Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Some more Thai Buddhist wisdom

Just after I visited Thailand last January, I posted some photos of sayings that I found in a Buddhist temple. Yesterday, I found a few more at a different Buddhist temple, which I also think are worth posting :-).

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Christmas

I've decided that this year, Christmas Day deserves two posts. I've already posted an update on my holiday in Thailand. So this post is just to wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous and Happy New Year :-).

GB xxx

The holiday sleeping arrangements

After a few days in Bangkok, the plan was for my Thai friend B and myself to go travelling to a few other places in Thailand. I'd left all the detailed arrangements to B, so the night before we're due to leave Bangkok, I'm chatting to him about the places that we'll be staying during our travels.

"Do any of the hotels that we'll be staying in have swimming pools?" I ask him, "Boyfriend T has been teaching me to swim, and it would be nice to practise a bit."

"Actually, our room at the hotel tomorrow night has its own private swimming pool," he replies. "I'm not a very good swimmer either, so we can practise together :-)."

Hmmm, that's interesting, because he said 'our' hotel room :-). I didn't specify what the sleeping arrangements should be, but I'd much prefer to share a hotel room with him and hopefully a bed too, rather than sleep separately. However, perhaps it's separate rooms with a pool in a shared area between the two, and even if it is one room perhaps it's twin beds rather than a double bed. Rather than pressing him for more information, I decide to play it cool and see whether I can push things in the right direction in a more subtle way.

"Wow, that's great," I answer, "with a private swimming pool we can go skinny dipping together :-)."

"Hmmm, I hadn't thought of that", replies B thoughtfully, "I guess we could, if it really is private!"

The next day, a driver picks us from the hotel where I'd been staying, and about four hours later we're arriving at a very elegant looking hotel in the mountainous area near Khao Yai national park. We both get shown into the same suite of rooms, together with my bags and B's luggage too. Clearly we are staying in the same rooms. Looking around, we've got our own private swimming pool just like B said, but more interestingly there's only one large bed :-).

"Let's go for a dip in the pool," I say as soon as the hotel staff have left us alone, "The pool isn't overlooked at all, so I don't think that we need to wear anything :-)."

B checks the privacy himself, but by the time he's returning from the pool area, I've already got my kit off and am heading outside.

"It's a bit chilly," I shout to him once I'm in the water, "but not too bad once you get used to it! Are you coming in?"

Looking slightly shy, B soon emerges with a towel wrapped round him. Checking around again to make sure that no one can see him, he drops his towel onto the poolside table and quickly climbs naked into the pool. Immediately my suspicions are confirmed, namely that B has a great body! It's a complete mystery to me as to why B hasn't found himself a permanent boyfriend.

This is the first time that I've been naked in a swimming pool since I started learning to swim, and it's a wonderful experience, especially because B is naked in the pool with me. B swims with his head outside the water most of the time, but wearing swimming goggles I swim most of the time with my head under the water. The result is that I keep getting wonderful underwater views of B's beautiful naked body gliding gracefully through the water, and I'm able to admire him from many different angles too!

"Perhaps we should try the Jacuzzi," suggests B after we've been in the water together for about a quarter of an hour.

"Sure," I reply, "actually I didn't notice that there was one!"

B gets out of the pool first, and when I join him a few minutes later I find that he's got the Jacuzzi slowly filling up with water. We're both still naked, and I can tell that B feels slightly uncomfortable, because as I walk into the room he automatically moves his hand to cover his genitals. But he soon realises that unless he's going to put on some shorts or something, gestures like that are pretty pointless!

"I'm glad that you booked just one room for us both :-)," I say confidently, trying to make him feel more comfortable.

"Of course ..." he replies, but with a slightly uneasy tone in his voice that makes it clear that he's not sure how to handle the situation that the now finds himself in.

Soon we're both naked with each other in the Jacuzzi. It's quite small and cosy, so it's nice rubbing up against B's body. But just as I'm getting comfortable, the doorbell rings.

"I wonder what they want?" I say, before B has a chance to react, "Hang on, let me go and find out!"

I get out and put on a dressing gown, and taking care to close the door to the room where B is still sitting in the Jacuzzi, I answer the door.

"Sorry bother you sir," says the cute Thai bellboy, and with that he walks right past me and dumps a whole load of bedding on the large sofa in front of the TV. Suddenly everything makes sense. It would have been quite presumptuous of B to assume that we'd sleep in the same double bed without discussing it with me first. His plan was clearly that one of us would sleep on the sofa. And since I'm bearing most of the cost so that we can stay in some of the top hotels, he's bound to insist that I have the bed and he has the sofa. None the less, given that we've got as far as being naked in the Jacuzzi together, perhaps a more interesting outcome will be possible?

"You don't have to sleep on the sofa," I say to B as I climb back into the Jacuzzi, "there's room for both of us in the double bed :-)."

"But I snore very loudly," he says, "I really do! You'll think, what on earth is that racket!!"

"Don't worry," I say, "most guys snore a bit. I'm used to sleeping with other men!"

He looks at me, clearly considering the possibility.

"Do you have any ear plugs?"

"Um, no, but don't worry, I'll be fine!"

We don't discuss the subject any more, and having put our clothes back on, we head off to dinner. Afterwards, when we get back to the room, it's decision time.

"You'll be much more comfortable in the bed with me," I say, looking him in the eyes and smiling.

"No, I've decided I want to sleep on the sofa," he says, smiling back.

In spite of all the apparent progress, I decide to let the subject drop. There could be many reasons for B choosing to sleep on the sofa rather than sharing the bed with me. Maybe he doesn't like me sufficiently, but it could just as easily be because he'd feel uncomfortable being in the same bed with another guy's boyfriend. In any case, I want to remain good friends with him, so there's no point pushing it. It was great that he felt comfortable enough to go skinny dipping with me, followed by a naked session together in the Jacuzzi. And after all the progress, with a bit of luck maybe we'll be able to get a bit further on another occasion!

Monday, December 21, 2009

An evening in Bangkok

"So did you find anyone for fucking?" asks R.

I'm sitting in a cheap restaurant in Bangkok with my Thai friend B and three of his friends, and we're discussing the city's gay saunas. As soon as I admit that I went to Babylon last January, R asks me that rather direct question. The rest of the table immediately start laughing, because it turns out that R's known for his directness, and his intimate knowledge of the city's fleshpots.

"Well, I met a lovely Chinese guy there, who I then met in Paris last May :-)," I say, only half answering R's question.

"So what happened, where is he now?" asks R, continuing the interrogation.

"Well, he's back in China. I've got a different boyfriend now called boyfriend T. But he had to go back home for Christmas, so I decided to take the opportunity to visit Thailand again :-)."

The chat continues in a mixture of Thai and English, and after the meal we head off to one of the city's local gay bars. Soon we're sitting in The balcony in Silom Soi 4.

"Everyone must think you very excellent farang, with four gorgeous Thai guys accompanying you!" laughs R.

"You're like Charlie from Charlie's Angels," says B, expanding on the joke.

I laugh, although I feel slightly peeved because the age gap between us all is nowhere near as big as the gap was between Charlie and his angels!

"So which of us are you going to take home with you for the night?" asks another of B's friends, "you got four handsome Thai guys to choose from!"

Looking at each of them in turn, they're all lovely guys, and indeed I've wanted to get B himself into bed for ages! But of course, it's not a serious offer.

"I'm the spicy one," says R with a cheeky tone in his voice. And then with a whisper to me, so that the other guys can't quite hear, "I'm like a little Mexican chilli! Not big, but definitely HOT!"

Interesting! Is R propositioning me? There's definitely something quite cute and appealing about him :-).

The evening continues in much the same vein, with R looking me in the eyes every now and then, until around 11:30pm when he asks me a question.

"You not going home yet, are you?" he asks.

"Well I feel a little tired, I think I'm a bit jet-lagged, but I'll stay for a bit longer :-)," I answer, smiling at him.

"I just need to go and do something," he says cryptically, talking to everyone now, "so I'll be back!" With that, he gets up and walks back to the main road.

While he's gone, a little plan hatches in my mind. If I make my excuses now, I might just be able to intercept R when he's on his way back to join us. Even with my beer goggles on, I wouldn't want B and his other friends to see me leave with R. I quite like the idea of finding out more about his Mexican chilli! Of course, if I leave now I might not be able to meet R, because none of us have any idea where he's gone. But then, so what! I do feel a bit tired and jet-lagged, so the most sensible course of action is probably to go home alone anyway :-).

I put my plan into action, and having said my goodbyes, I stand up to leave. Just then, R arrives back and sits down at the table :-(. Ahhh well, perhaps my plan was a bit too cunning. I'm not going to be able to take him back and impress him with the size of my hotel room now!

"Hope to see you again," I say to R as I'm leaving, and as I start to walk away I think he looks a bit surprised and disappointed.

But as I'd thought when I was hatching the plan in the first place, going home alone for a sound night's sleep is probably the best plan anyway. In any case, I do have a boyfriend, even if he's not with me at the moment. We've discussed the monogamy issue, and although I know that he doesn't expect me to be monogamous in this situation, I know that he prefers it!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

An email about homophobia in Italy

A couple of days ago, I received the following email from a reader who's emailed me before:

Dear GB,

You may remember that you gave me much advice a month or two ago about a few relationship tangles I was having. As it happens my ex and the boy I liked really got together, and now I won't see them for a long time. But apart from that, things are solved!

I have now decided to escape to Italy, and work in Rome as a teacher (before doing a philosophy PhD in England). I plan to be there for 1 year, if not several years. But I'm worried. I don't know whether you've been following the news in Italy over the past years, but their LGBT human rights record is one of the most terrible in Western Europe. There is more hate crime there (than in the UK). And, most recently, there have been a spate of violent attacks against gay people in Rome. Added to this, a friend of mine in Italy says that he has to be very private about his life, and found the transition from living in London to living in Italy quite difficult.

Now, I fully realise that Italy is, at least to some extent, a liberal democracy(!). I realise that the situation of LGBT people in Italy may be a whole lot better than that of lots of other Eastern European Countries, and perhaps some Western European countries, too (Portugal comes to mind). You might, therefore, feel that I am over-reacting.

But I just thought some who read your blog might be able to share their experiences of life in Italy, specifically Rome, and perhaps give me advice. Or perhaps you may be able to help in some way?

It would be great to hear from you,

Best wishes,

It was good to hear from him too, so I sent him a quick email to say that I was sorry to hear that his ex had got together with the boy that he liked. I imagine that that's quite painful for him, but at least the good thing is that he's moved on. Apart from possible gay issues, I'm sure that he'll enjoy the experience of working in Rome for a year or more.

I don't have much experiences of homophobia in Italy. I've visited Italy many times to visit Italian clients of the banks that I've worked for, and many times for holidays with friends, boyfriends and family. I personally haven't experienced any homophobia. I've been into gay bars there, one gay night club in Rome in the 1990's, and several gay saunas in Rome too on various occasions. However, it's true that the number of gay venues in Rome is vastly fewer than the number in London. Perhaps that statistic alone tells the story that LGBT people are less accepted than they are in the UK.

Anyway, if any readers have any experience of gay life in Italy, please leave a comment.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Who wants to go to Heaven?

"Hey GB, look at this!" says boyfriend T excitedly, "This magazine says that X-factor star Lloyd Daniels will be performing at Heaven tonight :-)."

It's Saturday night just over a week ago, and I'm in a gay bar in central London with boyfriend T. We've planned to meet B (my gorgeous Japanese masseur) socially for a few drinks. While we're waiting for him to arrive, we're idly looking through the free gay newspapers and magazines that are always available in these kind of venues.

"I didn't know that you're a fan of Lloyd Daniels?" I say, slightly bemused, "He's a bit young for you isn't he!"

"Well he's not my favourite, but he's sings well so it might be fun to see him perform live :-). And you know that I've always wanted to go Heaven!"

We're still discussing the merits of Lloyd Daniels and a possible visit to Heaven when B arrives.

"Hey B, do you fancy a trip to Heaven tonight?" asks boyfriend T immediately, keen to drum up support for his idea.

"Could do :-)" replies B in a non-committal way, "Anyway, does anyone want a drink?"

But about half an hour later, after a trip to the toilets, B comes back brandishing the kind of bracelet that get's put on your wrist to identify you while you're in hospital.

"Look," says B, "I can get into Heaven tonight for just £2 with this wrist band :-)."

"Great," says boyfriend T, "where did you get that? Can we get them too?"

"Yes of course, there's a guy outside giving them away for free!"

It's probably been around ten years since I went to Heaven, and although I don't spend much time in night clubs these days, I am curious to see what it's like now.

We finish our drinks and soon, after a brief walk, we're queuing to get into Heaven. Inside, all the walls are painted black just like they always used to be, and I struggle to work out if anything's changed since my last visit.

"I'll swear that there used to be a walkway high up along that wall, from where you could look down on the main dance floor," I say, after we've walked around a bit to get an idea of what's available, "but the rest looks pretty similar!"

We buy some drinks, and settle in for a while on the smaller upstairs dance floor. But the music upstairs seems like less fun to us than what's being played on the main dance floor, so after about half an hour we head back downstairs.

"Oh my god!" I laugh as an old song that I recognise begins, "I can't believe that they still play this!!"

"What is it?" asks boyfriend T.

"KYLIE :-)."

Just to emphasise how little has changed, Madonna's Vogue follows Better the devil you know. However, I'm also surprised about how much of the new stuff that gets played turns out to be songs that I've downloaded for my iPod! When it comes to music, I guess it just proves that there are certain songs which appeal to gay men, even if they don't go to dance clubs much any more.

Eventually Lloyd Daniels makes his appearance, and all of a sudden it looks like the audience have all raised candles into the air. But of course they're not candles, instead it's the bright displays of iPhones, Blackberrys and other such devices which can take photos!

Overall, Lloyd Daniels acquits himself reasonably well, alhough the three songs that he sings don't really fit very well with the night club setting. Interestingly, compared to the impossibly cute and boyish image that he'd been given on X-factor, on stage at Heaven he looks much more beefy and grown up. I've always said that I prefer my men to be fully developed, so even though he's far too young for me, the guy that I saw from a distance that night at Heaven was much more appealing to me!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Giving to charities at Christmas

Christmas treeI've been giving a bit of money to charities at Christmas for many years now. Each month throughout the year, I put some money into my account at the Charities Aid Foundation. If a friend asks me for sponsorship during the year then I take the money out of that account, but this usually means that there's spare money in the account at the end of the year. Last year the excess in the account was £1.3k, but this year the excess is £1.6k, which is the same as it was in 2007. So it's time to give it all to good causes :-).

In connection with all of this, for the last couple of years (2007, 2008) I've donated some money to charities that readers of this blog have suggested. This year I've already had one email about this, from a reader who wants me to donate to a charity called Help for Heroes. But if any other readers have any requests I'd be happy to take them into account too, as long as the suggestions are registered UK charities :-).

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Being gay in Trinidad and Tobago

About a week ago, the following brief email arrived in my inbox:

hi there i find it difficult to find gay parties in trinidad am a in the closet guy and will like to have as much gay sexual contacts with men but i cant find anyone i want to be touched and explored by another guy i like adventure

I got the impression that this guy might have felt he was risking a lot by emailing me, so I felt that I should help him if I could. Luckily, a good gay friend of mine comes from Trinidad, so I asked him if he could draft an answer for me. This is what he said:

It can be difficult to find a gay party in Trinidad. But, it does happen nonetheless under a huge cloak of secrecy and last minute planning. This is to ensure the authorities don't have much time to react and either lodge complaints or have the police organize a raid.

Because I have been out of the country for a few years well many things have since changed. In my day I used to network among my circle of gay friends and that is how I found out about the rare secret parties that used to be held in the capital Port of Spain. So, it is a good idea for this writer to start by doing some networking among his gay friends. In a small country as Trinidad, word of mouth can go a long way.

In this age of social networking I've noticed that a good amount of the parties have started to take shape in this medium. Social websites such as Facebook and MySpace would be a good start for this reader. I know for a fact if he does a search for two of the main gay party planners and ask for a friend confirmation he will be on his way to a party fairly soon. I suggest the writer join:

1. Paradise People
2. Poolside Crew
3. Maximum Crew
4. Caribbean Pride

I also recall going to a few drinks at a club in Port of Spain called Sky Bar located on Ariapita Avenue. From my last visit and backing up with a Google search, the club is still running. My advise is to proceed with some caution as certain days/nights are designated gay. It is simply not profitable or wise to run a club in Trinidad as strictly gay!

The writer sounds inexperienced so a good dose of social networking should find him in a few gay groups/circles in Trinidad where he can start making friends and going out to parties. I know from experience that if he plays his cards right he can find exactly what he's looking for at the parties - just remember to play safe!

If any other readers are from that part of the world, it would be good to get your views too.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

The housing arrangements

A couple of months ago, I'm chatting to boyfriend T over dinner in a restaurant. As I look lovingly into his gorgeous eyes, I can't stop myself from asking him an important question:

"T, why don't you move in and live with me full time?"

"Wow," he says after a short stunned pause, "that's a big step!"

"Yes, but it makes so much sense :-)," I reply hopefully, "after all, you spend a lot of time at my house anyway."

"I know, but don't forget that none of my friends or family know that I'm gay :-(. So what happens if any of them come and visit me in London?"

"Well, I'm sure we could put them up in our home :-)."

"But then they'll see that I sleep in the same bed as you!" he says, shaking his head at me, "I know that I could save a lot of money by moving in with you, but for now, paying for my own separate accommodation to make sure that nobody finds out I'm gay is money well spent!"

"Awwww ..."

"Don't worry, maybe one day ..."

Before I ever asked T to be my boyfriend, this was the main thing that worried me, namely the fact that he is so closeted. So after that brief conversation, I thought it best to drop the subject of whether we should live together or not. I figured that I needed to give boyfriend T a bit of space, to sort out matters in his own mind.

A couple of days ago, boyfriend T is staying round my house for the night. When it's time to go to bed, I end up using the bathroom first, so I'm first into bed. The good thing about being first into bed is that I get to watch boyfriend T taking all his clothes off, which I always enjoy :-).

"GB ...," says boyfriend T as he pulls down his undershorts.

"Yeah," I answer, paying more attention to boyfriend T's beautiful buttocks instead of what he's saying.

"Do you remember that chat that we had, about whether I could live here?"

"Yes of course."

"Well," says boyfriend T, taking a deep breath, "Do you still think it would be OK if I moved in with you?"

"Yes of course :-), wow, are you really thinking about coming to live with me :-))."

"Well it's so hard living in two places, because I've got some stuff here and some stuff there, you know! But I might need you to put a bed into that room that you've said could be my study, so that if any friends come to visit then I can pretend that I sleep there."

"OK," I reply, "I'm sure we can sort something out!"

"Don't get too excited just yet though," he cautions, "because I'm not sure yet! The main reason for moving in would be so that we could be together :-). But I'm still worried about outing myself."

The next morning, I give him a key to my house while we're having breakfast together. Previously, he'd always refused to take one, but this time he accepts. I still don't know whether he'll come and live with me yet, but just knowing that he's seriously thinking about it makes me happy :-).