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Hey Bub, That’s My Nipple You’re Tweaking!

Hey Bub, That’s My Nipple You’re Tweaking!

Whatever happened to the handshake when greeting someone you are either meeting for the first time, or seeing again after a while? Even an Obama-esque fist-bump would be a fine alternative physical salutation. At the very least, a smile and a nod. Well, in some circles, it seems the appropriate greeting is a smile—and a nipple tweak.

Recently, I was out on the town, nipples to the wind, watching some singers performing in a local cabaret-style evening when I ran into a couple of guys I know-ish. While one of them adhered to the warm and friendly smile-and-a-hug greeting, the other leaned in, gave me a kiss then reached in, ran his hand down my left pec and landed a rather pointed nipple-tweak. I’m no prude, but I was rather taken aback that in a nightclub, with people everywhere, I was so brazenly pinched by someone with whom I have a passing acquaintanceship.

Let’s take a few steps back. Being a gay man in a gay club has its own set of social precepts and behaviours. There tends to be more of a physicality when gay men get together to party, play, or socialize in other ways. This has been born out of years of sexual, social and political oppression and, let’s face it, testosterone. However, there is also context. If one is in a sex club or bathhouse, it may be appropriate to experience a more groping form of greeting. When in Rome… However, when one is in a non-sexual setting like a pub, bar, cabaret, shoe repair, grocery store or funeral home, the low-and dirty may not be the best chosen way to say ‘Hello.”

There is an implied sexual and gender equality.

chestThis is certainly not the first time I have been tweaked, pinched, grappled, grabbed, stroked or fondled in public by a man. I have had my crotch cupped in mid-chat, my ass grabbed en flagranté and my chest squeezed and man-handled many times over the course of my life. Oddly, it doesn’t totally offend me. As a gay man, I have been brought up in a ‘Boy Culture” that is much more liberal with copping a feel. It’s not necessarily seen as something sexually aggressive, but rather a flirtation. It is an unspoken but very direct way of letting someone know there is an implied physical or sexual intent. There’s also the Mae West credo: ‘It’s better to be looked over than overlooked.”

Aside from the socialization, there may also be a sense of license because it is happening between gay men; peer-to-peer bonding where, presumably, there is an understood sexual and gender equality. You wouldn’t find this kind of brazen contact in heterosexual culture without some serious blowback. Can you image a man grabbing a woman’s breast or crotch in a bar or nightclub and that being acceptable. In most cases, it’s a slap in the face and a quick and nasty date with the bouncer.

Just because I left home with my body doesn’t mean you have the right to grab it.

uktv-britains-got-talent-2013-episode-5-ant-dec-david-walliams-3Not so much for the fellas. Now, this isn’t to say that this behaviour is rampant and guys are just grabbing each other ad infinitum and without reproach. There is still an implied permission that is given—although it is very subtle and sometimes hard to discern or define. Talk about blurred lines…and fine lines. For the most part I don’t take this as a form of sexual harassment as it is part of our socialization as gay men, but there have been times when it has definitely crossed those lines—fine and blurred. Sometimes I fella doesn’t want his thunder clapped.

As with all things, a little judgment can go a long way. Just because I’ve met you before and we’ve talked or even more, doesn’t mean you have a free ticket to lay your hands on me whenever and wherever you wish. If you do and I respond by pulling away or saying some version of ‘No’, take heed, male-female, male-male, female-female, no always means no. Just because I left home with my body doesn’t mean you have the right to grab it whenever you like. Good manners and asking permission go a long way to making everyone’s social experience better. So, until I give you the go-ahead, don’t tweak the merchandise.

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AndyAndrew Vails writing career began in Halifax when he was but a child. In Grade 4, he wrote and produced his own series of comic books entitled “Freaky The Frog”, the on-going tale of a little misfit frog and his pals of the pond. Marvel Comics never came knocking but Andrew knew he loved to create and tell stories. Since then, Andrew has worked in advertising, PR and publicity; has interviewed politicians, rock stars and very interesting yet not-so-famous movers and shakers. He has published articles in a variety of local and national magazines and websites. Andrew is currently working on the project queer50.com.


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6 Comments

  1. Another fine article.

    I can relate.

  2. I usually just hug you when I see you but I promise to try harder the next time I see you.lol.

  3. That never happens to me…I feel so left out!!

  4. I don’t know Andrew: I think if we were all more flirtatious with each other the world would be a better place. Straight or gay. When I was younger and going out to the gay clubs I always enjoyed it when someone was flirty and touchy-feely with me. I miss those days.

  5. I say no. Touching a stranger is harassment regardless of sex, age or whatever. Should always respect someone’s personal space and not get too familiar until it is understood to be okay by both parties.

  6. I had my ass grabbed in a Montreal club (an admirer?). It was completely anonymous. Never saw the person and it took me a while to even recognize that it had happened! Now I didn’t feel offended, but I have no idea why it happened! Sadly, for me at least, it hasn’t happened since (I mean the anonymous part!)!

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