Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas 2010

I simply couldn't stand the cold weather in London any more! So with boyfriend T away visiting his family, I caught a plane out of Heathrow and spent Christmas day at a friend's house, located somewhere a bit warmer!

Wherever you spent Christmas this year, I hope you had fun :-).

GB xxx

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Email from a guy who lives in the English countryside

A couple of days ago, a reader sent me the following brief email:

Dear GB,

Have you any advice how a gay 48 year old who lives in the country can meet someone, as I don’t like internet dating, and we have no gay pubs within 50 miles of where I live. I would be grateful as I have become very isolated.


From his email address, it was obvious that he does indeed live deep in the English countryside.

Because I live in London, I'm not sure what the best way is for gay guys who live in the countryside to meet each other. However, I'd be surprised if the Internet isn't an important part of the solution to this reader's problem. If the reader doesn't like internet dating, then there's Out Everywhere which uses the Internet to organise real world events around the country, although I don't know if there are ever any events near where he lives. Alternatively, it's possible to create a profile on the web site of the UK magazine Gay Times, and interact through their forums.

Presumably some readers of this blog live in the countryside? If so, then if any of them have suggestions I'm sure they'd be much appreciated :-).

Friday, December 10, 2010

Email from a middle aged bisexual guy

A couple of days ago, I received the following email from a new reader:

Dear GB,

I'm a middle aged guy who's very closeted, because I'm still coming to terms with the idea that I'm probably bisexual.

I'm not uncertain about my desire for male companionship, I'm just still embarrassed and ashamed of myself due to my Presbyterian upbringing. Besides, I'm really afraid of losing my sons if they have to confront this issue.

I'd really like to become pen friends with someone who's in a similar position to me. Have you got any idea where I could find such a person?

Thanks in advance, J

My first instinct was to post this email here on my blog, because it's possible that one or two of my existing readers might be in the right category to become pen friends with this new reader. Any volunteers?

Friday, December 03, 2010

Christmas charity donations

Christmas treeFor the last three years, I've asked readers to give me suggestions for Christmas charity donations (see 2007, 2008, 2009). This year an excess of £2k has built up in my account with the Charities Aid Foundation, so it's time to give it away to good causes. All suggestions welcome, the only condition is that the beneficiaries have to be registered UK charities :-).

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Sex, Sexualities and the Law

A reader wanted me to publicise this event which is being held on Friday:
Experiencing the Law 2010
Sex, Sexualities and the Law
Changing attitudes or perpetuating stereotypes?

03 December 2010, 10:00 - 17:45
Event Type: Conference / Symposium

Click here for more details

Monday, November 29, 2010

WikiLeaks have devalued their brand

Although I'm not blogging much at the moment, I feel I have to comment on the recent wikiLeaks 'disclosures'. Having an outlet for real whistle blowing, for things that really matter, would be a real asset to the everyone. However, finding out that US diplomats make frank assessments about the world at large is a million miles away from that. It's almost embarrassing that Julian Assange thinks that this is newsworthy, because all it means is that the US diplomats are doing their jobs. In my opinion, WikiLeaks has seriously devalued its brand.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Ultrasurf, a solution to Internet censorship?

I received the following email from a reader today which surprised me:

Heya GB,

Hope this email find you in good spirits! I remember there was a post on your blog mentioned the issue accessing your blog in China. I am currently in Shanghai doing for a research trip and I can confirm that your blog is not accessible here. Such a shame!

However, if readers can use some software that allow connection through proxy (e.g. ultrasurf) then they will have no prob to read your blog. Maybe it is worthwhile to suggest.


The thing that amazed me is that it's possible to bypass the so called Great Firewall of China. Surely the Chinese authorities know that this is happening. If anyone can explain why they can't stop it, I'd be fascinated to know the answer!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

An anatomy of my blog

A few days ago, a London based gay reader who also works in finance sent me an email in which he told me that he'd read my entire blog. Part of the email conversation that followed included the following analysis of what I'd been writing about for the past five years or so:

Your blog is a kind of therapy during a trauma or crisis in your late 30s (you don't say this but I am reading between the lines) when the two sides of you came into conflict with each other. One side of you is the guy who visited the saunas and gyms, the gaydar/ personals looking for no strings fun. This guy existed mainly outside the relationship with S. The other side is the guy who was asexual at college, wants stable relationships, likes family orientated Asian men, lived with S for 16 years. There is a third side perhaps, the guy who is a judge, enforces fair play and correct behaviour (we can call thus conscience).

This third guy is the one who is troubled by the impact of the first guy's behaviour on the second guy's values and identity and is concerned about the first guy betraying the second guy. The judge is the one that compel the first guy to tell the truth to the second guy via the blog and eventually S. The revelations lead to stress and trauma for both the second guy and S and leads eventually to a judgment in which the first guy is condemned and punished for betraying S, S leaves the second guy's life and the second guy too shares the blame for having impossible expectations of gay relationships. The climax is the Dear GB letter in which the judge himself is giving the verdict (the relationship is over, S must be housed etc) and the philosophical reflection on the nature of gay love.

Thereafter we hear very little about the first guy in the blog. I presume he is still there but having served his punishment he is left alone and the blog is taken over by the second guy as an agony uncle column. This phase of the blog is less interesting than the first and even you can't find the time to keep it up.

The reader is really a voyeur in all this. The early blog is not at all aimed at third parties but at the second guy. Most of this is now ancient history and in any case is stuff that virtually all gay men can relate to. What makes the blog interesting is the raw honesty that the judge in you demands and the quality of the writing.

You actually reveal very little about yourself that is important. What do you like reading? What did you do your Doctorate in? What do you do in your work? Do you play sports, listen to music? Your politics? The newspapers you read? What do you like to wear? Your favourite wines? Your food? I guess you are now in your mid 40s so you will sometimes think about retirement and death. But what?

I felt that the analysis was accurate in many ways.

These days, boyfriend T often jokingly refers to the behaviour that 'the first guy' would enjoy, especially when we're out in London and he spots men that 'the first guy' would find attractive. However, for now at least, 'the second guy' must be firmly in control because I feel no inclination for fun with anyone except boyfriend T. I don't know if this will last, but one thing is for sure. With boyfriend T by my side, I feel very happy :-).

Friday, September 24, 2010

Work pressure :-(

When I started blogging back in 2005, I'd managed to find a wonderful little niche at the bank that I work for. I'd found a role which paid me reasonably well for relatively little work, compared to what my workload had been previously. As a result, I've almost always been able to post something to this blog every 3 or 4 days, if not much more frequently than that.

I had thought that I was gradually heading towards a nice redundancy package, but instead, my responsibilities have slowly been growing again. As a result, I think that the quality of my blog posts has suffered this year. So I think it's time to admit that, for now at least, I'm not going to be able to keep up with regular posts to this blog :-(. Posting to this blog twice a week has been part of my life for so long that I've been finding it hard to come to terms with all this.

Please note that even though I'm not going to be posting regularly, I'm still happy to do postings for any Dear GB emails that readers may care to send me. And I'm still contactable at my email address in the right-hand side bar :-).

Thanks to all my readers for following me so far.

GB xxx

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Email from a guy who's worried about his sexual history

Last week, a reader sent me the following email:

Dear GB,

I really enjoy reading your blog (I stumbled upon it a couple of years ago) and I thought I'd ask for some advice.

I am 23 year old gay guy in a new town in my first proper job. I am (for the first time really) serious about starting a relationship. Two years ago I came within a hair's breadth of having a nervous breakdown and am finally off the medication that helped me recover.

The thing is: I was a little promiscuous in uni (since I have been out I've slept with 18 guys), and am a little embarrassed by my past conduct. I feel that the guys I see myself dating will be put off by this. I am particularly embarrassed as I had some safe sex slip ups (in fact I had a mini affair with someone where we didn't use condoms - at the time I really enjoyed the risk). I was lucky and didn't catch anything nasty, but am worried about how the people I want to date will judge me.

See, I want to date nice, successful, guys (because I did used to be one), and I feel they'll judge me negatively when they hear of my past. Especially with respect to the slip ups. The thing is, I really enjoyed it. I got to have fun with all sorts of guys (I have quite broad tastes in men, and it was enjoyable to have fun with them), and to know what I enjoyed (and what I didn't).

The thing I want to ask is how best to broach this subject with any beaus in future? I understand that I must take responsibility for my previous actions, and that I'll be judged on them; but I'm just terribly worried that I'll not have what I want now that I have a clearer idea of what I look for in a guy (beyond his physical attributes).

All the best.

Having read this email a few times, I think one of the important facts is that this reader almost had a nervous breakdown. It's good that he recovered, but it must mean that he's prone to worrying too much, in this case about all the sex that he had when he was a bit younger. Most of us have a sexual history of some sort and indeed, the older a potential boyfriend is, the more of a past he's likely to have. All sensible guys know that, so there's no reason to hide it. The important thing is to relax, and simply be honest about it when the subject comes up, because honesty and trust are fundamental to any relationship.

In fact, it's easy to put a positive spin on this reader's past. It's quite normal for younger guys to be a bit wild. That's why there are expressions like "Sowing one's wild oats". So some guys might think that another guy is a bit boring if they haven't done some things that they regret in their past. The good thing is that the reader didn't catch anything nasty from his recklessness, and so with that experience behind him, he's learned a bit about life and has matured as a result :-).

Another thought is that a sexual history with only 18 guys doesn't strike me as that many. A few years ago when I was blogging about my encounters, I was playing around with at least one new guy a week! Perhaps that was too many, but the important thing is that I've always been honest about it with boyfriend T.

In the past, the reader must have had some self-esteem issues, to allow himself to have regular unprotected sex with another guy. My guess is that those self-esteem issues were connected with his near nervous breakdown. But he's clearly moved on since then because he's off his medication and is now ready for a serious relationship. So as I said above, he's learned from his past mistakes, which is a positive thing.

In summary, I think the reader has nothing to worry about regarding his past, which is perfectly normal. Instead, he should put all his effort into finding himself a nice boyfriend :-), and then making the relationship work when he's found one!

Do any other readers have any thoughts on this situation?

Friday, September 17, 2010


The pros and cons of religion have been on my mind recently. As I travelled through Perú with boyfriend T, I've learned how the Spanish conquistadors forced the Incas to convert to Christianity. Religion has also been in my mind because the Pope is currently visiting the UK.

There are a lot of good aspects to religion. Focussing on Christianity which is the religion that I know best, religions rules such as the ten commandments must have helped people live together. We all achieve much more when we work together so that aspect is surely a good thing. The Golden Rule that one should treat others according to how one would like others to treat one's self is another very beneficial concept which appears in many religions.

However, religion is also a huge source of conflict, and that is surely a bad thing. It seems amazing to me that throughout history and still today, armies go to war with both believing that "God is on their side", even though war goes against the widespread religious concept that killing other people is wrong. This just emphasises how religion has always been used by a country's rulers to control their lower classes. The message "behave well in this life and your next life will be better" helps to stop poorer people from rebelling against their masters.

Another big problem is that a lot of religious ideas and rules are stuck in the past. For example, it's easy to find lots of out of date rules in the Jewish religion, as this famous response to an orthodox Jew's criticism of gay people shows. The Catholic Church still insists that contraception is not allowed, even though the world's population growth is probably out of control. It's easy to find out-of-date laws in Islam too, for example, as a banker I'm familiar with the fact Islam prohibits interest payments. The result is that a huge amount of energy is wasted in finding ways of getting round those rules and effectively paying interest anyway.

With all the different religions in the world, in terms of their spiritual component it seems very arrogant to me that anyone should believe that the religion that they were brought up with is the "right" one. Even more arrogant are the Christian missionaries, or the priests who came to South America with the conquistadors, with the aim of converting people to Christianity. If someone wants a religious aspect to their life, it strikes me that the logical thing to do would be to examine all the world's religions and then make a choice. Or better still, take the best bits from each religion :-). But of course logic and religion have never mixed, particularly in connection with religion's spiritual aspects.

I noted with a bit of pride how one of the Pope's cardinals, Walter Kasper, apparently told a German magazine that the UK was marked by "a new and aggressive atheism". To me, this means that a lot of people in the UK realise how flawed the existing religions are. As people everywhere in the world become more educated, my guess is that this trend will continue. In my recent holiday to Perú with boyfriend T, I was surprised to learn from one of our guides that Catholicism was even on the decline there. Stories about Catholic priests sexually abusing children can only make that decline faster.

Wandering through Arequipa with boyfriend T a couple of weeks ago, he spots a traditional picture of Jesus in a shop window.

"Do you find that image attractive?" he asks.

"What??" I reply, barely able to believe what he's asking, "are you asking whether I'd have sex with a guy who looks like that?"

"Yes of course :-). Why not!"

"Having been brought up in a Christian family," I respond, "I find it impossible to think of Jesus like that!"

"OK fair enough. But I quite like that look :-). As far as I'm concerned, he's more than do-able!"

Although the laws in civilised countries now enforce a lot of the basic religious rules like those found in the ten commandments, important ideas like The Golden Rule are likely to remain in the religious domain. Furthermore, the spiritual aspect of religions is entirely missing from secular societies. However, unless religions can find a way to update themselves and discard their historical baggage, their ultimate fate may just be to provide some eye candy for a perverse few!

Monday, September 13, 2010

An email about good old-fashioned romance

Just over two weeks ago, a reader sent me the following email:

Dear GB,

I've been reading your blog on and off for a year now and have been really enjoying it - thanks. Congratulations on the new email address and web domain!

This evening over a cup of decaf at a local pub, I had a rather interesting discussion about relationships with my brother, who is also gay but four years younger than me. I'd be interested to know what you and any of your other readers thought:

The conversation came about as my brother joked that his life plan was to civil-partner someone rich and cute (ha, ha); however, as the conversation became more serious he claimed optimistically that in principle anyone might fall in love and end up in a relationship with anyone else. After all, he said, "you only need one person to fall in love with you". Perhaps I'm just too deeply cynical (quite probably), I replied that whilst I'd love nothing more than to settle down with a boyfriend working in the City to a blissful life of Colefax & Fowler swatches and surrogacy (really, I would), at the grand old age of 34 my days of five evenings a week at the gym are long gone and as a teacher I was never going to land Mr Darcy as I simply no longer held enough points!

Basically my line was this: In relationships everyone pairs off with those who they are fairly equal to based roughly around three areas: (1) Physical attractiveness; (2) Money/Power; (3) Intellect/Personality. This can be both or either a sub-conscious or conscious decision. You don't have to score the same for each of the three areas but in total you need to score roughly the same. Therefore, the super-cute, sexy, 20 year old, blond, Abercrombie jeans model ends up with the slightly overweight, Oxbridge educated, 45 year old hedge-fund director because overall they score about the same. In my world-view, dear old Jane Austen and every Rom Com writer since have simply been trying to make the single, aging, drooping ones of us perceive some ray of hope so we don't all throw ourselves under a train tomorrow.

Perhaps I am too sceptical and bleak - goodness I hope so. What do you think? Are you with my brother, or me?

I immediately sent the reader an email, telling him that I'd happily address his queries. Having thought about it at length, I can see merits in what both brothers say.

It's interesting that the reader mentions Jane Austen because ever since I read Pride and Prejudice, I've been a big fan of her work. But in her novels, it always seemed to me that it was the personality and intellect of the heroine that enabled the heroine to marry the richer man. That means that even in Jane Austen, there is a balance of attributes in the three areas that the reader mentions. So perhaps the reader's idea that couples have to score a similar amount in the combination of those areas is correct?

But then, doesn't everyone have at least one friend where the thought is "I really don't know what my friend sees in his partner, I'm sure that he could have done much better"? No doubt that's the situation that the reader's brother is referring to. The person who thinks a friend could have found himself a better partner is probably assessing the situation based on the three areas that the reader mentions.

I was discussing this with boyfriend T a couple of days ago, and he had a good point to make.

"I definitely thought that one of my friends could have found himself a much better wife," he remarked, "but eventually I found out what my friend saw in her."

"Which was?" I ask, intrigued.

"It was the sex! He told me one day after a few drinks that she was absolutely amazing in bed :-)."

I guess what this means is that there are many more categories than the three areas that the reader mentions. However, I think it also means that people probably do pair off based on the qualities in their prospective partners, but exactly which qualities are important varies from person to person. No doubt that's what the reader's brother was referring to, namely that people can have hidden qualities which make them attractive to people that otherwise would not be attracted to them. I think it would be fair to call that the mystery of romance!

So what are the two brother's chances of finding themselves nice boyfriends? The younger brother is clearly an optimist, and in general I think that's quite an attractive quality so I'm sure that he'll be OK :-). However, the older brother who sent me the email is in danger of turning into a jaded and cynical old queen, given the way that he wrote the email! But with the right attitude, there's absolutely no reason why he won't be able to find himself a nice boyfriend too :-). After all, I was older than he is now when I met ex-boyfriend P, and older still when I met boyfriend T.

Do any other readers have any thoughts on this subject?

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Travelling again

I've been travelling again, so as usual when that happens, I've haven't had much time to write posts for this blog. The last weekend in August, me and boyfriend T went to visit some friends for a long weekend, and then the first weekend in September we left London for a longer holiday.

Below I've posted four pics. The first two are from the long weekend at the end of August, and the last two are from the start of this longer holiday. But can anyone identify the countries where the pictures were taken (or for full marks, the cities where the first and the fourth photo were taken)?

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Email from a young gay virgin

A couple of weeks ago, a reader sent quite a sweet email:

Hi GB,

I am a fan of your blog and I've been following it for some time now. I always look forward reading your posts. Actually, I found your blog site by accident when I was googling about gays in finance, and found it in one of the searches. I read a single post and it immediately captured my imagination. Your prose is quite lucid and not too intimidating. The stories you share about your personal life are entertaining in a good sort of way and I especially like the advices you dispense to your readers. I think this is where much of your character is shown, how you carefully think about the nature of the problem and the solutions you give and the genuine concern to the individual who wrote to you. In fact this is what I like about you: that you seem to genuinely like people. It shows in your blog so it doesn't come across as a self-indulgent vehicle, unlike so many others out there.

I am thrilled that you have found boyfriend T, he seems to be doing you a world of good. I hope that your love for him will finally inspire him to come out to his friends and family, that would be so romantic! Less this become a long effusive letter from a rabid fan, I think this is my queue to say goodbye and I hope that God would bring more blessings in your life. Here's hoping that we would read more about it soon!

Sincerely from another avid Asian fan,

So I sent him a polite reply, in which I asked him if he was gay, and within a day or so I received his answer:

Dear GB,

I'm so thrilled you've responded. I'm a 26-year old out gay man from the Philippines. Chinese-Filipino to be more accurate, we're a little more liberal here, my family has accepted me and I don't think I've encountered any blatant homophobia in work.

I was first going to write an agony letter to you but it's more of a worry then an agony. But I'll go ahead and tell you nonetheless so I can get another perspective perhaps?

You see, out as I am, I've had this little problem with my friends and well intentioned acquaintances about my single status. Often I get this look of disbelief from other people when I'm getting know them when I tell them that I have never had a boyfriend at all and a bigger shock that I am still a virgin. My friends being the good friends that they are all laugh about it. All my friends either have boyfriends of their own or have had boyfriends in the past. That leaves me the only virgin in my group. I've asked them to fix me up but they all seem to be a little apprehensive about doing so because they know how choosy I am. They can't seem to find someone that would be suitable for me and yes I am a bit choosy. To give you a perspective on how choosy I am I've dated 4 guys for the last 5 years and nothing ever came about it. Two were pity dates and the other two made me irritated with them in the end. I've tried the online thing and I've no luck there. I haven't given up hope you see but I would now like to focus on my career path, so I am studying for the CFA level 1 exam for this December and maybe I'll take the GMAT next year. So I don't think I'll have time to date for some time. I have no problem with this but recently a former office mate of mine died suddenly from what it turned out to be a lingering illness. He was an out gay man in his late thirties and he seemed perfectly healthy a month ago before he resigned. We're all shocked, I guess he didn't want people to know that he was seriously ill when he resigned. One cannot help but think about the inevitable and how uncertain the timing is. This has somewhat unnerved me and I guess I am questioning my priorities in life. After all I don't want to end up a dead 40 year old virgin.

Anyway thanks for the indulgence. Best wishes to you and boyfriend T!

And then, to my great surprise, a couple of days after that he sent me a short video of himself where he told me a bit more about his situation. I was genuinely touched by that gesture, because previously no one had ever sent GB a video of themselves!

In the video, he told me that he wasn't completely innocent because he'd actually kissed a couple of guys. However, it sounded as though the guys were not very good kissers, because he told me that they were quite wet. I reckon good kissers are very sensual without being wet! Beyond that, he went on to say that he once ended up in a mutual masturbation situation with a guy that he really fancied. I would count mutual masturbation as a sexual activity, but it turned out that in his case neither of them came, so I'd probably agree with him that he can still count himself as a virgin after all. In fact, he'd been hoping that the guy who he got into the mutual masturbation with would become his boyfriend, but the guy dumped him the day after the failed session. He now has the view that he's not even going to try and have sex with anyone unless he feels that they both love each other.

Having read his emails and watched his video a few times, it seems to me that he's putting up a lot of barriers in terms of finding himself a nice boyfriend. For example, he says that he's not going to have much time to look for one, and even more than that he says that he's very choosey. Perhaps his past experiences have understandably left him with a fear of rejection, however there's no doubt in my mind that to some extent all the barriers that he's created for himself simply prove that he's avoiding the issue for some reason.

Why should he bother to look for a boyfriend? Quite simply, he should bother because life is much more rewarding when you've got someone to share it with. That applies to one's successes, but it probably applies more to one's failures when a good boyfriend will be able to provide valuable support. It also applies in the bedroom! And when people get older, it's well known that people with partners live longer because they've got so much more to live for :-).

Another issue is that guys who say that they're choosey often have unrealistic expectations of what relationships are all about. They'll spend all their time looking for Mr Perfect, and consequently miss out on all the great relationships that might be possible with guys that don't fit their preconceptions of who they want their boyfriend to be. I'll freely admit that I was the same when I was looking for my first boyfriend. However, I spent many wonderfully happy years with ex-boyfriend S, even though in many ways he was the opposite of the kind of boyfriend that I thought I wanted when I was looking for him.

In his video, the reader mentioned a post that I did a couple of years ago, titled The gaydar advantage. That post argued that when one is looking for a boyfriend then it's good to have activities with lots of different guys, because the intimacy that comes from encounters bypasses traditional dating so that it's much easier to work out whether a relationship might work. It worries me that this reader has decided that he'll only get intimate with someone once they've both decided that they love each other. "Love at first sight" is possible, but more often love grows as guys get to know each other. A lot of guys won't bother getting to know someone who's got such strong preconceptions about what's got to happen before they can get intimate.

It's easy to see how the reader has ended up with his current views, given what's happened to him in the past. As a result of all that, he's anxious and nervous. Somehow he needs to learn to relax in connection with all his issues, which of course is easier said than done. Telling someone to relax is likely to have the opposite effect :-(.

Regarding the sexual aspect of being with another guy, one thing that might help is if he tries to remember how natural it is to cum. I bet he's done it hundreds of times on his own, just like all the other guys in the world, and just like all the guys that he's going to be in intimate situations with. In that context, a couple of guys helping each other to cum is the most natural thing in the world, and nothing to get anxious about.

I'm not saying that that the reader needs to lower his expectations, but I am saying that he probably needs to adjust his preconceptions about how to fulfil his goal of finding himself a good boyfriend. Somehow he should try and meets lots of guys, because my expectation is that the best boyfriend for him will turn out to be someone that he initially thinks is inappropriate. Along with that, he needs to stop putting barriers in the way of his future happiness. If one is single, the time to starting looking for one's boyfriend is always now!

I hope that this reader will find some of my above comments useful :-). But do any other readers have any thoughts on his situation?

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Friends and lovers

"You know your colleague P and his boyfriend D?" starts boyfriend T, while we're travelling back home a couple of days ago.

"Uh huh?" I reply, not paying much attention.

"If you had to sleep with one of them, which one would you choose?"

Boyfriend T often want to probe my sexual history and attitudes, so his question doesn't seem unusual.

"I guess I'd choose D," I answer without thinking too much, "after all, he's been wanting to get to know me better for ages!"

"Which one would you choose?" I continue, mildly curious to know the answer.

"You can ask me in a minute :-)," replies boyfriend T decisively, "let me finish first! Now, what about HBH and his boyfriend C?"

Gradually, boyfriend T runs through all the gay couples that we know, asking me who I'd sleep with.

"You're quite predictable!" boyfriend T tells me when he's run out of gay couples to ask me about, "I could have guessed a lot of those answers :-)."

"But what about you?" I reply, smiling back at him, "I bet I can guess too! Let's start again with my colleague P and his boyfriend D?"

"I'd choose GB!" answers boyfriend T, with an impish grin on his face.

"No you can't choose me, you have to choose either P or D!" I insist, sensing that I'm not going to get the answers I want.

"Well if I can't have GB then I'll be a monk!!" he replies, "because I can't lower my standards :-)."

Although I'm mildly disappointed that boyfriend T won't play the game too, I can't complain too much because he's got such an excellent excuse!

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?

Saturday, July 31, 2010

To shake or not to shake

A reader recently sent me the story below, and asked me to conduct a poll of my male readers. He seems quite keen to know the answer, so if you're a guy, please vote :-).

I'm an observer, but not an observer of everything. I only keep a lookout for select and interesting things. Things like the sounds that emanate from the cubicles in the gents. I know you're now wondering, "what could those sounds be"? Sounds of a guy in distress after a night of chicken tikka massala, or that hot jerk chicken he thought he could handle? That sounds like blowing raspberries, that's the best way to describe those sounds. Then there's another sound that I've been hearing for the past few weeks.

A sound that I hear after a guy has finished peeing in the toilet. There's a few moments of silence, then the zipper sound, and then he exits. I wasn't quite sure what the sound was after the guy had finished peeing. Half of my brain was having one thought and the other half was disbelieving. This needed some investigation!

In my office there's just 3 cubicles in the gents on my floor, so having worked out who the usual suspects were, I waited in the middle cubicle. As far as I was concerned I was undertaking legitimate business. Investigative business.

One of the suspects comes in. He has a pee and pauses. There's what sounds like a wiping sound and then the flush. Surely he didn't have a dump. His shoes were always in standing posture: I used to do yoga so I can bend and see things what most guys wouldn't be able to. My analysis included several weeks of careful observation. The list of suspects grew. I never realized there was such a big market for men who wipe their penises. Where have the days of a good shake gone?

I set out to further analyse. In Muslim homes, one of the first teachings for little boys is to wipe when you pee and wash your hands. I also know that in non-religious families, some mothers encourage good hygiene by wiping their son's penises after a pee. Little boys are clumsy with their aim so understandably they need to wipe not only their penises but everywhere else. I admit, there's something slightly naughty about a shake. Not because droplets could go on hands, trousers or the floor, but because it's marking the territory - just like the animals do on the discovery channel. Additionally, wiping just seems like so much more clinical, and more work.

I tend to favour a good shake. Maybe 2 or 3 average. I think anything beyond 3 shakes and you border on masturbation. If it's before bedtime and I know that some activities with my husband await, I wipe after a pee. But at the office when I stand at a urinal and have had a pee, I don't have any inclination to wipe, and nor do any of the other guys who use the urinals for that matter.

On a recent holiday to Spain I noticed that two of the gent's toilets I visited had no toilet paper. Does that mean the Spaniards prefer to shake and not wipe? On many trips to Soho in London I've not seen any of the gay boys wipe after a pee. In fact, they average 4-5 shakes while looking across at you.

I'm keen to ask a few close friends of mine if they have a preference. Just to get a better idea if this is a growing trend, to work out whether I need to jump on this bandwagon. But as part of my research, perhaps GB's male readers could vote using the buttons on the right hand side.

If you shake, I suggest you pay attention to a little rhyme I learnt ages ago. "If you sprinkle while you tinkle, be a sweetie, wipe the seatie!"

Update 8-Aug-2010 8:18am
Well, the poll has now closed and it seems that we're largely shakers, see graph below. I find it interesting that 7% of readers neither wipe or shake, which strikes me as slightly uncivilised. However, I know that some gay guys enjoy the company of men who are a bit bestial! Anyway, in spite of HBH's request to reveal my toilet habits, I'm feeling a bit shy so you'll all just have to guess :-). GB xxx

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Soft boy

A few days ago, I came across a diary that I'd written when I was only 10 years old. That was way before we all had computers, so naturally the diary was hand written.

In some ways, writing a diary is similar to keeping a blog up to date. One has to do it regularly, or there's no point. So perhaps the practice that I got all those years ago writing my little diary was early training to be a blogger!

Looking through my old diary, I found deciphering my appalling young hand-writing quite hard. But eventually I came across an entry that made me laugh:

SCHOOL. It started today. I went to sea all my friends again. We had a new boy his name is Michel. His eyes looked red and I think he is a Soft boy.

Apart from the fact that I can't spell "see", I obviously thought that I was a Tough Boy rather than a Soft Boy, whatever that meant to my young mind LOL! Luckily I've mellowed a bit since then. I don't think I'd have got many Dear GB emails if I'd maintained that attitude to people who need a little bit of help.

When I showed the diary entry to boyfriend T, I also told him that I could remember being at that school, and being very interested in looking at the other boys when they were naked in the showers after sport. But I didn't know why I was interested. Once he'd heard that, he decided that it must have been me who was the Soft Boy after all!

Did any other readers keep diaries when they were children? If so, can anyone let us know what they were writing about when they were around 10 years old?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Operation

A few days ago, I went out for lunch with Christine, who's the male to female transgender lesbian that I used to work with. As I walk to the restaurant, I start wondering whether I'll recognise her, because the last time I met her was in the late 1990's when she was a man. But more than that, there's another question on my mind. Has she actually had The Operation and had her bits removed? I'd love to know the answer to that, the only problem is that it feels like quite a rude question to ask!

"Hi, I've got a reservation, the name's GB," I say to the restaurant staff on arrival.

"That's fine," replies the polite maître d', "your guest has already arrived :-)."

As I walk with him to the table, I struggle to see if I can spot Christine before she sees me. But all the tables seem to have two or more people at them, or people who couldn't possibly be her. Suddenly though, we walk around one of the restaurant's large flower arrangements and there she is, and just about recognisable after all.

"Hi," I say to her as I sit down at the table, "it's good to see you again :-). But, um, this does seem a bit strange ..."

"That's OK," she replies in quite a soft voice, "I'm sure you'll get used to it :-)."

Overall, I'm impressed with the transformation. Although on close inspection it is possible to tell that she used to be a man, her face does look feminine. She has quite straight and long hair with a light golden colour, but given her age, I can't help thinking that it must have been dyed that colour.

We start chatting, and gradually, she tells me her story. She'd known since she was a young boy that she should have been a woman. In her early 20's, she said that she almost jumped off a cliff in despair, when she thought that it would never be possible for her to live as a woman. For her banking career and marriage to her wife, she'd managed to put all her gender issues aside, and for a while she thought that she wouldn't have to worry about those issues any more. But eventually, partly as a result of marital problems with her wife, she realised that she'd have to confront and solve the problem.

"Well you do look good," I tell her, "just about recognisable, but much much more feminine!"

"Thank you :-)," she replies, still speaking softly, "You probably don't know the details about how men have a different bone structure to women. For example, I had to have surgery to make my jaw less square."

"Wow, sounds very painful."

"Yes, it was! But thank goodness that everything is over with now :-)."

"So you really have had ALL the surgery then?" I ask, seizing the opportunity. I glance down from her face to her plate in front of her on the table and back to her face again, just to make sure she knows what question I'm trying to ask.

"Oh yes, I had the lower surgery too," she says, with a big smile on her face.

"Wow, how was that?"

"I wasn't prepared for the result," she replies, obviously quite happy to discuss the subject, "It was amazing, because I felt completely re-born. I was crying for two weeks afterwards, tears of joy! I didn't expect to feel that way."

I also didn't expect to hear that answer. I definitely enjoy that part of my anatomy, so hearing how wonderful it was for someone to have it all cut off is difficult to understand.

"The only problem now," she continues, "is my teenage children. I feel like a teenager again which is wonderful for me, but I think my children are finding it hard to accept the changes."

"I can understand some of that," I say, "because I also felt like a teenager again when I came out as gay during my 20's."

Finding out how Chris turned into Christine was absolutely fascinating. However, the one subject that I didn't manage to broach was the fact that she put in one of her emails to me that she now regards herself as a gay woman. Maybe we'll get around to discussing that the next time we meet :-).

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


One day, Kai is at school and the teacher asks all the boys in the class what their fathers do for a living.

The boys shout out lawyer, banker, member of parliament etc, but Kai keeps his mouth shut. So the teacher asks him, "Kai, does your father have a job"?

"Yes," answers Kai sheepishly, "My dad dances in a gay club and takes all his clothes off for the men. If they pay enough, he'll go out with a man, rent a hotel room and sleep with them."

The teacher quickly sends the other boys out to lunch and takes Kai aside to ask him if that was true.

"No," replies Kai, "the truth is that he plays football for England, but I was too embarrassed to say!"

I know that there's a mild homophobic reference in the joke, because it expects people to think that being gay is embarrassing. None the less, after England's performance in the World Cup last month, it made me laugh!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Enchanted Forest

Earlier this month, the town of Sitges in Spain held its first ever gay pride event, so me and boyfriend T plus a few other friends decided to go along. Although I generally prefer to be in the UK over the summer, when the weather here can be quite reasonable, I also like to try and spend a week somewhere in southern Europe too. The gay pride event in Sitges provided a perfect excuse for such a holiday. Having booked the flights, plus a nice apartment near the centre of town with its own swimming pool, we were all set.

The main gay pride parade itself was quite impressive, and much more colourful than the corresponding event in London. Indeed, the London gay pride parade is more political, with lots of different sections of British society just marching to show that they've got gay people as well. By contrast, the Sitges event was simply good fun! A lot of work had gone into all the floats in the parade, and everyone was just there to enjoy themselves :-).

A couple of days after the gay pride parade, it's way past midnight and I'm wandering back to our apartment with boyfriend T.

"Look GB," says boyfriend T casually, "There are a few guys loitering down there on the beach, what do you think they're doing?"

"Most likely cruising each other!" I answer sagely.

Indeed, one of my friends had told me that some of the beaches can get quite cruisey at night, and presumably during gay pride week there's more activity than usual.

"Really?" replies boyfriend T sounding surprised, "I've never been to a cruising area, so can we go and have a look?"

"OK, but cruising isn't really a spectator activity."

We head down to the beach and start walking along amongst the small number of guys who're down there. I try to look uninterested, and I manage to catch the eye of a couple of guys as I walk past them, but boyfriend T is a bit like a little puppy who's been let out to play in the garden for the first time! After a short while, we head up to the promenade and continue our stroll home.

"Not much going on was there :-(," says boyfriend T.

"Actually, I thought that there was quite a lot going on!" I answer, "I mean, what were all those guys doing down there? Sure, everyone looked as though they were minding their own business, but I managed to catch the eye of a few of them :-)."

"Really? How did you do that??"

"Well, you have to act cool, and pretend that you're just there for a walk or something," I explain, "and then eventually, just with eye contact and a perhaps a nod of the head, it might be possible to follow a guy somewhere a bit quieter for some fun!"

"Oh, is that how it works?"

"Yes, probably!" I reply.

"OK then," says boyfriend T laughing slightly, "show me how you'd do it then!"

I start laughing too, which of course is one of the worst things to do in a cruising area. Spotting a tree a short distance away, I walk towards it, managing to regain my composure on the way. Once at the tree, I turn round to lean against it, resting one foot on the trunk and with a distant expression on my face. Boyfriend T walks up to look at me, and starts laughing.

"Stop it!" I say with a broad smile on my face, before losing my composure and laughing too, "Cruising is a serious business!!"

"I think I understand," replies boyfriend T, "So can we go back and have another look sometime?"

"I've got a better idea. There's a cruising area just outside town called The Enchanted Forest. It's just inland from the gay nudist beach. We could have a walk out there sometime :-)."

So one afternoon a few days later, while our friends are relaxing around the pool in our apartment, me and boyfriend T decide to take a walk out to The Enchanted Forest.

"How did you find out about this place?" asks boyfriend T on the way.

"I visited it once with ex-boyfriend S in the 1990's. I imagine that it's still there, but be prepared in case it doesn't exist now. I can't be certain."

"And did you have sex with ex-boyfriend S while you were there?" asks boyfriend T.

"No! Why do you ask?"

"Good!" he answers, "Having sex with one's boyfriend in a cruising area seems so unnecessary and unromantic."

"Maybe," I reply, "but it's also quite a horny idea, don't you think?" and with that I reach over and give his swimming trunks a slight tug downwards. He looks at me disapprovingly.

It takes about fifty minutes to walk out to the forest. The first sandy bay we reach is the straight nudist beach, but continuing along the railway tracks we soon reach the second bay which is where the gay nudist beach is.

"Right," I say authoritatively, "The Enchanted Forest is just across the railway tracks from here!"

Looking both ways to make sure that no trains are coming, we cross the tracks and head into the forest. Soon we come to an area where the trees are quite widely spaced.

"Actually it's mildly disgusting," whispers boyfriend T, in case there's someone listening who we can't see, "I've spotted a couple of used condoms. Why can't guys take their mess with them?"

Hanging up on one of the trees we see some swimming trunks too, although it's far from obvious as to what they're doing there! Deeper inside the forest, we come across another area with literally dozens of discarded condoms and condom wrappers, plus discarded tissues draped over some of the plants. I feel a bit like a big game hunter looking for a rare rhinoceros. There's lots of evidence of cruising all around, but no actual cruisers. However, I decide not to treat it as a hunting expedition and examine the discarded tissues in detail, because working out how old the tissues are is unlikely to help us find the most active cruising area!

On our way back to the railway line, we cross the area where the trees are quite widely spaced again, but this time we're not alone. There are a couple of guys loitering there, apparently just minding their own business, and as we pass by they look us up and down. But then we see another guy approaching, and boyfriend T looks at me in horror. Apart from his boots, this guy is completely naked!

Boyfriend T quickly heads off in the opposite direction, trying to make sure that the naked guy doesn't get any closer to him. Although I can't resist looking the naked guy up and down, he's not at all my type so I decide to follow boyfriend T back to the beach. The walk back into Sitges is uneventful, but along the way we discuss what had just happened.

"That's just too much!" says boyfriend T to me when we're out of earshot.

"But at least there's no doubt that we found some guys cruising :-)," I reply, finding the situation mildly amusing.

"Indeed!" answer boyfriend T, "But honestly, what's the point of all your advice about looking like one is minding one's own business and trying to be cool, when some guys just cut through all that bullshit by cruising in the nude?"