Jul 15, 2009

Discreetness is not a black-and-white thing

I’ve written over a year ago about the subtle differences between being closeted/out and being discreet/indiscreet (and also a bit about being masculine/effeminate). These are all interrelated but distinct concepts. To recap, being closeted/out is really all about whether other people know whether you are straight or not, while being discreet/indiscreet is all about how you act and behave to prevent other people from knowing about your sexual orientation.

For this post, I’ll expand on the statement I wrote then that there are “many shades to being discreet.” This means that there is no strict line between being a discreet PLU one minute and suddenly no longer being one. Discreetness is not a black-and-white thing.

I guess at the most discreet level are those uber-paranoid guys that like to control every aspect of other people knowing about their hidden life. These are the guys that prefer one-on-one encounters brokered over the Internet but never posting nor sharing their pictures online. These guys will definitely never go to gay clubs, bathhouses, and other similar venues. They may also refrain from having sex in motels (lest the staff know about them), would shy away from casual encounters in malls and in the gym (since they would prefer to know if the other guy is as discreet as them without the guy knowing how they look like), and would never be seen with another guy in public if there’s a chance that other people might mistake them as being on a date.

Unfortunately, these guys are the least likely to get action and their paranoid behavior make them really irritating to deal with. So unless a guy like that is someone with a lot to lose (like a celebrity or maybe even a tsinoy dude with an intensely traditional family) he will likely relax some aspects of his behavior if he really want to explore what it really means to be PLU.

On the other end of the spectrum are those guys that don’t care what other people think. And because they don’t care, discreetness is a non-issue. (But it doesn't mean they turn effeminate—remember that masculinity vs. effeminacy is a different concept.) When asked, they won’t deny that they’re gay or bi. And in public, they may hold their partner’s hand or even display affection.

Between these two extremes is a lot of gray area, and that gray area does not even have clearly defined levels. Gay guy A may chose to be less discreet in one aspect or in one situation but be very discreet in another while PLU B would have it the other way around. Is one more discreet than the other? When PLUs say that they want to meet a discreet guy, they are actually saying that the other person must be as discreet as them or more so in all the aspects or situations where they are being discreet.

A case in point: in gay social networking sites, like the old Guys4Men, there are some guys who don’t post pictures of themselves because they say they are “discreet.” By claiming that, they then automatically imply that all the other guys that have visible pictures are not discreet anymore. I don’t think that that is the case, right?

Anyway, discretion is not a bad thing, but I take exception when people use their standards of discretion as a form of unreasonable discrimination. It’s understandable if you only prefer guys who have similar levels of discreetness as you do but it’s not right to judge other people for having different standards of discretion from you.


Ming Meows wrote on July 16, 2009 at 4:02 PM:

I agree. in fact if I would officially come out to the public,I don't think something in me would change. Closeted is based on honesty and discreetness is based on behavior.

Vince wrote on July 19, 2009 at 1:31 AM:

Ming Meows, right on!

Tony wrote on July 24, 2009 at 12:14 PM:

nahilo ako...hahaha.

I say just throw away all your care in the world and just live. yeah?

Just live the life you want. People's judgement of your character doesn't reflect your own, but rather theirs.

Vince wrote on July 25, 2009 at 4:27 PM:

Tony, the problem is, no man is an island. While it's unhealthy to be obsessed about what other people think, it's equally unhealthy not to care at all. The trick is finding the right balance.