Saturday, February 28, 2009

Offline meetings with established bloggers

It was back in 2007 when I first devised my policy about offline meetings with people who know that I'm GB. For all the reasons that I gave in that posting, I don't meet people who just email me to request a meeting, whatever reason they give. However, as I said in that posting, I decided that it would be all right to make exceptions for established bloggers. I reckon it's worked well, so it's been a good policy :-).

Perhaps I should have taken more note of SilverRRCloud's comment to my recent Living Dangerously post, because that was the first hint I got that the policy needs revision. However it was only when I then got an email from my good friend HBH on the same subject that I decided to look into it. Indeed, back in 2007, in connection with meeting established bloggers I said:
... I still don't think that activities with people who know that I'm GB are a good idea, but in principle I am prepared to have purely social meetings if there's sufficient trust, and if and there's some sort of equality in terms of what we know about each other before the first meeting.
The problem is that in the Living Dangerously post, I expressed my intention to share a bed with a fellow blogger. Is sharing a bed with someone a "purely social meeting"? I suppose it just about could be, however I also expressed my intention to "feel the warmth of his body" and cuddle him! I don't think anyone could realistically argue that cuddling constitutes a purely social meeting, so I'm not going to try. Indeed, I think cuddling should be classed as a minor activity, because cuddles can easily lead to less minor activities :-). So I owe all my readers an apology for my confusing and inconsistent behaviour. If I hadn't split up with ex-boyfriend P this change in my approach probably wouldn't have happened!

I guess this means that the "no activities with fellow bloggers" part of my policy is officially dead! Which also means that any bloggers that I meet in future need to be careful. They may get more than they've bargained for :-).

Thursday, February 26, 2009

An enjoyable evening with a headbanger

A month ago, I got an email from fellow blogger headbang8 asking me whether I'd be able to meet up with him in February when he was due to visit London. Although I don't usually meet people who know that I'm GB, I do sometimes make exceptions for established bloggers. Actually, these days I think a more honest statement would be to say that I like to make exceptions for established bloggers :-). So far at least, all the bloggers that I've met have been fascinating people, so a nice dinner getting to know them has always been good fun!

It turns out that headbang8 is going to be staying at the Groucho Club in central London, so he suggests that we have dinner there. Being keen on good wine, I have a look at the Groucho Club's online wine list and send him my thoughts:
For various reasons I don't think it's super impressive, but I'll be more than happy if they've still got the 2001 Barolo 'Cannubi Boschis' from the Sandrone Luciano winery.
So when headbang8 tells me that he's managed to get them to put a bottle of that wine on one side for us, I happily agree to have supper there. In the past when I've been out for dinner with other bloggers, I've always paid for both of us, on the basis that I don't expect other people to pay for my expensive wine habit! However on this occasion headbang8 is quite happy to split the bill 50:50, so everything is agreed.

Although I've been inside a few of the private member's clubs in London, I've never been inside the Groucho Club so I'm interested to see what it's like. For myself, I've never seen see the attraction of belonging to a club. I reckon it's better to wine and dine at different places, because if one's a member of any club one would feel obliged to use it, but then one would be stuck with the same food and wine list all the time!

On the day, I arrive on time and I'm just trying to work out if there's any room for us to sit in the ground floor bar when I spot a familiar face.

"Headbang8?" I ask.

"Ahhh, GB, there you are :-)," he replies.

Face to face, Headbang8 is a jovial looking chap, just as I imagined him to be from the photo that he'd shown me online.

"I don't think there's much room for us to sit down here," I say, "although perhaps it'd be possible to sit on these bar stools here."

"Let's try upstairs," replies headbang8, "there's another bar up there :-)!"

We manage to find a couple of chairs in the upstairs bar and soon we've ordered some aperitifs, a beer for headbang8 and a mojito for me. One of the first things that I ask him is about his boyfriend, who he refers to as Master Right in his blog.

"With a name like Master Right," I start, "I assume that he's much younger than you?"

"No actually, only a few years younger," replies headbang8, "He's Japanese, and the name Master Right is related to the Japanese meaning of his real name!"

I tell him about my boyfriend problems, and headbang8 is very sympathetic.

"I could tell from that post that you did in December that ex-boyfriend P was going to break your heart," he says.

"Yes," I reply with a melancholy tone in my voice, "he did :-(."

While we're chatting, the sommelier brings us the bottle of Barolo to inspect.

"Will this wine be all right, sir?" asks the sommelier.

Sitting in the bar, I can't remember the exact details of the wine that I'd seen on the web site, and spotting my confusion the sommelier seeks to reassure me.

"It's the one that was mentioned in the email :-)," he says smiling.

"Then I'm sure it'll be fine :-)," I reply.

We continue chatting in the bar while we finish our drinks, before moving into the restaurant next door. We get shown to a nice corner table, and once we're seated at the table, we get our first taste of the wine.

"It's not nearly as good as I expected," I say having taken my first sip, feeling a bit disappointed, "I think this wine will probably be excellent in a few years time, but at the moment it's a bit young!"

"Actually I remember that the wine you mentioned in the email was eight years old," says headbang8, "and this one is only 6 years old, it's the 2003!"

Using the internet access on my PDA, I manage to find the email where I mentioned the wine, and indeed the wine should be the 2001 not the 2003. We make a complaint to the sommelier, who then finds the email that headbang8 had sent him to prove to him that he hadn't specified the vintage.

"But I did specify that it's the wine mentioned on your web site!" replies headbang8.

"And in any case," I add, "surely you know that for wines of this quality the vintage is important, so if the email didn't specify you should have asked!"

Even though it's the wrong wine, the 2003 isn't a nasty or undrinkable wine, so we refuse to let the incident spoil our evening. We have a leisurely meal, and afterwards we retire back to the bar area to finish off with some Champagne.

"So do you have any other hobbies apart from blogging?" I ask while we're waiting for the drinks arrive.

"I don't usually get asked that!" replies headbang8, "just needlepoint and scrapbooking I guess!"

"Fair enough!" I laugh. "Apart from blogging, I guess my hobbies are gambling, gym, wine, and MEN of course :-)."

We carry on chatting for ages, during which time we polish off another couple of classes of Champagne! Eventually though, it's time to go home, and headbang8 kindly insists on paying for the Champagne on his account. Getting up from our seats, I give him a goodbye hug before heading downstairs to find my coat. As I'd expected, headbang8 turned out to be excellent company, so I just hope that he thought the same about me!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Love, the closet, and other boyfriend issues

Just over a week ago the following email arrived in my inbox:

Dear GB,

I discovered your blog about 2 months now, and I have been reading it on a regular basis every other week when there is a new post. It was a refreshing prospective, sometime I agree and sometime disagree, but that's the beauty of it I guess. I am a gay male 34 years old. I live in New York but from a Middle Eastern origin and been living in the states about 11 years. I hesitated writing an email for almost a month. But then something happened this week and I decided to give it a shot.

My boyfriend of about 11 months decided to break up with me this week. It was a little devastating and I am still in a little shock zone. I will give you a little background about how we met. We met at the gym sauna! We did not have any fun at the sauna but I went to his place and what started as a hook up turned to a relationship and we been together since. Though at first when we met he was on some sort of long distance with a guy in another country, but after 2 months of being together I made it clear that he had to choose. And since then we've been together. He is 4 years older than me. We both in Finance but I recently lost my job!! He still works for an investment bank. He is very closeted and I on the other hand am more open toward my friends and the people I know. But I was never open at work, though people might have suspected but I never talked about it. On the other hand he has very limited friends to which he is out (about 2), so this situation has created some sensitivities sometime. At first he was against meeting any of my friends or any introductions that will indicate we are a couple. But then he came along slowly, and he came to my birthday party, and he met a few of my friends on other events as well. But he remained always very uncomfortable about the idea of being public about being gay even within a closed circle of friends. He was a bit upset when he ran into an old colleague during my birthday party. But he got over it with time.

So for the last 10 months we hung out a lot almost every weekend and a night or 2 through the week. I will admit ... that sometimes I tend to be on the needy side and if it was up to me ... I would love to have moved together already. But he was always against it and at first he said it was too early. But with the time it became just not an idea on the table to discuss. I come to the realization that the idea of moving together is still too soon; so I let it go.

He travels a lot sometime and I tend to miss him a lot when he goes away. During the last holidays he took a long vacation with his family (he is not out to them). That lasted a month and half!! It was very hard on me, having him gone all that time. But I dealt with it. He warned me before he traveled that it will be very hard for him to call me as he will be surrounded by his family most of the time. I was patient as much as I could ... but I still find it a bit hard that he could not call or sms once in a while. We kept some sort of email or phone call like once a week. At the end of his vacation I suggested to meet him in his original country (South America) since he was due to go there for work after the vacation for 2 weeks before returning to New York. He said it would not be a good idea as he will be busy and working. After some persistence from my part he reluctantly agreed. So I flew for a week to meet him and we had a great week. After his work we would go for dinner and during the weekend go to the beach and such.

But I felt he was distant and seemed like he was just being nice since I was there. We had a lot of sex in that trip. But I felt it was a distant sex and not with the same patient as we used to.

Then came the bomb. When we returned to New York. We returned on separate days. He called me and said we need to talk, and then he said "that he needed to be by himself and that he does not feel like being a boyfriend anymore". As much as I was devastated I asked that we need to meet in person and talk about it. We met over a cup of coffee and it was a hard conversation. He said that he needed to be alone. But when I pressed on knowing the real reason he said few things. Like that he hated being exposed and that I exposed him a lot. He did not like meeting my friends or inviting them over. He did not like being out as a couple. He also said he did not like the fact that I was at his place every weekend (something I can agree a little bit with ... but If you love someone wouldn't you like to spend time with them?)

He said he is selfish and he tried the committed relationship but it is not for him. (Prior to me his other long relation was with a girl about 12 years ago and lasted 2 years). He asked about remaining friends and having fun and travel together but not being committed. I was upset and I said I love him and that I can't be just his friend. I got a bit emotional and I cried. He said he needs sometime to think. But he kinda made it clear he want to move forward but at the same time said to leave it in God's hand! I agreed to give him time and let him think about it.

I love him. It hurts me so much. I realized his problem with having a long term relation but over the time we been together he made a great progress and that's what keeps me hoping that with time he will be ok.

It has been 4 days since we last spoke. And though it is hard for me, I have not tried contacting him, even when he is on-line on msn or Google chat. I log in as invisible this way he will not see me. I get weak sometime and I get tempted to call or sms him. But I am still strong so far. I don't know what else to say.

Sorry for the long email. I feel confused and I am not sure if this is something I should give it a thought or it's over? As much as Valentine's Day is over rated, this was going to be the first Valentine's Day when I was hoping I would have a real boyfriend.

I had 2 relationships before which lasted less than a year.

I hope to get some feedback. Losing my job and now losing the BF is like two bad strikes.

Kind regards,

I felt very sorry for this reader when I read his email. It's clear that he's very much in love with his ex-boyfriend, so as he says, losing his job and now his boyfriend must be very tough on him. He sent me a quick update a couple days ago, which said:

I tried calling my ex last weekend and it was a very short call. He said he is putting his things in order and this is what he wants. It was a 1 minute phone call. I should have known better but in any case I was not that upset about his distance. I have not tried getting on touch with him since then. Though it is hard, I am focusing on finding a job these days. I have some interviews set up and am hoping for the best.

Indeed, I see no hope for this reader to get back together with his ex-boyfriend in the short term. The ex-boyfriend is clearly not comfortable being gay. No doubt this has something to with his upbringing. Presumably he was brought up as a Catholic, in the macho South American culture too. Both those things are obstacles that he will have to overcome at some point if he's ever to lead a happy life as the gay man, which is presumably what he is. But while he fights against himself and against the people like this reader who love him, I think by far the best thing to do is to leave him alone. Of course, the ex-boyfriend is being very foolish to let such a loving guy like this reader go, but while the ex-boyfriend in his current frame of mind there's nothing that can be done about it.

The email reminded me about an English guy that I met who's a friend of my friend P. This English guy lived with his Chinese boyfriend for 14 years, and then one day the boyfriend suddenly announced that he was ending the relationship and that he was going to leaving the country to go back home. It turned out that the boyfriend had been planning this for almost a year without the knowledge of the English guy. The ultimate reason for the break-up was the pressure that the boyfriend had been receiving from his family, who didn't know that he was gay. From the point of view of the reader who sent me this email, he should be happy that he's found out about his ex-boyfriend's state of mind after only 11 months, rather than after 14 years!

One good thing is that the reader is obviously a clever guy. It's clear from his emails that he knows that the best thing to do is to leave his ex-boyfriend alone. It's clear that he knows that he's often too needy, which is always unattractive in a boyfriend. And it's also clear that he knows that the best thing for him to do is to try and find himself another job, which should have an additional benefit of helping him feel less needy. So I'm not sure how much I can add!

If terms of finding a boyfriend, I think it would probably be best if the reader gives himself a few months to recover from having been dumped by his ex-boyfriend. Hook-ups for sex are fine, but in the short term he should avoid thinking about relationships. Indeed, I'm following a similar strategy following my break up with ex-boyfriend P. I've decided that hooking-up for fun is fine, as it meeting potential boyfriends to get to know them. However I'm not going to commit to anything kind of relationship for at least six months!

Although I think this reader needs to look for love elsewhere, I think he also needs a strategy in terms of what to do if his ex-boyfriend contacts him. For the moment, while he's recovering from the situation, I think that he's wise to stay hidden on MSN and Google chat, but eventually he should allow himself to be visible. He mustn't contact his ex-boyfriend of course, but it's possible that eventually his ex-boyfriend will contact him. If that does happen, then I think it would be bad for the reader to compromise too much in terms of what he needs from a relationship. Such a loving guy like the reader clearly needs to aim for a live-in boyfriend who can be open about his sexuality. So if the ex-boyfriend gets in touch with the reader, unless the ex-boyfriend has changed his mind so that he's happy to work towards that kind of relationship, I think the reader should avoid taking the guy back as his boyfriend again.

Do any other readers have any thoughts on this situation?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Valentine's day 2009

Since I started blogging back at the start of February 2005, I've always done a post about Valentine's day. On all those previous Valentine's days there've been boyfriends in my life to care for, so having split up with ex-boyfriend P last month, this year things were bound to be a bit different. None the less, as luck would have it, Valentine's day turned out to be quite enjoyable :-).

I hadn't held a party for any of my friends for ages, so after much debate, I invite a whole load of gay and straight friends round for the evening on the day before Valentine's day. As far as I can tell everyone has a good time, and although it's not very late when everyone leaves, it's around 2am on Valentine's day before I've finished clearing up.

On my way to bed, I wander through the house turning off all the lights, and when I get to my study I hesitate before switching off my computer. With a few drinks still inside me from earlier, I can't help myself from sitting down and logging onto gaydar instead! Different kinds of guys have different habits, so in fact it's interesting to go cruising online at different times of day, because if one always logs on at similar times of day there are lots of guys that one will never meet.

Before too long, a cute looking Asian guy who turns out to be called V starts chatting to me. The GPS (i.e. the "Gaydar Positioning System" which works using postcodes) tells me that he's less than a mile away, which at this time of night could be important!

V: hi
GB: hi mate :-)
V: what you doing on gaydar this late ...
GB: well, I guess I'm looking for a nice guy to visit me and help me keep my bed warm :-))
V: sweet
GB: looks like you're quite close to me?
V: actually I'm just outside London, staying with a friend for a week or so
GB: pity!
V: but I come into London every day
V: where are you ...

I tell him my rough location.

V: you're close to where I live when I'm in London

So he's clearly still got his London postcode in the GPS system!

V: So I might be able to visit you tomorrow
GB: cool
V: what do you suggest
GB: well I guess we could have lunch together if you like?
V: later in afternoon might be better for me
GB: OK you could visit me in my house then :-)
V: do you live alone
GB: yeah
V: what would we do if I visit you
V: hehe
GB: it'll be after lunchtime, so I guess we could have a cup of tea together :-), how does that sound?
V: that sounds very nice
V: but is that all?
GB: I suppose if we get on OK with each other then we could get to know each other a bit better :-)
GB: hehe

We chat like this for a while and he seems like a nice, happy-go-lucky kind of guy. I send him some extra pics of me, but since he's got several good photos of himself on his profile I don't need to ask for any in return.

V: by the way, how tall are you?

Although I think there's a correlation between the height of a guy and the size of his equipment, this is gaydar so if a guy wants to know those kind of details he'll usually just ask for measurements! But it's a harmless enough question so I tell him my height.

GB: but why do you want to know?
V: when guys are physically bigger than me I tend to take a more submissive role
GB: interesting ...
V: but with twinks, I'm in charge!

We chat a bit about what might happen if we meet up and he seems like a lovely guy. So before logging off, we exchange contact details, and he promises to contact me in the morning to let me know if he'll be able to visit me or not.

The next day, he contacts me late morning and confirms that he can't meet me for lunch. In fact I often go to the gym on Saturday lunchtimes, so I tell him that although meeting for a spot of lunch would have been nice, at least I'll get to do my usual gym workout. However the good news is that he's free early afternoon, so we agree that he'll visit me at my house shortly after the time when I'm due back from the gym.

Which is exactly what happens :-). I've only been back from the gym for about ten minutes when I get a txt msg saying "I'm here", followed soon afterwards by a knock at the door. When I open the door, there's a huge smile waiting for me too.

"Come in," I say beaming back at him. He looks exactly like he did in his pics on gaydar, if not even more cute in real life.

"Shall I take off my shoes inside the house?" he asks me, once he's inside the door.

"Yes, sure :-)". You may as well take them off now, I think, and then there's less to remove if I manage to get you into bed!

"So would you like a cup of tea?" I ask, grinning at him.

"Yes please :-)".

"I've got peppermint, camomile, or ordinary Kenyan?"

"Kenyan sounds good!"

We continue chatting while we head into my kitchen to make the tea.

"So have you lived over here for very long?" I ask him, while waiting for the kettle to boil.

"I went to university here a few years ago, and then managed to find a firm to sponsor my work visa so I was able to stay on. Finding a firm to do that was quite hard actually!"

"But I guess you qualify easily now under the new points based system for work visas?"

"Yeah I've now got one of those:-)."

We carry on talking while I make the tea, and although I occasionally make friendly gestures such as giving him a quick rub on his shoulder, his body language sends me mixed signals. He'll often end up further away from me that seems good, with arms folded across his chest too.

We head up to the piano nobile and he follows me into the drawing room where we sit down on the sofa.

"Will you be moving back into London at any point?" I ask.

"I'm actually heading back home for a few weeks soon," he says, "I haven't seen my folks for ages so I'm looking forward to it."

"Let me guess, I bet they don't know that you meet strange men like me online, and then visit them in their homes, do they!"

"Well no!!" he laughs, and he's got a wonderfully carefree, happy laugh.

We chat for quite a while, drinking our tea, and chatting about our lives. He seems like a genuinely lovely guy, so I'd really like to get to know him better. Occasionally I'll reach out to touch him, and he doesn't seem to mind which must be a good sign :-). But he talks a lot, indeed, it's hard to stop him talking! Perhaps he's nervous for some reason?

Gradually we drink our tea and because of the way that we're sitting next to each other on the sofa, facing each other, I find my foot occasionally touching his shin. So I start using my foot to rub his shin gently, and again he doesn't seem to mind.

"And blah ... blah ... blah ...," he says, looking me straight in the eye with his beautiful big brown eyes, " ... do you know what I mean?"

"Um, sorry," I reply a bit sheepishly, "I was miles away, just looking into your gorgeous eyes! What did you say?"

"Oh, um, well ..." he says, with a big smile on his face, but clearly unprepared for the compliment. Rather than repeating his last sentence he leans forward and puts his empty mug on the table.

"You can stay a bit longer if you like?" I say quickly, seizing the opportunity to try and move things forward. I lean forward and give his knee a friendly rub.

"No problem if you have to go either," I continue, "It's up to you :-)."

"I guess I can stay for a while :-)," he says coyly, and looking at me with such a cute smile on his face.

"Well, why don't we go upstairs and make ourselves more comfortable then :-)."

He looks at me with a cheeky grin on his face and nods his head, so I get up and he follows me out of the room and up the stairs.

I'm wearing a sweatshirt so once inside my bedroom I'm able to take it off quickly, and seeing me bare-chested he starts unbuttoning his shirt. Before I take off any more clothes though, I walk over to him and give him a slow kiss on the lips which he clearly enjoys. He's wearing a t-shirt under his shirt, and raising my hand I start rubbing his chest with the back of my fingers, around where left nipple should be. He smiles back at me expectantly, so since he's finished undoing all his shirt buttons, I lift his shirt off his shoulders before pulling his t-shirt up and over his head too. Now that we're both bare-chested, I put my arms round him and hold him close for a few seconds, to feel the warmth of his body. He puts his arms round me and hugs me too.

"Why don't we get under the duvet?" I say quietly, leaning back slightly so I can look at his face, "then we'll be much more comfortable :-)."

"OK sure :-)."

Quickly I take my socks and trousers off, and leaving my undershorts on, I jump under the duvet from one side of the bed. He's equally fast, and climbing into the bed from the other side, he meets me in the middle. Immediately I wrap my arms around him and he relaxes his head down into all the pillows, so that I'm leaning slightly over him. I give him a long, slow, deep kiss, before lifting my head up to look at his gorgeous happy face. Leaving one hand underneath him holding his far shoulder, I move my other hand up and down his body, rubbing one of his nipples slightly and further down rubbing him through his undershorts. I move my hands further down to feel his hairy legs, and returning to his undershorts, again I rub his shaft up and down through the fabric. I feel very happy lying there with him in the warm comfort of my double bed, and gradually we get to know each other a bit more. We have a fantastic, unhurried time with each other :-).

Afterwards, we clean ourselves up, and then we lie back down on the bed and start cuddling again. We both start dozing, but after about fifteen minutes he starts talking to me.

"I'll may have to go soon," he says lazily.

"Awww, can't you stay for a few more minutes?" I ask, wanting the moment to last.

"I suppose I can stay for a while :-)".

"So why hasn't a nice guy like you got a boyfriend?" I ask after a short pause.

"I don't want one at the moment," he replies, "I'm want to keep flexibility. I'm currently working freelance so it'd be hard to commit to a relationship."

"But a good boyfriend could help and support you, especially if you're going through a period of uncertainty with freelance work."

"Yeah I know," he replies, "and I've had boyfriends in the past, but when I fall in love with a guy I just can't control myself."

"How do you mean?"

"Well, I'll put my boyfriend first all the time," he explains. "I've had two boyfriends in the past, and each time, I become very submissive. I'll want my boyfriend to make all the decisions in our lives. I'll only be happy if he's happy. I know that I should be a bit stronger, but I also know that if I get another boyfriend it just won't happen. Love does funny things to me!"

We lie there chatting for ages, and just like before when we were drinking tea together, he talks a lot. I decide that he must just naturally talk a lot, because it doesn't seem very likely that he can be nervous with me now, given that we've recently been very intimate together!

Eventually he needs to go, so we get up. He accepts my offer of a shower, but within fifteen minutes I'm giving him a goodbye kiss just inside my front door, and shortly after that he's gone. He was a great guy, and hopefully I'll be able to meet him again at some point. But in any case, even though I didn't have any boyfriends to care for this Valentine's day, it was a very enjoyable day none the less :-).

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Living dangerously

Last October, I receive a nice email from a reader which is typical of one sort of email that I get on a regular basis. On this occasion the email is as follows:

Hi there,

By accident, I have just found your blog. I read three postings and they were fun. I am a consultant based in Zurich, born in Japan but spent most of my adult life in US. Not completely in closet but am under cover at work.

As you might expect, I travel a lot for my job. Will definitely contact you for drink or two if I get to go to London.


I send the guy a reply thanking him for this kind thoughts, asking him whether he has a blog, and pointing out my policy that I only meet people who know that I'm GB if they're also established bloggers. Within a couple of days I get a sensible reply from the guy, but he doesn't seem to have a blog and after we exchange another couple of emails the communication dies.

Two months later, just after I've done the post about the 'timeout' with ex-boyfriend P, the guy sends me another nice email:

Just read your latest post - sorry to hear that you broke up with P. Hope you get it over soon. Frankly speaking, it is depressing to me as well. In some sense, you were a living evidence that gay people can also lead an emotionally stable life as a straight couple ...


Looking back now I guess he knew more than me, because it turned out that my relationship with ex-boyfriend P was effectively at an end! In terms of communication with this guy however, again after a couple more emails the communication dies.

It's just after Christmas when I hear from him next:

How are you doing? I am spending my vacation here in Shanghai, China. Gay scene here is not particularly interesting, but got to meet several interesting people. In fact, one of the most interesting meetings was a discussion with a partner in a rival consulting firm. We talked about what it is like to be a gay partner in conservative work environment. He is single and handsome (which is quite a rare combination).

Hope your Christmas went well.


I send him a quick reply:

Christmas for me was fine, W. Your meeting with the gay guy sounds interesting. Now, if only you had a blog, you could tell us all about it in more detail LOL! Stay happy, GB xxx

but it's when I get his reply that things start to get more interesting:

In fact, I do have a blog; especially after being inspired by you, I started writing more secrets in my life. And then realized one terribly scary fact ...

If I share my blog with you, there is a serious issue of imbalance. At the moment, I know your secrets but don't know who you are - at this point you know who I am, but don't know my secrets (other than I am gay - I trust you in this aspect since you seem to be a nice person :-)). But if I share my blog, you know both my identity and secrets - all the details on my personal/professional life.

Maybe I should not have told you who I am at the beginning. It was again stupid in two senses
- I wanted to meet you in London in person, but in the end I never went to London, and generally speaking you don't meet people in person anyway.
- Now that I have demonstrated my identity, I am limiting my relationship with you in some sense.
Gosh - I thought that revealing identity is the first step. As always, I make stupid mistakes in gay relationships and at the end, limit my own options. I should learn how to flirt and play hard to get.

Maybe I have to create another identity sometime in the future without you noticing and then approach you again :-) ... For the time being, you will be my secret penpal friend with blog :-)


What a fabulous email! I reply immediately:

I can't help but laugh, W, this is a dilemma entirely of your own making LOL!

But in fact, I think you should tell me the web address of your blog, because I handle people's confidences all the time :-). Don't forget, I'm an agony uncle and I regularly get emails from guys wanting advice, telling me all about themselves and often including very intimate details. I hope you'll agree from what you read on my blog that I handle it all with the utmost discretion. In any case, I'd be extremely surprised if your blog contained nearly as much information as mine, because I've been blogging for almost 4 years so there are now 600+ posts in mine!

Anyway, wishing you a prosperous New Year :-), GB xxx

It took two weeks, but the next email I get from him contains the web address of his blog, with little request: Hope you don't judge me ... I am not that weird. Finally, this guy has got my attention!

His blog is very personal and seems very honest. Although with sufficient effort the words in any blog could be manufactured, I'm a great believer in Occam's razor, namely that "The simplest explanation is usually the best". In this case it seems overwhelmingly likely that the guy and his blog are genuine. Indeed, looking a bit further and using the information in his blog and his emails, I get some independent confirmation because I find some old web pages about him from the university that he attended a few years previously!

Over the next couple of weeks, we exchange a few more emails, and then towards the end of January he sends me the following suggestion:

If I don't go to Munich tomorrow night, there is high chance that I could pay a short visit to London next weekend. In fact, one of my best gay friends is visiting London for fun, so might be good idea to visit as well. I hate traveling alone. In case I do visit London, are you free for coffee, lunch, dinner, or drink during the weekend?

So it's decision time! My policy says that I'm sometimes prepared to meet established bloggers, but is this guy really an established blogger? Putting together all the pieces, I decide to live dangerously so I send him the following reply:

Let me know if you're going to be in London and hopefully we'll be able to meet :-)

But it's not to be! He ends up with work commitments which prevent him travelling to meet me after all. Which is a pity, because having read his blog and found out other stuff about the guy, I'd started to look forward to meeting him!

A week later and our email conversation continues with a new suggestion:

It sounds weird, but how about meeting in Paris?

I love Paris of course, and it's an easy train journey for me, so even though I've never met the guy it seems like an attractive idea. And now, after several weeks, it looks like it's going to happen soon :-). Indeed, just to agree some of the final details I chatted on MSN with the guy yesterday:

GB: Now, which hotel will you stay in Paris? You're welcome to stay in my room of course, I've booked a room with a double bed, but is it too dangerous to agree to do that before we've met each other?
W: I will stay in your room
GB: ok that's cool, but you need to be aware, I may end up touching you hehe
W: wait ...
W: double bed means ... one bed ...
GB: yeah
W: hmm
GB: if you want to stay elsewhere, I don't mind at all
W: I somehow thought it would be two queen beds
GB: there'll just be one bed
W: ah we will figure this out
GB: I won't mind if you get your own hotel room
W: it is really a practical problem
GB: if you stay in my room (which would be nice), we'll sleep in the same bed and I'll want to feel the warmth of your body :-)))
W: I cannot sleep if someone else is in the same bed
GB: really?
W: but at some point we should sleep right?
W: I mean
W: I'd love to cuddle with you
GB: good, cuddling is my favourite too
W: but we can't do it for 8 hours
W: ah never mind, should be fine
GB: yeah it'll be fine :-)
GB: although don't forget !

We haven't met yet, and maybe all the plans will change, however at the moment it looks like we've both decided to live dangerously!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Email from a guy with a long-term boyfriend

Last week, I got the following email from a gay guy who's having a crisis in his long term relationship:

Dear GB,

I recently discovered your blog. I wish I remembered how, now, since I definitely wasn't looking for a blog written by a gay banker in London! (haha).

Anyhow, maybe it found me, as I'm now having a relationship and personal crisis like I've never had before and for which I am completely unprepared, and of course, your blog is filled with a deep archive of questions and thoughts on these issues.

No idea if you've tired of responding to these scenarios, but I thought I'd try and solicit your thoughts on my own situation. I have finally come to the point where I am going to see a therapist at the end of this week, so at least this will help me to organize my own thoughts on the subject.

I am gay; I came out just as I was turning 19, had a brief affair with a guy (about three months), another brief affair with one other guy (one week!) and then met my current partner. We have been together since, so we are coming up on 16 years together this spring. At the onset of the relationship, we agreed to be monogamous. If you do the math, this means I have had sex with three men. In my life.

About six years ago, after several years of declining sex (with him) and increased self-gratification (from me!) and the occasional feeling from me that he was being odd, I learned that he had been having sex on the side with many men. He was very, very, very apologetic, said he hadn't been able to control himself, that he was trying to, that he had thought about leaving me but wanted to stay with me to be a good person, and because he loved me, and asked me to forgive him, etc etc. At the time, it shattered my world. But I loved him, and eventually decided to stick it out.

In a way, I got over it eventually. We re-established some rules - still monogamy but anything up to actually touching other guys was fine (cam to cam, etc). Since then, he's had some encounters (steam rooms, occasional quickies) and has, in general, told me about them when he slips up. It upsets me, but having been through this before, I have been surprised by how much less upset I was over time with each successive encounter. While this has been going on, in general, our interest in sex with each other has remained very, very low. We still have it, but very infrequently and routinely.

So here's my actual current problem: he has always told me he would be fine with me going to see an erotic masseur (a service he has frequented) sort of as a concession to his own activities. I had done so on two occasions past, but as fun as it was, it wasn't something that really drew me back. No matter how hot the guy, I think I get more of a thrill out of the emotional/sexual mix you get with a lover and not a hired hand. However, I decided this winter to start getting a massage once every couple of weeks for health, and figured, as long as he doesn't mind, why not throw in the bonus at the end? So I picked out a masseur and went to see him, and WOW we had a connection, and I have found it difficult not to see him at least once a week since.

It has really re-awakened for me something I had given up on - real touch and connection and desire. I had thought that this needed to be sacrificed for long-term companionship.

I think I could continue on this path, actually, without ruining my current relationship. I think my partner would be fine with it, if we talked about it. But, I think I want the full package, and think I realize now that I don't have it with my current relationship. One way to put it is, we're good friends, we're good roommates, but that's it. I have very tender feelings towards him, but am not at all attracted to him sexually anymore (and I'm not sure I want to be), and am starting to question what feelings constitute 'love'! Big questions, and not ones I thought I'd be grappling with at my age!!!

I am starting to think I do not want to be in a relationship where I am with someone who is a great friend, but with whom I do not have a sexual connection. I feel like it's not fair to him or to me, since I would be wanting more elsewhere when we're together. On the other hand, I can't contemplate breaking up with him for even a minute without complete and utter breakdown. He's been my whole life for so long.

I'm really stuck. If you read all the way through this and have thoughts, I sure would appreciate them as an outside opinion (and those of your readers).

Thanks, GB. I hope all is well on your end. :)

I sent back a reply immediately, asking whether there was a significant difference in age between the two of them, and also asking the reader why he started declining sex with his boyfriend. In his reply he said that his boyfriend was only slightly older, before going on to say:

I've never actually declined sex from him, as he got into sleeping around (this timeline became more clear after the fact) he began to show considerably less interest in me more and more, to the point where he would not be able to finish, and we never really recovered from there. I was always still fairly active, but in the face of disinterest it became less....satisfying. Since he told me about his activities, we have both tried to keep activity up, but it's more akin to a household task than something enjoyable. Even now, I am the only one who initiates.

My first thoughts about this reader's situation are that there are similarities to the situation that developed between me and ex-boyfriend S. I'm like the reader's boyfriend who was having sex with other guys, and the reader is like ex-boyfriend S. However there are some differences. As the years went by I engaged in fewer activities with ex-boyfriend S, however I never completely lost interest in him and indeed it was almost always me who initiated anything. That situation lasted right up until the problems arose that caused me to go on holiday with ex-boyfriend P, so the two of us maintained a sexual connection for 16 years.

In my experience, it's very common for sexual passion to decrease in gay male relationships as the years go by, and as that happens the friendship and companionship usually becomes stronger to compensate. However the absence of a meaningful sexual relationship in the reader's case is a cause for concern. Since the friendship and companionship are there though, it would be a pity to throw it all that away without attempting to save the relationship. Indeed it would take a very long time to find another boyfriend and reach the same level of friendship, and it may turn out that no adequate replacement is ever found. In these situations it's important to remember that the grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence, although the reality is often different. Having said that, I don't think the current situation is sustainable in the long term, so the best thing is to try and address the issues rather than let the problems fester.

If the two of them are to stay together, one thing which needs to be repaired is their communication. Love and sexual attraction won't return until there's effective communication between the two of them. The reader's boyfriend has become used to hiding things from the reader, and now the reader is seeking advice from a counsellor and from this blog instead of discussing things with his boyfriend. As a first step down this path, in the near future I think the reader needs to find a way to discuss all these issues with his boyfriend.

One problem may be that the reader's boyfriend feels constrained by the theoretical monogamy that they've agreed. However the reader himself may now be able to accept a more open relationship, so one idea would be to try that instead of splitting up at this stage. Indeed, just as the companionship aspect of gay male relationships strengthens over time, relationships often become more open over the years. The hope would be that by making the relationship more realistic, the two of them would strengthen their feelings for each other, hopefully to the extent that occasional sex would be a joy rather than a chore. Needless to say, many types of open relationship are possible, but if the two of them start communicating properly then they should be able to work out what's best for them.

Another idea is couples counselling. Although it didn't help with me and ex-boyfriend S, with hindsight I think that the biggest issue in my case was the fact that ex-boyfriend S was unhappy with other aspects of his life, which over a long period of time poisoned our relationship. My blame lies with the fact that I didn't spot what was going on and attempt to fix it. However this reader's situation is different so couples counselling may help in his case. A major part of couples counselling relates to restoring good communication, so if they find it hard to do this on their own then it should be of help. The right counsellor could also help with different ideas for constructing open relationships.

However, if the reader does end up breaking up with his boyfriend, it'll be more because their relationship has reached some kind of natural conclusion rather than 'irreconcilable differences'. In that situation, hopefully the two of them can remain friends, and hence keep some of the benefits of their long association. Indeed, in my case I remain good friends with ex-boyfriend S, however the situation with ex-boyfriend P is completely different and if I ever see or hear from him again it will be too soon!

Do any other readers have any thoughts that might help?

Sunday, February 08, 2009

A reliable guy from Hong Kong

Last month, I met several nice guys while I was on holiday in Thailand, but there's a guy that I haven't written about yet who's worth a special mention.

After my massage at the Babylon sauna in Bangkok, I look round the complex briefly before joining my Thai friend B who's sitting by the swimming pool.

"How was massage?" asks B once I've pulled up a chair beside him.

"Pretty good actually," I reply, and I proceed to tell B exactly what happened.

"So no happy ending after all," laughs B.

"No, but I guess there was a bit of minor stimulation! Anyway, have you looked round all the facilities here?"

"Yes, all very interesting," replies B, "I been once before, few years ago, hasn't changed much I think. But why don't you go see if you find nice guy in sauna or something? Just to test of course! You could try to look at them, and see how they look back at you, if they smile or anything :-)."

"I suppose I could do," I say slowly, not sure exactly what's on B's mind, "will you come with me?"

"No, I seen already, happy here :-)."

B is always so coy when it comes to gay stuff, men, cruising, boyfriends or anything like that. Indeed, I'd love to have a deeper relationship with B but it never seems possible to make any real progress in that direction! We continue chatting for a while, but he seems more intent on reading his newspaper so I decide to go and have a look around the complex again to see what I can find.

After wandering around for ten minutes or so, I decide to try the dark steam room. As I said in my previous post about Babylon, wandering hands in that steam room can be quite good fun, and needless to say that means my hands as well as the hands of other guys! Indeed, after a few minutes I find myself standing next to a guy who's about the same height as me, and soon we start exploring each others bodies :-). I decide to moving round to stand face to face in front of him which, given the way he's tied the towel around his waist, will give me easier access! Even though I can't see what he looks like at all, after a minute or two I wrap my arms around him and give him a hug, which he reciprocates. After a bit more exploring with our wandering hands, we find ourselves hugging again, and we end up standing there for a couple of minutes with our arms wrapped round each other. It feels very comfortable, in the arms of a like-minded guy, and surrounded by the warmth of the steam.

"Why don't we go somewhere more private?" he whispers to me.

"Hmmm, yes," I reply quietly, "that would be nice :-)."

Emerging from the darkness, we're both dripping wet from the steam when we get our first proper look at each other. Of course, this kind of cruising is very much like a lucky dip, because one has no idea what kind of guy one will end up with! But it turns out that the guy I've been hugging is a nice Chinese-looking guy :-), probably in his mid-thirties. We smile at each other, and I get the impression that he's equally happy with the outcome.

"By the way, I'm GB," I say to him, making proper eye contact for the first time.

"OK, my name is C :-)," he says smiling back at me. "Are you British?"

"Yes," I reply, "how could you tell?"

"The way you speak!"

We chat a bit more as we head over to one of the areas where private cubicles are located, and it turns out that he is indeed Chinese, living in Hong Kong. Once inside, we lock the door behind ourselves.

The room is just the standard type of space that one gets in these kinds of establishments. The door and walls are all painted black, and there's a padded mat for us to lay on about the size of a single bed, conveniently located on a wide ledge which is at the same height as a bed would be. On the wall there's a tissue dispenser with a small bin underneath, and apart from that the only other thing is a hook for us to hang our towels on. Needless to say, the covering for the padded mat is plastic so that it's easy to wipe down if it gets dirty for any reason!

Hanging my towel on the hook, I stand there naked and give him a quick kiss on the lips before lying down on the mat. He joins me and soon we're hugging each other again, just like we had been in the steam room but now in more comfort and privacy. We lie there for quite a while, just kissing and cuddling and playing with each other a bit, and things gradually seem to be reaching their natural conclusion when he whispers something in my ear.

"I'm really enjoying your company and I don't want it to end, so let's not cum just yet!"

"OK sure," I say, happy just to lie here enjoying his intimate company.

"Actually, why don't we go and have a drink or something together, and then we could come back here later if you like :-)."

"Um, sure, why not!"

Although I think it's a nice idea, it seems like an unusual request. Usually in these kind of places, if one meets a nice guy and one ends up in a private cubicle, one enjoys each other's company for a while and then one says goodbye afterwards when one leaves the cubicle. I wonder briefly whether he doesn't like me after all, so that perhaps this is just an excuse to leave me in the bar so that he can go and find someone else. But of course, if that is the case it would be foolish to carry on playing with him because it would be likely to end badly somehow. So I decide to take the request at face value. In any case, he does seem like a very genuine guy so a drink with him would be nice :-).

Putting our towels back on, we try to re-arrange ourselves to make our recent excitement less obvious before opening the door and heading to one of the bars. On our way to the poolside bar I run into my Thai friend B who quickly tells me that he's heading home. Although I like B a lot, given that I've now got a new friend this suits me perfectly.

"So do you come over to Bangkok very often?" I ask him once we're seated at the bar.

"Not very often. Actually I was meant to be going away to China for the weekend with some friends, but they cancelled on me at the last minute, so I decided to come here instead. How about you?"

"No, this is my first visit. But from what I've seen so far I really like it :-)."

We order some drinks and chat for a while, and gradually we find out a bit more about each other. I tell him about my banking job, my boyfriends and ex-boyfriends, and I find out that he's got a sales job with a high-tech firm in Hong Kong. After about half an hour we both feel slightly hungry, so we decide to move into the restaurant for a bit of food.

"Actually I'm very impressed with this place," I tell C while we're waiting for our food to arrive. The best gay sauna in London is probably Chariots, but the whole place is focused on cruising so the bar and snacks they provide aren't very good. But the menu here is excellent!"

About forty five minutes later, we head back to find a private cubicle again to finish what we started over two hours ago in the steam room. We don't rush, and we have a wonderful time with each other. Afterwards, for a while we just lie there naked together, holding each other tightly while listening to the music that's being played on the speakers throughout the complex.

Oxygène Part IV by Jean Michel Jarre has just started playing and I'm really relaxing listening to it while holding C in my arms at the same time, when suddenly he has something to say to me:

"Actually, I think I should go. Sorry, but I have to catch my plane back to Hong Kong!"

He'd told me earlier that he was flying home that night, so although it seemed kind of magical relaxing there with C and listening to that tune, I accept that we need to get up because he can't miss his flight! Before too long we're heading to the locker room together.

We take our spare towels from our lockers and make our way to the showers where there turns out to be a queue. Eventually one of the shower cubicles becomes free. C is in front of me in the queue so he goes in, but he then turns and smiles at me and beckons me to join him. We shower together, washing each other's backs, before drying ourselves and heading back to the locker room to get changed.

"Shall we keep in touch?" asks C as we head down the stairs towards the exit.

"Yes, sure, that would be nice :-)."

It's not clear how our friendship can possibly develop given that we live on opposite sides of the world, but at least if we exchange contact details we're keeping our options open so I give him my mobile phone number.

"Thank GB, I'll send you a txt msg when I get to the airport so that you've got my phone number too!"

As we wander together down the street outside Babylon on our way back to the main roads, we spot a free taxi so we flag it down.

"You take this taxi," I tell him, "after all, you've got a plane to catch!"

"OK thanks :-)," he says, and we give each other a hug and a quick goodbye kiss.

"I'll send you a txt msg," he says, climbing in to the back of the taxi, "enjoy the rest of your holiday!"

I watch the taxi turn around, and then as it heads away from me I see C waving to me from the back seat. I wave back to him but very quickly he vanishes from sight and he's on his way.

Later that evening, I reply to his txt msg, and to give our friendship a chance I decide tell him my full name and personal email address. To my surprise, the next day I find that he's used the information to find me on facebook and send me a friend request :-). I readily accept the invitation, but after exchanging a few messages with him the conversation dies so the communication stops.

A couple of weeks later and it's the day that I split up with ex-boyfriend P. That evening, while I'm feeling very unhappy about the break up, I spot a missed call on my mobile phone from an international number that I don't recognise. Luckily whoever it is has left a message, but the connection was very bad and it's hard to make out what the voice is saying. However, listening to the message a second time, to my surprise I realise that C has phoned me all the way from Hong Kong! Immediately I try phoning him back:

"Is that C?" I ask when a guy answers.

"Yes, who is that, is it GB?"

"Yes! Thanks so much for phoning," I say, "it's so good to hear a friendly voice :-)."

"Well, I saw your status update on facebook saying that you'd split up with ex-boyfriend P, so I thought you'd appreciate a phone call!"

We chat for around twenty five minutes. He's quite right of course, on 'big event' days such as when one breaks up with one's boyfriend, it's really nice to chat with someone. He tells me that he'll probably be coming to Europe later in the year, so I ask him to let me know his schedule when it's decided in case we can arrange to meet.

"Anyway GB," he says at the end, "if you ever need someone to talk to, you can always phone me. I think I'm reliable."

The last sentence really rings true with me. Throughout my life, I must have met many thousands of people, but very few really reliable ones. Somehow, through the conversations and emails that we've exchanged, I think I can tell that C really IS reliable. After all the problems that I've had with ex-boyfriend S, ex-boyfriend R and now ex-boyfriend P, I could really do with finding a solid and reliable boyfriend.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Harvey Milk

Last month, I went along with my friend Close Encounters to see a preview of the film 'Milk' at the British Film Institute. 'Milk' is about the 1970's gay activist Harvey Milk, who was assassinated in 1978 while serving as an elected city official in San Francisco. We both enjoyed the film, and afterwards the director Gus Van Sant was interviewed, along with the screenwriter Dustin Lance Black and one of the actors.

However, it wasn't until I read a review of 'Milk' by the gay British critic Mark Simpson that I realised that the film had glossed over an important part of Harvey Milk's life. According to Mark Simpson, Harvey Milk believed in very open relationships, whereas the film definitely gives the impression that Harvey Milk was a serial monogamist. Indeed, the biography of Harvey Milk, The Mayor of Castro Street, quotes him as saying the following:
As homosexuals we can't depend of the heterosexual model. We grow up with the heterosexual model, but we don't have to pursue it. We should be developing our own lifestyle. There's no reason why you can’t love more than one person at a time. You don't have to love them all the same. You love some more, some less and always be honest about where you're at. They in turn can do the same thing, and it opens up a bigger sphere.
Long time readers of this blog might spot more than a passing similarlity to my own views on this subject!

Monday, February 02, 2009

It's a bit chilly here

When I woke up this morning it was suspiciously quiet outside, and when I looked out of the window I found out why. There'd been a huge snowfall! Apparently there hasn't been this much snow in London since 1991. Some readers may recall that I usually sleep naked, but since they're forecasting another huge snowfall within the next few hours, I'm wearing a vest in bed tonight :-).