Tag Archives: gay culture

Gay on the Plains: Please Stop Sending Me Pics of Your Junk

Gay on the Plains: Please Stop Sending Me Pics of Your Junk

Amber Waves of Grain and A Sea of Headless Torsos

Grindr ProfileIn my experience, being a single gay man in the heartland brings challenges that differ from those faced by our coastal brethren. We live in a part of the country that is, by and large, more conservative, and more sparsely populated. That can make finding a date feel a little intimidating. The dating pool is smaller AND more likely to be at least partially in the closet.

So what is a lonely PrairieGay to do? Technology!

A million articles have been written about Grindr, and its many copycats. It’s been called impersonal, transactional, cold, and driven by our very basest instincts. And for many of its users, that is a fair assessment. You will find on these apps no shortage of pictures of muscular, chiseled, perfectly tanned, shirtless torsos… without heads. And many these guys are likely to strike up a conversation with inquisitive panache; “wut u n2?” or even “u looking?”

Charming, I know.

But, at least in my experience, mixed in with these headless, horned-up Greek statues are bunches of regular guys. They’re guys who have faces! And they work at the coffee shop, or in an office downtown, and they really aren’t looking for a quick hookup. Many of them aren’t looking for a boyfriend either, but just want to find someone interesting to chat with.

Those are my guys.

See, here’s the thing about mid-sized, Midwestern towns. We don’t have gay neighborhoods. We don’t have gay bookstores and coffee shops. Most of us have to travel to a larger city, like Kansa City, or Wichita or St. Louis or Denver to celebrate gay pride every year. In most of our cities and towns, we just lack that critical mass of gays it takes to put on a good pride. Many of our brothers and sisters have fled to the bigger cities. Many who remain stay comfortable by assimilating into their conservative suburban neighborhoods, and would be mortified by the idea of marching down Main St. waving our flag of many colors.

And so… if you thirst for social connections and new friends among the small town, Middle American gay community, you’re gonna have to find them first. In the dark ages, before smart phones and gps and Grindr, that meant getting personal introductions from your mutual straight friends. And we all know how effective that can be:

 “You’ll just LOVE my coworker Steven! You have so much in common!”

“Oh yeah? Like what?”

“Well, he’s really cute and he goes to anime conventions all the time, and he collects precious moments figurines, isn’t that just adorable?”

“Uh… I guess.  What, exactly do we have in common though?”

“Well… you’re both, you know,” (whispers) “GAY!”

This retail approach to making gay friends took a very, very long time.  It was hit or miss, and often a lot more miss.  And then, the heavens opened up, and the gay gods brought us Grindr. Finely a wholesale outlet for meeting all the gays in a hundred mile radius!

Wow... that sure is a lot of junk.

Wow… that sure is a lot of junk.

Like I said, the apps are problematic on many levels.  A dear friend of mine refers to them as “the hoechats.” As in, “Ugh, I was just hoping maybe I’d meet someone who might be fun to take to that art opening next week, but… you know how it is on the hoechats. Next thing I knew I was being inundated with uninvited pictures of some dude’s junk. By the way, what are you doing next Friday?”

But I met that very friend, you guessed it, on the hoechats. In fact, I’ve met a number of friends there.  Some of them I’ve later met up with in real life, to get dinner, see a move or go to a party. So in my book, the hoechats are what you make of them. If all you want to do is find a one night stand, go for it. There’s a sea of headless torsos just waiting for you. But if you want to meet the area gays, and get to know your community a little better, you can do that too.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have half a dozen message notifications to take a look at. Oh, and by the way, I guess a few pics of your junk would be okay. Just don’t over do it.


Having It Both Ways: Oops….

Having It Both Ways: Oops….

Justin Bieber OopsTrue story – I have been a blogger for 8 years.  For EIGHT years I’ve written online in one fashion or another about politics, policy, the millennial generation, and young voters, heartland politics, faith based politics… everything under the sun.  Some of under my name some of it not. I’m really really lucky to be in a job where not only do they trust my judgment but they like who I am – personally and professionally.  I’m well respected and they think I know what I’m doing.  I’ve done New Media since 2008 which is predominantly social media, social bookmarking, blogger outreach, content generation, video, photos, etc… etc… etc…The online world is my life.  It’s who I am – its what I do.  It’s my day 24/7.

I made the decision a long time ago that I wasn’t going to put anything personal out there.  Facebook wouldn’t be used for my personal soundboard to talk shit about people or post drunken photos of myself… not that there are any… sadly… or anything else that is overt debauchery .. .again… sadly that just hasn’t been my life.  But even if it was – I hardly posted anything like that.

Until the Having it Both Ways project.  This was the first time EVER I’ve made my personal life public (at least online.)  EVERY single friend, colleague, fellow blogger, pretty much anyone in the fields or worlds I dabble in knows 100% who I am.  I’m open, I’m honest, I’m never afraid of expressing myself or my identity.  My family…. however…. apparently knows nothing.  Don’t get me wrong – I told my mom 16 years ago – this is who I am and quite honestly until my falling out with Dude #3 – we just didn’t have relationship conversations.  That said…. until Dude #3 I didn’t want to even HAVE an actual relationship with anyone… so perhaps that’s why.

So apparently my blog posts (which I shared on Facebook) have caused quite a stir among the Oklahomies who had never … ya know… googled me or payed much attention to anything I posted on Facebook that was political.  This manifested into text messages being sent around gossiping about me today.  All you can do is just shrug and say…. oops.  But realistically, how do you make that announcement at Christmas dinner to a 30 person packed house of your step-father’s family who sometimes can barely even tolerate that you’re a Democrat?  Now it turns out… omg… she is a liberal AND use to be a LESBIAN!? Oh the vapors! OMG! MUST TEXT AND SHARE ON FACEBOOK NOW!

The reality is that I made this search and experience about love public because

  1. The LGBT community has long dismissed bisexuality as an actual thing.  Instead it’s a phase you go through before you actually decide you’re gay.  I, of course, am the other way around.
  2. Dating in the modern era for someone who doesn’t do the one night stands, the bar scene, and works in an industry where dating inside the office is generally frowned upon is NOT an easy world to navigate.  If I can figure it out… then let me help other ladies out there who are on this journey too.
  3. Regardless of your relationship status the way that my generation interacts with each other and how we have “relationships” is so different than any other generation in history.  How can a new media addict like myself still build normal personal social relationships while still experimenting with the online dating world?  Is this where my generation is going when it comes to building partners?  If so what does that say about the level of intimacy and building those relationships virtually and IRL?
  4. Washington DC is a complicated town.  I hear it constantly.  Every person I have talked to about where to meet people or how to date or what you do to navigate outside of the social circles that tend to be more focused on network building than buddy building, has told me that you just have to figure it out.  Imagine all those young people coming to DC or even the folks who are here who are maybe single for the first time or … I don’t know… and they’re having a rough go of it too.  Let’s help each other out on this and see if we can’t set up some best practices.
  5. And finally and most importantly… the whole idea of the humiliation, rejection, and misery that is finding love is a pretty awful experience… until you actually DO find it.  So … if I can turn this into an intellectual project that generates something beyond THAT – then it makes it a hell of a lot easier to manage, process, laugh at myself, and WARN YOU about.

Will it make people uncomfortable?  Probably.  Do I care?  I do not.  Don’t read it.  Move along… nothin to see.  Already it’s sparked conversations with people about bisexuality in the LGBT community, and too about being a single lady over 30 in Washington DC working in politics and trying to find love.  Will it become the Sex in the City of Washington DC? … I doubt it … will it be an adventure?  You better believe it.  So sit back, relax, and enjoy the show or go back to looking up recipes on Pinterest.

Yes that’s Justin Bieber in that photo.  Yes I did it for an SEO experiment.