: THAT’S A DATE! They both acknowledge that, whether the actual word is spoken or not.
If two Gay men, who are obviously attracted to each other, meet and go out the next day for drinks, dinner or a movie: THEY’RE JUST HANGING OUT!
A form of courtship consisting of social activities done by two people with the aim of each assessing the other’s suitability as a partner in an intimate relationship. While the term has several meanings, it usually refers to the act of meeting and engaging in some mutually agreed upon social activity in public, together, as a couple.
Last I checked, this is what 70% of gay men are out there looking to do with each other. The other 30% only want sex but half of them are only like that because, out of frustration, they have given up on trying to Date the traditional way. They use Sex as a method to con the person into spending time with them.
For the duration of this essay I will examine the ORIGINS of this phobia as well as lay out some SOLUTIONS that we all can employ to help return the word DATE into the Gay lexicon.
ORIGINS: THE THREE “E’s”
Let’s hop in our DeLorean and travel back to 1952…It was a simpler time when (oppressed) women sat idly by waiting to be courted by a man. Women waited to be asked for a dance. Women waited to be asked on a date. This was a time when it was extremely rare and off-putting for a woman to be the aggressor in a dating arrangement. The man had to be the one to ask the woman, point blank, period. Fast-Forward 60 years later to 2012, many of these antiquated views on gender roles remain. When you add the complications that come with Gay Men’s psychological struggle with masculinity and the varying degrees of it in the community, the issue of courting and dating becomes murky.
A man being asked by another man to go on a “Date” subconsciously triggers that 1952 view of relationships. The receiver of the invitation often feels emasculated, equating himself to the role of a submissive woman. So to soften the blow, the following phrase:
“Hey, are you free Saturday, let’s go out on a date…”
“Yo dawg, what you doing this weekend, let’s hang out and chill…”
The latter phrase feels less threatening to one’s masculine sensibilities.
For Gay men, the word Date only has one meaning: Commitment. When heterosexuals are Dating, they’re getting to know each other in order over a series of encounters to determine if they want to take it to the next level and become Exclusively Dating.
When homosexuals are Dating, that INSTANTLY means they’re Exclusively Dating. There is no grey area with the Gays. Saying, “let’s go out on a Date,” rings alarm bells from Midtown Atlanta to West Hollywood! Red Alert!
When you ask a Gay Man out on a Date, the word becomes LOADED with Expectations for Sex, Commitment and Furniture Shopping at IKEA. There’s no escaping it.
Most Gay relationships are like leased cars: You’re only in it for a limited amount of time and as a result you’re constantly looking for a new model to trade the old one in for when the time comes. So committing to a potential partner, even just for a week, is serious business since the man of your dreams could be seen at any time, especially if you’re already out on a date with another guy. So to alleviate the pressure, Gay men have embraced the “Just Hanging Out” phrase. This is an Exit Strategy for the man that sees another, better option in the wings and decides to pounce on that one instead. He can tell the original guy that they were “Just Hanging Out and not dating…so what’s the big deal?” This happens even if sexual activity is involved.
“We’re not Dating. We’re just friends who have sex, talk on the phone for hours, go out for drinks, dinner and movies, share intimate secrets and details about our lives…We’re just Hanging Out.”
I’ve done it…you’ve done it…we’ve all done it…
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