Tag Archives: LGBT

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.

Ta!

Having It Both Ways: Fear sets in – What if I fall in love?

Having It Both Ways: Fear sets in – What if I fall in love?

Is monogamy relevant in contemporary society?Read more about the Having It Both Ways Project!

UPDATE:  Read the follow up to this post here

For the past year and a half I’ve been having an affair off and on with someone who is in a relationship.  A miserable relationship with an awful, atrocious human being, but a relationship nonetheless.  While we now live in other places and have only seen each other twice this year, we talk constantly, sometimes it’s super hot talk, sometimes it’s me playing therapist to hear about his relationship woes, sometimes it’s him yelling at me for my political philosophy that he doesn’t agree with, but most times…. it’s just really really hot talk.

A month ago I started having hot conversations with another married guy.  I don’t know many of the details of his situation, but like the guy back home, I’m not this guy’s first affair, nor do I doubt I’ll be his last.

I also had a friend who was known for cheating on his long term partner SEVERAL times.

A married female friend of mine said to me this weekend “without religion telling us what is acceptable, we probably wouldn’t have come up with monogamy on our own.”  She and her husband have been together for a VERY long time, and recently decided to start thinking about having a more “open” relationship.  There are rules and guidelines, but the understanding is that there are adventures that the relatively inexperienced couple could have outside of their relationship as long as they maintained their marriage.  They’ve been in couples counseling for more than six months, and their therapist outright told them that of all of her couples, they communicate their needs and concerns better than any other she sees.  They are stable, rational, consenting adults who know the red flags to watch out for in making something like this work.

Another married friend of mine has been with her husband for 12 years and was shocked to hear the above story.  “I could never do that,” she told me.  “I’m too jealous,” and I think she also said possessive.  She also said that when emotions are involved it’s harder to allow for encounters like the one the couple above described, and both her and her husband have too many emotions wrapped into their relationship.

That’s not to say, however, that the open marriage couple doesn’t – their rule is:  they come home to each other.  They are partners and there is a commitment between them.  Clearly, however, the emotions that are in play with the two top men above are significantly detached.  Guy number one doesn’t love his wife, guy number two doesn’t love me, and both aren’t getting something that they clearly need in their existing relationships.  Which is why they come to me.

That’s why people cheat, right?  Well… mostly.  Because a need is not being fulfilled?  I suppose there is always the “Self Loathing Cheater” … you know the ones who cheat because “if she loves me there’s clearly something wrong with her” or “I don’t deserve to be happy because I’m a horrible person so I’ll sabotage our relationship.”  But let’s just focus on the needs not being fulfilled because that fits in with my two guys.

My non-monogamous friend asked me “what’s the difference between having girlfriends that you can go see chick flicks with for two hours and someone with whom you can have a different form of sex with for two hours?”  It’s a fair question.  If you’re not talking about love, it’s just fun and games, does it constitute cheating or an affair?  Many many many women, especially those back home, would say yes, because they would see it as a betrayal of trust.  I think they do have a point there.  If the spouse is lying about it and sneaking around, then it is a betrayal, isn’t it?  It’s a lie.  But what if you both discussed it, the rules, and the terms and ensured there was no love involved here?  Is it still a betrayal?

My mom’s second husband cheated on her and it left her a profoundly different person who is certainly a lot less trusting, and that’s a factor in her current relationship.  She was never able to get over that sense of betrayal.  The cheater in that situation, however, never loved the women he was with, nor did he love her any less, but I’m confident if he came to her and said “I’m a sex addict can I ……?” she’d never consent.  I doubt there are many wives, particularly in Oklahoma who would, addiction or not.

As I’m beginning to date and go on dates with people who are specifically looking for commitments, I’m starting to wonder about my own ability to be in a monogamous relationship with someone.  What if I fall for a guy and he can’t fulfill me in the deep emotional way that women do?  Are emotional cuddly relationships with women acceptable because we just take for granted that women have “lady friends” or does it become something different because I use to be a lesbian?  Is an emotional affair between me and another woman still an affair?  Does our culture accept that there are things that we don’t expect men to be able to provide so we look to obtain them from our “lady friends?”

If we say yes – would the same be true if I ended up in a long term relationship with a woman that I was deeply and profoundly emotionally in love with – but who wasn’t into wild crazy adventurous spontaneous sex, and thus that part of me was left unfulfilled?  If I stepped out on her and had a “play partner” I boinked occasionally, but didn’t love, is that still unacceptable?  Is it the same thing?

My biggest fear in dating folks is in falling in love with someone who doesn’t meet all of my needs.  But is it wrong to assume that I can find someone who actually will?  And is it more sensible to decide what needs 100% must be met and what are more…. soft needs that can be somehow available elsewhere?   I think once you grow up and realize that there really isn’t that one single soulmate that completes you perfectly, the former begins to look more appealing.  The people who are in relationships like that are often times obsessed with each other, co-dependent, and incredibly dysfunctional.  So that’s not exactly healthy either.

Either way, it’s unfair for any of us to say what is or isn’t acceptable for one couple or another.  Decrying that X is right for everyone puts us back into 1950′s America where everything looked the same, sounded the same, and was the same.  It’s the Edward Scissorhands society, and I think we can all agree we don’t want to live there.  What works for the open relationship couple works for them.  Monogamy is only acceptable to my mom and her husband.  Who is any of us to say  which is better or worse.   What is difficult is that when looking for models in society, fictional, or real – there are no examples for which we can compare our own experience.  There are no public examples of non-monogamous couples who make it work, at least mainstream couples.  No fictional examples on television or in books either.  How can we pattern what our relationships should be if there is no path before us?  It leaves us making it up as we go along.

My friend said that this is what our generation is changing most about our society.  We are the “no boundaries” generation, especially when it comes to sex and sexuality.  Perhaps, it’s why we’re so open and affirming of LGBT couples.  The culture war is a boundary war – a massive shift between older generations who grew up being taught “we just don’t do things that way….”  Compared to my generation that is more open to embracing the differences people have or differences people seek.  The uniqueness of the individual.

As I’m dating and meeting more people, sure part of it is about learning more about myself, but ultimately it’s about uncovering what kind of relationship will work best for me.  I’m frustrated that I don’t have that answer readily available.  I know in my head what would be nice to have, but I don’t know how that works in actual practice, nor if its even attainable.  In the end, the biggest fear I have after each date I go on, whether I liked the person or not, is: holy shit… what if this turns out to be “the one” and he or she isn’t capable of meeting my needs.  Does that then me that he or she ISN’T the one?  And does that mean I should always hold out for the perfect person?  If I do that though, might I be waiting forever?  Or does it mean that I’ll end up like guys #1 and #2 stepping out looking to have those needs fulfilled.

I guess – I just want answers and there aren’t any.  There’s so much grey area – 50 shades of grey area – and I’m more comfortable with knowing an absolute definitive answer.

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.

Having It Both Ways: Lesbian Online Dating

Having It Both Ways: Lesbian Online Dating

The HelpIf you haven’t read the introduction to Having It Both Ways please feel free to read more about the project.

I have a lesbian friend who just moved to Chicago and has been trying to meet new friends and date women in a city where she knows no one.  We both created our “How About We” profiles together a few weekends ago me for DC her for Chicago.  She’d never tried online dating sites telling me “a couple people I know had met some total fucking psychos and also I think I still saw online dating through a 1997 lens.  It’s weird and seemed like not as “pure” as meeting someone some other way.  Then there was just the total crippling fear of being rejected in yet ANOTHER medium.”

So she’s been working on another profile on OKCupid because she says we’ve seemed to be early adopters to “How About We” which has a lower number of users.

The key to online dating sites is basically selling yourself.  Think of it like a virtual personals ad.  But you can’t extrapolate too much, otherwise you’ll end up with some person who figures out who you really are and has no interest in seeing you again.  In my very limited experience and my friend’s – be honest about who you are.  Always… be honest and think positively about your positives.

“I feel like I’ve tried to be pretty honest about myself and who I am” she told me via GoogleChat “But then I feel like that is prolly why no one has messaged me.  Like if I had a different “persona” I would have better luck.  In general I feel like there are certain personas that go over really well with lesbians and I am not it.”

I told her that lesbians work in cycles.  Right now there are a dozen women out there that are breaking up with partners or girlfriends.  Finding the perfect person isn’t like turning on the channel guide and finding something to watch for the evening.  It took me 3 years before I really fell for Dude #3 and clearly that didn’t go well, so it’s all about being brave and trying new things and giving it time.  And for the love of God – know that you’re perfect the way you are, own your own awesomeness!

Read more about insane dating options for lesbians or straights (but neglects bisexuals).

Having it Both Ways: Gay or Straight Need Only Apply

Having it Both Ways: Gay or Straight Need Only Apply

Bisexuality DeniedRead more about the Having It Both Ways project here.

Do you have a few thousand dollars lying around?  Then you could find the love of your life in just 6 months.  In my journey to find love I was recommended a dating service called It’s Just Lunch that offers a match making service with people who are only interested in long term relationships.  My lesbian friend Tiffany (married) suggested it to me after saying she doesn’t really know any single women in the city.

So I checked out their website, signed up for a phone call, and then started looking up information about them.  They don’t have the best reputation online.  Comments are filled with people who felt like they were matched with people who did not meet their expressed expectations and the service is really expensive, so women felt like they’d been had.

How expensive?  For $2100 for 6 months ($79 each month after) they’ll set you up with at least 2 dates a week.  But a payment plan was totally acceptable.  The problem… it’s only heterosexual dating.  Not because they’re averse to the LGBT community, they just don’t have the clients and staffing availability to do that.  The woman on the phone assured me she hopes to get to a point where they can provide both services but said that right now she has an abundance of single men in my age range she could set me up with.  But if I wanted women, I should use Mixology.com the partnering site like It’s Just Lunch that does lesbian relationships.

Her concern, however, was that 3 months down the road I would come back to her and say “You know… I just really want to be with a woman so…. yeah… I’m moving on.”  She wanted an assurance that I wouldn’t say that.  I didn’t know.  I’m not opposed to being with a man if that man is capable of having personality traits that I value in my female relationships.  Can he be romantic, can he be inquisitive, socially conscious, connected to the world around him in a spiritual or philosophical way (in addition to the typical male attributes I love such as spontaneous and adventurous)?  Then I could fall in love with him.

GREAT!  She replied.  Let’s talk about doing an intense interview and setting up your account.  I told her I should think about it a little more and call her back.

Then I went to Mixology and filled out a profile.  My options – women seeking women… only.  I filled in the profile and a few hours later received a call from their Executive Director who was so excited to hear about my interest and talk to me about connecting with wonderful lesbians in DC who would like to have long term relationships.  I didn’t mention I’d spoken to It’s Just Lunch about meeting men, nor did I correct her when she assumed I was a lesbian.

“Are you ready to have a long term relationship with a woman?” she asked.  That’s a loaded question isn’t it?  Can that woman be spontaneous, adventurous, inquisitive, socially conscious, intelligent, political, and NOT want to bring a cat and a U-Haul on the second date?  Then …. yes… I think I am.

How much?  $2500 for 6 months – all up front.  YOU PAY NOW!  But their initial interview is free so they can figure out if they have a client base that would work for me.  I have an appointment on Tuesday.

I wish I had a spare $5000 to do both services and report back, but this project is not exactly an affordable option to someone who pays as much as I do for a one bedroom apartment in Washington DC.  I guess it’s a dating service for the 1%.  Or at the very least a dating service for upper middle class professions who don’t have the time or interest to troll around on OKCupid or HowAboutWe and find love.

The most discouraging thing is that I can’t really be myself with either dating service even if I COULD afford them.  Your options for the LGBT group Mixology couldn’t really work for bisexuals because the only dates they find are for gay men and gay women.  So – the only dudes they have access to aren’t going to be into me at all.  The same is true for ItsJustLunch.  Since they only do heterosexual relationships they’ve got straight people galore and the women there are likely not interested in someone like me.

Bisexuality is a real thing, ya know.  And women are more able to have a fluidity to their sexuality because we don’t necessarily fall in love with the way someone looks – we tend to fall in love with a connection we have with that person.  So often for women it’s very individualistic vs. our need to either not be alone or the hot cheerleader who turns her head our way.  And assuming you’re sexually liberated, you’re more able to allow for sexual fluidity in your preference.

Doesn’t mean I can or am willing to part with $5,000 just to meet Mr. or Ms. right, however.