My friend Luis used to say "YT" (your type) every time we passed a tall, Bruce Weberish all-American and blank-faced guy, especially if he had high, prominent cheekbones, a definite jawline, small tight earlobes, and an aquiline nose. Nowadays I'm not so sure I ever really had a type, or at least it seems that sexual "types" change over time in response to the series of men I have found myself unaccountably attracted to.
Tallness, for instance. When I was young, I would get dizzy for men taller than six feet. Frankly, height still catches my attention. But now I'm just as drawn to men my height (just six feet) and shorter. The idea of having a posse of 5'7" stud boys I can easily overtake in oil wrestling matches would drive my fantasy life if I were as avid a daydreaming masturbator as I was thirty years ago, when I was still fixating on some sort of "big brother" who could show me the ropes. With friends, I joke that I'm now open to guys in economy sizes: carry-on boyfriends, for easy portability.
I like guys who are athletic or just athletic-looking. I'm not drawn to zero-percent body fat and ripped muscle as much as to guys with an earthy, sensuous weightiness, not chubby, but with enough adipose to make a tussle or a snuggle interesting.
A man with perfect, symmetrical features, defined muscle, and impeccable behavior might impress me aesthetically, without once making me think about what he'd be like in the sack. I can recognize and appreciate beauty objectively and intellectually, but what turns me on sexually is subjective and individual, springing from instincts and memories of past adventures.
In general, I'm attracted to men with flat chests and slightly convex bellies, wide shoulders, hard biceps, and sinewy forearms. Smooth or hairy makes no difference. I like hair cropped close to the skull, but I can just as easily appreciate long hair. I've learned to appreciate the artful tattoo over the past fifteen years. A piercing can be all right, but it's never been a selling point. I like blonds and brunets equally. I'm rarely attracted to red-haired or African-American men. I particularly like Irish, Italian, Israeli, Arab, and mixed-race guys. My roots are German, but I'm not particularly my type. Circumcised is nice, even desirable, though uncircumcised suggests a wild, uncurbed nature, definitely something I like. Dick size is unimportant; my sex drive is more holistic, responding to overall impressions men make, not isolated body parts.
Just as I do not fetishize abstracted body parts, a guy's total attractiveness offsets any physical drawbacks he may have: back hair, birthmarks, scars, acne, pallor, effeminacy, thinness. In fact, features like these that I once found disagreeable have become turn-ons (or at any rate no impediments to my being turned on) after a special relationship with somebody with one or more of these traits.
I like strong, silent types and cocky narcissists. Nothing in between will do, say, good-old-boy business types with flashy smiles and false aw-shucks modesty, not really my style at all. It's important to me that strength (of body and character) underlies a personality that's retiring by nature. More typically, I'm attracted to arrogance, so long as the man has something (anything: beauty, muscle, brains, talent) to back it up.
I like military guys, rebels, guys who like wrestling and mixed martial arts; maybe being an Aries (after the Greek god of war) cosmically predisposes me towards men with a warrior spirit. More generally, though, I'm drawn to guys who feel a passion for doing something, almost anything, spelunking to writing sonnets; it doesn't matter what, as long as it involves really doing something.
I am generally not drawn to guys who like to shop or watch a lot of TV. I don't care for passive, wishy-washy people, not even on a social level, much less a romantic one. However, highly ambitious, obsessed, and competitive men are less appealing to me than men exuding an easy, assured virility that doesn't involve trying too hard.
I like guys who laugh without inhibitions, guys who don't wait to see how others respond before reacting. They don't have to be comedians, but they do need a sense of fun, the more rambunctious and mischievous, the better. I like guys who are politically idealistic, without being actually political. I used to say I could never fuck a committed conservative. That's probably still true, but I realize now that I can take only so much of committed liberals as well.
I'm not usually attracted to eighteen year olds, so I have no problem, as a college teacher, drawing a clear line in my personal relationships with students. Since the age of thirteen or fourteen I have preferred men in their thirties, perhaps because of early crushes on Sean Connery and Robert Conrad, who were in their thirties in the 1960s, right when my sexual nature was beginning to assert itself.
When I got into my thirties, it was easier for me to bed men in my preferred age group. Now that I'm in my fifties, though, I'm back in the wistful mode of my teen years, again yearning for the ideal 33 year old, Jesus and Alexander the Great when they died and my father when I was born. (By contrast, my friend Dave, about my age, has always been attracted to men a few years older than he is and is now happily in love with a man in his mid-sixties.)
As a mature adult, I can now see that my father, particularly the youthful image of him I saw in old photographs (he was exquisitely handsome in his twenties) was probably the first imprint on my sexual nature. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that my mother had a paralyzed right arm and was unable to hold me as a baby, so when my father (an Air Force man and a classic American man's man) returned home in his oily-smelling fatigues, it was he who held me in two hands upon his knees.
I see myself as a Kinsey 6, 100% homo, but in principle I think Freud was right in thinking that everybody is bisexual and, in early childhood, polymorphously perverse, i.e. able to find erotic pleasure in anything and everything, a sexuality not even limited to genitalia or secondary sexual features like tits and Adam's apples.
Experience conditioned me to like some people and things more than others, and some people and things not at all. I learned the parts of the body I was supposed to find attractive and the parts I was supposed to be ashamed of or even repulsed by. The conditioning comes from ideas and standards I was exposed to through family, peers, and the media, as well as my life experiences, erotic and affectionate. I am drawn to people who resemble past loves in some ways and turned off by those who resemble people who caused me to think less of myself.
Ideally, I would have no "type" at all. I would prefer to be unlimited sexually, as polymorphously perverse as a baby. Open for anything, and open to anyone.
It does not seem impossible that I could one day fall in love with a woman. Unlikely, yes, but as long as I breathe I'm capable of change. This particular change is not one I'd look forward to, however. I don't dream of eventually becoming straight. Once I came to accept my attraction to men, I have never once craved the proverbial "pill" that would turn me straight ... or even bisexual, though I think bisexuals are the most in tune with nature and, as Woody Allen once noted, they have twice the options on a Friday night.