Thursday, November 17, 2011

Conversation Topics for Gay and Straight Guys

Somehow a search for "conversation topics for gay and straight guys" directed a visitor to this blog.

In case you are a new reader of this blog, or just stumbled upon it, I am a middle-aged gay man in a monogamous relationship with another man, and have been so settled for over 18 years. I consider myself to be a regular masculine man, with various likes and dislikes -- like anyone else.

The topic is interesting to me on several levels.

The majority of people with whom I communicate regularly are straight -- where I work, where I serve my community as a volunteer, and in the group with whom I ride my motorcycle. Besides my partner and few friends, I don't know any other gay people, and do not go to social functions focused solely on the basis of gay people being there. I feel that as a confident and secure, mature man, I don't need to socialize only with gay people. In fact, I enjoy socializing with a mixed group better than a "gay-only" group.

When I have a conversation with straight people, I talk about common interests. I have a wide variety of interests, and talk about things I enjoy doing or learning about with others. I join the conversation when I have something to add, and shut up when I don't.

I avoid joining conversations about sports, because I don't know anything about organized sports. Frankly, I don't care. When straight people (or gay people, for that matter) take the conversation into sports, I just smile and listen. I am attentive, so the others know that I care enough to listen to what they have to say. What they don't know is that soon after the conversation has ended, I have forgotten its content.

I believe that conversation topics for gay and straight guys is exactly the same as they are between any guys without regard to sexual orientation. Someone being gay only becomes an issue if one makes it that way. Just be yourself, and talk about things where you have common interests.

If you are not sure where you may have common ground, ask some questions to get the conversation going, such as,
* where do you live?
* what are your hobbies?
* what do you do for a living?
* Have you traveled much? To where? What was your favorite place and why? Least favorite place and why?
* If you haven't traveled much, where would you like to visit?
* What's your favorite season?
* What are your favorite foods?
* What are your favorite local restaurants?
* What are your favorite TV shows? Movies? Books? Characters?
* Where did you go to school?

These are general, open-ended questions design to get a conversation going. Most anyone can find things to talk about among these topics. Note that there are not any questions that may introduce sexual orientation into the mix. For example, no question about someone else's spouse or children like, "are you married?" or "how many kids do you have?" Asking someone about his spouse or children inevitably invites a return question about yourself which if answered honestly makes it clear that you're gay. Coming out (as gay) to someone you have just met can make for awkward moments and may kill a conversation. So steer the conversation into neutral territory, at first.

I am not advocating hiding in the closet (that is, not disclosing your sexual orientation.) I am only saying that your sexual orientation should not be the first topic of conversation, or a central focus.

In summary, my recommendation for conversation topics between gay and straight men are the things that you share in common -- where you work, who you know (mutual friends), and what you do (religious activities, recreation, sports, affiliation with groups or clubs, etc.) There usually are plenty of things to talk about, if only you give it a try.

Life is short: relax and enjoy the conversation.

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