DARE TO ASK: Can't take my eyes off of ... me?
By PHILLIP MILANO, The Times-Union
Do gay people enjoy looking at their own bodies in the mirror?
Tom W., 68, straight, Miami
NO! I have never been turned on by seeing myself in the buff.
J.P., 35, lesbian, Fort Lauderdale
I think it's like tickling yourself: It doesn't work.
I don't think the average homosexual would get any more excited by that image
than, say, Tom Cruise would. Tom W. may be confusing homosexuality with
It's not common, but not unheard of, either. In 25 years of being out, I have
run across a number of bodybuilders who definitely were turned on by the man in
the mirror. I've even met a couple of guys who never took their eyes off
Mark, 49, gay, New York
Quite a few gay men are more interested in the maintenance and appearance of
themselves, not because of self-attraction but because we know what type of
looks we are interested in and try to become our ideal person. That rings true
for me. If I find myself attractive, I tend to be more confident around other
people who are attractive.
Ben S., 29, gay, Lima, Ohio
Ha. To be honest, no. But then again I don't sit there and just pose, either.
I mean, don't get me wrong, from what I hear I'm pretty attractive, but no.
Andy, 21, gay, Alabama
Yes. I like my body.
Jay, 36, gay, Chicago
I sometimes think, "you still look good" when I get out of the shower, but
that's not attraction, just a (realistic?) appraisal.
Tom, 57, gay, Chicago
Mirror, mirror, way down the hall, is this question for real, or off the
We reflected (but did not primp or preen) and then called Eric Marcus,
best-selling author of such books as Is It A Choice?, Making Gay History and
What If Someone I Know Is Gay?
"You bet some of us look, but so do straight guys. They check out their own
six-packs and legs, too," he said.
As far as a gay guy enjoying what he sees in the mirror, it depends on what
he looks like - and what he's looking for, Marcus said. "If a gay man has a
spectacular physique, and it's the kind of body he's attracted to, I'd think
it's quite exciting to see that. But I would also think you'd dissociate
yourself from the person in the mirror; instead you'd objectify the body in the
mirror so it's a male body and not yours, so you get the biggest bang for the
buck . . . unless you're really into yourself."
Much of what he's seen is at the gym, where guys are working out and trying
to make themselves look better.
"What's better than having five to 10 mirrors around so you can see your body
in five different ways?" he said with a laugh.
Overall, though, a lot of straight people linger in the looking glass, too,
"Everybody knows someone who's into themselves."
Phillip Milano, author of I Can't Believe You Asked That! (Perigee),
moderates cross-cultural dialogue at Y? The National Forum on People's
Differences. Visit www.yforum.com to submit questions and answers. Send general
column comments to phillip. firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also hear his
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