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!