On the Kinsey Scale, there’s the hetero, gay, and something in the middle called bi-curious. The Kinsey Scale is used in research to describe a person’s sexual orientation based on their experience or response at a given time. Jeff Jacobson, a coach, educator, and author, happily identifies himself as gay. He tackles issues such as societal chasms that exist between the two sexual orientations and the subtle misconceptions on being straight and being gay as he lays down the raw basics of the differences of views.
Welcome to Season Three of Six Vulnerable Conversations. This version is Six Vulnerable Conversations Between a Gay Man and a Straight Man. Saying that title just add some sensation in my body. I am very happy to admit that. I’m very happy to have my good friend and colleague, Jeff Jacobson, come onto the show for the first of this show and it’s called a Be Straight, Be Gay. Just the aspects of what it means to be these types of social orientation. My history, Jeff’s history, and we get right down to the beginning, to some real deep, intimate conversations about the chargey topic of gay and straight. In our society, really gay versus straight, that’s what I was going to say. Really it is this antagonistic between the two and three and many multiple types of orientation.
Listen to the podcast here:
Six Conversations: The Social Chasms Between Being Straight And Being Gay
Welcome to Tuff Love Six Vulnerable Conversations Between Two Men. This is the third season of the show. The first was Six Vulnerable Conversations Between a Man and Woman, myself and a woman named Arielle. The second was Between Two Women, Arielle and a woman named Jamie, and here I am with the third season with my good friend, Jeff Jacobson. Six Vulnerable Conversations Between a Straight Man and a Gay Man. I’ll be playing the role of straight man. Maybe I could be such a good study of yours. You can educate me. The main point is, is that this is the raw truth. There’s no script obviously. It’s going to be a conversation. We have no idea where it’s going to go and the content is to bring clarity and ideas on topics that people don’t tend to talk about. This one is simply called Being Straight, Being Gay. We’re going to see where it goes. Welcome, Jeff. Thank you so much.
Thanks for having me, Rob. Neither of us have even seen a conversation between a gay man and a straight man like this. We’re definitely not operating on a map or script.
Let me give the background and let me answer that specific point. I worked in an organization called OneTaste. We seduced Jeff into running the coaching aspect of a coaching program, a CP One. I think it was 2010-ish and Jeff would come and teach the coaching. He is what I’ve been told, the best coach-trainer at CTI, Training Institute. That was his credential and also someone who would understand us teaching about orgasm and Jeff would understand us. That’s how we approached him and he definitely taught me significant amount about how to coach. I learned from his technique and his vulnerability. I’m just so thrilled to have him on the show.
Thanks for having me. It was a fun experiment. I definitely have looked at my own version of orgasm and sex, but to do it in an organization that mostly focuses on the clitoris, it’s interesting endeavor for a gay man. It was really hard.
You were awesome. To your specific point, there were times where we were in conversation. We would hang out, we would drive. We’d even flirt a little bit and there were parts of me that were just like polling information but really on the covert to know because I never really had many gay friends. I don’t really know how a gay man thinks. I definitely stole some thoughts in our conversations. I never told you that.
What did you steal?
One time we were driving back after some ridiculous weekend and you were talking about BDSM and talking about gay clubs, which obviously, I’ve never been to. I was listening with my ears really big about the details of it. There were just times where I was voyeur. I was stalking you.
I have not done anything like this. He’s talking about it and I’m absorbing details.
It’s like if you went to a foreign country and you’re hanging out there and I wanted to go to that country, but not that I felt like I want to go to the country. Let me talk about my sexual orientation then maybe you could talk about your sexual orientation and we can just lay the foundation. There’s this term bi-curious and there’s the Kinsey scale, which is very interesting. There’s hetero and then there’s gay and in the middle, there’s something called bi-curious and I’ve always put myself into that spot. Someone with an interest of bisexuality or homosexuality specifically, but 99.99% of my sexual experiences has been with women. I’ve had two or three with men that was highly, highly confronting for me. One was a threesome with my first wife, male, female, male, where I blew myself out. I’ve always been curious. I talk about it.
What do you mean by blew yourself out?
The experience was so intense and I’m not sure why. Was it because she was enjoying him so much? Was it because he sucked my cock and I had feelings about it? Was it my own desire that I repressed? What happened is we had this four or five-hour experience. They fell asleep and I was in the bed with my eyes open wide and I couldn’t sleep. Then I had to leave and go find coffee and walk around downtown San Francisco and feel the feelings. I had a drink myself to sleep that night. There was so much sensation in my body. That’s how I define that.
What was the second one?
With the same guy and then there was a time in Philadelphia, where a guy made out with me at a party, just basically stuck his tongue down my throat; Richard, who is a cute server guy. He worked in a restaurant and he kissed me and I didn’t resist for the first ten seconds and I was like, “Okay.” Then I worked back and I think if I had an open mind or more depth in my life, I might have allowed that and had an experience and learned something.
99.99% of your experiences are with women and you put yourself in that bi-curious part of the Kinsey scale?
Yes. How about you?
I would say to you it’s the same parameters. I’m probably 90% gay or 90% interested in men. My very first, as an adult rather than play as a young kid, my very first sexual experience was in my early 20s. I waited for a long time with a woman that I worked with that I ended up dating and I loved it. I love the sex with her. To be fully honest, part of it was I think I was just finally relieved that I lost my virginity and it was somebody that I really cared about. I was also surprised how much I liked oral sex with her, cunnilingus, which doesn’t always earn me a lot of favor in the gay community. There’s a bias against that which drives me nuts.
You had one experience with a woman and then you turned to men or over the years?
I have one long-term experience with a woman. She was my first lover and then I turned to men. I was definitely a serial monogamous. I went from her to one guy and to one guy. That second guy, our sex life, we were very incompatible and had a really challenging communication issues around it. A friend’s brother had learned this erotic massage technique that he offered me for my birthday. I was like, “Okay.” I’m like, “What just happened?” The second guy and I broke up and I’m like, “I want to go learn more of that.” It was almost all male-male-focused and I just thought it was fantastic. In that community, they also had some men and women events and I would sometimes play with another woman or have a three way but it was mostly with men. Oddly enough, when I fully accepted how into men I was because that was a whole journey, I’m more relaxed and suddenly find myself attracted to women, when it was the only option and it felt like imprisonment. It was very confusing.
When did you get the flash or the idea, the concept that you identified yourself as gay? How old were you? Can you give your awareness story and then maybe your coming out story?
You awareness that I was drawn to boys and men or awareness that I’m gay?
I’m asking a naïve question. Maybe you want to answer this the way that gay men can explain this better because I don’t know the difference.
Some gay mean that I know, they knew at a certain age, “I like boys. I’m always going to like boys or I just can’t wait to get on my own so that I can pursue that.” That was not the case for me. I remember being at this day camp when I was five and there was this guy Brad who was the counselor and he was playing the guitar and he put his arm around us and I was just like, “This is fantastic.” It’s not like anything I’m seeing anywhere. Nobody else is doing this. I definitely knew even at that age that wasn’t normal as it was presented to me, but I definitely had a rush of a feeling. I played around with a couple of boys when I was also like five or six, but I did not want that to be true. Like one of my exes, he knew it was going to be true and he was just biding his time until he could leave home and then it would just be gay life. I just did my best to try and make it go away. It wasn’t really until I was 23 or 24 when I said, “I’m a shit. This is inevitable and it’s not going away.”
That’s a long time. This is something I’ve heard from a few friends, people I’ve known who are gay that the society just pounces into you that’s there’s something wrong with you to eliminate it from you. Then at some point we were like, “This is who I am.”
In my age, I’m older, that’s definitely the case. I noticed the conversation with younger folks is very different these days. I’m definitely not representing all gay men and I’m also not representing younger folks, but I hear very similar versions of what I’ve told.
The millennials are fascinating creatures in their metro-sexual, in their acceptance and in their exploration. It’s pretty amazing, which is a whole different topic maybe we should chat about.
I think generational stuff would be cool. I have a question for you. Here’s my assumption about a lot of straight men. To be able to even just say, I notice at times and bi-curious or have these male-on-male experiences, way more challenging or edgy than it is sometimes for women to say. One, we’re did you find the guts to do it and two, was his later in your life? Did you have some of those same sex attractions when you were younger?
It’s funny you asked the question. The answer popped in my head like onto the view screen. There was a drummer in my school band, Danny, I think his name was and he wore black tee shirts always. I played the trumpet. I had the perfect angle. I was sort of on the side was, there was the conductor, there was Danny, he was a handsome guy. I didn’t initially have sexual attraction towards him. I was so naïve at that point. I remember feeling really drawn to him. There’s been men throughout my life who I’ve just felt that affinity draw. It was more than I liked them. It was like I felt pulled to them. I felt that sexual, visual attraction for them. Did I tell anyone? Absolutely not. I don’t think it wasn’t until probably Philadelphia. I grew up in New York. I went to undergraduate in Los Angeles. I went to graduate school in Philadelphia. The bar I was talking about. At the bar, there was a good 30% gay men who worked there. They love to torture me. They just knew on some level and I played along. They’d love to torture me and they’d squeezed my ass and they’d make provocative marks with me and I play along saying that they weren’t offending me, but it it’s always been part of me and it wasn’t until Philadelphia where I felt confident to talk to someone about it. I was 22 or 23.
Pardon me. I noticed I was, now with others #MeToo Movement happening, part of me was thinking, did that feel objectifying of you? Did you feel objectified?
I did but I liked it. I’m not sure why, because my self esteem was so low, that man, female, dog, tree, if the dentist objectified me, I would say, “Yes.” I was like, “You find me attractive?” I think they locked me up and tied me up, I’d have some feelings about, may be positive and may be negative. There was a part of me that was really intrigued by it. To your point, it really is challenging. You have to figure out who he can talk straight to about these things, no pun intended or pun intended to talk straight about, because there’s so much pressure there. There’s so much connotation around the concept of bi-curiosity or homosexuality. Growing up in the ‘70s and ‘80s, if someone knew I had bisexual tendencies, I would have been tortured. That was the worst thing possible.
Tortured physically, tortured mentally, emotionally, absolutely. I know I saw it around me. I saw it around me even before I knew what it was. It’s almost like life became a haunted house and you didn’t know what was supposed to be around the corner, but it was going to be scary. I remember I was bouncing around on this big hippity hop. My friend and I were bouncing on his big hippity hop and we flipped off and we were rolling down the hill on top of each other laughing. It was hilarious. I was probably seven and his sister comes out and said, “Don’t be gay.” I had no idea what that meant, but I remember chewing on it like, “What were we doing that wasn’t okay? Were we being loud?” There were little things like that. Almost like breadcrumbs that so you follow along the way and then you could come out into the woods and like, “There’s the witch’s house.
I remember being at a pizza parlor seven, eight, nine, ten and somehow I got into the idea, the concept of gay versus straight, how gay penis into vagina made sense, but two penises didn’t make sense for two boys having sex and two vaginas didn’t make any sense. There was a confusion. What do they do and how do they do it? I couldn’t figure out the math.
It’s confusing, the parts. I was definitely told, “People used to go like this all the time.” I didn’t really know what that meant until I started to figure it out. It’s like, “That’s clearly it.” Anal sex hadn’t even occurred to me. I used to have these fantasies about it with a swim coach and a diving coach that I had. I was nineteen or maybe even younger and I just assume they rub each other’s dicks together. Like, “What else could you do?” The first time I found out about anal sex I was like, “Gross and ouch.” I’m not that way about it now, but at the time it was like nasty or confusing or weird.
What was your coming out story? What don’t you say what part of the world you grew up in? How did your parents handle it? Give the story.
I’m from Seattle, born and raised. I went to college just in Tacoma, outside Seattle. One of the reasons that I know that I didn’t want that, I was molested as a kid and both by a male cousin and a female babysitter. There’s all this stuff about why am I not having sex? All my friends are having sex in high school. What’s wrong with me? Even in college I didn’t have sex. I had to deal with that. Then once I started looking there and looking at some of these things that happened to me when I was like five, six and seven, it softened and then I was able to say, “Oh yeah and by the way, I like boys.” It was more doing some healing work around being raped as a kid. My mom and I were in a bad car accident and that stirred all this stuff up. I was 23, 24 when I faced that and then it’s like, “By the way, I liked guys. I fell in love with a guy in my men’s group when I was in Grad school.”
How did she take it?
She did not take it well. We fought and fought and fought and we mostly didn’t talk for a couple of years. Somewhere along the way, she became a super big advocate. I don’t know where she came and forgot to give me the turn signal. She came in one day and said, “At her church, they were talking about having an open and affirming policy and half the church didn’t want it and she and a bunch of her friends stormed in and said, “If you don’t make it open and affirming, we’re leaving. My son’s gay and I’ve always been an advocate.” She wasn’t for those two years.
That must have been rough.
It was and I think it’s because she was really afraid that I’d be murdered or being mobbed or treated badly. Not knowing how to say that. I think that’s been a lot of people’s fear and so instead they just try to say, “Can’t you just like girls?”
It’s really interesting, this piece. Maybe we can talk about this now or a little bit later. There are so many things to talk about, but parental unconditional love. I watched Morgan with their kids and the love just pours out. It’s amazing to watch and then I have memories of my mom pouring that love out. My dad had his own way but I felt his love and I felt him backing me. Really, I felt him backing me in this world. He didn’t like everything I did and he was vocal about it, but there was a, “I got your back kid.” Then when I started OneTaste or when I was heading down that road of alternative off the yuppie path, off the corporate America path, he basically disowned me and he did for a long time.
Is it like I’m going the Bohemian route or I’m going to sex route? Do you have a sense of what it was?
Sex route. Spending money on sexual courses, spending a lot of money to find who I was. It was so outside his understanding and I did not communicate it well, to give credit to where credit’s due. I was not the best communicator. I was going to go leave my well-defined six, seven figure path to start OneTaste. It blew him out. I felt that lack of unconditional love and that disconnection and really ten fourteen years of strife. I have a feeling of what it means to have a parental unit drop you.
It’s very similar. You had your own coming out.
It’s true. It’s really who I was, but for kids who come out gay or young adults that come out gay and have their parents drop them is just so not understanding to me either. What is it about being “gay” that is so scary for parents and family?
I have some opinions and I also have that question a lot, too.
Give me your opinion.
I actually don’t know why it’s so threatening, but because it is threatening and the message gets laid in at a very young age to boys, “Don’t be a sissy. Don’t be like girls.” There’s already something wrong with girls. If you say, “Don’t be a baby.” There’s something wrong with being the age you are. Don’t be a sissy which probably means any none over masculine thing and then don’t be a faggot. Don’t be gay. I know for myself, I heard all those things before I knew what it meant to be a baby and a sissy and gay so I was already worried. I think that gets locked in, so then I become vigilant about it, too. I’m going to then start policing younger boys who might be doing the wrong thing. Don’t be a baby, a sissy, a faggot. I don’t know why that’s the thing that’s so threatening, but I think it gets laid in at such an early age. It feels disgusting. We definitely were told it sends you to hell in Catholic school. I don’t know why it’s that thing. It’s like anti-Semitism. Can we switch around that the minority getting banged, but why is it always the Jews that kick at it. I’m confused by that one and I’m confused by why such a problem other than I think a lot of what society is built on as hyper-masculine energy to get us to do these jobs that we don’t want to do and earn the cash that’s not necessarily based on who we are as a human. You got to cut out a part of yourself. Any threat of softness can throw that system off and so the whole thing is scary to this construct.
People having the right roles. I’ve been reading about the patriarchy quite a bit recently and gender roles and maybe it’s just fear. I think the scariest part for being a straight guy in the society of young straight boys, once we return gay, that’s the scariest part. It’s like hanging out or actually liking or talking to a gay person, we might catch it and then we might end up in the same boat, which is so ridiculous.
It is now, but we didn’t know.
We didn’t know nothing.
I quit piano lessons because a part of me was thinking this is too faggoty. It didn’t matter that I liked it and I liked the teacher. I was like, “I don’t think this fits with what I should be doing.” I quit. It wasn’t like teacher was a gay man. She was a woman. It was still like something creepy about it. I want to hear a little bit more from you. If you’re not being really smart and conscious about it, if you just think about your reactions when you were younger, what was it that was so scary about people like me?
Gay, like you mentioned, meant feminine and weak. It felt less than. It felt like there was something wrong and it was different. I grew up in upper middle class conformity, the suburbs and there was just this bias of being different. I eventually ended up hanging out with all what we call ourselves, the misfit toys, that kids that didn’t hang out or work with any other crews, any other groups or any cliques. We weren’t labeled gay. We were just labeled different. It really comes down to I guess a sense of abandonment, a fear of abandonment, a sense of being not like the crowd and just the challenges of it.
Lesbians and women that love women don’t get an easy ride in this life, but it’s interesting to see how the circles can be different. In a standard, patriarchal mindset, a girl liking another girl or having sex with them could be hot because they could get the guy off.
It’s every male’s fantasy basically.
What I’ve heard from and once again, I’m not trying to represent all lesbians here, but what I’ve heard from some folks is as long as you have a kid, you got to do your role as the female in the household. That girl-girl thing doesn’t threaten the construct the way we think it does.
Let’s talk about that. For me, I’m really turned on by female-female interaction. I always have been my entire life. Then there’s this bias against lesbians in society. There’s less bias by men for bisexual women, but I’ve heard there’s a bias of lesbian women to bisexual women. We have to be part of a team. We have to be so solid in our identity. Like you said briefly was you enjoying oral sex with women can bring negative value judgments from members of the gay community. Why is that threatening that you enjoy oral sex with women?
It’s so good, that question. To be fair, a lot of guys really struggled to come out. They knew that they were going to give up their families, their jobs, their communities like you said. They’d be biased towards being the misfit. Then somebody comes along who says, “I’m like you, but I also like to do this,” may seem like I’m a traitor or I’m not willing to just fully stand up and hold that gay flag. I feel more neutral when I say that. It pisses me off when I think of the amount of misogyny. In order for you to be gay, you have to be grossed out by women or ill towards women. Why can’t you just not necessarily say that, “That’s not my cup of tea,” and not be disgusted by it. I want gay men to explore that a little bit better because I think it’s just some form of misogyny.
I totally can see that. What I’m hearing in all this is just a level of group against group antagonism. You’ve done this to me so I’m going to do it worse to you. There’s a bullying aspect to it and there’s a scarcity mentality that if you as a gay man enjoys the pleasure of a woman, there’s less of you available rather than my belief system is in abundance. The more turned on I am, the more there is for everybody. There are more of me for everybody.
By from that mindset of there’s always a threat, it can limit that as opposed to the abundance mindset.
Which is the wars we have between these different sexual orientations.
One of the things that also makes me sad in the gay community is the anti-trans sentiment that comes up.
Talk about that.
It’s like, “Are you fucking kidding me? These folks are ostracized. These folks who are going through a big struggle that gender and sexuality gets jammed in together and we’re threatened by that? Like, “Why aren’t we necessarily coming forward as the most as the strongest allies?” In a way, a lot of the ostracism is the same. It’s almost like on a scale of minorities. We’re too far down on the food chain and so we want to keep going up rather than helping them out and that pisses me off.
How like Irish were ostracized when I first came and then it got to a level of integration in the system and then Asian populations came in and all of a sudden, the Irish didn’t take care of the Asians. They beat them.
The struggle of the minority against the minority thing versus, “We’d be so much stronger if we got over some shit and combine together or support.”
Is it female to male that the gay community ostracize? Is it male to female they ostracizing or is it just trans in general? Do you have any clue why that would threaten them?
That’s a good question. Why would you say that I was thinking drag queens? Or don’t identify as trans but dress up in these very overtly hyper feminine styles and then they’re exalted. A lot of the drag queen as well as some of the female diva icons have a little spirit of like, “In spite of it all, my spirit cannot be crushed,” which can be really thrilling if your spirit’s been crushed. I didn’t grow up wanting to dress up like a girl and I’ve done it for a couple of costume parties, but it hasn’t really been my thing. I honestly don’t know what the draw is there.
What’s the draw to dress up as a woman in a gay man?
Why drag queens might have such exalted status in light of our community? With the trans thing, you brought the bi thing earlier. Here’s what I’m wondering out loud. You said some lesbians might feel threatened by a bi woman, like, “You have to decide.” Don’t do this thing in between and maybe the gay community sees the trans thing as a sexual thing versus a gender thing. Don’t confuse it. Especially if some of the gay community wants to be and you’re going to fuck with the gender, people might feel threatened by that.
I don’t know if it’s more M to F or F to M but it’s confronting. I don’t know about you. I know some straight people that are kinkier or that are outside gender and sexual norms more so than some gay folks. It’s like they stepped out but then they’re going to play the roles really rigidly, which is ironic to me.
That’s a good point. You have a heterosexual couple in all shapes or form, they look normal and they have kids and then Saturday night they’re going to the BDSM club and she’s dressing like a man. She’s pegging him. He is wearing a dress. He’s totally submissive and that feels less persecuted than two gay men kissing.
I think they have more safety. They’re a straight couple. They have more protection there.
Straight white couple too probably. They’ve got all the pieces connected.
I’m glad that then they’re willing to say, “We’ve got this thing, let’s go swing out and see what happens.” Why there’s maybe more leniency or agency there? I wrote adult fiction. I write gay young adult fiction. There’s lots of pre-eighteen sex going on in straight fiction, but when you do pre-eighteen queer sex, oftentimes Amazon or other places will say no.
Heterosexual sex between two pre-eighteen is okay but if you actually write about two gays, Amazon will do deny it?
It’s not like this is totally okay. You don’t want preteen sex or pre-legal age, but there’s more leniency for authors that write that rather than those that write other stuff even if the stuff I write is not pornographic. It’s just coming of age exploration and there’s not as much freedom there.
That’s a good topic as well.
How are you doing?
We haven’t solved anything, have we? We haven’t figured out anything really? Have we?
Straight men only need to come out.
If they are willing to come out, that’s really the thing.
Say that and you can get beaten up. I said that I already started sweating, like, “Don’t put that on the recording.”
It’s going in, but I will know what the context of it. In terms of being straight, being gay, when I came up with this idea for the show, you are my top person I wanted to pick and then I thought like, “I don’t even know the language.” This is the interesting part for me. I haven’t asked you, can we call it Six Vulnerable Conversations Between a Gay Man and a Straight Man? I was worried about the gay man-like that being offensive. There’s so much lack of knowledge that I have and I think most people have. I think I actually know more than most about what even terminology to use. I was nervous and even checked with you, can we even called this? Can we call it a gay, like you being identified as a gay man? Does that feel solid inside of you?
Yes. Sometimes is attracted to women.
Gay men, 10% of the time attracted to women or 10%. Are there any terms that in society to use men of the homosexual persuasion that you don’t like being called?
Can I say something before that? It’s important for me that you and people like you get to ask what they need to ask and check shit out with me. I think you’re doing that. I don’t want to create a relationship with you where you have to walk on eggshells. I think Americans are looking to get offended and I would rather that we softened a little bit and not put up with stuff. It’s almost like, the whole politically correct movement I think did some great stuff to surface as being a little bit more conscious. Some of the stuff, like you, there’s just stuff you don’t know and I would rather that you blundered and asked rather than tried to get it all perfect, you got nervous around me.
Of course it’s not you, my friend. It’s just in general. I’ll break it down. My greatest fear is I’ll fuck up my career by using the wrong term or saying the wrong thing because in our society, if you say the wrong thing, you get fried and persecuted. I don’t know if you know about the Tony Robbins thing. He definitely miscued with this woman.
I would like to know what happened.
He did a talk and he basically represented the #MeToo Movement in a way that wasn’t very positive. I do think underneath that he does have a positive view. In this instance, his words were really unkind and a woman called him out. The persecution he’s had because of misuse of language, in the internet, it’s written in pen, not in pencil. I can fuck up the whole thing and even with a passion for connection and understanding, I can still say the wrong thing and really mess up my career. That’s the feeling that I have as a straight man with a total lack of knowledge of what it means to be gay.
I’m thinking intellectually, but let me soften a little bit. I can imagine that would be really scary. Especially somebody like you, you identify as straight, but you also have an open heart and want to learn more. Like you’re not the kind of guy that I’m worried about. It’s more like the folks that want to take me out that. Those are the ones I feel like I have to be watchful around.
Again, it comes back to this conversation. There are antagonisms between the orientation groups. Straight people I think are a huge creator of this antagonism, but it takes two to tango. If there’s antagonism, everyone’s participating. My goal is to create space for people to ask the questions, to understand the motivations for the antagonism.
You’re willing to talk to a gay man and maybe make a mistake and have it recorded and have that blunder be public. That’s tons of courage. I have a lot more slack in this area because I’m the minority. We might be walking on tiptoes if we’re talking to women about the #MeToo Movement.
There’s nothing you can say to me in this kind of vein, but for example, I feel like I’ve earned the right to use fag and faggot and you haven’t and in terms of calling me that. Now, if you did, we can talk about it and maybe it wouldn’t offend me or whatever, but I’ve earned the right. It’s like when people talk about the N word. Like, “Why do they get to use it and we don’t get to use it?” They’ve earned it. You as a white person don’t get to decide if they should or shouldn’t and they can use it any way they want and you pull up a notepad and take some notes. That’s what I say around the fag word I like it sometimes.
Any word with the right connotation, with the right audience works well.
It’s empowerment to be able to use that word in a way that’s positive rather than how it was used against us.
It’s not like you can check that out with me, but you were asking earlier about any words. Like if you were walking around saying, “He’s a fag.” I don’t get excited about that.
I would never do that. One, I would just assume I was being offensive and rude, which is not my goal and two, I would still be afraid I’d be offensive and rude.
Does that make sense to you that we do get to use that word?
Yeah. The F word and the two words. I thought about the C word for women, too. They can call each other that. They can call each other B word. I hope this is all translating. Any other words that you ever read or you hear that maybe straight people use without knowledge that is offensive?
Interestingly enough, sometimes it’s the well-intentioned folks rather than the hardcore homophobes. It’s like, “You’d really loved my uncle. He’s gay and he’s so much fun.” Really? Just because he’s gay, I’m going to like him? We’re like the fun people. It feels like a bit like a commodity. It’s not like I’m offended but I don’t really like that that much. What I really hate is when people say, “Have you tried not to be gay?” It’s like, “Are you kidding?” How about for like two and a half decades, I try not to be gay. Have you tried not to be straight? If you haven’t, then I can write a book on it. It’s silly that you even ask me that question. That’s the bitter part of me.
We know the same thing with the lesbian women. “All you need is a good man,” that will turn her. No, I don’t think so.
What about with you? It may not be a word that’s offensive but is there anything that I as a gay man, you don’t want me to do or say to you?
In the past, we talked about those experiences of being in the restaurant and being really catcalled and tortured. I used torture in humor. It wasn’t torture. I liked their attention and I like to play. I think they felt in me the play. I think that’s the most important thing. The hardest part for me is with gay men or lesbian women or people of different colors and different genders and it’s just the anger that I feel being a white straight man. I understand where that comes from. I’m a six-foot tall, white, upper middle class straight guy. I have privilege in pretty much everything. I went to college. I went to graduate school. My parents paid for my education. I got scholarships.
I played football. I dated a cheerleader for about a week and a half. The point was like, I had all the keys to the kingdom and sometimes you’re engaged with people and I really do want to understand. I do want to help and my mission in the world is to create connection and intimacy. When people of minorities disliked me without really getting to know my intention, when I’m disliked just because of those things. I understand it, I just don’t like it.
That’s a great distinction. Of course you wouldn’t and I can even imagine you do your best to say, “I know why they’re coming there and why they’re coming from that mindset.” Maybe it would take them some time to get to know me, but it’s not fun.
I wrote this article after #MeToo called, What Lies Behind Men’s Privilege? and I wrote, “Fear and Desire.” I was listing my experience of why guys do what they do and a lot of it in my opinion, is they’re afraid and they have a repressed desire. My friend, Robin Rinaldi, went through it and made it a great article. She’s a professional editor. She’s amazing. It was a tight article and women were just flaming me on the web because I wasn’t saying men need to be tortured. I was like men are assholes because they do. I was like, “Men are assholes, but I think this is one of the reasons that we can get to the motivations, that we can solve the problem and the next generation,” and women just wanted to hate. I was like, “I have to accept that.”
I think that we need to hate patriarchy. If we’re talking about you and me, I need to hate the heterosexist that it will shove down my throat. If we spend too much time, the way I’ve already been trained, which is to pander towards straight men and to not let my wrist be limp and not say anything that might give me a tack of having to pander toward you, I want to hate that construct. Unfortunately, you’re going to represent that and you’re probably going to represent all the times that’s happened to me in one fell swoop. It’s like how do we allow or create the space to hate that construct, but not the individual who might not be doing it? I can understand what’s happening in this #MeToo Movement is it’s been so repressed that then everything is on the table and I can understand why you wouldn’t want to be attacked that way.
I understand it and I’m not offended by it. I’m patient. I do want to be the place where women can feel their feelings. I want women to feel received by me in the #MeToo. I want to feel gay men feel received by me. I want to be that place where people, no matter what your thing is, that you feel my approval. That’s my mission, is to be approving and to teach people to approve in the approval of who they are. Then there’s the deep connection, there’s deep possibility.
Without the approval, that’s where antagonism is. I understand you have reasons for it and is it really serving you? Sometimes it is and most times it’s not.
I can’t remember if you and I talked about this when we were having our pre-talk a couple of weeks ago, but I remember I was at this resort in Mexico and there were these really sexy Mexican pool guys, just servers. A couple of us were gay men and the women were like, “Aren’t they hot?” Then there were a couple of really attractive female servers and the women and a couple of the gay mean we’re like, “Aren’t they hot?” The straight men were silent. They didn’t have that freedom because these were guys that were caring and open-hearted like you were. I noticed they felt some sadness. I wanted them to be able to say out loud that they’d found these folks attractive and not feel threatened. We had some freedom there that they didn’t.
We have to withhold it. We have to wait for the right time and the right channel or we go home and masturbate to it.
Go home and hide the desire or act it out. Even your willingness to say that you are bi-curious or you had these experiences before, or do you find yourself attracted to like the drummer. I want you to be able to say that and not have it mean anything that you don’t want it to mean.
Maybe this is the start, the Six Vulnerable Conversations. I have said it a couple times publicly on the podcast about my bi-curiosity, but this is a pretty flagrant one. The most overt and clear and detailed.
I can’t feel the suspense of the tingling and the anticipation of talking about something like this with a straight guy, with you.
If people are turned on by you and they want to find out more about you, Jeff, how do they find you?
They can go to JeffJacobsonWorld.com It’s more information about the books that I write, but also it’s got some coaching information in there.
Do you want to just talk about your book or books? Do you have books now? Tell us just a little pitch for your book.
The first book is called The Boy Who Couldn’t Fly Straight. It’s about fifteen-year old boy, a paranormal gay young adult. This fifteen-year-old boy doesn’t want to be gay. It sounds familiar. He doesn’t know that he hails from a family of witches. It’s primarily a young-adult literature series that has a queer twist.
Basically, it’s the kind of book I would have loved it read as a kid or I did read as a kid, but that they’re always straight. Thanks.
You can find me at RobertKandell.com, a new website coming, a book coming in November. I’m grateful to Jeff for the first of Six Vulnerable Conversations Between a Gay Man and Straight Man.
Thanks so much. Take care.
Thank you so much, Jeff. Thank you so much for being on the show, being honest and real. I feel like I learned a lot. I feel like I’m going to be integrating this one and I’m just really grateful that we get to have these conversations in public and say the things that maybe people have been curious about and wanted to know and just to say it straight up. For more shows, please visit TuffLove.Live. Thank you so much for joining us. Take care.
- Jeff Jacobson
- What Lies Behind Men’s Privilege?
- The Boy Who Couldn’t Fly Straight
About Jeff Jacobson
Jeff Jacobson was born in Seattle in 1968, and grew up enchanted by the lush landscape, the long summer days, and the short winter nights of the Pacific Northwest. Once, when he was a wee kindergartner, his grandmother let slip that she was a “modern witch, who flew on a vacuum cleaner over his house at night to protect him.” Jeff had seen her vacuum cleaner. The cord wasn’t long enough to reach his house.
But in bed that night, left alone with creaky sounds and branches scraping over window frames, he decided that having a witch for a grandmother wasn’t such a bad thing. Even if it weren’t true. Two years later, his second-grade teacher Mrs. Eliason read spooky ghost stories and hung cardboard decorations of bats, witches, vampires, and spiders from the ceiling of his classroom for the two months leading up to Halloween. With Seattle’s gloomy, wet afternoons as the setting, the spirit of Halloween took root in his heart, just a few inches over from where his grandmother’s witchy identity resided.
From then on, he did his best to navigate the mundane world of school, chores, and everyday life, while his imagination often ran wild, and he read as many books on witches and All Hallows’ Eve as could get his hands on. In the third grade he spoke Pig Latin and other made-up languages with his friends, creating an early love of sound, linguistic study, and fascination with foreign cultures.
Sports played a big role in his life. He swam on swim teams, ran track, played soccer and tennis, and was a springboard diver for six years. This, combined with the fact that he didn’t play dress-up as a kid, or stage musicals, gave him the false impression that he was just like every other boy around him (foreshadowing alert!).
In college he took Asian Studies classes and dove into learning Mandarin Chinese with gusto, spent his senior year studying in 10 different countries in Asia. He went on to live in Taiwan for two years after graduating from college to pursue advanced Mandarin studies.
In 1994, Jeff moved to California to begin a master’s program in Chinese translation and interpretation, and also joined a men’s group. Three months later he realized two things: that he was much more interested in community-based coaching than he was in being an interpreter, and that it was finally time to come out of the closet. Soon afterward he learned about the wider field of coaching as a profession, and became a certified coach, as well as a faculty member for the Coaches Training