One of the most stinging insults that’s ever come my way was the time when, at some gay bar or other, a friend accused me of having old man eyes.
I’d been perving, you see. But not just perving; I’d been blatantly fixating on the men around me, drinking them in like I was a man dying of thirst and they were a line of champagne cocktails.
My friend likened my gaze to the steady, studious staring that some old geezers seem so good at. You know the sort of staring I’m referring to: it’s the type that a certain kind of elderly gent exhibits when he gets so preoccupied with what he’s looking at he forgets what he’s looking like. In some cases, it’s not even necessarily because he’s perving -“ just as often it’s attributable to sheer astigmatism.
But I had no such excuse. I was ogling, and my friend was right to call me on it. There comes a point when the harmless perve becomes a naked declaration of desire; a shameless and ugly admission that you’re desperate for a root.
Since that time, I’ve witnessed the old man eyes in many gay men around Sydney. There’s the constant rubbernecker who goes to my gym, so intent on cruising for his next hot session of rumpy that he never seems to do a workout (although, weirdly, the creep is always there). And there’s the guy who I see on my train -“ he never reads a book or a newspaper, because he seems to be constantly on the lookout for attractive menfolk whom he can mentally undress.
It’s a free country, I guess, and everyone should do what they want, blah blah blah, insert the Declaration of the Rights of Man here, but sometimes the all-seeing eye of gay desire really makes me wonder if I ever truly slayed the many-headed beast that is Internalised Homophobia. Why? Because when I see these men carry on, drooling over their eye-candy and waving the sad flag of their libido, part of me wants to go up to them, smack ’em across the chops and tell them to (a) stop acting like such a big slut; and (b) engage with the world via something other than their dick.
We all stare from time to time. Men have been doing it since we came down from the trees. But some gay guys have their optical gear permanently stuck in the perve setting, and it’s not a good look.