Sunday, March 29, 2009

Email from a gay guy who moved to London

At the start of March, I received the following email from a guy who'd emailed me about other issues in the past:

Dear GB,

Sorry to bother you again, maybe you do not remember me. Anyway, I wonder whether you can give me some advice.

I am a Chinese gay male. I consider myself a nice bloke, fit, healthy, well educated and not bad looking. Actually ppl always say "why are you single?" However, I am always single.

One main reason is, I am not out, I struggle quite a bit to accept my sexuality. Now I prefer do not talk my personal life in my working colleagues.

Furthermore, I am very shy, I do not like pubs, clubs etc. if I have to go, I normally sit in the corner, try to escape when someone come to talk to me.

Do not get me wrong, I am quite chat box with friends. But I just can not face many strangers. I just do not feel comfortable.

Before I move to London, I always tell myself, I am kinda isolated, just because I live in a small town. Everything will be changed once I moved.

Now I am in London two months, I have not met anyone yet, no matter for drink, dinner, sex or friend meet. Actually the main reason I take current jobs, is because London. But if things continue like this, I do not think there will be much difference.

As a gay veteran, maybe you can give me some suggestion where I can meet like minded friends, join some groups? I do not dream to find a bf or something, a regular fuck buddy must be enough at current stage, LOL.

Anyway, thanks a lot. Take care

I sent him an immediate reply, warning him that I probably wouldn't get round to posting his email with my response for a while. In the reply, I suggested that one way of making friends with other gay guys would be by joining OUTeverywhere. I also told him that a previous 'Dear GB' post titled How does a closeted 25 year old gay virgin build a social life might be relevant to him. With a couple of days I'd received his response:

Hi GB,

Thanks a lot for getting back to me :-).

Actually I decide to take a job in London and stay in the UK, mostly because my sexuality. I do not want to end up alone all my life. I am not saying China or other British cities do not have gay life, I just think staying in London might help someone like me.

I read your post about the Indian guy, haha, he is much better than me to some extent. At least he can manage when someone checking him out in the gym shower. When same thing happen to me, I only stare at the floor and escape ASAP, LOL.

I do know outeverywhere, used to be a member, and even brave enough to upload my face pic, which is a very big step for me! However I was kinda disappointed later. If I may say, guys there gave me impression, they might not be attractive enough to pull. Thus they claim looking for friendship. If they got the chance for sex, they will be much more terrible than gaydar boys. However, I did meet some nice friends from this site, unfortunately, we lost contact as most of them also left the site.

I know I have to meet ppl, make friends, be confident about my sexuality, to live my life. If I can not do this in London, I do not know where I can :-).

Take care

Indeed, from the last couple of sentences it sounds as though this guy knows exactly what he's got to do. So I'm not sure how much that I can add. I think his problem is not so much that he can't find a boyfriend or fuck buddy, it's more that he's not comfortable being gay. Before you can expect anyone else to love you need to love yourself!

Making friends with guys who're also gay and then hanging out with them should help his confidence. In spite of his amusing comments about the guys on OUTeverywhere, he should re-join just to make friends, to help him with his confidence issues. He admits that he made friends there before so there's no reason why he can't do so again, even if none of his original friends are there.

Beyond that, an excellent source of information on gay events is Time Out, London's weekly listings magazine. The gay section of the magazine (rather than the web site) always contains details of lots of events for gay people. Although a lot of the events relate to bars and clubs, there are also details about e.g. groups of gay guys who're all keen on particular sports such as swimming, or squash etc.

One current idea which might also help build confidence at the moment is to go and see a few films at the London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, which runs until 8th April. Apart from watching the films, there'll be a lot of other gay guys at these events, and seeing lots of other gay men who're happy and confident should provide some support.

However the best confidence booster would be to have a good experience coming out to a close friend or co-worker. As he implies, London is indeed a great place to be gay, so if he's got any friends here then it's quite likely that they'll have some sensible ideas about gay people. I often tell people that in a coming out situation, what I call the confidence mirror is important. If one can portray being gay as 100% natural, which of course it is for a gay guy, then people find it hard not to accept the situation.

I'm sure his decision to move to work in London was a good one. Now he just needs to follow up, make some gay friends, and start being himself :-).

Do any other readers have any thoughts on this guy's situation?


Anonymous said...

Nothing succeeds like success, they say and that's for a good reason, too.

The reader needs to break the ice, and make a good, positive experience. Sitting in the corner and being shy are not good strategies here.

A good start would be to make a clear decision to start meeting people and ejoying his life. Akin to making a decision to hit the gym regularly; reduce the fat intake, watch your credit card expense, etc. None of those are easy, but such things can be done.

Another thing would be to understand that no matter where you live, your choices, big as they may be, are always limited. You have to learn to work with what you have at hand. (No pun intended.) If you are not big on bar hopping, decide what you are good at, and go for it.

It does not take a great wisdom to be critical of the people around you. Try to be see the glass being half-full rather than half-empty. Everyone, including yourself comes with loads of luggage and some of it may not be entirely to your liking. Learning how to shrug with your shoulders and accept the people with all of their downsides is a proven way of making friends and having a good, fulfilled social and sexual life. Concentrating on their shortcomings and overdoing the selection part is a bad strategy, by all means.

Not all the guys are good for everything. Some are great co-travelers. The others make good buddies. And yet other dudes are great when it comes to doing things together. Insisting that someone should be good for everything is a shortcut into loneliness.

Last but not least, do your part and maintain the friendships you have. It sure takes two to tango, and not everyone is meant to be a longtime friend, but you have got to try each and every time and put in a good, honest effort. More often than not, the things will not pan out. However, this should not stop you from staying on course and doing your part.


Anonymous said...


I can identify with the writer cos I'm asian, not out at work/family too, always considered myself to be on the quiet side too. I met my bf online too and through him I've got to know of other friends. It wasn't easy but I decided to open up a little more and be more receptive. =)

But I wonder what the writer's expectations are esp when he said that the users of outeverywhere 'might not be attractive enough to pull'. Seems a little choosy if you ask me. I being friendship goes both ways, we ourselves need to make the effort too.


John F said...

A lot of things jumped out at me whilst reading this (relatively) short message.

First, sir, you are in a wonderful position! You are living in a wonderful, open, diverse and exciting city - probably the most liberal in the whole world! The world is your oyster and you are its pearl.

Take it from someone with direct personal experience - gay or straight, when you move to a new country, it can be overwhelming and really difficult at times to find new friends and feel comfortable. For the first few months, loneliness and a bit of isolation are not unheard of.

You sound to me like you are not still 100% comfortable with your sexuality. This is completely normal and lots of men and women go through this. My advice would be to reach out to other gay people and acquaint yourself with some peers. A great way to do this is through gay social groups and other clubs with common interest. GMFA publish a great guide for this sort of thing:

Don't worry - going to gay clubs and bars to meet people doesn't work for everyone (I hate it, personally) and it doesn't have to be that way for you. There's nothing wrong with you; you simply have different tastes.

My only other advice is this: I know it sounds tough, but give it time. Give it at least six months. You will meet lots of people. Some of those relationships will last a very long time, and others will fade quickly. That is normal and just part of the rich fabric of life.

Best wishes to you.

Ken Skinner said...

Relax and give it time. Yes, get out there (one way or another). It's like the lottery... unless you buy a ticket, you're not going to win!

London *is* an amazing, wonderfully liberal city and is possibly one of the single best places to be a gay person. However, that doesn't mean that it's necessarily easy to meet people.

It is, however, easy to *find* people. The scene isn't underground, it's right there, in your face.

In some ways that actually makes it harder to make a real connection with someone as there are so many options.

If I had my time over again, I would definitely still chose to be gay and coming out in London. You've made a great choice...

Oh, and the other thing is, you've been here two months during the worst couple of months of the year, in my opinion. People are broke and partied out after Xmas/New Year, the weather is awful and it's dark all the time.


The sun will bring out all the good vibes, trust me!

Shirts will be lifted, oh yes, they will :-)

Ken Skinner said...

Just remembered this, so I thought I'd add...

GMFA run quite a few courses which can be good mixers. They range from assertiveness training through to more 'intimate' subjects.

There are also groups that meet and/or have courses specifically for various ethnicities in the UK that have specific issues with sexuality and acceptance. A friend of ours went on one for Indian guys and found it useful, both in terms of dealing with cultural issues related to coming out and also to meet other guys in the same boat. Perhaps there's one for Chinese guys?

Of course, my approach would be to look in Boyz, see what scene looked cool to me and dive in :-)

Anonymous said...

So you asked for other thoughts re the gay guy of chinese origin- well, here are my thoughts (I'm a banker from the u.s., spent a few years in London)- here's the sad, but true, reality:

(i) ethnicity matter- he's handicapped from day 1 by virtue of ethnicity- the gay world, that decries discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, is one of the worst to discriminate itself- on the basis of ethnicity, looks, weight, and every visual matter conceivable;

(ii) breaking in is very difficult- gay men are very clique'y, and very fragile- once they establish some (delicately constructed) protective world and identity, they are often loathe to let other people in, lest the house come tumbling down

(iii) your advice- Time Out etc, is bogus- those venues are only good if you're a walking stereotype- if you're a regular type guy, you'll be a fish out of water, and only end up feeling further alone

(iv) your advice re building a "confidence mirror" was even more bogus- all this will serve to do is demonstrate and reinforce to this guy how alone in the world he is.

Reality, mate, is that this guy is likely to grow older alone and lonely. That is the reality of gay life- its the "luck of the draw", and even then, only certain members need apply. So may as well just be honest with the guy upfront rather than establishing false hope.

Sorry to be so negative, but I've observed it again and again across many such people. Its a sad, but true, reality.

Ken Skinner said...

Please read as slightly tongue in cheek! Not meant to cause offence!


Reality sucks. Best not to give into it :-)

I don't buy the "Grow older alone and lonely. That is the reality of gay life" line one bit. Sorry! That's what my mother told me when I came out to her. She had me convinced for a while but it turned out she was 100% wrong.

When I was a kid there were times when I might have taken the bait, but not now. I think you make your own luck when it comes to meeting people and relationships. If you're confident, open, and present yourself well then you're much more likely to make a good first impression and first impressions are the key in the door. Even if you don't make a GOOD first impression, at least you're making an impression, which is better than nothing.

If you're a shy, retiring wallflower who never talks to anyone then you're making your own luck.

At times when my self-image and confidence were low (usually after a breakup) I would go out, never talk to anyone, never break into cliques and yes, I would never get anywhere and return home miserable and lonely. At other times, I've walked straight up to someone I fancied and within 3 minutes I had pulled them. Which would you say is the better approach?

So, I say YES! Get the magazines, dig in your scene, get out there and FLY LITTLE BUTTERFLY, FLY!!!!

Don't give in to reality. Change it.

Anonymous said...

Oh the last annoy commentor..what a shame... I think in your reality all what you said is true...but that is not everyones fate.
Sadly I don't think it's a cultural issue with you, but if you look at your personality and the way you come across to others your'd be closer to the mark!
To the original email guy.... hanging in there... find what interests you and see if their is a gay version and try it..... it's definately better to try things and realise it's not for you than to sit back thinking the world is against me.
I think the main point is to relax about who you are and accept it..once you've conquored that you will find that people are more approachable and visa versa. others can sense nerves and withdrawal and that is a great turn off.
Good luck for your future I wish you best wishes

Ken Skinner said...

Discussion point!

"(i) ethnicity matter- he's handicapped from day 1 by virtue of ethnicity- the gay world, that decries discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, is one of the worst to discriminate itself- on the basis of ethnicity, looks, weight, and every visual matter conceivable"

I actually agree with the first bit, that ethnicity can be important to people when it comes to sexual attraction. Is that discrimination, though, in the same sense that discrimination based on orientation is?

I personally don't think so. A gay person can be just as capable of doing any given job as a straight person. The fact that they're gay has no relevance to performance and hence it's unacceptable to pass a candidate over based on their sexuality.

When it comes to physical attraction, I submit to you that you can't force yourself to find someone of a specific type attractive. You either do or you don't. That's not discrimination, it's preference. In blunt terms, that person wouldn't be 'suitable' for the job.

I get a little bent out of shape when people say stuff like that because it makes me nervous that *I* might be discriminatory or bigoted because I don't find Asians, Blacks etc as attractive as Caucasians.

In order of preference I'd probably list:

90% Caucasian
5% Middle-eastern
3% Indian
1% Black
1% Asian

But, I could make up other lists and categories. To turn me on you're 95% likely to be hairy with a beard. That's just the way I'm wired. It's what turns me on more than anything else.

Same thing with weight. I'll go ape over someone who's stocky and/or muscular, but not be interested at all in a hairy skinny boy. If a skinny boy bulks up, he'll then turn my head.

It's a very thin line, though, I'll admit that. If you blindfolded me and threw me into a darkened room, how would I know the difference between different ethnicities? I probably wouldn't.

But on the street, in broad daylight, yes, I'm likely to go for a Caucasian. Does that make me a bad person?

By the sound of the blog, GB seems to have a preference for Asians... is that discrimination?

Anonymous said...

No it is as you point out kenski his preference..the same as we all find different types attractive. This is not discrimination. one cannot control physical urges as to what or whom turn them on.
Discrimination is when you are offensive to someone or refuse someting, i.e a job because of their cultural background.
I know many 'non' caucasions who only find caucasions attractive. Are they then being discriminative?

ken said...

London, and it's offerings to gay men itself doesn't seem to be the answer to your problems as it wasn't the lack of opportunity which has been holding you back.

As Kenski said, GMFA offers a confidence building course, which might help. It will also put you contact potentially with other men in a similar situation. Otherwise, have you considered speaking to a counsellor.

And about your ethnicity being a handicap, well it's all a matter of perspective. I am asian and to be honest haven't had any problems with by dating life (the men I used to date where people I found attractive and were objectively good looking men). True that there will be people out there who won't find you attractive by virtue of your ethnicity, and equally there will be those who will find you attractive because of your ethnicity. Irrespective of the initial basis of attraction, ultimately if you get along, surely that is what matters.

For those who see your ethnicity as a handicap, I can't help but wonder if that measure is based primarily on a sex count. It doesn't however sound like your trying to build up the notches on your bed post so don't take what he says too much to heart.

I've played the online dating game and can happily say that it has worked out for me and me and my boyfriend and now talking about marriage.

Good luck and and I hope that you find the confidence to break out of your shell. It's not the gay scene which will help you do that, but it's the support for the gay community which could.

ken said...

p.s. ;) I can't help but wonder if you're secretly hoping that GB might be the man to help you through this? Both in and out of the sack!

DW said...

i am the original emailer, thanks for the suggestions, really helpful. i will keep your guys posted.

the last post made me laugh, if i am a banker, i may ask direct help from GB.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I did a search about being a gay and Chinese in London and this is what I found. The original email almost describes me to a T.

I don't know exactly what it is, but I'm from Vancouver, Canada where oriental people are a large percentage of the population...but I do feel a bit of discrimination here being Chinese.

I also noticed that in most forms when they ask for ethnicity, Chinese is a totally different category from asian. Whereas back in Vancouver, when we say asian we mean oriental.

I've also experienced some discrimination due to my sexuality from teenagers in schools. I'm a supply teacher and students have asked me if I'm gay. I mean, yeah, I'm not the most masculine asian guy out there, but the fact that they need to get me to admit my sexuality when it shouldn't matter really annoyed me. I've also been told by other Brits that the UK is not all that supportive of gays.

Wei, it would be nice if you keep us updated with your social endeavours.

Anonymous said...

I am a gay man and have recently been convicted of having child porn can anyone help me?