“Truth is the most valuable thing we have, so I try to conserve it.”
- Mark Twain
I recently read that researchers at the University of Notre Dame conducted an experiment in which they asked people to stop telling lies for ten weeks. In that time, the participants’ physical and mental health improved—and they claimed that their relationships and social interactions were better. Now, far be it from me to question empirical Chastudies from fine institutions of higher learning like Notre Dame, but I call bullshit on this. Seriously…ten weeks without lying? How is that even possible? I’ve told at least ten lies today alone, and it’s not even 6:00 p.m. yet. Just think for a moment about all the casual lies we tell every day—to our co-workers (“I would be happy to work this weekend.”), to our significant others (“You look great in that outfit!”), to our friends (“I’m broke man, but if I had it, I would give it to you.”) and, even, to ourselves (“I’m going to workout more this year.”). If I could not avail myself to a panoply of white lies during the course of a typical day, I would basically be rendered mute. Like most things in life, lying in moderation is relatively harmless and, in some cases, is a necessary and effective tool to avoid awkward situations. I can only imagine the damage that would be wrought if I were forced to disclose my true feelings at all times. Perish the thought! Anyone who is able to go ten weeks without telling a single lie is either living in total isolation or has willpower or discipline the likes of which I have never seen.
I don’t know who participated in this Notre Dame study, but one thing I do know for sure—there could not have been any gay men involved. Gay men are habitual liars, so we would have definitely screwed up the curve. If lying were a sport, then gay men would be the equivalent of the Kenyans competing in the Boston Marathon. It is as if we are genetically predisposed toward dishonestly. We lie effortlessly and without apparent regard to the consequences. It is our normal and reflexive way of responding to the most basic of questions. Gay men lie about everything from age to appearance to money. It is downright compulsive. Indeed, lying is so commonplace among gay men, especially in the era of the internet, that we are generally relieved to find out that the guys we are interested in bear some reasonable resemblance to what they represent themselves to be. The fact that we have become so desensitized to such dishonesty is a sad testament to the dysfunctional nature of many of our relationships.
Don’t get me wrong…I don’t mean to sound sanctimonious about gay men’s propensity to bend the truth. It is what it is. We are all adults (well, mostly) and we have to do our own due diligence in order to separate fact from fiction. Some of us are better at it than others. It damn sure took me long enough to figure out how to navigate my way through the thicket of lies. I fell for such classics as, “I’m just looking for friends” and “We can just hang out,” quite a few times before I became hip to the game. Nowadays, my lie detector antenna goes up almost immediately (i.e., as soon as another gay man opens his mouth to speak to me). Despite being on high alert, some skillful prevaricators are still able to escape my radar and dazzle me with their distortions.
My favorite lie is of more recent vintage. It relates to the increasingly popular pseudo-condition known as sapiosexuality—the sexual attraction to intelligence. At least once per day, I hear some gay man waxing philosophic about how he finds wisdom so alluring and attractive. “Intelligence turns me on.” This has become somewhat of an internet meme, with people proudly broadcasting their alleged fetish for nerds and geeks on Facebook and other social media. I’m sorry, but I can’t help but roll my eyes at this nonsense. This notion of sapiosexuality is homosexual hyperbole at its finest. I want you to stop and consider this carefully: There are actually gay men out there, many of whom are in their 20s and 30s, claiming to be sexually aroused by intellect. GTFOH!
I don’t doubt that there are some gay men who appreciate intelligence. After all, there is a place for stimulating conversation even among the most superficial of gays. However, if that outsized brainpower is not attached to a visually appealing face and/or body, then all bets are off. I speak from experience (Oh, you had to know this bitterness was coming from somewhere!). When I was in high school and college, I was in advanced classes and spent most of my time in the company of exceptionally intelligent men and women. Yet, for all our intellectual horsepower, we were largely marginalized socially. Where were all of the sapiosexuals then? There were no crowds of admirers waiting for us outside the AP physics class. The only numbers people ever asked us for were the answers to the math and science homework assignments. It was not until I was older—and made a conscious effort to downplay my erudition—that guys starting paying attention to me. Therefore, I would contend that the next gay man who approaches a dude in the club based solely on IQ would be the first.
Bottom line—I do not believe the hype about sapiosexuality. I think we need to retire this canard once and for all. While it is fair to say that we like sexy men who are intelligent, any suggestion that intelligence in and of itself is considered sexy is completely detached from any reality I have ever experienced or witnessed. I must admit, however, that there is a real genius in this whole concept of sapiosexuality, no matter how disingenuous it might be. On its face, it appears to be a compliment aimed at another man. But, in reality, it is intended to say more about the person giving the compliment. By proclaiming one’s appreciation of intelligence, the person is really saying “Look at me! I am deep and sophisticated…not like these other shallow fags!”
If nothing else, gay men are consistent—it is always about us.
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