“No Means No” is not just a slogan but a statement that should be taken seriously. From personal experience gay men who I have slept with ignored this statement and preferred instead to challenge the fact, I did not want them to play with my rear-end. I was raped at 14, and then again as an adult male. I believe consent within the gay community is an issue, one that is seldom addressed.
I have experienced the bottom role before. However, for me, it’s physically uncomfortable and there are other emotional reasons making it uncomfortable. It’s unfortunate I have had to forcefully stop guys who ignored the word, “NO” when they attempted to go beyond what I was comfortable with.
George Johnson from Role Reboot writes, “Unwanted sexual contact has become very too common in the gay community” and I have to agree. It’s a topic we rarely discuss or sweep under the rug because men are supposed to be able to protect themselves and prevent another man from violating them in a sexual way. Johnson also writes, as a person who has been to many gay clubs, the violation of sexual contact has become way too common. Most often, it occurs in passing or while standing at the bar. You feel the slight brush of your backside by people “claiming” they are trying to pass by. Hands wrapping around your waist as people try to order a drink from behind you. This occurs so frequently, that I fully allowed it as an acceptable act. It has become so regular in our culture that people act without fear of repercussion and dismiss anyone who rejects the unwanted advances based on a culture of rape and perceived promiscuity in the gay community.
The fear of rejection in our community is something I believe a handful of men are unable to deal with so perhaps they are uncomfortable saying no when in an unwanted situation. The portrayal of gay men in porn and the still common practice in mainstream media that gay men are sexual deviants and lack the depth of emotion does not help.
When I was raped it was at knifepoint. It is disheartening that there is a lack of sensitivity among gay men when explaining that I was raped in my youth. It’s frustrating and outrageous to me why I need to explain why I do not like to be touched in that area. Believe it or not I’ve been told, “to get over it,” “don’t be a victim,” “I’m not going to hurt you,” all the things the guys have said to me when they were not satisfied with why I don’t like to be touched in that region.
As an adult, a white guy pinned me down during sex and forced himself on me. While attempting to penetrate me without consent, he boldly said, “what are you going to do about it?” He was declaring, you’re a black man; who’s going to believe you. His attitude toward my “NO” was shocking, but what was more alarming is the fact that “NO” implied, I was being a prude!
New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault reports there were approximately 4,890 rapes of males age 12 and over in the United States in 1994. The rate for rapes of males was .8 per 1,000 persons age 12 or older. (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1997). In 1985, the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics reported in The Crime of Rape that there were 123,000 male rapes over a ten-year period. (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1985).
“Society is becoming increasingly aware of male rape. However, experts believe that current male rape statistics vastly under-represent the actual number of males age 12 and over who are raped each year. Rape crisis counselors estimate that while only one in 50 raped women report the crime to the police, the rates of under-reporting among men are even higher (Brochman, 1991). Until the mid-1980s, most literature discussed this violent crime in the context of women only. The lack of tracking of sexual crimes against men and the lack of research about the effects of male rape are indicative of the attitude held by society at large — that while male rape occurs, it is not an acceptable topic for discussion.”
There are some states that now use gender-neutral terms to define acts of forced anal, vaginal or oral intercourse. Also, some states no longer use the terms “rape” and “sodomy,” rather all sex crimes are described as sexual assaults or criminal sexual conduct of various degrees depending on the use and amount of force or coercion on the part of the assailant (National Center for Victims of Crime, GetHep Series: Sexual Assault Legislation).
Recently John Myers touched on the possible effects of interracial porn and how it’s possible those stereotypes may be carried over into our real lives. It’s the same for non-consenting sex. In porn, it may be hot to watch a guy get gang-banged or blindfolded and forced to have sex. It’s a scene within the porn that I believe is carried into the imaginations of some gay men. However, it’s a scene, a role, a fantasy, however, we have become desensitized and less respectful when a guy says “No” and instead think this is what sex is and should be. Have you ever been in bed with a guy who says “No” playfully and you question whether the “No” was real or not?
It is not uncommon for a male rape victim to blame himself for the rape, believing that he in some way gave permission to the rapist (Brochman, 1991). Male rape victims suffer a similar fear that female rape victims face — that people will believe the myth that they may have enjoyed being raped. Some men may believe they were not raped or that they gave consent because they became sexually aroused, had an erection, or ejaculated during the sexual assault. These are normal, involuntary physiological reactions. It does not mean that the victim wanted to be raped or sexually assaulted, or that the survivor enjoyed the traumatic experience. Sexual arousal does not necessarily mean there was consent. (New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault)
It’s a crazy scenario to think that gay men no longer have a grasp of when “No means No.” My experience is one of many and another example, we as a community have to re-examine sexual content within our community. It’s necessary because of blurred lines between what’s considered expressing your sexuality and sex. We don’t have a clear definition.
What I experienced was unpleasant and awful, and still, now, a challenge getting over. Even though I am no longer mournful or angry, it happened. I still struggle with trust, especially when it comes to trusting gay white men sexually, including in conflict situations. However, I understand, it’s because of my experience, and the things the assailant said to me during the assault.