Thursday, September 30, 2010

Finding the Right Guy

I received an email from a young man who described his desire to meet another guy like him -- a guy-guy.  I hate to say it, but a "gay guy" is often aligned or malaligned as being effeminate.  Not all gay men are that way, but a number of them are.

I've posted before about masculine men, overcoming gay male stereotypes, where to find a masculine gay man, and how I found my man.  But let me reiterate some points that are related from my own life experience.

Most gay men don't realize their interest in men until a bit later in life.  During high school, he usually "goes through the motions" of dating girls, going to the usual high school events like dances, etc., and playing a role that society (and parents) expect.  Think about it:  parents are the typical straight couple.  They expect their children to be heterosexual and tend to resist the thought that their sons may be gay.

When I was in high school, I jumped in with both boots.  I was very active in various clubs and groups, and excelled in my studies.  I became Salutatorian, which is a fancy way of saying that one other person beat me out scholastically to be the Valedictorian.  So be it.  High school was fun, but very focused.  My social life was in large circles; not with any one girl (or any one guy, for that matter.)

When I went to college, I was also busier than a beaver.  I thought I knew what I wanted to study, and worked hard at it.  But I had wide and varied interests.  What resulted was three undergraduate degrees in a relatively short five-and-a-half year timeframe, with a year of that spent studying in Europe.  On top of that, I became President of my college social fraternity, President of two other clubs, an officer in campus-wide student government, and maintained a 3.9 (out of a 4.0) gradepoint average on about 20 - 22 credits per semester.  I didn't have TIME for a social life!

After college, I began working full-time, and going to school for a Master's Degree.  Again, all work and no time for fun.  I would ride my motorcycle on those occasional off-times for fun, and would hang out with some friends on rare occasions.  But mostly, I remained focused on civic work (when I began my volunteering in the community), on completing my graduate studies, and working... working... working.  The work involved a huge amount of domestic travel.

By the time I reached my late 20s, I was feeling the sands of time dripping through that hourglass, and was wondering if I would ever "settle down."  The family jokes about the "perpetual student" saw me working on a doctorate through completion.  Then they all kinda said, "so when are you going to find 'the right woman' and settle down?"

I had figured myself out by then, and gently explained that I'm not interested in women.  About the same time, the HIV/AIDS crisis was at its peak of confusion and fright.  My Mom thought that even dating another guy would result in my contracting this disease, and dying a horrid death.  I "laid low" (that is, didn't have sex with anyone) because I was scared, too.

But human nature being what it is, I wanted to find "the right guy," settle down, and have a life together with a home and the proverbial picket fence, flower gardens, and a life.  I mean, a real life with someone who is your best half, your best friend; the guy who supports you through life's trials without question or criticism, and who is the bedrock of your life.

So by my mid-30s, I began looking around.  The Internet had not yet been widely deployed to the masses.  The only options I had were to go to bars... which I didn't like.  I could dress the part, but I turned into a pumpkin way too early (like by 9pm, even back then.)

I got the weekly gay paper and read the ads for guys looking for guys. I arranged some dates.  All duds.  I joined a skydiving club, which I truly enjoyed... but all the guys had girls and even though this was a very masculine activity, no gay masculine men were in that group.  I went hiking with some groups, and found a gay guy in one of those groups, but he was "involved" with someone else.

I kept looking.  I joined a "leather/levi MC" club (mistakenly thinking it was a motorcycle riding club) ... and that's when I met my man.  I knew from the moment we first met that "he was the one."  The day we met is the date we refer to it being our anniversary, because we've been together ever since.  Seventeen-plus years, with a lifetime to go making the bootprints of our journey.  

Had I not met my partner then, I would have kept looking.  Joining groups, hanging out in straight pubs and continuing involvement in civic work.  There are gay men in these places.  They just don't hang a sign around their neck saying, "I'm a single masculine gay man."

This young man is interested in meeting a man to build a life, not just for sex. Believe me, a relationship with a man takes work, and isn't all sex.

Anyway, what I advised this young man was to continue with his college career and focus on what's best for him academically.  If that brings him to grad school in another state, that's fine.  If getting a spot in grad school is local, then so be it.  But focus on his needs for his future career and interests first.  Get a job where you want to work and will rise each day saying, "oh goodie!  I get to go to work today!"  (Remember, if you're unhappy at work, you will be hard to be around, and few guys will want to hang around with a miserable person.  Make yourself happy, and you'll have more people interested in you.  No one wants to date a sadsack.)

Then once your studies and work are settled into a predictable and pleasant routine, begin looking around.  That is, provided you haven't met someone before then.  

It happens in the most unlikely circumstances, and when you're not looking.  Take your time, focus on your needs, and don't obsess about it.  Good things happen to those who wait.  (And I can relate a number of stories from gay men who didn't wait, and got into some fairly awful situations.)

Life is short:  take care of yourself, and make the priorities your life.  


Anonymous said...

You have found the right man in your partner, and he has found the right man in you. I was blessed to be born and raised with you, and I treasure the happiness you have in your relationship, which serves as a great model for my marriage with my beloved wife.

Love always, big bro',


Anonymous said...

I am a "guys guy" and have been looking for a relationship for quite a while, but what I've found is that it's even difficult for me to make any friendships with masculine gay men. At least in my experience, it has been very hard to find them, if at all. I've been out since I was 16 (almost 13 years now), and in that time have only managed to find a handful of masculine men even for friendship, despite the outstanding amount of clubs, organizations, volunteering, and social groups I am involved in.

I am also an academic who recently finished his PhD and will be beginning a postdoctoral fellowship, like headed toward an academic career. I fear that, being a masculine gay man at age 29 following a career path that settles much later than normal ones, and having been out for so many years and unsuccessful, that it may be a very long time before I make masculine gay friends, let alone find a partner.

Any advice?

Booted Harleydude said...

Dear Anonymous 2 of August 25, 2011:

Thank you for your message. Three points--

1) I was 35 when I met my partner.

2) Generally, masculine gay men tend to meet when they're older. At least that has been my observation among other masculine gay couples that I know -- those I know met in their 30s, 40s, and even in their 50s. (Disclaimer: I really don't know that many gay people. 99% of my friends are straight.)

3) You are probably well aware that academics is a category of professions where there seem to be more gay people on average than in some other professions. I don't know exactly why that happens, but at least you're not in a category that is lower-than-average.

Continue what you're doing by being involved in activities you enjoy. Don't obsess on finding someone so intently. Relax and enjoy what you're doing. You may be surprised that you will find someone or he will find you in the most odd of places or circumstances.