Thursday, December 06, 2007

Is he or isn't he?

A couple of weeks ago, I received the following email from a reader who had previously emailed me a few times before. But this time he was asking for some advice:

Dear GB,

Where I work there is kind of an unspoken "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding sexual orientation and I'm fairly closeted there myself. I remember reading in one of your posts that you are not quite comfortable with the idea of sex with colleagues or co-workers. However, I am interested in dating a few guys at work whom I think might be gay (no wedding ring, little spoken about their personal lives i.e. wives or girlfriends, emit "gay aura"). There is no conflict of interests involved.

In a situation like this what's the best way to go about doing that? I've thought of asking them out as a friend then popping the question later.

Also, are there still straight guys out there these days who will be offended if someone thought that they were gay? The problem is if this happened to me, I will still see them around at work which isn't ideal. I guess I'm still very close to white belt level at my workplace in this sense (Is the second installment of your gay lifestyle confidence post on the way?).

And while we're on this topic, do you have any tips on spotting gay guys at public places e.g. gyms (not the sauna!), public transport, supermarkets, non-gay-only pubs, on the street? I'm interested in the types like myself that put less of their sexuality on display but with metrosexuals and single straight men everywhere these days it's becoming a real challenge!

I have a few pointers of my own but I have to say they don't have a proven track record.

- I invite or search for these guys on social networking sites. Problem is some won't join or leave their profiles empty with respect to orientation and keep people guessing (though if he has something to hide then he's more likely to be gay).

- I have heard of the eye contact way of expressing interest. But I always think it's rude to stare at people in public so when I look into a guy's eyes I tend to look away very quickly which sends out the complete opposite signal. Should I unlearn my good manners?

- There's a trick with public transport if one is seated across from the other guy. I can pretend to sleep then peep or open my eyes to see if he is checking me out. This only works if I'm the most attractive guy in the carriage!

Any ideas you have about this would be great.


This guy must have been one of my readers for quite a while, because it was July 2006 when I mentioned that I thought sex between co-workers was a bad idea. Of course, that was the same post where I went on to admit that I'd met a guy who worked in the same bank as me, and then in the subsequent post I admitted that I'd got to know him a bit better!

None the less, I must advise the reader NOT to take his attraction to any of the guys that he fancies in the office any further. This isn't a case of "Don't do as I do, do as I tell you to!" because to this day, I haven't ever seen The Man from Fridae during my daily work routines. In my case, it's because I work for a big bank and so we actually work in different buildings. That isn't the case with the reader who sent me the email because he has become attracted to a few guys having seen them wandering around his office.

I think the main reason that the everyday advice is that heterosexuals should avoid liaisons with work colleagues relates to what can happen if things don't work out. Needing to avoid each other, worrying about whether the other person is spreading any inappropriate rumours about competence in the bedroom, there's a huge minefield here which is easily avoided by simply not dating people from the office. And as the reader points out, with gay dating there's the added complication that the other guy might not be gay! I certainly do think that there are still straight guys around who could be offended. If one can make a straight guy think that being fancied by a gay guy is a compliment (i.e. "I'm so sexy that even other guys can't resist me") then a proposition probably wouldn't cause offence, but not all straight guys will take it like that.

Having said all that, if the reader wants to ignore my sound advice(!), I reckon the best way to go about it is to find excuses to talk to the guys that he's attracted to and ask them what they've been doing away from the office. In particular, the reader could mention well known gay places that he's been to recently, as a way of coming out to them on an individual basis. From their response, and if they're interested in him, I'd expect them to reciprocate and mention gay places that they've been to. After that, socialising with each other in gay venues would be a natural step.

One concern, though, is that the reader says that he's still still quite closeted. It's common for closeted gay guys, who're not searching for gay friends and lovers, to be attracted to straight guys that they meet regularly. In this situation though, the best thing to do is to come out a bit more and actively start looking for gay guys in places where they're likely to be found (i.e. gay venues, Internet, etc)!

Moving on, the reader is quite right in that I promised another installment about the gay lifestyle black belt, and at present it's still very much on the drawing board. Apologies to all my readers for this. I guess I've had too much other stuff to blog about, but in the near future I'll try and sort this out.

The last section of the reader's email is great fun. How indeed to tell gay guys from straight guys in a metrosexual urban environment?

I like the idea of looking at social networking sites because if any relevant information is divulged, it should be reliable. But the reader really does have to "unlearn his good manners"! Eye contact is vital to cruising in public. I reckon it's particularly telling in gyms and especially gym changing rooms, because straight guys never catch each other's eyes in that situation. Elsewhere, catching another guy's eye coupled with a smile is an expression of interest which straight guys will naturally want to avoid repeating. So if you catch a guy's eye and smile a few times and they reciprocate each time, I reckon they're definitely interested. Actually if they do that, I reckon they're interested even if they define themselves as straight!

One last thought. If one walks past a nice looking guy in the street without managing to catch his eye, it's worth walking a couple more paces and then looking back over your shoulder. Because if he noticed you too, he'll probably do the same, and then you CAN catch each other's eye!

But do any other readers have any ideas for working out whether a guy is gay?


Crazy Sam said...

I would definitely like to see how the response of the readers would be in the case of spotting gay men among metrosexual urban environment. I've been trying to find that answer all these years!! How on earth are you able to recognize other gay men? I doubt whether I have a gaydar (I'm quite dubious about its existence) or that it must be off. In that case, how to turn it on!! That eye catch thingy is freaky! I don't think I would want to try that.

Anonymous said...

That tip about walking a few paces and then looking back is a great tip that works for both men and women! The problem is wondering if the other is really keen in you or simply keen in the way you look/dress or in the things you carry (that nice Prada phone or cool new Sony Ericsson W960i?)... :)

Sometimes being in the proximity of the person is good enough indication! I really don't think the signs are are very different from heterosexual situations.

Superchilled said...

GB is right - it's all in the eyes... straight guys almost never hold a gaze, so you're not likely to have any issues. Turning around when you've passed someone; similarly, a straight guy won't turn back - but a gay guy will..
With the advent of the metrosexual - the appearance is much more difficult to judge - but the eyes still tell the truth.

Unknown said...

God I wish I did have a better sense of gaydar, short of somebody chatting me up, or grabbing my bits I am just rubbish at figuring out who is and who isn't gay!

Maybe you should be doing a masterclass GB, or I can just look for the tips on here :) SP xx

Anonymous said...

Turning around does work. It happened to me on the escalators leading up from the tube the other day.

Only trouble is, then what? You look back at him and he looks back at you and then you want him but there's really nothing you can do at that point...