The entrance to Room 312 in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center on 13th Street is up a discreet set of stairs off the second floor, which was just as well for the men attending last Monday’s meeting, “What Is Small Anyway?” “We’ve been throwing around other names,” says John Miller, a stocky man with a therapeutic manner. “People have suggested firecracker or sparkplug as words with positive connotations.” The fifteen men gathered in a wide circle are drawn by the promise of “a space where men can talk about small penises.” Sitting at the far end of the loftlike room is an Australian who wants to discuss self-esteem and a postal worker in full uniform clutching a package as though still in mid-delivery. A bald man in large glasses and a pinstriped jacket declares that his small penis has held him back as a designer. “I don’t use my power like I should,” he worries out loud. “I feel like less of a man. But it feels good that there’s a place to address these issues.”
“Don’t call them issues,” someone shouts crossly from across the room before adding, “People throw out the small fish. I throw back the big fish!”
“Look,” says another man, in a bright-yellow shirt, “the Greeks found big dicks offensive. But not the Romans—it couldn’t be big enough for the Romans.”
Everyone admits to being small, with qualifications. One man is simply a grower, not a shower; an actor will never do a nude scene—which he says is odd because “I’m not that small.” Has anyone ever been unable to perform in the presence of a larger man? asks Yellow Shirt. If they have, they aren’t saying.
“What Is Small Anyway?” fails to address the Australian’s problems, which he insists stem from childhood: “I go to parties and I feel immediately invisible. And it’s hard because I like men who are half my age and very attractive.”
This session is the first of several monthly classes running through the fall; the next one will deal with shame. And though the talk is reassuring, Miller’s informational handout is anything but. Various sources, from Kinsey to sizesurvey.com, weigh in on average length and girth, and there’s a whiff of cross-promotion in a mail order for custom-fit condoms. Also here to peddle his Website is the founder of measurection.com, which claims more than 10,000 members. “The photo gallery,” he offers brightly, “is very popular.”