Sunday, June 29, 2008

A reader's first gay experience

For a couple of years now, I've been in occasional contact with an Asian reader of mine, mostly by email but including a few MSN conversations too. He's a guy who identifies as being gay, but until recently had never had a physical experience with another guy. Almost since we started communicating with each other I'd been trying to persuade him to find a nice guy for a bit of fun, so that he could find out whether he enjoys gay sex or not. Since he lives in a big American city with a large gay population, I reasoned that there must be at least one gay guy who he'd find attractive enough for a first experience!

Last week, he finally sent me an email to tell me that he'd had his first gay experience, in which he also described exactly what happened. I thought that his story might be useful to other guys who're in a similar position, such as the guy who was looking for light fun recently, so I managed to get my Asian reader's permission to post his email. It goes into more explicit detail that I usually post here so be warned. However if anyone does want to read the story of his first gay experience Click here.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

David Barton

I started going to the gym regularly a long time ago. Over the years I've noticed that I go through phases of good levels of attendance, with occasional phases of lower attendance when I get hit by heavy workloads, business trips, holidays, injuries or illness. Since I joined my new gym though, I've been going through a particularly good phase, so in anticipation of my forthcoming business trip I was keen to find a way to try and keep it up while in New York.

"Do you know of any good gyms in NYC?" I asked boyfriend P a couple of weeks ago before my trip.

"I'm sure there are loads," he replied, "It depends what you want?"

"Well somewhere interesting would be nice, perhaps in Chelsea? Isn't that where all the gay guys hang out these days?"

"Maybe you should try the David Barton gym then? From what I've heard it's very gay and full-on, with lots of porn stars, escorts and celebs going there!"

Perfect :-). Sounds exactly like the kind of place that a disreputable blogger like me should be seen at!

So on my second evening in New York, I get my first surprise when I turn up outside the David Barton gym in Chelsea. It's in an old YMCA building! Once inside, a charming young woman shows me round the main gym areas.

"The cardio equipment and the studios for classes are all here on the main floor," she explains, "and the weights are all down in the basement. Actually tonight is a good night to visit because there's a DJ :-)."

I've certainly never heard of that before, a gym with a DJ mixing up rhythms to exercise to!

The changing rooms turn out to be on the first floor. Although I'm not quite sure where to go, I spot MEN painted in huge two feet high letters on one of the walls so I follow the wall round into the changing rooms. It seems very empty in there, and then suddenly I get a shock. I spot a woman who's just about to take off her gym shoes! But what on earth is a woman doing in the men's changing rooms, unless ... ? I hastily retreat, only to be greeted by another woman who's entering as I'm leaving:

"Excuse me, are you lost?" she asks with a tone of voice which suggests mild irritation.

"Errrr, yes, I think so!" I reply, not sure what to say. Somehow I've obviously ended up in the women's changing rooms :-(.

But how on earth did I make that mistake? Looking again at the MEN painted in huge letters on the wall, I realise all too late that when I spotted it I'd already walked past the first two letters of the word, namely the 'W' and the 'O'! Putting my error down to mild jet lag, I take the other path now and thankfully find myself inside the Men's changing rooms. In contrast to the women's locker room it's very crowded.

I end up going for a 20 minute run before heading down into the basement to find the free weights. The floor at the bottom of the stairs is packed full of exercise machines, with a huge rack of free weights along the back wall, and a big old YMCA sign propped up along one of the other walls. As I wander around to get my bearings, I realise that it's 99% men, if not more. Some are chatting with each other, but many more are single guys spending a good proportion of their time looking at all the other guys, including me! Coupled with the beat of the DJ's music I realise that I could be in a gay dance club, at the start of the evening when the music is less hardcore.

On cue, I notice a couple of well built guys joking with each other in the free weights area. Both are wearing quite skimpy gym vests, which certainly show off their huge muscles to good effect. They put their arms around each other ballroom dancing style, and then move their legs backwards and forwards while looking at themselves in the mirrors, as one of them tries to teach the other guy something. Somehow it seems perfectly in tune with the relaxed cruisey gay atmosphere. This definitely isn't a straight gym!

After my workout I head back to the changing rooms, wondering whether there are any spa facilities. Sure enough, at the back of the shower area I find a steam room. Inside the steam is really thick, so thick that I find myself bumping into another guy who's standing right next to me. Gradually the steam clears slightly, and I notice that there's seating at two levels along the walls. Most guys are wearing towels around their waist, although a couple of the guys who're seated have let their towels slip a bit, allowing the rest of us a peek at their wares :-). Just as the steam seems to have cleared enough to be able to see one end of the room from the other, I hear the hissing of fresh steam again as the next cycle begins.

In my experience, for cruising purposes this very thick steam is simultaneously a hindrance and a blessing. The problem with it is that it's hard to make contact with other like-minded guys, because when one can hardly see the guy who's standing next to you eye-contact is obviously difficult too! However the good thing about very thick steam is that if one does find a willing participant, no one else can see what you get up to, which makes activities possible even in quite crowded circumstances.

After a couple of steam cycles I head for the showers. I'm meeting boyfriend P for supper in a restaurant a few blocks away and I don't want to be late. But I certainly found my visit to the David Barton gym in Chelsea very enjoyable. If I ever move to live over in New York for a while, I might even become a member!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Email from a British guy who's ethnically Indian

A wonderful film, and especially interesting I imagine if you're a gay South Asian guyA few days ago I got an email from an Asian guy, which was as follows:

Dear GB,

It's nice to know that there are gay men working within the finance industry in London, especially in investment, and possibly in Canary Wharf. It's nice and sort of a relief to know this because I always thought that the industry was and still is highly homophobic.

What's a guy to do when he dreams of working within such an industry at a top firm when he himself is questioning if he could indeed be straight, bi or gay and yet cannot bring himself to be 100% sure.

I'm a small town guy who has big city dreams, who is trapped by numerous invisible, seemingly infinite barriers. At the moment I only look on and dream of making a new life for myself in London.

But things aren't ever so easy, are they??

I'm an only son born into an 'average' Asian family with a mother and father who are deeply conservative, despite their protestations otherwise. Like a good Asian I'm to grow-up, be educated, get married, have children, carry on the family name and not be gay.

I'm 26, if I go through uni, then by the time I graduate I'll be 29.........Possibly too old to start a career in finance, in London, as a fresh graduate, especially as a Stockbroker.

My relationship with my father is at best strained. If I'm gay, it may finish him as his health isn't amazing, he may cut me off and force me out. I need to hold on until I set myself up. But when?

Everyday I die a little. I suffer from depression, of which I am now just beginning to overcome. I'm single and haven't had any relationships that my family know of. My father hears from some relatives about how their sons are dating, engaged etc. And here I am hiding the fact that I'm bothered about getting old, missed and am missing what are supposed to be the best years of my life and the fact that I'm close to tears, but cannot cry. Everything I do in my life is a precaution, from saving money, making investments, people, education, to learning from others.

If you met me on the street, you'd think nothing of it, the chances are that you'd see someone who's okay, not someone who's falling to pieces deep inside - I sometimes wonder if my performance is worthy of an Oscar.

I've never met you. I've no idea if you really work as a banker, in investment, in London. I've no idea how old you are, which firm you work for, if you are 'out' to all you know. But if you're true, I respect you.

They say that times of adversity are a test of character......But I'm tired and tired of being tired.

I've not really asked any questions in this e-mail. I guess I'm just e-mailing after stumbling upon your blog earlier today, and wondering if you've any advice whatsoever.


It's true that in devising the title for this posting, I made a couple of assumptions. Although he doesn't say so, the email gives the strong impression that this reader lives in the UK. That means that he's probably ethnically Indian or Pakistani, because that's what the term Asian often means here in the UK. I also know that the family pressure to conform in the Indian and Pakistani communities can be enormous, so it's not surprising that the poor guy is under so much stress and suffers from depression.

Having read his email a few times, I think that this reader must find a way to go to university somewhere. Preferably this would be in a town or city that's a long way from this home town, so that he can escape the influence of his family, and try and develop some independence. The goal is to get qualifications so that he can get himself a good job of some sorts, on his own merits, rather than working in the family business. If he can gain some independence, the pressures he feels from his family will start to subside, and he can start to feel more comfortable about working out what his sexuality is.

Stockbroking or banking are good careers, but they're just two perhaps rather old-fashioned careers now that we're firmly in the Internet age. It may well be that at the other end of a university course the reader is more interested in other careers, so he should try to keep his options open. Focusing on whatever he finds most interesting would be sensible, because people are more successful when they're engaged in subjects that they enjoy.

Going to university needs funding of course. When I went to university in the 1980's there was free state funding in the form of student grants, but that's now been replaced by student loans. Even if his family will give or loan him the money that he'll need, he may feel he doesn't want to rely on them for that, in which case he shouldn't be scared of taking a student loan. Supplementing his income with part time jobs while he's at university is another idea.

If he does manage to go to university, I would expect that he'll find it very hard at first and that he'll initially be very disoriented because he'll be in unfamiliar territory. He'll have to persevere, and perhaps keeping his goal of independence from his family firmly in his mind will help him get through the first few months. Once he settles in though, he should try and enjoy himself :-).

Although the reader isn't sure whether he's gay or straight, it's true that London is a good place to be in the UK for gay guys. There are lots of jobs in London too, not just stockbroking or banking ones, so at the end of his university course I would suggest that he thinks about moving to London for whatever career he wants to follow.

Finally, he's worrying about missing "the best years of his life". I've never subscribed to the concept that any particular time in my life has been "the best years" because each new chapter brings new challenges and new rewards. However, the fact that this reader's adult life has been so unhappy up to now makes me certain that if one does think about "the best years", for this guy they're definitely in front of him!

Do any other readers have any further thoughts for this guy?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

An entertaining evening with my friend P

It had been a while since I last saw my friend P, so last week I arranged to go out for supper to catch up with him. I always like P's company because he's got an interesting outlook on life. Coupled with his amusing desire to find a rich boyfriend, he's got a rampant appetite for gay sex, all of which he enjoys telling me about :-).

The other thing about my friend P is that ever since he discovered me logged into google as GB, I've had a suspicion that he's become one of my readers without telling me that he found my blog. However, I recently hatched a plan to work out the truth, one way or the other! During the course of the evening there's bound to be an opportunity to implement the plan, and although it's not completely foolproof, it should be a very strong indicator. With all this running through my mind, we meet up in a bar in Soho in central London one evening last week.

"So who's this new boyfriend that you've been seeing for the past month, then?" I ask, "and have you got any pictures you can show me :-)."

"Yeah sure, hang on," says P getting his mobile phone out, "he's a Polish plumber, only been over here for about a year so his English isn't very good, but he definitely makes up for it in other ways!"

"So he's been seeing to all your plumbing has he?" I say mischievously, attempting a weak double entendre on the word 'plumbing'.

"Yeah you bet!" replies P enthusiastically, "he's absolutely gorgeous isn't he :-). Hey GB, where's that spreadsheet that you keep on your PDA for assessing my boyfriends, can you bring it up?"

I find the spreadsheet and P reviews the four categories that we set up back in 2006. Soon he's marked his Polish plumber as Appearance=35%, Personality=30%, Wedge=15%, Trouser Dept= 20%.

"Actually that's not too far from what I originally thought my ideal was," says P with a satisfied tone in his voice. "Why don't you work out what marks boyfriend S would get, just for fun?"

"I guess I could, but if I do that I should probably assess boyfriend P as well," I laugh, as though P knows exactly who boyfriend P is, before adding "actually did I ever tell you that I've got another boyfriend who lives abroad?"

This is it! I know damm well that I've NEVER told my friend P about boyfriend P!! He knows how long I've been with boyfriend S, and in the past he's said that we're the most stable gay couple he knows, so this piece of news should be a complete bombshell to him. But if he's been secretly reading my blog he'll know all about my other boyfriends, and I doubt that he'll have time to prepare the right reaction given that I've introduced boyfriend P's existence into the conversation without warning.

P looks at me blankly! His eyes glaze over slightly as he sits back in his chair and looks away from me, before leaning forward in his chair again a few seconds later.

"Um, GB, could you run that by me again," he says with a look of disbelief on his face, "You've got WHAT??"

"Well, I've got another boyfriend apart from boyfriend S. Although boyfriend P doesn't live in the UK, we still manage to see each other every few months or so, and in any case we're in email communication virtually every day :-)"

"REALLY? You're kidding right?"

"No ...."

"OK then, have you got any pics of him??" interrupts P.

"Yes of course," I say smiling, picking up my PDA and locating my favourite pic of the two of us at Iguazú falls.

P stares at the pic for ages, almost unable to believe his eyes.

"So you are into Asian guys then," he says eventually, "why didn't you tell me before?"

"Didn't I? Well I guess a guy in my position has to have a few secrets!"

And then the questions start

"How long have you known him??"

"Where did you meet?"

"Where did does he live?"

"What does boyfriend S think about boyfriend P?"

"What does boyfriend P think about boyfriend S??"

"What does he do for a living?"

"Is boyfriend P any good in bed?"

"What does he do for *fun* when you're not together?"

"How many OTHER boyfriends or secrets have you got that you're not telling me about?"

I carefully avoid answering all the questions which are too personal or revealing, which unfortunately leaves P free to speculate!

"I'll bet you met him in a sauna or something while you were on a business trip, didn't you!"

I shake my head in a disapproving way.

"AND now you've told me this I'll bet that you HAVE been to some of the London saunas, in spite of what you've implied in the past!"

"Anyway, what do you think of this shirt I'm wearing," I ask, trying to change the subject.


"Just curious"

"Well, honestly GB, it's a bit fuddy-duddy, I'm a surprised you're not embarrassed!" replies P with a chuckle.

"I'll tell boyfriend P you said that," I laugh, "he chose it for me when we were in Buenos Aires together back in 2006!"

Throughout the evening, P keeps coming back to the subject of my "foreign boyfriend", which is only natural for someone who's suddenly had their illusions shattered and needs to ask lots of questions to adjust themselves to the new reality.

"So is that why you've bought a house for boyfriend S to live in," he asks eventually.

"Well partly I guess," I reply, "because boyfriend S doesn't much like my relationship with boyfriend P. But at least now that he's got his own house he's got some independence from me, which is definitely making him more relaxed about the situation."

"Actually," says P thoughtfully, a bit later, "in my experience successful guys like you often have these complicated but fascinating personal lives. I guess I've been a bit naïve!"

Looking back on the evening, I reckon that my friend P's reactions means that it's highly unlikely that he's ever read my blog, which is good news. Telling him about boyfriend P was also highly entertaining. If my other close friends are going to react in a similar way, telling them all about boyfriend P is going to be great fun!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Email from a guy who's confused by gay culture

A few days ago, I received an email from a reader wondering whether he's gay or not. The email was as follows:

Dear GB

Sorry to bother you with another familiar situation but I need help and so here goes...

I'm 33 y/o and though straight, always knew a part of me was gay but refrained from acting on it since life seemed so much less complicated that way. But with life passing by, thought I would explore the other side - but to no avail! Tried one of the gay websites but all the talk of tops and bottoms and versatiles (and other undecipherable stuff) puts me off. I don't think I like anal intercourse (turns me off) though I like body contact and the rest. I'm confused now - am I gay or not?

Thought I could first just try out lighter stuff, but gay culture seems so intimidating - am afraid I would be laughed off if I suggested it. Besides, never been able to make contact with anyone in the first place. Am quite ok looking (slim and take care of myself) and find it surprising when I read your blog and see so much going on. Can you suggest something where I can meet someone for just some light fun? I'm based in central London and am not out (as yet) so putting an ad on gaydar is not an option. Looking forward to hearing from you


I imagine it took quite a bit of courage for the reader to send me that email, so I'm not at all sorry that he's "bothered me" as he puts it!

I don't think I've ever said this before so I'll say it now. In my opinion, being gay has nothing to do with what kind of sex a guy may (or may not) like with other guys. Instead, it's got everything to do with what gender a guy feels like sharing his life with, who he wants to cuddle up to in bed on cold winter's nights, and who he wants to wake up with in the morning. When I was finally able to be brutally honest with myself, which took many years, I didn't suddenly realise that I was gay because I wanted to put my tackle into another man's rectum! It was the idea of close permanent companionship with another guy that I wanted. Coupled with that, I also thought that the idea of naked body contact with other guys was appealing, and I felt that mutual masturbation might be good fun too :-).

It's clear to me that a guy who thinks like I did, and wants to do those kind of things with another guy, is probably gay. Such a guy may never have much in common with the kind of gay guys that live their lives soaking up the highly sex-oriented gay "culture" that the reader finds so intimidating, but that wouldn't mean that the guy isn't gay!

London Friend LogoTo answer the reader's question, since he's based in central London I think one of the best things he could do would be to visit London Friend. In fact I've recommended London Friend before, but I have no hesitation in recommending it again. In particular they run a discussion group called Turning Point, which describes itself as being for "... men of all ages, backgrounds & origins who are gay/ bisexual or feel they may be". Judging from the reader's email, I think that description fits him perfectly. He may be gay or he may not be, but London Friend will help him work that out. Additionally, because there'll be other guys there who are just as curious about light fun as the reader is, it would be surprising if he wasn't able to find a guy there to play with :-).

I also don't think that the guy should give up with online cruising web sites such as gaydar. Although he's worried about creating a profile because he's not out as a gay guy, there's no requirement to have a picture on one's profile. In terms of success in finding another guy for fun though, pictures do help, even pictures which don't show one's face. Presumably none of the reader's friends or colleagues would be able to identify him from a picture of his body, even in the unlikely circumstances that they found his profile. In fact gaydar allows users to mark their profiles as 'Private' which means that the profile is excluded from all searches. The only way to find a 'Private' profile is to know the profile name, although if the guy goes into the chat rooms his profile name will be visible and in those circumstances other guys will be able to click on his profile name and bring up his profile.

It's true of course that a lot of guys on gaydar talk the language of tops and bottoms which the guy has no interest in. However I have seen guys publically advertising in gaydar chat rooms for other guys to visit for wank sessions, circle jerks and so on, so there's no doubt that light fun is available via that route. However, I can understand his reluctance to ask for that because so much of the chat on the open channel in the chat rooms is top/bottom oriented. None the less, as a concrete example the guy who I met after the lengthy courtship only wanted light fun, and it was via gaydar that we got in contact with each other. When it finally happened, very enjoyable light fun it was too :-).

Hopefully the reader will be able to find a guy to help him explore his curiosity via either London Friend or gaydar. But do any other readers have any other ideas for him? Although I don't usually do this, on this occasion I am prepared to forward to this guy email offers from other London based readers to participate in light fun, should anyone be so inclined?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Jules et Jim

Last weekend, I went to see the classic old French film Jules et Jim. It's a black and white film with English sub-titles, originally released for cinema viewing in the UK back in 1962, but for some reason it was re-released again here recently. Set before and after the first world war, the plot revolves around a love triangle between the two main straight male characters Jules and Jim, and a woman called Catherine.

Although both men love Catherine, it's amazing how cool both of them are about the situations that develop as Catherine marries one of them and generally sleeps around with the unmarried friend as well as a few other men. Jules, the guy who marries Catherine, has an exceptionally pragmatic attitude towards his wife's infidelity. Throughout the film, the friendship between Jules and Jim is never in any doubt, surviving all the romantic turmoil over the years as Catherine becomes increasingly unsettled.

The closest parallel to my own life would relate me to Catherine, Jules to boyfriend S, and Jim to Boyfriend P. Some some things are very different though, because whereas Jules and Jim were firm friends, Boyfriends S and P have never met. None the less, I hope that I don't follow the same path that Catherine did in the film, because it wasn't a happy ending :-(.

Given that this film is around fifty years old, the big question left in my mind now that I've seen it is why western society hasn't become more relaxed about infidelity? Particularly for gay relationships, how has this absurd idea of monogamy taken hold? If boyfriend S had been as cool as Jules was throughout the film, when I told boyfriend S about boyfriend P, life over the last few years would have been much easier for all of us and especially for him!

Friday, June 06, 2008

New gym

A few weeks ago, I decided to change gym. I'd been a member of my previous gym for almost ten years but when new management arrived, there were changes which annoyed me in several ways so I decided to look elsewhere. In any case, London has some good gyms with multiple branches these days, so opting for one with a branch close to my home and another branch close to the bank where I work makes much more sense.

After a couple of workouts at the new gym I decided that my old workout needed a face-lift, so I approached one of the eager young gym staff that are always hanging around the desk in the main workout area.

"Hi, I just joined recently, so can I book a session with someone, to sort out a new exercise routine for me?"

"Hey, sure thing," he replies enthusiastically, "do you prefer male or female trainers?"

Of course I always prefer doing it with guys, but I've never spoken with this trainer before so I'm not going to say it like that!

"Well, I guess I prefer a bloke," I say in my best business-like voice.

"No problem mate, I'm Mike," he says smiling at me and offering to shake my hand. "I'll sort something out for you, so when do you want to come in and see me?"

The session with him the following week was very useful. He had an honest, down to earth, heterosexual kind of approach to everything which I found quite refreshing. Looking back, my previous gym was quite gay. In contrast, the gym near work is full of clean-cut masculine city guys, sweating with heavy weights in the workout area, and chatting with each other about their jobs and wives in the changing rooms.

Even so, beneath the straight appearance I've already spotted some potential for activities! My previous gym used to have a sauna in the men's changing rooms, and it turns out that my new gym still does.

Indeed, on my second visit I visited the sauna after my workout, and it ended up that there was just me and another guy in there both sitting naked on our towels. Glancing over at him, I couldn't help noticing that his equipment was gradually getting bigger, or was I imaging it? In fact the more I glanced over at him, the bigger it seemed to get. I guess my own reaction to the situation encouraged him further, and soon he started playing with it. I wasn't at all interested in him, but not having been in that situation for a while I just couldn't stop watching. Unfortunately I didn’t get to find out how far he was going to go because another guy came in and interrupted him. None the less, I think I'm probably going to enjoy the new gym!

Monday, June 02, 2008

A forthcoming business trip

In a few weeks time, I'll be off on a business trip to New York, and I'm expecting that boyfriend P will be able to be there at the same time. So I'm looking forward to the trip enormously :-). Hopefully we'll be able to be each other's "boyfriend number 1" while we're together.

Long time readers of this blog may recall that I used to number my boyfriends, based on when I first got to know them. So boyfriend S was "boyfriend number 1", boyfriend P was "boyfriend number 2", and so on. However I changed the boyfriend nomenclature a few months ago because the "number 1" in "boyfriend number 1" suggested that "boyfriend number 1" is more important that "boyfriend number 2". One reason for the change is the fact that boyfriend P, previously known as boyfriend number 2, is probably more important to me now than boyfriend S who was previously known as boyfriend number 1. Anyway, what I mean is that while I'm with boyfriend P, I'm hoping that we'll both be able to be each other's "most important" boyfriend!

One good thing about my relationship with boyfriend P is that our communication about difficult issues has always been very good. Right from the start he's known about boyfriend S living with me in London, and I've always known that he's been looking for a permanent boyfriend to share a monogamous relationship with him in the city where he lives.

"You know that I go out on dates with other guys every now and then, don't you GB?" said boyfriend P to me a month or two ago.

"Yes, why?" I ask.

"Well, how would you feel if I found someone who I want to commit to?"

"Hmmm," I say after a pause, "well would be still be able to see each other as boyfriends, and go on holiday with each other etc?"

"No of course not," says boyfriend P with a serious tone in his voice, "you know that what I'm really looking for a monogamous relationship!"

"I thought you'd say that :-(", I reply. "So if you do find a nice guy that you want to commit to, I'd be extremely upset :-((."

And in fact, since then boyfriend P has found a guy that he really likes.

"Don't worry," he said recently, "we're certainly not boyfriends yet, so I definitely won't have committed to him by the time that your business trip to New York comes along!"

But I do feel as though I'm slowly becoming "boyfriend number 2"!

It's a bit of a dilemma. I'm sure that we'll have a lovely time while we're together because we always do. As I said above, hopefully we'll be able to be each other's "boyfriend number 1" while we're together :-). But what should I do when the business trip is over? If he commits to this guy he likes, or anyone else for that matter, I'll be heartbroken :-(. So would it be best to try and start distancing myself from him after my business trip, so that when the inevitable happens and he does find a permanent boyfriend for a monogamous relationship then it wont hurt so much?