The Regular Guys

They follow sports, wear flannel shirts, smoke, drink, belch, and make crude jokes. Oh, one other thing. They're gay.

A year later, Sweigard met a guy on the side of Chicago's gay pride parade route. They went back to his place and argued about who was going to get fucked. Neither gave in ("I still had issues with being a 'man' and getting fucked at that point," he says), so they settled on blow jobs.

Sweigard, who moved to San Francisco two years ago and is now a proud Democrat, considers himself comfortably "out" these days. Still, being openly gay doesn't mean he relates to San Francisco gay culture.

"If it wasn't for my gym affectation and my true love of staying fit, I'm not sure how I would meet homos," he says. "And it's so funny, because people at the gym and other places will say, 'Oh, you're so butch,' and the condescending assumption is that because I like sports and don't like going to bars that I must not have accepted or come to terms with my true gay soul. And I'm like, 'How many cocks do I need to stuff down my throat before people will believe that I am totally cool and in-tune with my gayness?'"

Mike Schaefer e-mails me with a link to a Web site that he finds quite funny., he says, is the place to test just how "masculine" you really are. He suggests I take the quiz and let him know how I fare.

I put down my beer and my copy of Maxim and sign on. I decline to check out the site's Butch Board, Straight Talk, and Macho Personals pages, going directly to the Straight Acting quiz and its 25 questions. I sense that I am off to a non-masculine start when I admit to enjoying "receiving flowers" on Question 1, but I hope to make up for it on Question 2, when I answer that I do not enjoy "being tickled."

For Question 3, I shamefully admit to occasionally using the word "pee-pee," but I am feeling masculine again on Question 7, when I answer that my apartment has "less than two candles."

Question 9 goes right to the heart of my sex life, asking if I prefer top, bottom, versatile, or cuddling. Since multiple answers are encouraged, I check all four and move on. For Question 11, I categorically deny having ever purchased "any article of clothing or accessories for myself from a woman's department store." Question 16 wants to know if I have ever attended a "gang bang or orgy," and I wonder if a drunken fraternity party where four "straight" boys took turns doing each other in a locked upstairs bedroom while one gay boy (that would be me) looked on in astonishment constitutes an orgy. I check the box.

When I am done, I click the results button and learn that on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being "The Ultimate in Straight Acting" and 10 being "Queen Status," I am a 3, which is to say I am "Mostly Straight Acting." For those of us at this level of masculinity, we lead, according to the results, "[a] normal everyday life, and it's 'no questions asked,' as people assume you are straight. Every once and a while a very aware person might notice something that causes them to think 'fem,' but it's a fleeting thought because you turn around and surprise them with more masculine traits."

Relieved (and amused) to know that I can pass for straight, I check my e-mail again a few hours later. Schaefer -- who, incidentally, does not like the expression "straight- acting" -- writes to tell me that he is also a 3, a level he deems fairly accurate. "I had to admit to owning Donna Summer's Greatest Hits," he says. Sweigard e-mails me to say he is a 2. "I do like musical theatre, in theory," he writes. "And I'm neat."

It is 6 p.m. on a Sunday night, and the Regular Guys are hungry. Standing in the lobby of the Metreon, five Regular Guys have two hours to kill before enjoying a screening of Gladiator, a surprisingly engaging action film in which Russell Crowe kills many men in the name of God, country, and "closure."

Right now, though, the Regular Guys need to eat. "Should we go to the food court or the sports bar?" Schaefer asks.

"Oh, I'm flexible," says 30-year-old Regular Guy Joe Delehanty from San Francisco.

"Yeah, we heard," Schaefer says.

A balding, beer-bellied, fiftysomething man walks by the group with a younger, cuter companion. Delehanty, a self-described lover of "daddy types," doesn't look twice at the twentysomething, instead eyeing the older man. "Oh, I'll take that one home right now!" he says.

"Anyway, back to the food question," says Russ Meyer, a 38-year-old Regular Guy from Rockford. "Man, when did the Metreon become cruise central?"

"Duh," says Delehanty. "The second they built it!"

The Regular Guys finally decide on the food court. Delehanty orders chicken strips and fries off a children's menu, then goes on to explain what makes a movie a Regular Guys movie.

"There's gotta be death, destruction, real guy stuff," he says. "Someone's gotta die. Lotsa guns. Or it's gotta be a sports movie." In the past months, the Regular Guys have seen Fight Club, Mission to Mars, Any Given Sunday, and End of Days.

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