Category Archives: RULES

MODERN GAY CHALLENGE: 31 POSTS IN 31 DAYS

GAY VIDEO BLOG

Something momentous is happening on November 7th and to mark the occasion I will be posting 31 videos over 31 days. Nothing is off limits as I discuss everything related to modern gay life from sex, drugs, parties, boys and self esteem.

 

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SEX WITH A STRAIGHT GUY (PART 1)

gay sex straight boy

Based on a true story.

The summer of 2005 was the most sexually exciting summer of my life. There was a feeling of freedom, of fun and of possibility. It felt as though I had finally found my niche. After years of coming to terms with my sexuality I had finally uncovered a world of nightclubs and friends that were embracing of people of my kind.  It was a summer of music festivals and boys and sweaty underground parties named Bang Gang, Starfuckers, Gay Bash and Healthclub. It was a summer of dance floors filled with fags and poofters and hags and drag queens and inquisitive straight boys whose sexuality was as questionable as the drugs they put in their bodies. There was a youthfulness in the air and the atmosphere was electrified by music aptly called electro. The summer was bright, not only because the sun seemed to set late and the disco lights shone for hours but fluorescent fashion was coming into vogue. Every Saturday was punctuated by a new purchase of fluro clothing which we paired with extremely short denim short or an oversized singlet cut so deep in the neck and underarms that it looked as if someone had tried to rip it off your body.

My days were spent lazing by my pool, which because of its proximity to the beach, became the central meeting point for all my friends after hours spent on the sand. We would watch the summer afternoons roll into nights from the prime position of deck chairs, strategically placed to catch every last ray of light. The Australian sun is famously harsh but staying cool was easy with the aid of bitterly icy beers and frequent dips in our own personal backyard lagoon.

I moved around that summer with a wildly fun group of friends. We were a mix of different backgrounds; an American girl named Tessa who was studying abroad, a private school boy named Rich, his best friend and keen surfer, Dave and another boy James who at the time was the love of my life. James and I were the only gay guys in our tight club of five and although we constantly hooked up, it was an enduring summer of unrequited love (on my part). James was so different to me. He had been out of the closet since 15 and was so at ease with his sexuality. I on the other hand had just come out to my friends and was still unsure of myself. James was an only child who lived with his mum in an apartment while I had a sister and lived with my parents in home that was on the other side of modest in size. He had graduated from a public school that was accepting of gay students whereas I had spent my entire education at a conservative private school that avoided recognising the issue. Even geographically we lived on opposite sides of the Eastern Suburbs train line.

Physically we were very different too. He was smaller than me in both frame and height, with long chocolate brown hair that fell across his face and a chiseled jaw line that seemed to be carved from stone. His skin was golden which he was lucky enough to have inherited from his Italian grandparents and covered in the perfect amount of dark hair. He was the most beautiful boy I had ever seen. I was 6’3, fair, hairy and broad.

We met at university after I had spent the first semester pining over him from a distance. I can’t recall the details of how our paths crossed but I think that the now defunct social media site Myspace may have had something to do with it. By the end of the summer I considered him one of my closest friends, particularly after I realised that he would never love me like I did him. I don’t think the other members of our clan knew how strongly I felt for James nor was it important. What was important though was that each day was filled with pursuits of pleasure which often extended to pleasure of a sexual kind. As a group of two straight guys, two gay guys and a girl we certainly found ourselves in interesting sexual situations, the details of which need not be relived again. There was one incident though that was a turning point for our group and, from which I have learnt a life lesson that fundamentally changed my perception of sex and friendship.

It was two months into the summer, at the point in the year where the temperature is at its peak and the days their longest when the lines between friendship and lovers became blurred. The closer that we became as group of friends, the further the boundaries of sexual identity were pushed until one sexually charged evening changed everything indefinitely….

(Part two coming soon)

Image by Sebastian Faena 

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MY GREATEST FEAR HAS ME CRIPPLED

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It’s been so long since my last post. 92 days to be exact and the longest time since I first started this site. While I wish I could blame it on writer’s block, this is certainly not the case – I’ve had so much that I’ve wanted to share with you. On the surface I blame my job for my lack of writing as it consumes so much of my time and energy but this isn’t the cause either. What I’ve come to realise is much deeper than effort or inspiration, it is something that has affected me throughout my life and permeates all facets of my being. What I’m referring to is vulnerability and the repercussions of not giving into it.

Vulnerability is the ability to put yourself out there, wholeheartedly, in the scary big world, for all to see, and without control of the outcome. It’s the strength to forfeit expectations and honestly live in the moment. I’m certainly not the first to discuss this topic, researcher Brené Brown does a far more eloquent job at explaining the concept in this widely watched Ted Talk, but this is the first time that I’ve realised how debilitating the fear of vulnerability can be.

But first, how does this impact on writing? Well, my writing can almost be seen as a metaphor for my life. When I write I ruminate over every word and every sentence, making sure the end product is perfect. If I don’t think that the final product is perfect, particularly in the eyes of others, then I won’t push publish on WordPress. If only you could see the unfinished posts that are sitting in my drafts. This translates into the real world too. I can’t start a project or move towards a goal until I know that everything is in faultless alignment. Such obsession with perfection is evident in my personality traits whereby I do my best to portray the well put together image of someone who has their life together, who is successful, confident, unfazed by other’s opinions and certain of his future. How far from the truth the reality. Like a vicious circle this in turn influences my writing because a post about how I’m afraid of vulnerability will shatter the illusion that I’ve worked so hard to create. Herein lies the power of this particular article.

I work in the communications industry, a profession where my day-to-day task is to control ‘messages’ that brands want their customers to receive. I’m great at my job and skilled at creating the right perception for my clients amongst the public, probably because I’m so good at doing it for myself. Using these same skills, I have crafted a life that avoids vulnerability at all costs. I’ll dismiss people before I’ve had a chance to properly meet them to avoid them doing the same to me first. I’ll do the same to guys I find attractive. I’ll create stories about how I shouldn’t approach them because they’re probably stupid or an asshole and I’m better than that anyway when in actuality it’s fear of rejection which in turn is avoidance of vulnerability. I’l be loud and boisterous amongst people who I don’t find intimidating but when I’m in a crowd of people I deem ‘superior’ in popularity or status I’ll purposely ostracise myself. As I’ve become more aware of this concept of vulnerability I’ve also become more aware of how it affects others, particularly gay guys. Have you ever noticed how some gay men love to tear each other down? How they’ll look at someone else’s success or someone else’s relationship and pick at all the flaws? “Oh he makes a lot of money but I bet his boyfriend is cheating on him”. Why do we do this? Because we’re jealous and too afraid to admit that we feel less successful in comparison or worse, that we fee we are not worthy of being loved.

This particular post is a personal first step towards vulnerability, a step closer to honesty and wholehearted living. I want to share more with you, dear reader, in the hope that we can overcome our shame together. You see, shame is a component of vulnerability. Avoiding vulnerability is a protective mechanism against exposing one’s shame. If I’m not open then you can’t see the darkness inside of me. Both Brown and Alan Downs, author of The Velvet Rage have explored this concept of shame. Downs looks at shame particularly in the gay context and how it affects ours lives. Personally I think you need not even open a book to understand the by-product of shame in the gay community. In my opinion, many mainstream gay mega parties are a perfect example of shame avoidance. These gatherings are a coming together of men who are hiding from their shame (either consciously or subconsciously). They mask their vulnerability behind hard bodies of muscle and supress their emotions through excessive drug taking and sex. In my eyes, the act of taking off of one’s shirt in this environment or similarly in a gay club is an overt expression of vulnerability avoidance. The act says, ‘don’t try know me for me but judge me only on what you can see of me on the surface’. Of course I am generalising and I’m sure I’ll be accused of stereotyping or internalised homophobia but I only offer these observations and musings as my own opinion. Whether or not you agree with me or Downs or Brown is not the point, the point is that we are open enough with ourselves and each other to discuss our shortcomings. That is what vulnerability is truly about.

I hope that I can continue to write stories and post articles that you find thought provoking. Perhaps some will be inspiring, while others purely entertaining. You may agree with what I say or my words may have no resonance. Either way my intention is to be more open so that you and I can share strength and embrace vulnerability together.

Image by Giuseppe Attanasio 

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RULE 26: STOP WAITING TO BE PERFECT

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Match.com has launched the 2015 campaign ‘#loveyourimperfections’, encouraging us all to embrace the things that make us unique. I have contributed to the campaign with this post which is a challenge to all those who read it to stop waiting to be perfect before you feel like you’re worthy of love. After all it’s our mistakes, misbehaviours, quirks, habits and our little obsessions that make us who we are.

If you are waiting to lose weight before you are ready to find love then you will never find love. If you are waiting to have the perfect six-pack before you are ready to find love then you will never find love. If you are waiting for anything about you to change before you are ready to find love then you will never find love. If you are waiting to be perfect then you will never find love.

I used to think that I would be ready for love and a relationship only once I had controlled all the external elements of my being, that only when my body, job and social life were in ideal alignment then would I find the perfect guy. The fact is that my life will never be perfect and neither will yours.

Stop waiting to be perfect to feel that you are worthy of love whether it be love from someone else or self-love. It’s exhausting to pursue perfection. Why? Because there is no measureable end goal. The finish line is always moving. How will you know when you’re perfect? The pursuit of perfection does not lead to happiness. It leads to dissatisfaction with the moment. Perfection does not exist and as such the pursuit of perfection is a pointless cause.

But who wants to be with a perfect partner anyway? Personally I don’t want to be with someone who wants me to be perfect, in fact, I want to be with someone who loves my imperfections. I want a man who will love me even when I’ve put on weight, when I haven’t gone to gym for three months, when I’m sick and when I’m feeling ugly. My future partner needs to understand that sometimes I shave and sometimes I don’t, that sometimes I trim my chest hair but most of the time I look like I’ve been stranded on a tropical island for months with only a Wilson volleyball as a companion. My future partner needs to understand that these external things do not define who I am and as such I don’t want a relationship that fluctuates depending on such things. The right person will love me for who I am always not who I am sometimes.

It’s our imperfections that actually make us the most beautiful. The Japanese have known this for centuries. Kintsugi, the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with lacquer resin mixed with powdered gold is based on highlighting imperfections as beautiful fragments of the overall story. As a philosophy it speaks to breakage and repair becoming part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. We should apply this same approach to mending the parts of us that we see as broken and imperfect.

My body is covered in scars and marks. I have a long scar on my knuckles from when I cut myself working in a cocktail bar, I have a scar on my chin from when I was dumped by a wave on family holiday and I have little stretch marks on my sides from when I went through a growth spurt in grade 8. All these blemishes represent moments in my life and instead of hiding them, I have chosen to embrace them as markers of memories.

Only once you have learnt to appreciate all the parts that make up who you are will you then be ready for love. In the end though, it’s not about being ready for someone else’s love but learning to love yourself.

Watch the campaign video here to see how the things that embarrass us about ourselves might actually be the things that others find endearing. 

Image by Willy Vanderperre

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MODERN GAY ROMANCE: DATE LIKE A STRAIGHT GIRL

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I have decided that dating like a gay boy has been quite unsuccessful thus far. In a bid to improve my romantic prospects, I’ve undertaken informal ethnographic research into a subgroup of the human species, a group that has long been committed to the procurement of suitable, long-term companions. Henceforth I have decided to date like a straight girl.

Straight girls, being a very goal-oriented species, know how to locate, persuade and secure a potential mate. As such there is much that we can learn from this mysterious group. First though, we must look at how straight girls and gay boys differ in order to broaden our understanding.

Straight girls feel the pressure of time in their late 20s. Gay boys feel like they’re 20 for the rest of time.

Women are well aware of aging and for those who want to have children, there comes a time in their 20s when they realize that their body clocks are ticking.  This pressure to find a partner and have children before it’s “too late” encourages single straight women to take stock of their lives, mentally mature and make any necessary changes to find a proper mate. Gay men on the other hand have no such pressure and therefore feel that time is limitless. As a result, we are never forced to really grow up and spend the rest of our lives acting like we’re still in our 20’s. Not having that moment in time to take stock of our lives means that we don’t stop and think what it is we are really looking for.

Straight girls are looking for men who can be daddies to their children. Gay boys act like children who are looking for sugar daddies.

Straight girls look for a partner that will be a suitable father to their children. They wonder if their man will be able to provide for his family in the future. Does he share the same values? Is he patient? Is he loving? Gay boys on the other hand are looking for guys who can provide for them in the moment. Does he turn me on? Is he hot? Is he good in bed? Personally, I would like to have children and hope to find a man that not only satisfies my needs now but who will also be a loving father in the future. I’ve realized that these kinds of men can’t be found amongst the headless torsos of Grindr.

Straight girls look for men with big ambition. Gay boys look for men with big…

Sexual chemistry is an important part of a relationship but it’s not the most important part. Many gay boys place too much importance on physical attraction, dating men with big biceps, big chests and big egos. After a while though the attraction wanes and the relationship fails. Then they repeat the cycle, finding a man of similar ilk and wonder why that relationship disappoints too. Long-term relationships are built on shared values, friendship, mutual understanding, love and patience and straight girls understand this. Straight girls look beyond the purely physical and are attracted to men with ambition, goals, intelligence, humor and other qualities that exceed the peripheral.

Straight girls look to build a home with their partner. Gay boys look for partners at clubs that play house music.

As a gay boy, there comes a time in your 20’s when you realize that gay clubs are all the same. Wherever you are in the world they tend to be filled with the same people (10 people you meet in gay clubs), play the same music and leave you with the same feelings at the end of the night.  Sure, they can be fun on the odd occasion but when you make clubbing the primary means by which to pick-up men, you are bound to be disappointed. Straight girls have realized that their future partner probably wont be found on a sweaty dance floor and those that have already found their significant other can attest that staying home is far more enjoyable than shooting tequila in a crowded club.

Straight girls know that promiscuity doesn’t lead to love. Gay boys think that being promiscuous will make them feel loved.

Many straight girls use their early 20’s and college years to experiment sexually so that by the time they are in their late 20’s they’re ready to settle down. They have learnt that one-night stands and drunken hook-ups don’t lead to long-term relationships; they lead to hangovers and heartbreak. It takes much longer for gay guys to realize that sexual intimacy doesn’t equate to love. Unfortunately for some guys that realization never comes. They find themselves in an endless loop of short sexual encounters, hoping that the next one will be the one that makes them feel loved.

As Albert Einstein said “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results”. If you’re looking for love and haven’t had much success in the past, then it’s time to rethink your approach. Straight girls certainly have the right idea, probably because they’ve had much more time to perfect the art of dating. Maybe it’s time then that you too dated like a straight girl?

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RULE 25: OBSESSING OVER YOUR BODY WONT MAKE YOU HAPPY

Gay Gym Vintage Workout

I am so tired of worrying about my body. I am tired of thinking how it looks to others, whether it’s toned enough, big enough, smooth enough. Whether my pecs are even, whether my ass is perky or whether or not you can see my six-pack. Come to think of it, I’m also tired of hearing about your body. I’m tired of seeing pictures of your meal preparation, updates about your weight gain or your weight loss, reflections of your rippling back in gym mirrors. I’m tired of your mini-essays about “achieving your goals” and “how far you’ve come in the last five years”. I’m tired of the gay obsession with body image.

This homo-focus on body image is not for me. While others are happy to count their calories and pre-cook their meals a week in advance, I would rather eat out at a nice restaurant, do Pilates, spend time with my mates at the pub or learn a new skill, like French or First Aid.

I’m not sure what it’s like within your gay community but where I live this body obsession seems to have reached a new level of absurdity. This is particularly evident in the lead up to events like Mardi Gras where guys will devote all their spare time and mental energy to a strict health regime in order to look good for one weekend three months in the future.  And for what? To get laid? So that they can be ogled at by other men while they dance shirtless? I wonder what happens after Mardi Gras when they’ve had plenty of sex but they’re still alone.

The pursuit of body perfection is a symptom of the gay sickness that is instant gratification. Sex is so readily available to gay men that they obsess over ways to look more attractive than their competition all in a bid to get laid. They go to extremes such as injecting illegal and harmful substances into their bodies in order to look bigger, hoping that when their body is perfect then they’ll finally be seen as attractive in the eyes of others. But working on your outer appearance will not lead to happiness. After all the sex, gay men, just like the rest of humanity want to be loved. The problem though is that you cannot create meaningful relationships while you’re only focused on the superficial.

Sustainable relationships are not built on sexual attraction only. There are much more important things that create longevity in a relationship. What happens if your partner becomes ill? What happens if they get cancer and their body withers away? What happens when you’re older and your body isn’t as toned as it once was? What happens to your relationship then? What happens when you stop taking steroids and you become fat? How long will your partner stick around then? When I’m 85 and I’m old and grey, sitting in a nursing home in adult diapers, I want to be next to my partner and I want to be able to laugh at the situation with him. Humor, love, respect, friendship – these are the things that last when the rest of you fades away. I want a man who is more than his body.

Recently I was at a gay venue with friends and as I looked around I noticed that everyone was starting to look the same. There were hundreds of men but they all looked like carbon cutouts of each other, albeit of varying heights. They were all similarly dressed and had obviously spent a substantial amount of time in the gym. Seeing these men made me realize how unfortunate it is that gay culture holds up one body type as the ideal and as a result everyone else feels obliged to meet that standard. Sure women have been suffering the same fate for centuries but at least there have been vocal opponents to the generalization of the female body image. Where are the vocal opponents to the gay male image? Young gay men trawl the Instagram profiles and Facebook pages of older gay men (many of whom are using steroids) and feel that this is what it means to be gay. When they can’t meet these unrealistic and unhealthy expectations they feel unattractive and isolated within their own community.

I don’t want to be part of a club that places body perfection above all else and nor would I want my future partner to be either. I value personality over biceps, witty banter over bulging quads, education over time spent in the gym and I hope to find someone who values similar things. Until then I’ll be eating carbohydrates, doing Pilates and drinking beers at the pub.

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RULE NO.24: FAKE SOCIAL MEDIA PROFILES WILL HAVE YOU FOOLED

Modern Gay Facebook Profile Marcello Alvarez

If you’ve befriended someone on social media who you think is too perfect to be real, you’re probably right. 

It was five hours before my 3,000 word university essay was due and with 2,500 words left to write, I did what any good student would do, I procrastinated. Somehow I had moved from ‘evaluating qualitative methods for marketing research’ to prowling Facebook. While jumping from profile to profile, I stumbled upon the page of a remarkably good looking Australian boy. His profile picture was typical of those used by many gay men –  he was in his speedos, showing off his perfect, tanned body, somewhere close to the beach. Right away I was enamoured by this beautiful specimen of a man whose sexy dark features were more South American than Australian.  The further I clicked through his pictures, the deeper I fell. With thousands of followers, hundreds of picture “likes” and countless complimentary status comments , it was clear that I was not the only one who had been fascinated by this stranger.

Although on face(book) value, his profile seemed legitimate, my intuition told me that something wasn’t right. There were two observations that made me feel uneasy.  Firstly, the friends featured in his pictures all seemed to be of South American appearance which was strange considering that his current location was set to the Gold Coast, an area of Australia known for its blonde haired and blue eyed residents. Secondly, in the background of one of his pictures I noticed a beach which looked very much like Copacabana in Rio.

Having been inspired by the MTV series Catfish, a show which exposes the real people behind fake online profiles, I decided to do my own investigating. I downloaded one of his profile pictures and just like in Catfish, I plugged the picture into a Google Image Search and waited. Immediately hundreds of results appeared. As you can imagine, the images I saw before me did not belong to the so-called Australian but to straight Brazilian model Marcello Alvarez. It was clear that the Facebook profile, with all of its status updates,  pictures and personal details was indeed fake.

Although the individual behind the fake profile may see his actions as harmless entertainment, I feel that this type of deceit is dangerous. Not only is it dangerous for the audience who becomes fascinated by the show of someone else’s life but it’s dangerous for the real person behind the fake profile. Living vicariously through an invented persona achieves nothing in the long run. All those “likes” do not belong to you. All that attention is not directed at you. Where do you hope this will take you? How will it all end now that you’re in so deep?

If Catfish is any indication of the type of people that create these profiles, then typically they all fit a similar mould. They are social recluses from lower socio-economic backgrounds who suffer from self-esteem issues and look nothing like their imagined online personas. Add the pressures faced by young gay men and you can understand why the internet is such an appealing place. The online world gives these types of people the opportunity to live out their fantasies and escape from their real lives.

I always preach the benefits of being true to yourself, so this type of betrayal worries me greatly. However, instead of being enraged by those who abuse Facebook and other social media platforms, we should empathise with them and try understand the reasons behind their actions. Such extreme behaviour and ongoing trickery is a sign of something much deeper than the need for attention.  While I do not condone lying, playing with people’s emotions or eliciting attention through false means, I understand that sometimes the world can be a harsh place from where we need to escape.

Image Credit: Model Florian Van Bael photographed by Philippe Vogelenzang

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RULE NO. 23: YOUR PARENTS DID THE BEST THEY COULD

Bernard Fouquet Modern Gay

When I was 14 my dad took me on a father and son snowboarding trip. The drive from my home to the mountains was over 7 hours and during that time our conversations touched on various topics. I had always had a great relationship with my parents and talked openly with my dad about sex, his sexual experiences and girls. We had never spoken about homosexuality; until that point I hadn’t considered that I might be gay. A few months before my 14th birthday I had started thinking about boys and an older kid at my school had asked me if I was gay. Not knowing what any of this really meant I decided to broach the topic with my dad during our extended car trip. I loved asking my dad questions about sex and dating and being a reformed playboy, he had a lot of tantalising stories to share.

“Dad, how do I know if I’m gay?” I curiously asked. Taken aback, he answered with a very involved and convoluted explanation, using analogies and metaphors that were somewhat confusing for a 14 year old to decipher. He finished his explanation with the statement “although I’ll be disappointed if you’re gay, I will always love and support you”.

I realised two things from our conversation 1. by my fathers explanation and reasoning, I was definitely not gay and 2. that if I ever was to be gay then I would be a disappointment to my father. The latter realisation was particularly troubling as I had always been taught that family was the most important thing and therefore disappointing the family was for me, an unimaginable act of disrespect.

Looking back on that formative conversation I’ve realised that my father was simply handling the situation in the best manner that he knew how. While his explanation would have been understood much better had he just said that being gay meant that a boy liked a boy in the same way that other boys likes girls, he was obviously trying to protect to me.

Although I’m fortunate to have parents who now support and love me regardless of my sexuality, I understand that other people have had much more trying experiences with their families. Whether your parents have dealt well with your coming out or have responded negatively, it’s important to understand that their response is based on their own experiences and their own capability to deal with the situation. Their opinions and values may be based on religious or cultural beliefs or they may not understand what it means to be gay. Whatever their response, one must realise that we cannot change the perspectives of others. What we can do is try empathise with them and see things from their perspective in the hope that they will learn to empathise with us too.

The thought of disappointing  my parents prevented me from coming out to them for much longer than I would have anticipated. When I realised what that disappointment actually meant, I found the confidence to finally tell them. They weren’t disappointed in me as a person, they were disappointed that the life that they had imagined for me wasn’t going to be, and that was OK. They were entitled to that disappointment and even then, those feelings were dealt with and forgotten faster than I anticipated. Once we come out, no matter how our family responds, we must give them space to come to terms with the situation. This may take days, months or even years.

Often I wondered, to the point of resentment why my parents had never asked me if I was gay. It would have been so much easier had they just approached me at 15 and asked me the question rather than waiting for me to come out. This resentment was intensified one evening at a restaurant when my dad pointed out to me a table of good looking men who were clearly gay and jokingly said “there’s some boys for you”. I responded with “if your gaydar is so good then how come you never asked me if I was gay”? to which he responded that he had always known but wasn’t sure how to approach the topic without upsetting me.

Obviously the past cannot be undone but I now see that my parents dealt with the situation the best way that they knew how and with that realisation comes a sense of peace.

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RULE NO.22: THERE ARE TOO MANY BOYS

 Abercrombie Modern Gay Dating

It’s hard to find “the one” when there are so many choices.

There’s a marketing theory that suggests that when we’re given too many choices we experience anxiety and buyers regret. This is called the “Paradox of Choice” whereby more choices leads to less happiness. One would think that the opposite is true, that the more choices we have the happier we will feel but this is not the case.

Lets look at an example. You’re in a restaurant with a friend and there is a huge selection of dishes on the menu. You see many different options that look appealing and finally after much deliberation you make your selection. Your friend chooses the schnitzel while you choose the steak. When your food arrives you instantly feel that you may have made the wrong decision. You look around at all the other tables and see the variation of delicious meals being consumed by patrons seemingly more happy than yourself and  you regret your decision. As you bight into your steak, you wonder “what would life be like if I was eating schnitzel?”.

This theory is ever present in the modern world of gay dating. Through the power of Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr we are exposed to images of thousands of gorgeous men from all over the globe. From the beaches of Brazil to the clubs of Tel Aviv, the internet has created a virtual gay community comprising of men that we never would have known without physically visiting those cities. While its fun to perve on these guys from your phone or computer it has created the “the anxiety of choice” conundrum – more options equals higher regret. Being aware of all these men who appear to be better looking and having more fun than the men in our immediate communities has created this anxiety of choice.  The most troubling thing about this anxiety is that the choice is not real. In a restaurant you can choose your meal from a finite selection and that choice will be served to you. In the online world, chances are that you’ll never meet those men about who you fantasise and yet you compare your attainable options to those which are infinite and unattainable. You might even be waiting for Mr Right who’ll hopefully appear in the form of some American adonis with gorgeous friends or worse still, you might be in a relationship treading water, until something better comes along. Having too many choices, whether they be real or imagined is affecting the way we date.

Couple this with apps likes Grindr and Scruff and you have a selection of 200 men at your fingertips. These apps are supposed to help you find potential mates in your immediate area but when there are so many options, how do you know that you’re going to make the right choice? If you’re like me then you probably keep pressing ‘refresh’ hoping that someone even more exciting than the last will magically appear.

This technologically advanced world has brought the universe to our fingertips and created digital communities which have helped countless gay men seek advice, solace and information but it has also given us too many choices.  In this restaurant of life, with its countless dishes and delicious choices, I wonder if we’ll always keep looking around at what everyone else is eating and never be satisfied with whats on our own plates.

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RULE NO.21: YOU’RE NEVER FULLY OUT OF THE CLOSET

Gay Men Coming Out

If you thought that coming was a one time event, you were wrong. We are consistently required to enter and exit the metaphorical closet.

Two recent events reminded me that when it comes to letting the world know that you’re gay, you’re never truly “out”. The first incident was during a university lecture on E-Commerce. The lecturer was discussing self published websites and asked for all those in the audience who had their own blog to raise their hands. A small number of people responded including myself.  The lecturer managed to lock eyes with me even though I was seated in the far back.

“Tell us about your blog” he instructed.  Now, I’m sure avid readers have realised from previous posts that I’m very open about my sexuality but when it came to describing the nature of my “gay blog” to 200 complete strangers, I was reluctant.

“It’s about being a 20-something in the modern world” I sheepishly replied.  At the time, I didn’t feel that it was appropriate for me to come out to a theatre full of people that I didn’t know so I omitted the most important characteristic of my blog so as not to reveal my sexuality.

The second incident was one that occurs on a recurring basis. I was seated next to an older gentleman at a work dinner a few months ago. Our conversation was brilliant as we transversed topics such as sports, politics and food. It was sometime during dessert when he brought up the topic of marriage and how his daughter (who just so happens to be in my E-Commerce class) was recently engaged to her long-time boyfriend. “Have you got a wife or a girlfriend?” he questioned.

“I’m single” I responded.

“What do you think about marriage” he asked, “is it on the cards in the future?”.

At that moment I could have easily begun my political rant about gay marriage and how although I would like to be married one day, as a gay man it is currently illegal in Australia. But I didn’t. Again, I did not feel that the situation called for my coming out.

“One day, I hope” I said and proceeded to change the topic back to a more neutral category.

Gay men face situations like these on a daily basis whether it be at university, family functions, starting a new job, making new friends or any moment when you’re introduced to someone unfamiliar. Society continues to presume that we all subscribe to the heteronormative  roles that we’ve been unwittingly assigned and chances are that these views aren’t going to change drastically anytime soon. This means that we will constantly be placed in situations where we will need to choose how much of ourselves we reveal to others.

Sexuality is a private matter and I don’t believe it’s always necessary or even appropriate to reveal to everyone you meet that you are gay. Although I believe that gay pride is crucial to ensuring self-esteem, it’s important to realise that not every situation calls for a dramatic Jack McFarland entrance. Of course we must speak-up if we witness homophobic behaviour in our immediate environment and I believe that this particular situation calls for a degree of bravery that we may be unprepared for.  Generally speaking though we should feel comfortable with whom we decide to share our sexual identity before we reveal ourselves.

While I honestly believe that we should always be true to ourselves, we must be prepared that our coming out did not end after we took those first steps out of the closet and it is our ongoing decision who we tell that we’re gay and who we don’t.

Image by Kwannam Chu

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