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An Open Letter to My Fellow Gay Men: We Need a Woman's Consent Too (from HuffPo)

This is a very interesting and, IMHO, smart piece by Preston Mitchum in the Huffington Post. I'm curious that he doesn't talk a bit more about what may be a racial dynamic (in my work history, I've had a number of (particularly white) gay men assume we are allies and presume friendship just because I'm black and relatively progressive. We aren't friends because we have been oppressed in certain ways.

But the bigger issue seems to be about appropriate boundaries and consent in non-sexual, "non-violent" contexts (although I would argue that what he describes seems very violent). Why is it that our culture seems to assume that it's OK to touch you without asking (adults with children, incident he describes) so long as you don't have sexual or violent intent?



UPDATE: I realized I might have been talking more to myself than to y'all, so here are some snippets from his Op-Ed:

Slowly moving into the seat next to her, despite no one else occupying his space, he began touching her clothing and body and commenting on the "fit" of her dress. Then he proceeded to touch her hair, since, according to him, he loved how long her locks were and wished he had hair like hers. Unamused by what he considered compliments and his ignorance of his male privilege, she politely said "thank you" and asked if he could quit touching her. Obviously not appreciating this young's woman rejection of his "compliments," he immediately referred to her as a "bitch" and told her, "It's not like I want to have sex with you. I'm gay." Since I am never a fan of blatant disrespect, I told the man, "If she doesn't want to be touched, she doesn't have to be touched." He repeated that he was simply giving her compliments, said, "Mind your business," and a reasserted that she was being a "bitch" and should just accept those "compliments" because it isn't a big deal.


. . . . Last Thursday night, what appeared to be a simple compliment was actually unwanted touching, regardless of the man's sexual orientation. I realize that all gay men do not operate in this privileged space of "she needs to allow me to touch her, since I am not sexually attracted to her," but all too often I have heard the platonic nature of the relationship being used as a substitution for permission and consent. Consent must always be given.

To be clear, I do not disagree with the notion that women also do this to gay men. However, I find that it is my obligation to question my male privilege and deal with that accordingly. I am not the victim in every situation, and it is important that I write and analyze how, as a gay man, I can respect the boundaries of others.


My fellow gay men, I want the best for all of us. We are not automatically granted access to a woman's body. This blog post is even for me, as a reminder of my male privilege regardless of my sexual orientation. This is why I humbly ask for you to examine how we operate in this world and how we utilize the space of others.

I'm away from computer most of the day, but thought this was too interesting to let slide.

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