Monday, July 20, 2009

Email from a bicurious student

One morning, just over a week ago, I woke up to find the following email in my inbox:

Dear GB

I am a finance student studying in one of well known universities in UK. I just found your blog today which I found very impressive. I am glad that you found your new bf and hope your guys get along well together. I am about to graduate this year and now I am looking for a job. It is really difficult to find a job these days, even more harder when you are not British. Do you have any advise for job hunting?

Another thing is about my sexuality, I don't know exactly what I am. I like going out and flirting with girls, watch porn as normal guys do, but I also like to look at guy's bodies and watch gay porn. I might be bi-sexual but when the time comes, such as arrange a meeting up with some guy, I am so scared and nervous. These things do not happen to me when I am going out or hooking up with girls. I have tried a few times with guys but they just wanna suck my dick...well..they might want more but I just stop at that point. You know, some time when I think back about that it made me feel sick. However, I still love to look at guys and gay porn and wanna try again;p, I don't know why. What should I do? Should I just try again? And this time he has to be a good looking and nice guy. Oh, I forgot to tell you that I am straight acting guy.


Before I went to work I sent the reader a brief reply, telling him that I didn't really have any advice for job hunting. It's been quite a while since I was a fresh graduate looking for work, so these days I'm very disconnected from what one has to do to find a good job. Although I've been involved in a very minor way in graduate recruitment, I'm not at all sure what attributes employers are really looking for in candidates. My only suggestion for the reader was to try and resolve any issues relating to work permits and visas before applying for jobs, in the event that he's eligible for such a visa.

Although this reader didn't use the word bi-curious in his email, it seemed to me from what he wrote that the word describes him perfectly. He seems to like girls, but then it's clear that he's curious about guys too. The balance in his email suggests that he could be mostly straight, although it's equally possible that he's just starting to come to terms with the fact that he's gay. Bisexuality is another possibility, but as I think I've said before, genuine bisexuality is very rare and most people tend to be either mostly straight or mostly gay. If a bisexual is in a relationship and that relationship ends, typical behaviour is to move into a relationship with someone with the opposite gender to their previous partner. Indeed, the relationship might have ended because neither gender can give a bisexual everything they need.

But there's no doubt in my mind that he should try and hook up with guys again. His nervousness could well come from peer pressure or family pressure to be straight. He could also be worried that discovering that he actually prefers guys will turn his life upside down. Although that could well be a consequence, the eventual consequences of not establishing his true sexuality could be worse. Indeed, if a gay guy tries to deny his sexuality and ends up marrying a woman, although he may succeed in the short term in the long term he may well find himself surreptitiously meeting guys for sex. The result is likely to be divorce, shame and unhappiness. But if he works out that he is in fact gay, then after the initial trauma he'll be able to find himself a nice boyfriend and is likely to live a much happier life :-).

It's interesting that the reader says in his email "... this time he has to be a good looking and nice guy". I guess this means that in his previous attempts at hooking up with guys, perhaps as a result of his conflicted attitudes towards the fact that he might be gay, he's ended up meeting guys that he's not attracted to or who haven't been very nice people. It's easy to see how that could have happened, perhaps because he's been acting on impulse to explore this gay side without being found out, and perhaps because he's been keen to get it over with as quickly as possible. But of course, it's a mistake to rush into the bedroom with a guy that one isn't attracted to. There's nothing wrong with being gay, and there's also nothing wrong with being straight and having an encounter with a guy just to make sure that one's straight. So he needs to try and relax, and as he says, find a nice good-looking guy for his next hook-up!

Does anyone else have any thoughts for this reader?


Anonymous said...

"I like going out and flirting with girls, watch porn as normal guys do" - I'm a normal guy, I like cock; if the writer has issues getting beyond any negative perceptions of the gay issue, then he's screwed. Grow up and get on with it.

Anonymous said...

I do get the sense of some internalised homophobia in the letter. It's not that uncommon. Most of us are 'trained' from an early age to believe that being gay, having gay thoughts and performing gay acts are somehow wrong and something to be ashamed of.

There's nothing wrong with being gay and 'normal' is subjective term. It's perfectly 'normal' for me to be gay and to do the things I do.

If you fantasize about guys then yes, the chances are that you're at least bi. Don't get hung up on what other people think. Just have fun with it.

Anonymous said...

The reader may want to spend both more time and energy getting integrated into the mainstay society. (That can work miracles with his job search, too.)

Being gay in Europe, North America, Australia, NZ, etc., has become a perfectly normal variety of both the sexual orientation and human lifestyle these days. By not recognizing that being 'gay' is one of the standard 'norms' of modern, open and civil societies, the reader is only reinforcing the impression that he is largely unaware of his social environment, does not do enough to join the mainstream, and is consequently not the first class choice when it comes to many things in life, including his potential employment.

Being divorced, especially for a woman used to be a serious societal drawback in the societies I have previously mentioned fortysome years ago. Imagine anyone saying that being divorced these days is not 'normal'. Would you consider being just a casual friend with such a guy? Nope. You would consider him to be a 'case' actually. Giving such a person a job would be certainly out of question.

Unknown said...

Agree with all above, also an advice for the student to use "masculine" instead of "straight acting" to describe himself in the futre. If he is smart enough to study in a top UK university he should be able to tell the homophobia and inferiority implied in term "straight acting" ;)

I would not suggest him to rush and hook up with any guys. Try to meet up a few gay guys as friends and move from there on

For career advice, I can't give much as I am still a still as well. But he might want to read up Vault guide, and visit WallStreetOasis and similar forums =)

Rob said...

I was really disappointed by GB's response and subsequent comments; in particular his assertion that 'genuine bisexuality is rare.' From what statistical base do you draw this conclusion? How do you define 'genuine bisexuality'? Why does it matter if someone is 'mostly straight'? What difference will that make to how they live their lives?

I'm a volunteer for London Lesbian & Gay Switchboard, a volunteer-run helpline that provides support to over 30,000 callers a year - many of them with very similar stories to this enquirer. In my experience of talking to callers, staid notions of 'straight', 'gay' and even 'bi' can be really unhelpful. I appreciate your advice is given in good faith, but I would ask you to recognise that offering pseudo-psychotherapy can do much more harm than good. It might be better to refer your reader to an organisation that is geared up to helping people in his situation.

I was particularly concerned by everyone's desire to label the reader. Maybe he's just a guy who finds men and women attractive? And is 'masculine' any less offensive (or more accurate) than 'straight acting'? You have all made so many assumptions about this reader I doubt his ability to make any useful decisions based on your advice.

John F said...

@Rob: I think you make some very good points (and I generally agree), but it would have been nice if you'd also offered some genuine advice to the reader instead of spending your considerable eloquence in castigating other posters. What advice do you have to offer the guy?

To the reader: first of all, there is absolutely nothing wrong with questioning your sexuality. However, "normal guys" are also guys who happen to be gay. Don't think there's anything abnormal or wrong about being gay or anything else; it's just different. Second of all, there is also absolutely nothing wrong with you being bisexual or gay. Like many men who eventually came out as gay, I went through a period during which some notions of gay sex were off-putting to me (and some notions still are, although I am very comfortable and happy being gay). My point is, you've got the right mindset. It is very easy and possible to become more acquainted with your sexuality just by opening your mind. If you're interested in having an acquaintance with another guy, there are loads of different ways to do this. You can go to bars, look on the internet, place an advert. There are many different ways to become familiar with this side of your sexuality.

All I would say is: go into it with an open mind. You never know where it might take you.

Regarding career searches, I'm not sure what level you're at, but the UK allows masters and PhD students to apply for Tier 1 Post-Study work visas which entitle you to stay in the UK and work for up to three years, starting up to one year after receiving your degree. (This used to be one year, then it was extended to two, and I heard recently that it was extended to three.) I don't know if this applies to BA students as well, but it's worth a check. You might also want to consider applying for an MA/MSc if it makes it easier to stay in the UK for the long run.

Rob said...

@ John F - the reason I didn't give any specific advice was because I just don't know enough about the situation. I would've told him to call London Lesbian & Gay Switchboard on 020 7837 7324. But that seemed like too much of a shameless plug! Saying that, I do agree with what you've said in your second paragraph. Ever thought about volunteering for a telephone helpline..?

Anonymous said...

Shameless plugs are the best ones.

There's nothing shameful about plugging, even though, growing up, peers and parents will often try to suggest that there are 'rights' and 'wrongs' associated with plugging.

Personally, I say that if it feels right then go ahead and plug.

Um. Are we talking about the same thing?

GB said...

Sorry to disappoint you Rob. I'm just writing from my own experience of course.

In the past I've had friends who worked for London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard, and they used to tell me that sometimes people would ring and then not be able to speak very much (if at all), perhaps because of their fear of being gay. In the same way, when I get these emails I'll sometimes ask for more information, but ultimately one has to try and answer the best one can with what they're prepared to divulge. So I think that criticisms of replies to these emails should be accompanied with alternative responses.

I've actually mentioned London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard here on a couple of occasions (1, 2) and greatly admire their work :-). In the past, the problem with their service was that the line sometimes seemed to be constantly engaged, so that sometimes it was difficult to get through. I don't know if that's still a problem. Another service that I've mentioned before is London Friend, who also do excellent work.

None the less, there's one good thing about publically posting the emails that I get onto this blog, which is different to the service provided by London Friend and London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard. The fact that the emails and the replies are public means that when people search the internet for information about being gay, if they find the emails on my blog then it should help them realise that they're not alone :-).

GB xxx

Unknown said...

Tell him to post his pic and if he's hot I'll fly him over here to Texas for a week or so to find out if he's gay bi or str8. LOL