Field of Queens

Bill Weintraub

Bill Weintraub

Field of Queens


Field of Queens is a reasonably good article with a seemingly awful title which appeared on the Village Voice website a few days ago.

It's about gay-identified guys who join gay sports clubs and teams -- in this case rugby -- and it profiles a 25-year-old gay-identified man named Eric Merfalen who's on the NYC gay rugby team.

I said the article was "reasonably good" rather than, let's say, "great."

That's because it's written from within the gay box, and the author shows no sign of being able to think outside that box.

To be fair, neither does anyone else in the story.

But we can, and we're going to look at the story from outside.

The basic outline of Eric's story is that he was a very popular high school and college jock -- football and soccer -- who dated and slept with a lot of women.

By his count, 58.

His primary social network in high school and college was provided by other jocks and, in college, his fraternity.

He had one minor homosexual experience in high school, and then another, more involved, when he was 20 and still in college.

Somehow -- the article doesn't describe or explain how -- that experience was enough for Eric to begin to self-identify as "gay."

He began visiting gay internet chat rooms during his junior year.

It's not clear from the article whether he ever finished college.

But he apparently made a decision to immerse himself in gay life:

Eric moved to New York in the fall of 2004 and began working at a bar in the financial district. On off nights he went to the gay bars he had always heard about. On a warm spring night, he went to the Duplex, a cabaret-style club located on Christopher Street in the West Village. The Duplex sits next to the Stonewall Inn, the site of the 1969 riots that marked the beginning of the first major gay rights movement.

Eric walked into the club and immediately fell for it. A singer belted out various Broadway tunes on a first-floor stage, and upstairs, men chatted with each other in the game room. They were men of all ages and all types. Some were "queeny," dressed in flamboyant outfits and wearing makeup. Others wore tailored shirts and ties. Surely he'd be able to meet new friends.

[emphases throughout are mine]

So: for starters, and looked at from the perspective of the process of heterosexualization which we discussed in THE POWER OF THE MASCULINE, we can think of Eric as a masculine-identified guy who's capable of and on some level enjoys hetero sex; but who knows instinctively that he needs to bond sexually with another masculine-identified man in order to realize his natural masculinity.

Again, remember what we talked about in THE POWER OF THE MASCULINE:

In a state of nature, for a masculine-identified young man like Eric, same-sex bonding -- phallic bonding -- would have been a natural part of his adolescent life.

But in our society, living under *cultural* masculinity rather than *natural* masculinity, during adolescence Eric says No to boys and Yes to a lot of girls -- when he needs to and would rather be saying Yes to a guy.

Now, at some point in his junior year at college, he overtly recognizes his same-sex needs and desires.

But -- once again -- in our culture, what happens to him is that, having recognized his strong same-sex needs and desires, he self-identifies as gay -- because that sexual orientation model is the only model available to him.

In reality Eric is not "gay."

He's just a masculine-identified man who has a natural and normal desire to be with another masculine-identified man.

But no one in his culture can explain that to him.

So instead of recognizing his natural bisexuality and his natural need to be with another guy, he flings himself into the gay male meat grinder;

where he immediately runs into problems -- at a gay bar called The Duplex:

The Duplex was not the place to find friendship. Before Eric had ordered his third drink -- it wasn't even 11:00 p.m.-- the first man he met there suggested they go back to his apartment for sex. The same thing happened over and over again, not only that night but for the first seven months of his life in New York. Every man he met was interested only in sex, Eric thought.

Now that he was out and seeking a deeper relationship, Eric leaned heavily on his conservative values. For the first time, he was truly looking for a partner, and to him that meant monogamy. Eric felt alone. He began returning to Cleveland on weekends to be with his old friends. He stopped dating and began drinking heavily. One night he took a bottle of sleeping pills and chased it with a fifth of Bombay Sapphire gin. Feeling depressed, he started punching signs along the road home, cutting his hands. When he got home he swallowed 20 Tylenol PM pills and passed out. Eric's roommate found him, saw the bloodied hands, and took him to the hospital. Doctors pumped Eric's stomach and called his parents.

So Eric tried to kill himself.

Fortunately, he didn't succeed.

Eric met with a psychiatrist shortly after the suicide attempt. She asked him what he felt was missing from his life and why it had never been missing from his life at home. He thought it over. He missed having a large network of friends and was hurt that he couldn't replicate that feeling in New York. His psychiatrist pressed him. Where had these friends come from? Why was he able to connect with them? When he finally realized the answer, he could not believe it had eluded him for so long. All of his friends came through sports or fraternity life, two groups that share historically masculine bonding rituals. His psychiatrist told him to find a way to bond with gay men in the same way.

The psychiatrists's advice was, in my view, sound.

The problem is, as the article I believe makes clear, that what she's proposing isn't possible within the confines of a "gay" sports club.

Because the sports club itself exists within the confines of gay culture -- that is, analism.

And analism is not conducive to those true and "historically masculine bonding rituals" which Eric and his psychiatrist realized he needed.

This is something Naked Wrestler and I have talked about a great deal.

Naked Wrestler -- whom I'll call NW -- was a collegiate wrestler.

When, after having come out as a gay-identified man, he decided that he wanted to resume wrestling, he did so through the medium of the gay wrestling clubs.

And those clubs were beneficial to some degree.

The coaching was good, and he was able to get back into shape, resume wrestling, and compete in the Gay Games.

However, given his own deeply held values of Masculinity and Frot, he soon ran into problems with the gay wrestling clubs.

These problems came to a head for him when, following the surge in popularity of UFC-style fighting, straight-identified guys started joining the gay wrestling club in NW's town simply because they wanted to learn how to grapple.

Which is crucial in UFC-style fighting.

What NW saw was that the gay guys managing the club were not truly welcoming to those men.

Instead, they insisted on putting the gay aspect of the club really in the face of the straight-identified guys.

That turned those guys off, and they left the club.

That seemed wrong to NW on two levels:

First of all, the club was supposed to be about wrestling -- not "gay."

And second of all, the men being driven away by the enforced gayness of the club were masculine men -- the very men whom NW himself most identified with.

It seemed clear to him that he couldn't stay in a club that put "gay" ahead of wrestling.

And ahead of Masculinity.

And he was right.

So, instead, NW joined a UFC-style fight school.

Which is not gay, nor is it straight.

It's just a place where guys go to learn how to fight.

And that's a far better milieu for NW or any other athlete than a gay sports club in which issues of gay male promiscuity, effeminacy, and analism are never far behind.

Here's an extended bit from the Voice article which makes that clear:

Finding the coat check locked on this Tuesday night in January, the 25-year-old Eric heads to the bar and leans over it to kiss the bartender, Juan Bonilla, on the lips. They play together on the Gotham Knights Rugby Football Club. "What will it be tonight?" Juan asks. Eric, who works as an assistant at an art auction house, has arrived before any of his teammates for the monthly "Hang Out With the Knights" promotion, so that he can get a few half-price beers before happy hour ends. He orders a Sam Adams. Juan pours it and slides both the glass and a poker chip good for a free drink over to Eric. As he takes his first sip, Eric turns and leans back against the bar, resting his elbows on the ledge, and looks over the crowd from left to right. About 40 people of various ages fill the bar, alternately watching one of the large flat-screen televisions -- showing college and pro basketball games on this night -- and talking to friends.

Eric is well into his second beer when he nods toward a fair-skinned man with thinning hair and a bushy beard, both red. The man leans in to kiss Eric as he pulls off his jacket.

"Yeah, I'm a dork," the bearded man says. "I wore my jersey."

Across the back of the blue-and-gold jersey the name Bearitone runs over the number four. Steve Gaertner earned his nickname because of his burly build, facial hair, and the fact that he is a professional opera singer, a baritone. As for the number four, it indicates his position on the pitch and, to an initiated rugby fan, a glaring deficiency for the Knights. Gaertner is only 5-11 and probably no more than 170 pounds (the Knights' website wishfully lists him at six feet and 190 pounds). He plays the position of lock, typically reserved for the tallest and strongest man of the 15 players on a rugby team.

Ostensibly, this night hanging out at Gym Bar serves three purposes for the Knights, who are in the off-season and won't even begin informal practices until February. First, it's a reason for teammates to get together and build chemistry; second, it's a way to enhance the club's status in the gay community, especially the jock corner of it; and finally, it's a way to recruit new members.

As potential new members go, Luke should be the center of this conversation. He's not athletically built, but he's big, and the first words out of his mouth are these: "I played football at a Division III college and all I liked was to hurt people." But he also speaks in a slightly affected "gay" voice; there's a hint of a lisp and slight rise in tone. When he talks on the phone his voice lowers and is tinged with a slight Southern twang. Plus, he's a professional singer, who surely has terrific control of his voice. It is clear he has developed a normal voice and a flirt voice. Luke also constantly brings his fingers to his mouth, and doesn't shy from laying his other hand on Eric's leg, moving it up each time.

"You're cute, Enrique," Luke says. "I can't lie. You're a cute guy, Enrique."

Eric doesn't smile, but waits for Luke to continue.

"You're not straight, are you?" Luke asks Eric. "Straight guys confuse me."

"What's wrong with it if I was?" Eric says. "What's wrong with it?"

"Nothing, they just confuse me. I slept with five girls in college. It was OK."

"Well, I slept with 58," says Eric. "And I dated most of them."

Luke giggles. "I've been with, umm, about 150 men."

Eric just stares at him.

"Not counting blowjobs. Then, it's like . . . "

"You're talking to the wrong guy," Eric cuts in. "You're talking to the wrong guy."

"A prude."

"No," Eric says. "I've been with five guys, and three of them were my boyfriends. That's just how I am."

Eric abhors the way many gay men his age embrace promiscuity, which he believes perpetuates a damaging stereotype. But even though he has a boyfriend of several months -- "We've been having our problems," he says -- he has dates lined up with other men every night the rest of the week.

"I'm a conservative," Eric says.

Luke jumps back.

"Did you . . . "

"Twice," Eric says. "I voted for George W. Bush twice."

Here comes that smile, drilling up through the steely veneer and spreading wide on Eric's face.

"I'm not into your type," Eric says, and turns slightly so that he can look the opposite direction but keep Luke in his peripheral vision. He sees Luke rip up the business card and sprinkle it across the bar, and watches him stomp away to retrieve his coat. Luke tucks in his scarf, gives himself a look in the mirror, heads toward the exit, and hisses "fucker" at Eric as he passes him on his way out.

So: Even on the rugby team, the values of analist culture are omnipresent.

Luke, who's developed both a fem voice and a normal voice, makes a play for Eric, and when he doesn't succeed, trashes him.

Eric, in turn, claims to "abhor" promiscuity.

But although he rejects Luke, for whatever reason, truth is "he has dates lined up with other men every night the rest of the week."

The article's author says at one point, apropos the suicide attempt:

"rugby didn't save Eric's life.

The people who played it with him did."

Is that true?

Clearly, rugby has given Eric something of a support system.

But it's far from perfect.

And reading further in the article, we see Eric running into major problems with another guy on the team whom he dates and then falls in love with.

They're big problems, and they're problems inherent in a culture based on promiscuity and anal sex.

The guy's name is Martin, and earlier we've been told that Martin, even when involved with Eric, still had the hots for a former boyfriend named Justin, with whom he was living -- and maybe having sex.

Martin has been working on a temporary basis in Virginia for the last month, and Eric is still unsure of the status of their relationship. Martin refers to it as a strong friendship; Eric points out that they talk multiple times every day, have been visiting each other on weekends, and remain intimate. Eric briefly tried to date other men and even fell for a tall bartender named Christopher. He invited both Martin and Christopher to his birthday party in February, but ended up giving most of his attention to Martin. Both Christopher and Martin are making plans to travel to Italy for most of 2007 for work-related reasons. Martin claims the trips are unrelated. Eric does not.

So what have we got?

Eric's sleeping with Martin who's sleeping with Justin and most likely with Christopher -- whom Eric is also sleeping with.

And that's just one group of concurrent partners.

There's no way that can be stable.

There's no way someone will not get hurt.

Or not get infected with HIV, HPV, etc.

How healthy -- or supportive -- can that be?

After the scene with Luke, the author comments that as Luke walks out in a huff,

Eric pays no attention. He's already joined a conversation nearby, jumping in spontaneously and seamlessly and drawing a quick laugh before ordering another round of beers.

At that moment, it's impossible to picture Eric as anything but a confident young gay man, equally able to captivate and infuriate, secure in a strict set of moral beliefs while also relishing the ability to be out, dramatic, bitchy, and, well, himself.

Is any of that true?

"secure in a strict set of moral beliefs"


He's paying lip service to Fidelity while, it would appear, sleeping around.

"able to captivate and infuriate"

That no doubt is true -- he's good-looking and he knows it.

"relishing the ability to be out, dramatic, bitchy, and, well, himself"


Is "bitchy" who he truly is?


Eric wasn't born bitchy and he doesn't have an inner bitch.

What he does have is an inner Warrior -- a Warrior within -- which the rugby experience may help maintain -- or may not.

In talking with Naked Wrestler about this last night, he said to me,

There's fighting and then there's games.

Fighting is raw aggression.

Fighting is real aggression even if there's hard-ons.

Fighting is even different from freestyle wrestling.

Fighting is Man.

And feminized male is always part of the word gay.

Now, again, to be fair, rugby is known as a brutal sport.

But what we can see in the descriptions of Luke and his teammates, is that NW's assertion that "feminized male is always part of the word gay" is true.

It's true of Luke -- and apparently of Eric too, who's said to be dramatic and bitchy.

So the title of the article -- Field of Queens -- isn't that far off base.

Rugby is a masculine sport and these are supposed to be masculine-identified men;

but in many ways they behave like queens:

Feminized males.

And that's a shame.

Reading the article, I couldn't help but feel sad about what's happened to Eric, and what hasn't happened to help him.

Many of you guys would give your eyeteeth to meet a man like Eric Merfalen.

But you won't do a Regional Chapter.

You won't do a booth at the Gay Freedom Festival in NYC.

The Man2Man Alliance, whose values, at least in theory, should appeal to man like Eric Merfalen, has no presence in NYC.

And that's your fault.

It's not mine.

I've begged you to establish such a presence.

You won't do it.

So basically, you'll never meet Eric, who's now been thoroughly acculturated into gay male culture, and is unlikely to ever leave it.

As I've often said, your liberation and the liberation of men like Eric can only be the work of your hands.

I can do and have done an enormous amount -- but I can't do it all.

Only you can make the process complete.

And every day that you put off getting involved -- makes it that less likely that you'll ever have what you truly want.

Bill Weintraub

© All material Copyright 2006 by Bill Weintraub. All rights reserved.

Bill Weintraub

Re: Field of Queens


There's another aspect to this story, which we need to acknowledge and consider.

And that's homophobia and the perception of homophobia in professional sports.

As the author of the Voice piece points out

For homosexual men, rugby has become an increasingly common bridge between the seemingly straight orientation of contact sports and the gay men who yearn to be a part of that world. The failure of gay athletes to come out of the closet -- to this day, not a single gay male athlete has ever admitted his sexuality while playing an American professional team sport -- has fueled the disconnect between gays and sports.

That's a reality and it's a huge problem.

Let me talk about Naked Wrestler.

His work on this site about the relationship between sex and aggression as manifested in the combat sports is outstanding.

It's really really good.

Yet it appears under a pseudonym.


Because although NW isn't a pro, he intends to fight at least semi-professionally, and he interacts with some of the promoters and coaches and of course fighters who are fueling the mixed martial arts / UFC phenomenon.

Rumors abound about guys in the fight sports who are into other guys.

But none of those guys are out.

And NW feels he can't be either.

How common is that?


Here's an email I received a couple days ago:

I am a str8t male bodybuilder. When I see another bodybuilder in the shower or steam room, all I can think about is pinning him against the wall and grinding my big, fat cock into his cock and rubbing my cock all over his big muscles. The whole idea of sucking or fucking another guy does nothing for me at all, yet nude wrestling/cock fighting bones me right up. I have a hard on just from writing this email. I have never admitted any of this to a living, breathing soul. I love my wife intensely, and I love fucking her; yet the thought of grinding my meat into another man's meat does something to me as well. What should I do now?

This guy is a married jock.

He goes ape for other jocks.

He wants to wrestle and cockfight.

All completely natural and normal.

Yet in our society, he feels he can't say so: "I have never admitted any of this to a living, breathing soul."

Part of that of course is the religious right.

Part of it is heterosexism.

Part of it is the identification of gay with anal and effeminacy, which is promoted by the gay leadership.

Indeed, I just posted about a new condom campaign in LA which claims that "HIV is a gay disease."

Is that part of the problem?


Interestingly, in the LA Times article discussing that new condom campaign, there was this stat from a study out of NYC:

In the study, published last week in the journal Annals of Medicine, the city's public health officials interviewed more than 4,000 men.

Of the more than 90% who identified themselves as heterosexual, one in 10 later disclosed that they had had sex with a man within the past year.

So 10% of the guys who self-identify as straight in that Annals of Medicine study admit to having had sex with another guy "within the past year."

Remember: 10% is the number who will admit it.

Given the level of paranoia about sex between guys, no matter how well-designed the study, the overwhelming majority will not.

And then there are the guys like our bodybuilder, who've never had sex with another guy, but who lust after it.

So the perception that a real man doesn't have sex with another real man is an enormous problem.

These gay sports clubs are a step towards the solution.

But they're just one step.

Ultimately, we need to recognize that the idea of sexual orientation and the gay-straight labeling which has ensued is the result of historical forces which have misled and been incredibly destructive in the lives of All men.

Robert Loring:

Imagine a world in which men bonded closely with other men. A world in which natural male masculinity ruled the day instead of some pseudo-manhood known as male femininity. A world in which men were unafraid to show their feelings to other males. A world in which masculine men honored their own manhood and the masculinity of other men.

Imagine a world in which masculine male nudity was commonplace and socially acceptable. A world in which it was not a "sin" for men to sexually frot with other masculine males. A world, in which, male bonding was encouraged and supported. A world in which masculine men taught other males how to become truly masculine men of pride, honor, and fidelity.

Imagine a world in which the Warrior Ethos was something that was honored and esteemed instead of shunned and discouraged. A world in which natural male aggression was respected and valued. Natural male aggression would be self disciplined by such males as they walked through their lives living as honorable and noble Warriors.

The naturally masculine male would have a major place in such a world just as he did in ancient days when the Hoplites and others ruled the times. No longer would there be a war against the natural male, natural masculinity, or natural male aggression. Man would truly be once again MASCULINE MAN. Males would be unafraid to love their brothers in the natural bonds of the brotherhood of man. Males could simply be themselves.

The world we live in today stands against this vision at every turn. It opposes anything that even comes near natural maleness, natural masculinity, and natural male aggression be that aggression disciplined aggression or unbridled aggressiveness. Today's society is a society of hypocrisy! More and more the nude male body is becoming an object of shame and disgust even though the nude male body is something beautiful, masculine, serene, and sacred.

There is a war against the natural male and the sad fact is that most males are losing that war. To even begin to win that war, males need to return to what they once were and be unafraid again to love, to be simply themselves, and to being noble modern Warriors!

"the nude male body is something beautiful, masculine, serene, and sacred"

And it is to ALL men.

Men need to be re-awakened to the beauty of their fellow men.

And to the sacred nature of Masculinity.

Thank you NW and Robert.

Robert's post is The Warrior God and, like all his work, it's highly recommended.

Bill Weintraub

© All material Copyright 2006 by Bill Weintraub. All rights reserved.


Re: Field of Queens


Isn't a big part of the problem the identification as "gay"? As long as that is the price of coming out, or acknowledging your natural male inclinations, most will resist this because it means castrating their identity as a man. Now how many men want to do that?

The BFD owns that term, and they should because it has come to mean a way of life/culture. They have defined that word for me.

This site advocates moving away from labels and embracing an ancient understanding of "man" that encompassed a richer being than currently described by any of the labels. That "man" encompasses the sexual continuum of homo and hetero.

You can't get there as "gay", "bi", or "straight".

"Gay" is but 1 of 3 of those very small closets.

Come out as a MAN.

Robert Loring

Re: Field of Queens


I agree with Frances. Labels are a big part of the problem and the BFD does, in fact, own the term "gay." Instead of coming out "gay" why not just come out as a MAN?

Myself and many other "frot MEN" do not consider ourselves as being "gay." In fact, many of us detest that label and it does not very well describe us at all. When we think of "gay" we think of butt-bangers which we are NOT. We don't share the butt boyz desire for anal sex nor do we share the butt boyz lifestyle of whoredom. We don't share their feminized self images and we don't try to be women locked up in male bodies either. We know ourselves to be MEN because we ARE men!

Labeling is most often deceptive and misleading. Seldom does it accurately describe ANYONE. What it does do is to set a stereotype and few people in any category ever truly fit into those preconceived stereotypes.

Frot men do not have much in common with feminized gay men. We "come out" as just MEN doing what is NATURAL and NORMAL for all men. We hold PRIDE in our innate MASCULINITY and refuse to engage in any behavior which diminishes that masculinity.

Frot men ARE MEN, not butt boyz!


Bill G

Re: Field of Queens

Well said Frances!!!!!!!!!! It was exactly those labels that kept me from understanding myself.

Bill G

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