Thursday, June 28, 2007

Boyfriend 101

As a follow-up to my earlier post on finding a boyfriend I decided to see what the experts had to say.

I ended up with Boyfriend 101, a gay dating guide by Jim Sullivan published by Villard Press in 2003. I post the reference here because this book may be of interest to people who are just starting to date or might be wondering what the gay dating world is all about.

You guys might be interested to find out that "nice Mormon boy" is an official category in the list of "types" of dates, according to this author.

The biggest concern I have about the book is that it is written for people who have already come out and are secure in their sexual identity. This may limit its usefulness to people who are just coming out (you know who you are). In any case, check it out if you need some basic, practical advice on finding a boyfriend or are curious about how the process works.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Check your whorl

According to scientists, gay men are more likely than straight men to have a counterclockwise whorl on their scalps. What direction is your whorl, guys?

See here for the whole story.

Interracial marriage - 40th anniversary

See here for a moving account by a participant in the court case that overturned Virginia's ban on interracial marriage 40 years ago.

I'm guessing I'm not the only one who sees parallels with today.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Reflections on progress

Michael Kinsley has an essay in Time magazine called The Quiet Gay Revolution. His point is one that I've believed for a long time, namely that when it comes to gay rights the tide has turned, especially with the young, and that it's now only a matter of time. Here's an excerpt:

The debate of 14 years ago about gays in the military seems almost quaint. Kids grow up today with gay friends, gay parents, gay parents of friends and gay friends of parents. If only blacks and whites were as thoroughly mixed together in society as gays and straights are. Kids are also exposed constantly to an entertainment culture in which gays are not merely accepted but in some ways dominant. You rarely see a reality show without a gay cast member, while Rosie O'Donnell is a coveted free agent and Ellen DeGeneres is America's sweetheart. The notion that gays must be segregated out of the military for the sake of our national security must strike Americans younger than, say, 40 as simply weird, just as we of the previous generation find the rules of racial segregation weird. (O.K., run that by me again: they needed separate drinking fountains because ... why?)


(From: Dan Savage)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Marriage



Although it wasn't well covered in the press, this week was a milestone for marriage equality. A Romney-sponsored challenge to the Massachusetts marriage law was rebuffed. What has been legal for three years now will very likely continue to be legal: two persons regardless of gender may enter into a fully legal marriage in the state of Massachusetts.

I'm quite moved by this reversal of fortunes. Until last week, it was thought that Romney's challenge would be successful. He needed only 50 votes out of the 200 Massachusetts legislators. This is a profound level of support by the legislature, and it came by individual people telling their stories to the legislators.

Rather than restate what has been better said elsewhere, I'll just give a few links:

  • A summary by Dan Savage in Seattle


  • Personal comments by conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan


  • The irony here is that many Mohos are against marriage equality, even though the fight for gay rights more broadly in society has been the driving force for reducing prejudice and making conditions better for gay Mormons inside the Church. BYU's changes to its honor code are not occurring in a vacuum.

    Wednesday, June 6, 2007

    Finding a BF

    Maybe it's because I've been out for 20 years, maybe it's because I've raised children, maybe it's because my manly ways inspire confidence :-), but for whatever reason a lot of younger guys have asked me for advice over the years. The most common question is "How do I find a boyfriend?"

    Here's what I know about this topic.

    Note: Please stop reading here if you might be offended by a discussion of gay dating. I completely respect your religious beliefs and am not advocating that you make any of the life choices that I have. In particular, I respect your choice to A) be celibate or B) be part of a mixed-orientation marriage. This post is for those who might be curious about what option C entails.

    When you first come out, entering the dating scene can be daunting. I think there are four reasons for this:

  • Gay adolescence. I've blogged about this here. The gist is that most gay people start dating much later than the average straight person. As a result no matter what age you are, you will have the responses of a 16 year old when you get started with your first same-sex dating experiences. Infatuation can be intense, and you may want to marry the first man who smiles at you.

  • Social awkwardness. It's not uncommon for people just coming out to be emerging from a long period of celibacy. Perhaps you find yourself in your mid-twenties or beyond without any sexual experience at all. If this happens to you, you're a bit behind the curve and need some time to figure out the basics.

  • Unfamiliarity with gay social norms. Like any culture, gay culture has its own social conventions. These are probably unfamiliar to you when you come out and start dating. You may feel like the new kid.

  • The blank page problem. If you've come out, especially in the Mormon context, you've had to make some big changes in your thinking and your social support system. You feel great that you've turned over a new leaf, but the page following is blank. Where do you start?


  • Like job hunting and heterosexual dating, same-sex dating is all about connections. The best source of leads is through the social connections you already have. The trouble is that you may not have a lot of social connections if you've just come out. So rule number one of gay dating is:

    1. Get some gay friends.

    You need to expand your social circle to include people who might know eligible single gay men. This leads to rule number two:

    2. Join in some gay social activities or do some volunteer work.

    When I came out, I did not know any gay people and had just moved from Cache Valley to Salt Lake. I started by doing some volunteer work, in my case, with the Utah AIDS Foundation. In less than a year I had a decent circle of friends that included many gay people. (I also learned a lot more about illness and grief than I bargained for, but I was the better for it in the end.) One of my friends introduced me to the person who became my boyfriend.

    The point of this story is that sometimes looking for a boyfriend isn't the best way to get one. Sometimes just engaging yourself in a social circle may be the best place to start. I mention this because it is common that people who have just come out need to start over socially. You need to factor this into your plans.

    In the city where I live there are all kinds of gay activities and clubs. There's a gay hiking club, a big gay men's chorus (no, I don't live in Provo), country/western dancing and even gay karaoke. There are gay-friendly churches to attend. There are political and social service volunteer opportunities. If you have fingers and can use an Internet search engine, you can find some kind of gay social activity. (Apologies in advance to readers in Iran and Vernal.)

    So get out there and have some fun and meet some people. Remember: your goal isn't necessarily to date the people you meet at these activities. Instead, it is to develop a social network.

    3. You can also meet people online. This is incredibly popular.

    Online dating has an undeservedly bad reputation. Online dating is just another way to meet people. It's not as good as personal introduction by friends, but it's not bad either.

    Let me stand on a soapbox for a moment. I get peeved when people paint gay folks as uncaring sexual libertines. This is a lie. In fact, gay people run the same gamut of personality as straight people. From sociopaths to saints, you'll find them in about the same proportion. (My boyfriend, for example, radiates wholesomeness.)

    There is a myth that everyone online is just looking for sex and may be a dangerous predator. This just isn't true. There are all kinds of people online. You're online, for example.

    Here's a tip: if you use a social networking site to find dates, make sure your own profile is accurate. Say that you are new to gay dating. Say that you are more interested in dating than casual sex. Let the reader get a sense of who you are and what you're about. People will usually respect what you say.

    The protocol for meeting someone online is to chat with them via IM several times before meeting in person. During the chat sessions you should get acquainted and get the basic questions answered. If you think there might be chemistry, the next step is to meet them in public (for example, in a coffee shop) just to chat. This meeting is not a date; it's a chance to talk face to face and get introduced. It should be brief, no longer than a half hour or so.

    If the in-person meeting goes well, then you can schedule a date. From this point on, online dating becomes indistinguishable from any other kind of introduction.

    A popular gay social networking site is gay.com. There are others, including myspace and even blogspot.

    4. Cool your jets.
    Dating your first guy will be exhilarating. You may fall in love quickly (see gay adolescence above). Your hormones are playing tricks on you. Cool it.

    Do not jump headfirst into a relationship. Take your time. I cringe when I hear about first dates that turn into weekends spent together. This kind of instant connection is a recipe for disaster. Instant relationships burn out. I don't know why it works like this, but it does. I've seen it happen many times.

    Take your time. If you like someone after a first date, schedule a second date within a week (but not the next day). If things go well, see them once or twice a week. Let the relationship build over time.

    You may be tempted to go faster than this. Don't.

    Read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limerence. Then reread it.

    5. Be safe
    I hope this doesn't even need saying, but here goes. If you decide to have sex you are responsible for preventing the spread of sexually transmitted disease. There are many online resources if you are unsure how to do this.

    6. Sexual attraction is just one piece of the picture.
    You should be looking for a guy you can respect. You should have common interests and compatible personalities. You want someone who might be a friend even if he was not your lover. This is just common sense.

    Good luck. Does anyone have any dating tips or experiences to share? Feel free to discuss in the comments.