Friday, June 13, 2008

Email from a guy who's confused by gay culture

A few days ago, I received an email from a reader wondering whether he's gay or not. The email was as follows:

Dear GB

Sorry to bother you with another familiar situation but I need help and so here goes...

I'm 33 y/o and though straight, always knew a part of me was gay but refrained from acting on it since life seemed so much less complicated that way. But with life passing by, thought I would explore the other side - but to no avail! Tried one of the gay websites but all the talk of tops and bottoms and versatiles (and other undecipherable stuff) puts me off. I don't think I like anal intercourse (turns me off) though I like body contact and the rest. I'm confused now - am I gay or not?

Thought I could first just try out lighter stuff, but gay culture seems so intimidating - am afraid I would be laughed off if I suggested it. Besides, never been able to make contact with anyone in the first place. Am quite ok looking (slim and take care of myself) and find it surprising when I read your blog and see so much going on. Can you suggest something where I can meet someone for just some light fun? I'm based in central London and am not out (as yet) so putting an ad on gaydar is not an option. Looking forward to hearing from you


I imagine it took quite a bit of courage for the reader to send me that email, so I'm not at all sorry that he's "bothered me" as he puts it!

I don't think I've ever said this before so I'll say it now. In my opinion, being gay has nothing to do with what kind of sex a guy may (or may not) like with other guys. Instead, it's got everything to do with what gender a guy feels like sharing his life with, who he wants to cuddle up to in bed on cold winter's nights, and who he wants to wake up with in the morning. When I was finally able to be brutally honest with myself, which took many years, I didn't suddenly realise that I was gay because I wanted to put my tackle into another man's rectum! It was the idea of close permanent companionship with another guy that I wanted. Coupled with that, I also thought that the idea of naked body contact with other guys was appealing, and I felt that mutual masturbation might be good fun too :-).

It's clear to me that a guy who thinks like I did, and wants to do those kind of things with another guy, is probably gay. Such a guy may never have much in common with the kind of gay guys that live their lives soaking up the highly sex-oriented gay "culture" that the reader finds so intimidating, but that wouldn't mean that the guy isn't gay!

London Friend LogoTo answer the reader's question, since he's based in central London I think one of the best things he could do would be to visit London Friend. In fact I've recommended London Friend before, but I have no hesitation in recommending it again. In particular they run a discussion group called Turning Point, which describes itself as being for "... men of all ages, backgrounds & origins who are gay/ bisexual or feel they may be". Judging from the reader's email, I think that description fits him perfectly. He may be gay or he may not be, but London Friend will help him work that out. Additionally, because there'll be other guys there who are just as curious about light fun as the reader is, it would be surprising if he wasn't able to find a guy there to play with :-).

I also don't think that the guy should give up with online cruising web sites such as gaydar. Although he's worried about creating a profile because he's not out as a gay guy, there's no requirement to have a picture on one's profile. In terms of success in finding another guy for fun though, pictures do help, even pictures which don't show one's face. Presumably none of the reader's friends or colleagues would be able to identify him from a picture of his body, even in the unlikely circumstances that they found his profile. In fact gaydar allows users to mark their profiles as 'Private' which means that the profile is excluded from all searches. The only way to find a 'Private' profile is to know the profile name, although if the guy goes into the chat rooms his profile name will be visible and in those circumstances other guys will be able to click on his profile name and bring up his profile.

It's true of course that a lot of guys on gaydar talk the language of tops and bottoms which the guy has no interest in. However I have seen guys publically advertising in gaydar chat rooms for other guys to visit for wank sessions, circle jerks and so on, so there's no doubt that light fun is available via that route. However, I can understand his reluctance to ask for that because so much of the chat on the open channel in the chat rooms is top/bottom oriented. None the less, as a concrete example the guy who I met after the lengthy courtship only wanted light fun, and it was via gaydar that we got in contact with each other. When it finally happened, very enjoyable light fun it was too :-).

Hopefully the reader will be able to find a guy to help him explore his curiosity via either London Friend or gaydar. But do any other readers have any other ideas for him? Although I don't usually do this, on this occasion I am prepared to forward to this guy email offers from other London based readers to participate in light fun, should anyone be so inclined?


Mike said...

I came out recently and found to be a good site; lots of men on there who aren't 'out', discussion forums, events where you can meet people (coffee mornings, cinema etc). Also there is the opportunity to date people without the 'pressure' associated with sites like Gaydar. So the chance to, very discreetly, talk to and meet similar people.

Sir Wobin said...

Like Gore Vidal said, there's no such thing as homosexual people, only homosexual acts.

Perhaps the reader would consider a visit to one of London's gay saunas like Chariots or Pleasuredrome. There's lots of light fun on offer. Don't be afraid to watch and turn down all offers until you feel comfortable. It's anonymous and transitory rather than the rather more social setting that GB recommends in his post so if you are considering "just finding out" then this would be a quick, anonymous and direct way to find out.

dan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

We live in a society that, unfortunately, likes to put people in boxes with simple labels: gay, bisexual, black, white, etc. For some of us, the fit doesn't seem to really work, and many times this insistence on a clear-cut, one-word label can actually prevent us from getting to know each other as the multi-faceted individuals we are.

As far as I know, there isn't an agreed-upon term for someone who doesn't believe in sexual orientation and thinks that it's possible for any person of any gender to love any other person.

That is why I have over the years come to terms with my sexuality and if someone asks me what I am , I use the term PANSEXUAL

Some people think it means : openness to being with members of both the same and opposite sex. It is, instead, a term that arose in the early 1900s to describe a way of thinking — especially prominent in certain psychoanalytic circles — that sexual instinct plays a part in all human thoughts and activities, even being the most important or only source of real energy in our lives. Over the years, though, it has come to mean an openness to all sorts of sexual activities and groupings, including ones that society considers even more taboo than same-sex love.


The Honourable Husband said...


I wholeheartedly endorse your suggestion about London Friend. From the outside, it's easy to mistake gay entertainment for the gay community, or even for gay men in general.

I was in the reader's position in my early thirties. Living in Melbourne, I did one of the peer-support programmes run by the Victorian AIDS Council and Gay Men's Health Centre. (

Of course, I could have just worked up the courage to go out and find some light fun. But the Momentum workshops helped me do it in such a way that I was better aware of my choices. I felt I could enter the world of gay sex and still keep my self-respect and dignity. (Insofar as anyone can maintain his dignity with trousers around his ankles, of course.)

The world of mansex does move at a furious pace compared to straight sex, because there are no women to apply the handbrake. Most of us find that rewarding. But until you get up to speed, it's hard to jump on the back of the truck.

SubtleKnife said...

Headbang!!! You're back! Long time no see, mister!

O yeah, I did have a serious contribution to this topic. Sorry.

What I was going to say is this: I don't believe we should be referring to light fun at all. That makes it sound like it's not the real thing but we'll settle for it anyway. It's not ersatz, it's a different method of having fun, a different way of expressing love, no better or worse than the hard stuff.

I hope your correspondent doesn't feel pressured to work up to hard fun, to graduate to "higher" levels of fun. Just in case, I'm repeating it for him and any men or women out there: we me all have our preferences but no form of intimacy is superior to another and don't let anyone (or any culture) convince you otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Subtleknife, you think like a woman ( so what did we expect?) Thats exactly the difference between the attitudes of men and woman towards sex! Who said anything about intimacy or love? We are talking pure recreation here and of contact of the basic kind and the need to be energised thro M2M contact.Or dont you beleive that physical contact can be fun and not emotional?


Adam said...

I found this post through Dan's link and for me it was incredibly timely and informative. In many ways I'm going through the exact same thing and share some of the same thoughts as your emailer. Thanks so much for sharing!

SubtleKnife said...

Meh, I like a good fuck as much as the next guy and casual sex can be intimate in my experience.

If my post made you think it was all about love, sorry to disappoint, I don't think I've been truly in love in my life and I certainly don't have rosy fantasies about it.

GB said...

Thanks for all the comments guys. I thought that SubtleKnife's first comment was particularly good, and was kicking myself for not making the same point. As far as I can see, the anonymous commenter who seemed to disagree with SubtleKnife didn't understand what she was saying. But if he did understand then I think he's a particularly narrow minded guy!

GB xxx

SubtleKnife said...

GB, I actually thought you might be making it, so for a while I didn't respond at all. But then I figured it would be too subtle for the average male to pick up on and decided to drum it home.

What I was trying to clarify with my second post is that I can enjoy both light fun or a casual fuck (it might depend on the situation which I'd enjoy most at the time) and I don't believe one is better than the other.

SubtleKnife said...

(there should be a *wink* after that first comment...)