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Thursday, September 25, 2008

To a Young Gay Man...

There used to be a fashion in the 17th century to write manuals of advice for young men. Often they were framed as letters from a father to his son. I was wondering what sort of advice I'd give today to a young man coming out into the glamorous glittering world of gay Auckland.

Because, of course, when I was a young man, venturing out into homoland, there really wasn't anything in the way of examples or models except for Hudson & Halls or Mr Humphries on "Are You Being Served" - and as much as I appreciate them now, at the time I just didn't want to be anything like them.

However, I did start my sex life at the tender age of 15, in the public toilets in the Otahuhu car park. And I just kept going back, there and to other bogs around town. Doing the milk run as we called it. Albert Park, High St, Durham Lane, Customs St and back.

There was no Rainbow Youth to go to - all the advice I got was from men who wanted my sweet young body. Some of them were remarkably kind. Others were not. And I still remember being taken home in the middle of the day by one guy who turned his wedding picture beside the bed face down before we got into it. I guess I was about 16 by then.

But what advice would I give to young gay man in his teens coming out today? It's such a different world.

I think first and foremost, I'd advise him to try and find fuck-buddies close to his own age. There are so many nasty sharks swimming out in the water. It's easy to be impressed by someone who has a bit of money, a nice flat and a car, maybe access to some fun drugs as well. But he will most likely be just using you for your sweet tender body. So sticking to around your own age at first is not bad. You'll also hear from others who the players are, who the sick creeps are, and who is nice.

Make friends. Not just fuck-buddies, but real friends. People you can count on. People who will help you when you drink too much, who will either get you home or ring up your folks with a convincing story. I am still friends with guys I met on the scene here in Auckland back in the 70s and early 80s. Having good friends you've known for decades is one of the best things life can give you. It adds a texture to your life that you can't get anywhere else.

Trust the love your family has for you. Your parents have known you all your life. They probably already have a good idea if you're gay or not. They're not dumb. I'm not saying you have to rush out and tell them straight off - but give them a little credit. They love you and want you to be happy.

I can still remember ringing my parents when I was 18 after (breaking all my own rules here) getting picked up by a sexy guy in his 30s who had a nice car and house. I rang them after midnight, apologised and said I was too drunk to get home but I'd be back in the morning and was crashing at a friend's house. They thought I'd been very mature.

Drugs: You'll probably end up doing some no matter what I say. Just don't do too many all at once - it gets messy ! And always make sure you have a friend around who knows what you've taken. And keep your phone charged and close by. If it has a needle or a broken light bulb attached - don't.

Dance ! God, when I think back as to how much I loved to dance when I was in my teens and 20s. I could dance for hours - now, more a happy memory.

Do I advise you to trust or to be suspicious? Frankly, there are so many lying shits in the world, gay or straight, that you won't be able to avoid them whatever you do. And it sucks to go through life being suspicious of everyone you meet. So I guess I'd advise you to listen to your gut instinct. And take a chance - trust people more often than not, but if you start to feel a little uncomfortable, if you start to hear a little voice in your head going"Hmm, I'm not sure..." then listen to it and move on.

Be polite. I don't mean you need to bring out your Nanna maners - but it always pays to be nice to people around you. Listen to what they say. Show a little respect. It's the old story - treat them as you'd like to be treated.

Pay your share of the bill. If money is tight, either don't go out, or tell people first that you're broke so everyone knows where they stand. Don't wait till the bill arrives to do the Aussie haka as you pat your pockets looking for cash.

Look after your body. It is where you live. It can give you the most intense wonderful pleasure. If you treat it badly it can treat you badly back, and that ain't fun. So be good to yourself. Get some exercise - trust me, that youthful muscle tone will go suddenly if you don't. And please - don't get HIV. Condoms and lube! Always !There are so many guys out there who have it who won't tell you. Look after your self.

Be as honest as you can. Sometimes, a little deceit is better than sticking to the truth. But never lie in a way that will really hurt someone else.

Fall in love. God, your youth is the best time ever to do that. But try and do it with someone who's falling for you too. The pain of one-sided love is no fun. But if you both can ride the wave, just go for it.

Above all enjoy it. It really is a wonderful life, and being gay lets you experience parts of it your striaght brothers and sisters will never know. You will come to see life from so many different angles and meet so many great people along the way. Enjoy it. Love yourself.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Shake Hands? Or go on a date?

There's a joke that for gay men, having sex is like shaking hands. It's just what we do, you know, it's how we say hi to a stranger. And there's an element of truth to it, after all, as gay men we are defined to some extent by what we do with each other with out clothes off. Or at least flies open. And it's often said that nzdating should really be called nzfucking, cause that's how we treat it.

And I'm not complaining about this. Casual sex is one of our great treats.

But what about dating? Why don't we seem to do that in this country? I was talking about this with an American friend recently, and he claimed that over there it's actually quite normal to go out and have a meal, maybe a coffee or a drink, and not fall into bed straight away. From what he said, they sometimes even do that two or three times before they do fall into bed.(OK, not always, and maybe not so much in NY). And I was also talking with another friend, who is, sexy, and smart, runs his own business, and he said to me "Why can't I meet a partner?" He can get laid ok, but meeting someone to actually spend time with and that you can introduce to your family? That seems way harder for us gay guys as a group.

So why don't we date? I think this is an interesting concept. Imagine, getting to know someone a little bit before getting your rocks off? Wouldn't that be an interesting and novel experience?

And you know, I think there is something to be said for it. Without the total focus going on getting laid, maybe we'd actually get to develop friendships and find out if we really liked the other guy. For some reason, it often seems harder to do that after you've fucked I find. It often seems that sex first equals friends, or acquaintances after, or even less. How many guys have you had sex with that you've never called again, or can't remember their names when you see them out next?We seem to have this sexual culture built around the chase, the hunt, getting it, then leaving. I wonder howgood this is for us as a group.

One of the things that strikes me when I talk to young gay guys, in their teens as they are coming out, is that they so often say they want a boyfriend. I've perhaps gone on about this before. But it's such a common desire. A boyfriend. A mate. Someone to hang out with, to go out with, and yes, to fuck with too, but they really seem to show a desire to have a steady mate in their lives. And I think that's something that most of us can identify with too.

And I think that what our gay world does, with its emphasis on sex as a way of saying hello stranger, it makes it so much harder actually for young guys to date without the pressure of sex. We have such a sex centred culture in the gay male world that we miss out on some of the emotional side of things, the intimacy, the getting to know each other, the friendship and trust - all things that I think you need to make a relationship successful.

I suspect this part of our long legacy of having to live a life in the shadows. We were illegal and persecuted for so long, that we tended to take our pleasures on the run as it were. Gay male culture has set up certain patterns and these are hard to shake off, even now. I'm not against recreational just-fro-the-hell-of-it sex. Hell, if you've read any of my previous posts you'll know that.

But maybe it wouldn't be such a bad thing if we tried every now and then to actually date. To go and sit down, to talk, to get to know each other. Why not save shaking hands for really shaking hands at least some of the time, and spend the time to get to know each other a bit better before jumping into the sack. Treating the other person like an adult,a fellow human being, with needs and hopes and fears, instead of just a piece of meat to consume, I think it might lead to some interesting developments, and, let's face it, some more grown up forms of interaction. You're highly unlikely to want to spend the rest of your life with someone just because he's a great fuck - right?

Perhaps we might all be surprised at the outcome.