BENT's own Bear
course BENT needs an advice column.
line with our desire to encourage reader response I am pleased to
introduce a writer who makes a habit of thinking outside the box.
was born 51 years ago in the Bronx, N.Y. At age five he asked his
mother why two men couldn't get married. By age eighteen he realized
that it's far better for two men to live in delicious sin, which
he has managed to do with his lover for nineteen years.
has been an activist ever since getting a call from a friend reporting
that he'd been in a riot at the Stonewall Bar only hours before.
He began his activism with the West Side Discussion Group, later
became involved with its offshoot theatre group, and was one of
the founders of Mainstream, a gay-disabled group.
beginning work for the City of New York, Max became a union activist;
he ran the Housing Committee at one former union and began a lesbian
and gay group at his current union, where he is vice-chair of a
committee devoted to disability issues. He also worked to help win
domestic partnership rights for all New York City workers.
In his spare time, Max writes gay fiction for various magazines,
designs and creates elaborate Mardi Gras costumes, enjoys cooking
(and eating), attending theatre, exploring the psychic, and collecting
anything that you can make more than two of.
Everybody knows what
bears do in the woods....they sit around telling each other their
life's stories and giving one another advice. What else would
those big, hairy beasts do when they get together for their Teddy
Inspired by the wisdom
of my fellow growlers, I'm here to give advice, when asked. So,
if any of you out there have questions you'd like answered by
someone who's been around the block a couple of times, please
send them to Bear@bentvoices.org.
And in case you're worried that you have to censor your thoughts,
please remember that my walks around the block were often done
while dressed in kinkwear and with a thought or two about who
I might encounter along the way.
So let me know what's
been on your mind lately. If it's a Big Unanswered Question (or
even a little one), let me have a crack at it. It is, after all,
what bears do best. Since this is my BENT debut, and you haven't
had the chance to pose any questions yet, I thought I'd take the
opportunity to tell you about something that's been on my mind.
- Max Verga
Americans With Disabilities Act
"which effects one of life's major functions." If we consider sex
a major life function (and I certainly do) then we can consider
any condition that impacts negatively on our sex lives to be a disability.
That can cover a wide range of conditions from Erectile Disfunction
to loss of ability caused by a recognized disability. But there
is one "condition" that can impact on a man's sex life more than
most of the obvious limiting conditions. I am, of course, talking
about the man whose sex organ does not measure up to the approximate
six inches that is the standard marker for designating a penis as
either small or large.
we weren't going to apply a legal definition to designating a small
penis as a disability, the lack of ample inches would certainly
meet the emotional criterion of a disability. It can be hidden or
recognizable, depending on its owner's level of exhibitionism. It
can cause shame. It can be the reason for rejection once revealed.
Its existence is something that a man should probably discuss with
a would-be partner, but it's usually left as an element of often-unwanted
surprise. It can lead to a man being stigmatized. It can be accompanied
by other disabling conditions. And it is something that most men
are uncomfortable even discussing.
I know that
some people will balk at equating having a small cock with having
a disability, even after I've drawn the analogies above. And although
I am making the comparison with a certain degree of tongue in cheek,
it is important to remember that everything is relevant when we're
thinking about putting more in cheek than tongue.
a super-model a pimple is a disability.
To a man with all the right recognizable attractions, being "deficient"
between the legs might cause the same amount of anxiety, depression,
and feelings of inferiority as any of the recognized disabilities
that meet the legal definition. And just as disability represents
one of the last closet doors that needs to opened, being small-tooled
is a closed door that most gay men don't even want to knock on,
let alone consider opening. But knock we must! If for no other reason,
just to find out what we're missing on the other side of the door.
Drawing on a Wall in Rome
PHOTO ©Robbo 1999
men will pay no heed to their lack of inches
when it comes to
getting out there and playing the game. Others will use it as an
excuse for remaining remote. Some men might make a greater effort
if they felt there were others who appreciated their "deficiencies".
Still others might feel better if they could communicate their feelings
with men similarly equipped. Some might even want to meet up and
have sex with others "of their kind," in the hope of a common bond
of understanding on the issue of size. But when all avenues have
been explored the fact remains that how a small-hung man feels about
himself will determine just how successful he is in love and lust.
sounds familiar to readers with disabilities, I could rest my case.
But I'm not going to. We've only just stuck our foot inside the
closet. We need a better look at what's inside before I can say
that my job is done. I cited the six-inch marker as a reference
point for what most men consider small or large. In fact, the statistical
average is a bit below the six-inch mark. Inches can be irrelevant
if you factor in height. A five-foot man would be a very impressive
sight with a six-inch tool. A seven-foot man with the same stat
might give the opposite impression. But the real "measure of the
man" is not just a matterof inches on a ruler, it's in how others
perceive his size and how he perceives it himself.
don't even use the six-inch marker to determine if someone's organ
is small or large. Many people think that the average lies somewhere
at seven or eight inches. That leaves a whole lot of men assuming
they're on the downside of the size issue. Where does all this leave
those who acknowledge that what nature gave them was the short end
of the stick? It might leave them in a mental minefield similar
to that faced by many disabled men. If they're honest about their
"shortcomings" they may face instant rejection. If they're not upfront,
they risk an even harsher rejection once their size is "uncovered".
also choose to search out men who look on a small organ as an asset.
But how will they deal with someone attracted to a part of them
that they've been told is less than desirable? Can they handle being
loved for "all the wrong reasons?"
answers aren't the least bit clearcut.
We live in a society that creates icons based on looks. We spoon-feed
subliminal messages about self-worth starting in infancy the same
way we feed baby food: with the best of intentions that may not
produce the best long-term results. We want our babies to be perfect.
We want our grownup men to be perfect. We offer a wide range of
ways to achieve perfection, from lifting weights to cosmetic surgery.
every imperfection can be improved. Some stand out no matter how
we try to cover them up. Others remain hidden, sometimes under our
underwear. And in case you're thinking that a man with a small cock
can always hide it with clothing, think about how many times you've
gazed at a crotch and sized up what's inside instinctively....and
made your decision about taking action based solely on your calculations.
nobody wants to be labeled and judged solely on the basis of an
observable disability, no man wants to be judged only on what he
can offer once his shorts are down around his ankles. We all want
to be loved just as we are. But if you display an obvious difference,
being appreciated because of the difference can come in a close
up the whole notion of whether or not going against the norm when
it comes to attraction automatically constitutes a fetish. There
are men out there who actively seek small-hung men. Do they have
a preference, or is it fetish? The answer is really another question.
Do you automatically label someone as weird and fetishistic simply
because he sees an asset where everyone else sees a liability? I
think that most people do, and that includes most men who find that
they're being admired for something they've been conditioned to
believe is a negative.
would someone want a three-incher,
the small man might wonder, when he can find a nine-incher just
as easily? Aesthetics? Ability to handle the smaller version better?
Some twisted need to get less than he deserves? All of the above?
None of the above? Yes, it's a puzzlement all right. But I think
the answer lies in the fact that society considers having a small
cock as much a disability and liability as having a missing limbmaybe
even more so. Who would want that little thing? Who would want to
lie in bed next to a stump?
a variation on a theme of non-understanding. And it's something
that most of us would rather not think about, unless we happen to
be the possessor of the disability. Then we have no choice but to
think about it. It reminds us every time we look in a mirror, or
into the eyes of someone whose admiration or love we seek. I have
known men with very small cocks. I've also known men with very big
cocks. I won't even discuss all those who occupied the middle ground.
I can honestly say that I've enjoyed the full spectrum, with special
delight reserved for the extremes on either end. But I am not the
norm, and very grateful for that.
have had partners apologize for being small
or steer my
attention towards parts of their bodies that they were more secure
about. I've still roamed right back where I wanted to be, to the
spot they didn't think I would ever go in the first place. And I've
loved the element of surprise when they realized that I wanted to
lavish attention where little attention had been focused in the
past. But I didn't go there to shock. I went there because I found
beauty and desire where others found none. That is what I am about.
And if that is fetishistic, I will wear my scarlet "F" with pride.
So, am I
advocating that we all go out and find a small-dicked man and take
him home to bed out of concern and compassion? Well, that would
be a matter of seeking someone out for all the wrong reasons. Instead,
I'm advocating that we not reject a man solely because he offers
a tasty snack instead of a full-course meal at one sitting. Just
remember that a full meal may leave you stuffed for hours while
a series of small snacks may leave you coming back for more without
you choose to eat is, indeed, a matter of taste.
But I hope
that you might at least sample the full range of what's available
before deciding that one kind of meal is better than another. It's
the same soap-box message I would pass on to the man who has never
gotten past a potential sex partner's obvious disability. I would
want to see a man with a small organ welcomed in a sexually charged
arena just as easily as a man in full leather; I would want a man
with a disability to be welcome there as well. I know that the reality
will probably never match up with my wishes. We're as conditioned
to steer clear of small-dicked men as we are to steer clear of men
with recognizable disabilities.
we could always arrange for a special time and place for small men
to meet up with their peers or with those who seek them out as sex
objects. We could do the same for men with disabilities. Then everyone
would be satisfiedsegregated but satisfied, just like the
leather men who pursue only leather men, "bears" who growl only
with other "bears" and "chubbies" who are content to be sought out
by men automatically labeled "chasers." Everyone would be neatly
and safely in his element . . . and with no way to understand and
appreciate the desire for difference.
wish I could wind this up on a more positive note,
but I am a realist in spite of my love of fantasy. Too many of us
know the hurt of rejection. We wonder why people can't see beyond
what's presumed to be a flaw. Too many others still wonder why anyone
would prefer a flaw. To find out, we'd have to ask just what a flaw
is. If we're honest, we know the answer already: it's what everyone
else says a flaw is. And contradicting what everyone says is, well,
like opening up the door to a locked closet. It's so unfamiliar
that at first it may be scary inside. Now that I think of it, opening
a closet door is like pulling down a pants zipper. Not everyone
will want what's inside. But those of us who have opened up closets
before have only one response to offer: "You might be pleasantly
surprised if you give yourself the chance."
©2000 Max Verga