Gay Men’s Rules for Dating Gay Men
The words rules and gay should ideally never appear together in the same sentence. In a global community that is still conflicted about its attitude towards the LGBT, the roots of being gay expand from a very intimate, personal love to a political stand against an unjust society. As such, the act itself of coming out of the closet is an act of defiance against authority, of breaking preconceived norms, of blurring boundaries that have once upon a time been crystal.
Yet, we are all still tied by social convention. For better or for worse, I do believe in rules, if only because I want to know them before I break them. One of the things that is a little bit tricky is the question of, outside the politics of the pride parade, how gay men should deal with each other. I hereby propose ten rules:
1. Just because we’re both gay doesn’t mean I’m asking for it.
You like guys. I like guys. We’re both guys. And we’re in a gay bar. Hooray.
But my ‘no’ is just as strong as it would have been if a woman said it in a straight bar. My preference for men does not equate towards an attraction for you. Grabbing my ass, sneaking a peak at the washroom, or groping my crotch are not attractive. They are harassing.
No harm in trying, of course. If you want to meet the cute guy across the dance floor, you’d talk to him. That courage is admirable, but when the person says ‘no,’ shift your eyes to other men. Do not force yourself. Do not pester him further. Do not think he’s playing hard to get. Move on. There are literally a lot of gay men in the bar, statistically, at least one of whom is attracted to you; let the uninterested one go.
2. Just because we’re both gay doesn’t mean I’m easy.
The Queer As Folk culture has been a universal phenomenon, that showed the gay life as a series of heavy partying and one-night stands. If you’re into that scene, more power to you. Exploring one’s sexuality is nothing to be ashamed of at all.
But it’s not for everyone. We have already established that being gay doesn’t mean being a slut. As a matter of fact, sluttiness knows no gender. If I showed you the slightest attraction or hinted that I liked you, this does not mean I’m going to sleep with you after the first round of drinks.
Be happy that you’re going out with someone, be excited to meet another person, be prepared if it does happen later on, but do not be disappointed when you try to make out with me, and I turn my cheek.
3. Just because we’re both gay doesn’t mean I want it.
The running joke is that a lot of gay men are searching for love and not sex on dating sites such as PoF and Grindr, but when you start chatting, the first thing they’ll ask is the size of your penis. The second is if you’re a top or a bottom. The third is if you have a place.
There is nothing wrong or immoral with sex. I love it. But having a profile on a gay dating site is not an invitation for countless “c2c @ skype?” or “d*ck pic” or “yuumm.” Please, gentlemen, I’m not a piece of meat.
This also means I don’t talk to headless bodies. So you have the body of a Greek god, good for you, that does show dedication towards physical perfection. But that exterior fades, fleeting as the night, and twenty years from now, we’ll be fat and slouched on the sofa, arguing about the television, while I desperately wonder why I chose you.
4. Just because we’re both gay doesn’t mean we use the bathroom together.
This is one of the more contentious points. Bathrooms are personal sanctuaries, where we can take a break from being all poised and proper to just fart. When you’re on a date with someone and he wants to go the washroom, do not go with him. He needs space.
They are also the ultimate gay friendzone. I feel very comfortable going to washrooms with my gay friends and we can spend practically hours there, just gossiping and hanging around. That’s because they are friends I am comfortable in letting my guard down, not dates I play games with.
Lovers stay outside. Lovers hold it in. Lovers wait until their date comes back from the washroom if he also needs to “powder his nose.”
5. Just because we’re both gay doesn’t mean I’m into “gay culture”.
The most wonderful thing about the rainbow flag is how it celebrates diversity, a multitude of thoughts and personalities coexisting. However, what is considered mainstream queer culture can sometimes seem like a streamlined list of liking certain personalities and art forms while disliking others.
I’m gay and I don’t like Gaga. I don’t like the color pink. I don’t read fashion magazines. I love sports, minty alcoholic drinks, and hunting. It is through all these differences that our subculture actually thrives.
So if you want to ask someone out, don’t invite them for a Glee marathon just because he’s gay. If they’re into choral singing, sure, but if they aren’t, you’re hitting the wrong note.
6. Just because we’re both gay doesn’t mean I’m politically liberal.
For a culture that has been historically and currently maltreated, the LGBT community cannot be blamed for being generally anti-establishmental and critical. The political profile of a lot of gay men is leaning towards liberalism and activism.
But politics is never a clear separation of left versus right, or radical versus conservative. Belonging to a political party is as passé as the word passé. We vote for beliefs and platforms, and not for labels. As such, even the most Marxist, communist, leftist person can have slight republican leanings on certain issues. And that has absolutely nothing to do with gender.
Just like with straight couples, gay men should not bring up the topic of politics to a first date. You may think your politics are open-minded, but his may be different, and he may think he is the open-minded one. Not to mention, if you’re radically Marxist and love spewing his ideologies on your first date, don’t count on him calling back.
7. Just because we’re both gay doesn’t mean I’m an atheist.
The church is the major ideological state apparatus that most LGBT communities abhor. As they are the institutions that call our lifestyles, our choices, and our existences a sin, it is almost logical to raise arms against an age-old institution whose readings of the good text can range from the ironic to the inhuman.
Yet spirituality is just as, if not even more so, important and personal than politics. Calm your hatred about the catholic cult; the guy you are with could be devoutly catholic, yet conflicted with his love for a higher being and his priest’s sermons. After all, religion and God are totally different concepts. And if you add in the multicultural heaven, you would have to deal with gay men who are Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist, etc, trying to be both faithful and free.
Religion will always be a red flag button, regardless of whether you are on a straight date or not. The church is gay public enemy number one, but do not punish the people who still choose to believe. To use the age-old mantra, love the sinner, hate the sin.
8. Just because we’re both gay doesn’t mean I like you.
Yes, we are a community. If you’re crying, I will hand you a handkerchief. If you’re struggling, I will fight with you. But just because we’re both gay doesn’t make us friends. If only because I refuse to believe that I am friends with my friends because of their gender.
We have fought that “gay” is not equal to “evil.” But it is also not equal to “good.” For every wonderful, caring, sensitive gay man, there is an obnoxious, abusive gay asshole you just want to punch. For every gay rights activist, there is a incessant gossip. And intolerance exists even within the community.
Being gay is a neutral value, its goodness or lack thereof is not inherent. It is also not the be-all end-all of our existence. We are human first before we are gay. Which leads me to:
9. Just because we’re both gay doesn’t mean I’m like you.
Perhaps the main point I am trying to drive at with this article is that no gay man is exactly like another. We celebrate diversity yet sometimes we expect conformity. We fight for acceptance yet sometimes we are in our own ways intolerant. For every one aspect that we are the same, there are a thousand ways we are different. And that is what makes us awesome.
We all fight the good fight, we all live, we all love. That is enough to bind us all together as a people. But just as how feminism fights that there is no singular woman, there is also no singular gay man. At the heart of it, we all just love men. But in every other way, when we pass each other at the street, when we nod at each other across tables, we are different.
10. Just because we’re both gay doesn’t mean I am correct.
We set rules as standards, but like all standards, mine are not infallible. If you feel the need, break them. Break all of them. But there is a reason for these rules, a case for co-existence. The reason we have rules is that we know exactly how, when, and, more importantly, why to break them.
I will admit now, personally, that I am guilty of breaking a lot of rules here. You can be abrasive and sexually forward, you can invite me to a Madonna concert, you can quote Bible verses, you can openly show support for capitalism, you can invite me to the washroom, you can ask me to c2c, or proposition at the end of the first date, but, you know what, if you’re hot, none of these rules apply.
This article first appeared in the fourth issue of The OUTport.