‘Gay For Pay’ and other euphemisms

Posted: October 27, 2010 in Uncategorized

This rather evocative image is taken from an article linked to on Laura Augustin’s site: http://www.lauraagustin.com/sex-on-sunday-5

These young men work in Prague’s blossoming gay porn sector, but as they put it quite poetically, they are straight young men; they are only Gay For Pay. I love how relaxed they look, how the one lad’s knee brushes against the other lad’s thigh, in a post-coital? moment of not thinking about their body language, the way straight men normally do when they are in close proximity with other men.

‘Gay for Pay’ reminds me of Keanu Reeves’ character in My Own Private Idaho. Sat by the fire, in an echo of homo-erotic scenes from cowboy films, Scott tells Mike (River Phoenix) that ‘two men can’t love each other’. If a man loves another man, he ‘would grow wings and fly off like a fairy’.  But he does have sex with men for money, ‘if they pay me, then hell yeah’. Mike’s doleful reply is one of the most heartbreaking moments I can think of in modern cinema:  ‘but I love you and you don’t pay me’ *  he says to his friend.

I have been chatting recently to someone who works in international development, particularly on projects supporting HIV health and sex education interventions. He works with a lot of men and women for whom sex is not defined in terms of romance, but in terms of necessity. Some of the men he works with loosely define themselves as ‘gay for pay’.

The term used by policy makers for men who do not identify as gay but do have sex with other men (and so can be at risk of HIV) is ‘MSM’  – men who have sex with men. I smiled when my friend told me that one of the men he worked with said:

‘I do have sex with men, but I am not ‘a man who has sex with men’.’

‘I wish’, said my friend, ‘ I wish he had said ‘ I fuck men, but I’m not a fucking faggot’. Which of course, is exactly what he did say.

Basically, just as there are many and new ways of saying ‘gay’, until ‘faggot’ doesn’t mean anything negative, in terms of a man’s identity, there will always be new and exciting ways of saying ‘I’m not a fucking faggot’.

I am waiting to receive a book about The Down Low,**, a word used mainly by black Afro-American men who have sex with men, but who aren’t ‘men who have sex with men’. I will tell you all about what I learn.

*There is no published final screenplay of Idaho. I transcribed it all by watching the film frame by frame on VHS when I studied it for my undergrad dissertation, to make sure I got the words right. I may be the only person on earth who has done this. Be impressed or pity me.

**It’s not the famous one by the guy who seems to say that men on the DL are nasty AIDS carrying adulterers. It’s another one.

  1. Great post. I love that movie by the way. I haven’t watched it in over a decade I should totally revisit it.

  2. You should. I have watched it countless times and never get bored of it. I love the colours and the shots of the sky, and the houses falling to pieces.

  3. redpesto says:

    You can add Roy Cohn’s ‘I’m a heterosexual man who fucks around with guys’ from Tony Kushner’s Angels in America to that pile.

    PS: I like the idea of ‘MS/M’, if you see what I mean.

    • I will investigate ‘Angels in America’ definitely!

      I like the idea of MSM too. It is very descriptive. Maybe we should adopt it for everyone: ‘MSW’ ‘WSM’ ‘WSW’ etc… and it would still fail to describe our experiences.. what about trans women? trans men? gender queers? Men who don’t have sex? women who don’t have sex except for work? etc etc… 🙂

  4. Angels in America is an amazing play, and a pretty f-ing good mini-series.

  5. popupsncockups says:

    next door neighbour did gay for pay to my boss for several years, to a straight lad cocksucking isn’t gay, anything more or affection is gay. another thing on offensive gay words, i had a spat with some on youtube so antigay, i had to get in there, best way, fag is obvious, go back unapologetic about your sex and say not a fag, i am a fucking cocksucker ok. it’s amazing how that worked. must post them sometime, they caved.

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