Celebrate the Daddies

Image26You have to love social media. An inked twink put up on facebook last weekend ‘Happy Father’s Day to all the Leather Daddies’. It was Father’s Day in the USA, Canada and the UK, (other countries celebrate at different times of year) and aside from the commercial opportunity, it’s time to celebrate the value and wisdom of our gay mentors.

The fathers who, held us together when our relationship went pear-shaped, when our own birth fathers didn’t know we were gay, or when they had booted us out, or knew we were gay but the silence going back home was deafening. No-one mentioned it. Those daddies that started as a street, club or sauna pick up, then became our home tutors in the art of relationship kick-back. I remember very clearly those middle aged men who assisted me in wiping tears when the current boyfriend walked out, never rang back or cheated. Who else could I run to in emotional crisis as a twink barely out of teenage years?

Action-man-001Memories from my gay youth still affect me today. As well as the 2 week relationships that went sour, the germs of codependency, abuse of drink, drugs and credit cards, I also recall the kindness of Brian Eyles who showed me, in a very grand, restaurant, without embarrassing me, how to fillet a Dover Sole in three strokes.

This older gent also paid the bill, never suggested sex, and taught me to make the most tongue quenching champagne cocktails, that I can no longer quench, but praise must be given. The Eighties, sadly, brought about his demise with AIDS, like many that held me to their hearts. I also thank Pav ( known as Peggy, as he had a thing for spring clothes pegs on his nips ) who stood by me at the latter stages of alcoholism, when I ran out of money and despair, feeding and watering me until I got well. Ted Gatty, in his fifties, who in Kent , England WAS the gay scene in the 70’s, holding underground parties in his house basement, for queers to meet, dance and shack up a relationship.

It was here that I met Pat, camp as a coot who travelled hundreds of miles to get to Mum Gatty’s parties and always arrived in the same way. People would say “Is Pat here yet?”. Soon after Pat would arrive with the world’s worst hair-peice crown topper weave EVER. It looked like a yachting cap on his head. He then did a full cartwheel into the hall, to prove it never came off. Pat was 75 and had regular sex with his bisexual postmen. This was my entry into gaylife. No wonder I stayed, such fun, such a family, such a homecoming.

AMmodFuzzHead1Ivor Powell, mid-forties, who guided me as a friend through not only the difficult years, but never laid a hand on me ( with me not knowing he had a fetish for red hair ), who introduced me to all manner of characters, who spellbound me with wartime tales of sucking off US GI’s in tunnels, of antiquarian booksellers who taught me aspects of the classics, and titled baronets who were still ordering rent boys at the age of 75. I am blessed to have embraced these pillars of wisdom into my heart and life experience, these daddies who suffered suppression, even prison for being gay, and not being able to be out to their families.

I was lucky, my Dad accepted me being ‘a homo’, along with my Mum, who said “it’s because David is in Art” as I worked in advertising as a commercial artist. They came to gay parties and gay bars, met my friends and Dad didn’t blink an eyelid. Quite unlike the horror stories we know of, and read about, tales of rejection, distaste and abandonment.

The gift he gave me was one of acceptance, laughter and being ‘matter of fact’. Not that much difference really from the way I work at things today, so he is always with me. He died in 1992, in a bar in Spain, while I was in the UK. Rarely a drinker, he only drank shandy ( lager & lemonade ) and cherry brandy for special occasions. He asked for a cherry brandy in the bar, the barman said “we don’t have it’, Dad promptly fell off his bar stool, had a heart attack and died immediately. What a way to go.

4186434316_bb828b76f8On reflection, even in death he was funny, my Dad. Take one moment to remember the relationship you hold with your own Father, dead, unknown or alive. Do you echo his traits, weaknesses or strong points? Until you get clearer on this, interpersonal relationships with men will resonate with what is uncleared on the resentment front.

Perhaps sadness that he was emotionally unavailable to deal with sexuality, bondship and presence. Think of those gay daddies also, that held you in their arms in silence, teaching you the things they never knew: freedom, respect, & shameless esteem. Think of the Daddies that AIDS swept away in a tsunami almost overnight, and the gay seniors, the grandfathers who lost their lovers, friends and acquaintances, who now stumble in the wilderness of loss without people to talk to in the winter of their years, their friends gone by. Do befriend them. You will learn so much.

The new generation of bears and daddies have much history to teach, about HIV prevention, virus living and healthier communications, as inter-generational relationships, of all kinds are more visible now. Maybe now is the time to ask : “Who is mentoring ME now?”. What is my birth father relationship like, does it need attention? Have all resentments been resolved? Have you told him you love him, hugged him or sent a letter into the ether if he has passed over or untraceable? One day you will look in the mirror and see his face, for better or worse.

Take this as a starting point of discovery.


This blog of mine first appeared on GuySpy.com on June 18 2013 – http://www.guyspy.com/celebrate-the-daddies/

Cashpoint Concussion

386401_10151539251554966_2034719386_nWilliam Blake, the English 18th Century painter, poet and visionary, famously wrote ” The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom”. Clearly he never possessed a credit card.

Relationships aren’t just about people, your relationship with money is paramount, as money is often a major component of relationship breakdown, including financial disparity between partners, mentioned in previous blogs. There is a lot of new age waffle in many self help books, without practical support, but the concept of abundance and it’s reverse, scarcity consciousness, is a valuable study to partake.  Despite stereotype, every gay man doesn’t go to the gym, have natural decorating skills or have disposable income.

On trips to India, for example, I have met high-end gays in Mumbai, owning apartment blocks, to young gay men living at home in third world conditions, who can’t afford a coke let alone do a line of it. The jury is out on who is happier, money can provide security of sorts, but like that line, it’s temporary and can fuel the need for more, more and still not enough.

It’s not a straw poll, but I found those guys down the financial scale in India, knee deep in gratitude and simplicity, whereas it was great to be shown around silent streets of Mumbai at midnight in a swish car, but the gay guy driving only spoke of excess without wisdom of perspective. First world gays are not always a vision of functionality when it comes to role models or examples to follow.

121204065401-gay-piggy-bank-monsterCashpoint concussion is when you go to the cashpoint and no money comes out, because unconsciousness has become the master, and resentment it’s sidekick.

Credit card concussion occurs in a more public shaming situation, a shop, petrol station or restaurant when your CC is refused because you are over limit. Both these avenues of financial support, support consciousness in operation, not unconsciousness in application.

Best if you learn to know at ‘any one time’ HOW MUCH YOU HOLD in your bank account or CC card, avoiding future self flagellation or guilt. Trust me, living within means doesn’t sound a barrel of laughs but then nor does court judgements or scarpering into ‘not known at this address’ escape routes. Peer pressure and competitiveness occur whatever your financial strata, but an Indian gay guy in Goa only knows what he has in his pocket and stays within limits, he has no other choice, but it pays off in terms of inner peace.

First world gays demand more in the palace of excess, not wisdom. I learnt the hard way myself, going bankrupt for 5 years with no credit. After years of reckless behaviour I cleaned up my drug use and faced the demons of 15 credit cards and 5 overdrawn bank accounts. Like my using I never did things by halves, but that was over 25 years ago, If a hopeless junkie like me can do this – so can you, with less weight above your belt. It just takes courage, awareness and practical application. I learnt my lesson of excess, bouncing into a world of wisdom based on current consciousness and coming out of the coma of delusion.

111-9The palace of wisdom only occurs if you wake up and learn from past experience. It doesn’t come from a self help book, though they are useful in forming a foundation to whether you reside in scarcity or prosperity, and I don’t mean money, the wealthiest people are often poor. Living in emotional and financial balance is essential in maintaining harmony. One is well aware in the West, particularly, that retail shopping consumption has become an epidemic, if not the only hobby for many. It’s just another quick fix drug of choice.

Take time out to look at your bank statements, your credit card bills and your debts to observe the reality of chaos living or living in harmony. Which is it? Maybe your drug use, including alcohol is a better friend than what is before you in the shape of monthly demands on paper. Consider a financial diet by ‘fasting” once a week, skimming what you usually spend if funds are dire. Maybe spend a bit more on yourself if flush.

Hoarding money as a drug is equally counter-productive when living in a mindset of ‘never enough’ and often comes from a family base of scarcity and make do. Years ago, it was published in the 80’s ( but still available ) is a little pocket tome of discovery called MONEY IS MY FRIEND and has been my trusted companion in and out of financial disarray. It’s a bit New Age but I forgive. It’s a precursor of the current ‘Laws of Prosperity’ movement running through Amazon at this time of world authority. I take the bits that gel with me and ignore the bits that don’t. Easy.

akksealovinPeople think that double income two-car gays don’t do debt. They do, and many end up like I did, losing everything, so avoid being deceived by appearance. Debtors Anonymous hold online meetings and it’s an avenue to explore, if these things trouble you. As I said in my last blog, support is out there – best if you use it. 

If shame is a governing factor, try sharing with someone you trust first, don’t maintain the secret, it leads to all manner of destruction. Depression, chems, bar bills and hiding bills in drawers are common warning signs, so learn to respect money not trash it, for in the end you trash yourself. Making a friend of money creates conscious thoughtful spending, saving more and a decent balance sheet. So start that weekly meeting with yourself and THINK before you spend unconsciously. Inner prosperity is the result.


This blog of mine first appeared on GuySpy.com June 11 2013 http://www.guyspy.com/spend-spend-spend/

Selective memory

man-computer-628Using the web, on computer or smartphone, to find love, approval, instant sex or another partner is unwise before you begin to consider repairing past relationships. That old adage ‘insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result’ certainly rings true. Time for a check-in surely on past and present behaviour, after all, when you drive a car without lessons you often end up in Accident & Emergency. What makes you think that driving a relationship without help is wise? Look at your track record.

When you scour over the past like an anthropologist scraping away with a trowel, to find the jewel to make all the emotional pain worthwhile, memory can be selective. The most heard quote in relationship repair coaching is likely to be ‘the sex was really good’, followed by ‘after a row’.

Some partners need a row, to feel the fear of loss, before the sexual act brings bonding, capture, safety and security back to the fore. If a relationship lasts, and many do, it does not mean its functional, for without support, education and confrontation, all you get is what you think a relationship is : a laboratory of battle, let down and discontent. Resentments you thought you had drowned eventually learn to swim. Unconditional love defies battle but in order to achieve this level of bliss, battle needs to leave the heart.

9781439117699_p0_v2_s260x420When you are knee deep in self-help books, in recovery or therapy it takes a while to dig deep, to find the innocent perfection that occurred before life became scarred, disappointing or laden with guilt. 
One thing is sure – doing it alone is difficult – many read books or attend group but few do the exercises as a path to emotional progress. Sharing pain, fears and selective memories in the beginning of any therapeutic process is like having a romance with the mind . .  it’s light, new and inspiring. After a while the concentration wavers, remembrance becomes painful and fight or flight turns up with a smirk to test your nerve. In her latest book THE NEW CODEPENDENCY, the Queen of Coda Recovery, Melody Beattie writes, in the chapter called : Healing what hurts, the following :
” As codependency hit the mainstream, people not in recovery talked about ideas such as self-care and limits. We recognised that if a problem or illness – from Alzheimer’s Disease to a spinal cord injury – affects one family member, it affects the whole family too. What affects one part affects the whole. Support groups for caregivers spread like wildfire. Caregivers need care, too. Internet groups and chat rooms have been added to the list of resources. ( There wasn’t a self-help section when Codependent No More first came out ). Groups, therapists, treatment centres, support and information saturated society – from OPRAH to the news-stands. Less self-help? There’s never been more. ”
But having this level of support available does not mean it will be picked up. Most pick up information in a crisis, while self-care really involves prevention to avoid crisis. The first point of reference in self-care is to ask for help and stay the distance, so journey on and avoid selective memory. It’s easy to use selective memory to convince that it ” wasn’t that bad ” looking back over past and present relationships in appraisal. 
Many air brush over truth, romanticise the pain and people please, rather than re-experience or even own the battle within. This is what I call ” can’t leave/can’t stay ” bungie jump relationships, because when partners hit the wall of denial and fear, they bounce back to a space of familiarity, even one saturated in low esteem and fear of abandonment. The easiest way to begin healing the hurts, in my experience, is to find another person in therapy, recovery or in groupwork. It’s harder to be in denial when you hear someone else telling your story.Then it’s more likely that the light bulbs will come on, when you realise and accept, the patterns of pain you can’t let go of.
sex-addictionHealthy relationships avoid babysitting, parenting and distorted truths.There is no point clearing the wreckage of the past, only to create another archaeological dig decades later. So it makes sense to tell the truth faster, to find your voice, emotional equality and create a union worthy of remembrance.
Today’s ‘New Codependencies’ and attachments in the internet age are as plentiful as the self help groups available to help and heal, so it makes sense to combat one with the other. Many LGBT groups exist online if your locality offers no support, as well as telephone Helplines, so reach out. In the early 80’s I was Art Editor of a Computer Management magazine, way before home computers were de rigueur. At the interview I said ‘but I don’t know anything about computers’, their reply was concise ‘ You don’t need to, be creative, all you need to know is that computers solve one problem and create another!’ Who would have thought that smartphone, sexting, gaming and porn would become some of those problems over the past decade, in maintaining a relationship?
Owning your own part in relationship breakdown is halfway to ending a destructive cycle like ‘blaming the partner’. That rarely works. Nor does blaming yourself, so eradicate blame, it only breeds resentment and we know where that leads. Living a healthy emotional life means letting go of  negativity and  working on emotional clean-up as you go along. Selective memory serves only a codependent mind, for truth precedes peace, clarity precedes serenity and unconditional love is the result.

Liberace & the chauffeur, lover, companion and captive.

164935_10151923609314966_142645734_nFollowing on from last weeks blog post ‘Who works who, in a relationship?’, the new Liberace film  ‘Behind The Candelabra’ on TV HBO, and selected cinema release in the UK from June 14th, is a true story of puppet and puppet master. Rave reviews, like shiny sequins, not only from Cannes Film Festival, but 4 or 5 star UK newspaper reviews, have propelled interest to Las Vegas heights with many stating it’s Douglas’s finest performance to date, while Damon exceeds all expectations in this glittery tale of control & dysfunction.

Scott Thorson had already had a relationship with a Hollywood mogul before Liberace found him at 17, then making him his personal assistant, chauffeur, lover, companion and captive. Liberace saw Scott as the son he never had, and foster-cared Thorson jumped at the chance of stability, attention and a vision of love. Scott says he is not gay, and although a physical relationship developed within the relationship, it took a while. He said on ‘The Larry King Show’ in 2002, that “I pleased him. He once told me, he said, “Scott,” he says, “you have the most important job in my organization,” he says, “and that is to keep me happy and please me.” OK? Remember, Larry, I was a child. I was in foster homes. And then all of a sudden, boom, all this wealth, all this fame, you know. So I did whatever I had to do”.

movies_behind-the-candleabraThis spectacle of codependent need, greed & manipulations on both sides, echoes a thread within some male same sex relationships, that of social and financial disparity. It can also affect heterosexual couplings but lesser so, as heterosexuals are much more ring fenced when it comes to friends and relationships. For starters, a huge amount of relationships are conceived in the workplace, not much chance of that happening if you favour men. Gay men are much more led by physical attraction, ask questions later, and have a higher propensity to batter down class, social and financial barriers, in seeking friends, lovers and sexual companionship. In fact one of joys of being gay is wallowing in different backgrounds, educations and multi-cultaral diversity with ease and ample opportunity.

The film illustrates the complexity of this ‘can’t leave, can’t stay’ relationship model, so you can imagine perhaps, how Thorson hustled and pleased Lee ( Lee Liberace, Mr Showmanship and other names he used ) without taking responsibility for the fact he stayed. In fact he had got used to the perks.

A friend once suggested that the gay scene is like a wedding cake tier. We start at the bottom, with little sense of personal style and esteem. Then we realise the value of our own currency, discovering that youth like cash, is king. Or queen in this case. Like Thorson, partying, pouting and pleasing, we love the adoration, fawning and a new sense of self, meeting and using new allies on our journey. Perhaps at some point, a well educated middle class male hook-up, probably older, takes the role of guiding father and lifts us up 2 or 3 tiers, in one swoop, to a new social circle, where drugs are offered instead of After Eight mints after dinner.

Then invitations arrive to holiday, to accept gifts, to revel in the new illuminating lifestyle. It’s easy to get used to the clubs, the drugs, the bashed out credit cards to keep up and then suddenly you’re dropped. Not only are you left with the CC bills, but since all those friends on the Class A tier are ‘his’ friends, you also discover what an illusion it all is, and drop down 2 tiers to where you started, blighted and sore. Not every relationship forms this model but many big urban city boys will nod in agreement, passed around like pass the parcel at a party, looking for the next rescuer, dealer, lover. Thorson sadly, ended up a junkie, at least you don’t have to.

liberace3The solution in avoiding this guest list lifestyle, or to make it work better for you, is to speed bump. Not a drug cocktail that gathers speed, but more like the ridge in the road allowing you to slow down. It is this quest of stopping, checking, learning and saying NO more often that creates emotional balance in the individual and a relationship.

When you can’t afford something, a restaurant meal or a cocktail bar round on your salary, say so. Many couplings with financial disparity do work because they are worked on, with frequent honesty, emotional checkin and less emotional blackmail. Relationships can get lazy when things are offered beyond your personal reach, like exotic holidays, high fashion spends and bling. Like a Dad spending loads of time at work and buying his children gifts, what the kids really want is something that costs little – time & communication – the recipe of love.

Go see the film, see what, how and where it resonates in your memory bank. Look for the similarities not the differences. When youth fades what do you trade? Are you the controller or victim? The Puppet master or puppet, and how many times have you flipped roles? Interesting.

Who controls who in a relationship?

lead18Finding your own voice is an acquired art, it takes practice and tenacity to avoid codependent patterning. Most of us feel controlled by someone or some thing, at any one time, but how you respond to these situations, especially in an emotional partnership, determines which side of the functional / dysfunctional fence you sit on. Is your voice just an echo of a parent, partner or co-worker?

Maybe it’s been lost down the mineshaft of memory, as you’ve learn’t not to rock the boat? Do you speak up and get shouted down, or still remain silent just to keep the peace? Perhaps, as a controller, you drown out others needs by demanding your own get dealt with first? In short, who has their hand up you, organising your life? It could be a companion called fear.

Those who complain they are controlled by a person, place, or thing, often fear finding a voice and action to administer change, while those who indeed control others and try to control aspects of life, fear losing ‘being in command’ and appearing weak. Both suffer from the same malady : fear of change and being out of control. When in fact the feared experience of being out of control, when acted out, actually transforms the sluggish status quo.

Both of these types, the controller and the controlled, (often called a victim), fit together like a dovetail joint, that can only be pulled apart sideways. Trying pulling the joint out any other way and it remains locked. Many relationships stay like this for years, one controlling the voice of the other. The majority refer to it as love. It’s isn’t. As the writer Chuck Spezzano put it ‘If it hurts, it isn’t love’. It’s all about control.

Vicious-GQ_29Apr13_ITV_bt_250x250As a relationship becomes lazy, these seeds of domestic abuse in gay relationships, verbalised put downs, financial inequality and scarce sexual intimacy, breeds a dialogue as unfunny as the current new ‘gay sitcom’ VICIOUS on UK TV. Two high grade knighted actors, who happen to be gay themselves, Sir Ian McKellen & Sir Derek Jacobi, play low grade stereotypical queers in a 40+ year codependant relationship.

Love and respect appears in short supply, while oneupmanship is a competitive olympic sport between them. Reviews have been mixed to say the least, with the gay community most vitriolic toward it’s outdated execution and positioning of current male gay relationships. Yes, people have noted, we know old queens that bicker like that, with framed theatrical posters everywhere and lights dimmed, but what they don’t mention is that many of these relationships, just like longtime heterosexual ones, are often held together with the glue of entrapment, emotional survival and fear of change, with low esteem the price paid for security on all fronts.

UnknownWith the benefit of viewing these kind of relationships, plus maybe our parents too, we witness what we no longer wish to follow, so some good can come out of these observations. Controlling relationships serve no one in the end, even to those who observe them, as after a while it becomes tedious to watch.

Younger 21st century gay men, with the advent of therapy and personal development, not available to older gay men growing up except to ‘change their sexuality’, can create healthier options in relationships, like finding a voice and sticking with it. If a partner appears controlling and abusive while dating, leave him, don’t wait around for ‘love’ to solve it. It doesn’t. What takes it’s place is an illusion of love called ‘codependent fear-base bonding’, those ‘can’t leave, can’t stay relationships’ where voices get raised and no one listens.

Like Lady Di said in that famous interview ” There are three of us in this marriage’. Fear can be a third party in any social or emotional interaction, including gay marriage, so avoid inviting this emotion into your liaisons by being clear from the very start, state your needs, avoid ‘people pleasing’ to keep the man, avoid remaining silent because ‘that’s what I always do’. Learn to vent your feelings appropriately and if they get trodden on, move on yourself. Healthier dating and relationships are out there, it’s just a question of tenacity of search and loving yourself enough to say NO more often to the type you usually attract, that no longer works for you. Just like ventriloquism, it’s just a question of continued practice of putting your hand up more often. Easy.

Dive away from social anxiety.

148073551ST00266_Olympics_DA major gripe I keep hearing is that online dates don’t turn up for face-to-face dates, as if the thrust of the flirty dirty chase is enough, the reality of actually meeting breaks the illusion. One aspect of ‘love & sex addiction’ is the romantic, trail of seduction, that is more important than the capture or physical orgasm, it’s a bit like chinese plate spinning – will the plate fall? The tension keeping that plate spinning is like an immediate amyl high, or a diver about to jump, but another reason for not turning up on the doorstep has nothing to do with ‘love & sex addiction’, but more to do with social phobia.

article-2305396-0143CD5C00000514-204_634x471Social phobia is the hidden topic people are too shy to talk about. The tight topped media image of the tweeting generation gay male can offer the impression that confidence is as big as our pecs, when in reality many have discovered never to grab a gym bunny by the love handles, it’s a no-go area. It’s easy to shrug off a few stone compared to a life times history of bullying, emotional editing and fear of rejection, but the stain remains. This is because many who go to the gym, first went to the gym to feel ‘good enough’, they didn’t arrive with class A social skills or a divers waist like Tom Daley, some were the fat shy gay at school, and the memory lingers.

It’s a generalisation, but if truth be told, a mixture of body dysphoria coupled with shyness is rammed into the gym bag for quite a while until results materialise. In my own case I was very short in height, smaller than Harry Potter, with bright ginger hair at school, so aside from the hidden desire to see cocks in the showers I always knew I wasn’t ‘one of the lads’, the one that fitted in. Yup, a ginger homo was an easy target in my teenage years, oh and I stammered as well, plus a nervous squint to boot, so I used humour and a pretend thick skin in order to survive. No wonder I turned into a drunk. So you can imagine what it’s like if you act out or look like the contra-image of men in gay media. Having said that, even the handsomest of men stumble when it comes to social interaction.

9c2a852f-512c-4d59-b654-2607e516beb4img100Social anxiety or social phobia is not a one size fits all condition, it stretches from butterflies in the stomach to agoraphobia, with all manner of hesitations and emotional paralysis in between. It’s amazing how many people have negative unconscious thoughts like ‘It’s not safe to be seen’ ‘I prefer to be backstage, invisible’ or ‘ I am already imperfect, don’t judge me’. With Cognitive Behaviorial Therapy, many escape from this trap but sadly, often leave this condition for years thinking ‘It’s just the way I am’.

It’s not, it’s a cover-up. Becoming a champion diver takes discipline and getting back into the water after a belly flop is the key in attaining a goal. When you naturally take to the water, granted it’s easier, but those who dive with hesitation just need to try harder and more often, and so it is with social phobic solutions. Susan Jeffers book ‘Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway’ published in 1987 still holds court as one of the best self help books for those with social anxiety, in her book she says ‘ You might already have been asking yourself, “Why should I put myself through all the discomfort that comes with taking risks? Why don’t I just go on living my life the way I’ve been living it?. You may find my answer surprising. It is : Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the underlying circumstances that come from a feeling of helplessness “. She also adds wisely “the bigger your life, the smaller the fear”.

Expanding your life, means expanding social opportunities, so in reality ‘getting out more’ is the way forward, regardless of how you feel. Experience always develops with ACTION, not theory. Perfection in a craft, as Tom will tell you, is not a given, it’s a hard task master, but ironically once you drop the idea of ‘imperfection’ the results deliver perfection because progress, not expection & projection is the ideal, and progression from helplessness is mastery in itself. So next time you set yourself up for a date, then set yourself up as ‘not good enough’, ignore the voices in your head, turn up and dive in.

You never know, the likes of Mr Daley might be on the other end.

Tell the truth faster

brokeback-mountainFollowing on from a past blog on Lazy Dating it makes sense to learn to be authentically yourself, not perform for other people’s needs. Gays have got used to ‘editing’ for years, to protect themselves and others, but telling the truth faster reaps rewards, especially in higher esteem and successful relationships. Way before Brokeback Mountain hit our screens, when Madonna divorced Sean Penn, and ‘Like A Prayer’ was upsetting The Pope, I was mid-drift in a three year Relationship Training Programme to be a Relationship Coach, all before Life Coaching, Rehab and botox became celebrity badges of honour.

So there I was in a room of over 150 participants in a smart hotel, queuing up for the microphone to state my relationship status, in front of all concerned. Hours passed, tears were shred as heterosexual after heterosexual stumbled onto the stage in various tones of voice. Some confidently booming out “I am happily married in a successful relationship,” shy sharers whispered “I’m not in a relationship at the moment,” while “it’s complicated,” or “I’ve never had one” superseded “I’m in a relationship and can’t get out of it.” Identifying sighs and nodding heads rippled the room at that last one.

med_bars-304284-Ecco-Restaurant-and-Martini-Bar-gayebo-ddfb8Over 50 people had gone up to declare and share, but not one gay man, no lesbian or bisexual had opened their soul so far, as my entry to the stage got shorter and shorter. Then I blurted out “I am an out gay man looking for an out gay man for a relationship.” I thought the floor was going to open up.

I still remember the silence and my pulsing vulnerable heart. This prompted me later to re-consider how OUT I really was, where I was out and how I approached always being the odd one out, the token, the ‘brave one.’ I always dreaded those personal development workshops, back then, when you were the ‘only gay in the seminar’ and some grey-haired pony tail wearing hippie would embrace me and say “I’m bisexual – I understand man.” At which point I would perform a verbal diatribe starting with: “No. You don’t.” This was way before the internet and *bi-curious, men who have sex with men, hard-up str8 boys and gay for pay porn sites,* so forgive my snarling, it was a difficult sexual climate when all around were dying of AIDS and you were either gay or you weren’t in the public imagination. Thankfully we have moved on beyond this stereotype.

gay-cruisingSo when it came to ‘being OUT,’ it was suggested I did some written work on relationships starting with family, friends, neighbours, and work colleagues. Did I act differently with different people, who did I edit conversation with, and what situations made me feel inadequate? How was my social life divided up into genders and sexualities? Is there balance?

Soon I discovered that I skirted round ‘relationship stuff’ within my practitioner training as having a ‘Loving Relationship’ was the goal. In rooms of heterosexuals I clammed up over late night cruising in darkrooms and parklands totally enjoying group sex, voyeuristic sex and quick sex which appeared to be the opposite to what most people were seeking.

Gratefully I was encouraged by the trainers to share how I felt more spiritually connected in a darkroom than a church, more aware of my sexuality on an open heath at midnight than being coupled at that time. I was taught over those training years that authenticity was more valuable than performance, that truth was more essential than editing, that everything changes over time and that finding your voice instead of people pleasing, heals codependency. Our lives are constantly up for review, but the most important path to follow is one of authenticity, truth and love. The relationship you have with yourself is the first relationship to seek, to understand, because you can’t give away what you haven’t got.

6a00d8341c730253ef00e54f61bff58834-640wiI suggest you find a few moments to OUT yourself to yourself, to own up where you stumble, where you fake it, where you just about make it, to write a few things down. Telling the truth faster to yourself never fails in my book. 

Who could ever forget Ennis fingering the deceased Jack Twist’s flannel shirt in that bare room, remembering Brokeback and what might have been, if courage had been a true companion. Sadly, many countries today are like 60s America, suppressed and unsafe for gay men to be authentic in front of others, but a film like Brokeback may have lifted their hearts and encouraged authenticity in themselves, to be truthful whatever they deem their sexuality to be. I hope so.

To finish, here is a list of Brokeback Mountain quotes that stirred my soul for you to savour.


Same Sex Monogamy

bedsadcplSince the subject of gay marriage is top of the list right now, it feels right to tackle the subject of monogamy, commitment and expectations. Most gay men I know support gay marriage from the position of equality rather than their own desire to be legally bound, but the dream of ‘settling down’ still resonates through every gay meeting place and dating site.

Our heterosexual friends have proved that monogamy is not for everyone, many have informed us that marriage is not what it’s made out to be in this form of committed capture, and the idea that love conquers everything, is now obsolete. Take two examples I have come across; the sex addict who thinks a relationship will stop his ‘acting out”, in the same way that a wife is often seen as ‘taming’ her newly acquired husband from his seed sowing activities, and the codependant  who ‘needs’ a relationship in order to feel complete and wanted, whilst avoiding the fear of abandonment.

In my Relationship Coach Training the phrase that stood out like a fey gay at school is that ‘ Love brings up everything unlike itself for the purpose of healing’. This means that everything you buried like abandonment, low esteem, guilt, control and fear of rejection, simmers likes a slow cooker beneath the ritual of coupling, so a committed relationship gives you the chance to see what defects of character hold court. Many who have taken the route of commitment take an ‘open relationship route’ once an emotional baseline is held which, in my practice experience, is not always the answer to sexual needs and emotional functioning.

A relationship that lasts, needs honesty from the beginning, when initial boundaries are created, so future changes can progress with equal honesty, so going straight into an ‘open relationship’ from the beginning is ill-advised as one partner often agrees in order to capture the boyfriend, people pleasing their way into emotional suppression. The idea sounds great, but without honest boundaries at any point, a car crash looms. A frequently reviewed and discussed ‘open relationship’ is one that is more likely to reap rewards and is one that has had a period of monogamy to act as foundation.

tumblr_l7d9rdwiwg1qc17moo1_400Michael Shelton author of ‘BOY CRAZY’ – Why Monogamy Is So Hard for Gay Men and What You Can Do About It, writes ‘ Though there are many variations in the ground rules for sexual activity in relationships, they are still variations of just a few core themes. A couple may opt for mutual celibacy, to remain monogamous for the duration of the relationship, choose some form of open relationship, or have occasional or even frequent covert sexual activity outside the parameters of their established relationship. None of these decisions is written in stone, and they can and often do damage, particularly in an environment that places so much importance on sexual satisfaction ‘.

The sex addict thinks that aquirring a monogamous relationship will kill the natural urge to shop around, it doesn’t, nor does it reduce the desire for approval addiction. The solution to this conundrum is loving yourself more, warts and all, so you lovingly approve of yourself without the need for others to give you a 5* review. This is how I healed my own sex addictions, compulsions, codependencies and negating habits. It may work for you too.

Self awareness, recovery and liking more of yourself is also the path to those addicted to relationships, the serial relationship seekers who don’t take breath in between one ending and finding another so quickly. We know who they are, their Facebook status’s that bounce ‘in a relationship’ every few months, give us the opportunity to raise eyebrows in their speed and dedication to not being alone. Many self-help books on gay relationships often discourage open relationships, whilst encouraging commitment to monogamy, yet in my experience of viewing client relationships over 2 decades, the best commitment you can make in a relationship is to be honest ‘at all times’.

Honesty and clear communication is the best wedding present to give yourselves. Some spiritually based readers like myself, don’t believe in the concept of ownership, romantic fantasy or capture. Interdependent relationships, with a ring on it or not, recognise that change is inevitable over time, that everything is temporary, including feelings, and that guilt shame and fear holds no purpose except to hold you to ransom, kidnapped by the fear of abandonment.

boy-crazy-why-monogamy-is-so-hard-for-gay-men-and-what-you-can-do-about-itI found BOY CRAZY to be a trusted tome on relationship education, without judgement of choices, one way or another and suggest you give it a try. Think of all the study books you have read to acquire a career, yet how few you have read to acquire peace of mind and relationship satisfaction. In London it’s available from GAY’S THE WORD bookshop http://www.qype.co.uk/place/1686329-Gays-the-Word-Bookshop-London or the usual online book sites worldwide.

Lazy Dating

true-colorsDon’t be afraid to show your true colours. The ultimate in lazy dating starts with what I call ‘profile paralysis’, the art of having nothing to say, but it just can’t be closet voyeurs that have nothing on their profile but ‘Hi’ and ‘just ask’. Sadly this epidemic of shyness, affecting all age groups, is now as ubiquitous as a kitten pic update on social media. Way before the internet, gays found dating heaven in the classifieds of magazines and gay papers, but if you were looking for speciality sex, olympic sex or even someone to settle down with, the ads all read the same rhythm : tediously boring. TIME OUT London’s listing weekly magazine was one of the first to list ‘men for men’ classified ads in the 1970’s, but had to add ‘over 21’ in the header to comply with the law relating to Age of Consent. This sparked a continuous trend until the mid nineties when LOOT a ‘find anything you want to buy or sell’ newspaper had specific sections for sexual activity, including introducing us to the word ‘bi-curious’, and at the same time gay writer Mark Simpson coined the phrase of the decade : ‘metrosexual’. Now you would think that all these tribal divisions of sexual play amongst gay men would create imaginative, stimulating prose. Far from it.

Troll-Dolls-322x181-1The straight ads for opposite sex hook-ups were by comparison witty, informative and amusing. The gay section in the same media read like a shopping list of desires ending with no fats, no fems. So much for the myth that gays can gentrify any area by moving in. Maybe this stems from man-to-man anonymous sex founded on sexual attraction first, ask questions later, while straight dating at least has the formality of asking a name before they unzip. Mind you I can understand that if you happen to be partaking in rough sex, a name or even a voice is off-putting.

I could never understand how you could screw up a presentation of yourself in 30 classified words, but some years later I led a seminar on Dating for Gay Men, and discovered that given the opportunity to write a biography of themselves in 70 words most just sat there chewing a pencil or gurning gum until inspiration interrupted the endless void. Most never made even 30 words to describe themselves. Try it.

What I did discover was that in ‘profile paralysis’ they used words or phrases that other’s used, no innovation, and on discussion it appeared that this was part of a sense of belonging and avoiding rejection by remaining minimal, so most writings consisted of what they thought people wanted rather than who they really were, and who they really were, was not good enough. The reality is that people are looking for uniqueness, good or bad. Quentin Crisp once said that defects of character were a bonus, stating that when friends said ‘ the trouble with you is . . ‘ remained the most interesting aspect of their personality. The situation we find ourselves in now is easier smartphone hook-ups where there is just about every fetish available online, including fats and fems so denigrated in previous decades, who have come into their own. Big boys, Ladyboys and experimenting straight boys who need direction and attention, all hold a place of dating opportunity.

1343991777-70273200So get busy and check out your own GuySpy profile and market yourself with gusto. Has it got tired? Has no one asked? Maybe it’s less than 30 words? Try adding a few quirks, queer hobbies or even a few defects, after all these things make up a well rounded character. Lazy words creates lazy dating & profile paralysis creates stuck energy, so ruffle through a dictionary and make readers think, instead of stare then click over, amuse them with flair and constantly review your pics, especially the old iPhone self shots in the bathroom. It’s over, they are everywhere, and that one when you looked HOT 4 years ago with a tan and now you look like a boiled hot dog in too tight pants, is not the best way to demand ‘no bullshitters or dishonest types’. Look in the mirror.

Do the pics match what you see?

Oh . . . and your real age would be a good beginning too. If dating turns into a relationship, trust is already soured, so remember – truth and individuality wins out!

Queer Happiness

abbatin2” You don’t know the meaning of true happiness until you hear 30,000 Gay Men recognise the opening bars of Dancing Queen “, so wrote a str8 journalist for the London Evening Standard, reporting on the Opening Ceremony of the GAY GAMES in Amsterdam in 1998. You can imagine the rush, the sense of belonging, the HAPPINESS in those brief riff seconds of connection. Clubland, Disco and secret nightclubs have always been our haven. The chance to be ourselves, to be authentic, to be free, to be queerly relaxing with our own kind. Dancing Queen by Abba certainly captured the essence of underground popper sexuality, way before ‘hands in the air’ circuit party chems, became the norm.

Some of us recall the re-emergence of the word ‘Queer’ in mid-AIDS politics in the early 90’s, the snatching back of a mid-twentieth century term of attack. Now post-millennium the word QUEER has a changed yet again into a term embracing all sexualities and genders, indicating alternative, creative and avant grade. I was called ‘a queer’ at school, or an ‘OMO’ so I was queer before ‘gay’ became commonplace and ironically both words mean ‘happy’. One of the things I hear time and time again from gay men is ” I don’t fit in”. They answer to that is ‘you don’t need to, in order to be happy’.
In the UK, the hot TV programme mid-nineties was ‘Queer as Folk’ a radical, tell it like it is, drama series. In Northern England, they still say ” there’s nowt as queer as folk”, as they did the previous century, because the word queer meant ‘odd, unconventional or eccentric’. At the same time as this trailblazing show, I was knee deep in a new book by Dr David Weeks and Jamie James, the first scientific study of eccentric behaviour called ECCENTRICS. The conclusion of this study was that odd ‘queer’ people were the happiest people on earth because they didn’t care what people thought. No shame, no fitting in and certainly no people-pleasing. We have a lot to learn from them. At the last chapter I switched from seeing my queer sensibility as an asset, not a cross to bear as an outcast. I was particularly taken with Ann Atkin from Devon England who not only had 7,500 gnomes in her garden, but dressed as one on a daily basis. She was as happy as Larry, supermarket shopping with red cheeks and a pointy hat. Good for her! Dr Weeks concluded that eccentrics were nonconforming, creative, idealistic, aware from early childhood that they were different, intelligent, and in possession of a mischievous sense of humour. Well as I ticked all the boxes, I went from queer to eccentric and back to queer, I saw it as the same in the end. Living queer without performance breeds happiness.
tumblr_m8q0hmFf1d1rbkz31o1_1280Armed with bravery and my new eccentric weapon of freedom I could be whoever I wanted to be. From that point to now I recognised my eccentricity as vital, my different-ness, and my somewhat rebellious lack of desire to fit in as an asset. Masculine fashions change anyway. The streets of East London particularly, are paved with the ‘new queers’, inked skinny bitches who refuse the mantle of porn masculinity preferring instead the odd, the punk and the scruff. Funny how these guys will be cloned into the norm sooner or later before the next batch of queer look appears. Happiness, and the experience of it, is relative, and as diverse as our LGBTQ community. It is no companion to shame or apology, for accepting who are, results in a happier disposition. Coming out as queer, eccentric, gay, bi or whatever word you use, also means being as brave as Ann Atkin in her pointy hat, in cultures, communities,and churches. It’s a brave but essential road to walk, but remember those liberating queers that walked before you, respectful head held high, learn from that. Gay marriage is not for all, or even being in a relationship for that matter, but real happiness, queer or not  is being content with what you HAVE got, rather than what you haven’t. Truth, authenticity and loving yourself  exactly as you are, is a great boyfriend to be happy with. Do you walk this road?
Checking out queer films I came across this blog of listed queer films, if queer history interests you. At the time of Abba, men cruised the streets, not on-line, and when the concept of AIDS was sci-fi we used instinct, not profiles. I was particularly impressed with his opening quote ” I’m bored and depressed with today’s gay image of marriage, adopted babies and content bourgeoise living. Blandly masculine, domestic and inoffensive is the new gay stereotype and I can’t relate anymore. This list is a tribute to tough queer thugs with switchblades, bisexual hustlers, sissy villains, killer drag queens and true outcasts, films that got me through my years as a sexually confused teen. I’ve also included some (occasionally offensive) homo horror for the hell of it “.

this blog first appeared on my regular RELATIONSHIP GUYD column on http://guyspy.com