The Appeal of Younger Men

young chickAt the age of 33 I’ve only ever had one real boyfriend. By ‘real boyfriend’ I mean a guy who I dated and everyone in my life knew that I was dating him. All of my close friends and my parents met him in person. Not only did everyone know that he existed, and that he was a man, but we discussed him on a regular basis. I told others about places we went together, things we did, fun we had, the way he made me feel, and other such relationship type things. This was a very thrilling time of my life.

To some people reading this, such details may sound silly to be thrilled about since they seem so ordinary and perhaps downright inconsequential or insignificant. I assure you this openness and honesty about my boyfriend was quite significant for me. It made me feel more a part of the human race and, I daresay, an active participant in this dance of life we are all engaged in.

I’ve been meaning to write about this boyfriend, our relationship, and what lessons he helped me learn for quite some time now. But every time I sat down to write about him my words felt like they were deflated and like the post’s message was not taking on a large enough scope. Like there was more to be said than to just ramble on about he and I and our breakup. Over this past weekend the bigger message here presented itself to me. But first I must tell you about Thomas…

My first real boyfriend’s name was Thomas. From the first second I saw him, there was a spark. God, was he cute! And he seemed so kind and so sincere. That first meeting was brief, but on our second meeting we sat and talked for a very long time about horror movies. I found him physically attractive and he loved horror films! Deadly combination. I was smitten.

One important detail about Thomas, and perhaps the single largest contributing factor to our relationship’s downfall, was his age. At the time I was 31 years old and he was 22. In our case, the 9-year difference was one of the things that attracted him to me, and me to him, but it ended up being an overall negative.

Without going into too much boring detail, Thomas and I were a wrong mix right from the start. I am a communicator, a giver, and a person who desires to talk out problems. In my experience with him, Thomas was a taker who avoided serious conversation at all costs. We were always on a different page and never understood what the other was trying to say.

We dated for literally two months and one week. About two of those weeks were easy and really fun. The rest were a gradual downfall into continuously feeling like crap. We argued constantly, actually had very little in common, and the death kiss – I seemed more interested in Thomas than he did in me. When we would go out, he ignored me and seemed to be constantly trying to hit on other men. Guys would comment about this to me at bars. Thomas was constantly trying to talk me into having threesomes, which now I realize was an indication of his selfishness and his lack of genuine interest in me. Who knows why he even wanted to be together?

threesome

Thomas was very self motivated. All of his decisions and motivations were based on what benefited and satisfied him. Writing about him now makes me feel like an idiot for dating him in the first place, but at the beginning all I knew was that I felt an intense chemical attraction to him and that he made me feel alive. I had no way of knowing how toxic and unsatisfying our time together would be. After it was over, Thomas personally told me that he had cheated on me twice in the short amount of time we were dating.

Thomas was an awful boyfriend, but he was my first. This dating thing was new to me. It still is. Since our relationship ended I’ve internally reprimanded myself a great deal for having dated someone so young. Why would I have done something so obviously stupid?

Jump ahead with me to just this past weekend. I decided to rejoin the world of the living and head to a gay bar in the big city on Friday night. I ended up having a spectacular time. I’m so glad that I went out. I ran into a lot of old friends. It was really nice.

young manThroughout the course of the night I came across a 21-year-old gentleman named Calvin. He was young in all the traditional and enviable ways. His skin was flawless and wrinkle free, his hair was thick, healthy and styled in the coolest modern hair style, he was wearing such a hot and fashionable outfit, he was currently in school, and came across as so innocent.

He smiled so much that it made me happy just to be around him. He made me smile in return. We spent a lot of time talking and he is extremely excited about life. He’s excited about his school, excited about the possibilities ahead of him in his journey, and he talks about love like it’s a concept he just discovered yesterday. He is not yet jaded. Still optimistic and still hopeful.

He seemed interested in me from the start. He was so attentive, so touchy feely and flirty. He kept his eyes on me wherever I would move. Being around this and his attitude invigorated me. In fact, he had such an affect on me that I’m writing about him today and still smiling when I think of him.

Lately I’ve been feeling so blah and devoid of hope in my own life that being around Calvin held a harsh mirror up to me. Through him I saw an old reflection of Adam at the age of 21. He made me miss my old self. He made me miss my old excitement and optimism. He made me miss being young. Realistically, I believe that is how Thomas also made me feel at first.

old man reflectionStill, Calvin did another thing for me; he helped me realize something about myself. In the past two years I was most attracted to and enlivened by Calvin and Thomas, two men in their early twenties. As I drove home on Saturday morning with Calvin’s sparkling eyes still fresh in my memory, I realized why I was so attracted to these young two men.

I never got to date these young men when I was their age. I never got to date when I was a teenager. I never got to talk on the phone for hours with my teenage boyfriend. I never got to pass notes with him in class, or hold hands with him at homecoming, or take walks with him on warm summer nights. I never got to visit my boyfriend in his college dorm room, or study with him at a table in our college library, or feel his reassuring touch beside me in a dark movie theater. I never got to do any of these things, and to be honest, I feel so damn sorry for myself that it is hard not to tear up when I really think about it. I was attracted to Calvin, and initially to Thomas, because they were what I wanted back then and was without.

I was in Calvin’s presence for 6 hours on a Friday night and during that small amount of time I got to travel back in time to something I had been cheated out of. In the interest of full disclosure, we spent a pretty large amount of time making out on a friend’s couch in an apartment with lava lamps in every room and heavy-metal band posters on every wall. It could not have felt more like college if I had planned it, and it was wonderful.

In all honesty, I don’t think I will ever see Calvin again. This meeting had the feel of a one-time thing. It doesn’t need another instance in order to teach its lesson. He will probably never know what an impact our short time together had on me. I held his face, looked into his eyes, felt his lips on mine, and was completely present with someone for the first time in a long time.

For my future, I’m not completely sure what this will all mean in relation to my moving forward and to my accepting that some things were absent from my youth because I was a closeted gay man until I was almost 30 years old. The hard truth is that I can’t go back to being 17 again, and I will never be 21 and in college again, but I did just turn 33 and some would say that is still pretty young. I still have some youthful experiences ahead of me.

But it’s not really the youth that truly matters, is it? Maybe it’s just the innocence and authenticity that really attracted me to these two young men. Something tells me if I look hard enough there is still some of that to be found in this world, even in a man in his 30’s. I just need to hold on to the positive traits I once had in my youth and mix them well with the lessons of my older age. And maybe there is a man out there whose love will make me feel like a teenager again, while also making me feel like an adult in all the right ways. A perfect combination.

It could happen.

water

This is a picture from a truly amazing film about teenage love titled ‘Boys’ – released in 2014. Click on this image to go to its IMDB Page.

 

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Versions of Adam

overlapping faces

Drawing by artist Angie H. Iver

I’ve been thinking about different versions of myself lately.

Our lives and memories are made up of so many moments, so many images of ourselves that stand out, so many versions of who we have been.

I’ve been thinking about a version of Adam pictured in a polaroid hanging on a wall in my parents’ basement. In it, Adam is four years old and he’s wearing a light blue hospital hat and mask. His parents brought them home from the hospital along with his new baby brother. Most of his face is covered but you can tell he is smiling. His large smile shows even behind the mask. He looks happy, safe and loved.

I’ve been thinking about a version of Adam right after his third round of chemo. In this time period it was a Monday and he had made plans to meet some college friends for dinner that Wednesday. It was to be a much needed escape from his cancer reality. But he found out that Monday morning that the reason his tailbone had been hurting so much was that he had developed some odd viral cyst back there. In a completely healthy 21-year-old the virus would have been easily warded off with no symptoms. But his white blood cell count was too low and the unlucky combination caused havoc. He was in pain. He didn’t know if his cancer was gone yet. And he had to cancel the Wednesday plans with his friends because he wasn’t healthy enough to be around germ-covered people. In this version of Adam in my memory he just finished slamming a kitchen utensil off the kitchen counter, nicking it in his rage, and was now laying in a sideways ball on the floor crying because his tailbone hurt too much to sit on the floor. He feels defeated and absolutely terrified.

I’ve been thinking about a version of Adam from yesterday. He is in the middle of a lunch rush at a busy family diner where he waiters. He has just walked into the dishwashing room to sort out several dirty dishes, spoons and cups before heading out to take his sixth table’s order. He is tired, his knees hurt, he feels frustrated and wants to go home. He can’t escape this hatred towards himself for leading his life in this direction. For making decisions that placed him here in this moment, when so many other moments could have been better. He feels like he failed. Like he is failing. He has to go back out there and see what the annoying lady in the red shirt and her awful husband want for lunch. And then he has to serve it to them, put up with their attitudes, and mix them milkshakes at the end for desert just so they can leave him a shitty $3.00 tip and he can feel like a failure. This version of Adam is sad.

many faces

Artwork by Felipe Fox

There is a version of Adam on his first day of college. The sun is shining on his face on this perfect day. He is so awake. So excited. So hopeful. So ready to meet new people. To make new friends.

There is a version of Adam in his boxers in the dorm room of his first boy hookup in college. He’s smiling. He just finished kissing the boy who has adorable brown hair and killer blue eyes. He is nervous and excited. His stomach has butterflies in it.

There is a version of Adam laughing so hard with friends in college that he has tears running down his face.

There is a version of Adam who feels so exhausted during a CrossFit workout, but proud of himself just for being there. For pushing himself.

There is a version of Adam at a 19-year-old fraternity brother’s funeral staring into the casket thinking how unfair this is, and how alive his friend’s body still looks, and that the funeral home styled his friend’s hair completely wrong.

There is a version of Adam playing Monopoly with a childhood friend.

And another version of Adam swinging so high on a playground swing that his stomach is flipping.

There is a version of Adam stepping off of a plane in London, England.

And another version of Adam holding his new puppy for the first time.

Then there is this version of Adam right now. At this very second typing this post with tears in his eyes.

I don’t know who this version of Adam is yet.

In some ways, I understand every version of Adam I listed, except this last one.

I’m not sure what to do with him next…

What version of Adam do I want to be tomorrow when I wake up?

mirror and faces

Looking Forward to the Second Season of ‘Looking’

Looking Season 2 PosterIn preparation for the fast approaching second season of HBO’s Looking I revisited Season 1 from start to finish. In a previous post, I discussed Season 1’s first 5 episodes, but after a thorough rehashing of Looking’s entire 8 episode freshman season I not only wanted to revisit and further explore a few points, but I also decided to share some things I want to see MORE of in Season 2.

  • Patrick a.k.a. Me?

PatrickUnfortunately, as I mentioned in my previous Looking Review, Patrick really does remind me of myself in numerous ways. These similarities concern me because, despite some redeeming qualities, Patrick can be unattractively nervous, clumsy, uncomfortable in his skin, naïve, and slightly superficial. Neither he nor I have been in a long-term relationship and, yes, sometimes when I’m on a date I need a few alcoholic drinks in me to fully relax.

The further I delved into Season 1, the more things I realized we have in common. I do not love Patrick as a person or as a character. I suppose we are both still maturing as characters. Hopefully, Patrick has some redeeming moments in the new season.

  • Episode 1 is still a snore fest

On my second viewing of the series’ first episode I found myself not having much of a reaction. Come to think of it, I didn’t have much of a reaction to it the first time around. Here is to hoping that the Season 2 opener will be more engaging and interesting.

  • Richie: My Perfect Man

Patrick and RichieI have come to love Raúl Castillo. My heart jumps a little when he steps on screen. He is so cute, but more importantly I love how he portrays Richie. For that matter, and to give the writers due credit, I love how Richie is written. Richie is so centered. So rational. So emotionally stable. So strong. And to top it all off, he is a good dancer.

For me, Richie improves the entire show. His presence makes Patrick better and less annoying. Every one of my favorite scenes from the first season had Richie in them. I am the most excited to revisit Richie’s character in Season 2 to see what happens for him next.

  • My Favorite Scene from Season 1

In case anyone was wondering, my favorite scene from Season 1 is the planetarium scene from Richie and Patrick’s Episode 5 date. It was real and heartfelt, filled with true moments of two people connecting.

  • My Second Favorite Scene from Season 1

My second favorite scene from Season 1 is when Richie confronts/talks to Patrick outside his place in Episode 8. Patrick has just gotten back from making a wrong decision and the audience gets to watch him immaturely try to justify his actions by telling Richie, “I thought you said you didn’t want to talk to me ever again.” (As though he truly thought it was okay to sleep with Kevin because he and Richie would never speak again.) Richie clarifies, “I didn’t say that.” And then he calls Patrick out on his mistakes and his not being ready for a real relationship. I admired Richie’s strength in this scene. He stands his ground and is very brave to tell Patrick how he feels. I hope his ability to project honesty and to speak the truth rubs off on Patrick in season 2.

  • Let’s see less Agustín

Agustín continued to get more unlikeable and reprehensible as Season 1 progressed. He was constantly trying to scare and intimidate Patrick. By the end of Episode 8, I did not want to hear Agustín’s voice for one more second and I was literally tired of seeing his face. I clapped when Franklin finally told him off. Agustín’s entire presence is toxic and unlikable. Is it Frankie Alvarez’s fault that I hate Agustín, or is this the way the writers want me to feel about him? I hope we are either exposed to much less of this character in Season 2 or that his personality is drastically altered.

  • Kevin: The More Dangerous Choice

In Episode 4, Patrick and Kevin spend a lot of time together during the day of the Folsom Street Fair. I remember when I first watched this episode last year I wanted Patrick and Kevin to have sex. I wanted to see Kevin/Russel Tovey naked. Plus, I thought Kevin seemed sweet and enduring. Now after having watched the entire first season, I can’t shake the feeling that the character of Kevin is sort of slimy and not to be trusted. I cannot feel good about how he pursued Patrick while he was so involved with his current boyfriend. And I didn’t like how he immediately seemed less interested in Patrick after he got what he wanted: sex. I love Russel Tovey, his British accent, and his adorable ears, but my jury is still out on Kevin. Besides I am Team Richie 100%!

Looking SquaresNow let’s explore my hopes for the new season, or put another way, in Season 2 I want MORE…

1. Doris a.k.a. Lauren Weedman. She is funny, likable, insightful and intelligent.

Lauren Weeman

2. Friendships. I want to see more intimate layers exposed behind these friendships. I want some friendship high and low points that I can relate to and enjoy watching.

3. New Characters. I’m looking forward to seeing how the new character of Eddie, played by Daniel Franzese of Mean Girls fame, factors into the new season.

Mean Girls Guy

4. Richie. Along with more development of this character and hopefully more scenes of him dancing.

5. Dom, Lynn and Love. Lynn has a calming presence and he brings out good things in Dom. Besides, I’m curious to see how this relationship blossoms between two older gay men.Dom and love6. Romance in General. I’m a sucker for some romantic sparks and relationships I can envy. Maybe this show can usher me back into dating.

7. Skin. Let’s up the quota for hot, male shirtlessness and nudity if you don’t mind. (more of Russell Tovey or Jonathan Groff‘s asses would not be a bad thing!)

looking skin

8. Time. I would love to see longer episode lengths, but I know that this is not going to happen. Looking’s creators have addressed this want from fans in numerous interviews. Alas, it looks like we will just have to deal with it and learn to feel satisfied in our tiny 30 minute fixes.

Rainbow Colored Resolutions

rainbow new yearWelcome, Gentle Reader! I send you the sincerest of wishes for a Happy and Hope-Filled New Year! It was 12 months ago that I felt called to return to this blog and continue to write about my experiences of being a gay man and with coming out of my closet. Though my blogging has been sporadic, it has been therapeutic and wonderfully fulfilling. I’ve met some amazing people, many of them fellow bloggers, and now I truly feel less alone on my journey towards understanding and self-acceptance. I can’t express in words how much that has meant to me, and continues to mean to me.

Exploring myself through these posts over the last year has been such an amazing way to revisit my fears, my successes, and my lessons related to my coming out process. I cannot claim to know what 2015 will hold in store for this blog and for me, but I am hopeful and optimistic. And, as I have mentioned many times before, Gentle Reader, feeling Hope is very important. In today’s post I would like to share with you my resolutions for the New Year.

resolutionsAdam Resolution #1: Feel less Isolated and Lonely.

In many ways for me, 2014 was the year of my blog. As 2013 came to a close, I was feeling creatively stifled and trapped in my predominately straight world. I had verbally stated to everyone in my everyday life that I was gay, but I was still ‘In Search’ of what that meant to me inside. I wanted to start really talking about it. I hit the ground running on January 1st by exploring ‘how to become a better blogger’ and by writing my first new post on this blog. The rest, as they say, is history.

Now, as December 2014 was coming to a close I found myself looking back at what I did for the past 12 months. I concluded, other than writing for my blog (which trust me, my process for writing my long and researched blog posts is lengthy :-)), I didn’t do a whole hell of a lot. I am thrilled to be able to say I put significant time into this blog. It is worthwhile and I love it. But what else did I do in 2014?

Let’s see: I worked at a job that I don’t hate but I certainly don’t love, I read only 4 books, was a groomsman in two weddings (processes unfortunately more torturous than fun), and watched a lot of movies and television. When I try to think of events and moments that stand out from the year… I can’t. I am drawing an almost complete blank on what I did to better myself in 2014 other than blogging.

When I really think about it, I spent a significant amount of 2014 alone at my house. Now there is nothing wrong with alone time. I find it very comforting and helpful in my development process as an individual. But in 2015 I want more interactions with people. I want to continue blogging, but I also want to better myself through some more socially centered processes as well. It’s time to take living outside the walls of my house.

gay flags friendsAdam Resolution #2: Have a little more Gay in my life.

Specifically, I want to have more interactions with other gay people.

In 2014 I talked a lot about being gay. In 2015 I would like to continue to talk about it, while also doing a little more ‘gay’ living as well. Does that make sense?

I want to really own being a gay man this year. I want to feel more empowered in my role as a member of this gay community. Maybe even start dating…god forbid. It would be nice to find a special someone who thinks about me first when he wakes up in the morning and smiles when he pictures my face. It’s time to gay up my daily activities a little.

man's back2Adam Resolution #3: Start living in my body again.

In 2013 I was an active and enthusiastic member of a CrossFit box. I was working out multiple times a week and loving it. In 2014 this ended. There are multiple reasons behind its ending, none of which are relevant to this post, but as a result I spent most of 2014 over-eating, not exercising and sitting on my ass.

I know that this lack of physicality affected my overall mood and movability in 2014. Losing my CrossFit friends definitely lead me to feel more alone and somewhat sad. But this lack of movement also made me feel like my body wasn’t mine. It feels stagnant, lumpy and foreign.

It’s time to take my body back in 2015. I know that every one and their brother make a resolution to eat right and work out more in the new year. That is not what I am professing to do. I will be exercising alone, without my CrossFit box, and in some ways this will make the process harder, but I feel drawn to doing it alone at this moment.

I think there is something to be learned in picking my chubbier, less coordinated body up, brushing it off, and reclaiming it solo. Doing it on my own terms. I know it won’t be easy, but at least my body will be proud of me for starting to move.

Film SchoolAdam Resolution #4: Film School & My Future.

I’m currently working two jobs to save up money. I have three monetary goals in 2015. To reduce my debt, save up to finally move out of my parent’s house, and get accepted into a local film program while paying for it with cash. The film classes will start in September. To get accepted into the program I will have to apply in the spring. It’s a long shot with a lot of hard work, but it is so nice to be moving towards a goal that I want again.

One of the things I did accomplish in 2014 was to spend time thinking and contemplating my future. It may not look like much in the physical realm, but for me, these thought processes are real and necessary, and may be the driving force behind why my 2015 will be better and brighter. Happy New Year, Gentle Reader. Let’s make it one to remember!

A Letter to My Closeted Brothers and Sisters

letter to my gay brothers and sistersHello My Dear Friends,

I hope this correspondence finds you doing well. I hope that the sun is shining on your face and the wind is always at your back, as the saying goes. First off, I wanted to congratulate you for all of the positive progress you have made so far on your coming out journey.

You may be thinking, “I haven’t made any progress yet. I’m still completely hidden inside of my closet.” To this I say, you are not giving yourself enough credit. At the very least, you are realizing that you are not happy and completely satisfied in your closet. This is a step. It may seem small, but self-awareness is no small feat. Many people live their entire lives ignoring their internal gut instincts.

Your knowing that you wish for change proves that you have a rebel and a dreamer inside of you. I bet if you let your mind wander you imagine a life for yourself where you are not closeted. Visualization is key. Performing this visualizing has the chance to create hope within you. Hope is a powerful thing, My Friend.

Please take time to congratulate yourself on working as hard as you do. It is hard work to be closeted and still function at your job, with family, and with friends. In many ways, you are working twice as hard as the others around you just to perform the same tasks and to stay calm and centered. And all the while you may be blaming yourself for being who you are and acting as you do.

Please let yourself off of the hook for any lies you may have told friends, family and co-workers to hide who you truly are. These things do not make you a bad person. You are merely surviving in the only way you can think to at the present moment. To some extent, everyone exists as two different people; the version of themselves they know to be true inside and the version of themselves which they share with everyone else. No one else ever knows who we completely are from our core to our outside.

Lies and secrets happen. One lesson I can share with you from my personal, coming out journey is that, when it is all said and done, none of that matters. Who cares? You can’t change the past. All you can control is what you are doing right at this moment. Let yourself off the hook for being so concerned with other people’s feelings. Let yourself off the hook for living your life more to please others than to please yourself. In actuality, it means you are a kind and good person. That, My Friend, is a positive thing.

If you have experienced negative responses from people who you have come out to, brush it off. In the end, pretending to be someone you are not, simply to serve the comfort level of someone narrow-minded and backwards, will never be a path to your personal happiness. Remember that these people’s reactions say more about them than they do about you. We are not meant to mesh well with everyone in this life. Don’t pressure yourself to be an exception from this reality.

I want you to give yourself credit for feeling fear. It may seem like a burden, but it has a place in this life. Fear can make us slow down, think about our moves carefully, and be an active, thoughtful driver behind the wheel of our life. Sticking with the car metaphor – remember that fear is a rear view mirror to help you consider your turns, but it is not the steering wheel by which you should actually make your moves. I will make the suggestion that Hope should be your steering wheel, or at least one of the ones that you use.

I wish I had words to better explain the moment where my internal light switch flipped for me and I suddenly cared more about my personal comfort level with my being gay than I did about everyone else’s feelings and reactions to it. I guess I shouldn’t describe it as a moment; it was really a long transition over several years and several instances of coming out to people. You will get there. One day you will look back at these internal monsters, which feel so huge and scary right now, and they will suddenly feel like tiny, non-threatening, stuffed animals.

Remember to give yourself time to become the person you are meant to be. We all start somewhere.

Remember to feel all the emotions that come with your journey: the fear, the joy, the sadness, and the satisfaction. When it is all said and done, the memories of these feelings will make you a better partner, when you find the love of your life, and simply a better person.

Remember to feel love for yourself. One day, you will see, you are doing just fine.

Chin Up. I have faith in you.

All My Love,

Adamfingers hug in support

The 10 Worst Things About Being Gay and Trying to Date in a Small Town

Deserted Small Town

  1. Lack of Variety: The gay population is so small that I see the same guys over and over every time I go out. I am just as bored with continuously seeing them as they are with continuously seeing me.
  2. We have one gay bar: The slogan for my local gay bar feels less like “You want to go where everybody knows your name” and more like “You are stuck going where everybody already knows your personal business”.
  3. No Culture: There are hardly any cultural or artistic events anywhere near me (unless if I want to drive over an hour away). This is frustrating to me because art and the like interest me and it would be thrilling to meet a man who is drawn to similar occurrences. I long to stumble across a handsome boyfriend while at a museum, concert, outside festival, or social club.
  4. Gay-ville. Population of 1: In my every day, normal functioning I feel like a black sheep. The small sampling of people around me is predominately heterosexual. As a result, I end up feeling like I am the only gay person who exists for miles.
  5. The Constantly Visible Ex: Around here, after a breakup, if you still choose to go out on the town to the local gay ‘spot’, you get to see your ex-boyfriend over and over and over. As an added bonus, eventually you will get to see him with his new boyfriend. Ugh.
  6. These Straight People are Crowding Me: As I mentioned, most of the public places I would take any date to in this small town are filled with heterosexuals. Gay men, and thus physical affection between two men, are still foreign and make most of these people uncomfortable. This makes any attempt to be flirty and affectionate in public extremely difficult and awkward.
  7. No Gay Box Office: None of the local movie theaters host any gay themed films. Of course most gay films are independently made and have no major film production company as their distributer. These limited releases are usually restricted to large cities. So, the gayest film I can hope to see is the occasional shirtless Mark Wahlberg or Channing Tatum epic.gay social apps
  8. Gay App Hell: Any attempt to use gay, cellphone apps to meet local men to date in a small town are almost completely pointless and torturous. Most of the small town guys are closeted and thus their profile photos are headless body shots and their descriptions are blank or only seeking NSA (No Strings Attached) fun. And humorously the closeted men are one of the better finds. The even more frustrating ones seem to be the bi-curious and experimenting (which means they have a girlfriend they aren’t telling you about and they just want to get off), the married guy only looking for a friend with benefits (FWB), and the 90-year-old man who simply asks you, “Want a BJ?”. Around here, most of the single, desirable, younger, gay men with fantastic jobs have moved to a bigger city in search of a more fulfilling day and night life. To make it more frustrating every time you sign on you are confronted with the same dead-end profiles day after day after day. (It case it is not blazingly obvious yet, repetition is one of the killers in small town life.)
  9. Boring Men Everywhere: I don’t fancy myself a wannabe resident of my small town until the day I die. One day I hope for more interesting surroundings. There is literally nothing to do here that interests me. So, if I finally met a local gay man, and he is happy living in this boring area and aspires to nothing more exciting than this place, then why in the hell would I want to date him in the first place? Even if I find a local man that I really like, I don’t want my relationship with him to trap me here.
  10. That Old Familiar Feeling: To be completely fair, there are many wonderful and positive factors to living in a small town. I speak from my own experience and, personally, I grew up feeling trapped in this small town. Now as an adult, I have temporarily moved back here while I get on my feet financially. And even though so much time has passed, the not so positive affect this place has on me unfortunately has not changed very much. I know they say it is the person, not the place, that is the problem. But isn’t it possible that, sometimes, the place is at least a little bit of the problem? Is this place too small for me to comfortably breathe in?Feeling Trapped

What Does it Mean to be a Man?

Man SignAs a gay man, sometimes I feel unsure of, and insecure about, my place in this world. A fact I have discussed many times within the pages of this blog. In so many ways I am still finding my footing in this life. I am still figuring out where I fit. Where I best belong. Who I want to be. What kind of man I am. What does it mean to be a man in the first place?

Though I am getting better at it, I am still in the habit of spending too much time comparing myself to other men. In the past, the differences I have seen between them and myself have led me to question my masculine identity. I never recognized John Wayne’s ever present calm in myself, and I never saw Marlon Brando’s handsome and stern composure reflected back at me in the mirror. Are such discrepancies reasons to feel shame?

In today’s post I am turning my search inward to explore my struggle with a seemingly simple question, “What does it mean to be a man?”

50's sitcom fatherDoes a man’s demeanor make him a man?

As a child, I suppose I began to create an image of a man from the steadfast and know-it-all fathers, cowboys, detectives and superheroes I saw on TV. These men were always calm, strong, and confident right down to their physical stance. But they were also caring and affectionate towards their wives, children and mothers.  They were compassionate, but not soft. When they smiled, or laughed, it was for good reason.

Men were pillars. They held the rest of us up with their broad chest pushed out and their fists clenched. They were always prepared for a fight if necessary. If these men had any personal doubts they handled them internally and the worry was hardly ever shown on their face. Perhaps most importantly, they seemed to feel no fear. Almost nothing rattled them. Stress was not a word in their vocabulary.

Having never felt much like a calm pillar of strength or a confident presence devoid of worry, I always seemed to miss these marks. My history of anxiety and fear related to my imperfect past and my uncertain future rattle me on a regular basis. Stress is a part of my daily reality and I frequently appear to be coming unglued. As a result, I’ve never found my demeanor to be one which other men should envy.

Rich Froning AthleticismDoes a man’s athleticism or his competitiveness make him a man?

Is it just me, or are the handsome, confident, well-built men always good at sports? As a child, I was always running away from situations that placed me in athletic environments. I never relieved stress by shooting hoops, or by calling up the guys to play touch football out back. I never felt comfortable in these environments, and worse yet they filled me with fear of looking stupid or inadequate. Sports and me always felt wrong. My mother’s compassion and hugs were always more inviting to me then a basketball coach screaming at me for not dribbling well or not scoring enough points at practice.

I never understood other boys’ competitive natures when it came to sports. Why did they always feel that they had sometime to prove? Where did their obsession with declaring themself the strongest boy come from? I never felt the need to push myself to earn these silly status points.

Though sports never interested me, my avoidance of them always seemed to leave a feeling of inadequacy within me. I barely know how to throw a football and others judge me for it. People, even my close friends, find my lack of sports trivia knowledge hilarious. They tease me about this ignorance and at times I can hear in their voices that they find lack of sports knowledge as tiresome as it is odd. It makes me less of someone they can relate to. Less of a regular guy. Does not knowing how to pronounce the Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback’s last name really make me less of a man?

Man and His FriendsDo a man’s masculine friends help establish him as a man?

I pledged to a fraternity in college. Talk about being surrounded by men and huge levels of testosterone. Most of my fraternity brothers were water polo players, swimmers, lacrosse players or simply huge lovers of weight lifting. I was intimidated by pretty much every one of them upon our first meeting. Eventually, I felt cooler being friends with so many “guys’ guys”. I felt manlier by association.

Even though I started coming out to friends long after college had ended, I was literally terrified to tell my fraternity brothers that I was gay. I felt that admitting I was gay, and therefore engaged in anal sex with another man, would by this very definition force them to view me as less masculine. I feared that they would suddenly feel uncomfortable around me and be fearful that I would always be checking them out and waiting to flirt with them. I was convinced that their rejection would crush me.

Turns out I did not give my fraternity brothers enough credit. Most of them were so unaffected by my being gay that the conversation about it was borderline boring. If their reaction was at all emotional it was because they were being congratulatory and supportive. Since they are my manly, masculine friends, even now that they know I am gay, does that make me more of a man?

Superman Saving Lois LaneDoes a man’s love for a woman make him a man?

Male superheroes like Superman are some of the cornerstone ideals of enviable masculine power. It doesn’t get much more manly than Superman. And look at the things that make him a man: his body, his voice, his saving women from burning buildings, and his girlfriend Lois Lane.

All our super masculine male role models have them; their beautiful leading ladies. James Bond had all his Bond girls. Clark Gable had that amazing kiss with Vivien Leigh. Indiana Jones got every woman he every saved with his leather whip. Even Rocky’s victory meant more when he also rescued the cripplingly shy Adrian with his love.

We all love the image of a handsome man saving a beautiful woman, his chiseled jaw smiling down at her as he leads her to safety. But there is more to the equation than just that. These women are all perfect matches for their men. They are the perfect feminine counterparts to the men’s enviable masculinity. Any man who is worth his salt has a woman to rescue. These women’s love makes the man more of a man, right?

James Dean the ManSo what kind of a man am I?

Well, Gentle Reader, my face frequently registers a look of worry across it, I’m more awkward than athletic, and I have no interest in rescuing a woman from any burning building. In fact, since I am gay, many of my most eccentric fantasies have a sexy, masculine man rescuing me. Despite these things, I assure you I am a man.

For better or worse, the concept of ‘what it means to be a man’ is a constantly evolving phenomenon in our society. Professional athletes are now gay, comic books are beginning to include physically strong, LGBT characters, and television fathers are starting to kiss other men goodnight at the end of their difficult work days. Nowadays, one man’s love, plus another man’s love, can equal a masculine man in the same way that a man’s love, plus a woman’s love, always has.

In the world of film, Sean Connery displayed a very different James Bond than Daniel Craig, just as Christopher Reeve fulfilled a different image of Superman than Henry Cavill. In our modern adaptations, both James Bond and Superman do not instantly appear to know all the answers for solving the problems they are presented with. Sometimes their foreheads even wrinkle with worry and their faces frown from uncertainty. Imperfection in a man is becoming as admirable as perfection once was.

I suppose that if vulnerability and mistakes can be a reality for even our strongest of heroes and male role models, than I can begin to accept myself for my personal and modern day version of “Adam masculinity”. Perhaps I can take all of my above listed questions and become my own, valid answer for each. Perhaps I can simply be the kind of man I am, and one day that will be enough for me.