I don’t understand some people’s fixation over what’s gay or not. Not necessarily WHO is gay, but what. What inspired me to write this was a trip last weekend to the Kanamara Matsuri, also known as the Festival of the Steel Phallus in Kawasaki Daishi, Japan. A brief summary of the festival is necessary, I think.
Kanamara Matsuri is a Shinto festival that has, over the years, grown into a spectacle combining the sacred with the silly. According to the Japanese magazine Metropolis, the festival dates back to the Edo period (1603-1867).
At that time, Kawasaki’s “ladies of the night” prayed not only that business would be brisk, but for protection from syphilis. Come cherry blossom time, they gathered baskets of bamboo shoots and other sprouting delicacies, carried the shrine’s phallic image in procession through the streets, and then sat down to a merry banquet on mats spread out on the courtyard of Kanamara Shrine… Today, the highlights of this saucy festival include transvestites parading through the town’s streets carrying a mikoshi (portable shrine) with a humongous pink phallus on top. And, if that’s not guaranteed to make you blush as deeply as the surrounding cherry blossoms, then the spectacle of grandmas and grandpas sucking on carnal candy and sweetmeat replicas of this stupendous phallus, is more than likely to.
It’s the last part of the description that spawned my annoyance. I traveled to the festival by myself just to take in this scene and, of course, snap some pics. I got there and ran into 3 guys from school so we chatted and kicked it a bit. What was at first a pleasant afternoon became incredibly annoying when all the guys could do was talk about how GAY everything was.
Sure, you don’t see things like that everyday. Grown men don’t just walk around with dildos strapped to their heads. Senior citizens don’t go around brandishing dick-shaped dough and young men and women don’t stand on line for 30 minutes to get their hands on yellow and pink penis pops. Wait, take that back.
You don’t see things like that everyday when you’re from SC, FL and Jamaica which is where those 3 guys hailed from.
They pointed at one person and another, talking about how the guys were sucking on the lollipops. One of my schoolmates wanted to get something to eat and felt some kind of way about buying a hot dog because, well, we were at a penis festival. One of them wanted a lollipop, but was adamant that it would be gay of him to do so.
Now, I’ve referred to things as gay or ghey before, don’t get me wrong. I’m not on some holier than thou kick. I just don’t get obsessed with trying to point out what’s gay or not. I wonder, does suckin a lollipop shaped like a vagina make me a lesbian? Will I be consumed with a desire to go out and meet a woman, tear off her clothes and lick her box? No.
It was just annoying. I find men who are so fixated on what’s gay or not to be terribly unattractive. Dude even told me that sucking on a lollipop is gay, period. No matter how the pop is shaped. To make himself clear, he told me that if given a blowpop, he’d bite it as soon as he put it in his mouth. I said, well damn, I guess you should just stick to gum and not lollipops then. It was clear to me that my schoolmates were just uncomfortable being in a setting where men were dressed as women and brazenly participating in the festivities. I’m pretty sure that many of the people who were there were in fact straight, heterosexual people but it was a party, ya know?
I always think back to a debate that went on in my boyfriend’s dorm room freshman year of college. He and his buddies were arguing over whether, if one possessed the ability to fellate himself (if you know what I mean) and did so, did that make him gay or was he simply masturbating? The crux of the debate is whether to focus on having a penis in your mouth (which they said, was gay all the time) or the self-pleasure (which is what masturbation is all about). To this day, I don’t believe they’ve ever settled it. I bring that up because it’s a silly argument and if you knew those guys it would be really funny to you. But I also mention it to highlight the stupidity of such discussions. Like, really dude… maybe you’re gay because you’re spending so much time trying to classify what is and is not gay. Maybe my 3 schoolbuds are gay because they basically spent their afternoon criticizing how other men sucked a lollipop. Doesn’t matter to me though, since they all sound like idiots, regardless of their orientation.
FYI, the shrine in Kawasaki Daishi is real and a place of Shinto prayer and ceremony. The festival helps to celebrate the shrine and to raise money for HIV/AIDS awareness. Can’t be mad at that.