Saturday, August 28, 2010

Email from a reader in Buenos Aires in his 20's

A couple of weeks ago, a Latin American reader sent me an email telling me about his life:

Hi GB,

I honestly can't think of a reason to be writing you. But I kind of had the urge to do it. I think I should start by introducing myself:

I'm not British, and English is not even my first language. I live in Buenos Aires, a city you happened to visit 4 years ago. I am a gay man, I'm 25 years old. I study film making and I work for a large American company.

My story goes pretty much like this:

I grew up knowing that I was gay. I just couldn't accept it. My parents even sent me to therapy because they felt I was a 'little' too girlish, and they were scared I might turn out to be a homosexual. Then, I don't know what happened in the middle but my sexuality wasn't a problem anymore. I suddenly found a way to suppress all of my feelings towards men and in fact towards anybody. In fact I had a pretty much uneventful adolescence.

Back in 2004, I was friends with this guy that I considered him to be the best friend a person could ask for, and all of the sudden it hit me: I had fallen for him, I had feelings! So I had to get him out of my life somehow, so I killed him (kidding ... I didn't). We had this great fight over some keys and we have barely talked to each other ever since. I know it sounds stupid, but at the time it felt like the right thing to do. My love for him was getting bigger and bigger each day, and I hated that, hence I hated him.

And at the same time as I was falling in love deeper and deeper with this guy, I started kissing girls and fooling around with them, maybe it was a way to make me believe I wasn't gay at all. Years go by and I even attempt to have sex with girls but nope, it wouldn't work out! It just didn't feel right for me. Even when my friends thought me to be the 'promiscuous' of the group. I wasn't, I was a virgin. So it's year 2007 and I find the right girl, Daniela. I'm not sure if I've ever fallen in love for her. But I really loved her and I still do. We only had sex once, after 7 months of having been seeing each other. And when I was convinced that I finally got to love someone, another man appears. A 35 year old sociologist. Anguish, anxiety, depression. All of those things and more were the kind of feelings that I had back then. I couldn't deny it anymore. I was gay. And the weirdest thing is that when I was thinking of breaking-up with Daniela, she came to me and told me that she didn't have it for me anymore. I was totally shocked by that, but at the same time was glad 'cause now I could go have a relationship with this sociologist guy.

Well after some comings & goings we ended up together. Or should I say, he ended up fucking me and leaving me ten minutes after he came. Yeah, it was very harsh. But I did learn a lot. Now, I know what I like, I had this 2-year-long relationship with a 39 years old guy who I happened to know while cruising on the internet trying to look for sex, but that is another story.

Right now all of my friends know I'm gay, they even know it at work, and we sometimes hang out at this gay party that goes on Fridays with some of my straight colleagues. I managed to make some really good gay friends who helped to get to know the Buenos Aires gay scene. And even my mom knows, and now she's become one big gay activist. I dunno if you know this, but Argentina has become the first Latin America country in legalising gay marriage. Here's a link to the BBC article with that news.

But why am I writing all of this? I don't really know. I perhaps should tell you how I came across your blog a week ago. I've recently been having doubts on how gay male relationships work, is it okay to be in an open one? Or should it be a monogamous one? Even when I don't know the answer I thought your blog was the most interesting and most intelligent I've found on the web. I even told a friend of mine to go read it. He thought it was a big load of lies and unbelievable stories. But even if they are lies and you're making all this up, you still manage to point some interesting and unique points. But I do believe you. Yes! There is a chance that you're a good writer who finds some time to write a beautiful drama as an everlasting novel.

In the last couple of days I've pretty much went through the five years you've been writing this blog and it has made me think and rethink some things I thought I had the answers for. And for this I am really grateful so...Thanks!

I don't want you to consider me as some kind of 'admirer' because it's not like that at all. I just really really appreciate the possibility of seeing and sharing the world and the view we had of it with different people. And you give a great outlook on life.

Well, I think I've written a quite large email, hope you didn't get bored or anything.

Hope everything is good with you and at least I get a reply from you.

PS: Keep on blogging, I know it'll eventually come to its end, as everything else does...but not just yet, okay? :-P

In fact, I did notice that Argentina had legalised gay marriage. I think that's a great step forward for us all :-). But I was curious to know why this reader's friend thought that my blog is lies, so I sent the reader an email to ask him. The answer turned out to be quite simple:

My friend thinks your blog isn't true because he usually doesn't believe in stories of someone he doesn't know and leads a more interesting life than he does!

As I said to the reader in my response to him, a couple of years ago I did a poll to ask everyone whether they thought my blog is true or not. The majority got the answer right. That's still the right answer today, namely that my blog is mostly true :-). The "mostly" typically means that I occasionally do things like combine two slightly interesting true stories into one more interesting story, or in conversations I'll make some minor changes to what people said, often for the sake of clarity. I reckon changes like that are just part of the art of blogging!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


I accidentally stumbled upon a recent ruling from the UK supreme court today. In an appeal case relating to whether to grant political asylum to two gay men, one from Iran and one from Cameroon, freedom for men to live their lives in different ways was illustrated as follows:
Just as male heterosexuals are free to enjoy themselves playing rugby, drinking beer and talking about girls with their mates, so male homosexuals are to be free to enjoy themselves going to Kylie concerts, drinking exotically coloured cocktails and talking about boys with their straight female mates.
Until I read that, I had no idea that the judges who preside in the UK's supreme court had such a strong grip on the way gay men lead their lives :-).

Sunday, August 22, 2010

At last: :-)

Back in early 2007, I blogged that someone was cybersquatting the natural domain name for this blog. A company had paid $200 for, so no doubt if I'd wanted to acquire it they'd have wanted to charge me at least that much.

In fact, I didn't even bother to contact them. Instead I waited. The credit crunch and the sub-prime crisis probably helped by making bankers unpopular, because eventually the domain name registration of expired. So just over a week ago I decided to buy it, for the standard low price of a new domain name. If you now go to, you get forwarded to this blog, and similarly I've now got a email address too. So what my grandmother told me is true after all, patience is a virtue, even in fast-moving cyberspace!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Email from a guy with a boyfriend who's not out at work

Last week, I got the following email from an American reader:

Dear GB,

I have just started reading your blog and must say I have found it very interesting to date.

I am a guy in my early 20's and have been in a relationship for four years or so with a guy who is ten years older, and who's been working in banking for the past 15 years.

We live together in NYC and have a good relationship most of the time.

One thing that does trouble me, however, is that nobody at work knows anything at all. We live in SoHo which is quite close to the Financial District, so are often bumping into his colleagues etc. The other day, for instance, we were in the local deli and he ran out upon seeing one of his colleagues as he did not want to be seen with me.

Firstly, is it wrong that I find this a bit insulting? Normally I am quite outspoken if there is a problem but for some reason I just let it go despite being annoyed on the inside.

Secondly, I don't work in banking so I don't really have an understanding of what the atmosphere/environment would be like should he reveal all so to speak.

I am a relatively normal acting guy, although I suppose I can be a bit camp if I have had a drink. I am not out at work (am relatively new so it is yet to come up) but previously if anyone has asked or indicated they know I have been honest about it. I have to be honest, I do find it hard in a professional environment to deal with really camp people flouncing around and making a spectacle of themselves so I can understand how negative opinions can be formed. But my boyfriend is not like that at all. If he has worked there for many years surely it would not have a significant impact, should he actually acknowledge who he is?

Have you experienced anything similar at all, or do you have any suggestions of how to tackle this? He tells me I know what he was like when we met so I shouldn’t have a problem, he kinda has a point but it is still very frustrating never the less.

I would be appreciative of your thoughts or any advice you may have.

Best regards

This kind of situation is common when one of the two guys in a gay relationship are at different stages of coming out. In fact I can relate strongly to the reader, because my boyfriend T is also closeted, possibly even more so than the reader's boyfriend! With boyfriend T, my only plan is to give him lots of love and support, and hope that he'll gradually feel more and more comfortable as a gay man.

With the reader's situation, one possibility is that in the past, his boyfriend has pretended to be straight when he's been at work. A consequence of this could be that the boyfriend would feel that he'd lose face if he comes out as gay. Unfortunately, if this is the case then the only way to solve the problem might be changing the bank that he works for.

In big international banks these days, when it comes to employing gay staff the key word is "Diversity". I mentioned this in the posting 'Email from a closeted investment banker' earlier this year. If the reader's boyfriend works for a big bank, then the reader could do research over the Internet to find out what the bank's diversity policy is. That information might help the reader's boyfriend feel more comfortable about coming out at work. Another point is that all the big banks also have networks of gay employees these days, so even if the reader can't work out if such a network exists at his boyfriend's bank, he might be able to encourage his boyfriend to find out.

Of course, rather than coming out with a big fanfare and dramatic announcement, it's much better just to stop pretending to be straight. A big coming out is always very egocentric, because with that the person coming out makes the assumption that people are interested. Instead, if the reader's boyfriend does reach the stage where he wants people to know, a better strategy is to quietly tell the biggest gossip in his department! A good thing about making sure other that colleagues know that you're is gay is that inappropriate questions about girlfriends or marriage will cease, and one can relax :-).

To answer the reader's question, although the boyfriend's behaviour is slightly insulting because it implies that the reader is less important than his boyfriends reputation, the behaviour is understandable. In any case, if all else fails, my plan of just loving my boyfriend as much as I can and making him feel more and more comfortable being gay is likely to work in the long term :-).

Do any other readers have any thoughts on the situation?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

An imposter!

A couple of days ago, I went out for supper to catch up with Close Encounters. I hadn't seen him since April, so last Friday we agreed to have supper together in a smart restaurant with a good wine list in central London :-).

"So how were your holidays?" I ask him, once we've handed our bags and umbrellas to the cute cloakroom attendant.

I get an answer to the question once we've made our way to the bar for a little pre-prandial cocktail, and given our order to the bartender.

"My holiday was pretty good :-), although I was only able to get away for a week," he replies, making himself comfy on the bar stool, and with a tone in his voice that suggests he wishes that he could have been away for longer.

"And what about men?" I giggle, keeping my voice down so that the bartender can't hear, "What were the natives like!"

"Actually I did manage to hook up while I was away :-)," he says with a cheeky grin on his face.

We talk a bit about the country that he visited, and end up chatting so much that the maître d' invites us to move to our table for dinner before we've finished our cocktails.

Later in the evening, the conversation inevitably wanders back towards our favourite subject.

"You're not on Grindr yet are you, GB?" asks Close Encounters.

"No, that's only available on the iPhone isn't it?" I answer swiftly, "I don't use the iPhone because I hate Apple! Anyway, why do you ask?"

"So it's not you then," replies Close Encounters, "I didn't think so!"

"What's not me?"

"There's a guy on Grindr who called himself 'The Gay Banker'," answers Close Encounters, "so I contacted him online to ask him if he knew that there was a blog of that name."

"Really? What did he say??"

"He said he knew about it, and even read it sometimes! And now I think the same guy has renamed his profile to 'Gay Banker', just like your blog!!"

"What a cheek!" I laugh, "If there's going to be someone known as 'Gay Banker' in cyberspace it should be ME, after all, I've had my blog for years now."

"Never mind, I'm sure that the imposter isn't as good at, um, activities as the real GB!"

The following day, Close Encounters sends me a pic of the 'Gay Banker' Grindr profile, which can be seen above. It seems strange that he hasn't posted a photo of himself like most Grindr users do, so he does seem to be associating himself with me because I keep my identity private as well. Now that I've thought about the situation a bit more, I've decided that it's a good thing. It's a well worn phrase, but I think it's true, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" :-).

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Indisputable proof that god does not exist

While we were in Fire Island recently, me and boyfriend T met up with my female Mexican friend N, who happened to be there at the same time with some of her girlfriends. It was good to see her again, and for a couple of lazy hours, we sit by the public swimming pool in Fire Island Pines, all drinking cocktails together.

"So what have you been up to recently," I ask, keen to know her news.

"Well, I'm finally divorced from that no good EX-husband of mine :-)," she says proudly. "I forced him to admit that it was his fault too, which it SO was. Now that we're legally divorced, I can move on properly!"

We chat a bit about the details, and about what she's been up to, but eventually the subject inevitably turns to men.

"Just LOOK at all these beautiful men around here!" says N loudly to everyone, glancing around at all the fit gay guys in their designer swimwear.

"I tell you," she continues, "this REALLY proves to me that there is no God!"

"How come?" asks boyfriend T, not sure what she's getting at.

"All these perfect gorgeous gym-toned male bodies make me moist, but I know where I am. NONE of them want to fuck me! A fair God wouldn't let that happen!!"

We all burst out laughing, and of feeling of euphoria sweeps over me. Ever since I was a little boy I've wondered whether there was a god or not, so I feel elated to finally know the answer :-).

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Email from a closeted gay British guy

A couple of weeks ago, a reader sent me an email with the title "Please help me :(". The text of his email was as follows:

Dear GB,

You have a great blog and some very amusing articles. I've just read your posting titled Email from a closeted Asian gay guy. It's so interesting and real. The article is very similar to my story.

Here is my situation:

I'm a fit and healthy 26 year old guy who is moving to London in September as I will be doing my masters degree there. Although I am excited, thrilled and looking forward to the educational experience, I am still quite nervous. Why? Well ...

I don't know anyone at all in London - no-one :( and if I am honest, I am quite scared at the thought of being lonely in the big smoke. I'm from the Midlands and I have just finished my undergraduate degree. It was a fun experience, but none of my friends are moving to London and they have found jobs in the Midlands. Throughout my undergrad degree I have only known straight people, and I have now decided that I really want a relationship and want to find some like-minded guys.

I really need your help, as I don't know what to do. I really would like to meet some like-minded people who are gay. I don't have any gay friends, all my friends are straight. I did contact the LGBT union at my London college, but I have not heard back from them and it has been a few months now. I am not on facebook and I think most of their members are on facebook.

I really want some gay friends who can really understand me. Sometimes there are things that I cannot talk about to my family, cousins or friends, as it is very hard for them to understand. I just want someone to talk to. I just need some advice. I don't drink, so I don't really want to go into a gay bar. I don't like the scene here in the Midlands that much. If you haven't guessed already, I'm an Asian closet guy.

Sometimes I feel really guilty being the way I am. I have been born and raised in a very strict household and I have not been able to experience some things which other people may have. This just makes me so upset and if I'm honest I do sometimes get depressed thinking about my life ahead - if I will be able to ever enjoy a healthy relationship or find some real genuine gay guys.

The 2 guys who were on my course at uni, were very camp (I don't like to label people), but I am just not into camp guys and I myself am very straight acting.

I really don't know what to do. I will be renting accommodation on the outskirts of London, not exactly the best place as it is a bit of a journey to the campus in central London.

I would really appreciate your advice. I know that you are very busy with the blog and the numerous e-mails you must receive.

Please help me.

As soon as I read this I immediately sent him an email, telling that him that I'm sure he'll be fine when he comes to London. There are bound to be other new students like him, who don't have any friends in London yet. Of course, I also offered to do a "Dear GB" posting for him. The next day I got his reply:

Thanks so much for responding so quickly. There might be other guys like me, but I don't know anyone at all in London and if I'm honest, I don't really want to go out on my own. I have always been to restaurants/cinemas/shopping with my straight friends or cousins, but it's so hard when I have to put a fake act on and pretend to like girls. I just want to be myself, let my inhibitions go and just be me. I don't like being this alter-ego kind of guy that has to follow the "norm".

I have found that the only way I can do that is if I start afresh and move out of my strict household, which is why I am going to do my masters in London. I want to broaden my horizons meet some people who are more like me, i.e. gay. Here in the Midlands it's nice but all my friends are straight. Sometimes I have to make up stories about my "interesting" life just to fit in with the straight people I know.

I don't want to be a bother, but if you want you could do a "Dear GB" post, maybe I could see what others have to say - I would really like that. You really are an inspirational guy and I have so much respect for you and the blog you have created, I am sure it has helped so many guys (and women) out there, it certainly has helped me.

Is there any other advice you can give me? I would really appreciate it. Do you know any other Asian gay guys who would be willing to guide/help me?

Sometimes what I really really want is just someone to talk to, someone who can just accept me for who I am.

My first thoughts were that this guy must have had to make friends before, when starting out at a new school or at university. But then I realised that if he comes from a big family which has always lived in the same place, perhaps with lots of aunts and uncles living nearby, then even on his first day at his first school there could have been siblings and cousins in the same school as him. So moving down to London, away from that safe but sterile environment is going to be very good for his personal development. He just needs a bit of confidence :-).

As a student, the easiest way to make friends will be through the college that's he's going to attend. That's because there'll be lots of new students, all feeling a bit lost and hoping to make new friends. As a graduate, he'll be older than most of the new undergraduate students, but there will also be new postgraduate students. The hardest new postgraduate students to make friends with will be the ones who also did their undergraduate degree at his new college, because they'll probably already have a circle of friends. New postgraduates from outside London, including new overseas postgraduates, will be the easiest ones to make friends with.

But of course, to make gay friends he'll have to go to the LGBT union at his London college. At the start of the new academic year they'll be expecting new gay students to be starting their studies, so it'll be a good time to start going along to their events. There may be a few camp guys there, because there's no doubt that some gay guys do behave like that, but I hope that won't put him off. In any case, my experience these days is that there are more so called straight-acting gay guys than camp gay guys on the London gay scene.

Incidentally, I also think that he should join facebook. The fact that he hasn't joined facebook yet suggests to me that he comes from a small close-knit group of friends and family, where everyone sees each other relatively regularly. However, people who live in a more dynamic environment find social networking websites like facebook indispensable for keeping in touch with all their friends and acquaintances. Perhaps some of his friends are already members, in which case joining facebook would be a good way of keeping in touch with them while he's in London. Just because he's gay, there's no reason to lose touch with one's straight friends. If he does join facebook, then to start with he won't have friends on the system, but he mustn't feel embarrassed about that. It's perfectly natural for all new users to start with no friends on the system, and just because he's doesn't have any facebook friends, it doesn't mean that he doesn't have any friends at all!

With all the new people that this reader meets, he must try to be himself. Although it should be the most natural thing in the world, my guess is that he'll find it hard to start with, because for so long he's been pretending to be a straight guy.

Beyond his college, London is a big place with lots of gay life. The GMFA web site is an excellent resource, giving details of different gay interest groups around the country, with a lot of London listings. The gay listings in London's Time Out magazine are also useful. More than that, lots of gay guys in London have profiles on dating web sites like gaydar, so that's another way of meeting other gay guys. I also know have friends who've met up thanks to sites like OutEverywhere.

It's a pity that he's going to be living on the outskirts of the City, because he'd get much more out of London if he lived closer to the centre. My guess is that he's planning to live on the outskirts so that he can live as cheaply as possible. It could also be that the place where he'll be living is owned by a distant family member or family friend, and that consequently he's got a good deal on the rent. In any case, once he's settled into his M.A. course, if he's got any spare time I think he should try and get some sort of part-time job so that he can earn a bit of money. If he can find a way of earning some money, perhaps he'd be able to move closer to his college, which would definitely be a good idea if his intended accommodation is somehow connected with his family. He doesn't need to sever connections with his family, but it would be better if he was more independent.

Back in his home town, I can't help wondering whether some of his friends or cousins suspect that he's gay. If he's been pretending to be interested in girls, then I'd guess that even if he had a girlfriend for a while, it probably didn't last very long. If anyone has guessed it might make it easier for him when he does eventually come out to them. However, I wouldn't suggest that anyone comes until they feel a little bit of gay pride. Since he's been living in the closet, that will take time, so for now I wouldn't suggest that he starts coming out to people from his home town.

Does anyone else have any other thoughts for this reader?

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Mixing business and pleasure

Last week I had to go on a business trip. At the end of the week, boyfriend T was able to join me, so together we headed off for a fun weekend next to the sea. But can anyone work out where we were from the pictures below? And for extra marks, in the bottom picture can anyone say what the tents on the beach were for?