Monday, October 13, 2014

The gay divide

Last week, the US supreme court declined to hear a few cases relating to gay marriage. That was amazingly good news for American gay rights activists, because at a stroke, the existing law that gay marriage is allowed in the corresponding states was upheld. One of the leader articles in The Economist magazine this week picks up on this, but the title of the article is "The gay divide". The article points out that, perhaps as a result of all the victories for gay rights in the Western world in recent years, there's been a backlash elsewhere. The previous post on this blog about the harsh reality of gay life in Turkey just serves to emphasise what that article points out.

There are also two briefing articles about gay rights in The Economist this week, one with the title Marriage equality in America, and another with the title Gay people’s rights. The latter article contains a fascinating image which shows what the situation is for basic gay rights worldwide, which is as follows:

Sources: Jingshu Zhu; IGLA; The Economist

The Economist is a worldwide publication, and although in total the contents are the same everywhere, the order is different depending on where you buy the magazine. In the UK this week, the main leader article that appeared on the front cover was this article about "The gay divide". I can't help wondering whether they also had the courage to put the same article on the cover in Africa.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The hurtful cycle: emails from a guy guy in Turkey

A couple of months ago, a reader who lives in Turkey sent me the following email:

I'm a 33 year old single guy living in a small city in Turkey. It's been roughly 10 years since I accepted myself as gay, and stopped completely hating myself. Since then, I've fooled around with more guys than I care to admit, but the fact that I never had any kind of serious relationship is sadder and more discomforting to me. I can explain this away by having worked in small and conservative cities, still having to stay with my family. Most of the gay guys my age are closeted and married etc, but it still doesn't feel right. Frankly, my work and family life is not all fun and games and there's little I can do to improve them, so I really crave that special intimacy that I somehow still believe I can find on the net.

So the thing I do is, I spend my whole time away from my job on IRC chat rooms (it is still the most popular platform here due to anonymity and being instantaneous) trying to communicate with all kinds of unpleasant people ranging from time killers/wasters to liars to paedophiles who all challenge my patience and sanity most of the time. Just like life itself, the net isn't always full of good, caring people and we all know that, but I don't seem to come across the good ones. The best-case scenario is that I exchange phone numbers or hang out briefly with someone from whom I never hear from again. I strongly feel that some dull, casual sex doesn't make up for the time and energy I invest in chat rooms, but I also can't stay away from logging in either, because I have no other way to socialize that I'm aware of.

And so, this weird, addiction-driven cycle goes on and on, making me even more depressed, desperate and frustrated by the day. I began to suspect that I might not be as mentally sound as I'd like myself to be anymore, and I would really like to see myself spending my time doing things that would make me happier without thinking about the imaginary guys I might have been missing on the net. I can't seem to figure out how to break this excruciating, mentally draining cycle and would love to hear some different perspective.

P.S. Consider this email a thank you for your amazing blog. I'm pretty sure that it helps people in certain situations who need different perspectives.

I often forget how hard it can be to be gay outside the increasingly homo-friendly Western countries. Although the reader was asking for different perspectives, since I live in the UK I had no idea what kind of advice I could offer to someone living in Turkey. So I decided that the best thing to do would be to publish the email in this "Reader's stories" category, and then perhaps other readers would be able to offer some alternative perspectives.

When the email first arrived I had been on holiday, so it was a couple of weeks before I sent the reader a reply telling him that I wanted to publish his email. In my reply, I apologised that it had taken me a long time to get back to him, and eventually after about another week he sent me the following:

Dear GB,

I can't say my reply was instant either, because I've just returned from a brief holiday. There, I hung out with a guy that I see literally once a year, but apparently and interestingly it's enough for both of us, and it was nice. Your reply has been both surprising and welcome to me, because it has been some time since I had sent my mail and I had re-read what I had written a couple of times and thought "What a loser". Indeed, even though heartfelt, what I wrote just sounded like dull words from a spineless, whining guy. Maybe true, maybe not, but I seldom like what I write anyway. So thank you, I really appreciate you caring for other people's problems and actually replying them.

Big cities like Istanbul are actually so much better, but being gay in a smaller city and dealing with closeted people is very difficult indeed. They generally shy away from any kind of relationship and intimacy because of the obvious reasons. Did you know that we use the word "active" for tops and "passive" for bottoms? To me, this in itself implies that bottoms are inferior. Most of the time "active" people tend to be married, closeted homophobes who just happen to love anal sex, or at least this is what they tell themselves. This is because being a fag and "taking it in the ass" is the most dreaded position a man can lower himself to. When you chat, they even have the nerve to call you a fag or a cocksucker if they get upset, even when they are on the giving end. A very recent chat of mine (actually yesterday):

X: Are you married?
Me: Yes. (I lied deliberately just to see where the conversation will lead me to)
X: How old is your wife?
Me: Sorry, I haven't gone low enough to serve my wife to some guy just to get laid.
X: Did you go low enough to be a fag and take it in the ass?

People ask you if you're married all the time either because they actually want to fuck your supposed wife or because they think that single man are not to be trusted. By the way, being a single male in Turkey more or less means you're a second-class citizen. You can't go to a bar and have fun with your male friends. You can't socialize with married couples. You go to a beach or a park or a restaurant and you may have a separate place reserved for singles (or families). People may think you are a vagrant, a liability, a hazard for the well-being of the happily married couples. Or even worse, they think you're gay. That's why most of the male population is married, the society demands them to do so. To reiterate, even gay people demand you to be married, otherwise they don't trust you. Then I retaliate: Who will trust you when you are constantly cheating on your wife? But I bet they don't even classify it as cheating.

Well, this is what it's like living in a closeted environment, but I have good friends that I chose to come out to, which is a blessing for me. We rarely talk about it, but it's good to know I that I have nothing to hide from the people I love.

Best Wishes

I found his suggestion that "… even gay people demand you to be married …" particularly disturbing.

I'll let the reader have the final word here, so I've posted the last email that I received from him below. If any other readers have any thoughts on his situation, then I'm sure the he'd be interested.

Let me add a thing or two. Not that I had a "chance" to jeopardize a potential love affair because of my polygamous behaviour, but I too like being with different guys every now and then. But when I do and really like the guy, I often feel a need to be closer to him which proves impossible most of the time. Really liking someone and saying goodbye right after having sex still breaks my heart, but time after time I guess I kind of got used to it. I wish I could be a 100% slutty guy, then I would have sex freely with whomever I please and would never look back. Maybe that would alleviate most of my problems concerning relationships. Now that I think of it, I realize that oftentimes I feel bad rather than good after having sex. If I acted on my impulses and I did it with a person who was in fact not really for me, I feel guilty and dirty afterwards. If it was a person who was just my type, then my heart gets heavy knowing that we'll probably never meet again. Sex is supposed to be fun and liberating, right? If you're not actually free, I guess not.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Email from a family man about gay pleasure

Around the start of August, a reader sent me an email with the title "Gay pleasure". The text of the email was as follows:

Dear GB,

I've only just discovered your blog. It's impressive. I had googled "oriental gay sauna story" and there it was - a link to your friends Amsterdam experience. Then I read the rest of your writing. I envy you.

I was promiscuously gay at school. Then followed about 30 years of being straight after which during the last 10 or so years I have returned to being increasingly gay again.

I'm still in the closet - with a family to be otherwise is difficult - but I adore particularly slim smooth Asian/oriental guys. I have a special friend who is a Chinese tgirl and who is completely uninhibitedly sexy!!

But I'm keen to learn and do more. Where to go and how to do it?

I'm mature and tall with dark hair and a short greying beard but my body is fairly smooth. I'm not obese but not skeletal either!! I have yet to try a sauna as I am not yet confident enough. Will my age, size and small penis put guys off?

What I really like to slow soft tender kissing and undressing and being naked in bed with a like-minded guy. It's the returned affection that excites me.

I'd love to know how/when you began and also any advice you might have.

Please do reply. Yours,

Within a few days I'd sent him a reply, and in my email I'd included the following paragraph:

My interpretation of your phrase "family man" is that you're married with a wife and children, and if so I have the impression that there are quite a few married guys like you who realise in their middle age that they enjoy gay *activities* with other guys. Although I had problems accepting my sexuality, I was in my 20's when I came out so my situation is very different to yours because I never even had a girlfriend, let alone got married.

After a couple of days I received his reply:

Dear GB,

How sweet of you to reply!! I'll look forward to reading your advice/comments!!

I'm hopeless at Gaydar and so am searching for other ways to meet guys. The old Philbeach Hotel was great but sadly has closed. If you know of any cute oriental guys who are looking for a shy sensitive affectionate older man for fun then please introduce me!!


I'd never heard of the old Philbeach Hotel, so we exchanged another couple of emails in which he told me it had been a huge gay friendly hotel in Philbeach Gardens near Earls Court. He said that on Monday nights they used to have an open bar for tgirls and their admirers, and that there's now a raunchier version called Sweet Wednesday at Central Station behind Kings Cross. I'd never heard of either event because as an ordinary gay man I'm interested in men, and not at all interested in men that look like women.

Long-time readers of the blog will be aware that boyfriend K and my previous two boyfriends are Asian, so I do know something about gay Asian guys. The younger Asian guys that I know, actually all the younger guys that I know, are very internet literate and big users of smartphones etc. So when the reader says that he's "hopeless at Gaydar", it's not very helpful. It means that he's avoiding inhabiting the kind of places where he's likely to find gay guys that he's interested in. Perhaps more importantly, it also means that he's likely to seem like a complete dinosaur to the younger generation, and dinosaurs aren't very attractive creatures.

However, if this reader does want to try and become a little more tech-savvy, Gaydar may not be the best place to start. I'm always amazed by my friend Close Encounters, who admitted to me a few months ago that he's got at least 14 different gay cruising apps on his smartphone. These days, smartphone apps rather than web-sites is the way to go! The most famous mobile gay cruising app is of course Grindr, but the one that I'd recommend for this reader is Jack'd because Jack'd seems to be slightly more popular with Asian guys than Grindr.

Another thought is that the reader should go on holiday to Asia. The bank robber Willie Sutton is quoted as saying that he robbed banks "because that's where the money is" (although apparently he never actually said it)! So if someone is interested in Asian guys then they should visit Asia. The most gay friendly tourist destination in Asia is probably Thailand, so that would be a good place to start. Indeed, one gay friend of mine visited Phuket and fell in love with one of the younger Thai guys that he met there. So my friend kept on visiting this guy in Phuket, and eventually the two of them became boyfriends.

Thailand would also be a good choice given that the reader is interested in tgirls because the country is famous for its ladyboys (กะเทย in Thai). I don't know how much TV the reader watches, but a year or two ago the UK TV channel Sky Living did a series of documentaries about ladyboys. The documentary featured some British guys who had moved to Thailand to make a new life for themselves living with ladyboy partners. One guy was called Scott, and he helped his partner set up a ladyboy bar in Pattaya. I also recall that there was also another British guy who had previously been married to a woman in the UK. I can't remember the name of the other guy, but I do remember seeing one episode where the guy's son went to Thailand to visit his father and meet his father's new partner.

The reader asks whether his "… age, size and small penis [will] put guys off" in a sauna situation. I'm sure it's true that young, lean, well-endowed guys will be more popular. However, it's generally true that somewhere there will be guys who would be interested in someone like the reader, although as discussed in the previous paragraph if it's Asian guys that the reader is interested in then it'll be much easier to find such guys in Asia. If he does manage to visit Thailand then I would recommend that the reader visits the Babylon sauna complex in Bangkok. As far as I know, Babylon is still the best gay sauna to be found anywhere in the world, and nowhere that I've ever visited comes close.

Nearer home, if the reader wants to visit a standard gay bar in London then I'd suggest Ku bar in Chinatown near Leicester Square. Ku bar and the Yard are the favourite gay bars in Soho for the younger Asian gay guys that I know.

Lastly, I can't help thinking that at some point the reader should try and be more honest with his family about his sexual preferences. I'm sure that we all understand why he feels the need for secrecy, but over long periods of time, living a lie with his family is likely to have a very corrosive effect on his happiness. It's very sad to hear of a middle aged man who can't be honest about what he wants with people that are close to him in his life. If he doesn’t try and sort it out at some stage, then my best guess is that he'll end up as a bitter and closeted old queen :-|.

Do any other readers have any thoughts on this subject?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Feeling nuts :-)

Earlier this month, I got an email from a guy who's involved with a movement called #feelingnuts. The movement is about preventing testicular cancer, which I know is very important because of the experience that a friend of mine had.

A few years ago, this friend of mine was in bed playing around with his boyfriend, when his boyfriend felt something unusual in my friend's testicles. This was very lucky because it did indeed turn out to be testicular cancer, and as a result of this early detection, my friend is still alive today. He ended up having the offending testicle removed and replaced by an artificial (prosthetic) testicle, so that if you look at my friend when he's got his pants down, he'll look like a normal naked guy. I've never felt my friend's artificial testicle, but I'm reliably told that it feels convincing too!

So to all the guys who are reading this, check yourselves and you boyfriend(s) regularly :-). The six steps that you need to follow can be found in this the following handy video:

Please watch and share the video with all your friends. And finally, in case it helps, the #feelingnuts movement can be followed on all the usual social media web sites:

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Email from a guy who's in love with an attached man

At the start of June, a reader sent me the following email:

Dear GB,

Recently discovered your blog and I'm addicted! You give great advice and I love reading about your relationships. I am in a situation that I hope you can give me some advice on.

I'm in my mid-twenties, and am newly out to some family members and close friends. I met a guy six months ago via a hook-up site. We had fun and established a "friends with benefits" type situation. He has a boyfriend for many years, and they are in an open relationship. I knew this going in and had no problems with it. However, after a couple months in I have developed strong feelings for him.

I shared these feelings for him and he was very kind and understanding about things. He was honest and told me he doesn't feel the same but he liked our arrangement and friendship. I told him that I would be fine and that I wanted to continue to see him and we have since resumed our "friends with benefits" arrangement.

I am confused and am unsure of myself and my emotions. We text almost daily and I really enjoy having him as a friend and do not want to lose him. There are days when I feel I'll be OK, but also days where I hate myself for getting in this situation to begin with. He is in almost every way my ideal guy but he has made it clear he does not feel the same and would never leave his boyfriend.

Am I playing with fire, waiting to get burnt? I'm afraid my feelings will only intensify and I will get hurt badly down the road, but I can't convince myself to end things with him either. What should I do?


After I'd read his email, I couldn't help thinking that it was already too late for him to avoid being "burnt" as he put it. So I sent him a reply in which I included the following paragraph:

My quick thoughts are that your arrangement with this guy won't ever go any further. But I can't help wondering whether this guy has any single friends which he could introduce you to. If you like this guy, then it's possible that you may like some of his friends, so perhaps you could use him to help you find the boyfriend that you deserve? In any case, I think you need to find other guys to date, because the longer that this goes on the more that you'll be hurt :-|.

Within a few hours he'd sent me the following:

Hi GB - awesome getting a reply from you so soon! Thanks so much !

I have broached the topic of him introducing some friends of his who are single to me but he kinda shrugged it off in the past. I don't think I would want to bring it up again.

I feel pathetic because I don't want to give up what we have even though I know the feelings are one sided. I'm rational enough to understand feelings can't be forced, etc. The moments we share I cherish so much. I've never felt this way for a guy before that it scares me.

Take care !

I was glad that the reader had had the idea himself of trying to get his lover to introduce him to potential boyfriends, but I was disappointed and somewhat surprised at the casual way in which his lover seemed to have declined. However, it made me feel more strongly that the "friends with benefits" relationship wasn't good for the reader. So I sent the reader another email to tell him that I'd do this "Dear GB" posting for him, and at the bottom of the email I said:

It'll probably take me a few weeks to get round to doing the posting for you, so meanwhile, just think about this. If this attached guy really cared for you then he'd want you to be happy. By keeping you available as a "friend with benefits", and also by not introducing you to guys who might be able to become your boyfriend, then he's being exceptionally selfish. How can you love such a selfish guy?

Again reader replied quite quickly:

He's told me that I shouldn't not see others on account of him, and that we'll still meet even if I do. Maybe I'm just blinded but I truly don't think he's being selfish at all. A friend of mine who I shared this with did tell me that no truly good person would continue this friends with benefits relationship knowing one party is more invested than he is.

Her advice and where your advice seems headed does make me think. Perhaps my sense of judgement is just impaired.

Thanks for your responses. You're awesome ! Look forward to your posting.

A few years ago, I think I said that straight guys learn all about love and relationships in their teenage years, whereas that doesn't necessarily happen for gay guys. Gay guys and girls may hide their sexuality while they're teenagers, and in that case they don't learn how to handle their emotions until they eventually come out. My guess is that's exactly what's happened to this reader, because he said that he only recently came out, and it sounds very much as though he's got a teenage crush on this guy that he met on the hook-up site. So as he rightly started to wonder in his last email to me, his judgement is indeed impaired.

It seems clear to me that the guy that the reader has the crush on hasn't been very good for the reader. The reader must have told the guy that he only recently came out, and I had been that guy, I like to think that I'd have done much more to help the reader start enjoying a gay lifestyle. Instead, the guy declined to think about whether he had any friends that might become the reader's boyfriend, and has continued the "friends with benefits" arrangement even though he must surely know that the reader is going to end up hurt.

The emails that I exchanged with the reader were trying to push the reader to realise this all himself, and in his last email it did indeed seem like the reader was starting to wake up to the reality of his situation. It's been several weeks since we were last in contact, so I hope in that time he's been able to start looking for other guys, and spending less time with the guy in the open relationship. But if he is still seeing him, then my advice would be to stop seeing him immediately!

Do any other readers have any thoughts about this?