Category Archives: RULES

WHY YOU SHOULD LEARN TO EMBRACE REJECTION

I recently had a revelation about rejection while I was on the dance-floor in a random gay club in Boston. It was a Thursday evening in July and I was in the club alone. My friends were coming in from New York later that night and I had just enjoyed a dinner for one in a nearby restaurant frequented by Boston’s local gay community. After a couple of beers, a nice buzz settled over me and I was not in the mood to return to my hotel, so I did what I sometimes do when I’m feeling super confident (read tipsy) – I went out alone. Going to a gay club (or anywhere for that matter) by one’s self can be both daunting and empowering. It’s a lot easier when on holiday in a new city as you are unlikely to return anytime soon and thus need not worry about developing a reputation for being that guy who goes clubbing by himself (although there is nothing wrong with that either!).

I casually strolled past the door of the club a couple of times, conducting a ‘drive-by’ to try get a sense of what the place was like before committing to entering. ‘Just walk in and you can always walk out if you’re uncomfortable’, I said to myself, building up the confidence to actually go through with the act. Finally, I entered the unknown and was greeted by a sea of gay Bostonian boys. Another beer later and I was feeling even more confident and very pleased with myself at having the balls to go out alone. I tried to make eyes with the locals (eye contact – a dying approach to picking up in the world of gay dating apps) but received very little feedback. I began to feel a little despondent and conscious of the fact that I was dancing on my own (Robyn reference).

That’s when I realised that rejection is actually a wonderful thing.

To be honest, I hadn’t actually put myself too far out there to be rejected but I had been overlooked which at the time felt like the same thing. Nonetheless, I came to understand that rejection is actually a blessing in disguise. The way I see it is that with each rejection you’re one step closer to meeting the right person, whether that be the right person for the evening or the right person for life. It’s like a game of odds. The more chances you take, the more likely you are to win.  You’re also bettering your game-playing skills with each chance taken.  Let’s get mathematical for a minute to demonstrate my point further. Imagine that your Mr. Right is one guy in a group of 100. The chance of finding him on the first try is 1%. Those odds are pretty low but as you approach more guys and eliminate those that rejected you from the group, your chances get higher. Ultimately, you’ll find your man even if it means having to deal with 99 rejections along the way.

Now, I know that life is not a neat mathematical equation and I’ve probably over-simplified the problem but, in my experience, you do have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince (I’m still looking for mine and my lips are chapped but I’m hopeful!). The way I justify disappointment in love or picking-up in a gay club is through reframing the experience and seeing each rejection as a step closer to success. This is the same approach I try take in all areas of my life. Whether it be a career disappointment or missing out on renting what I thought was my dream apartment or waking up too late and forgetting to book tickets to see Britney Spears, I’ve noticed that something better is always just around the corner.

So instead of seeing rejection as negative or allowing your ego to sabotage the experience to reaffirm your feelings of unworthiness, change your thinking and learn to springboard off rejection, using it as a tool of empowerment. You must also never forget that in the end you want to be with someone who wants to be with you just as much as you want to be with them. If someone isn’t interested in you, there’s nothing you can do to change that so you shouldn’t exert emotion or effort trying to make them feel otherwise.

Image by Vladimir Snezhin

Now read this – 57 THINGS I’VE LEARNT ABOUT BEING GAY IN MY 20s

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STOP MAKING BEING GAY ONLY ABOUT SEX

It has taken me a long time to reconcile my feelings towards sex within a culture that overemphasises its importance. Let me preface this article by saying that I love sex and I encourage everyone to have a healthy and enjoyable sex life; my argument is that we need to redefine the importance of sex in modern gay culture. On one hand, I’ve learnt from my environment that being a gay man allows you the freedom to have as much sex as you want but on the other hand, I’ve experienced first-hand how over-sexualisation within gay culture creates anxiety, self-esteem issues and complications with holding down a steady relationship.

Our gay culture is a result of our tumultuous past, a past in which gay sex was overwhelmingly associated with shame, hate and fear. Being gay was seen as a sexual perversion, not as a personal identity. The majority of closeted men had no means by which to express their identity other than through seeking sexual relations with other closeted men. As such the act of sex become intrinsically linked to one’s sexual identity. Until recent history it was unacceptable and more often, illegal, to have a relationship with someone of the same sex so the only outlet for gay men to express themselves was in the bedroom (or any other discrete place). Sex was the means by which one could act on their sexual identity and hence it became one and the same.

As laws changed and society’s acceptance of homosexuality spread, sex was brought outside of the bedroom and into the mainstream. It was used as a rebellious articulation of gay life, a big F U to all those who were already disgusted with the gay ‘lifestyle’. Gay sex even became political. The issue that we now face is that the importance of sex hasn’t evolved. Our modern gay society is at a crossroads, a tension point where we need to take a look at how sex plays into our identities and the importance we place on it within our gay culture. This is so timely as at this very moment people are waking up to the fact that the gender of the person you sleep with need not define your identity. Why then is sex still such a focal point of gay culture?

We’re fed messages of sex through gay media, social media, on posters for parties, in nightclubs and on television. We feel pressured to be having regular, hot sex with many men because as a gay man it’s apparently our privilege. Yet so many of us still feel lonely, disconnected and unable to maintain relationships. I believe that this Grindr culture, built on sexual ‘freedom’ is nothing but an outdated expression of our identity.

The purest form of our confusion around sex can be seen on social media. The most popular InstaGays are the ones who show the most skin or post pictures of themselves with their legs open, asses out, in provocative positions. We support this behaviour by showering them with likes and follows and mimic what they do in the hope that it will be reciprocated. Sex sells, and my God us gays are buying it! It becomes an endless cycle which we cannot escape and social media is making it worse. It upsets me when gay guys on Instagram who I admire for using their social influence for good post shirtless pictures with the hashtag ‘thirstythursdays’. Why does everything have to be reduced to sex? Then again, I’m a hypocrite because I do the exact same thing. The most liked picture that I’ve ever posted on Instagram is one of me shirtless in skimpy shorts. I know that these pictures are going to provoke a response and when I’m feeling in need of attention, I post them. My desire to be wanted sexually, mixed with my need for validation contributes to the cycle.

My personal behaviour and our culture’s obsession with sex has a ripple effect that runs deep – it impacts our self-esteem. In order to be having all the sex we should be having we need to look like people who other people want to have sex with. We strive to look like porn stars, muscled, young and hot and if we don’t, we feel unworthy. Personally, this is something that I’ve struggled with since my teenage years. I’ve spent years trying to unpick the stories I used to tell myself that linked my self-worth to my outward appearance and my attractiveness to other gay men. When I was younger I’d put off dating guys until I felt that my body was ‘good enough’ or I’d get drunk before having sex to mask my insecurities around being naked. I would go to big gay parties and nightclubs and feel anxious because I knew everyone there would be shirtless and that I wouldn’t feel confident enough to take my shirt off. Everywhere I looked, all I saw was sex.

I want to reiterate the point that I do love sex and one of the most fun things about being a gay man is being able to sleep with other men (you should try it…). What I do worry about though is that our approach to sex needs redefining because its importance in our culture is causing loneliness, anxiety and inner personal struggle. I for one have experienced all of these things. Emotionally, I feel that I want to settle down and be happily married yet I find myself behaving in quite the opposite way. I say that I want a boyfriend but I’ll just as readily have casual sex. I see this tension on Grindr when a young gay guy writes in his profile that he’s looking for something serious yet three minutes into the conversation he’s already sent or requested dick pics.

While I’m not advocating that we all stop having sex, I question whether or not we’ve unconsciously inherited a culture that places too much emphasis on the act of sex itself. I’m also concerned that earlier definitions of homosexuality as a mental illness and our own personal shame have caused an unnecessary and unhealthy emphasis to be placed on sex.

It’s not just the way we show ourselves that continues over-sexualisation of everything in gay culture; the way we profile gay celebrities and the way that straight people show their support for equality is rooted in sex. They’ll be topless on the cover of a gay magazine or raising money to fight homophobia in a naked calendar or dancing semi-nude with their sports team in the name of pride. We take someone who is a positive role model, strip them down and sexualise them, which only demeans their message and perpetuates the notion that in the end, it’s only about sex.

Gay Pride Parades are another example of how we overplay sex as a core tenant of our identities. Pride is no longer about protesting for equal rights with banners and chants but rather it’s about working out in the gym for 3-months prior to parade day to look sexy wearing nothing but a g-string. I’m all for homovisibility but when it comes to Pride Parades or Mardi Gras, I find it hard to identity with the majority of people who participate; my expression of my homosexuality isn’t linked to my body or to sex alone yet this is the overwhelming image portrayed during these festivities.

Ultimately the outdated belief that to be gay is just to have sex with men is the unsteady platform on which many opponents of marriage equality stand. They use the argument that gay marriage will lead to the legalisation of incest or bestiality. What they’ve not recognised is that both those things are only related to the act of sex and not to personal identity. A man who has sex with a dog is still likely to be a straight man. His sexual perversion is not a reflection of his personal identify, unless of course he identifies as a dog.

So what is the solution? I propose that we stop making being gay about sex alone and try to skew our focus towards other parts of our identities. Most of us reading this post are lucky enough to live in countries where we can express our personal identity in ways beyond sex. We must continue to celebrate our diversity, our richness of character and our multi-layered identities without reducing everything to sex.

Image by Erick Monterrosa for Homotography

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21 THINGS I WISH SOMEONE TOLD ME WHILE I WAS IN THE CLOSET

gay blog gay lifestyle gay bloggerThe closet is a very scary and lonely place for gay people. At a time when you need help the most, you are too afraid to reach out, for reaching out means admitting something that feels so shameful. Opening up to another person also places you in a terrifyingly vulnerable position. How will they react? What will they say?  Who will they tell?

For anyone still in the closet or for anyone who may want to support someone who has not yet come out, here is the list of 21 things that I wish someone had said to me while I was in the closet:

  1. You are loved
  2. There is nothing wrong with you
  3. You are normal
  4. This is not a phase
  5. This is not a punishment
  6. Your true friends will stay by your side and those that don’t were never your true friends
  7. Your family will love you no less
  8. Those who hate you are ignorant and scared
  9. There will come a time when your sexuality will not be your most defining characteristic
  10. You are destined for great things
  11. You will fall in love
  12. You’ll discover that the guy who bullied you was dealing with his own demons
  13. You are created in the image of God. God doesn’t make mistakes. God is perfect, therefore you are perfect
  14. You cannot pretend to be someone who you’re not – it’s exhausting
  15. You don’t have to conform to a stereotype
  16. You will find amazing inclusive communities where your sexuality is of little consequence
  17. You don’t have to be lonely
  18. You don’t have to be scared
  19. Everything is going to be ok
  20. A burden will be lifted off your shoulders once you accept yourself
  21. You will never regret coming out of the closet

Anything else you wish someone had said to you while in the closet? Leave it in the comments.

Image Credit: Exterface

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DO NOT MISTAKE FUN FOR HAPPINESS

Ours is the generation of YOLO, of reality tv and meaningless fame, of social media memories that disappear in seconds. Ours is the generation of ‘do it now cause you don’t know what tomorrow will bring’, of motivational quotes and avocado brunches, of altruistic ambitions announced under shirtless selfies. Ours is the generation of pleasure before perseverance, entitlement before effort and fun in place of happiness.

We’ve been sold the idea that our lives should be an endless stream of enriching experiences (at a cost) and that if we’re not having fun, then we’re not happy. When we look around at our peers we become anxious because it seems that everyone else is having a much better time than us. Fun then becomes social currency – we chase the good times to gather content to upload onto our feeds to make us the envy of others to gather likes to maintain our egoes which convinces us that we’re happy. More fun equals more happiness.  We’ve placed fun above all else because we think that fun equates to happiness. How wrong we are.

This is not a phenomenon reserved solely for gay men but it is an affliction that we own so well. We drink, take drugs, party hard and curate the best parts of our lives on Instagram. Big smiles, washboard abs, group shots of us and all our gay friends at Coachella, in Mykonos, at WE parties, at drag bingo, at drag brunch, watching Drag Race. Isn’t it fabulous? Isn’t it fun? Well of course it is but it shouldn’t be mistaken for happiness. When the music stops and the tan fades and the last contestant sashays away, how do you feel then? If your joy continues then you’re on the right track but if you’re waiting for the next party or the next holiday and those moments in between are filled with yearning, discontentment or doubt then something is wrong.

Fun is fleeting – it’s a short lived experience that is dependent on outside factors which are temporary. Happiness is dependent on nothing outside of itself. It’s rooted in feelings of love, joy and contentment. It’s the feeling of oneness with what is.

Now I don’t want to come across as the fun police nor do I want my ramblings to be misinterpreted as a call to avoid the good times. Life is meant to be enjoyable and we should embrace the special moments that punctuate the common. What I am suggesting is that we become more conscious of the motivation behind our actions. For so long I blindly pursued my hedonistic side, running around the world being wild and free with no care for consequences. I thought that I was being driven by a YOLO approach to life but what I’ve come to realise is that I had been seeking happiness and that I had confused it for fun. It didn’t matter which club I’d been in, who I had slept with or how crazy the experience had been, those moments did not sustain me for much longer after they passed.

Gay men have long been stereotyped as fun and fabulous; the go-to guys for straight girls who want to have a good time or a wild night out. Why is that? Are we such a hoot because we have more of a tendency to disguise our unhappiness with flamboyance? Do we have more fun because we need the distraction?

Don’t let me stop you from seeking pleasure – I encourage you to let the good times roll on. Have fun, be wild, be free but be conscious of your motivations. Know that life happens in between the Instagramable moments. Understand that instant gratification is not sustainable. Be aware that fun is temporary. Learn to find happiness in the mundane.

Image Credit: ‘Viva Las Vegas’ by Matthias Vriens McGrath

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THE JOY THAT COMES FROM GRATITUDE

luxury gay bloggerI have led a very blessed life. The places that I have been, the people that I have met and the privileges that I have been afforded have truly made me a fortunate person but until recently, they never made me happy.

Being surrounded by others who seemed to have so much more than me, skewed my understanding of how lucky I truly am. It’s not my fault though. We’re raised in a society that encourages us to keep wanting more and in doing so never allows us a moment to reflect on what we already have. By focusing on the wonderful things in our lives though and giving thanks for having received them, we transition from a state of lack to a state of plenty. Gratitude is the instigator of this immense change.

You don’t need to be rich or famous or popular or successful to practice gratitude nor do you need to be religious. The simple act of opening your eyes in the morning and being able to move out of bed is something for which we can be grateful. Even biting into a fresh piece of fruit or living in a safe country are occasions for giving thanks. When you reflect on all the small things that you have in your life you realise that there is so much for which you can be appreciative.

Instead of focusing on the lives of others and things that they have, look into your own life and give daily thanks for even the simplest things. Joy is a bi-product of gratitude and gratitude is the anecdote for dissatisfaction.

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A DIFFERENT APPROACH TO SATURDAY NIGHT

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Happy Saturday night boys. Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, make sure you do it with joy, positive intentions and awareness. Whether you are heading out with your friends or staying home alone, Saturday night has the potential to be wonderfully fun or absolutely lonely. The power is in your hands.

Go forth into the night with only joyful intentions and give up all expectations. Without expectations or attachment to outcomes out of your control, you will never be disappointed. You may pick up a cute boy in a club, you may dance on top of tables, you may sit at home alone or you may unexpectedly be invited to the best party of your life, whatever the night brings allow it to bring it freely.

Wonderful things happen in the space created when we let go of expectations. Use this knowledge to bring you inner peace tonight and beyond.

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NOT EVERYONE IS GOING TO LIKE YOU

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Here’s an important lesson which will help you make friends, develop relationships and generally improve your self-confidence – not everyone is going to like you. In the same way that you are not attracted to everyone you meet, so too will others not be attracted to you. Do you waste your time chasing after friends who are not really interested in spending time with you or boys who don’t seem keen on you? Well then it’s time to change your behaviour.

I spent too much energy in my 20’s trying to make people like me and then worrying about why some people didn’t. It was so easy to dismiss those guys that were flirty but so hard to overcome the feelings of rejection when someone’s response too me was less than awestruck. Through experience I have realised that the pursuit of other people’s approval is redundant. We have no control over another guy’s feelings or tastes so there’s really no point in trying to convince them otherwise. Rather focus on those who like what you’re offering.

Why is it that we chase after guys who are mean to us or dismissive or aloof but fail to recognise those that are kind, open and attentive? For me, it was the need to validation. When someone showed the slightest interest in me then I felt validated. I would then move onto the next person. If the opposite was true then I would chase after that validation until I either received it through exerted efforts to change their opinion of me or I would feel despondent and unworthy of love if I was unable to change their viewpoint. I see this same behaviour in friends of mine who are exceptionally good looking. They thrive off the attention they receive around other gay men but if they don’t receive adequate enough attention or they are not received in a manner they have become accustomed too then they become agitated and anxious. Their sense of self worth is dependent on exterior factors.

The need for validation, sought through other people’s liking of you, puts you in a volatile position. In doing so you are placing your happiness and sense of self worth in other people’s hands. When you realise that not everyone is going to want you, and that it’s ok if they don’t, then you regain your power and the need for validation subsides. Not everyone is going to like vegemite or baked beans or avocado but this doesn’t make vegemite or baked beans or avocado any less attractive to those that do!

Image by Saverio Cardia 

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ONE TRICK TO TELL IF A GUY IS INTO YOU

cute gay boy

There’s a surefire way to test whether a guy is firstly gay and secondly whether or not he’s into you. In today’s video, I recount an episode on the tube which taught me a valuable lesson about meeting gay guys and left me pining over the one that got away.

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THE BOOK THAT CHANGED MY LIFE

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I remember the day so vividly. With plenty of time on my hands due to a mid-semester university break I found myself wandering along the main street of my neighbourhood. It was an unseasonably hot winter’s day and I was enjoying my outdoor meander when something compelled me to enter a bookstore that I had so often passed and yet had never really noticed. As I entered what could only be described as a typically normal looking bookstore with no defining character yet abundance of charm, a book caught my attention. Turquoise and yellow in colour, the cover was simple which made the title sing out louder – The Power of Now.  I walked over to the shelf and picked up the book from its wooden altar. When I turned it over and read the description on the back I was instantly enthralled. With book in hand I returned home and began the most perception shifting lesson of my life. My mortal words cannot rightly describe the premise of the book which was written by Eckhart Tolle, a man who had not scribed anything of note prior to this book. Tolle will attest to the fact that the source of his inspiration was from something higher than himself.

In simplest terms though, the main teaching is that you are not the voice inside of your head but the awareness behind that voice. Although this may sound a bit airy fairy to the average reader, I wholeheartedly encourage you to read The Power of Now for yourself. Without a doubt this book is the impetus for my journey of self awareness and curiosity of self improvement. It took me no more than one day to read from cover to cover and I can so clearly recall the ‘uh huh moment’ (as Oprah often describes them) when everything clicked. It was as if for the first time in my 23 years I could see the world for the magical place that it honestly is; everything seemed so bright and illuminated and my body felt intoxicated by life itself.

I’m going to end my post here before my enthusiasm puts you off and you discount me for a total madman. Before you go though, I would like to share a very special quote with you. Taken from chapter 8, this quote is my personal mantra, the lesson that I try so hard to practice daily and I do hope that it may help you too.

True salvation is fulfilment, peace, life in all its fullness. It is to be who you are, to feel within you the good that has no opposite, the joy of being that depends on nothing outside of itself.

–  Eckhart Tolle

Follow this link to read more about the The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

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GAY CLUBS ARE A REFLECTION OF YOU

A crowd in a gay club

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with gay clubs over the years but in this short video I discuss how they are actually a reflection of your state of mind and I offer some advice on what you can do to improve your gay clubbing experience.

Watch below or click here.

 

 

 

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