I often talk about gay issues and my gay identity but rarely do I touch on the spiritual side of life. There are so many facets to who we are, beyond our sexuality. My spirituality is one of these many facets.
In this video, I talk for the first time about the spiritual side to this gay boy and how moving out of my apartment taught me an important lesson about attachment to things outside of ourselves.
I finally met someone off of a gay dating app who made it through my five phase filtering system. Now don’t be fooled by the headline, I have indeed met people off gay dating apps in the past, however this was the first date in 2019 and the first since I’ve initiated my new approach to dating. We met on a Saturday night and the below video is a recap of what ensued.
I’m giving gay dating apps one more shot but this time I’m applying a strategic method to hopefully find love. I’m also going into this experiment with an open mind, shifting my intentions slightly to see if it changes the outcome.
Inspired by a TED Talk given by a very intelligent and humorous woman named Christina Wallace, I’ve decided to apply five criteria to finding the perfect gay guy on Grindr, Chappy, Match, Hinge and Tinder. Watch the first instalment where I lay out the criteria that will hopefully lead me to find my gay Prince Charming.
What apartments, flat mates and colon inspections have taught me about loneliness.
I didn’t think I would be alone at 34. When I pictured my life in my 30’s I thought that I would be rich, famous and happily married to an Italian prince – no really, I thought I would be married to an Italian prince. Instead, I’m very much single, struggling to earn enough money to support my over indulgent millennial lifestyle and working in a job that makes other people rich and famous. Most of the time I’m content with this life however lately I’ve been feeling quite alone, a feeling which can be traced to the impending departure of my flat mate from our apartment. For the last four years I’ve lived with a wonderful flat mate in a gorgeous apartment, owned by a landlord who makes Patrick Bateman seem like a less aggressive Betty White. Soon my living situation will be turned upside down as my flat mate moves into his own place and we must decide quickly what to do with our lease.
This has left me in a predicament; find a random stranger to move into Patrick Bateman’s warehouse conversion with me or terminate the lease and move out by myself. I knew that this living situation wasn’t going to last forever and even though I wouldn’t have wanted it to, I honestly thought that the next time I would have to move it would be into a beautiful home with my beautiful partner (or a castle in the case of my Italian prince fantasy).
When I look back at the circumstances that led me to singledom in my 30’s, I’m not sure how this aloneness happened but I do feel that I’m partly to blame. Boys have come and gone in my life and while I’ve had a couple of loves, or what felt like loves at the time, I haven’t come across anyone who I think I could bare to keep for ever after. Perhaps I haven’t tried hard enough, opened my heart wide enough (insert anal joke here) or perhaps it’s because when one pictures his future husband to be Italian royalty with a sprawling estate in Tuscany and a villa on the cliffs of Positano, all other men pale in comparison?
Having to move has brought up a lot of unsettling feelings. Being a self-diagnosed social loner means that I should be relishing in the prospect of living by myself. Strangely, I’m feeling lonely and somewhat isolated. This move is a reminder that at 34 years old I’m solely responsible for myself – at the end of the day there’s nobody looking out for me except for me. Yes, I have a loving family but they live on the other side of the world. Yes, I have caring friends but this is London and everyone is dealing with their own issues which means that it’s my sole responsibility to find a new home while I juggle a hectic career, a health routine, a skin regime, cooking, cleaning, laundry, ironing, a social life, finances, check-ups, bills, appointments, groceries etc. etc. etc. If I drop a ball there’s nobody there to help me pick it up. Stupidly, on top of all this I’ve recently decided to give up alcohol (only until March) which now seems like the worst idea ever because alcohol makes me so, so happy. Oh and I’ve also given up sugar which is the only other thing besides alcohol that soothes me when I’m stressed. Mix all these things together and what’s even worse is that I’ve lost my sex drive completely. A once horny individual who’d get semi aroused at the site of a phallic shaped root vegetable, I now have no desire for sexual intimacy which means no desire to go out and meet men thusly continuing the cycle of perpetual non-man-ness and feelings of loneliness and gloom.
Just to give you an idea of how single I really am, let me regale you with a story of the anal kind. Mothers and friends stay with me here, this isn’t a story about sex. Alas, it’s a story about a medical misadventure. I’ll save you a rambling introduction and jump straight to the point where I find myself checked-in to Royal London Hospital for a sigmoidoscopy, a procedure that uses a camera to check the lower 20 inches of one’s colon. When you go in for such a procedure you are presented with two options; option one, sedation – this is where you’re put in a lovely state of utter relaxation through a twilight sleep whereby you feel nothing. The procedure takes place while you’re totally zonked and you wake up feeling fresh and revitalised with a professionally examined colon (as opposed to an amateur examined colon?). The second option is non-sedation whereby you’re completely awake for the whole procedure with nothing to relax you but some butt hole numbing cream. From what I’ve been told, option one is like floating on a soft marshmallow cloud of loveliness but take it from me, the chooser of option two, that option two is very different. You know that scene in Alien where the little alien explodes out of the guy’s chest? Yes? Well it feels a bit like that but without the relief of the alien actually breaking through your rib cage. At one point, when her camera was well past the point of no return, the doctor turned to me to tell me that some have likened the discomfort I was about to endure to the pain of childbirth.
Why would someone put themselves through such an ordeal? Well, anyone can choose option one but the catch is that they’ll only release you from the hospital if you have an escort. This means someone has to come to the hospital and check you out. They then need to chaperon you home and ensure that you don’t swallow your tongue or do whatever it is that doctors are afraid you might do after having some sedation and a camera up your bum. If you choose option two however, then you’re free to leave the hospital unaccompanied as soon as you’re finished.
It’s 3pm on a wintery Tuesday in December and I have no escort therefore I have no choice but to go with the alien-breaking-through-rib-cage-similar-to-childbirth option. I have no family member who’s obliged to help me out (because those are of course the rules of family), no friends to call upon because it’s 3pm on a wintery Tuesday and the hospital is in East London when all my friends work in the West and no Italian prince by my side because apparently Italian princes can’t be found on Grindr or Chappy or in dirty Hackney nightclubs. So as I stumble out of Royal London Hospital at 5pm on a wet and wintery Tuesday evening, releasing pockets of gas from my colon which I’ve been warned is a side effect of the procedure, and remembering that Dr. O’Donnell’s 20 inch long camera is the most action that I’ve had in weeks, I wonder to myself ‘is this the loneliest I have ever felt?’
But it’s not. It’s now when I have the real prospect of not having anywhere to live and no partner to lean upon that I feel the loneliest. Don’t cry for me though – this isn’t a pity post. I’m ok with my loneliness, in fact, I feel that loneliness can be an empowering feeling when looked up from a different perspective. It can shock you into action, make you evaluate your current situation and change your bad habits for the better. It can be the impetus for something beautiful and even a wakeup call to love.
I saw a psychic when I was in Sydney last month. She knew, without me saying a word, that I lived in London and that I was going to move out of my apartment. ‘You need to live alone’, she said, ‘it will open a space for you to find your soulmate’. What an interesting thought – maybe this loneliness, this current sense of foreboding and instability is actually the universe’s way of shaking things up to make room for love? Maybe this whole situation isn’t just a search for a physical home but it’s an awakening inside of me that things need to change in order for me to find a solution to my singleness. I believe that sometimes the universe gives you a hard nudge, such as imminent apartmentlessness, in order to push you in the right direction. While I’ve loved where I’ve lived for the last few years it has been the epicentre of a carefree, debaucherous and often wild lifestyle which I now see is in complete opposite of what I want and need now. Change can be hard and it can be scary and while I’ve tried to control my circumstances as best as I can to avoid the unknown, something inside of me tells me that this loneliness is only temporary and much needed for my own growth.
Who knows where I’ll be living in one month or even one year? Maybe I’ll still be alone, maybe I’ll be living with a partner or maybe if everything works out the way I imagined all those years ago I’ll finally meet my Italian prince, move into his family palace and live happily ever after.
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.
I honestly believe that we are our own worst enemies. Growing up gay can be fraught with hardship due to the external pressures we feel from peers, our family and society but it’s the pressure we put on ourselves that can have the most debilitating effect. We don’t often realise the impact of our subconscious minds on our ability to live fulfilling lives. Why is that we never feel fulfilled? Because we self sabotage and what’s worse is that we self sabotage without being consciously aware that we’re doing it.
I used to think that fulfilment would magically find me when I had ticked a certain list of criteria pertaining to my body, career, sexuality, popularity and financial status. My life journey has now led me to understand that fulfilment is something you find within yourself that is not based on the accumulation of things or achievements beyond the self. I have also learnt that many people, myself included will never feel fully satisfied until we can overcome the sly devil inside of us that sabotages our efforts when we’re close to achieving success. Self sabotage leads to disappointment which is a roadblock to finding fulfilment within yourself.
Take this blog for example – in October I committed to writing 31 posts in the lead up to my 31st birthday. I started off strongly enough, posting an article everyday but as I neared the finish line something unconscious clicked inside of me which prevented me from writing until today. It was as if my intention to complete the task to which I had publicly committed was inherently flawed by cause of my own committal. Basically, because I had said I would do it, I couldn’t. I could not write the last few articles much like many other things in my life that I have abruptly stopped right before succeeding at them. This left me utterly disappointment and reciting a harsh yet familiar internal dialogue about my inability to complete a task to which I pledged.
Another example is at the gym where I’ve applied myself to strict regimes that I have confidently followed until spontaneously falling off the bandwagon which always coincides with the same point in time that I’m starting to see positive results from all my hard work. It is as if something inside of me doesn’t want me to succeed and when it sees me trying it lures me into a false sense of comfort before sneaking up on me and undoing all my efforts.
My own self sabotage and reflection of my habits has taught me a valuable lesson – the 10% principle. I’ve come to believe that you can put in 90% of the work but it’s the last 10%, the last push, the last effort, the last hurdle which is where the magic happens. There’s a point where you can see the finish line and if you’re not paying attention you’ll miss the mark and start running backwards unless you find the willpower to push through for only 10% more. That’s the point when everything changes. I believe that the most successful people in their fields are those who have learnt to overcome self sabotage and who push themselves 10% further than the rest of the population. Although it’s a small percentage of the overall effort, it is that portion of the work that makes all the difference.
It took me almost seven months to finally update my blog even though I felt the pressure inside of myself to do so everyday. Had I applied the 10% rule a little earlier then I would have had so much great content to share with you, my wonderful reader. Now I hope to make it up to you with more regular posts and content that I hope you’ll find interesting.
I 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.
Children’s books are filled with life lessons and positive affirmations, many of which we miss the first time around. They are fables and stories, written with unbounded fantasy and wonder that come to life through the imaginations of untainted youthful minds. When we grow up and grow out of children’s books we forget the power contained within their pages. Now, reading back on books from my childhood I have come across quotes and excerpts that seem almost prayer like. Today I would like to share with you one of my favourite quotes in the hope that no matter where you are in the world and no matter what you are going through, you know that everything is going to be OK. This particular quote comes from the very wise Christopher Robin in Winnie the Pooh.
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….
I’m terrified of being single but it’s not for the reasons that you may think. I’m not afraid of becoming the gay caricature of the old lady, surrounded by her cats, mainly because I’m allergic to cats but also because I’m not one to think too far into the future. It’s not that I’m afraid that my soulmate is not out there (although it’s taking him a bloody long time to materialise if he is) but rather that I may be enjoying my own company too much in the meantime. You see, my biggest fear is not that I won’t find a partner or my soulmate but that I’ll be just as happy if I don’t.
I’ve noticed how some of my friends always seem to jump from relationship to relationship, easily finding a new partner with whom they become instantly infatuated. I on the other hand find it particularly difficult to forge such relationships. While some people need the security that a relationships brings to their life, I’m content being alone. I refer to myself as a ‘social loner’ – a person who enjoys socialising, spending time with friends and making news friends but who is just as happy, perhaps even happier, being alone. As I become older and engrained in my routines and habits, which have rarely had to accommodate someone else, I worry that it may become difficult for me to adapt if and when a serious someone comes into my life. Will my morning, perfectly-timed schedule be interrupted by someone else’s schedule? What if I don’t feel like talking after a long day at work? Or going out with his friends? Or being in someone else’s company? What if I want to be alone?
Although it may sound arrogant, most of the time I can provide for myself everything that I need to be happy. As such, there hasn’t been a real drive to find a partner and therefore I don’t think I have made a particular effort to look. From friends, to work, to spirituality and community, I have created for myself the things that I need to keep me satisfied. What about sex you ask? Well I can find that too, although I’ve learnt from experience that sometimes it’s easier and less complicated to satisfy one’s self in this department. It all stems from my belief that we are whole as we are and that there is no need to wait to find our ‘other half’ before we can feel wholeness. This is one of the most dangerous myths of our time, that we need someone else to save us or we will never be saved. As homosexuality has become more accepted we have adopted the dangerous heterosexual ideology that to be truly happy we need to find a monogamous partner that will be with us happily ever after. What if we never find that partner though? Does that mean we cannot live happy and fulfilling lives? While I think it’s beautiful to be in a loving relationship and I certainly wouldn’t mind it for myself, I don’t think we need to be miserable in the meantime.
My Facebook newsfeed is often full of gay guys lamenting themselves for being single or congratulating each other when their relationship status changes. I’ve always been confused by the latter as if being in a relationship is some sort of achievement that needs to be acknowledged. I think that this comes out of the fear of loneliness which is particularly strong amongst gay men as we have often felt ostracised because of our sexuality. Perhaps this explains why so many of us are desperate to be in a relationship? It could also explain why there is a constant need for many gay men to broadcast their relationships to the world? The over-the-top uploads and updates might just be a desperate way for us to show the world and each other that we are loved and wanted. Or perhaps it may be because we do indeed love that person so much that we want to shout it from the rooftops. The cynic in me says that it’s the former.
Why listen to me though? All of this is just the rambling of someone who has never been in a serious relationship. Sure I have had flings and dated lots of men and even been in what some might consider the early stages of a relationships but still none of these have been worth the Facebook update. Now that I am older and more aware of the passage of time, I’m worried not about being alone forever but rather that I’ll be just as happy if I were.