Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Email from a guy with internalised homophobia

There's a pending "Dear GB" listed in my right-hand side-bar with the title "Email from a guy with internalised homophobia". At present, I'm planning to do the posting next month. However, it would be useful if the guy who sent me the email could get in touch again. GB xxx

Update 21-May-2014: the guy who sent me the email never got in touch with me :-(. It seemed to me that the attitude of his family to gay people had left a terrible impression on him, which he's been struggling with (often unsuccessfully) for over ten years. I don't want to responsible for making his mental health any worse, so I've decided not to post his email after all.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The difficulties of living with a Thai boyfriend

An English guy I know called M started dating a Thai guy called J last summer, and within a few months, they had moved in to live together. I don't see M very often, but last week the two of us went out for dinner on our own to catch up with each other. I arrive at the restaurant first, so I install myself at the bar and start looking at their wine list while I wait for M to arrive.

"Hi GB," says M suddenly, "good to see you :-)."

"Hey M :-), " I answer, "good to see you too! I was just perusing their wine list, so I didn't see you come in."

"Find anything good?" asks M.

"Well, look at this. A 2007 Latricières-Chambertin for £155 a bottle. But Grand Cru red Burgundy should generally be much older than that before it's sensible to drink them, don't you think?"

"I don't know, GB," replies M smirking, "I think you're a bit of a wine snob sometimes! It's probably a very nice bottle :-)."

We decide to sit at the bar for G+T aperitifs, and once we've ordered our drinks we start chatting.

"How's it going with J?" I ask.

"Mostly fine," answers M with a slightly hesitant voice.

"Hmmm," I say, sensing a slight reluctance in M to open up, "*mostly* fine doesn't sound too good :-|. What does the *mostly* mean?"

"Well, sometimes J can be absolutely impossible!" replies M, "so I can't help thinking that it's not going to last. But I can't bring myself to break up with him. A lot of the time he's absolutely adorable. When he's being difficult, I just think of his gorgeous pert naked male body and that always makes me feel better :-)."

Without doubt M's boyfriend J is quite cute, so for a second or two I enjoy imagining what J must look like when he's lying naked on a bed prior to activities.

"Perhaps, M, it's you who's the difficult one?" I ask, playing devil's advocate. "In any case, you don't seem to have a very good track record recently of finding suitable boyfriends."

"That's last comment certainly has some truth in it, GB!"

I decide to try and get a bit more alcohol into M before asking any more about his relationship with J, so I start talking about some of our mutual friends while we finish our G+T's.

A little later, the restaurant staff invite us to sit down at a table and order some food. As usual, I'm more interested in the wine list!

"So do you fancy that young Burgundy then?" I ask M.

"If you think it's too young, what about a decent claret instead?" suggests M.

"Well they've got Talbot 2000 for £125, that should be OK. I've got a few bottles of that in my wine cellar at home, and I reckon it's drinking quite well at the moment :-)."

"Then Talbot 2000 it is!" replies M, seeming anxious not to make too much fuss about the wine.

We place orders for food and the wine, and a bit later, I start asking about J again.

"Do you think there's a bit of a culture clash between you and J?" I ask at a suitable point in the conversation.

"Well like you GB, I like having Asian boyfriends :-). I think it's fascinating learning about their culture, and of course all the Asian countries are different. Most Thais are Buddhists, and that does give them a different outlook on life to guys like us who were brought up in the UK."

"I know some Thai guys and their mostly pretty chilled :-)," I say. "I always remember the Buddhist saying 'Today is better than two tomorrows'".

"Yeah, that saying is perfect because it explains why they're all so spontaneous. They do often focus on Now, i.e. Today rather than Tomorrow, which in many ways is a great way to live. It is a potential source of conflict between me and J, because I think a bit of forward planning doesn't hurt. But I'm happy to be more spontaneous so I don't think that that aspect has ever been a problem."

"The problem," continues M, opening up a bit now, "is that his spontaneous nature means that when J is upset, his memory is very short. If I accidently upset him, he'll focus on the Now which is being upset, and forget all the positive things about our relationship and all the good things that I've done for him. Since we got back from Thailand a few months ago, we seem to have a serious mis-understanding about once a week. So once a week we go through an episode where he'll want to split up with me :-(. But then he calms down, the J that I love reappears, and everything settles down. The highs and lows in terms of the way he feels about me are much more extreme than anything that I've experienced before."

"But what causes the mis-understandings?" I ask.

"Sometimes there is a communication problem," replies M. "J's English is reasonable, but he's not native. Sometimes he'll be a bit lazy when talking to me and won't be sufficiently explicit. I'll then try and guess what he meant, and if I get it wrong, that can cause a problem."

"But sometimes," continues M, "I'm at a complete loss as to what's going on in his mind. The most ridiculous incident occurred a couple of weeks ago when our rubbish bin in the kitchen needed repairing because the lid wouldn’t stay closed. The spare part that was needed arrived and I asked J not to try and sort it out, because I'd already asked someone else to do it and I didn't want J to waste his time. That simple request caused a lot of problems. Two days later when he'd calmed down, I had a chat with him and I *think* he became upset because he thought that I thought he wasn't competent to do the repair. But to be honest, I'm still not sure! I've never ever suggested that he's incompetent about anything so why on earth would he ever think such a thing?"

"He's quite young isn't he?" I ask.

"Yes I know about your N/2+7 rule, GB," answers M, "and it's true that on that basis he is too young for me! But only just. Anyway, in a couple of years' time we'll be in compliance with that rule :-)."

"I'm not sure future compliance is relevant," I laugh.

"What about other stuff?" I continue, "For example, do you get on OK with each other's friends?"

"Yeah, I think we do actually," answers M. "One good thing is that all his Thai friends seem to like me :-). A few weeks ago, I went out for a drink with one of his closest friends when J was out working. The friend asked me nervously how solid me and J were. I said something like 'mostly OK', and I'm sure he understood the kind of problems that we were having because he went on to confide in me that he thinks J is sometimes a bit childish. Although I think I'd worked that out for myself!"

"Well that's a good sign," I say, "if you can have that kind of conversation with J's friends."

"In any case," says M, "I've very much fallen in love with J, so even though my logical brain sometimes tells me that I should split up with him, my heart won't let me! I fall in love far too easily, don't I?"

"Perhaps," I say, "but I don’t think there's anything wrong with that! Too many gay men won't commit to a relationship because they keep thinking that the next guy they get into bed with will be better than their current favourite. At least you don't have that problem :-)."

"Anyway," says M changing the subject, "how are you and boyfriend K?"

"Just like you, 'mostly OK' :-)," I answer cryptically, grinning at M.

I pour us both another glass of claret and tell M a bit about what's been going on with boyfriend K, but soon we're tired talking about our boyfriends and the conversation drifts on to other subjects.

"Well next time, let's not leave it so long before catching up!" I say to M at the end of the evening.

"Absolutely :-)," replies M. "It's been really good to see you GB!"

I'm not sure how long M and J will last. However, if any readers have any experience of gay relationships between English and Thai guys and you have any ideas that might make M and J's relationship work better, then please leave a comment and I'll pass it on :-).