Sex Change

If you ever tell anybody my real name, I will hunt you down and kill you...

So I was sitting there at my desk at the TV station where I used to work as a news producer, minding my own business, when this anchor babe walked by. That was hardly unusual. Anchor babes used to walk by my desk all the time in those days, and sometimes they even deigned to speak to me. (They might ask "How's my hair?" for instance, or "Does this jacket bring out my eyes?") On this particular day, that particular woman was sporting some thigh-high boots, form-fitting pants and a tight blouse-with a few buttons strategically left unfastened.

Again, nothing too unusual here: The TV news folks you see on camera, all prim and proper and angst-ridden with the sad news of the day, often bear little relation to the real people behind the scenes (and you viewing folk would be shocked at some of the questionable fashion choices mercifully hidden from your view by ye olde anchor desk). What was unusual was my instant and unconscious physical reaction to her fashion choice on this particular day, as I looked up just in time to see her ample ass gliding by. As George Costanza once said: "I think it moved!"

"OK," I thought to myself, "that was freakin' weird." I've been a self-identified faggot for more that half my life-since I was a teenager, fer chrissakes-and my physical interest in women in all that time has been a net zero. (Letting that girl go down on me in 1980 does NOT count; I just did that to piss off her boyfriend!) Despite decades spent living in the unforgiving bosom of heterosexual drunken frat parties, the Marine Corps, Redskins football games, all the weight-lifting with countless straight buds over the years [Ed: Ooh, we're impressed there, Timmy!]-none of that abominable het stuff has ever rubbed off on me. Quite the opposite, in fact. I think it's made me like boys even more.

So I shook off this freaky incident as the odd firing of some latent straight brain synapse, one likely to die of loneliness soon enough in the vastness of my gay gray matter. Then, just the other night, I was up late watching TV, flipping channels, when I happened to land on a Victoria's Secret commercial.

I found myself ogling the model, a well-built and athletic-looking chick, standing against a breeze in glorious shades of black and white, the camera drinking up her fine features and smooth soft skin as her unbuttoned, frilly blouse blew all around her. She had great muscle tone, a slim and tight midsection, and a nice, how the breeder boys put it, "rack." And I said to myself, "Wow. I could get with that."

If Instinct had a soundtrack, this is where you'd hear the screech of tires and the crash of broken glass. Realizing the thought that had just formed in my mind, I mumbled, "Holy shit," and sat there pondering. Clearly there was something quite odd going on here, and it was starting to freak me out. And it made me wonder: Are there any other happy homos out there who've felt the same way?

Now, understand I'm not talking about fellas who once swam with the girlies long ago (in a galaxy far, far away-otherwise known as Ohio) before it dawned on them that what they really wanted was to stick their dicks up the football team's collective asses. Nor am I talking about guys who like to think of themselves as "bi," or "bi-curious," or by some other moniker devised to make our gay pride marches just that much longer. What I'm pondering is that guys like me, guys who wear their queerocity pretty much on their chest (next to the D&G logo), just how often are we confronted with this peculiar, yet strangely titillating, sexual attraction? More often than you might think.

"My thing wasn't Victoria's Secret," says Matt in Chicago, a 30-year-old lawyer. "Mine was the women's Olympic volleyball team. Maybe it's because they were kind of athletic, kind of like guys, but also feminine at the same time.

I couldn't even tell you their names, but they just had me fascinated in some sort of odd way. And there were moments when I was thinking that it might be cool to have sex with a woman just once. I'm not sure I'd ever act on it."

But some people do act on it, even if the situation takes them by surprise.

"If you ever tell anybody my real name, I will hunt you down and kill you,"

says "Brian," a 26-year old photographer in Phoenix. "I'm part of a small group of dudes who all kind of came out together, and part of that was making fun of the straight boys at our college. If any of my buds ever suspect I've experimented' a little on the other side they'll just be merciless!" Brian says he had never even looked at a girl sexually before he was 22; that's when the girl he worked with at the record store started making it clear she was into him. "She asked me out for coffee, and I said sure. I wasn't even thinking about it. I was dropping her off at her place when suddenly she's all over me. Me telling her I was into guys just got her going harder. It really turned her on."

But surely he didn't close the deal? "She sort of begged me to come up, and I thought, well, a blow job is a blow job, right? I thought it might be different with a girl, and it was actually kinda hot. It was the strangeness of being with a kind of person I'd never been with before. We ended up doing just about everything a guy and girl can do."

But that was it, right? One walk on the wild side on one night, then back to Boystown? "Umm, not exactly. We've fooled around a few times since. Hey, I'm gay, not straight, not even bi. I can't say I ever look at some chick walking by and think I wanna do her,' or anything. But this record store girl, it was just chemical. Is it better than being with a guy? No. She's got some parts missing that I like to play with. But I'm not like most gay guys either, I guess. I don't think vagina' and go ewww!' Just don't tell my friends, okay? I don't need to hear that shit!"

Andrew, a 24-year-old student at Auburn University, is another fence jumper who moonlights as a waiter. He says he gets hit on from the occasional female customer. "I even had one tell me what she would do to me if I came home with her. I tactfully laughed and moved on to the next table." Andrew admits he's thought about having sex with a woman from time to time; singer Sheryl Crow is one he'd most likely take a tumble for. [Ed: We suggest not admitting this to too many people, Andy.] Still, he says he would never consider himself anything but gay. And if it ever did happen? "I think I would really have to care about the girl, it could not be random. And I would have to get really worked up!"

That's not the case with Steve, a 24-year- old singer/dancer in Tampa. He says he's acted on his guy-on-girl impulses twice. "The first time was with a guy and his girlfriend. He wanted to try a guy, I wanted to try a girl, and she wanted to see two men together. It all worked out. My curiosity was satisfied, and I knew I didn't like sex with women. The next time was for fun. We found a sex game online, and another girl was involved. I won the game. I had the most clothes on afterward. We then went upstairs to play some more."

Far from being unique, some human psychology experts tell me this closet attraction between the fairer and the fairier sex is not at all uncommon.

"This is simply being open to another person's beauty, sexiness and how it might stimulate us despite our self-defined sexual orientation," says Michael Shernoff, a psychotherapist in Manhattan. "What fun, and how pleasantly confusing this kind of response can be!" Fun, I don't know about. I'm still trying to get past my Victoria's Secret experience. But it's definitely confusing, and not just for us. As Brian suggested, any gay boy's peer group may be thrown for a fruit loop if they find out someone in their midst is sleeping with the enemy. Justin says his friends would be confused if not incredulous. "They can't imagine me having sex with a girl-or dating one."

Darryl is a 36-year-old in Albuquerque who tells me of his love for Emilie, a love he fell into years after he came out as gay. "I told many of my friends.

The gay guys thought I was just going through a phase, while the straight friend was more concerned about me hurting her in the long run. One lesbian thought we should just enjoy the experience as long as both knew the reality of my sexuality. The other lesbian thought it was just wrong to get involved under those circumstances."

Another young man nursing a crush on a young lady he knows at his college says his friends-all "budding gay activists"-would, "probably disown me, like my parents did when they found out I was gay in the first place. Kind of fucked up, isn't it?"

Shernoff agrees; he's confronted similar situations in his office. "One gay-identified male patient was simply in a panic because he found some woman desirable and had occasional fantasies about her. Am I any less queer?' he asked. I am also working with one young couple. She is a dyke, active in radical queer causes, and he is a fag. Somehow they fell in lust and did it, then this deepened into a love affair and they are living together. Boy, did this cause havoc in their friendship circles. They still identify as queer, have same-sex liaisons outside their primary relationship, but are in the midst of a heady relationship that has made some of their friends move away and harshly judge them. How bigoted and stupid is that?"

Hmmm, that's a thought. Living in that heterosexual American bosom as I have, it's been my pleasant surprise from time to time to tumble on the occasional curious straight boy. I have done my upmost to satisfy that curiosity if called upon; I consider it a duty I am proud to uphold, in fact. So why does it feel so disconcerting when the shoe is on the other foot? "Today when we hear that a man otherwise known to be exclusively heterosexual has decided to play around a little bit, to explore, to experiment with homosexuality, we wouldn't bat an eyelash," says Lawrence Mass, author/editor of several books on human sexuality, including Dialogues of the Sexual Revolution, Volumes I & II. "That's normal behavior, we think. So why, when a gay man decides to explore, to experiment in the opposite direction, is it somehow considered false or a betrayal or whatever? One answer is that we suspect that that person may be acting out of self-hatred, trying to be straight when that's not really what he feels or wants. There's still a lot of that going on, but we really are in a new era when gay men can likewise feel free to explore, and not always because we're trying to be who we are not. Without all the hang-ups, most people are a lot more plastic in their sexuality than anything we ever imagined."

"I have met an increasing number of younger people who identify as queer and precisely not lesbian, gay or bi since they refuse to have their sexual desires, choices or behaviors straight-jacketed," says Shernoff. "These are emotionally well-developed people who are able to act on a variety of attractions without being limited by but I am a fag' or I am a dyke so I can't possibly be feeling this,' or I certainly won't act on this feeling.' Why the hell not?"

Why the hell not, indeed? It's not like any of the men I spoke with were ready to say good-bye to Little Richard forever. Far from it. For some, their walk on the wild side only served to remind them what they liked so much about dick in the first place; for others it became a more extended trip, and they're ready to accept whatever ribbing they get from friends (or hide it from their friends altogether) while they explore the brave new world of babe worship.

Openly or not, it turns out my Victoria's Secret is one shared by many. In fact, I've learned that far from being some sort of post-gay head case, I'm just riding the wave of the future. Who knew? Maybe the next time one of the girls in the office comes over to my desk, eyes all aflutter and flirtatious, I'll flirt back. Or even better, maybe I'll throw on some five-year old clothes, splash on some Aqua Velva, hit the local singles bar, and see what turns up. Stay tuned!