Category Archives: RULES

RULE NO.13: 30 IS NOT THE NEW 20

Modern Gay Guide

The video that every 20-something must watch.

Throughout my 20’s I’ve lived by the motto that “20’s are for learning, 30’s are for earning”. This has helped me survive the long days at work or hours spent in the library at university but I’ve been tempted to give it all up in the spirit of YOLO (You Only Live Once). During those stressful days when I wonder why I’m working so hard for very little immediate return, YOLO thoughts play on repeat through my head. Shouldn’t I be running around, enjoying my youth without a care in the world? Isn’t this the time for experimentation and exploration? Can’t I just put it all off until I’m in my 30’s? Am I too young to be working this hard?

Clinical psychologist Meg Jay, puts forward the argument in this TED Talk that your 20’s are your most formative and defining years of your adult life. What you do (or don’t do in your 20’s) has a lasting impact on the rest of your life. This is the video that should be mandatory for every 20-something. Watch below and share your thoughts.

Photo Credit: Richard Phibbs

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RULE NO. 12: IF YOU WANT TO FIND LOVE, PUT YOUR PANTS BACK ON

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Personally, when I’m about to have sex with a new partner I want to be able to unwrap the present, not already knowing what the gift inside looks like.

My mom and dad have been married for 32 years. Theirs is a relationship out of a fairytale. They actually remind me of Allie Hamilton and Noah Calhoun from The Notebook. It’s not that my folks have ever been engaged to other people or that they’ve lived in the Southern States of America. My dad has never built a house for my mom and as far as I know my mother isn’t an heiress. As a matter of fact, my parents and these characters have nothing in common except their undying love for each other. I have never seen two people who are as much in love, apart from the movies, quite like my parents. Their story truly ends happily ever after which is problematic for a person like myself who doesn’t believe in Hollywood endings.

One evening, while I was chatting to my dad about another one of my failed relationships, I asked “Dad, what’s the secret to meeting your soulmate?”.

“There is no secret” he responded, “everyone is just so overexposed these days that there is no magic or mystery in relationships”.

His words instantly struck a chord me with me. I’ve always felt nostalgic for the bygone days when men would court their love interests and couples would create relationships founded on newly learnt knowledge of each other. Perhaps this is why The Notebook is a favourite amongst gays and single women. We’re all hoping that one day our Noah or Ryan Gosling will appear out of anonymity and save us from singledom. But nowadays, with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Grindr, Manhunt, Scruff, Dudesnude etc it seems that nobody remains anonymous for long.

There are no surprises anymore, no intrigue or mystery surrounding people. Not only do I know what you look like without your clothes on but I know what you ate for breakfast. I’ve witnessed all the holidays you took with your ex-boyfriend, your intimate moments in bed together, the walks along the beach, what he bought you for Valentine’s Day. Hell, I’ve even seen the collages of pictures from each week you were together (and I noticed when they stopped too!). I know what you look like in your underpants, I’ve seen your entire wardrobe, I know all your friends and I even know which is your favourite movie. I’ve witnessed all the songs you listen to on Spotify, read all your funny jokes, followed your check-ins at your favourite cafes and know who else was there with you. I’ve virtually met your mother, grandmother and siblings. I’ve seen the inside of your bedroom, know what car you drive, where you have you hair cut, how you take your coffee and what your desk at work looks like. I’ve seen pictures of you when your were a kid and to be honest your were #cuter when you weren’t so vain and wore a shirt more often. Which makes me think, who takes those “selfie” shirtless pictures for you anyway?

Now before you accuse me of hypocrisy, I openly admit that I am responsible for partaking in many of the previously listed activities although I draw the line at soft-core porn. Quite frankly I find it all rather attention seeking but before I digress too far let me bring it back to the purpose of this post. In a time when we are all encouraged to be more linked-in, wouldn’t you prefer it if people kept their face out of your book? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if new love interests had the opportunity to discover all your subtle character traits for themselves? Personally, when I’m about to have sex with a new partner I want to be able to unwrap the present, not already knowing what the gift inside looks like. If everyone’s already seen the package on Instagram, where’s the excitement?

So before you complain about never meeting your Prince Charming or that your relationships never last, step away from the gym mirror, lay down your phone, put your pants back on and ask yourself “what would Noah do?”.

Image: River Viiperi (Paris Hilton’s boyfriend) for Interview Magazine. Here are some more pictures from the September 2012 underwear editorial featuring other male models.

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RULE NO.11: YOU WERE BORN THIS WAY

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Throughout puberty I wondered “why am I gay?”

Before Lady Gaga confirmed that she was born this way, before Kurt Hummel vocally expressed his problems 3 octaves higher than most 16 year old boys and before any celebrity promised that it would get better, I was a confused teenager trying to understand why I was gay.

Attending a conservative private school that prescribed to a certain Judeo-Christian religious persuasion, homosexuality was merely a subject in a health book that was superficially brushed over one afternoon in grade 9. This particular book claimed that teenagers often experienced passing attractions to the same sex as a byproduct of hormone release. I wished that when the hormones stopped releasing so would my my same-sex attraction. It wasn’t to be.

Needless to say, my understanding of homosexuality was rather limited.

Furthermore, my belief and comprehension of God was shaped by my educational institution and by all accounts, God didn’t approve of gays. So why did he make me gay?

At first I thought he was punishing me for something I may have done before I was even born. Perhaps my soul was intrinsically bad and therefore I needed to suffer the burden of being gay as a form of repenting? The future seemed very daunting.

Then I was told by a religious teacher that God doesn’t hate homosexuals but he hates the sins that homosexuals commit. Was loving another person of the same sex a sin even though it felt so natural? So, I rationalised that it was to be my test in life to resist all homosexual temptations, thoughts and desires no matter how right they felt.

In my later high school years l began to consider that perhaps God had made me gay not as punishment nor as a test but because he knew that I could handle the pressure. Other boys might not have been able to cope with life as a homosexual. I was grateful that I, a strong willed, confident boy with supportive friends and a loving family was made gay instead of someone less fortunate who may have found themselves in the same predicament.

When my faith in God began to wane, as it does for most who’ve attended a religious school, I searched for other answers to my big gay question. Did my upbringing have an impact on my sexuality? I had read somewhere about childhood trauma and troubled upbringings affecting sexual development and causing homosexuality. Reflecting on my childhood there was absolutely nothing that could have adversely affected me either obviously or subconsciously. I grew up in an “ideal” environment with parents who were besotted with each other, who provided their children with love, support and unnecessary material possessions. I had an amazing relationship with my mum and dad and my sister was one of my best friends. We lived in an affluent area, participated in extracurricular activities too many to name, traveled often, spoke openly about our dreams and fears and comforted each other when the family dog died. My friends even commented on how “extraordinary” my family life was. Surely this wasn’t the cause of my homosexuality?

During this period of questioning I had some dark days. Days when I wondered what was the point of it all. Maybe it was better not to be than to be gay? Luckily these days were few and far between but I know that others have suffered more deeply with their own feelings of confusion and questioning.

In the end, I found the answer. I was born this way. It never crossed my mind that it was a choice; that in some way I had chosen to be gay. What teenager would choose such a challenging path? I was born this way. My upbringing was not the cause, my soul was not bad and I definitely wasn’t being punished. I was born this way. It’s as simple as that. There is no other reason or further questioning needed.

I hope that by sharing my experience, others who are going through or have been through this process will see that a part of self-acceptance is undergoing a period of questioning. The greatest relief is discovering and then believing that you are the way you are because that is the way that God or nature or the universe intended you to be.

Read Rule No.1: There are no rules (except for one)

Photo Credit: Benjamin Eidem by Stefan Zchernitz

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RULE NO.10: BEWARE OF LATE ON-SET ADOLESCENCE

Gay Youth

I’ve coined a new disorder that affects many gay men. It’s called “Late On-Set Adolescence”  and although I’m sure someone has already conducted a study into this phenomenon, I think that it is still widely undiagnosed. 

“Late On-Set Adolescence” (LOA) is the result of gay men having to hide their sexuality throughout their formative development years and missing out on the same experiences as their straight counterparts (sexual exploration, dating, forming friendship groups with likeminded peers etc). In doing so they experience a self-identity growth period that is not indicative of their true self. Whey they finally come out of the closet, they go through a second adolescence whereby they learn about their sexuality, experience sexual contact with the same-sex for the first time, begin dating, find similar friends, go out to gay venues, become more focused on their appearance and experiment with drugs etc. This may happen when they are 18 or 25 or 35 or 50 but for most gay men I know who have been closeted, it does happen at some stage. During this stage, gay men often find themselves drawn to other men who are experiencing LOA and this is one of the reasons that you see groups of friends who are of mixed ages; the 30 year old who socialises with 18 years olds, the 50 year old who hangs out with guys in their ’20s.

LOA is a period of experimentation and self discovery that gay men must experience. It can be an amazing time for growth and self acceptance but conversely, just like acne during puberty, there are down sides. Some men become fixated with “making up for lost time” and take their sexual experimentation to a whole new level, sleeping with many different partners and becoming obsessed with the pursuit of sex. Although I am a strong advocate for (safe) sex and sexual exploration, I believe  that any excessive behaviour is unhealthy and detrimental to one’s happiness.

Also, during this period one might see gay men become cliquey and “bitchy”, enjoying the drama that comes with dating, sleeping around and making new friends. Often their social lives become reminiscent of a high school playground with cattiness, drama and fighting. These traits are particularly unpleasant and contribute to the stereotype of gay men being bitchy queens.

For many, this period is short lived as they move into the next phase of deeper “inner” self discovery.  The problem arises however when gay men become stuck in LOA, when they sacrifice ambition for trivial pursuits such as time in the gym or on the dance floor or finding their next sexual conquest. They may mature in age but  they seem to always be chasing the next  guy who is experiencing LOA (perhaps in order to avoid growing up and facing the next stage of develpment?). You’ll notice these guys as the 30/40 somethings who still dress like teenagers (revealing singlets, short shorts, baseball caps and high tops) and always appear to be dating or surrounded by younger guys.

The cure for LOA is self-acceptance as soon as possible. Gay boys should be encouraged to experience adolescence when it was intended for them to do so. The most well-rounded gay men that I know are the those who “came out” the earliest or didn’t need to come out at all. As society becomes more accepting of homosexuality, it is my hope that more gay men learn to accept their sexuality at a younger age and eventually LOA will simply be ‘A’.

Photo credit: Willy Vanderperre

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MEN OF DISTINCTION: JASON COLLINS

Jason Collins Gay

34 year-old American NBA player, Jason Collins has revealed in an interview with Sports Illustrated that he is gay. Collins is the first active player (he’s played for the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards) from any of the four major US men’s professional sports leagues to publicly come out of the closet.

“I’m black. And I’m gay. I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation,” Collins said. “If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand.”

Collins has now become a role model for gay youth not just in America but throughout the world. Hopefully his bravery will be an inspiration for other closeted athletes to publicly come out and show young gay boys that being gay need not affect your life or your career. As I’ve always said, the world needs more positive gay roles models like Jason Collins (read Rule No.2).

More information here.

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RULE NO.9: THE ANTI-GAY MARRIAGE LOBBY DON’T LIKE YOU

Gay Marriage

“Wont somebody please think of the children?” – Helen Lovejoy

Just like Helen Lovejoy, politicians, religious leaders and all those who oppose same-sex marriage claim that their first and most important concern is ‘the children’. They stand by their convictions on the claim that they are protecting ‘the children’ from the malevolent force that is homosexual parents. They argue that same-sex couples cannot provide for ‘the children’ in the same way that heterosexual parents can. That children need a mother and a father. But what about straight single parents? Children who have lost a parent? Should we ban unmarried, single women from having children or take back a child when he or she looses a parent by misfortune or divorce? Clearly, this argument is flawed.

Once they’ve emotionally exhausted themselves by thinking of all the wrongs that same-sex couples will do to the aforementioned children, they move on to their next argument; same-sex marriage will destroy the moral fabric that holds society together. In essence, if men can marry men, they claim, then what’s next? A man marrying a horse? Well I’ve done my research and it appears that men have already been afforded the right to marry their equine lovers. Surely it’s time for the gays?

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The problem with all arguments put forward by the opposition, and the reason why they’ll eventually loose the debate, is because they aren’t saying what they really want to say. They aren’t basing their argument on their true belief and that is that those who oppose same-sex marriage oppose homosexuality. The real reason that they do not want same-sex couples to be afforded the same rights as heterosexual couples is because they fervently disagree with homosexuality. Obviously they never raise this point in public debates and forums because it sounds much more heroic to fight against same-sex marriage on behalf of the innocent children than it does because of your own personal feelings towards the people it will effect.

I look forward to being part of an honest debate, one whereby the issues are discussed honestly and openly, though I doubt we’ll ever hear a politician openly state “I don’t support same-same marriage because I don’t like gays”. It’s not very modern to publicly talk about your opposition to homosexuality and anyway, people sympathise much more with the plight of ‘the children’.

In the end though, there is no moral or ethical reason why same-sex marriage should not be legalised just as there is no moral or ethical reason why women should not be allowed to vote, or couples to marry within different racial groups and look how that turned out.

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COUNTRY OF DISTINCTION: FRANCE

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On Tuesday, France became the 14th country in the world to legalise same-same sex marriage, a week after the New Zealand government voted to have their marriage bill amended.

Unlike New Zealand, where there was strong support for same-sex marriage, polls show that the French are deeply divided on the issue. The bill, which will also give gay and lesbian couples the right to adopt children, will only become law when it is signed by President Francois Hollande. Although a popularity slump has left the president with one of the lowest approval ratings of any French president, it is believed that Mr Hollande will support the bill.

Vive La France.

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RULE NO.8: IF IT MAKES YOU FEEL BAD THEN STOP DOING IT

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When do you feel the worst about yourself?

At the gym?

When you check Instagram or Facebook?

When reading gay men’s magazines?

When you’re at a nightclub?

When you log onto Grindr?

When you hang out with certain “friends”?

When watching porn?

Why don’t you….

Change gyms? Or try yoga?

Delete Instagram? Unfollow certain people? Limit your time on Facebook?

Read a book instead of buying a magazine?

Do something different on a Saturday night?  Stay in with one person you really like and watch crappy TV?

Delete Grindr? Approach the hot guy in the street?

Stop spending time with people who make you feel bad and make new friends?

Watch an inspiring lecture online instead of porn? Ted.com is a good place to start.

It can be hard to pull yourself away from things that make you feel bad. Some may call it an addiction to pain while others may say it’s a result of self loathing but whatever it may be it’s certainly something that we’ve all experienced. The knowing that you’re making yourself feel worse but being unable to stop yourself. The worse you feel, the more you do it. Does this sound familiar?

Challenge: For one week DO NOT log onto Instagram or Facebook, DO NOT go out to clubs, bars or social venues you frequent regularly (unless they make you happy), DO NOT spend time with anyone who has made you feel bad in the past , DO NOT use Grindr and DO NOT look at porn. I did. And after one week the results were amazing. I felt more relaxed, less anxious and most importantly my self-esteem was lifted. This may sound like a late night infomercial but the only thing I’m selling is an easy approach to increasing your happiness (and it’s free).

There is much scope for discussion on this topic but in the meantime, take an inventory of all the things that lower your self-esteem or make you feel bad about yourself and for one week, just one week, commit to not indulging in any of them. Let me know the outcome.

What makes you feel bad about yourself? Did avoiding these things for a week make you feel any different?

Photo Credit: Baptiste Radufe by Serge Leblon

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RULE NO.7: GAY MARRIAGE ISN’T EVERYTHING

Gay Marriage

Gay marriage should be legal. Period. But in the struggle for equality it’s important not to lose sight of the blessings we’ve been afforded as gay men. 

When I was coming to terms with my sexuality I often wondered if there were any benefits to being gay as opposed to being straight. Sure, some might argue that sex is easier to come by or that gay men don’t have children so they have more money for themselves but neither one of these arguments convinced me. What finally helped me accept that being gay wasn’t all that bad was the realisation that society’s plan for what constituted a normal life did not apply to me. All around me, people were expected to date, go to college, find someone to marry, commit to a career, have children, buy a house, either stay married or divorce, retire and then die. This expectation of life was terrifying to me as I wanted to travel and meet new people and live in different cities and explore and have various sexual experiences. So when I realised that being gay was the key that unlocked me from the metaphorical cell of expectations, I began to look at my homosexuality in a whole new light. I could make up new rules for the way I wanted to live life, discover what really makes me happy not what I’m told will make me happy. All of a sudden life seemed like an exciting blank canvas on which I could paint my own picture with all the colours of the rainbow.

To this day, I thank God (or the universe or whatever you want to call it) for making me gay. This is the greatest blessing I have been given; permission to re-evaluate what is truly important to my happiness.  That might be kids and marriage and a mortgage but if those things do happen in the future then at least I know that I chose them for myself.

So what does this have to do with gay marriage? While I  support the fight for equality and equal rights 100%, I think it’ important not to lose the uniqueness that is intrinsically linked to being gay. Of course I want the same legal recognition as my heterosexual friends but I don’t necessarily want my life to look like theirs. If seen positively, being gay is so very special in that it allows us to look at the world and ask “how do I fit in here? Where is my place?”. When the ultimate goal for gays becomes to find a partner, marry and blend into society so that people don’t think we’re so different anymore, then I think we’ve missed the point. Furthermore, looking at the rates of divorce and depression, I would argue that marriage as it exists today isn’t actually an institution that I would like to be part of.

If you fight for gay marriage because you believe in legal equality for all then I salute you. However, the moment we try too hard to fit back into the “normal” mold that society has created or concentrate too much on blending in,  we neglect the blessings that we were so fortunate to have been afforded when we were born gay.

Photo Credit: “Viva Las Vegas” by Matthias Vriens McGrath

Do you believe that homosexuality is a blessing?

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RULE NO.6: HOMOPHOBIA IS GAY (LITERALLY)

Homophobia Teen

Recent studies have shown that homophobic people may in fact harbor homosexual feelings and therefore respond negatively to homosexuality out of fear of their own emotions and impulses.

I believe that this research can be used to fight bullying of gay kids, teens and young men. Let’s dis-empower the homophobes by playing into their fears.

Follow me for a moment. What is homophobia? Homophobia is negative attitudes and feelings towards homosexuality. What are homophobes? Homophobes are people that possess these negative feelings and attitudes. If we can turn the tables around and put the homo onto the homophobes then perhaps they would be afraid of showing any signs of homophobia? If everybody knew that homophobes were actually closet homosexuals then these homophobes would be hesitant to outwardly bully people based on their sexual preference. Through a public awareness campaign in schools, advertisements and social media we have a possible solution to reduce bullying of young gay teens and men.

I honestly believe that bullying is one of the most challenging issues facing gay youth but it’s also one of the most difficult issues facing educators and parents. Bullying has been around for as long as there have been teenagers and it seems that pockets of teenagers will always pick on others no matter what steps are put in place to try prevent it. The approach I’m suggesting plays into teenagers fears, similar to anti-smoking campaigns play into adults fears i.e “If you smoke, you will get cancer” or for the homophobia example “studies show that people who bully gay kids may be gay themselves”. Now, I don’t mean to associate homosexuality with cancer but teenagers are a simple minded group, they just want to fit in and will do anything to do so. If we can exploit this need to be the same as everyone else then I believe we have the first practical solution to fighting gay bullying.

What do you think is the solution to stopping gay bullying? 

(Read this Huffington Post article for more information on the studies of homophobia).

Photo credit: Jean-Francois Carly

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