Monday, January 28, 2008

When Gay Friends Split

Hope this question isn't too frivolous for you, Dr. Bill. I'm a straight woman whose been friends for years with two guys who have been lovers for over fifteen years. They broke up only a few months ago but I've remained friends with them and even tried to get them back together -- however, now they don't even want to be in the same room together, it's that bad. I'm having a big fiftieth birthday bash in a couple of months and want both of them there; I still love both of them. Some of my friends, gay and straight, tell me that I just can't invite both of them -- they will fight with each other, get angry at me, and the whole thing will become a big mess. What can I do? A.

First, thanks for your question. There's nothing "frivolous" about it. [You should see some of the questions I get.] When a couple -- gay or straight -- breaks up, it's always difficult to stay friends with both and it's admirable that you've managed to do just that. Is there really a danger that they will fight if they encounter each other at your birthday bash? Do they both realize that you have remained friends with the other, or do they each think that you've "chosen sides?" If so, you've got to level with them and ask them both to be reasonable. This is your big day -- congratulations, by the way -- and if they're really friends of yours they won't want to spoil it. If one or both expect you to choose sides, tell them they're being unfair. Again the key word here is reasonable. If they can't behave in a reasonable fashion, then maybe your only choice is not to invite either of them. (I suspect that they might be big "drama queens," eh? Maybe not.)

A lot depends on where you're having this bash and how many people will be there. Obviously these two men cannot avoid each other if you're having a sit-down dinner or small party with only a few people in your living room. If you're having a larger group in, say, a restaurant, maybe they can stay in neutral corners and out of each other's way.

Talk to them, tell them how you feel, tell them you want both of them there. Understand that if they really hate the idea of seeing one another -- it may simply cause too much pain or anger --one or both may decide not to attend and at least then it will no longer be a problem. You may miss their presence on this special evening, but at least you won't be on edge all night fearing an explosion. Hopefully, they will both decide that their friendship for you is more important than whatever animosity they may feel for each other, but when couples break up after many years, the animosity may sometimes be too big to overcome. At least for awhile.

Hope it works out and have a great night!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Bi -- or Married Homo?

I'm a gay man who's been seeing another man who turned out to my astonishment to be a friend of my brother and sister-in-law's. He works as a carpenter and was at their house the same time I was. I was delighted to see him but he pretended that I was confusing him with somebody else! I was hurt and shocked. It turns out that he's married and in the closet. I confronted him days later in a bar, told him to lose my number, and he said he was all confused and bisexual, as if asking for sympathy. He's been cheating on his wife and lying to me for months. Should I bother with him anymore? And is he really bi or just kidding himself? Anon.

Whatever one thinks of the realities or unrealities of bisexuality, there's a big difference between an openly bisexual man who marries a woman (who knows that he's also attracted to men) and a married homosexual who is only bi in the technical sense -- he sleeps with his wife and has children but is innately homosexual (he sleeps with men, and generally only men, behind his wife's back). Today, many guys who are clearly in the latter category are calling themselves bi, hoping this will make them seem all hip and up-to-date instead of the pathetic closeted dinosaurs they really are. Not having met your carpenter I can't say for certain, but his reaction upon meeting you at your brother's house seems pretty much to tell the story. I mean, pretending he was somebody else!

I'm sorry if you were developing feelings for this man. Maybe he was developing feelings for you and is mulling over his married status and may want to come out and be with you. But if he hasn't said so, don't assume it. Some guys in his position finally get the strength to break free of a constrictive heterosexual relationship when they fall in love with a guy, but others can't give up the wife and family or the straight veneer no matter what -- if your carpenter is in that category, then you've done the right thing by moving on. If he's genuinely bisexual -- a big if, in this case -- then he's just a bi swinger and probably has no reason to, or intention of, ever leaving the wife. In any case, how can you ever trust a man who never bothered to tell you he was married and has, as you say, been lying to you -- and his wife -- for not only months but (in her case) probably years.

If he doesn't indicate an honest, sincere desire to come out and be with you, wish him well and blow him off!

Good luck!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Coming Out to Parents in Middle-Age

I have a gay friend who is in his fifties but still hasn't told his parents he's gay. He says he doesn't want to hurt them. Is it really possible that they don't already know he's gay? R.J.

Improbable but not impossible. They can be in as much denial as some gay people are about themselves, and if their son doesn't conform to any of the usual stereotypes ... I myself have met some older men who are in the closet as far as their parents are concerned, and I confess I think it's a little ridiculous. I mean, most of these guys haven't been on a date with a woman in thirty years, have never had a girlfriend -- most parents aren't stupid. It never occurs to these guys that their parents already suspect they're gay and just want to know that they're happy. If your friend's real problem is that he isn't happy, suggest he get some counseling, or get some Out and Proud friends together to give him a pep talk and realize he can't blame all of his problems -- which everyone has -- on being gay.

The fact is that a lot of these guys don't come out to their parents not because they fear their parents can't take it, or that they'll be "hurt" -- what nonsense -- but because they're dealing with internalized homophobia. It's not about the parents -- it's about them.

Doomed Infatuation

I fear my friend is heading down a dark path. He has become very good friends -- or so he says -- with a much younger man who identifies as straight. My friend says his feelings for this younger man are strictly platonic, but the way he goes on about him it is very clear that he is smitten. I believe the young man is deeply conflicted and in any case will ultimately never allow any older gay man to become too close to him; the possibility of any real relationship is remote. I'm afraid my friend is going to get very hurt but I don't know what to do about it. George.

Sometimes, sadly, there isn't anything you can do about it. If he's in a deep denial about his true feelings for this young man -- or if he just won't talk about it honestly with you -- then there's not a lot you can do. I suspect that you've tried to draw him out on the subject, but he resists. Hopefully as he becomes ever more infatuated he'll turn to his friends for comfort and advice. The best thing you can probably do is be there for him when the ultimate letdown arrives. You're right that young, conflicted men often turn on the older gay men that have been there for them (sometimes out of their own needs, admittedly) and it's never very pretty. A good friend who will listen and help build up his self-esteem, reminding him that there are people who care about him even if his "beloved" does not, will provide some sort of comfort and support.

In the meantime, introduce him to some gay guys his own age who might take his mind off the conflicted pup. The easiest way to get over an infatuation is to meet someone new who can play back your feelings instead of constantly pining for the unattainable.

Gay Parties

How come gay people throw the best parties? Bicurious.

Do we? Well, I remember years ago some Caucasian friends saying that African-Americans "really know how to party" and, therefore, they threw the best parties, and I've heard the same thing said about other minority groups. It's not meant as an insult but it can be a little patronizing. I suppose some gay people say that gays throw the best parties as a simple expression of gay pride. Some straight people might think that gay parties are better because gays (some gays, I hasten to add) are more "fabulous" and colorful, and therefore more "fun". It's generally meant in a positive way but it can be awfully condescending.

Of course some straight-identified, conflicted individuals say gay people throw the best parties simply so they can explain what the hell they were doing at a gay party in the first place!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Gay-Friendly Homophobia

I am a gay man whose best friend for many years is straight. He just found out his son is gay and he isn't dealing with it very well. Frankly, I'm flabbergasted, as he knows I'm well-adjusted and happy. No, he hasn't talked about sending the young man -- he's twenty-four -- in for shock therapy or anything like that, but he keeps trying to convince him he's not gay and gets angry at me when I tell him that his son seems pretty certain. I think this is the end of a long-time friendship. Sam.

Sadly, there are many straight and straight-identified people who -- on an intellectual level -- are perfectly supportive of gays but on a deep down level have issues to deal with, especially when it relates to themselves or their loved ones. Since I assume you've been openly gay with him for years, it's unfortunate to say the least that he can't deal with his own son's sexual orientation, but this is not as uncommon as you may think. Part of it may be his concern for his son's welfare (discrimination) and health (AIDS is still seen by many as a "gay" disease even though it shouldn't be), but I sense that on a deeper level his reaction is blatantly homophobic, especially as he's not being at all supportive of his son.

He may come around when he gets used to the idea. Or he may not. It just goes to show that often gay people are merely tolerated by some straight friends instead of truly being accepted as equals. Don't give up on this long-lasting friendship right away -- tell him how you feel in no uncertain terms -- and be supportive of his son, but if things don't show signs of improving this is one "friend" you can do without. Hopefully his son's coming out may help him to understand you better.

Separating Friends from Lovers

A couple of months ago I met a really nice guy and we really hit it off. We had a one-night-stand, which I now think was a mistake. I care for this guy very much and want him in my life, but only as a friend. He's made it pretty clear that his feelings for me are more sexual and romantic. He's hinted broadly that he wants to sleep with me again, but I've managed to get out of it so far. I'm tired of making excuses. How can I tell him the truth without hurting him? Terry.

I'm sorry to say that there's probably no way to do that. If he's developed strong feelings for you, he's going to be hurt. This is a very difficult situation for both of you, but especially for him because unrequited lusts and infatuations really suck. I assume when the two of you hit the sheets you were both a little snookered?

It seems to me you have a couple of options. You can tell him that no matter how much fun you had, you never go to bed with the same person twice -- so many men, so little time -- that sort of thing. The trouble with this option is that as you and he become better friends he may see that this is a lie. The second option is just to keep dodging the sex thing until he finally gets the message. The third option is to just tell him in as warm and compassionate manner as you can that you only want to be friends with him, that you care for him and think he's a great guy that -- as you put it -- you want in your life but only platonically. He may be able to get past the inevitable humiliation, accept that you and he are just not meant to be, and keep you as a friend, but if he's a little hung up on you, he might need to move on to get over you. And that's something that you'll have to accept.

Straight Women Dating Gay Men

Why do so many women seem to want to date gay men? I can't tell you how often a woman has introduced me to her boyfriend and he seems like a big queen to me. What's up with that? R.

Okay, LOL. Yes, there are men who jump right off the gaydar screen and who have girlfriends. We have to remember that just as there are many gay men who are very non-stereotypical and masculine, there are straight guys who are kind of "girlish;" they're not always gay, believe it or not (okay, okay, maybe one or two aren't). On the other hand, there are many closeted gay men who have girlfriends, and the girlfriends deal with it in several ways. Either they are so in love with the guy that they don't care (a kind of pathetic "he can fuck a guy now and then as long as he comes home to me" attitude); they wishfully perceive him as a bi guy who happened to fall in love with a woman and will never need sex with a man again; or they've convinced themselves -- simply because they have sex -- that he can't possibly be gay no matter how many stereotypical traits he may have. Some women always have a sneaking suspicion about their boyfriends, while others haven't got a clue.

Probably some women prefer "effeminate" men (gay or straight) because they think they can bond with them easier than they can with a "macho" type, that they'll be more sensitive, caring, "womanly." There is no good reason to assume that this is the case, of course. Then we still have pathetic women with pre-Stonewall mind-sets, who think the ultimate challenge or test of their "womanhood" is to go to bed with a gay guy. I once met a woman who "collected" gay boyfriends, the ultimate "fag hag." Some effeminate men are so handsome that the women want them no matter what.

This is the 21st century. There are plenty of perfectly nice straight guys (not to mention the bi-identified) for straight women to play around with. They should leave the gay gays alone.

Gay men should be with gay men.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Gay Former Brother-in-Law

I belong to a gay men's dating site and a few weeks ago came across a familiar profile -- it was my former brother-in-law. I had no idea he was gay, and I doubt if my sister did either, but as we're not close I doubt she would tell me anyway. I always thought he was hot, and according to his profile he's looking for a relationship. I would love to get in touch with him, and as he and my sister have been divorced for several years... Would this be an okay thing to do? Barry

That depends. There are several things to consider. If he's in the closet, the last person he wants to hear from is his gay former brother-in-law -- who probably knows a lot of the people he knows, I assume. Your sister and you may not be close, but you'll hardly get closer if you wind up in a relationship with her ex. Sure, they've both moved on, but that doesn't mean she wants to deal with him at family gatherings, especially if she learns that her whole marriage might have been a sham. The whole thing has a kind of "icky" feel to it. Did the two of you have a good rapport when he was married? You may think he's hot but maybe he doesn't feel the same way about you, sorry. The fact that you didn't pick up on his attraction to men -- unless he was really good at keeping that part of him hidden -- may indicate his disinterest. Even if he's attracted to you he may not have the slightest interest in hooking up with his ex-wife's brother!

If you contact him at all, why not contact him and just say "hi" and tell him you want to give him your support. Let him make the next move. You may not get a lover but you may find a grateful friend.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Unsafe Sex

I'm gay but I can't understand why there are guys who take it up the ass without a condom, who even get ticked off if the top wants to use one? What's up with that? I would never have anal sex without a condom. Jerry.

To put it bluntly, they're nuts -- and so are you if you don't use a condom (glad to hear that you do). Guys like that are playing with fire; even if their sex partners say they're HIV negative doesn't mean they are, or that they've even been tested. I assume these guys have a crazy love of danger, think they're somehow immune to HIV or bad luck, have some kind of death wish, or thrive on taking nutty chances. Some will simply say that it feels better without a condom. Maybe (I'm a top man myself)? But even if the sensation is a bit muted isn't it better if it's safe?

These guys not only don't care about themselves, they don't care about you. Yes, you can contract HIV even if you are a top and have sex with a bottom. If you indulge in anal sex, always use a condom.

Why do these guys take such unnecessary risks (and there are straight guys like this as well as gay guys)? I guess it's all about the thrill, immediate gratification without responsibility. Or sheer stupidity? Younger gay guys did not grow up with dozens of their friends horribly wasting away and dying from AIDS. Older guys figure most of their life is over already, so who cares? They all think that if you contract HIV all you have to do is take a pill. HIV may no longer be a death sentence for most, but there are still serious social, sexual and health complications, and there are quite a few people who do not respond to medications. HIV infection is still a serious matter.

Avoid guys like this. At the very least insist on safe sex and condoms when you''re with them or just walk out the door.

There are plenty of more responsible guys in the gay community.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Getting Older

Is there any "gay life" for older gay men? MR.

There sure is, if you know where to find it. Getting older in an ageist society is no picnic whether you're gay or straight, but there are lots of ways to make connections with other mature men who share your chronology and interests. There are gay bars that cater strictly or primarily to older gay men, and if bars aren't your thing -- or you live in a small town without any gay bars -- there's always the Internet. Some older people say "pish tosh!" when you talk of computers, but you can get one for a reasonable price, you don't have to be a rocket scientist, and the Internet is a great way for isolated gays (of all ages) to stay in touch with one another. Of course, since you're reading this, you're already on the Internet, so I would suggest such gay dating/friendship/sex sites as http://silverdaddies.com and if you're a bear or like bears http://bear411.com. Even if you just want a pen pal these sites can be very helpful, and yes, some guys have even made long-lasting romantic connections. Perhaps the nearest big city in your area has a gay or GLBT center that may have social groups for older guys. Whether it's dates, sex, friendship or a relationship that you're looking for you can make connections at these and other sites. Don't be bashful -- you don't have to be alone!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Straight Son in Gay Bar

My son, who is straight, recently started working in a gay bar, and he is very annoyed at the way everyone there just assumes he's gay. He hasn't been there long, and he's thinking of quitting. Why can't a man work in a gay bar without everyone thinking he's gay? Concerned Mama.

Actually these days many gay bars seem to have straight -- or at least straight-identified -- employees, so obviously the managers of these establishments don't always have an aversion to hiring straight people. I do have to say if a straight man finds it uncomfortable working in a gay environment -- as your son seems to -- then, frankly, he shouldn't work in a gay bar. It troubles me that you seem to think it's the fault of the customers -- you don't state this outright but it's tacit in what you say -- but the fact remains that most of the bartenders in gay bars are gay, so most people who go into the bar will assume your son is homosexual as well. If you're honest, isn't your son more likely to be concerned that his straight friends outside the bar will think he's gay once they find out where he's working? If this is a problem for him, he should move on. And if you're totally honest with yourself, isn't your chief concern not that your son may be uncomfortable but that the customers may be right? (There is nothing wrong with being gay!)

First of all, I don't know if your son is really straight (and neither do you, to be blunt) because many of the straight-identified bartenders in gay bars are working through their sexual identity issues, enjoying an open and free gay environment until they can finally get past their personal hang ups and "stand up and be counted" as gay along with everyone else. Many gay people can't understand why a straight guy, no matter how gay-friendly he may think he is, wouldn't prefer to work in a straight bar where he wouldn't have to worry about what people think of his sexuality and could meet plenty of "babes" of the opposite sex.

Your son could be genuinely hetero, I suppose, but if he really hates that everyone thinks he's gay -- a homophobic reaction in my opinion, considering it's an environment where people are not "punished" for being gay -- then he has no business working in a gay bar. It takes a very secure, very open-minded, very liberal, very special kind of straight guy to work in a gay bar, and I really don't know if there are many of them around, even today.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Lover's Ex-Wife Won't Let Go

I am a gay man who is in a relationship with another man who was married for many years and then came out of the closet. He has maintained a very good relationship with his children and ex-wife -- perhaps too good, in the latter case. His ex-wife refuses to move on and date new men, and still clings to her ex-husband, calling on him at all hours, expecting him to help her out, and be her best friend no matter what. Out of guilt he runs when she calls because she was devastated when he ended the marriage. I know he has no real feelings for her anymore, but it's clear that she just can't let go. And she's always hugging and kissing him -- he claims it's just affection and out of habit-- and sometimes he even comes back from doing a chore for her with her lipstick on his collar from a "thank you" hug. Ron in Albany.

Well, at least her lipstick isn't in other places -- you hope! I understand that your lover is feeling guilt and yes it's good that he and his ex-wife get along and he remains close to his children, but a line has to be drawn and you've got to establish that line if he won't. You may eventually have to sit down with the ex-wife and in a compassionate way explain how you feel, that you're trying to build a life with your man and she needs to move on. (Know any nice straight single guys you can introduce her to?)

You also have to make sure that these "chores" he's doing for his wife aren't sexual in nature. He may still be a bit uncomfortable being in a relationship with a man after so many years with a woman and feel some kind of "macho" need to engage in hetero intercourse -- for all the wrong reasons. Cheating is cheating, no matter what. And you need to know if he's still conflicted.

Even if that's not the case, the situation here needs to be "straightened" out before it gets worse. The more the ex-wife believes she can take advantage of your lover, the more she will. Ultimately, it wouldn't make a difference if your lover had moved on with a man or another woman, he's with somebody else now and the ex has to accept it. He shouldn't leave it to you to handle the situation.

Sit down with your lover and tell him how you feel. Remind him that in this case guilt is a useless and even harmful emotion -- harmful to the relationship you are both trying to build together. Hopefully, once he realizes that he might be jeopardizing his future with you by overly coddling his ex-wife, it will be easier to him to say "no" to her. He also needs to understand that the more he coddles her, the less likely it will be for her to look for -- and move on with -- somebody new, which isn't good for her. The hugs and kisses she gives him may be merely "affectionate" and meaningless to him, but they are in no way meaningless to her.

Water sports

A guy I met online asked me if I'm into water sports? I have a feeling he didn't mean water skiing or competitive swimming. What are water sports and are they safe? TP

A guy who is into water sports -- also known as "golden showers" -- either likes to urinate on his sex partner, be urinated on, or both. Is it safe? Well, HIV is spread by the exchange of fluids and urine is a fluid. Certainly you should never take urine into your mouth or into your rectum. Even a spray of urine could be dangerous if you have cuts or sores on your body. An HIV negative guy could conceivably pee on another man without danger. UPDATE [4/3/08]: I was wrong about urine and HIV infection. See below or click here.

I'm not into being judgmental, but water sports -- for me, at least -- are just too unsanitary. Not a turn-on. Ask this guy which of you is supposed to do the peeing, him or you? -- and if there's (hopefully) anything else he likes to do.

In other words, proceed with caution and stay safe.

UPDATE: For updated information on urine and HIV infection, please click here.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Family Values

I have been openly gay and out to my family since I was in my early twenties. I am now 35. I have had one bad long-term relationship that lasted a few years on and off, but ultimately blew up in my face. My family seem to think that this has somehow magically turned me straight. It may have put me off relationships for awhile (an obvious reaction to a bad break- up) but it didn't turn me off homosexuality. Yet at a recent party my sister was obviously trying to set me up with a female co-worker of hers and my parents speak wistfully of a woman that I used to date (ha ha!) back in high school who is still unmarried and want me to call her. What can I do to make these people see that while I may have had an unhappy relationship I am not unhappy being gay? John.

Tell them! Tell them and tell them again! I know it's -- they're -- exasperating, even borderline homophobic, but they probably think they're doing you a favor. (I presume your sister's co-worker wasn't a lesbian and sis thought you and she might hit it off as friends?) Don't shrug, get mad, and walk out of the room. Tell them! Send them a letter or an email or confront them face to face. Let them know that you're happy being gay, wouldn't change even if you could, and find their refusal to face the facts offensive. Convince them that one bad relationship has not turned you off men. You will have love in your life again! (But it definitely will not be the gal you dated in high school who is still not married. Wonder what her story is?)

Don't hold this in and let it fester; it will only get worse. Your relatives will all feel better -- and hopefully leave you alone -- once you've convinced them that, despite your recent romantic problems, you're a happy, well-adjusted gay man.

Gay Man in Dilemma with Niece

I am a gay man in his late forties who has a wonderful niece -- whom I'm very close to -- in her early thirties. She has had some very unfortunate relationships with men and been hurt very badly, and I don't know if she could take another defeat. She's fallen head over heads in love with a man she describes as a great guy. When I finally met him I was flabbergasted -- and deeply depressed for my niece's sake. I have seen this man many times -- yes, I am sure it was him -- cruising in local gay bars, even made out with him once a couple of years ago, and he is always inebriated. I have seen him neck with and pick up other men. I don't care if he's gay or bi, I don't want my niece to be devastated by marrying --yes, they are talking about marriage -- a man who may not be in touch with or honest about his true sexuality. He may continue to pursue men even after he's married. What on earth do I say to her? Bob.

The truth, I'm afraid. Men who want sex with men when they're very drunk want sex with men when they're sober, only they need to get drunk and lose their inhibitions before they can do so. It's the old bugaboo, internalized homophobia. You're right -- it doesn't matter if he identifies as gay, straight or bi, his future wife needs to know -- needs to know now -- about his possibly risky behavior, his lust for men, and what it may mean for their future, assuming any is possible.

There are so many ramifications to this. There are women who don't mind marrying gay/bi men (as bizarre as it sounds) generally for the same wrong reasons that gay/bi men often marry women. But every woman should be told beforehand -- hopefully by the man himself -- that he's gay/bi so that she can make an informed decision about whether or not to marry him. If he's essentially a gay man, he will not be happy in a straight marriage, and neither will your niece. Bi advocates say a bi man can be perfectly happy with, and faithful to, a woman (although there are thousands of men seeking male sex partners on gay dating sites who identify as "married and bi"), but this man sounds too conflicted to have any kind of realistic attitude toward his sexuality, and he probably hasn't fully accepted his homosexual feelings.

Don't tell your niece you once made out with him. I assume you don't have a "thing" for him as that will only complicate matters. That's not the issue in any case. The issue is that she thinks he's straight and he clearly isn't.

I would suggest sitting down and talking to him first. Don't wait until you run into him in another gay bar -- he'll be too drunk to hear you. Tell him you're aware of his nocturnal activities and you're not certain why he wants to marry your niece. Is he in love? Will she be his beard? What's going on? Tell him he has to tell her of his feelings for men or you'll tell her for him.

This isn't going to be easy as he sounds deeply closeted and repressed (except for when he's drinking) and he may be in such deep denial that he'll never be able to talk about it with you or anyone else in the light of day. Go slow, easy, be compassionate. If you get nowhere with him, you may have to be a real Dutch uncle with your niece. A marriage shouldn't start out with such a big lie between two people.

Get back to me and tell me how it goes.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Lesbian with Swingin' Lover

I am a 32-year-old lesbian who has a 26-year-old lover who says she is bisexual. She tells me that she is happy in our relationship, our sex life is good, but that she needs to be with a man now and then. I am not comfortable with this, and am very uncomfortable with the thought of her being with a man, especially as I suspect it's the same guy each time (I suppose that's better than her sleeping around with a whole bunch of guys). She sees this man every two weeks or so and says it's only about sex, but even if that's true, I do not want to share her with anybody. She says I am close-minded. I love her, but I am just not comfortable with this arrangement. Suffering Sappho.

And why should you be comfortable with this arrangement? If you want a monogamous relationship -- which does not in any way make you "close-minded" -- you should be with someone who believes in monogamy, and it doesn't matter what her sexual orientation is. I personally have nothing against open relationships, but both parties should agree to this -- if not, then one of them is cheating. You should make it clear that this arrangement is not one you can live with; you are not giving her "permission" to cheat.

Besides, bisexual advocates (with whom I do not always agree) argue that it is a stereotype that bi's need to be with both men and women on a regular basis -- only that they can fall in love with either a man or a woman. They also argue that bi's are not more inclined to be unfaithful than gays or straights. Perhaps your lover is also (or only) sleeping with other women, and is using the bi business for a convenient excuse, figuring you'll find the idea more palatable if you think, because she's bi, that she has to have both men and women. Or perhaps she's dealing with internalized homophobia, and sleeps with men to feel more feminine or "normal." I also sense that you fear -- if she's seeing the same man (sort of a "male mistress") on a regular basis -- that she may develop feelings for him and leave you, which is certainly a possibility.

In the long run, it doesn't matter if she's bi or gay or whether she's seeing one man, many men, other women, or both. She's a "swinger" and you're not. Sit down with her and tell her you want a monogamous relationship, and if she's not comfortable with that, then perhaps it's time to move on. Maybe if you make it emphatically clear how you feel, she'll come around, but she could always keep cheating behind your back. For her, her bisexuality could be a phase, but on the other hand she may never want to give up men, for whatever reason.

What's the point of holding on to a relationship -- no matter how much in love you may think you are -- if it just causes you doubt, confusion, and unhappiness? It may be painful, but you're young and there are other wonderful women out there who will be happily satisfied with you alone.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Is Online Dating Safe?

I'm tired of the bar scene and waiting for the right fellow to come along but I admit I'm a little nervous with the idea of meeting someone online. You hear stories. And there are wacky people out there. Still, maybe I could find what I'm looking for without sitting around a bar all night. What do you think? JJ.

The online dating scene is safe enough if you take some simple precautions. Always remember that people are not always honest about themselves, their situations, and what they look like. Never just go to a person's home -- or invite them to your home -- to have sex when all you've seen is a photograph or two that may not even accurately represent them. Do not invite total strangers into your home no matter what and it's not even a good idea to go to their place, especially if they live somewhere remote. Exchange photographs (why would you want to hook up with someone when you've never even seen a photograph, or just a snapshot of a body part?) and then arrange to meet somewhere public for coffee or drinks. This way you'll be able to see if the chemistry is right (you can't always tell from a photograph, even if it's up-to-date) and the person seems sane. You can talk about your respective sexual histories and the like. If you go to his neighborhood, see if other people in the bar seem to know him and think he's cool. If he comes to your neighborhood, introduce him to your friends and the bartender so that he'll know that they'll remember what he looks like if something bad happens. This is especially important if you eventually decide to go off with him or take him home. And always stick to safe sex!

There are some creeps online but there are also some nice guys. Just exercise caution and good judgment and you'll probably be fine. And maybe meet the man of your dreams, who knows?

Good Luck!

A Kiss Ain't Just a Kiss

I'm seeing a guy that I really like and we have pretty good sex, but he doesn't seem to be into kissing which is a big disappointment, as it's one of my favorite things to do. I practice good dental hygiene -- in fact that's my profession -- so I know my breath isn't the problem. He knows of my dissatisfaction but all I can ever get is a quick peck now and then. I'm torn between thinking it's just not what he's into and I'll have to accept it and thinking that he's just not into me that much, and I have to accept that, too. How come some guys don't like to kiss? JM.

There are several possible explanations for this. Surprisingly, kissing -- two faces so close together, your tongues possibly intertwining -- is perhaps even more intimate than other sexual practices. This guy may have a problem with intimacy. Ironically, some guys find it easier to fellate a guy than kiss him, especially if -- as you yourself suggested -- they're not that "into" you (not saying that's the case here). This fellow may have an intimacy issue, or for whatever reason he just may not be turned on by kissing. Maybe he's afraid that he has bad breath. But there's another possiblity you'll have to explore.

Do you just have sex with this guy or do you actually go out on dates? Is there any romance in the relationship? And if there is, is it strictly one-sided (your feelings for him, of course)? There are men who can't kiss a guy because it's too "romantic." Men are strictly sex objects to them because of their internalized homophobia. Only "fags" kiss, their conscious or sub-conscious mind tells them. As long as they remain emotionally detached, they can't be homosexual -- or so they think. Which means he's dealing with deeper issues than kissing and could probably use some counseling. (Some of these men self-identify -- rightly or wrongly -- as bisexual, while others see themselves -- wrongly -- as being "straight.")

You might broach the subject with him. If his problem is as described in the second paragraph, he'll probably reveal it as the conversation proceeds. Ask yourself realistically if you can ever see him accepting himself. If the answer is no, then move on. There are other monkeys in the barrel, baby! Besides, who doesn't want somebody who's a great kisser?!

Abusive Neighbors?

My lover and I live next door to a younger gay couple who had a really bad fight the other night. I mean, they were literally knocking each other against the walls. One of them ordered the other out, said they were done, and screeched at him to leave. Apparently the other guy talked him out of it and they were quiet the rest of the night. It's bad enough if they're punching each other out, but I worry that one might be abusing the other. What, if anything, can I do about it? W.

"Quiet the rest of the night," huh? Let's hope they were having really great make-up sex! I get the feeling that you don't know these guys that well or you probably would have talked to them about it already. Even if one is abusing the other -- and sometimes it takes two to have a good knock-down drag-out fight -- he might resent it if you try and talk to him about it. I mean, does this happen on a regular basis? It is indeed troubling that they were getting so physical -- I mean, a fight should never get beyond shouting -- but hopefully it was a one-time thing. If it happens again and is very violent, don't waste time -- call the police. It might save somebody's life. If a moment arises when you feel you can broach the subject with the possibly abused partner, then do so, offering your support. Otherwise, let's hope the punching is over and they'll make love and not war from now on.

Don't Ask

Is it okay to wear white after New Year's? Jen.

Uh, how the hell would I know? I'm a bear, not one of the "fab" four on Queer Eye.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Youth and Beauty?

Why are gay people so obsessed with youth and beauty? Why can't they see past a person's outer surface and appreciate what's on the inside? M

Where are you getting this crazy idea that all gay people are obsessed with youth and beauty, as you put it? Do you you think straight guys go out looking for older, unattractive women when they cruise? Do straight women only want bald older guys with pot bellies (not that there's anything wrong with that)? The hot-looking guys you probably covet may be turning up their noses at you -- but if you only want to date hot-looking guys, why should they be any different? The fact remains -- and this has nothing to do with a person's sex or sexual orientation -- that some people (especially, but not always when they're younger) are more interested in a partner's physical appearance than in his or her "inner beauty."

But there are plenty of people -- gay as well as straight -- who don't necessarily care if someone conforms to a "hot" or Hollywood handsome stereotype. In the bear community, in particular -- as I have noted elsewhere -- being bald, hairy, overweight, middle-aged or older can often be considered an asset. And there are gay men outside the bear community who feel the same way.

I believe that those gay men who feel all other gay men are superficial (a very pre-Stonewall attitude) feel that way because they think everyone else feels the same way they do, but that's just not the case. These men may not have any straight friends or go into straight bars, where they can see that the rules of attraction aren't any different. (The diversity of the gay community and its attitudes are remarkable.)

So if you've been striking out lately why not pass up the "hot" handsome guys and make a pass at someone who may be perfectly nice and pleasant-looking -- if not drop-dead gorgeous -- but also has those superior inner qualities that you claim to be looking for.

Good luck!

Cruising Roommates

I recently spent a very nice night with a man who has a roommate -- not a lover. I run into the roommate in the bars a lot and we find each other attractive, too. My question is -- is it bad form, tacky, for me to go home with a trick's roommate, especially as it's only been a week or so. How long should I wait? Or should I just stick to the first guy? B in Boston.

That depends. Was this a one-night-stand or is the first guy someone you want to keep seeing? If that's the case, then "dating" -- or sleeping with -- his roommate may not be the best idea. It may be fun to have two guys competing for your favors, but it won't be fun for them and, ultimately, it won't be much fun for you, either.

Are you certain these two are only "roommates?" Sometimes guys have a kind of loose, open relationship, but it's still a relationship. I assume they have separate bedrooms. Since the first guy didn't ask the roommate to hop in for a threesome, he really may not like you dating the other guy.

One thing I suggest is that you ask the other guy exactly what's going on, and if he feels sleeping with you would cause problems with his roommate. You can always wait until the first guy is out of town.

By the way, has the second guy actually asked you home yet? You may be attracted to each other but that doesn't mean he plans to poach on his roommate's preserve.

And as always, baby -- stick to safe sex!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Co-worker Wants a Date

There is a fellow at work who keeps pestering me, saying we should go out for a drink, intimating he'd like to date me, and so on. We are both gay, and I don't want to get him in trouble by complaining. I can't say it's reached the level of sexual harassment as yet, but how can I let him know I am simply not interested in him without it snowballing? RR

Now this is an awkward situation. First I have to ask -- are you certain he just doesn't want to be friends with a gay co-worker? If you're certain he's "interested" in you, you can always say you have a monogamous relationship or are dating someone, if you haven't already. If you've told him you're single, tell him now that you've recently "met" someone special. Sometimes telling a little white lie is the best way to go. I recognize that you want to avoid hurt feelings, especially as this is someone you have to work with and see almost every day. Again, if all he's after is friendship, maybe it won't hurt to have a drink with him. Remember that while this may be awkward for you, if he truly has unrequited feelings for you he's in a much worse position. If he graduates from being friendly or flirting to making unwanted advances -- and I only mean something that is way over the top -- you have to be firm with him, warning him that you'll complain if you have to. If you do feel a need to report him, make it clear that his being gay is not the issue. Hopefully he's a reasonable person and this will all go away once he realizes you are simply not available.

Crush on a Straight Guy?

I am a gay man in my twenties and I am infatuated with a friend of mine, who I think is gay. He does not say he is gay but has never had a steady girlfriend -- although he has dated -- and doesn't really seem that interested in women. How can you tell for sure if someone else is gay? I really would like to go to the next level with him but don't want to waste my time if he's straight and get hurt. WR

Well, it could be that he's gay, but it also could be that his seeming disinterest in women is wish-fulfillment on your part. Maybe not. I am assuming he knows you're gay? If not, then coming out to him will probably be the best way of finding out if he, too, is gay. There is no sure way of definitely knowing someone is gay (aside from intimacy) no matter how convinced you may be that he is. If you have good reason to think he's gay -- your "gaydar" is on high alert -- then talking about it with him may be helpful, but be prepared for a negative reaction if he's deeply conflicted.

The trouble is that you're not the best person to help him come out because you have such a stake in it -- your attraction and romantic attachment toward him. Perhaps there's a mutual friend who could sensitively broach the subject for you? You might be so desperate to have him be gay that you might go overboard in your protestations, which will not help at all. (I've been there.)

The thing to remember is that even if he's gay, he won't be much good to you as long as he is closeted, repressed, or conflicted -- he might as well be straight. If you get nowhere with him, it might be best to decide if you think you can realistically handle being "just friends" or if it will be necessary to part company for your own sanity -- that is, your need to get over him and move on.

When you are infatuated with someone, it may seem as if you just can't bear even the thought of not having them in your life, but the truth is that you can get over them. All it takes is meeting someone who can play back your feelings, and brother, they're out there, believe me!

Ultimately it's so much better to hang out with a guy who feels the same way about you than it is to spend your time pining for someone who might well be unattainable.

Let me know how it goes.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Gay Men and Lesbians

I don't mean to offend, but I always get the impression that gay men and lesbians do not like each other. I know its cliche to say that gay people hate members of the opposite sex, but I think this is different cause gay men and straight women seem to get along. Why can't gay men and lesbians get along? S in Phoenix.

Generally I think gay men and lesbians do get along as they are both subject to persecution as homosexuals. I know many gay men who have lesbian friends and vice versa. Sometimes there is a connection between gay men and straight women because both are attracted to males, but this doesn't seem to have carried over in the same way to lesbians and straight men, although certainly they can be friends as well.

So it's not so much that gay men and lesbians don't get along but that they have different interests, and in general people prefer to hang out with others like themselves. As women, lesbians feel that they have issues to deal with -- sexism, for instance -- that gay men do not have to contend with, although a link has been established between misogyny and homophobia (men who hate women often hate homosexuals because they supposedly remind them of women).

Of course some gay men can have sexist attitudes as much as their hetero counterparts. (On the other hand, many gay men are much more understanding of women, because they, too, relate to being discriminated against and looked down upon.) A few gay men have issues with lesbians in particular, primarily because they prefer the company of other (gay) men and don't form friendships with gay women and get to know them, or because they feel some lesbians have no use for men.

The reality is that the gay community is very diverse and misunderstandings between the sexes can certainly occur. But in my experience, most -- if, sadly, not all -- gay men and lesbians are perfectly respectful of one another.

About Gay Bears

What the hell is a 'bear" anyway? I've heard they're part of the gay community but I have no idea what they are or where you find one? Curious in Newport.

A bear is a member of the gay male community who tends to be non-stereotypical in most ways, an average Joe who happens to be gay. At first the bear community consisted only of working class men who seemed to fit a certain type: large, macho, hairy, bear-like men with big beards and bellies. Today there are different classifications of bears, although every bear should have some facial hair and most are masculine. Otters and wolves are slender versions of bears, while cubs are younger bears. Chubbybears are portly men and musclebears are guys with big muscles and well-developed pectorals. Bears are also classified as to the amount of body hair they possess. A very hairy guy is known as a furrybear.

Bears hang out wherever they want but they congregate in certain "bear bars" that cater to bears, as well as in social groups such as Metrobears in New York. There are also bear meets and conventions and even beauty pageants, done tongue-in-cheek of course. Some of the more traditional bears look askew at things like beauty pageants. Bears are probably the largest sub-grouping of the gay male community. There are many, many more bears than there are drag queens for instance. It may not seem that way to some, but that's because bears just look like "average" guys.

In general the bear community is very friendly and down-to-earth with no attitude. Among bears, it isn't about how young, pretty or slim you are. Bears offer an alternative to the attitude that the only attractive men are twentysomething willowy thin guys with hairless skin and pretty faces.

For more info click here.

Gay or Bi?

I am more attracted to men than to women, but I can't see myself living with a man for a lifetime. I don't relate to gay men because I am not effeminate and have no interest in the typical things gay men seem obsessed with, like fashion. Therefore I feel that I must be bisexual instead of gay. Is this correct? What do you think? J in Dallas.

I think you have to realize that the gay community is very diverse and there are many, many gay men who are not effeminate, couldn't care less about fashion, and aren't in the least stereotypical (NOT that there is anything wrong with such men). The vast majority of gay people aren't stereotypical, in fact.

I suppose you could be bi, but it sounds to me as if you're more likely gay and in denial because of your stereotypical notions of gay men. This is fairly common in this age: "I can't be gay because I fill in the blank or because I don't fill in the blank. When you realize that there are many, many gay men like yourself you will hopefully get over this notion that you couldn't possibly have another man as a lifetime partner. [Also remember that bisexuality is generally defined as the ability to fall in love with a member of either sex.] You need to get over your fear of being, or being perceived as, gay. This is what we call internalized homophobia, a self-doubt or self-hated that prevents one from coming fully out of the closet.

Don't worry. Get past stereotypes. You can be very happy as a gay man even if you're not into "fashion." Check out the Bear community, a huge sub-sect of the gay male community full of guys who are generally into stuff that gay men aren't supposed to be into!