Thursday, April 10, 2014

Lunar Deity

Image: Plaque with Lunar Deity, 7th century. Thailand, Gold repoussé, 3-3/4 x 1-7/8 in. (9.5 x 4.8 cm). Norton Simon Art Foundation. (Source)

See also the previous posts:
The Hare and the Moon
In the Light of the Moon
Hare Moon
The Hare on the Moon
Hare and Moon
Hare of the Agave

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Talking Scruff founder Johnny Skandros recently shared with HuffPost Live his thoughts on why beards and scruffy facial hair have become popular among gay men. According to Skandros, it's partly a reaction to the clean-cut look of many gay men, at least as they were represented in popular culture.

"In the '90s, gay mainstream visibility was really like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and Will and Grace, and it was images of men who were very clean-shaven, very coiffed and very tan," he said. "I think gay men, especially, said, 'This isn't me.'"

Of course, it isn't just gay men who are bringing facial hair back into the mainstream, Skandros added.

"I think within the straight community as well, the metrosexual movement started to wear off after a couple years of 'Queer Eye,'" he said.

Other commentators have also been recently talking about male facial hair. Following is a sampling of what they have to say, along with a number of images. Enjoy!

Writes Dan Lambden in his article "The Science Behind Beards" . . .

The fascination for facial hair in gay subculture has a huge following. . . . However a new study finds that when it comes to beards, it turns out not everyone has a penchant; women aren't fans of a man with whiskers.

A study into women's attraction to bearded men versus clean-shaven men by Canada’s University of Lethbridge in Canada and New Zealand’s Victoria University of Wellington revealed that typically women did not rate the men with bearded faces as attractive as the clean-shaven faces.

The research results suggested that men with beards tended to look older and more aggressive that they did when shaven and were more attractive smooth faced. However when bearded, the men did give the studies female participants the impression of having a higher social status.

Perhaps the reasons for why men with beards aren’t as attractive to women, could be the very reason which makes them more attractive to gay men. It’s believed that beards evolved through natural selection as hairier men were more successful at conveying maturity, aggression, physical attractiveness and securing loftier social status.

These traits can be seen as striking qualities for many gay men, plus the illusion of appearing more masculine and successful could help suggest why gay and straight men alike so often grow beards.

Meanwhile over at the blogsite From Gay to December, the question "Does the Beard Make the Man?" is addressed . . .

It is interesting the significance beards can have on social interaction. There is certainly a wide spread perception that men with beards are more masculine. A few years ago a gay friend of mine grew a full one and found that people in the workplace questioned his suggestions less frequently. He also told me that other gay men perceived that he would take a dominant sexual role more frequently than they did before he grew out his beard. He also noted that he received fewer snide remarks from straight men regarding his sexuality. Certainly, this is just one anecdotal account, but from observation it is pretty clear that, in general, society treats men with beards differently.

Sean M. Johnson, creator of the "Beard Love" series of videos, notes the following:

The connection I make with facial hair is that it is usually worn by men of power: the father, the leader, and other iconic masculine figures throughout history, fantasy, and mythology. This idea of power in the wearer of the beard connects to many ideas I have about masculinity and manliness. Taking these ideas, I have looked at the way men and facial hair are both connected to masculinity, and how the beard has become fetishized by the bear community. I see the homosexual man with facial hair as a symbol for this masculinity that has been stripped from mainstream gay culture (especially American gay culture). The queer bearded man then becomes the icon of masculinity and representation of what I feel is somewhat lacking in gay culture. . . . The beard is clearly a fetish for me as well. I love the way it feels on a man’s face, I love how it can grow, change shape, color, size, and make a man look older than he is. These differences are all dependent on the wearer (how he decides to manipulate his beard’s features), and the shaping and growth of it allows a person to change their look and ultimately their identity, making the way they are viewed by others changeable and fluid.

I end on a humorous note with excerpts from Nicki Daniels' "Open Letter to Bearded Hipsters" . . .

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved a man with a beard. To me, they meant strength, power, MANLINESS. Someone who could protect me. Unfortunately, you guys have turned it into a fashion statement. The beard has turned into the padded bra of masculinity. Sure it looks sexy, but whatcha got under there? There’s a whole generation running around looking like lumberjacks, and most of you can’t change a fucking tire.

. . . You’re confusing me. It’s now on me to suss out who is the real man and who is the poseur. Sadly, I fear most of you are the latter. Before this explosion of whiskers on trendy men everywhere, if I saw a bearded man it was safe to assume certain things about him. Like, he probably owned a hammer. Or washed his hair with a bar of Irish Spring. His beard was probably scented with motor oil and probably had remnants of last night’s chili in it.

But you vegan nancyboys are a different breed altogether. You have your mountain man scruff, but you maintain it. You groom it. With products. . . . Look, I know I sound harsh, but I’m actually trying to rein myself in. A beard is meant to keep your face warm. Seriously, that’s it.

See also the previous posts:
Beauty and the Beard
Bel Homme VIII
Bel Homme XIX
Bel Homme XXIV
Bel Homme XXVII
Morning Light VII
Morning Light XVII
Morning Light XLVI

Related Off-site Links:
Bearded Bands and Facial Hair Appreciation Clubs: The Hairy-faced Trend is Back – Monique Schafter (ABC News, March 26, 2014).
Are Dudes with Beards Really More Attractive? – Chris Gayomali (The Week, August 30, 2013).
What a Man's Facial Hair Says About Him, According to a Beard Scholar – Dana Oliver (The Huffington Post, November 7, 2013).
The Rise and Fall – and Rise – of Facial Hair – Olga Khazan (Atlantic, January 9, 2014).
Prince William's Beard: Love It or Leave It The Huffington Post (December 26, 2008).
Hirsute – Hairy Blokes and Beards
Wise Gay Men

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Time of Balance

There are two equinoxes every year – in March and September – when the sun shines directly on the equator and the length of day and night is nearly equal. Seasons are opposite on either side of the equator, so the equinox in March is also known as the "spring equinox" in the northern hemisphere. However, in the southern hemisphere, it's known as the "autumnal (fall) equinox". The word "equinox" is derived from Latin, meaning "equal night."

See also the previous posts:
Eostre at Spring Equinox
Eostre: Goddess of New Life Beginnings
Autumnal Equinox
A Solstice Approaches Unnoticed

Image: Artist unknown.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tan Lines

Image: Subject and photographer unknown.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Mystery of the White Hare

The following is an excerpt from The Leaping Hare by George Ewart Evans and David Thomson.

When he lived in Nairn as a boy, Norman Halkett used to borrow his uncle's field glasses and bicycle out to the moors, usually alone, but sometimes with a friend, and lie down to watch birds and animals. He remembers two with the greatest pleasure: the capercailye, a bird now rare which haunted the woods about Cawdor, and the white hare on the moors above. The capercailye is something like a grouse, but almost as large as a turkey and the sudden flapping of its wings when it took flight among the tress as he crouched watching in the shadows where all had been silent was to him like the Angel of Death.

The mystery of the white hare sometimes frightened him too. He says that when it was sitting or lying down it looked as if it had been frozen to death or stuffed in a hunched up position like a cat that is feeling the cold. Its staring eyes were like glass eyes. Then watching through the field glasses he would ask his friend to clap hands or bang two stones together. The hare would crouch even lower in its form. They would approach it cautiously. It would watch them stilly until they were very near. The friend would run on towards it, and he would see through his field glasses how it leapt from the form with a twist of its hindquarters and land about ten feet away in order to leave no scent from its paws. Then it would bound in an easy regular gait, a series of smooth unhurried jumps that reminded him of a horse gently cantering, to the summit of the nearest ridge usually less than a hundred yards away. It would sit up there with its ears erect and look back to survey the danger. Sometimes when it ran on more level ground it would seem like a puff of smoke rising and falling, blown by the wind. It would often vanish suddenly near a rock or a high clump of heather.

When he tried to imagine the
Holy Ghost he thought of the white hare. The mysterious sin against the Holy Ghost was to kill a white hare.

– George Ewart Evans & David Thomson
The Leaping Hare

pp. 36-37

See also the previous posts:
The White Hare
The Ghostly Mountain Hare
Inspiring and Intriguing
White Hare Over Water
Mountain and Moorland
Winter Hare
Tragedy and Retribution

Image 1: Amanda Clark.
Image 2: Catherine Hyde.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Bel Homme XXXIII

Image: Subject and photographer unknown.

Friday, February 14, 2014

"Deal with It": Joe Kort's Message to Straight Men Who Shower with Gay Men

Joe Kort, Ph.D. has written an insightful commentary entitled "To Straight Men Showering With Gay Men: Yes, We Are Looking! (And So Are Other Straight Men) ." First published February 13, 2014 at HuffPost Gay Voices, Kort's commentary is reprinted (with added images and links) in its entirety below.


From time to time, a straight guy will admit that he' s not comfortable showering with gay men. He's afraid we'll be looking at him, sizing him up, and will possibly approach him for sexual contact.

New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma was recently quoted as saying that he'd be uncomfortable showering with a gay man in the locker room: "Imagine if he's the guy next to me ... naked, taking a shower, the whole nine [yards], and it just so happens he looks at me. How am I supposed to respond?"

Most gay men have responded to his remark by saying, "Don't flatter yourself" and adding, "We've been showering with you most of our lives, and we know how to be appropriate."

I like those responses, but there's one we're shying away from, and this truth deserves to be said: "Yes! I am looking, and so are many other gay and bisexual men."

In fact, I'll go so far as to say that it's an honor to shower with other men in a locker room, and a privilege to view them – one that I take very seriously and would never abuse. If any straight man could enter the ladies' locker room and shower, I'd dare him to say differently.

But it's equally true that most gay and bisexual men would never act on what they might be thinking. From the very first time we had to undress and shower with you straight men, we have learned to be cautious and careful to avoid being humiliated, bullied or beaten up.

In the 1970s, when I was entering sixth grade, my mother told me about gym and that afterward, I would have to shower with other boys. I was never so excited in my life. But all those titillating and excited feelings quickly ended when I thought about getting an erection in the locker room and being discovered and outed. I knew that would put me at risk for all types of humiliation and abuse.

That's when the tension began. I started to hate gym and would do anything I could to get out of it. Not that I couldn't control myself. I knew I would never dare to approach a guy, but I couldn't trust my own body not to be get aroused, and I felt tremendous shame at being so transparent, that every guy knew what was really on my mind.

This is a common story that many gay men have repeated to me in therapy, so I know I am not alone.

It was pure torture. So I learned to behave appropriately: head up, on my guard, and hypervigilant. I totally shut down any feelings I had just so that I could make it through gym class and get out.

So what's my answer to Mr. Vilma and all the other straight men who feel this way? Feel flattered. Say "thank you" or simply walk away.

But so many straight men can't, because no one has ever taught them how to respond to other men's assertive – and sometimes aggressive – sexual advances. Straight men know how they can act when pursuing women. They know they can be aggressive and not take "no" for an answer. They know they can be crude and use their eyes and body language to pursue a woman even if she feels uncomfortable. They naturally assume that gay men are the same way. And maybe some are.

However, the solution isn't for straight men to attack gay men and take offense from a victim position: "Poor me, having to feel like for a woman when a man sexualizes me!"

My message is to man up! Increase your self-esteem and self-confidence. If a gay or bisexual man finds you sexually attractive, take it as a very high compliment. We gay men are picky and won't hit on just any man we happen to be attracted to.

We have self-control. We have years of practice and experience in locker rooms being appropriate and mindful. We know how to look without being obvious and not making anyone uncomfortable.

In any locker room, all men – straight, bisexual and gay – look at one another. They size each other up, comparing their bodies and penis sizes with those of other men. And some of the gay and bisexual men will go home and masturbate to some of the mental snapshots they captured while looking at you in the locker room.

It's true! Deal with it.

Joe Kort is a psychotherapist, board-certified sex therapist, relationship therapist, and the founder of the Center for Relationship and Sexual Health.

See also the previous posts:
In the Arena
The Domain of Eros
Ball[s] Sports
Tan Lines XXX

Related Off-site Links:
Panic in the Locker Room – Frank Bruni (New York Times, February 10, 2014).
Michael Sam and the NFL's LGBT Makeover – Josmar Trujillo (FAIR, February 12, 2014).
This Sportscaster Perfectly Exposes The NFL's Irrational Bigotry Against Gay Players (February 10, 2014).
Dallas Anchor Dale Hansen's Plea for Acceptance of Michael Sam's Sexuality Goes Viral Yahoo! News (February 13, 2014).
How to Behave Around Your Gay Teammate in the Locker Room – John Loos (HuffPost Gay Voices, February 12, 2014).
Naked Male Camaraderie The Closet Professor (August 24, 2010).
A Letter from One Dad to Michael Sam's Dad: Learn to Accept Your Gay Son Like I Did – Cyd Zeigler Sr. (, February 13, 2014).

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Merman VI

Image 1: Bruce Lennon.
Image 2: Rusa.
Image 3: Bruce Lennon.

See also the previous posts:
Merman II
Merman III
Merman IV
Merman V
A Merman Named Eric

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Morning Light

Image: Subject and photographer unknown.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Hare Décor

Image: The Leveret.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Role of Reevaluation in the Gay Man's Quest for Authenticity

The following is an excerpt from Uncharted Lives: Understanding the Life Passages of Gay Men by Stanley Siegel and Ed Lowe, Jr. (Plume, 1995).

Generally, when a man arrives at roughly the midpoint in his life, he begins to reconsider the choices and the commitments he has made within the context of a changing realization about his mortality and the different perspective he is developing about the passage of time.

Specific choices he has made have absorbed a certain amount of time, and even his relationship with time is new. He feels that he can be more patient – looking five years ahead at a new goal no longer seems so difficult because time seems now to move faster than it did when he was younger – but by the same token, he no longer feels as confident in the amount of time he has ahead of him to accomplish new goals.

. . . This period of high self-examination often leads to a man's deconstructing some elements of his life and realigning them in a rearranged order of importance: what he now thinks he really wants and what he wants to avoid. At some period, and usually this one, every man reinaugurates a quest for authenticity, perhaps one that he feels he abandoned or departed from in a once distracting reach for material satisfaction, praise, or career fulfillment. But the focus and the approach may be vastly different between a gay and straight man during this time of life.

From the outset, the gay man frequently is more prepared for this kind of reevaluation process, because he has been living with it on and off both since childhood and since his earliest acknowledgement of his different sexuality.

Because the gay man was not given the opportunities for participation in institutions like marriage and was forced out of the option to embrace such responsibilities as come with starting a family, he likely developed in his youth an advanced expertise in managing individual freedom and in exploring all the other aspects of life that are not traditionally associated with institutions – nightlife, personal entertainment, socializing, and. frankly, having fun and letting loose. When he reaches a so-called crisis stage, wherein he takes inventory and checks his priorities to see if they still fit, the gay man usually is looking at the possibility of embracing some serious responsibilities. The classic heterosexual man at the same crossroads in life generally is depicted as doing exactly the opposite, as throwing off his too burdensome responsibilities and his career ambitions in order that he may stop to smell the roses, buy a red sports car, and fall in love with a sexually enthusiastic woman fifteen years his junior.

Reevaluation and reexamination seem to be a period characterized by a fair recognition of the value of love and a strong desire to welcome love as a greater, more dominant ingredient in an individual's life than perhaps it previously had been.

Along with the renewed interest in authenticity, the individual becomes more aware of the number and relative proximity of people who love him and with whom he can be loving.

See also the previous posts:
"Don't Fence Me In"
Affirming Our Essential Goodness
Wrestling with the Angel
Mindful Lovemaking
The Gay Male Quest for Democratic, Mutual, Reciprocal Sex

Photography: The Leveret.