Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Another email from a gay adolescent en pleine crise existentielle

About 18 months ago, I received a "Dear GB" email from a young blog reader who was a bit lost and wasn't sure about the direction of his life. After I did the posting for him, I then received an email from him to thank me for my efforts, but after that the correspondence went quiet. Until last month, that is, when I received the following email from him:

Dear GB,

I trust that this letter finds you well and that you remember me from my previous email. To be very honest, with my entire world being set ablaze recently by the financial crisis, I haven't been keeping up-to-date with your blog but I do hope that you'll respond to this note nevertheless.

So a little over a year has elapsed since we were last in contact. I graduated early from college with honours degrees and I'm now back living with my parents, after having been laid off by a major investment bank last year. I worked in research, which is a bit more tolerant of people of my nature, but as you know also not as revenue-generating as the other divisions. Hence I'm out of work now. I'm now essentially preparing a Master's degree to temporise a bit, and figure out the rest of my life.

Despite having the same problems as before (social stagnation, shortage of gay peers, looming isolation from my girlfriends, eating disorder, overzealous materialism), I'm writing to you now with a few issues that are perhaps more pertinent to your blog. (Apologies in advance for what is to come; in rereading it I realise that it sounds somewhat narcissistic but I honestly don't intend it that way.)

Essentially, I'm worn down by the dozens upon dozens of closeted, bisexual and bi-curious guys who flirt with me regularly -- I'm quite serious. It happens maybe fifteen times a day on average. I don't know if this is normal for gay guys, but I guess it's because I'm tall, still quasi-anorexic and maybe have "blossomed" into an attractive young boy ("cute twink" I was referred to the other day by a businessman in the street). Around 15-20% of my male classmates (even degree supervisor and a professor!) give me elevator eyes and make some sort of terrible lascivious movement when I sit in their vicinity in the library or in class: you-know-what with a pen/pencil, raised eyebrows, or even hand on the groin area. It's all quite vile. Yes, I suppose my sexuality articulates itself through my appearance, but I wonder if other facets of my identity are the root cause of this unwanted attention: my background, above-average intelligence and world-weary, blasé personality. I have never imagined myself to be exceptionally attractive, so somehow I feel as though I'm doing something that leads people to believe that I'm an easy lay. (I'm not.)

Recently, I gave my phone number to a (likely closeted) German boy who has been hitting on me for eight months straight in all of the above manners. As a somewhat shy person, I have never given my phone number to anyone. I did it largely because he studies quite hard, is of somewhat modest means (terrible but I find it endearing), and yes, is quite handsome; however, I really wanted to boost his self-esteem since, having studied in France, he has something of an inferiority complex and has spent hours a day staring at me from across the library. Anyway, much to my surprise, he texted me back a day after the receipt of my note letting me know that he "did not seek to hit on me" and this was all a "malentendu". That said, only in refiltering my memory now do I realise that he only engaged in such behaviour when we were both alone. I texted him back saying that was OK and that I thought he was a handsome and intelligent young man, admirably studious and that I hoped he went far.

Regardless, all of this plunges me further into existential crisis; I am afraid that I might be too effete to ever have meaningful male relationships (did this find expression in my last letter?), and that men will never see me as anything more than a sex object. As a complement to these concerns, my dear father is now quite old, and I'm worried that when he's gone I won't have anyone to support and protect me from the violence of this world. In addition, given the financial crisis, I've come to realise that my inheritance isn't large enough for me to support my lifestyle forever -- without going into figures, I will essentially lose half of everything to my (independently very wealthy) elder brother when the division of assets occurs, and I don't know if I can ever have a real job again considering how effete I seem to have become. (I spent around £40,000 over the past two months on travel, drinks and renewing my wardrobe with additions from the summer collections -- and this happens every season.)

Anyway, there is a lot more I could say, but I hope that you can give me some advice on how to go about fitting into this world and what changes I should make so as to become a productive member of society. I can surmise what you're thinking, but it's not really that I'm too effeminate -- I'm too self-aware to have a stereotypically gay voice, set of speech patterns, gait, look, etc. In general, though, I'm feeling much better about my life from the last time I emailed you, so please don't think too much of all this.

Take care!

It's certainly good to hear that this reader is feeling a bit better about his life. But he mentions a couple of issues, namely about all the guys that flirt with him, and also he's still not sure how to fit into the world at large.

It's a fact of life that adults think about sex. I've even heard it said that on average men think about sex every seven seconds, although I've found articles online which discredit that. For what it's worth, in one sense I think it could be true, because when guys are cruising then they're thinking about sex all the time! The misleading thing is to state the frequency of thinking about sex as an average, because the frequency will be very different at different times during a typical week.

This little diversion into the frequency that men think about sex is simply to prove that both the reader and the guys that he comes into contact with will naturally think about sex quite often. So in terms of all the guys that flirt with this reader, several things could be going on. Because the reader doesn't have a boyfriend or regular fuck-buddy, then since he's a healthy young guy it's quite likely that he'll think about sex a lot of the time. This could well cause him to mis-interpret other people's behaviour, as seems to have happened in the case of the German boy. Another possibility is that when the reader sees a guy flirting, it could well be other people in the reader's vicinity who're the intended recipient of the flirts. Yet another possibility is that guys may do things (e.g. with pens/pencils) that seem flirtatious, but it could be that they're simply doing it subconsciously, simply because they've got a healthy sexual appetite. Finally, it's also likely that some guys will occasionally make sexual passes at the reader, but as adults that's something that we all have to deal with as we see fit.

I'd actually suggest that following up on a few of the genuine passes might be a good idea, because interacting with other guys should help him integrate himself into society a bit more, as well as helping him keep his libido under control! Indeed, one of the many things I like about being gay is the way that cruising naturally brings me into contact with guys from such diverse backgrounds.

Regarding the reader's continuing issue with how he should make his way in the world, I've given it a bit more thought and I'm increasingly of the opinion that he should find himself a job that's more academic than commercial. So I haven't changed my opinion from last time that a job in the banking environment would be a bad idea for him. If he can find something academic to do that interests him, and hopefully fully engages him, then this should naturally curb his excess spending which I'm sure partly arises as a result of boredom. Of course, he won't be able to have the lifestyle that he currently enjoys from an academic's salary, but the hope is that he won't need nearly so much money if he can find something productive to occupy his time, and in that case perhaps his inheritance might be sufficient.

As just one example of a job which is a bit academic and highly unusual, perhaps the reader could train to become a herald. Heralds work at the College of Arms in London, which is the official repository of coats of arms and pedigrees of British families and their descendants. In his previous email the reader said that he spoke several languages, however since Latin isn't one of them he's probably not qualified to be a herald at present. But given his background and achievements to date, I'm sure that he'd be able to pick it up quickly. I confess though that I've got no idea how he could apply for such a role!

Does anyone else have any more thoughts for this reader?


Anonymous said...

I would not worry too much about the passes (real or imaginary) that people make on the reader. Everyone above the age of consent is a fair prey, and it is everyone's good right to try and the reader's equally good right to accept or turn his 'admirers' down. This is simply, a fact of life.

I believe that almost everyone wants sex. Many are actively seeking it, too. When it comes to the debate of 'thinking about it', it really boils down to the idea of going around, doing your own business. If you stumble over a crisp EUR 100.00 note while doing so, you'll pick it up, pocket it and move on.

I am out with my friends for lunch today. If it happens that the waiter dude is very handsome and shows signs of interest in me, he'll get a tip with my phone number on it, and we'll pick it up from there. This may happen or not. My plan is to have lunch with my friends.

It takes very little skill and hardly any wisdom to spend GBP 40,000.00 on anything as productive as improving your summer outfit only to wonder as to why are other people staring at you or why are they suddenly flirting with you. Unsurprisingly, a super-yacht and a red Ferrari do exactly the very same things for beer belly sporting guys in their late 60's, too. Earning that amount may be a totally different story, though.

My advice:

#1 Focus on your priorities: Job, school, financial future and security.

#2 Establish a clear plan on how to curb your spending and prepare for the times, when there will be no one to fend off for you and when your income may not meet your possibly essential needs.

#3 Take a very deep breath and start relating to the real issues of your emotional life. What is that you want, and how is it that you can achieve your goals?

#4 Focus on yourself and doing your own thing as opposed to gauging the reactions of your 'potential admirers'.

Good Luck,


Wilderness Wanderer said...

Reading back our fireman-loving reader's letters, I think I'd suggest he take GB's advice on letting some of those flirtations develop into something more, but not necessarily something sexual.

If I were the letter writer, the biggest thing I would feel to be missing from my life would be supportive gay friends.

I wouldn't worry about differences between your lifestyle and that of your family, how 'effete' you say you are or what you look like. These are things that all guys, even straight ones, have to overcome to a greater or lesser extent.

What little I know about how relationships should be conducted and lives lived, I have learnt from the life stories of friends.

It sounds from the fact that you say you take lots of trips that you have plenty of time to socialise, so why not invest some of that time in building up some friendships with some gay guys you can talk openly to? It can take time, especially if you want to gradually get to trust them with knowledge of your sexuality, but it's worth it.

So after some of those 'escapades', why not get talking or texting to some of those guys, and gradually make it more about sharing a joke or asking for advice than just going back for sex? I don't mean you should try to make every guy your boyfriend, but just your friend. Some won't won't want that, but I assure you that some will, no matter how different your social circles. Personally I love hearing about the jet-setting escapades of some of my wealthy friends.

Also, why not get in touch with some gay guys specifically looking for friends? This is pretty easy to do online, if you make it clear what you're looking for, and don't just look for guys you think are hot, haha. Although you may occasionally get a little more than you bargain for :)

It's great to have a couple of gay friends who like meeting up every few weeks just to find out what you've been up to. It sounds like you'd have plenty to tell your new buddies! You know – sharing is half the problem solved...

Anonymous said...

Well said SC.

I always feel that I notice things that many people are oblivious to and a gay mate once told me that gay men are generally very aware of their surroundings and subtle movements. GB covered off the possible reasons underlying a lot of what you notice and you shouldn't feel that the men around are conspiring to be overly lecherous in your presence and give you a hard time. Enjoy the ride and give some back, like leaving your number, when someone warrants it and see where it leads you.

As to the job, you describe yourself as intelligent and your education background should open the door to lots of careers. I hesitate to suggest guidance from a career counsellor because you may already have gone down that path but it is impossible to provide you with career suggestions knowing so little about you and your preferences. If research is your thing - many major companies have a research arm and while that may not be a viable proposition at the moment, you shouldn't base long term career decisions on the current state of the economy.

With an accounting background and given the current economic climate, it is impossible to sympathise with your spending dilemma. Cut the spending. Even if you have the cash, surely you realise there are better things to do with it than blow it on a designer wardrobe and the like.

Hopefully, the Masters course is fulfilling and good luck with your journey. As to the shortage of gay peers, a couple of gb's recent posts discuss ways to meet other gay guys (eg. support groups, social networks, etc). If the eating disorder is serious, there are probably support groups for that or your GP.

Anonymous said...

Not wanting to put a downer on things, but in this climate, securing some kind of balanced financial future is probably the most important thing. I wouldn't necessarily count on inheritances, either! People have a habit of making strange choices when near death.

Why fit in? The most special and talented people on the planet are often outsiders. Stay special, don't compromise who you are just to make things easier!

And have sex.

There, that's my advice!

Anonymous said...

Sorry but he doesn't sound like a very nice person to me at all. It all seemed rather "me, me, me" which is a huge turn off to most. Best advice is get a life, get a job and get some sex....

Anonymous said...

I just think this guy is over-sensitive about flirting.

Rob said...

I'd say this guy needs to grow up. He seems too immature, conceited and shallow.

Anonymous said...

I myself had been in the academia but in the end I realise that I didn't pursue my academic career, although I have some publications and the like. Now I'm working for a little company, salary isn't good but I feel free and am satisfied very much. One thing I can say to this reader is that the academic world isn't easy. My best friend is capable of speaking 10 languages and teaching one of the languages but she really hates her job. But she has to keep doing it as she's a single mother.

I'm really not sure if going to a grad school is such a good idea for him.

Anonymous said...

This guy sounds like a right cunt. All he needs is a fat cock or two to wreck his hole and he'll be fine.

Anonymous said...

this guu sounds like a a grade pretentious wanker who thinks he's better than everyone else

Anonymous said...

I don't think the flirtations can be blamed on how much men think about sex, but that he is being objectified. Being gay is not seen as a sexual orientation by our patriarchal, heteronormative society, but a sexual preference. This point of view gives gays the same fate as women, they are sexual objects, not human beings.