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.