If you read the blog by that grizzled positoid (ideally not via loading it in your browser, as it will crash) or the emanations of that excitable, bipolar British Twit, you know that Daily Mail columnist Jan Moir besmirched the saintly memory of a boy-band singer, Stephen Gately. He died “of natural causes.”

In 2006, Gately entered into a civil union with Internet businessman Andrew Cowles, who had been introduced to him by mutual friends Elton John and David Furnish…. [T]he couple were enjoying a holiday together in their apartment in Mallorca before their world was capsized. […]

But hang on a minute…. Healthy and fit 33-year-old men do not just climb into their pyjamas and go to sleep on the sofa, never to wake up again. Whatever the cause of death is, it is not, by any yardstick, a natural one. […]

After a night of clubbing, Cowles and Gately took a young Bulgarian man back to their apartment. It is not disrespectful to assume that a game of canasta with 25-year-old Georgi Dochev was not what was on the cards.
Cowles and Dochev went to the bedroom together while Stephen remained alone in the living room. […]

Another real sadness about Gately’s death is that it strikes another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships. Gay activists are always calling for tolerance and understanding about same-sex relationships, arguing that they are just the same as heterosexual marriages. Not everyone, they say, is like George Michael.

Of course, in many cases this may be true.

And in many cases it isn’t. Equal marriage is billed as a calming and civilizing force that confers stability, all of which society should support. What Moir is talking about is the additional assumption that gay men willingly take a vow of monogamy when they get married, as straight people nominally do.

You must not know many gay guys if you believe gay couples are remotely as monogamous as straight couples claim to be. Let’s not even bother quantifying adultery among opposite-sex couples. What I’m talking about here is gay-male couples’ outright declaration that they are not and will not be monogamous.

If you doubt this analysis because surely it must be homophobic (the truth, if unpalatable, is dismissed as homophobia), let’s look at some numbers. I hacked together a search string at BigMuscle.com, the atrociously-coded “dating” site that helpfully includes the following option for relationship status: “Partnered – Open w/Partner.” That is, they’ll do guys, but only when they’re together. They’re open to three-ways.

This is the scenario explicated by Moir in her article: Two gay men in a civil partnership pick up another guy.

How many BigMuscle subscribers define themselves thus? 375. It isn’t important to remove duplicates here. If both guys in a couple have BigMuscle ads, they represent only one couple, not two, but we’re counting individuals, not couples.

On this “dating” site, 375 guys openly advertise their willingness to engage in three-ways with their individual partners. I suppose it’s not out of the question that two such couples could get together and hold what any reasonable straight person would call an orgy. And these are merely statements of openness or willingness, not declarations it’s actually happened.

How do these numbers break down for regions that allow same-sex marriage?

  • Belgium: 5
  • Canda: 21
  • Netherlands: 4
  • Norway and Sweden: 0
  • South Africa: 1
  • Spain: 8

How do the numbers break down for regions that allow civil unions or civil partnerships?

  • Andorra, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Iceland, Luxembourg, New Caledonia (!), Slovenia, Uruguay: 0
  • Czech Republic, New Zealand, Switzerland: 1
  • France: 17
  • Germany: 9
  • United Kingdom: 17

(Those are just sample numbers. I’m not going to run through every combination.)

BigMuscle has a few satellite sites. BigMuscleBears.com is for fatties, you could say, only somewhat incorrectly. Let’s look at all the BigMuscle and BigMuscleBears relationship settings that don’t apply to singletons:

Setting N (BigMuscle) N (BigMuscleBears)
Partnered Open w/Partner 375 521
Open All 342 600
Monogamous 365 546
[Not otherwise qualified] 687 964
Married Open w/Partner 39 53
Open All 36 72
Monogamous 20 35
[Not otherwise qualified] 53 [Option N/A]

“Open All” is another way of saying “completely nonmonogamous.” Most BigMuscleBears members also have BigMuscle profiles. So you can pretty much subtract the BigMuscle number from the corresponding BigMuscleBears number to remove duplicates.

Just on these two sites, then, how many guys advertise they are in relationships but are willing to have sex with other men, as long as they stay together?

  • BigMuscle: 375 + 342 + 39 + 36 = 792
  • BigMuscleBears (net): (521 + 600 +53 + 72) – 792 = 454
  • Total: 1,246

On a good day, that’s twice as many guys as claim to be monogamous with their partners or husbands.

(For interest, BigMuscleLeather.com allows only Married, not Partnered, and the numbers are are 153:125:35:N/A.)

Would you like to run your own numbers? Try Manhunt. Call them up; they could probably do a custom data run just for you.

So in fact Jan Moir was articulating a truth gay-male couples openly advertise: Thousands of them are in relationships where picking up guys is permitted as long as the partnered or married guys stick together while they’re doing it.

Far from being insensitive and stereotypical, Moir was merely reporting what other gay men already admit. She has little to apologize for. Her description of some gay men’s “louche lifestyle” is a perfect turn of phrase.

What about drug use? Again, you must not know many gays if you think straight couples do more drugs than gay-male couples. But let’s wait for a toxicology report on Gately before we ruminate on that one.

So indeed, “[h]ealthy and fit 33-year-old men do not just climb into their pyjamas and go to sleep on the sofa, never to wake up again,” especially when their spouses are in the next room with a guy they just picked up.

Are you still sure you want to express your outrage to the U.K. Press Complaints Council? Your outrage is just like all your friends’ outrage. And I rather doubt the attested facts back it up.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2009.10.25 13:11. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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