Our advice columnist Joe Weston is a life coach, workshop facilitator, lecturer and peace advocate with a deep commitment to the possibility of individual personal fulfillment. Looking for some clarity on tricky issues in your life? Share what's on your mind with Joe concerning work, personal awareness, love and romance, meditation and spiritual exploration, or just about anything else that's getting between you and your life goals.
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I'm a 49-year-old gay male in NYC. However, I'm not into any typical gay scene or lifestyle, nor are my other gay friends. But I am having difficulty meeting other gay guys for dating or just nice, healthy, safe sex. Online is an option, but I find that the real nice and seemingly normal folks are either already in a relationship, or are married to women and have kids.
I am no saint, and when I was younger I did get involved with married or guys in open relationships with their partners. But lately I have been trying to stay away from already committed people. I think it stems from a conservative set of ethics from childhood; I am not sure. My gay friends assert that getting involved with people in relationships is not unethical—that they are the ones at fault, not I.
I am very torn about this. The available guys are superficial and unkind, and the nice, decent guys are committed already. Is it all a free-for-all where anything and everyone is fair game? Is it wrong to be the "other guy"?
—Gay Guy in NYC
Hey Gay Guy NYC,
You bring up an interesting question about ethics. I love talking ethics! First of all, I would like someone to please, please, please explain to me what the “typical gay scene” is?! In my opinion, the reason you are not meeting the guys you want to is because you have trapped yourself in a very narrow scope of what is available. You have many pre-conceived assumptions about the gay scene that are not based on any fact. Do you know how many “gay scenes” there are these days? You got the party boys, the leather boys, the gay dads, gay activists, gay softball players, to name a few. And have you heard? We now have gays in the military!
I’ve said in many of my letters and articles that the number one reason we don’t connect with others and lead fulfilling lives is due to how much we judge and label. This creates distance; our hearts are closed. You are not looking for a stereotype for your life partner, you are looking for a living, breathing, complex person, who probably hangs out in more than one scene. Smart, nice people also like to dance! If you can honestly say that the only nice guys you are meeting are either in relationships or straight, than I suggest you take a look at your level of judgment, maybe even prejudice toward gay men.
Now, about whether you should sleep with guys in committed relationships: I believe that has nothing to do with conservative values, or what other people say. All you have to do is ask yourself what your values are around this issue. In Buddhist circles, we talk about avoiding sexual misconduct. I interpret that as engaging in sex where anyone involved might get harmed. So if I were to consider sleeping with a “married person,” my first consideration is always if there is any risk that someone might get harmed. How will I know, in the future, what could happen between this guy and his partner as a result of me getting intimate with him? I can’t. So, I refrain. But that is my own personal commitment to myself. That doesn’t mean that others have to do the same thing. If your other gay friends think that they are free from fault if they sleep with a guy in a relationship, that is their choice.
You say that the “available guys are superficial and unkind, and the nice, decent guys are committed already.” Well, if I’m not mistaken, you are also an available guy. Do you see yourself that way? Go out into the different “gay scenes.” Be curious, and you may be surprised.
Open your heart,
I'm in my early twenties and have always kept my sexual orientation secret. I have a crush on a dude at my job who's supposedly straight, but at times he does things to make me question. He texts me calling me boo, or to say that he misses me when he's drunk or hungover. He's said I should get his face or name tattooed on my chest. He tries to hug me or he'll come up from behind and put his arm around me, grabbing my chest or rubbing my biceps. He's said he wants to do me, and that I should "lick his lollipop" (is this normal?). And when he goes out drinking he always wants me to come along and won't stop begging me until I give in. Twice already he has asked my location on the radio at work and then asked me to come join him and the rest of the employees.
But at the same time, he is very masculine, plays all the sports, and has a girlfriend whom he has dated for a long time. He talks about getting married and having children, and he seems dedicated to her. At times he seems perfectly straight, but then at other times I just don't know. What is he trying to do to me? He doesn't do this with other male employees. Is he just playing with me like other straight dudes sometimes do? How should I proceed?
—Wishing for More
What can I tell you? It seems logical to me that the appropriate thing to do is ask him about his behavior. If he is being so obvious, then he can’t deny he’s doing it. Just ask him what’s up? Is it just innocent fun, or is it something more? Also, ask yourself some questions. How does he make you feel? From your letter, this seems to be making you uncomfortable, it has you distracted. Tell him that. How are you behaving with him? Maybe you are doing things to him that you aren’t even aware of that are causing him to react the way he does. There are many people who believe that we attract the very thing we need for our own growth. Maybe without even knowing it, this guy is calling you out of your secrecy. Maybe it’s time for you to question your own motives for keeping your sexual orientation secret. Maybe he is gay and is afraid to admit it. If you are keeping your orientation secret, why can’t he? Or maybe he’s really hot for you, and is waiting for you to make a move. Or maybe you should stop questioning, and just go along with the innocent playing around.
But proceed cautiously, slowly, with no judgment, and no attachment to the outcome. Sometimes, those around us become our mirrors.
Take a good look,
About Joe Weston: Joe Weston is an international workshop facilitator and personal life coach. Born and educated in New York, Joe lived in Amsterdam for 17 years and now lives in California. He is committed to helping others embody spirituality and supporting them on their journey towards personal fulfillment and empowerment. Joe brings a wealth of insight to his work based on many teachings, including Tai Chi Chuan and a variety of spiritual traditions—plus his experience in theater and various organizational trainings. He is currently writing a book entitled “Mastering Respectful Confrontation: a Guide to Personal Freedom and Empowered, Collaborative Engagement.” He also volunteers for the Liberation Prison Project, teaching Buddhism to inmates. To find out more about his workshops and his personal coaching, visit www.joeweston.com.
Joe leads lectures and workshops in Respectful Confrontation around the world. His schedule includes Oakland and Washington, DC in February, Austin, TX in March, and Milan, Italy in April. For more info, click here