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 :-).

Monday, November 30, 2009

An interesting chat with a straight friend

Just over a week ago, one of my straight friends who lives in the same part of London as me sends me a rather cryptic email:

I wonder if I could have a chat with you sometime soon if you are around. I need some help and thought of you.

Tomorrow evening maybe?


When I receive the email I'm away visiting my sister, but in any case, I can hardly refuse such an intriguing request. I send him an immediate reply:
Sure :-). I wonder what’s on your mind, but I guess I’ll find out!

I’m out of London at the moment but coming back late tomorrow afternoon. Shall we go to the pub, or would it be better to meet at my house or yours?

Best wishes, GB
Later in the day when I check my email again, I learn a bit more about what's on his mind:
Well to be honest, my wife and I are having relationship troubles. It's a big and thorny topic that isn't best served by e-mail. I wonder if I could come over to your house at 6pm ish if you are back?


Needless to say, my friend knows that I'm gay, so I'm not sure why he thinks that I'll have any insight into how to repair straight relationships. None the less, I'm happy enough trying to give advice in connection with gay relationships, so perhaps I'll be of some use.

The following night, after exchanging a couple of emails to agree the time, M turns up to visit me at home.

"Would you like a glass of wine?" I ask him, once I've taken his coat.

"Sounds nice :-)," he says with a smile on his face, although through the smile I can sense some discomfort.

We go into the drawing room carrying a decanter of 1999 Grand Cru red Burgundy and a couple of glasses, and sit down facing each other across the coffee table.

"I'm feeling a bit nervous actually," says M, trying to smile.

"Don't worry," I reply casually, "have a drink of wine, that'll help!"

"Well," says M, taking a big breath, "for the last 18 months or so I've been having an affair, and my wife doesn't like it!"

"I thought you were going to say something like that," I say without reacting.

"Really? How come??"

"I don't think you ever told me, but many years ago a mutual friend of ours told me that your wife had kicked you of the house for while because you'd been sleeping with another woman. Ever since then I've always assumed that you've been sleeping around when the opportunity arose."

"But why would you think that I'd continue to sleep around after that?"

"Simply because that old incident proved to me that you're the type of guy who likes to sleep around :-)," I answer, "and it's a habit! Lots of men do it all the time and you're just one of them, that's all. I presume you know the false paternity statistic? That just measures infidelity that produces a child, so there's clearly much much more going on than that :-)."

As we chat, the details of M's particular situation gradually emerge. It turns out that in his case, the other woman is only slightly younger than his wife, and that she's divorced with a couple of kids. Usually in these situations, I reckon straight men go for much younger women who haven't been married and who don't have any children.

"Actually that's what my wife found most distressing," explains M, "the fact that it wasn't a younger woman. I think I've fallen in love with her GB, but I love my wife too."

"So what are you going to do?"

Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1982"I don't know. My ideal solution would be to keep seeing this other woman, perhaps spending 30% of my time with her, and spend the other 70% of my time with my wife and kids. But my wife would never go for that!"

We carry on chatting for more than another hour, without reaching any conclusions, during which time we polish off the whole decanter of Burgundy as well as half a bottle of claret.

"Thanks GB," says M as he's getting ready to leave, "It's been really helpful, possibly the most helpful of all the people that I've spoken to!"

"I don't think we solved anything though," I reply.

"Of course not," says M, "because there's no right answer. But now I feel less like a villain, which seems to have been a theme for me and my wife. It's good talking to someone who is non-judgemental :-)."

"Well let me know how it goes."

"Yes, let's try and catch up before Christmas. Hopefully I will have made some progress."

Even if I don't know much about straight relationships, M's parting comments make me feel that I may have been of some use after all :-).

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Email from a young guy who's just started dating guys

Last week, a reader sent me the following email:

Dear GB,

I'm writing for advice, because I really don't know anyone else to ask. I'm a 24yr old male, and have always been interested in men, and women. But I am also, a very anxious and stressed out person. Without going into a massive overhaul of my past history, I've basically managed to go on in life without having any relationships, although at the same time managing to have a large social group. In my early twenties I distracted myself from any sort of real connections by partying, through school, or even through travelling: some sort of achievements, just not on any person to person basis. I'm known for my secrecy and a sort of aura of mystery. My friends all know a little bit of information about me, but no one knows everything. And I like it that way, I don't believe in being an open book. But, it's also become consuming.

Given that information, this past year has been one where I've consciously decided to stop partying, stop distracting myself and actually try to form some sort of romantic relationship (as good as I can) with a man or a woman. This area of my life is so untouched that everything is new to me, where I'm confident and so self assured in certain aspects of myself and life, being romantically dependent or intimate one on one brings a lot of anxiety as I don't have a lot of experience in that area. You may think I'm unattractive or haven't had a lot of people make passes on me, but it's quite the opposite. I just have had a really hard time becoming intimate, due to anxiety and lack of self-assurance, for really no apparent reason. But I'm a person very focused on personal growth, so I've decided to stop ignoring that aspect of my life and be more proactive, because the right person isn't just going to fall into my bed and be perfect.

I've always been more inclined towards men, but have never been in the situation, where I would hope, it would just happen, as I am discreet :-). So, this summer I decided to do some searching, I met this guy online, and we met that same night. He's two years younger than me, very attractive, very fit, just a beautiful specimen, fun, outgoing, completely self-assured about himself, we hit it off. Needless to say, I was more than ready, and he was horny. He made all the first moves that night and it eventually led to the bedroom. It was two hours of passion, I'd never experienced anything like it, but it was nothing short of a great sexual connection/experience.

He moved from the city a week later, and I was left hanging. For him, I was just a guy to hook-up with (at least that's what I assume), for me it was life-changing in a way. I couldn't get that night out of my head for the next couple months. The whole thing threw me through a loop? Why was this so effective on me? Obsession isn't the right word, but maybe I fell for this guy, I can't decipher my feelings. And I think about how he's a part of the gay community, and these hook-ups, especially in a big city, are seen as common. But not for me. Also, I felt a serious connection with this guy, sexually that is. Or was it just built up hormones? Anyways, he came back to town for a couple weeks and we met up a couple times. Had an amazing night again, where we spent three hours naked together fully enjoying each other's bodies, with barely any conversation. And now he's gone again, and I'm left in school with nothing seemingly exciting going on, because our experience was the most exciting experience I've had in a very very long time. But for him it was just a good time, and he's got lots going on in his life. I have school, and since I've given up partying, not a whole lot of anything else. I have no idea how to interact with another guy on this level. Or how to deal with the dynamics of a relationship like this.

Long story short, he's gone happy as can be, and I'm left her stuck in school, with him and our time together constantly on my mind! I'm wondering if I should try and hook-up with another guy, to see if these feelings are just sexually derived, or maybe I have honest feelings for him, but it wouldn't matter because we live in two different cities, I don't know the next time/if I'll see him ever again. Ugh, any kind of advice, inferences, are appreciated. It makes me want to regret ever hooking up with him, but I KNOW that I am definitely grateful for the experience, my feelings are just all over the place now.

What to do... What to do?

After I'd read the first couple of paragraphs, I thought that it was going to be an email asking how to conquer the stress and anxiety that this reader has about personal relationships. It's very common for guys who don't have much bedroom experience to feel like that, because people generally want to be known as accomplished lovers who can satisfy their partners. That attitude naturally makes guys who have little or no experience feel insecure, and hence feel stressed and anxious. However, everyone has to have their first time, and everyone who's already had their first time knows that too! So if that applies to anyone reading this post, I'd say that the best attitude is simply to be honest in advance, because no caring person will mind. Honesty up-front means that one can relax in the bedroom. With that plan, both people are likely to have a good time :-), even if one is much less experienced than the other.

Of course, this reader seems to have got past that hurdle. So having read the email in full, I sent him a reply to tell him that I'd do a "Dear GB" posting for him. At the end of the email I had one quick piece of advice for him:
Don't worry, just relax :-). I think you're probably just like a little kid who's never (or hardly ever) had chocolate before, and has suddenly discovered how nice it is!
In fact, I think the reader already knows most of the answers. As he said, hooking up with other guys for fun is common in big cities. Not all guys like that scene, but it's definitely available for those that want it. More importantly, he wonders whether the connection that he feels with the guy that he met is "just built up hormones". I think the answer to that question is likely to be 'yes'. We're all programmed to enjoy sexual contact with other people, so if someone has avoided that in their past, then when they start dating it's all going to seem very exciting.

This reader also says that he has no idea how to interact with another guy on the same level as the guy that he met recently, or how to deal with the dynamics of a relationship. But then, he had no idea beforehand how to interact with the first guy either, and that seemed to go all right because he got a repeat performance. In terms of dealing with the dynamics of a relationship, I think the basic principle for him should be to take things slowly, and see how things develop. At his age, he's got plenty of time to find himself a boyfriend (or girlfriend), so in fact he can even afford a few mistakes.

So I definitely think that he should give internet dating another go. Even if he has to meet lots of guys to find another that he finds as appealing as the first guy that he met, its all going to be valuable experience. Straight people typically learn about all this stuff while they're teenagers, but guys that are interested in other guys often don't get that chance at that age, so they have to start learning it when they finally do start dating guys.

In fact, I'd say that for this reader, all the difficult choices are behind him. He's taken the plunge, he's met a guy and had some fun with him (twice!), so his subsequent experiences should be much easier. Above all he should relax, and try and enjoy himself. After all, sexual contact between like-minded guys is very enjoyable :-).

Does anyone else have any thoughts for this reader?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Diversity Careers Show 2009

Back in 2007, I went along to help at an event which was designed to recruit gay graduates into investment banking. I went along to help last year too, although on that occasion I didn't do a post about it on this blog.

This year there was a similar event, called the Diversity Careers Show, which was broader in terms of the types of organisations who were looking to recruit gay graduates. In addition to banks there were also some law firms, some firms like Google, Shell, Tesco, and some public sector organisations such as GCHQ, the Metropolitan Police, and the Royal Navy too.

Having been to the gay graduate recruitment event for the last two years, I decide to visit this year's event too. When I arrive I'm amazed to discover that the event has the explicit support of Gordon Brown, the UK's prime minister, who'd written a letter to the organisers:Even though I'm not really a fan of Gordon Brown's, I'm still impressed that he'd taken the time to support the event. It emphasises what I've felt for a long time now, namely that the UK is a good country to live as a gay man :-).

Talking to a few of the guys who were on the stands representing their respective banks, I get the impression that the event this year isn't as productive for the banks as the exclusively investment banking event had been in previous years.

"Yeah, like you I was at the investment banking inside-and-out event for the last two years," says one guy. "The candidates who turned up to those events were much more focused on investment banking, whereas a lot of the candidates here don't really know what they want to do."

"Why wasn't there an investment banking inside-and-out event this year?" I ask another guy.

"Well, it's much cheaper and less hassle joining this event, rather than having to organise an independent one!" he replies, "But we haven't had a lot of interest here, so I'm not sure what we'll do next year."

One aspect of the previous year's event which was included in this year's event, was a panel of gay investment bankers to talk about their experiences and answer candidate's questions. It was good to hear that they're generally of the same opinion as me, namely that it isn't a problem being openly gay in investment banking any more :-).

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Time Out London sex survey 2009

The results of the Time Out London sex survey 2009 were published last week. One statistic in particular stands out to me, namely that 24% of men who answered the survey have had sex with other men, breaking down as 4% who exclusively had sex with men and 20% who had sex with men and women. Can that figure really be representative of the male population in London? Or is it biased because those type of men were more likely to respond to the survey?

Hot boyfriends

Recently, I met up with my friend P for a drink after work. I hadn't seen him since I went out for dinner with him and my female Mexican friend, so it was good to catch up with him. We chat about our boyfriends and our jobs, but of course it's not too long we get onto the subject of men in general.

"So why do you like Asian guys, GB?" asks P.

I hesitate slightly before answering. Talking about this with my friend P is quite a delicate subject, because although P was born and bred in the UK, ethnically he's Asian himself. It's also a delicate subject because for years P's wanted to get me into bed, but so far at least, I've never let it happen!

"Oh I don't know," I reply casually, still thinking about the question, "although one thing I like about Asian guys is that they often seem to be quite family oriented :-)."

"I see," says P in a matter of fact voice, "and that's Hot is it? Being family oriented??"

I can tell from his tone of voice that he thinks that the answer to his question is a big NO.

"Actually yes," I reply, looking him straight in the eyes, "when one's looking for a long term relationship, being family oriented is very Hot!"

Initially P looks surprised by my answer, but gradually what I've just said sinks in. Although P himself looks quite Hot in a sexual sense, he's never struck me as being particularly family oriented. It's also true that he's even more of a slut than me!

Of course, in reality the word 'hot' does mean sexually desirable rather than good boyfriend material. But I don't think that my friend P is alone in thinking that sexual desirability is the most important attribute for a boyfriend. Last month, a reader left a comment which suggested that hot Asian guys should date other hot Asian guys, and that less hot Asian guys should date other less hot Asian guys. However, I think that the world is much more complicated than that!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Belle de Jour, anonymous no more

Part of my original inspiration for becoming a blogger was the infamous blog Belle de Jour, the Diary of a London Call Girl. I hadn't heard of her when she stopped blogging back in September 2004, however a couple of days afterwards I spotted an article on the BBC web site which was reporting the fact that she had given up. When I looked at her blog, it occurred to me that it might be fun to become a blogger, but it wasn't until five months later that I wrote my first post.

For years, the true identity of Belle was a mystery. Another woman who blogged about her sex life was outed as a film assistant Zoe Margolis in August 2006, but still no one knew who Belle was. Today however, I get a txt msg from LWW telling me to go and look at a web site, and when I go to the site it turns out to be a story about who Belle really is. Finally, Belle herself has decided to reveal her identity through an interview in the Sunday Times.

It turns out that we have one thing in common. When I wrote a post titled Things I'm glad that I did in my life so far last year, one of the things that I said was that I was glad that I did a PhD. It turns out that Belle's real name is Dr Brooke Magnanti, because she also has a PhD, in informatics, epidemiology and forensic science in her case.

Belle's blog about being a call girl was only active for about a year, but it's now been over four and a half years since I wrote my first post, and I'm still posting about two times a week :-). I still enjoy it, so for now at least, I have no plans to retire!

Update 19-Nov-2009: An interesting footnote to this story in The Guardian

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Noisy sex

When I read this BBC news article a couple of days ago, I burst out laughing. Although it's about straight sex, I still think it's worth posting here. Basically, a straight couple called Caroline and Steve Cartwright have been banned from making loud noises during sex following complaints from neighbours, the local postman, and a woman taking her child to school:
The noise sounds like they are both in considerable pain. I cannot describe the noise. I have never ever heard anything like it.
It was clearly of a very disturbing nature and it was also compounded by the duration - this was not a one-off, it went on for hours at a time. It is further compounded by the frequency of the episode, virtually every night.
I guess I'm in awe of such a performance! Or perhaps they've been using some kind of drugs? If so, I want to know where I can get hold of some!

Monday, November 09, 2009

The man with more than two nipples

I was playing a quiz game with a few friends one evening last week, and the answer to one of the questions turns out to be the old James Bond film 'The man with the golden gun'.

"The man with the golden gun was also the man with three nipples, wasn't he?" says one of my friends, once the answer is known.

"Yeah, and he was called Scaramanga," answers another friend of mine, who's a bit of a geek when it comes to general knowledge.

"However, the third nipple wasn't really correct," he continues. "Additional nipples are quite rare of course, but when they do occur they tend to occur below the usual ones, and sometimes in pairs like they do in dogs and pigs for example."

"Wow, what fun :-)" adds boyfriend T, with a huge smile on his face.

"Maybe, T," answers my geeky friend, "but I don't know whether additional nipples are as sensitive as the main pair!"

None the less, boyfriend T continues to smile, and I think I know what's going through his mind. In my experience, many gay men have sensitive nipples, and as such they're definitely an erogenous zone. Although it's still not clear to me why straight guys don't enjoy having their nipples played with during sex, the idea of having sex with guys who've got more than two functional nipples to play with is quite enticing!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Black tie

Man in black tieEarlier this year, I'm chatting to a guy on gaydar, and I'm thinking about visiting him for some fun. We've exchanged pics and he said that he thought that I was very handsome :-). From my point of view, I think that he's got a great profile too. We've also agreed the potential activities! It should now just be a question of getting his address and exchanging contact details.

GB: so would you like me to visit you mate?
Guy: yes, but can I ask u a question
GB: sure
Guy: do u mind dressing smart for me
GB: I suppose not, how smart?
Guy: as smart as u can go please. Shirt and tie, or suit, or dinner jacket and black tie?

In the past I've been asked to visit guys while wearing my gym kit, and I can also recall being asked to wear a baseball cap. I've been asked to do role play, I been invited round for fun by a rock star, and I've been paid to wank off in front of another guy. But until now, I've never been asked to wear a dinner jacket!

GB: actually I do have a dinner jacket
Guy: WOW, do u mind wearing it for me
GB: I suppose not
GB: but I do like to get naked!
Guy: OK but u don't have to get naked immediately
GB: true

Actually, I've always thought that black tie makes all men look completely desirable :-). Well, most men anyway! None the less, I'd never think of asking a guy from gaydar to wear black tie for me.

We agree all the important details, so I tell the guy that it'll take me about 40 minutes to get to him. Upstairs it doesn’t take me long to find my wing collar shirt, change into my dinner jacket, and tie my bow tie. Outside I find a taxi quite quickly, and although I sit back and try to look like I want to mind my own business, the taxi driver starts chatting to me.

"Going anywhere special?" asks the cabbie making idle conversation, noticing that I'm looking smart and gorgeous.

"Just going to visit a friend," I reply casually.

I usually enjoy chatting to taxi drivers, but on this occasion I hope that he doesn't pursue the subject. Telling him that I've dressed up to have a shag with a dinner jacket fetishist that I've never met before seems somewhat inappropriate, and lying would take more effort that I feel like devoting to the conversation.

"So is it going to be a late night then?"

"Depends ..." I answer truthfully, "and you?"

"Oh, I've just started. You're only my second job!"

"That's a 'Yes' then!"

We don't talk much more and after about a quarter of an hour, I'm in a lift in a smart apartment block in an expensive central area of London. Soon I'm knocking on the door and almost immediately it's opened by a smart looking guy who's also dressed in a dinner jacket.

"Hey, come in :-)," he says, with a broad grin on his face. Face to face I think he looks even better than he did in his profile pics :-).

"Thanks," I say smiling back, walking past him while he closes the door, "where do you want me?"

"First door on the right!"

I enter the room first and turn round to face him. Straight away, he puts his arms round my waist and leans forward to give me a slow kiss.

"Mmmm, that's a nice welcome :-)."

"Well you're a nice guy," he says, with a huge smile on his face, "can I fix you a drink?"

"Errrr," I hesitate. I'm not sure. It would be nice to have a drink with this guy, but then I feel the need to get to know him better and having a drink first would delay that!

"Are you having one?" I ask, putting my arms round his waist too.

He looks at me, kisses me again, and smiles.

"I know what we'll do," he says decisively, leaning back to take a good look at me, "let's have sex first!"

It's great to meet a guy like me who knows what he wants! We kiss each other a bit more and soon we're reaching down to see whether we can find anything interesting in each other's trousers.

"Come on," he says while I'm rubbing him gently downstairs, "let's go into the bedroom next door!"

Inside the bedroom, I take off my shoes, and I'm about to take off my trousers too when he interrupts me.

"Can you leave those on for now?"

"OK I guess :-)."

"But open your flies and make your dick accessible!"

More plain talking :-). He closes the curtains, and when he walks back to face me, I can see that his dick is poking straight up out of his trousers too!

We kiss a bit more but soon he pulls me down to lie on the bed with him.

"Have you ever done this before wearing a dinner jacket?" he asks.


"Everyone has to have their first time!"

After a bit more kissing and fondling, he finally lets me take off my trousers.

"Here, let me wrap this round you," he says putting a pleated cummerbund round my waist. "Now I can tuck your shirt tails up out of the way! See?"

Incredible! Above the cummerbund I've got my dinner jacket on and it's still looking good, with white shirt unruffled and with my bow tie still tied. But below the cummerbund I'm completely nude. I'll never be able to think of a cummerbund in the same way again!

He takes his trousers off too, and quickly we get back to business. But we're not in any hurry so gradually things take their natural course, and eventually we're cleaning ourselves up.

"Would you like that drink now?" he asks.

"Actually just a glass of water would be great!"

"Or I could make some fresh fruit juice, would you like that?"

"OK sure, that would be great too :-)." Fresh fruit juice sounds nice so I figure that I can do without my customary glass of water!

"So do you have a boyfriend?" he asks while he's making the fruit juice.

"No, but there's a couple of guys that I'm dating," I answer, "what about you?"

"Actually I do have a boyfriend, but he's away on business at the moment."

"Does he know what you get up to while he's away?"

"No! But we've been together for over ten years."

"Wow," I answer, not at all surprised by his carefree attitude to infidelity. "Actually until a couple of years ago I'd been with my boyfriend for eighteen years, but unfortunately we ended up splitting up :-(."

"So do you have regulars?" he asks me, changing the subject.

"Yes, a few! You?"

"Yeah, I've got a few fuckbuddies :-). Actually, the reason that I was online this evening was that two of my regulars let me down today. I like to have a bit of entertainment lined up when my boyfriend is away! But one guy's got flu or something, and the other's suddenly got too much work :-(."

I don't mind being third choice for the evening. It was certainly interesting dressing up.

"Actually," he continues, "I think you might like one of my fuckbuddies. Let's go over to my laptop and I'll show you!"

Over on his laptop, he's still logged into a web site that I don't recognise. He brings up a couple of profiles of other guys, and in their profile pics they're both wearing suits.

"What web site is that?" I ask.

"It's Recon, haven't you ever heard of it?"

"Errr no, actually, is it any good?"

"Yeah, it's very good if you've got a particular fetish :-)," he replies, "because that's how everyone gets categorised."

He clicks a few buttons, and brings a list of all the guys based in London who're currently logged on.

"See, I'm a suit fetishist, but there's a leather guy, that guy is into bondage, and so on. It really helps you meet guys who're into the same thing as you. I was lucky tonight meeting you on gaydar. For a guy like me, gaydar is a bit hit and miss."

"So do you always do it in a suit?" I ask, fascinated by what I'm hearing.

"No, not always. For example, there's a guy who lives near you that I visit sometimes. We're not really compatible, but he's really huge. So every now and then, I just can't resist going round to play with his massive cock!"

We chat a bit more about various things, but eventually it seems like time to go. It's interesting talking to guys like that, but I don't think I'll ever be so exclusively into any one particular fetish. Instead of fantasising about suits or rubber or leather or being tied up or feet or whatever, I'm more into the guys themselves!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Categories of 'Dear GB' emails

It's been three years since I posted my first "Dear GB" email and started trying to give advice to readers who asked for it. Since then I've done over 100 of those posts! At this stage, I think it would be useful to try and categorise all the postings that I've done, so as to make it easier for people who're seeking advice to search through the archives.

One popular category of email that I've posted relates to coming out. These emails are from guys who're not sure whether they're gay or not, or from guys who're having problems coming out:
Coming out
  • 20-Jul-09 Email from a bicurious student
  • 26-May-09 Email from a closeted Asian gay guy
  • 19-Apr-09 Email from a Londoner curious about gay sex
  • 14-Oct-08 Email from a bi-curious guy in his 20's
  • 12-Aug-08 Email from a bisexual guy in love with another guy
  • 21-Jun-08 Email from a British guy who's ethnically Indian
  • 13-Jun-08 Email from a guy who's confused by gay culture
  • 14-Jan-08 How does a closeted 25 year old gay virgin build a social life
  • 24-Nov-07 Email from a gay guy who's not out yet
  • 22-Jul-07 Is there a medication to stop people being gay?
  • 25-May-07 Email from a gay chinese guy who feels he can't come out
  • 18-Mar-07 An email from a young reader who's not sure if he's gay
The next category of email relates to guys who have come out, but who want advice dating or boyfriend hunting, or who just want to know how to meet other gay guys:
Dating, boyfriend hunting, or just wanting to make gay friends
  • 29-Oct-09 Email from a young gay banker in Asia
  • 26-Sep-09 Email from a young gay banker
  • 18-Sep-09 Message from a guy who hasn't had much luck online
  • 1-Sep-09 The cop out
  • 14-Aug-09 Email from a young guy in love with another guy
  • 12-Jul-09 Email from a gay student in the UK
  • 18-Jun-09 Email from a gay guy who wants to 'find himself'
  • 3-May-09 Email from a guy who wants to lose his virginity
  • 5-Apr-09 Email from a guy who wants a boyfriend
  • 29-Mar-09 Email from a gay guy who moved to London
  • 27-Jan-09 The rules of playing 'hard to get'
  • 10-Nov-08 Email from a gay guy wanting dating advice
  • 21-Sep-08 Email from a guy with a dating dilemma
  • 15-Jul-08 Email from a guy who used to be in a difficult relationship
  • 1-Apr-08 Another email from the gay guy with the dating issue
  • 5-Mar-08 Email from a gay guy with a dating issue
  • 31-Dec-07 Email from a gay teenager
  • 29-Oct-07 How do I meet other gay professionals in Asia?
  • 11-Oct-07 Email from a guy with a potential boyfriend situation
  • 25-Aug-07 Email from a gay guy who wants a relationship
  • 28-Jul-07 Email from a guy with an ex-boyfriend situation
  • 16-Jul-07 Do all gay relationships start with sex?
  • 31-May-07 Email from a young guy looking for a boyfriend
  • 18-Apr-07 An email from a Southeast Asian student in Scotland
  • 18-Dec-06 An e-mail from a student
However, the biggest category concerns relationships themselves. These emails are from guys who're in a gay relationship where problems have arisen, or perhaps where the relationship is coming to an end or has recently ended:
  • 30-Sep-09 The philosophy of Butters Stotch
  • 3-Aug-09 Another email from a guy in his first gay relationship
  • 10-May-09 Email from a guy in his first gay relationship
  • 26-Apr-09 Email from an Asian guy with a relationship dilemma
  • 22-Mar-09 Email from a guy with a boyfriend and a 'personal trainer'
  • 10-Mar-09 Difficult conversations
  • 22-Feb-09 Love, the closet, and other boyfriend issues
  • 12-Feb-09 Email from a guy with a long-term boyfriend
  • 29-Dec-08 Email from a guy with relationship difficulties
  • 17-Nov-08 Email from a guy with a relationship dilemma
  • 28-Aug-08 Email from a broken-hearted gay guy
  • 2-Aug-08 Are gay male relationships different from straight marriages?
  • 2-Jul-08 Our distraught Mexican friend
  • 21-Apr-08 Email from a guy with a mid-life boyfriend crisis
  • 25-Feb-08 Email from a gay guy with long-term relationship issues
  • 31-Jan-08 Pillow talk
  • 6-Jan-08 Email from a successful gay guy with relationship problems
  • 4-Nov-07 Email about gay marriage in the UK
  • 23-Oct-07 Dear GB
  • 11-Aug-07 An email about fidelity and bisexality
  • 11-Jul-07 Email about handling hope in a long distance relationship
  • 2-Jul-07 Email from a gay guy with relationship issues
  • 22-Jun-07 Email from a guy in a difficult relationship
  • 13-Jun-07 Email from a gay American guy with relationship problems
  • 6-May-07 Email from a guy with a closeted boyfriend
  • 24-Apr-07 Email from a young gay guy in a long distance relationship
  • 25-Mar-07 An email from a young gay reader in a relationship
  • 24-Dec-06 An email from a gay male student in San Francisco
  • 5-Dec-06 An email from a gay guy in San Francisco
  • 9-Nov-06 An email from a gay male reader
Sometimes the boundary between friendships and boyfriends becomes blurred. A few emails relate to gay guys who're not sure where to draw the boundary between friends, fuckbuddys, and boyfriends:
Friendships and relationships
  • 12-Oct-09 Email from a guy with a couple of difficult friendships
  • 10-Jun-09 Email from a guy with feelings for a male friend
  • 12-Apr-09 Email from a guy with a crush on a guy with a boyfriend
  • 14-Mar-09 Email from a distressed catholic schoolboy
  • 5-May-08 Email from a guy who received a message on gaydar
  • 19-Aug-07 Manipulative love or business friendship
Some emails concern sexual issues, or relate to sexual health:
Sexual issues
  • 21-Oct-08 Email from a young guy with a concern about HIV
  • 29-Apr-08 Email from a guy with a confidence problem
  • 20-Mar-08 Am I too greedy in the sack?
  • 11-Mar-08 An email about condoms, oral sex, and dick size!
  • 22-Jul-07 More about condoms and erection problems
  • 11-May-07 An email about condoms and erection problems
Another category relates to being gay at work:
Being gay at work
  • 19-Oct-09 Email from an out gay guy who works for a bank
  • 17-May-09 Email from a gay guy accused of sexually harassing a woman
  • 16-Jan-09 Email from a gay guy about being Out in the workplace
  • 9-Sep-08 Email from a gay guy about a guy in his office
  • 23-Jul-08 Email from a gay American navy veteran
  • 9-Apr-07 An email from a gay reader starting a career in investment banking
  • 22-Feb-07 Conversational evasion techniques
  • 16-Nov-06 An e-mail from fellow blogger cuteCTguy
Most advice requests that I get are from gay guys, or guys who think that they might be gay. However I've also had a few advice request from women. Women are very welcome to send me requests for advice :-). So far, these emails usually relate to the fact that a guy they know is gay, or might be gay:
Advice requests from women
  • 4-Oct-09 Email from a woman with a bisexual ex-boyfriend
  • 3-Feb-08 Email from a woman with a bisexual ex-boyfriend
  • 20-Oct-07 Email from a female reader with a bisexual ex-boyfriend
  • 10-Sep-07 An email from a female reader with boyfriend problems
  • 5-Jul-07 Email from a young woman with boyfriend worries
  • 3-Apr-07 An email from a young gay woman
  • 30-Jan-07 An e-mail from a mother about her daughter's boyfriend
  • 26-Nov-06 An email from a female reader
  • 5-Nov-06 An email from a female reader: Is my boyfriend gay?
Readers are still very welcome to send me emails if they want me and other readers to try and give them advice :-). However, before sending me an advice request, it would be helpful if people could check to make sure that none of the existing postings address their problem.