Monday, June 28, 2010

Perverted gay practices at Cambridge University

Earlier today, a reader sent me a link to this fascinating interview with gay British Historian David Starkey, which was conducted by The Daily Telegraph newspaper a couple of years ago. My favourite quote in this interview relates to when Starkey was talking about gay life as he knew it when he was at Cambridge University. Starkey said:
'... and there was a strange kind of university subculture on the more extreme fringes of the gay scene which operated on the principle of the higher the intelligence, the more perverted the practice.'
As soon as I read that, I immediately thought of the quote by French philosopher René Descartes who lived 400 years ago. Back then, Descartes said:
The greatest minds are capable of the greatest vices as well as of the greatest virtues.
So I guess not much has changed since Descartes time!

In connection with gay Cambridge guys, early last year a reader who called himself 'bristolgrad' left a comment on one of my posts about dating in which he said:
I'm in my 20s, and I have dated three Cantabrigians, all three of whom turned out to be complete weirdos. Three is obviously not big enough a sample size but sufficient to raise questions in my head. The first slept with probably half of East Anglia. I have casual sex too but this guy takes it to a whole different level. The second was gorgeous and intelligent but was very brusque and rude and the third thought he had the world at his feet and small grammatical errors would trigger very queeny fits of indignation.
Bristolgrad's comment just makes me wish that Starkey had gone into a little bit of detail about exactly what practices the higher intelligences of Cambridge university enjoyed!

Do any readers have any experience in dating Cambridge guys? Or guys from any other other well known universities?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A few LGBT surprises

A few days ago, I get an invite on the business connections network Linked-in to add someone called Christine to my list of contacts. I don't really use Linked-in much, but I always accept connection invites from people I know. This invite is a bit of a surprise, though, because I can't think of anyone called Christine who would want to connect with me. However, when I open the email that accompanies the invite, I get an even bigger surprise:

Hello GB,

I wondered what you were up to these days. I have changed my name since we last met - and everything that goes with it. Do you fancy meeting in London for a coffee sometime?

Best wishes - Christine (you knew me as Chris)

I feel absolutely astounded because I immediately realise that I used to work with this person in the early 1990's. He used to be a trader, and certainly not someone who I'd ever have thought would want to have his bits cut off. Checking Christine's profile on Linked-in, I see a picture of a woman that could very easily be the new him, and what looks exactly like the career history of the person that I knew as Chris. The invite is obviously genuine so I clearly can't refuse. I accept Christine's invitation to be in my in contact list and send her a supporting email:

Hi Christine,

It was a real surprise to get your linked-in invitation this morning, partly because I don’t think we’ve met since the 1990's, and partly because I haven’t met many transgender people. When we worked together, I recall that you seemed to be very close to your wife, so I certainly didn't expect your news. I presume that you’re no longer married, so I hope the transition wasn’t too difficult. On my side I think a lot of people that I’ve worked with in the financial markets know that I’m gay, and although I split up with the boyfriend that I had since 1989 a couple of years ago, I’ve got a new boyfriend now :-).

Best wishes, GB

However, the next day, her response genuinely shocks me:

Hi GB,

Actually I am still technically married. My spouse and I live entirely separate lives but from the same house where we share the children. I regard myself as a gay woman ...

As soon as I read that last line, I have to stop reading to try and let the information sink in. All I can think of is the episode "D-Yikes!" from South Park series 11 episode, where the male to female transgender character Janet Garrison decides that she's really a lesbian. Eventually I manage to read the rest of Christine's email, where again she suggests that we meet up for coffee, so I send a reply to accept her offer. However, although I try to compose a response to the fact that she now regards herself as a gay woman, I'm at a complete loss in terms of what to say. In the end, I decide not to mention it at all, because I have no idea what an appropriate comment would be.

I often share interesting emails that I receive from friends or whoever with boyfriend T, so I forward Christine's email to him, and tell him how shocked I am by her latest revelation. To my further surprise, his reply is very sympathetic to her situation:

Wow, this is a really interesting story. You should be kind to her, because can you imagine what a tough life she's had? Don't let her know how surprised you were, and that you think that she might be a bit weird! One thing I really admire about this country is that people tend to accept diversities like this, which are really not welcome in my home country.

I suppose boyfriend T is right. However, when I think back to when I knew Christine as Chris, there was always something a bit attention-seeking about his behaviour. But even if someone has an attention-seeking behaviour disorder, surely they wouldn't go this far just to get their kicks?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Human frailties

A few months ago, the bank that I work for entertained a large group of clients at a London theatre. The bank paid for a lot of the best seats in the theatre, invited various clients to attend, and then after the show they hired a smart restaurant nearby for dinner. Although I'm not usually involved in client entertainment, I went along at the last minute to make up the numbers when a sales colleague was unable to attend.

The show was good, but the dinner afterwards was fascinating because it turned out that the actors from the play had also been invited to dinner. As a result, rather that entertaining the bank's clients, I found myself chatting to a young actor in his mid 20's who was seated on my right.

"I really liked the play :-)," I say to him, as an easy way of starting the conversation.

"Thanks," he replies smiling coyly at me, "I'm glad that you enjoyed it :-)."

We chat a bit about the play, and how he got into acting. He mentions women a lot, so presumbaly he's straight, but nonetheless a little later the conversation becomes interesting for other reasons.

"It can be quite difficult being an actor," he says, "because one can't always find work."

"I guess you have to take part time jobs then," I reply, "while you look for acting jobs in your spare time?"

"Yes, but when I'm not working, I REALLY miss the excitement of being on stage, and the buzz that one gets from the audience!"

"I'd never thought about that side of things," I admit. "I suppose that's an extra incentive to find acting work."

"Yeah, but sometimes I'll need to find other ways to get the buzz. For example, I love spending all night in a casino. If I'm on a winning streak, it's almost better than being on stage!"

I'm always fascinated by human frailties like this. In my case, although I enjoy gambling, drinking, and even drugs, I guess I'm lucky that I'm not addicted to any of them. However, long time readers of this blog will know what my weakness is. I'm definitely addicted to men!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Email from a guy whose boyfriend cheated on him

Just over two weeks ago, a reader sent me the following email:

Dear GB,

I've been following your blog for about three years now - I started reading it when I was 20, just before I began to 'come out' to friends, families, and started to date guys. It has been a big help, especially since I am from what you might consider to be a small, conservative Northern town. Fortunately, my line of work is academia, so it was a lot easier to be completely open in the university city I live in now. I started by dating a very cute slightly older (26) American guy, who was studying at the same university as me. I became incredibly infatuated - this was the first man I even kissed, never mind the rest of the activities ;). Anyway, after a couple of months, I found out that he was also in a relationship with a woman. I knew he was bisexual, but it was devastating nonetheless. I pined, and tried to keep in contact, but eventually he moved away, and we no longer speak.

A few months after that, I met a great guy a similar age to me, and we quickly began an incredibly intense relationship, before moving in with each other 10 months later. Frequently, following the advice of your blog and your opinions on monogamy (which, in the main, I agree with), I asked him if he was happy being in an exclusive relationship. He was always adamant that he was, and that he did not want to share me with others. I was fairly happy with this, and behaved myself, apart from a couple of drunken kisses in nightclubs. After about 18 months (only last week) I discovered, rather naughtily by seeing his gaydar profile messages when he left his PC on, that he has been sleeping around from almost the start of our relationship, and that he has slept with at least 5 other people (that he will admit to!). Obviously, my trust is completely destroyed, and I have told him I no longer want to be in a relationship with him. I am completely devastated, and have moved out. I know that I can't be with somebody who has treated me with so little respect, whether intentionally or through poor willpower.

But I worry terribly about him - he is very aware he has destroyed the only constant thing in his life, and what he (allegedly!) considers to be the most important also. We have such a similar friend group, and unfortunately most people are insisting on taking sides against him, even though I have stressed this is not what I want. He will always be one of the most important people in my life. My question has two parts. Firstly, how did you manage to reconcile your emotions when you split up with S after not being monogamous without him knowing? Did you feel guilty, and, if so, did you eventually manage to overcome your guilt and move on easily? I love him so much that it kills me to see him like this, especially since it's his own fault. This leads to my second question: am I strange? Should I simply not care about how he feels because he has treated me so poorly, and try and move on without caring what he thinks? I know he's bad for me, and I am of course young enough to enjoy singledom again when I start to feel a little bit less down!

Any advice much appreciated,

I was glad to hear that this reader had followed the advice on my blog, by which I presume he means my advice to keep discussing monogamy with one's boyfriend and be open to changes. However, given frequent opportunities to opt for a more open relationship, it's appalling that this reader's boyfriend started having sex with other guys behind the reader's back. The only explanation that I can think of is that the reader's boyfriend is very immature and unable to connect his words with his actions, and hence take responsibility for the way he behaves.

My situation with ex-boyfriend S was a bit different. We'd been together for much much longer, and consequently ex-boyfriend S had become somewhat dependent on me. So when I finally told him that I'd been meeting other guys for fun, I also made it clear that I had no intention of leaving him. That continued to be my intention up until I realised how ill he had become, and that the only way that he'd get better would be if we were to split up :-(. Of course I should have discussed my desire for a more open relationship with him much earlier, however once I'd tried to put things right, I feel that ended up looking after ex-boyfriend S as well as I could have done. I bought him a house to live in, and I continue to look after him in various ways from a distance. Although I now have another boyfriend, we still see ex-boyfriend S socially, and I still have an emotional bond with him. So the answer to the reader's question is that I haven't moved on easily, because I'm still connected with ex-boyfriend S! I probably should have felt guilty, so perhaps it's one of my personality flaws that looking back, I don't think I did.

The reader's other question is a bit more interesting, about whether he's strange for still caring about his ex-boyfriend. I don't think it's strange, I just think that it means that he's still emotionally involved with his ex-boyfriend. There's nothing wrong with that, indeed, as I said in the previous paragraph I still have an emotionally bond with ex-boyfriend S. The post that I did a couple of months ago with the title What's the opposite of love is relevant here. That post discussed how some people think that the furthest from love is indifference and that hate lies somewhere in between indifference and love. However, the reader doesn't seem to hate his ex-boyfriend at all. The fact that he still "worries terribly about him" and that his ex-boyfriend will "always be one of the most important people in [the reader's] life", means that the reader's emotions are much closer to love!

So given that the reader still has feelings for his ex-boyfriend, the key question is should he consider trying to repair their broken relationship? My advice would be, not yet, and not ever unless the reader is comfortable with some kind of open relationship. Given that the reader's relationship with his ex-boyfriend was quite intense, it could be that the reader is suffering from some version of Stockholm Syndrome, because he's feeling love for the person who captured his emotions while abusing his trust! So for now, I think the reader should try dating a few other guys, to try and get his ex-boyfriend out of his system. After a couple of months, his feelings for his ex-boyfriend will probably subside, leaving him free to try and find a new boyfriend :-).

Do any other readers have thoughts on this situation?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Forbidden love

A few days ago, a reader sent me a link to a horrifying story about legalised homophobia in the USA. Basically, a South Korean guy got married to an American guy in San Francisco in 2008, but was subsequently denied re-entry into the USA to be with his partner. Coincidentally, a couple of weeks ago another male reader had sent me a short story about one of his own experiences entering the USA after legally marrying his American same sex partner. Luckily, things turned out much better for this reader than they did for the South Korean:

January 2008, crossing into the USA from Canada

I am Spanish, in the visa-waiver category, and as such it can be difficult to enter the USA as LGBT tourist. But if you are in a same-sex marriage to a US national, and you are "out" about it, it seems to be even harder. This story is funny now, but back then it felt very intimidating.

My experience was when re-entering the USA with my partner, after crossing to Vancouver where we got married. On the way back to Seattle, this happened:

Immigration Check-point. Entering by car

US Officer: Hello Gents!
My partner and I: Hello sir.

US Officer: Can I have your passports?
My partner and I: Here you are.

US Officer: Where do you come from?
My partner and I: Vancouver

US Officer: How do you know each other?
My partner: I lived in Uruguay for nine months, and despite the fact he is Spanish-passport holder and now lives in Spain now, back then he lived in Uruguay too.

US Officer: Ok, and what's your relationship now?

My partner stares at me warily ...

My partner: We are married! (showing off the wedding ring)

The officer looked at me ballistically.

US Officer: Do you have your return ticket to Spain?
Me: No, I don't. But you have it on your computer. (Because I had entered the US a couple of days before from Spain, and in the airport they registered everything on the computer)

US Officer: Well, I do not. If I had it I wouldn't be asking you. But, when are you leaving?
Me: Next weekend.

US Officer: And, how can I know you're going to leave the US when you have your US partner? (By de facto for the first time ever the US federal government or agency recognized same-sex unions (that was Jan. 2008, Bush Administration)

Me: (Looking down at him and making faces of "I don't feel comfortable in this place") Leaving the US? Yes, I will! Believe me, I will!

My partner: (coming back into scene) I am moving to Spain in a month.

US Officer: OK, here are you passports, BUT make sure you bring your return ticket next time.

Ironically, as we departed, Madonna's song "Forbidden Love" suddenly started playing on our iPod. We looked at each other and laughed!

The times before I had entered the US, I had no problems or intimidation, just average questions. But this time, I believe they knew we were getting married, so they had to ask "What's your relationship now?"

Anyway, as I said, looking back it's funny now :-).

Thursday, June 10, 2010

GHO: naked parties in the USA

A couple of days ago, a reader who corresponds with me regularly sent me the following email, in response to the posting that I did about naked parties in London:

Hi GB,

In response to your query about any of your readers attending "naked parties", the answer from New England is "Yes!" About five years ago I found a group called "GHO" for "Gay Hotel Orgy" (not to be confused with the golf tournament that they have in Connecticut, the Greater Hartford Open). These occurred every few months in local hotels, at either noon to 2pm, or after work between 6pm and 9pm, and attended by usually 18 to 24 men of ages ranging from late 20's to 60's. Not all of them gay, a number of married bisexuals attended as well. Their purpose was simple and straightforward: sex with as many guys as willing and able. More oral activity than anal penetrative--oh, hell--just call it fucking--and always cautioned to practice "safe sex." All activity occurred in full view of all participants--no quiet dark corners for private coupling. Condoms and lube provided; recreational drugs prohibited. I attended at least half a dozen of these, over several years. The group was run by a guy out of Chicago who travelled throughout the country, setting up "parties" in cities from coast to coast. Venues were advertised on his web site, exact location given by phone day of meeting. Sadly, this venture died, to be replaced by another group with different name but same purpose. This too collapsed, inexplicably. It was really great experience, meeting all sorts and conditions, so to speak, including once quite unexpectedly a friend who was also a sex buddy.

If you would like to read more, I have kept contemporary accounts of some of these meetings and would be happy to share.

Keep up the good work.

I was intrigued about what kind of 'contemporary accounts' he'd kept, so I got him to send me one of his accounts from about five years ago. In the email, he pointed out that it's much more pornographic than the things that I usually publish here, and he's not wrong about that! None the less, if case any of my most broad-minded readers want to read his account of a GHO meeting, press here.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Naked parties

"Have you ever been to one of these naked parties, GB?" asks a friend over dinner recently.

"No," I answer truthfully, "I've never been on the London gay orgy circuit."

Although I'm not entirely sure if that's what my friend is referring to!

"Can anyone go along?" I continue. "A few friends of mine used to go to various London orgies, and I think one of them actually hosted an orgy once."

"This isn't something that happens in people's houses," my friend replies. "I think you have to be a member, but I believe anyone can join :-)."

With that, he gets out his wallet and shows me his membership card. On the card there's just a number and an expiry date. The fact that there's an expiry date presumably means that membership costs money!

"How often do you go along to these parties then?" I ask.

"I've been three times now, but I think the novelty would wear off if I went too often. Just between you and me, I couldn't get it up the first time! But the second time that I went was great! Really really GREAT!!"

A distant smile gradually drifts over my friend's face, and I start imagining what's going through his mind ...

"Anyway," continues my friend, interrupting my day dreaming, "are there orgy events that happen in people's houses too?"

"Errr, I'm sure that there used to be, because as I said, a friend of mine hosted an orgy once. He told me that there were even professional gay orgy organisers to help you, who arrange things such as all the plastic bin bags that people put their clothes into when they arrive. But I think my friend only hosted an orgy once. There was a terrible mess to clear up afterwards!"

My friend laughs and the conversation slowly drifts onto other subjects.

Later I do some online research, and discover what my dinner companion was talking about. It's called Nudity Club, and it happens twice a month. So it's definitely different to the gay orgy circuit that I was thinking about.

Have any readers been to any naked events, either on the London gay orgy circuit if that's still going, or at Nudity Club? If so, do leave a comment and tell us all what you thought :-).

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

A philosophical evening

A few days ago, I went out for dinner with blogger J.P. Rügnitz, who writes the blog A-Philosophical (Here: in my world. He'd been emailing me on and off for a few years, and then last year when he moved to London I did a "Dear GB" posting for him, to try and give him ideas about how to find a good job. But until we went out for dinner together, I'd never met him.

"Hi, are you J.P. ?" I ask, getting up from my seat in the restaurant bar when I see a likely looking guy coming towards me, "did you find this place OK?"

"Yeah, but I had no idea who you were or what you looked like!" answers J.P., clearly feeling that I should have given him a few more clues about myself prior to our rendezvous.

"Sorry about that," I reply, "but now you're here, why don't you go and put your coat in the cloakroom :-)."

I don't normally meet people who know that I write this blog, although I do sometimes make exceptions for established bloggers, like J.P. for example. But given my desire to stay anonymous, even when it comes to meeting established bloggers I always try to hang on to my anonymity until the last possible minute!

We have a drink at the bar, and then after fifteen minutes or so when we've finished our drinks, we move to our table for dinner.

"So why is your blog called A-Philosophical?" I ask once we're seated at our table, "I've never been able to work that one out!"

"It because I studied philosophy at university :-)," answers J.P., "Western philosophy, that is."

During the course of the evening we discover many things about each other. Even though J.P. is still under 30, he's already had an interesting life. Apart from Uruguay, he's lived in the USA, Spain, and now London, picking up and then discarding several lovers along the way!

All too soon it's time to go home. J.P. has a party to go to, and I have a busy day ahead of me the following day so we have to adjourn. One of the things that I like about living in London is the fact that it's such a melting-pot. The more fascinating guys like J.P. who live here, the better!