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Unconventional Attractions


Simon Sheppard, QSyndicate.com

Nope, there's no accounting for taste – one dude's turn-off is another cat's catnip. And that is, all in all, a very good thing.

Despite the media's depiction of what's hot and what's not – a standard that's varied wildly over the years – desire often escapes such restrictions. "There's a fairly narrow range of what desirable queer men are supposed to look like," says one hirsute 40-something fellow. "All you have to do is pick up a glossy gay magazine to see what that is: smooth, nicely muscled, and just out of college. Fortunately for me and my libido, though, not everyone's taste is limited to that."

Yes, there are those who favor burly, bearded bears, and "chasers" who get hard-ons at the sight of the chubby, chunky, or frankly fat. On the other hand, there's the man who says, "Skinny dudes really turn me on. Not slim, not ripped. Skinny, with ribs sticking out."

Sometimes, unconventional attractions have broader connotations. Bears and musclemen, for instance, have an aura of masculinity, while "smooth and slim" usually signifies "young." It's not merely a matter of chasing after appearances, but of chasing what a look means...at least to the pursuer.

Nurturing nonmainstream desires can feel like swimming upstream. Take the question of size. Says one man, "There's a constant drumbeat of bigger-is-better, but I happen to like smaller dicks, even really tiny ones. It makes me feel like an oddball."

A turn-on can be very personal, even quirky. Big ears, shaved heads, and hairy shoulders all have their ardent fans. So where so do these odd attractions come from? Perhaps from the deep, dark past. There's at least a prima facie argument to be made, for instance, that an attraction to much older guys may have roots in childhood. Our skinny-chaser confides, "I think it goes back to this really thin, smart, geekish kid I had a crush on in high school. You might say I should just forget him and move on, but what's the difference, if my quirk doesn't hurt anybody? Anyhow, underweight guys need love, too."

Then there's the compensatory model of attraction, the idea that we go after something we're not – muscular men chasing big-gutted bears, young guys turned on by gay grandpas, or rich executives fucking lower-class rough trade. Sometimes it can be a matter of what we think we're lacking. Says the guy who likes small cocks, "I know it's superficial, but when I'm hung better than the man I'm with, it makes me less insecure about what I feel are my own physical shortcomings."

Unconventional lusts can take a guy to the shores of full-fledged fetishism. Take the attraction that some men feel for guys in casts or wheelchairs. Is it a matter of power, pity, or simple desire? One paraplegic says, "Yeah, I know my disability is the first thing many – OK, almost all – people see when they look at me. And some men are actually turned on by my being in a wheelchair. Is that creepy or kind? Or maybe both? And how much should I worry about it, anyway?"

Let's face it: The mysteries of sexual attraction are pretty damn complex. And as long as it's not actually harmful, "I want what I want" can be a liberating way to live one's life. Sure, there are perils. The more restrictive one's standards, the harder it is to find Mr. Right. There's also the tricky question of complementary attraction: a skinny chubby-chaser, for instance, has to find a big guy who's into the thin. And if the goal is a long-term relationship rather than quickie sex, the matter of meshing tastes becomes even more crucial.

At its most self-defeating, an obsessive search for a particular type of guy can serve as an excuse for avoiding contact. Just as those who lust after conventional hunks may never find anyone who's Brad Pitt-enough, men with unusual tastes may spend their lives fruitlessly searching for their own quirky version of perfection. If that's the case, a guy may well want to look at broadening his horizons. As one fellow says, "I'm not particularly into buff gym bunnies, or what – unfairly, I know – I think they represent. But supposedly 'flawed' guys, whether they have big beer guts or ribs sticking out, all turn me on, in one way or another. And hell, hunks already have plenty of fans, so why not go for those who are less likely to be viewed as prime beef?"

Why not, indeed?

Simon Sheppard is the author of Kinkorama: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Perversion



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