Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Exhibitionism and Excess [II, 10]

For generations concealment and discretion, the closet in short, have been the rule for homosexuals. Yet some “obvious” or stereotypical gays, in an almost fatal attraction, defiantly adopt the opposite tactic of being flamboyant, exhibitionistic, and outrageous. Several metaphors are used to describe this gambit, including camping up a storm, flaming (also sending up flares), and screaming (as in screaming queens). The now-dated expression dropping pins means to disclose one’s feminine side. These procedures may be regarded as instances of exhibitionism, especially when deliberately chosen. Some flaming may be involuntary, however.

Such behavior is not always a purely personal expression. The exuberance of the gay-liberation movement of the 1970s represented a positive channeling of collective exhibitionism. Utilizing zaps, confrontation, and in-your-face tactics, gay activists of the 1970s pioneered in channeling such impulses as creative instruments in promoting social change. During the following decade AIDS activists, especially those in the organization ACT-UP specialized in positive uses of conrontation. Today, with some of the key goals accomplished, the need for such interventions is less keenly felt. What has survived is the colorful extravance of the annual gay pride parades in the month of June.

Apart from public display, excess also occurs in one’s lifestyle. Some gay men have had thousands of sexual partners, and boast of their conquests, which are generally anonymous. These sexual athletes would not, however, regard their exploits as excess, but as a natural expression of the male erotic drive. Some individuals of this type are oncers, who never have sex twice with the same person. The circuit parties, so popular in the nineties, combined indulgence in drugs with anonymous sex.

Polyamory is the condition of establishing stable love relationships (often involving joint-living arrangements) with several people at once. Polyamorous arrangements may be heterosexual, homosexual, or both. While outsiders may view the situation as an example of excess, it is not usually so viewed by the participants.


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