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.

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

5 Reasons Why Horror Movies are Some of My Favorite Things

friday night frights by patrick ballesteros

Artwork done by artist Patrick Ballesteros

I fell in love with horror movies when I was just a kid. I remember the draw of the ‘horror section’ in my local video rental store. Even when I was too young for my parents to allow me to browse the horror films I remember always being fascinated by the pictures that covered the VHS display boxes. I would skirt quickly back and forth by the horror section so that I could get glimpses of the terrifying drawings on their rectangular covers.

Even at that young age horror films excited me. There was something forbidden within and I could not wait to be allowed to rent them. But delving even deeper into my psyche, there has always been a sexuality to horror films that further delighted me. This sexuality comes across even in the preliminary stage of simply observing the pictures off the front and back of a horror film’s VHS case. These pictures stimulated my mind with the possible stories that lay just beyond my reach. I know that VHS tapes are a thing of the past, but I truly feel that our culture is worse off due to their absence and, for that matter, the disappearance of video rental stores in general.

When I reached my teenage years my friends and I used to take turns getting our parents to drive us to the video store so that we could continue to rent and consume the entire horror section which we had become obsessed with. We used to run around the store choosing from classic and new horror monsters in an attempt to terrify each other later that evening. It felt like we were choosing an adventure for ourselves that night instead of only watching actors undertake their own ghastly adventures against demons and killers. A night in my parents’ basement with popcorn, pizza, candy, friends and two promising horror films was the formula for total teenage happiness and bliss.

I love horror movies. They have helped make me the man I am today.

vhs videos2In honor of October, my favorite month, and my upcoming favorite holiday, Halloween, let us explore five reasons why horror movies are some of my favorite things and still one of my favorite means of passing time.

  1. The Fanboy Connections: Horror movies are conversation starters. “Do you like horror movies?” is one of the first questions I ask when I am on a date or when I am meeting a person for the first time. If horror movies are a common interest, then you have an instant friend and a now endless array of topics to discuss. The horror genre is full of fanboys, and for that matter fangirls. Any film genre that inspires its’ fans to dress up like their favorite monsters, create their own fan fiction, and cover their rooms with gruesome film posters and toys is a genre I want to be a part of. The camaraderie amongst lovers of gore is unparalleled. I’m a proud horror movie fanboy.
  2. The Thrill of Being Scared: Studies have been done in an attempt to explain why some human beings’ twisted minds enjoy being scared by a horror film. We seek out thrills as an escape from our mundane and boring daily lives. Horror films, like roller coasters, present us with exciting, extreme situations which could be dangerous and therefore cause our hearts to race and our foreheads to bead with sweat. But while they expose us to dangerous situations they are controlled and ultimately completely safe. The killer isn’t actually in the room with you. This flirting with danger has always appealed to me.

    amityville horror 2005 remake ryan reynolds shirtless axe beard

    Ryan Reynolds in the 2005 The Amityville Horror Remake

  3. The Shirtless Men: Horror movies are full of sex, nudity and eroticism. They are many young boys’, and young girls’, first forays into soft-core porn. As a young man, who later turned out to be gay, I was always drawn to images of the beautiful male body. Horror films have many beautiful images of shirtless hunks to choose from. These films became some of my first visual studies of other men’s physiques and how they acted in sexual situations. I learned a lot about sex from the horror genre and a lot about muscles.
  4. The Lessons: Critics of the horror genre like to dismiss horror films as trashy pieces saturated with unnecessary and endless amounts of gore, poor plots and violence for no reason. Granted, as in any genre, there are the occasional bad seeds with horrid plots and useless characters. But I have always said that any truly good and worthwhile horror movie has an important message: a lesson. The capable characters in a well-constructed horror film must observe the signs, follow the clues, react intelligently and they will learn the lesson and survive. Horror films can teach us a lot about the world and the murky depths of the human soul. I’ve certainly learned a lot from them about navigating this treacherous thing called life.
  5. The Monsters: Who doesn’t love a good monster? I, as much as anyone else, love them for their ability to scare me and to make me jerk upright in my seat. But I also love monsters for their unique ability to intrigue me and to elicit sympathy from me. Many horror monsters are tragic figures, victims of unfair circumstances or wrongs done to them by others or by nature. My favorite monsters make me feel something extra, on top of my fear. Glimpsing the humanity behind the mask can be a pretty amazing and worthwhile experience. In the end, many horror villains are more relatable then most people would care to admit. Besides, we all have a little monster inside of us, buried way down deep in the dark…childs play chucky

Cautious Connecting

online-romanceOne of my true passions in life is connecting with people. It’s been something that has filled me with excitement and intrigue since as far back as I can remember. People are fascinating. Everyone has their own story, their own successes, tragedies, obstacles and loves. How can people not fascinate you? When I revived my blog this past January the connections I began to make, through my readers and other blogs, thrilled me more than words can express. Through blogging, the entire world feels like it is at your fingertips. I became intoxicated with it for my first month back.

Then something a little creepy happened. I met a blogger through comments he began leaving on my blog in response to my posts. He was gay, charming, well spoken and seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say. At the time, he also had a blog. I began reading his as well and we would comment back and forth on each other’s posts. Eventually we began emailing through our private emails. Here he was even more encouraging and pleasant. He was so congratulatory of my writing. He really made me feel validated in my decision to become a blogger. I really thought he was great.

The conversation did get a little flirty. Though he lived a far drive away, he began expressing interest in meeting up sometime.

Then, he asked for a picture of me. I replied with one in an email and I asked for one of his in return. He shared a total of three pictures of himself with me. It became very obvious very quickly that these were three pictures of three different people. This was so blaringly obvious that it was somewhat comical. This confused me. He had always seemed so open and honest with me about his life and feelings up until that point. Why would he lie about what he looked like? I politely inquired about these pictures in a follow-up email, which made me nervous because I did not want to insult him. Well, needless to say it did not go well.

strangerHe became reproachful to my questions. He was insulted by any insinuation that he would send false pictures. Suddenly, everything he said began to seem shady and like it made no sense. He even tried acting naïve by asking me, “Do people really do that? Share fake pictures of themselves?” Um…this is the Internet, of course they do. He suddenly tried to come across as ignorant of the web, even claiming that he is awful at taking selfies so he has very few, and could get me no others. This man who, only the day before, had seemed so learned about blogging and online communication had suddenly become a 95-year-old man confused by technology.

He disappeared shortly after the picture debacle, coincidentally becoming very busy at that point and unable to email any more. Interestingly enough, he has since tried to reconnect twice, each time seeming to have forgotten about this picture situation. He claims to be oddly forgetful about why we stopped talking, which in my opinion, either implies some legitimate memory issue or some noteworthy craziness. In the end, I view him to be a liar. I feel a gut instinct to distance myself from him.

This experience took somewhat of an emotional toll on me. I felt stupid for having opened up to a stranger so quickly. Did I invite, what could have developed into an unsafe situation by being too open too quickly with my personal information? Worse so, the blogging world felt somewhat dirty to me after this. My positive experience with my blog became slightly tainted and I felt a little violated. Not to mention, I began to feel slightly unsafe in this online community. Was I too naïve to meet people in this way online? Should I be less trusting and more guarded from here on out? Can we ever truly know who another person is online? I was honestly surprised by how much this had affected me.

This one particular experience, combined with some personal stuff in my everyday life, lead to me stepping away from blogging for a brief hiatus from March through June of 2014. Looking back, the break was probably a good thing: a good way to clear my head about blogging and my approach to it.

Moving forward, Gentle Reader, today I feel stronger and better equipped, not only as a writer, but also as an online conversationalist. I find my blog readers to be an extended and very caring family. Though this entire experience did remind me of a children’s book I remember my parents reading to me as a child. It was called Never Talk to Strangers and was written by Irma Joyce. In blogging I wouldn’t say never talk to strangers, but I would say cautiously talk to strangers.

never1Still this is a good lesson for us all. Be careful with your personal information online. Be trusting enough to make meaningful connections, but not so aimlessly trusting that you place yourself in any compromising or dangerous situations. The Internet, like anything else where mankind is involved, can be a tool for kindness and creation or for harm and destruction.

Please know that I am still passionate about worthwhile connections online. It’s these constructive friendships that make us stronger, so that we are not harmed by the would-be devils. I still encourage the connections. Just be cautious, as well as open, in them.

In Search of a Gay Film Review – Bridegroom (2013)

bridegroom-movie-posterBridegroom is a documentary film about the relationship between two gay men: Shane Bitney Crone and Thomas Bridegroom. The film introduces us to both men, explains their childhoods, and examines the romance that blossoms followed by a tragedy that later befalls that romance. It is a film about love, forgiveness, acceptance of self and acceptance of others. The need for marriage equality in America and the LGBT community’s ongoing fight against injustice is excellently highlighted in the film.

A Project Forged with Love:

This documentary’s very existence is a testament to the power of love. In May 2012, Shane Bitney Crone created and posted a video titled “It Could Happen to You” on his YouTube page. This powerful, less than 11-minute video introduced the world to Shane and his boyfriend Tom. Through text, music, still photographs and home video clips, Shane displayed the life and love the couple had experienced together.

The video informed that on May 7th, 2011 Tom suffered a tragic, accidental fall from a building’s rooftop and was killed. Shane’s video depicted not only the heartbreak he suffered from this tragic loss, but also, in the aftermath, Tom’s parents’ continued rejection of the gay couple’s love and their eventual refusal to include Shane in Tom’s funeral. All of this helped to highlight an issue that has unfortunately been plaguing gay couples for decades: the lack of legal rights for LGBT couples for which marriage is not an option. Shane’s video called for all its viewers to fight for marriage equality, tolerance and love.

This YouTube video, with its heartbreaking and truthful message, went viral, and as the result of a hugely successful kickstarter.com campaign, the love story of Tom and Shane was amazingly made into a feature length film directed by Linda Bloodworth-Thomas. In an act of strange, universal alignment, the resulting 80-minute documentary was adorned with Tom’s last name as its title, which ironically brought further focus to the idea of gay marriage and equality: Bridegroom.

ShaneShane: Fear & Longing:

In any film, the audience is introduced to characters that they will hopefully relate to and recognize themselves in. In Bridegroom, the ‘character’ of Shane is the more wounded and frightened of the eventual couple. Shane suspected he was gay at a young age and, because of this realization, was prone to panic attacks throughout his childhood. Though Shane’s family was always very loving towards him, he grew up in a small, Montana town that encouraged a manly, ‘cowboy way’ ideal and was not very welcoming of homosexuals. Shane existed as somewhat of an outsider. In the documentary, Shane explains that the one thing he really wanted was to have someone he could talk and relate to and who would accept him for being himself.

TomBridegroomTom: Charming & Afraid:

Tom grew up in Knox, Indiana and, unlike Shane, is presented to the viewer entirely in flashbacks and second hand accounts from friends and loved ones (Tom’s parents wanted nothing to do with this documentary). The character of Tom is confidant, always singing and dancing and always the center of attention. In high school and college he was described as a leader in sports and at the top of his class academically. His friends describe him as popular and charismatic. One friend even describes Tom as ‘magic’. Perhaps most importantly Tom was described as all-inclusive and non-judgmental of others. He respected and admired others for their differences and loved everyone for who they were.

Tom came from a simple blue-collar family. His father was described, as very stern, the ideal of manhood and masculinity. Tom did not connect well with his father, a situation that worsened as he grew up and become more of who he really was. Tom’s mother was described as having loved her son deeply, even taking a job as a janitor so that Tom could attend Colbert, a prestigious military academy, for high school. But as Tom began coming out to close friends of his in high school, he seemed worried that his conservative, religious family would reject him. One friend stated, “Tom was worried that his dad would literally kill him if he knew he was gay”.

Tap, Tap, Tap:

Bridegroom raises the issue of gay men not ‘living out loud’. This stifling of our love and passion for one another seems to be forcing us to subdue who we really are and to place the comfort level of others before our own.

For example, while Tom had no problem with showing affection in public, Shane shied away from it. But they loved each other too much to not show each other any signal of their love in public. Shane explained,

“I never really wanted to say I love you in front of friends or anyone, so we developed this little code. Whether at like dinner or a party one of us would find a way to tap the table three times just to say I love you. So, that became a very special sound for both of us.”

Shane later states that, as he stood over Tom’s dead body, he did one final tap, tap, tap as he said goodbye. In the aftermath of Tom’s death, Shane is filled with regret for having not been more affectionate with Tom in public while he was still alive. Thus raising the question, “at the end of your life is it more important to remember that you made straight people comfortable by your not acting openly gay or that you lived a life that made yourself comfortable in how you acted?”

Spotlight on Injustice: Marriage Inequality in the United States:

After Tom’s death, Shane was not initially allowed to see his body. The hospital staff told Shane that non-family members could not see the body until Tom’s parents arrived. Shane and Tom had been together for 6 years. They lived together, owned a dog together, ran a business together and yet, without being married, had no legal connection to one another. Though the nurses did eventually show Shane kindness and let him see Tom one final time, Shane’s lack of legal rights was brilliantly highlighted.

This legal lacking continued when Tom’s mother visited California to bring Tom’s body home to Indiana. Shane had no say in any decisions related to Tom’s belongings and burial, and after it was all said and done, Shane was not invited to Tom’s funeral and even threatened by one of Tom’s relatives to stay way from the service.

It is so tragic, that even in the face of such a tragedy, people will draw imaginary lines in the sand to separate themselves from those who are different from them. It’s such a shame that even with death and mortality staring us right in the face, segregation and hate can still be so prevalent.

Bridegroom-LoveImaginary Lines in the Sand:

Still days after watching Bridegroom I found my mind continuously returning to two thoughts. First, I kept thinking how sad I was for Shane’s loss of love. My heart broke for him because he no longer had Tom and I found myself longing for the kind of love Tom and Shane had shared. Second, I kept thinking of how disgusting I found Tom’s parents to be. The way they had treated both Tom and Shane turned my stomach with distaste. Did they even deserve to have such a beautiful son in the first place? Do they feel ashamed now that it is all over? And I found myself wondering if either of them had watched the documentary since its release. I wonder if either of them realizes that universally they have become symbols of bigotry and intolerance. I am so thankful that they are not my parents.

Perhaps Shane summed up Tom’s parents’ injustice best when he said,

“I guess I’ll never understand why the ones who are supposed to love him the most, fight the hardest to keep him from being who he was. Maybe the greatest thing about Tom is how much he loved them anyway.”

And at this point Bridegroom encourages forgiveness. The film hints at the importance of forgiving those who do us wrong or who do not accept us for who we are. Tom is said time and time again to have been a forgiving person. And so I choose not to be discouraged by Tom’s parents’ hate, but encouraged by Shane’s love. As I stated earlier, the very fact that this film exists shows that love prevails and concurs over hate. No one can take our love away from us. No one.

———————————-
If you are interested in learning more about this real life love story, here are some related links…
Bridegroom‘s IMDB Page
An article written only a week after Tom’s death discussing him and the accident
Interview with Shane at Collider.com
Worst Parents in the World? – article discussing Tom’s parents

In Search of a Gay Television Show Review – Looking (Season One)

HBO's Looking Movie Poster

So I just finished watching episode 5 of HBO’s new comedy-drama Looking. I’ve been meaning to write some form of a review about this TV show for a while now, but it was only after this fifth episode that I finally felt inspired to discuss it. Looking follows the love lives and careers of three gay friends, Patrick, Dom & Agustín, living in San Francisco, California. The show was created by Michael Lannan and has Andrew Haigh, the writer and director of Weekend (a movie I recently reviewed), attached to it as a main writer. The show fuses comedy with drama while trying to display a realistic depiction of what it is like to be a modern-day gay man.

When I first got wind that HBO was making a series about gay men I was immediately ecstatic. I am a huge lover of Sex and the City, which I watched on dvd after it had been off the air for a few years. I always felt that, since SATC was so wonderful, HBO had the ability to create an amazing and unparalleled gay themed series just like it. Finally my prayers had been answered and here was Looking. Even more exciting, the characters were in my age range so it should be easy to relate to them. A gay show for my generation! So exciting!

looking_main_characters

Photo compliments of Huffington Post

First Impressions: Does Length Matter?

I eagerly awaited the series premiere and on that wondrous night my expectations were pretty high. I was ‘schoolboy excited’ and way too smiley as I sat down to watch the pilot. Then as the credits rolled at the end of this first episode, I found myself waiting for the other shoe to drop. Was that it? I felt underwhelmed.

My initial thoughts were confounded. The episode seemed so short. It was like a tiny amuse-bouche before the actual meal. When were they serving the main course? The episode had zoomed by feeling like way less than 30 minutes. I felt cheated. I barely got a taste for the characters or a mood of the show.

Earlier I mentioned Sex and the City for a reason. Was I unfairly expecting Looking to be the gay version of SATC? Each SATC episode always felt very lengthy to me. They were all neatly organized by Carrie Bradshaw’s comforting narrative. Looking simply jumped from one character to another, with no background music to set a mood in any scene (unless if it was naturally playing at a location), and offered no synopsis or moral conclusion to sum up the episode. We are left with hardly any words at the end and then credits and music. It’s almost like, “WTF? It’s over already? I have no idea how I feel about what I just saw.” But if we really pay attention, Gentle Reader, perhaps not knowing how we feel at the end, and being forced to contemplate, is our real reward.

Regardless of my initially underwhelmed feelings, I always expected that I would watch every episode of this first season. But, by the end of episode three I found myself wondering, “Do I even like these characters?” Dom, played by Murray Bartlett, seemed boring and unrelatable to me. Agustín, portrayed by Frankie J. Alvarez, was rude, antagonizing, and constantly acted irritated with everyone else.  Even Patrick, our main character brought to life by the handsome Jonathan Groff, seemed too childish, too awkward, and a little too clueless. I began asking myself, “Do I care about where these characters’ story plots are heading?”

Patrick_Richie_date

Photo Compliments of NewNowNext.com

Episode 5: My Interest is Piqued

Then suddenly, along comes episode 5 titled “Looking for the Future”, and now I have officially climbed aboard the ‘Looking train’. Way back in episode 1 we are introduced to a love interest for Patrick named Richie. He disappeared after episode 2 and seemed to be out of the picture. But now he has thankfully resurfaced. Episode 5 focused solely on Patrick and Richie. This entire episode followed them around San Francisco as they spent a full day together simply talking and getting to know one another. The dialogue is comforting and relatable. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time on their date. It is important to note that this episode was written by Andrew Haigh (writer and director of the above mentioned Weekend) which explains why the dialogue is so realistic and natural.

I love the character of Richie, played by Raúl Castillo. First off, I find his demeanor, way of talking, and physicality very attractive. He is kind, thoughtful, compassionate and funny. He knows who he is and has a confidence about him. I’m so glad he is back in Patrick’s life. In my opinion, he makes Patrick more interesting. He helps to calm Patrick down a little. Richie is the kind of personality I need in my life. I wish I was dating him.  I hope their relationship grows and lasts.

Also, Episode 5 completely rectified the character of Patrick for me. In this episode I finally started to relate to him and I realized that, in many ways, I am Patrick. I too am afraid of silences when I’m on a date. I too push way too much with never ending questions when I’m nervously trying to get to know someone. I too suffer from some level of bottom shame, and I too get tested way too often for STDs even though I hardly ever have hookups.  I too sometimes use awkward joking and excessive rambling to cover up feeling nervous and insecure. And I also worry too much and am too scared of the future. So just like that, I’ve decided that I like Patrick and I’m interested in seeing where his journey heads.

group_bus

Photo compliments of broadwayworld.com

‘Looking’ Forward with Hope

I’m glad to be heading into season one’s final 3 episodes with an increased confidence in the series. In fact, I’m sad that there are only 3 episodes left. There is no word yet on whether HBO is renewing Looking for a second season. My schoolboy excitement is beginning to ignite again, and I really hope that HBO takes a chance on a this show for a second run.

If you have not yet watched Looking, I recommend it. Despite the show’s slow start, I think it holds a lot of truth within it’s stories and, if given enough time, I think we will all find more of ourselves within each of its characters. I expect Dom and Agustín to become more likable as I learn to understand them better. Looking’s creators say that the show should be relatable for non gay viewers as well because, first and foremost, it is a show about love.  And we all understand and enjoy watching shows about love and relationships, right? I can agree with that. But, I must say, I’m still really glad to finally have a show where I know the characters are gay and dealing with the same topics I am as I navigate this gay ocean that is my life.

I think the show has the promise to become something really special. There is a subtlety to it that makes it very honest. There are gentle moments of silence and sincere glances shared between characters, and these things are rare to find on the loud and attention deficit world of television today. I’m still learning who I am, and as I watch the show I get glimpses of who I want to be as a proud gay man. It is never a bad thing when a television show can help us realize more of who we want to be. Lord knows we can all use as much help as we can get. And maybe these new TV friends of ours can offer us support in our ‘looking’ for ourselves.

patrick_richie_kiss

Photo compliments of Huffington Post

Side Note: Episode 5 draws references to the movie The Goonies and the television show Friends. I appreciated these reflections as they were each a huge part of my growing up.
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For anyone interested in learning more about Looking, here are some relevant links…
Looking‘s IMDB Page
HBO & Looking‘s YouTube Page
Catching Up With Raúl Castillo, Looking‘s Richie
Jonathan Groff, Looking Star, Responds to Claims that the show is Boring

The Liebster Award

liebsterThe Liebster Award! How truly exalting! I had one of my most comment driven and exciting days as a blogger this past Sunday. It is very exciting to see that people are not only taking the time to read the posts I am creating, but also connecting with some of the words and ideas I’m putting out there. I truly thank you all for stopping by and giving this blog a chance.

As if all the traffic and conversations on Sunday weren’t enough, to top it all off I was nominated for a Liebster Award by not one but by two of my fellow WordPress bloggers! I am truly humbled and flattered by this recognition and honor. I love the Liebster Award for what it stands to accomplish. To recognize new bloggers who are just getting started and do not have a ton of readership, and furthermore to expand all of our scopes by presenting us with other blogs that we may have otherwise never heard of. It is a wonderful community building idea and I am excited to be a part of it.

As a recipient of this award there are a few rules I must follow…

The Rules of the Liebster Award

1.  Thank the person who nominated you and link to their blog.
2.  Answer the 10 questions given to you by the nominee before you.
3.  Nominate 10 of your favorite blogs with fewer than 200 followers and notify them of their nomination.
4.  Come up with 10 questions for your nominees to answer.

That being said, if it is all right with all of you, I am going to fudge the rules a little bit for me, not because I am ungrateful or pompous, but because as a very new blogger I don’t know 20 new blogs to nominate. Plus, having searched around the blogosphere a great deal in the last few days, I have seen many of my favorite blogs receiving their own Liebster Award recently. To prevent this from becoming a never ending loop of us all loving each other through recognition I’m going to simply combine my two greatly appreciated nominations into one blog post.

First things first, I was kindly nominated by a truly wonderful blogger and all around amicable chap over at “Confessions of a Irish Gay Guy”. If you have not yet had the pleasure of checking out his blog, please do yourself a favor and visit it. He brilliantly discusses topics ranging from the ups and downs of dating, to what it is like to be gay in Ireland and to what goes on in his mind and the minds of us other gays. My second nomination came from one of the first friends I met upon joining this blogosphere. I wish I could remember how I came across his blog, but I guess what is important is that I did. I mentioned him in a previous post and I hope that by now many of you have discovered his blog. I’m thankful, as always, for his continued support and I encourage you to check out “The Open Closet”. Once again, I thank both of these fine gentlemen for helping make my blogging experience even more fun.

Now onto the required questions. Copying a strategy I noticed of several other more experienced bloggers and fellow Liebster Award winners, I used paper, pencil and a baseball cap to randomly select 5 questions from each of my nominators. The first five of these questions are from “Confessions of a Irish Gay Guy” and 6 through 10 are from “The Open Closet”.

The Questions & My Answers:

1. What age were you when you had your first kiss?

I’m pretty sure the first girlfriend I ever had was my first kiss. I was 10 years old and in fifth grade. God that was a long time ago! Interestingly, she is now bisexual and recently lived with and was engaged to a woman. So how about that? I’m sure there is some hidden meaning about the effect we had on each other somewhere in there.

2. What disease would you cure if you had the power to cure one disease?

This question is very difficult to answer. There are so many awful diseases in the world that I would love the ability to eradicate. But I am a Testicular Cancer survivor. I was diagnosed when I was 21. I had two surgeries and chemotherapy before being place in remission. In December of 2013 I celebrated 10 years of being in remission, which made me extremely proud and hopeful for better things to come. So, Gentle Reader, I guess, due to my personal journey, I would have to pick cancer, of all types, as the disease I wish I had the power to cure.

3. Where in the world, other than where you are now would you most like to live?

Interesting question because I no longer want to be living where I am currently living. So in most ways the phrase “Anywhere But Here” applies. But if I had to pick one place right now it would be San Francisco. With a very close second runner up for London, England. I studied abroad in London in college and I miss it.

4. Which celebrity would most likely be your best friend, if you were famous?

Jennifer Lawrence. I like her whole demeanor and attitude. Plus, she looks fun and not yet jaded from Hollywood.

5. What food do you detest beyond belief and why?

Two foods of similar textures answer this question. I dislike both equally. Onions and Coconut. I hate them in and on my food and I dislike any foods that have a strong hint of either’s taste. And I hate coconut rum. Hate it.

6. What is your favorite film, and /or movie genre?

Horror Movies!!! I love them! Have loved them since I was young. A good horror movie, with an actual message and purpose, can be full of rich symbolism, creepy visuals and attractive actors. What more can you ask for?

7. Using 10 words or less, how would you describe yourself?

Hopeful, Artistic, Smiling, Thoughtful, Scared, Optimistic, Worried, Gentle, Sympathetic, Humorous

8. If you could dine with a famous person, either dead or alive, who would it be, and why?

Roger Ebert. I was so sad when he passed away last year. I used to read his movie reviews religiously every Friday afternoon. 8 times out of 10 I completely agreed with his thoughts on a movie. He loved and respected films so much and was interesting as hell. I would have so many questions to pick his brain with it would have to be a long dinner.

9. If your life was made into a movie, who would play you in the film, and why?

This is a tough one. Not that I look like him, trust me, but I’m gonna go with Tom Welling. I love Superman. And we both have blue eyes. It couldn’t hurt to add a chiseled jaw to my life story. 🙂 Or maybe I would rather have Justin Timberlake, now that he does acting…

10. Why did you start writing your blog?

I’ve touched upon this a few times throughout my blog. I created this blog in January 2011 because I was closeted, gay and terrified about coming out to my parents and everyone else. But, life got in the way and I fell away from blogging. I think hitting my 10 year cancer remission anniversary really made me want to make a change. I need to find a creative job and a creative outlet. And there are things about myself that I need to express still. So I started this thing back up, right after the New Year. And here we are.

Now, before my nominations I have to apologize if I nominated anyone who already recently received a nomination from someone else. I tried to avoid this. For the last few weeks I’ve been scouring the blogosphere for blogs I wanted to connect with through my WordPress reader, through links from one blog to the next and through suggestions from bloggers I admire. My brain is buzzing so much from this searching, from reading articles, from learning about blogging through the Zero to Hero challenge and from writing and maintaining my new blog, that it is amazing I know what day it is. Anyway, the blogs I’ve chosen below are written by authors I feel have something important and unique to say. Most of these blogs are just starting out. I think your day would benefit from giving them a chance. And I thank these bloggers for producing such quality content.

blogsThe 10 blogs I would like to nominate:

1. Closet Black Male

2. mygaybody

3. Gay. Geek. Dad.

4. aaron’s random musings

5. WHEN I SHOWER

6. Christian Mihai

7. The Geezer Gabs

8. Persuasion of Individuality (no longer active)

9. Homosexuality in Islam

10. BOYS LIKE ME

Finally, here are the 10 questions I created for my nominees to answer. (I hope they like them) 🙂

1. If you could have any superpower what would it be?

2. If you could kiss/make out with one celebrity, who would it be?

3. What song should be your life’s anthem?

4. What is the best gift you ever received?

5. What is your dream job?

6. What do you miss the most about being a kid?

7. What is the last movie or TV show that made you cry?

8. What was an experience that made you a stronger person?

9. What is a pet peeve that you can not stand?

10. What is your favorite day of the year and why?

Sorry it took me so long to get this post completed. This was a long and challenging task, but fun!