The gay world of Yvon Goulet

(It’s art, but about male bodies and often about mansex, so not for kids or the sexually modest.)

Original alert from Daniel MacKay on Facebook, about a work that’s far from X-rated (no sexual bits at all) but is nevertheless steeped in a ritual of mansex, t-room cruising, in this case at the urinals:

(#1) Montreal artist Yvon Goulet publishes one of his paintings every day. Most are painted on re-used corrugated plastic — real-estate sign material. Most are homoerotic, and I love them all. This is one of my favourites; my title for it is, “Big man, big cock; small man, ALL cock”

Goulet’s work is simultaneously earthy and stylish, painted with great attention to textures, colors, and the formal arrangements of bodies. Some of his paintings show single figures, displaying themselves, as here:

(#2) Homme avec une arme (arme ‘weapon, gun’)

Some show male couples engaged with one another, as here:

(#3) Le baiser ‘The kiss’

An enormous number are what I’ll call genital triptychs: three-part paintings with a central figure flanked on either side by figures that are either near-duplicates or (more often) near-mirror images, as in #1. A genital triptych is a symbolic transformation of the male genitals, with the penis as central figure, flanked by the testicles. The male genital triad can be symbolized entirely abstractly, in several ways:

(#4) A male triad symbol

(#5) Another male triad symbol

Or another three-part symbol can serve:

(#6) The Fleur De Lis as sexual symbol

Or actual bodies can fill the roles of the three parts, as in Goulet’s artistic practice. In which case the flanking figures are essentially interchangeable, just as a man’s two testicles are. Here’s Goulet showing off one of his triptychs:


The gregarious Goulet paints the social world of the Gay Village (note the cafe table in the photo) as well as scenes from the secret worlds of (real or fantasy) mansex. Two leather triptychs:



Back to guys in suits getting sex on the sly: Heure du lunch, 2006:

(#10) Two men engaged in competitive seduction

The interaction is between two men, represented here as involving three figures (with the testicle figure duplicated). The title is a little joke. First, we are to suppose that these are businessmen using their lunch break for surreptitious mansex. Then, what they’re doing is stroking their dicks, flagrantly offering them for the other to suck, until one of them submits, “loses” the competition by going down on his knees and eating cock. Dick for lunch.

I put loses in quotation marks because the cocksucker submits to his partner as the dominant, “better”, man, while simultaneously gaining the physical and emotional satisfactions of taking the other man’s cock into his body, celebrating that cock and the essence of masculinity it represents.

Compositions like #10 and those above aren’t X-rated — because they’re not over the depiction-of genitals or the anus line — but of course they shimmer with mansex. Goulet does sometimes go all out for hard dicks, and those paintings would have to go on AZBlogX rather than this one. In fact, yesterday I posted two X-rated homoerotic paintings of his on AZBlogX, in the posting “Yvon Goulet X”.

#2 there is a single-figure painting, a full frontal display, centered on a quite substantial hard dick (with a background of biker guys).

#1 is a two-figure painting — T-Room queens (2014) —  showing competitive seduction in progress. The men are standing, more or less back to back, at urinals in a public men’s room (a t-room, since it’s being used for sexual connection). Each man is jacking off his hard dick, offering it as bait to the other. (Eventually, one man will turn to the side, take the other man’s cock in his hand, and then go down on him. Well, they might shift into mutual sex; it does happen.)

[Digression on the N + N compound t-room queen ‘man who cruises public restrooms for sex with men’.  It’s notably non-subsective: t-room queens are not in general (effeminate) queens, but just enthusiasts for t-room mansex.

From my 12/19/15 posting “X queen”, about various snowclonelets of this form:

Now we come to uses of X queen not covered in NOAD2’s entry for queen, conveying ‘inclination’ or ‘enthusiasm’; these provide an obvious pathway to the gay preference uses [naming a gay man’s preference in sexual partners].

The first of these is drama queen, used originally for women, then also for gay men (seen as men resembling women), and then also for men in general. NOAD2’s entry for the compound, which is gender-neutral:

informal   a person who habitually responds to situations in a melodramatic way

Other X queen examples have started on this route: for instance, lipstick queen for a woman with a passionate interest in lipsticks. For some, the ‘enthusiast’ use has extended to take in gay men as well as women:

[sports] ‘fan’ or ‘enthusiastic participant’: baseball queen, soccer queen,…

[food] ‘enthusiast’: sushi queen, sashimi queen, wasabi queen, soy queen, tamale queen,…

(I have gay friends who are baseball queens in the ‘fan sense’, and some who are rugby queens in the ‘enthusiastic participant’ sense, and I am myself something of a sushi queen.)

Some of these may have picked up uses for straight men as well as gay men.

In many cases, gay-enthusiast X queen examples seem to have developed directly:

[another open-ended list] gossip queen, theatre/theater queen, movie queen, show queen, opera queen, ballet queen, circuit queen [circuit parties], crystal [meth] queen, scream queen [horror movies], label queen [clothing labels], underwear queen,…

(I suppose I could be labeled a (gay)porn queen.)

Specifically on tearoom queen, from GDoS:

noun tearoom queen (also tearoom cruiser, T-room queen) (US gay) a homosexual who hangs around public lavatories for sex [1st cite 1964 Lavender LexiconAmerican Speech 1970  “the most popular compound involves some nouns plus queen […] size queen, rim queen, tearoom queen”]

End of digression.]

And on Yvon Goulet, the artist’s bio:

Since 1986, Yvon Goulet has shown in many countries, including Canada, France, South Korea, Bulgaria, Austria, Japan, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Spain. Goulet paints on polyester panels used in Quebec during election campaigns. He uses the text of the political posters on which he paints as integral parts of his work. Goulet calls himself an “urban folklorist”. He finds his inspiration in Montreal’s Gay Village and illustrates the cultural events and festivities of the gay community. He presents daily reality and features the male body. In his works, he represents the symbols, the uniforms and fantasies which are specific to the gay culture. In so doing, he takes situations and imagery reserved for the few and makes them accessible to all.

Yvon Goulet describes himself as a “Fag Artist.” In using that label, Goulet refers to both himself and his subject. Goulet’s gaiscapes, for example, are raw depictions of Quebec highways and rest areas. From portraits of men he finds online to a series of young men lounging shirtless snorting lines of coke, this work documents and celebrates an unassimilated and liberated gay life not found in mainstream culture. This exhibition is a powerful collection of work by a significant Canadian artist.


2 Responses to “The gay world of Yvon Goulet”

  1. Yvon Goulet Says:

    I find this very interesting. I never gave a thought about my choice of triptych and I find this phallic idea very interesting indeed, thanks for the interest.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      Most of making art is below the level of conscious intention — the artist, poet, musician, whatever goes with what “feels right” to them, without reflection on how it might be structured or what it might be conveying to an audience. Some effects are calculated, of course, but a lot springs up. In my own poetry, fiction, and collages, I set out to do some things and craft some effects with care. But afterwards, looking analytically at what I’ve done, and talking to other artists and to recipients of my work, I discover a lot of stuff I never thought might be there. So with you.

      Delighted you got to read my appreciation of your work and my bits of analysis.

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