I am sat in the staffroom at work with two of my gays, dealing with fallout from the past weekend. A night out I wasn’t involved in and, being the older wiser boss, one I am trying to soothe.
This has been about the third time in a few weeks I’ve had man tears from people who I feel deserve so much better. They’re attractive, young, single and in the big city. What is going on? The moment I start to feel ready to date again I get this sign from the Universe. I get the feeling I should lock myself up in my room in a wedding dress and stop all the clocks.
Let’s be completely honest, dating is clearly tough. Gay dating, in my possibly biased perception, seems even more so. The only people I’ve had tell me otherwise are straight white men. I’ll just leave that sentence there to be digested.
For starters, we are apparently ten percent of the population, and I’m guessing this includes lesbians so let’s make that five percent in each direction. Then there’s the factor of where exactly you meet someone, without the fear they might punch you in the face. So that’s pretty much the gay scene then. On slim chances, I guess you can meet someone through a friend, or at a party. You still have to figure out if they’re gay.
Then, once you think you have a pretty good idea, this person meets all the potential indicators of what you find interesting and attractive, then comes my favourite stumbling block. Are they actually okay with being gay? That’s right, like a secret bonus rainbow level of Mario Bros, you have to jump and bop your way through their judging family, prejudiced job, religious fear and maybe even a girlfriend or two.
Then, and only then, can you actually start the dating process. Date number one, where after all those weeks of sifting through the mud, you then find out your beautiful little lotus is a complete dick.
I’m beginning to see why the boys were crying.
So the obvious solution seems to be online dating, and the biggest most-talked about widely accessible form of this is Grindr. I think we’re past that phase where everyone thinks online dating is creepy, judging from the number of posters on the Tube I see every day. You’re supposed to meet future relationships mostly at work or through colleagues. Don’t poop where you eat, it’s always been a good rule.
There’s nothing I can say about Grindr that hasn’t already been said. I intend on bursting out of my comfort zone and try things like speed dating, blind dating and erm… pole dancing or something. Whatever’s out there, I’m going to try it. For the sake of scientific research obviously. For the moment, going on an actual date is comfort zone threatening enough.
The only thing I can add to the Grindr debate is that I don’t find it that scary. I go in there with a good sense of humour, I am really not taking it that seriously. The guys who look for sex pretty much keep to themselves. The ones that realise that’s not what you’re looking for but want to try it on just in case will ask “what are you looking for?” and my best answer is “my keys”. They will leave you alone, I promise.
Yes, I’ve seen enough nipples and armpits to start an anthropological study on the nature of why everyone does “that” pose. (I think it’s to make their chests look bigger, it just looks like they’re having a sniff). All I think when I see the topless men is wow, daddy really didn’t show you love did he. Starting off with a topless photo is akin to setting yourself on fire in the middle of the bar so everyone will look at you. Excellent, well done on the body, what’s next? You showed off all your goodies, now you’re burnt out.
Call me old-fashioned, I like the idea of learning someone’s name, their likes and dislikes, meeting them in public a couple of times before we even broach the subject of nipples. Don’t even get me started on the “Hi how are you… top or bottom?” men. I’d like to think they work in supermarket checkout lines and ask all their customers the same question. “Good morning, top or bottom?”
So I’m armed with a not altogether serious pouty mcpout photo, an alter ego (take a wild guess) and a few of my likes (Comics. Music. Movies. Running. Travel. Coffee. Fashion.). I want to keep it upbeat, positive, friendly, and not so damn serious.
I’m not exactly overwhelmed with messages, but I’m fine with that. I get enough weird to sift through and entertain myself with. Some people really seem to be floored by personality, they literally cannot react back, and that’s my complete goal. If I can throw you a witty one-liner and you can answer me, I’m intrigued.
There’s a lot of “Hi, how are you?”, never to be seen again. There’s people who ask for more photos and never reply. It’s a tough crowd, if anyone is the slightest bit sensitive about themselves get ready for some harshness. I always try and be polite, but some people don’t let up. I begin to see why people end up being rude. I take special delight in taunting the prejudiced (“no camp, no old, no fatties, no spice, no rice…”) who are apparently not being racist, they just don’t like people who aren’t white or an Aberzombie. Did they learn nothing from Disney’s Beauty And The Beast?!
I make dates. I cancel them. I make excuses. I begin to realise the prospect is terrifying me more than the reality. I just have to make a date, and go. Spend an hour drinking coffee, and then politely say “oh my, will you look at the time!” if I’m not feeling it.
So I meet Denver Jay, and we sit in a coffee place in West London and have very pleasant conversations about growing up, living in London, art galleries and the perils of online dating. He is a very nice man, and I sit there for two hours but there is zero flirting. There’s just no spark, and in some strange way I am perfectly fine with that. We hug, and I say I’ll see him soon. I don’t lie, I think we could be friends. We text here and there for a couple of days but there’s no butterflies, no tension, and then he just disappears. Or maybe I disappear. It just fizzles, who knows.
A few days later I meet French Dave, and we meet in the same place for what ends up being an early dinner. Online, he is witty and intelligent, with a little bit of geek. He turns up, and looks nothing like his photo. I feel a little shallow, but, you make a picture in your mind right? I realise now why people ask for more than one photo. Chances are their profile one is airbrushed and well-lit to heaven. Or Heaven, as the case may be.
I guess I could feel sorry for French Dave, except he proceeds to flirt like the bawdiest whore in Paris all over the table. He picks up the knife seductively, licks his lips after every bite, throws his head back after all my sentences. He rolls his eyes and purses his lips and tells me I’m a bad boy. I don’t feel like a bad boy, I feel like a boy who’s been very, very cornered.
After two hours I feel like this is an acceptable amount of time to make an escape. He comes in for a hug and lingers a little bit too long, and I say my goodbyes as I run for my train. He messages me a few times afterwards, but once again it just… goes away.
It’s a start at least, right? I don’t feel disheartened and I don’t feel like I need to get back on that saddle on more of a mission than ever. I don’t feel like I’ll die alone or that I’m on a desperate quest for a boyfriend. I walk away and go back into my busy life, and whenever the next one comes he’ll come and we’ll have coffee and we’ll see where it goes.
Maybe I’m missing the butterflies a little, maybe just a little.