The online diary of a gay courtesan.

Well, fuck you too…

I went to a very large party today for the first time in I don’t know how long. There must have been almost 100 gay men there, nearly all of whom were upstanding professionals in their 40’s – 60’s. Essentially it looked like I was walking into a gay bar frequented by older gentlemen, and that the club just happened to be at someone’s house.

I don’t know what’s wrong with me. As soon as I saw how busy it was I started to feel panicky. I’ve gotten so used to relating to people in a flirtatious or sexualized and nearly anonymous manner at the clubs where I work that I was nervous about seeing people in the daylight with all my clothes on. I don’t think I realized how much I’d disconnected from daytime living. The first place I went was to the kitchen for a glass of wine (which is odd, since I rarely drink).

I went there with a delightful friend, Dave Haywards of Touching Up Our Roots, Inc.: Georgia’s LGBT History Project, who is interested in helping me with finding performance opportunities for my artistic projects. We both agreed we’d leave out the exotic dancer part, since the wealthy gay guys at this party would be likely to discount me as an artist if they knew about it. Yeah, well, we thought that would work.

It didn’t take a full 30 minutes to remember why I avoid these types of scenarios anymore. Someone came up and interrupted my conversation with a guest, making it known that he recognized me from Swinging Richards. I then watched him go around the room whispering this to everyone, and saw each individual pair of eyes cut across to me in scandalized glee.

Great.

Well, I’m not ashamed, so I didn’t avoid the conversations that followed. However, there was a distinct and sudden change in the way I was being treated. For the first few minutes I was simply mingling shyly and having light conversation. A few men had begun flirting with me (as gay men normally do with each other), and I was engaging in some intelligent discussions for a brief time.

Gradually, I was becoming the focus of everyone’s attention. I drank my second glass of wine too fast and had to sit down. Within a few moments I was blocked into a corner by a wall of crotches and people were feeling on my head, hair, shoulders, and arms. I started to get nervous actually. I was buzzed, didn’t know a single person there (except Dave, who was mingling elsewhere), didn’t know really where I even was (since I don’t live in Atlanta), and have a couple stories in my past that I’ve not shared yet concerning sexual assault. No one wanted to talk to me anymore, they wanted only to hurl their fantasies at me from every direction at once. A few proceded to tell me how far they could stick various objects inside themselves or other people. One went into great detail about how he knew how to fist someone deep enough to cradle a person’s heart in his hand and feel it beating. (It brings tears to my eyes and bit of a gag reflex in my thoat just thinking about the relish with which he describes this – it’s fine if you’re into fisting, but I’m very squeamish about some stuff).

I’m sorry, I don’t normally vent or curse here, but this is fucking ridiculous. I went there to talk about art, which was going just fine at first, but then I was suddenly transformed from a person into a rubber doll. I don’t tolerate this well at all, so I have to say that I’m proud of how diplomatically I diverted all this. I’m not sure anyone even knew I was offended, let alone a tad scared. As it became clear that I wasn’t going to perform any freakish circus acts on the spot, some lost interest and wandered away. From there I was able to manage and redirect the remaining conversations before excusing myself.

The kicker is that only at the end did I finally get to speak with the person whom I was brought there to meet. He was very excited about my projects. Just as I opened the door to leave he blurted out, “I’m so glad you’re a real dancer. Now I can have some respect for you.”

Well, fuck you too…

This party brought to roaring life all the many reasons I write this blog. When you interact with adult entertainers outside of where we work, please try to avoid reducing us to a pile of mechanized anatomical parts. I know it might be hard to believe, but we really do have feelings… Promise… Not making it up.

19 comments

1 Jennifer { 01.02.09 at 1:24 am }

Devon, I’m freaking flabbergasted.

It’s not that I can’t get my mind around what happened to you tonight; I can understand it intellectually. Nor is it that I’m surprised that it happened, and it doesn’t sound as if you are either. Hopeful that it wouldn’t, perhaps, but not surprised that it did. The problem is, the events at that party touch on so many disconnects inside human beings in general that I’m not really sure how *I* can process it all, let alone how you do.

I want to tread carefully, because of how convoluted it all is, and because although I am not a man and I’m not gay, I am black, and I know how tenuous an endeavor it can be to comment about black people to black people if you are not black. As a clumsy but well-intentioned black straight person, the history and legacy of race in America is the template over which I lay issues in and of the QLGBT community, so I tend to believe that it’s equally tenuous ground when a straight person remarks on these issues. Please let me know if I need to be educated or redirected, or just if I should generally piss off on one point or another.

Disconnect #1: The only way some of those “gentlemen” could have known who you are is if they’d seen you dance. Why, in their minds, is it any less respectable to create and share a fantasy space with someone, at their bidding, for compensation, than to avail onesself of this experience, to desire such an experience, to NEED (and I’m sure your touch is the only one some men get) this experience? Neither thing is shameful, but if one is in the minds of some, why isn’t the other?

Disconnect #2: I love men, from what I understand of them. And not just their bodies. I love maleness in so many of its permutations, all its fragility and boldness and passion and strength and grace. So I am the farthest thing from a man-hater. But I sometimes wonder if the behavior I see amongst some gay males is just a given, not because they’re gay, but because they are part of a culture where the standards, norms, and mores are dictated by men.

Men, in my experience, are so excellent at compartmentalizing things, and can be deeply concerned about status, how they measure up to other men. It’s almost like they can’t rest unless things are stratified, and they can identify and be content with their place on the scale.

On one side, these men (given their age group) have probably fought voraciously for most of their lives just for the right to BE, and to be okay with being. They’ve probably done many things through blood, sweat and tears to *make* a gay community, let alone to be successful and/or respected in it. So they know something about dehumanization and how to fight it, both on a personal and a political scale.

But somehow, they manage to isolate this in their concious minds from the fact that they are willing to dehumanize someone else if it helps them identify their place on the scale. They are *this*, but thank god they’re not *that*, I imagine, is part of the subconcious conversation. Even if *that* was the only thing that gave them the joy of life, if only for a little while, the night before. Because that was last night. And this is a tony party, after all. Two separate things, don’t you know.

Disconnect #3: But maybe this isn’t just a man thing. Maybe it’s a human thing. Maybe it’s that PEOPLE can’t resist stratifying. It’s probably no more common amongst people in marginalized groups, but it’s always more striking: there’s always the conflict between asserting one’s right to intrinsic human dignity, and the seemingly irresistable rush to stratify along the same lines and using the same values as the dominant culture.

Black people do it with skin color, hair, and in recent decades, socioeconomic class. These guys did it with (percieved) socioeconomic class, but also by projecting their misguided shame over their own desires on to you. But for all their exalted status, they weren’t smart enough, or classy enough, to parse this in time to keep them from doing the injustice they did. I hope some of them had a little trouble sleeping that night, when they had the time to reflect. I’d like to think some would.

Maybe it would have been more appropriate for me to simply write, “Damn, I’m sorry that happened to you. That sucks. Chin up, baby. You’re a human being, and a good one at that, I reckon. You comfort and entertain these same fools, or guys like them, on a daily basis, and if they weren’t so fucked in the head regarding their own desires, they’d have been able to treat that fact as it should be treated, with respect and humility. Off with their heads!” But I’m a stranger, and I didn’t want to assume that kind of familiarity. So I went on and on about it instead, on a more cerebral level.

I hope my rambling is the kind of food for discussion you were looking for, and if not, I will understand if you remove the comment. If, however, what I’ve written is useful, I’d love to read what you have to say about all this, and all the other issues and thoughts a conversation like this might spur.

2 Jonathan { 01.02.09 at 3:31 am }

“Shudder”, that party sounded horrible Devon. I am mildly claustrophobic to be begin with, so I probably would have lasted five minutes then bolted. One of the less attractive aspects of the human male is its’ tendency to see people as sexual objects and not treat them as individuals. Sadly that does not necessarily change with age.

I will give you kudos for sticking it out until the bitter end.

3 Devon { 01.02.09 at 9:45 am }

jonathan, thank you for the kudos, they are appreciated. honestly, i should feel more free to voice my displeasure, but offending anyone outside the bar could come back to affect me at work. that’s why i avoid these scenarios – i’m disempowered too much by the personal politics that can get created by them.

jennifer:
truth is truth, is it not? it doesn’t change itself for different groups of people. regardless of race, gender, sexuality, class, or any other external grouping we make for ourselves, people are herd animals usually. that means there’s a pecking order. i agree whole-heartedly that people (men/masculine/male individuals in particular) assert their power at each other’s (and their own) expense. we’re like wolves in that respect.

these disconnects you describe are spot on. it takes two to tango, so if i’m offering lap dances it’s only because someone is paying for them. one of the primary reasons i keep this online journal is to point directly at the hypocrisy in our culture that relegates adult entertainers and sex workers to a subhuman place on the totem pole. our services exist only because there’s a demand. again i restate the question i posed in an earlier blog: what does this say about you (our culture in general) as a consumer? i was shaking it at the club because you were there with dolla billz.

i’ve worked in an all-black high school as a high school teacher, and i witnessed first hand the stratification you mentioned amongst black people. these were young kids, but they were already vehemently defining who was more or less valuable than whom based on everything you already mentioned. honestly, i fear that when the day comes that the lgbtq community is as fully integrated as the black community in amercian culture that we will be doing this just as much as anyone else (and from an early age). actually, the agism (and in my exerience, reverse agism) in the gay community already speaks to us doing it.

there is something else at stake here: these were older gay men. the fellas who went through the worst of the worst in recent memory. on top of all the other challenges we still face as a community, i honestly think that many men of a certain age are completely traumatized. most lgbtq people are walking wounded at some point in their lives, but i think the older ones haven’t been given enough of an opportunity to heal. many gay men practice unbridled lust, but the ones who came of age in a time when there was NOTHING for them can also be the most vicious (despite being the ones who often forged the tools that comfort their younger counterparts).

i’m not trying to justify or rationalize the way they treated me. and i’m definitely not saying that all gay men over 50 are sociopaths (because that is ABSOLUTELY NOT the case), but i am angry that gay men in general aren’t a bit nicer to each other in general. i snigger at the term community, honestly. what community? there were only two black men at this party and zero latinos, asians, lesbians or trangender people. some rainbow.

don’t we have enough to contend with without consciously, purposefully, and specifically undermining each other? it seems to me that our puritanical culture is still doing a great job of separating desire away from the whole human and villifying it. healthy body? good. healthy mind? good. healthy heart? good. healthy job? good. healthy realtionships? good. healthy spirit? good. healthy sex drive? WARNING WARNING, DANGER WILL ROBERTSON!

at any rate, the short, familiar replies are just as welcome as the cerebral ones. this space is for discussing the phenomenon of adult entertainment and the way the people who do it are treated. there’s not any way that a thorough response isn’t only welcome but encouraged. i also feel that there’s not a reason why a black straight woman can’t speak truth to a white gay man. you don’t strike me as the type of person to make cheap shots about these situations, so i’d invite you to feel less obliged to include all the “i’m not gay, so i don’t know…” introductions to your ideas. your observations are real, accurate, and valid, even if white gay men don’t want to hear them. i trust you to be the smart, sensitive woman you are.

a friend named paul in los angeles responded to this in a private email. he used the term “glass houses.” i guess we should always remember where we’re throwing stones. it’s too easy to become a hypocrite in too many situations to ever feel completely free to plunge oneself into abject judgement over someone else. one aspect of being an adult entertainer that i specifically value: i’ve learned that everyone desires and rejects. it’s all part of a cycle, and everyone craves connection on some level. i don’t regret being sensitive to people’s feelings, i just wish they’d return the favor more often. we’re all bones when we’re dead.

4 Jonathan { 01.02.09 at 2:01 pm }

I thought of the herd mentality of humans after posting. One on one many of these men might have been quite decent, but together they feel a pressure to “dumb down” their behaviour. I realized very early in associating with gay men that there were certain behaviours that I would not be able to relate to, and treating guys solely as sexual objects was one of them. That is why I gravitated more towards sports and less to parties and bars.

Many older gay men have been traumatized by growing up in a very negative, homophobic society. It is hard to explain to young gay people what the view of gays was in the 1960s and 1970s. For example, homosexuality and pedophilia were often lumped together, and if two men were ever shown kissing in a movie everybody reacted in disgust. Couple that with the AIDS crisis which scarred many of the survivors and it is a wonder that gay men over 40 have coped as well as they have.

As for the hypocrisy of people that demands the service but then degrades people for providing it, that is a sad but true aspect of just about every society. I guess I view exotic dancers, like comedians, sports athletes or any other entertainer. They provide a service that people want for a fee.

5 joe { 01.02.09 at 4:06 pm }

i am just appalled that anyone would treat someone in that manner. i feel that i need to offer an apology on behalf of gentlemen in my age range (over 40); however, no apology could ever compensate you for the manner in which they treated you nor could it erase the incident. one thing for sure, not all of us old farts behave like gay neanderthals, but sad to say, we are in the minority from what i have experienced online.

devon, this really makes me upset that anyone would treat you like a piece of meat and not like a wonderful and caring person that i know you to be. as you know, my ex was a dancer and i always treated him like a princess. in fact, the dancers at secrets in dc always liked to chat with me, because i treated them with respect. in dc the law is dancers can be totally nude, but no touching by patrons. i would never have thought to touch them anyways, as that is taking liberties that are inappropriate, not to mention against the law. the dancers would come over between their sets to just talk to me. i always tipped them when they were on stage and never touched. what i found appalling were the patrons that would have their hands all over the dancers and then walked away stiffing them by not giving a tip.

i know i am rambling, but i just got home from work and read your blog as soon as i got in the door. i am so upset that i am not able to put everything in words. i am sorry about this, but devon, you know how i feel about you and i feel like a member of my family was violated….those bastards. just remember, some of us try to be decent, no matter how old and alone….it is called self discipline and btw, that is what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom.

xoxoxo

6 devon { 01.02.09 at 8:42 pm }

joe, there is nothing that YOU need to apologize for. everyone is responsible for themselves. i just needed to vent a little. i do very much appreciate your feeling defensive of me, but i want to make it very clear that this incident doesn’t make me feel badly about gay men who are older than me. it makes me fee sad for people who can go from respecting someone to disrespecting him over what he does. i’m the same person i was 5 minutes before the stripper bomb was dropped. it was very revealing about the people present, but i know better than to assume everyone in that age range acts the same way. xoxo

7 joe { 01.02.09 at 10:00 pm }

thanks devon, you are a great guy. i have a basic rule when dealing with people. when i first meet anyone, i have a certain level of respect for them. this is the same level i have when meeting anyone for the first time. i should point out that the level is very high to start off with; however, their actions towards others and me will either raise that level of respect or lower it. when i say lower it, i will not disrespect anyone, but people who slip due to their actions and deeds will get the very minimal conversation and respect. i never judge anyone based on their occupation or station in the socio-economic world. i believe that those of us that can help should do so and show respect to all. if people would just think, but for the grace of god their go i, we all would be better off.

devon, i guess the best thing to realize is that those people are not the sort of people you want to associate with anyways. i hope that your 2009 will be awesome and prosperous and that it will be filled with many new friendships as the true measure of life is i the relationships we build with others. once again, i feel blessed to know you my friend. big bear hugs to you!!!!!!

8 Jennifer { 01.04.09 at 10:04 pm }

Devon,

“regardless of race, gender, sexuality, class, or any other external grouping we make for ourselves, people are herd animals usually. that means there’s a pecking order. ”

Yes, the term “herd mentality” actually went through my mind as I was writing. Of course you are right.

“one of the primary reasons i keep this online journal is to point directly at the hypocrisy in our culture that relegates adult entertainers and sex workers to a subhuman place on the totem pole. our services exist only because there’s a demand.”

For some reason I thought of Ted Haggart when I read this part. There’s the ultimate dichotomy right there, isn’t it?

“honestly, i fear that when the day comes that the lgbtq community is as fully integrated as the black community in amercian culture that we will be doing this just as much as anyone else (and from an early age). actually, the agism (and in my exerience, reverse agism) in the gay community already speaks to us doing it.”

But the hope that can be gleaned from that example is that people continue to evolve. Just in my own lifetime, I’ve seen more of the assertion of the individual in the black community, instead of the peer pressure to conform to some kind of monolithic idea of what it means to be black. I’ve seen the trends go from worshipping light-bright-damn-near-white beauty to the darkest brotha being the most sought-after (though that’s with men, not women), and back again.

I’ve seen more and more black people begin to realize that for our own health and well-being, and despite the legacy of slavery, fumbled Reconstruction, and Jim Crow, at some point we have to take responsibility for the negative aspects of our communities, without looking outside of it for people to blame or reasons to give up. And the world around us has changed. And will continue to change.

We all will always continue to be in the process of becoming fully human, I like to think. People will continue to get free, and people will continue to get well, and people will continue to evolve.

“on top of all the other challenges we still face as a community, i honestly think that many men of a certain age are completely traumatized. most lgbtq people are walking wounded at some point in their lives, but i think the older ones haven’t been given enough of an opportunity to heal. many gay men practice unbridled lust, but the ones who came of age in a time when there was NOTHING for them can also be the most vicious (despite being the ones who often forged the tools that comfort their younger counterparts).”

Generational PTSD, semi-diagnosed. Yes. This paragraph struck me deeply.

“don’t we have enough to contend with without consciously, purposefully, and specifically undermining each other? it seems to me that our puritanical culture is still doing a great job of separating desire away from the whole human and villifying it. healthy body? good. healthy mind? good. healthy heart? good. healthy job? good. healthy realtionships? good. healthy spirit? good. healthy sex drive? WARNING WARNING, DANGER WILL ROBERTSON!”

Sometimes I just quote stuff because it deserves repeating.

“at any rate, the short, familiar replies are just as welcome as the cerebral ones. this space is for discussing the phenomenon of adult entertainment and the way the people who do it are treated. there’s not any way that a thorough response isn’t only welcome but encouraged.”

Noted. Thank you. 🙂

“i also feel that there’s not a reason why a black straight woman can’t speak truth to a white gay man. you don’t strike me as the type of person to make cheap shots about these situations, so i’d invite you to feel less obliged to include all the “i’m not gay, so i don’t know…” introductions to your ideas. your observations are real, accurate, and valid, even if white gay men don’t want to hear them. i trust you to be the smart, sensitive woman you are.”

Wow. You kick ass.

Anyway, noted. No more self-concious fumbling.

“one aspect of being an adult entertainer that i specifically value: i’ve learned that everyone desires and rejects. it’s all part of a cycle, and everyone craves connection on some level. i don’t regret being sensitive to people’s feelings, i just wish they’d return the favor more often. we’re all bones when we’re dead.”

This is what I meant by art, sweetheart. G_ddamn.

Thanks,

Jen

9 devon { 01.04.09 at 11:01 pm }

i forgot to cite that last quote:

“Race
In the space I mark human (Face the music)
Race
Face the music
We’re all bones when we’re dead

Race
In the space I mark human (Face the music)
Cut me, cut U
4 Both the blood is red”

artist: prince
song: “race”
album: come
year: 1994

i better not claim that bit of art as my own. 🙂 i don’t mind letting my sources of inspiration be known. LOL

10 Jennifer { 01.05.09 at 6:33 am }

It was the stuff before that that struck me the most anyway, so I won’t accuse you of plagerism. lol

11 Jennifer { 01.05.09 at 6:43 am }

Oh, and Prince rules. I must go on a tangent.

Someone needs to do some kind of dance, erotic or otherwise, to “The Beautiful Ones”. But I bet people would complain and say it was too much of a downer.

Oh, and “Get Off” made for a lap dance! Yes? No? Indifferent?

Uh oh. Going off on a tangent.

Have a good day.

12 InterstateQ.com » Blog Archive » Oh, no they didn’t! { 01.06.09 at 2:16 pm }

[…] one of his latest posts, Devon talks about the horrible treatment he received at an Atlanta party: Gradually, I was […]

13 Devon { 01.08.09 at 8:49 pm }

“Gett Off” is FANTASTIC for booty shakin’ in somebody’s face. LOL i also enjoy is when the DJ fucks up and plays “Nasty” by Janet Jackson when I’m on some poor sucka’s lap. There ain’t nothin’ left when I’m done. LOL LOL

14 InterstateQ.com » Blog Archive » Headlines: At the week’s end { 01.11.09 at 5:02 pm }

[…] Gay exotic dancer Devon Hunter related his story of an inhospitable Gay Atlanta. (Jan. 6, DevonHunter.info) […]

15 Jennifer { 01.26.09 at 12:06 pm }

Aaaaaahahahahaha!!! “There ain’t nothin’ left when I’m done.” LOL LOL LOL!!!! WORK, Devon, WORK!!!! lol

Oh yes, and that beginning screech that goes right into that booty-droppin’ bass/drum/triangle thing at the beginning of “Gett Off”—lordy. That’s the STUFF right there! Glad to hear you’ve used it! lol

16 Mike { 04.01.09 at 7:22 pm }

Woah.
I’m really sorry that happened to you man.
(I just discovered your blog, so I’m sorry that my first comment is for a post from January).
You handled it much better than I would have.

17 Tom Rogers { 07.21.09 at 1:04 pm }

I’m just new to your blog, Devon, and having read a few of your favourites, I’m really impressed with the depth of human understanding you express when talking about yourself and your experiences. You are deep!
So relating the ‘party’ experience you had has
touched me deeply. In fact, it’s infuriating! I wonder if any of the ‘party-goers’ have read your account? I think you and your fans have touched on the basic social problem of our culture (and the culture corporate capitalism seems to create): personal isolation. So much of art and literature has been devoted to analyzing it and showing its disastrous effect on individuals and society, but it seems most people say,’But that’s not me.’ I had the experience in a New York bookstore years ago of screaming at a couple of older gay men(but not much older than I) when Bob and Rod were an item. They caught sight of the coffee table photo book and one said to the other,’Look at that! We faced all the hate and discrimination so these pretty boys could come out of the closet to pick up the cash!’ I went into a rage! ‘You ungrateful old (baskets)!’,I said. ‘You should be happy that the knocks you took have made a way for a younger gay man to free himself from chains of fear and shame! How do you know the depth of personal pain and shame he endured privately?’ Well, as you can see, I wouldn’t be of much help in s situation like you faced with dignity and courage. You have a depth of self-confidence that inspires me, at least to try to be a better person as a gay community member. I wish you all the best in whatever endeavors you pursue. And yes, you should consider adding writing professionally to your many areas of interest. Oh, yes: I was asked to never come into that bookstore again. And the rage is mostly controlled by medication now. Whatever happened to righteous indignation?

18 Andy James { 07.28.13 at 2:09 pm }

When I was a 25 year old gay man, the “A group” in my home town welcomed me. I was flattered at first, but it didn’t take me long to realize that their 5000 square foot houses and German luxury cars did not make a statement about them as people. When a newbie gay man hit the bars for the first time, they would place bets on who would be the first to “get in his pants.” They hopped in bed with guys like musical chairs. They saw themselves as big studs, but they considered their sex partners to be sluts.

I am certain that they are still puzzled that I started to be mysteriously out of town on the weekends of their big parties. When I saw any of them in public, I was polite, but I made it clear that we were not buddies.

Things change, and I am certain that they are not the “A List” now. And I am glad that I wasn’t around to see what Karma had in store for them.

19 Andy James { 07.28.13 at 2:25 pm }

Jennifer,

You said,”…I’m sure your touch is the only one some men get…” Your statement is probably true, but it is naive.

Because I have always had more money than most of the people I’ve dated, money has always been a part of my relationships. It doesn’t particularly bother me, and it’s all I know. I actually know a woman who states the only way that she can tolerate making love to her husband is that she closes her eyes and thinks about her diamonds. She tells her friends, but I am relatively certain that she has never told her husband.

Recently, I have enjoyed the company of adult entertainers. It seems like a bargain to me. They have decided the value of their time and what is comfortable for them. A client decides if that person would satisfy him and if the fee is acceptable. In most circumstances it is a fair arrangement for giver and receiver.

I’m not sure that anyone would choose to handle his personal needs with a professional. But we all find ourselves in obligations that preclude some personal choices. Sometimes using a professional for our human needs is the best we can do.

My one concern about using professionals is that it is just too easy. I will always be able to make more money, but these relationships don’t necessarily require an emotional investment.

But some professionals like personal interaction with clients. It isn’t necessary, but it makes it better for both parties.

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