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Firstly, we should think about what promiscuity means. According to the UN (United Nations Organization) , it means having more than two partners per year. Poor leaders who made this definition, they must not be very happy.

Among us, this is a recurring theme. I always find it ironic that a group that suffers prejudice is also one that promotes prejudice. But then I remember the educator Paulo Freire, who said: “When education is not liberating, the dream of the oppressed is to become the oppressor”. Gay people, in the absence of a point of reference of their own, end up using what they know from the heterosexual environment and try to organize themselves in that way.

I like to tell a joke to my friends (and remember that common sense tells us that “there is a little truth in every joke”). I say that, on gay apps and chats, the person who claims to “prefer being a bottom” won’t be a top even if a gun is pointed to his head, the “versatile” one is, in fact, an ashamed bottom, the “top” one is a versatile trying to fool the others and the real top, the “stud”, isn’t online because he is too busy banging someone. These are sexists definitions, of course, but they indicate this necessity that exists withing the gay environment of lying about one’s own sexuality (or “making it better”) by always looking for a position occupied by the male, the “straight guy”, who is a top and a stud (it is also not uncommon to read or hear things like “I don’t like effeminate men”, almost the antithesis of this demonstrated and wanted virility). Why is this question in an article about promiscuity?

- BKDR -

Because nowadays we reproduce the same pattern that has been subduing women for centuries, in which the male (only the top, when talking about gay couples, in our prejudiced imagination) can do anything (even sexually) and the bottom, that occupies the woman’s place, who is seen as weak and an easy target of prejudice and violence, must protect himself or take the “terrible” risk of getting talked about. More or less like my grandfather said, using a popular saying in Brazil, in reference to his own world: “Take care of your nanny goats since my billy goats are roaming free”.

We can make an endless list of prejudices that follow the already stigmatized homosexuals. For example, there are those who like make-out sessions and “fast-fuck” (a slang for quick sex) and there are those who appreciate “non-promiscuous” or “relationship” sex, seen as old-fashioned.

The definitions are so well-marked that sometimes it looks like a person who, in some time in their lives, just wants to have a good time and not be seriously committed becomes worse or inferior because of it; and those who live within the “Christian and moral” standards become superior beings. Apparently, for these ones, the Christian God can even forgive being gay, but cannot forgive quick sex, just for pleasure.

Male tops, bottoms, promiscuity and the fear of loving | Eliseu Neto
Alexander, the Great – Wikimedia Commons

The reasons for these different types of behavior are really profound. Gay people lack a culture process of their own, most of the times, while they are growing, they take what they learn from the dominant heterosexual standards. By not having the chance to date at home and flirt at school, they nourish shame of their own desire and discover their sexuality in a hidden, fast way, by “coming and running way” because of guilt or confusion.

Only a few gay people I know don’t relate to having felt “awful” after orgasming in a certain moment of their lives, because after the excitement ends, there comes the burden of thousands of years of a religious and prejudiced culture, that schools, family and laws (still) incorporate in our unconscious. When this enters our desire in a strong way, the person is considered a “whore” (which itself deserves another article, to discuss the absurdity of the term “whore” being an offense), that means we “blame” others – or ourselves – for exercising our sexuality in a way that a homophobic society taught us to build, quickly and in a secret manner.

Some gay people go to the opposite extreme, trying to show society that they are “normal”. But even the German psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, in the XIX century, made it clear that normality doesn’t exist. The gay “normal” would “be within the rules created by our society”. And, of course, in order to feel “normal” I need to point out what is “abnormal”, be part of the group that points it out (so no one remembers to point at me) and, therefore, talk trash about the ones with an exciting sexual life.

But is the “standard” indeed healthy? I get tired of reading that gays are promiscuous; I even heard from ill-intentioned religious people that we shake the traditional family. But a little historical perspective or 30 minutes of dialogue with your grandmother is enough. If she is older than 81 years old, for example, she was born in a time when she couldn’t even vote. Marriage was based in women who, in their majority, didn’t even have orgasms! They didn’t have the right to get a divorce or to vote and were taught to accept their husbands’ “indiscretions”, as long as they supported the household and their official wives.

When they burned the bras, they were called bitches for being “grass widows”, all of this went against “morality and good customs”, fancy words used (even today) by the State and by society to limit our access to pleasure or to freedom. Nowadays it has gotten better, some women want to come, they want faithfulness or equal rights in open marriages, they want to desire. If marriage nowadays lasts less, that’s because it is possible to boss human beings around, but not desire and lust. We will never know the formula for these, they form in the individual in an early age and rarely change. (they can be worked out in an analysis, be softened, but the childhood and the adolescence marks will be there).

In my view, it is really healthy that we have new types of family, that marriage is eternal while it lasts (or while it is “hard”) and that each person can search for their desire and their moments of happiness the way they think it’s best.

In short: gay people are, nowadays, what the women who dared to become grass widows were in the past. But it’s worth remembering that the law that enabled couples to obtain a divorce is from 1977 and only in 2003 (!) the item from the Brazilian Civil Code that enabled the husband to get a divorce from his wife if she wasn’t a virgin was revoked. These recent changes were caused due to a lot of struggle by the feminist movement; and highly significant alterations in society’s way of thinking and in the laws can also happen for the gay movement, as long as it becomes united towards common goals and stop the internal fights.

However, in this moment, the segregation of one group towards another is palpable: gays either don’t like lesbians or trannies. These, on the other hand, are segregated by transsexuals. Anyway, one judges the other, talks about the other, in an attempt to get back their self-esteem that was damaged by years of social oppression. It is a failed attempt, since the gossip within our environment never ends.

Promiscuity is a way of living; and often just a phase. It even can (and see how this argument can shake the notions you have about the world and about making out) indicate someone who is very loving, who gives a lot of themselves into a relationship, who really likes to date (and ends up suffering a lot), who creates a kind of defensive wall to protect themselves from such pain, who is scared to death of suffering again, so they choose not to have any steady partners and to be floating through chat rooms, cell phone apps, saunas, dark-rooms or “whispering woods” (a loving way of calling hookup places like the Aterro do Flamengo, in Rio de Janeiro, the Ibirapuera, in São Paulo and even the Central Park, in Nova York, in the United States).

When “I’m everybody else’s and everybody else is mine too”, in fact, like the song “Os Tribalistas” (by Marisa Monte, Carlinhos Brown and Arnaldo Antunes) also says, I don’t belong to anyone and this feeling of freedom can be important in some moments in life.

Even more so within the relationship construction that we have nowadays, in which dating means giving up all other forms of joy: the boyfriend gets mistaken for a boss, fights to have the password to one another’s social medias, does a research on one another’s lives… In my office, I already heard someone who complained about their partner’s erotic dreams, which is something the poor guy doesn’t have any control over.

Activism fights for diversity, but LGBTI people themselves don’t seem to deal very well with it: someone talks trash about a person who goes to saunas or to threesomes, and “feels sorry” for that person, while someone else thinks those who want to mimic the current pattern and not have any mannerisms are boring, effeminate men take a beating from all sides… Poor those who are adepts of polyamory, because they get disqualified by almost everyone, since there are still fashionable false beliefs, such as the one that says that we can only love one person at a time (even though the number of couples in which one of the partners has more than one family is huge) and the one that says that lust and love go hand in hand.

Deep down, we all know that these beliefs are in fact wrong; the truth is that we need love, we believe in it in order to receive what we don’t have. The French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan makes it clear by saying that “love is giving something you don’t have to someone who doesn’t want it”, which means that what I wanted to receive (messages, texts, kisses, clinginess) I do for another person (expecting reciprocity), who most of the time doesn’t want these same demonstrations, but want other things we don’t realize (after all, we always “know” what loving is, right?)

Love isn’t just one kind, it has no formula, recipe or magic. Now, just imagine sex… How much more time will we need to understand that each person has their own pursuit of happiness and that it can’t be the same for everyone?

Deep down, we criticize one another because we are insecure about if our own way of living life is really right; to speak out loud and to point those who are different strengthens our belief that the other person is wrong (and not us).

Be careful not to put a chastity belt on you own sexual life or happiness because of what others think and throw away the key. Finding it later might not be impossible, but it will be pretty hard.

“If everyone knew the sexual intimacy of others, no one would greet anyone” – Nelson Rodrigues

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Psicanalista, psicólogo, ativista e psicopedagogo. Defensor dos direitos da diversidade e responsável pela criminalização da LGBTIfobia