Nov 22, 2014

10 Ethnic Groups on my Bucket List

On The Simpsons, Homer sings "I could love [e.g., have sex with] about a million girls."

A million?

Assuming a 50-year sexual life, that's 20,000 per year, or 384 per week.

That's a lot more than gay men could ever hope for.

If you spent every waking hour in the bath house, and if you were extremely attractive, you might get as many as 10 partners per day, or 70 per week.

But in real life, people have other interests and obligations, they don't have a superheroic physique, and they're usually involved in relationships that require monogamy or "sharing."  They might average 10 partners per year.

Or only one.

Homer goes on to list the various ethnic groups he is interested in: "I could love a Chinese girl, an Eskimo, a Finn. I could dig a Deutschland chick...."

That sounds more promising.  There are only about 6,000 ethnic groups in the world.  Could you "love" someone from each one?

For the purpose of this study, "loving" will be defined as "an event in which you see your partner naked in a private setting."  Clubs, bath houses, nude beaches, and dates that don't end with a bedroom won't count.

An "ethnic group" will be defined as a group identified by a distinct language and culture.  Generic white Americans and African-Americans don't count.

After careful calculation and checking my journals, I find that I've "loved" guys from 41 identifiable ethnic groups.

18 European
8 East or Southeast Asian
5 African
5 Latin American
2 Middle Eastern
2 Native American
1 South Asian

5,959 to go.

If I really want to sample the vast variety of  masculine beauty in the world, there are a few left on my bucket list:

1. Faeroese: from the Faeroe Islands far to the north of Britain (population 44,000).  Like the famous swimmer Pal Joensen (top photo).

2. Yakut: a Turkic-speaking people of Siberia.  There are 478,000 Yakut speakers, including 10,000 in the United States, so there's hope (second photo: a Yakut wrestler).

3.Ainu (left): the original inhabitants of Japan were not of Asian ethnicity, and their language was like no other in the world (there are only about 10 native speakers left).  They liked beards so much that the women got their chins tattooed to make it seem like they had beards, too.  Today there are an estimated 25,000-100,000 Ainu in northern Japan.  The most famous is Oki, who performs electro-pop versions of traditional songs with his Oki Dub Ainu Band.

4. Chukchi: from remote northeastern Siberia, near the Bering Sea.  The 16,000 Chukchi speak a Paleo-Siberian language.  Their shamans change from male to female when they travel to the spirit world.

 5. Hawaiian (left): 400,000 people claim to be part Hawaiian, but only 140,000 claim to be Hawaiian alone, and only about 2,000 speak the language.

6. Jivaro (left): about 20,000 of the former head-hunters, divided into several different tribes in the western Amazon region of South America, mostly in Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia.  I visited Colombia, but didn't meet any Jivaros.

7. Tuareg: there are about 1.2 million Tuaregs, a nomadic people of the Sahara, mostly in Niger and Chad. Formerly called "the blue people" because the blue dye in the men's turbans rubbed off onto their faces, they speak a Berber language.

8. The Mbuti (left): one of several "pygmy" tribes in the Congo, there are about 30,000 Mbuti, most still living as traditional hunter-gatherers.  The men have an average height of 4'9."  Sounds like my kind of guys.

9. Greenlander: The northernmost country on Earth, Greenland has a population of about 60,000, most of whom are Greenland Inuit.

10. Aboriginal Australians: The original inhabitants of Australia have the oldest cultural traditions in the world.  They have legends about walking to Australia over a land bridge that hasn't existed for 14,000 years!  There are about 600,000, divided into many different tribes with distinctive languages and customs.  Ritualized same-sex behavior is commonplace as an initiation rite.

I visited Australia 20 years ago, but didn't get a chance to meet -- or "love" -- any aboriginal guys.

But there's always next year.  Maybe these guys are on Facebook.

See also: In Quest of the Bushman Penis; 6000 Words for Penis

Nov 21, 2014

Spring 1971: Two Men Can't Live Together

Ever since I moved away from gay neighborhoods in 2006, I've heard a constant drone of "Buy a house!  Buy a house!  Buy a house!"

In the straight world, you have to live in a house.  Apartments signify immaturity, irresponsibility, or poverty.  They mean that something has gone seriously wrong with your life.

But I don't like houses.  I like apartments.

1. Someone else does all of the mowing, shoveling, grouting, tiling, and repairing, things that I hate with a passion.
2. Apartments are near the shops, theaters, bars, and gym.  In houses you have to drive.
3. You can hear other people, voices through the wall, footsteps from upstairs.  Who could ever be lonely?
4. Houses are scary, with attics and basements and crawlspaces.
5. It takes 30 years to pay off a house.  Who wants to live in the same place for 30 years?
6. Houses are occupied by heterosexual nuclear families.  Gay people live in apartments.

When I was a kid, I didn't know that apartments existed.  I thought that everyone lived in a small square house with a living room, a kitchen, two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a basement.

My first shock came in the third grade, when my friend Bill invited me to his house: there were four bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a separate "family room"!

Around that same time, there was a game show called Dream House, in which couples competed to win rooms full of furniture.  Rooms I had never heard of before: dens, studies, game rooms, rec rooms, breakfast nooks.

I was hooked!  Whenever Mom went to the store, I asked her to pick me up a "House Book," a magazine featuring floor plans for people looking to build houses.

So many styles!  Gothic, Tudor, Princess Anne, Ranch, A-frame, Federal, French Colonial, Art Deco, neo-Classical!

And filled with such a clutter of rooms!  Drawing rooms, conservatories, parlors, pantries!  Rooms for sitting, for listening to music, for watching tv, for reading books, for just sitting in the sun!

Why did you need a separate room just for mud?

I got a ruler and some graph paper and started drawing my own floor plans.  Big houses, small houses,bungalows, mansions.

 A foyer with a statue of a naked man in it.

A sunken living room where my boyfriend and I could entertain guests.

A kitchen with a center island where we could cook.

A library of 30,000 comic books.

Not surprisingly, my parents never suggested that this newfound passion might lead to a career as an architect.  My future career was already decided: lineman at the factory.  Instead, Mom played the Wife card.

One Saturday afternoon in January 1971, during the Christmas break, I was sitting alone in the living room, working on a floorplan on a clipboard.  Walking through, Mom happened to glance over my shoulder.  "Don't forget a nursery!  Your kids will need a place to play!"

"There won't be any kids living there," I answered, preoccupied.

"Well, won't your wife be lonely?"

"No wife either."

"You certainly don't want to live in that big house all by yourself!"

"No.  Bill will be there, too.  We'll sleep in the master bedroom.  And we'll have two dogs and two cats."

Now my mother became firm and somber.  "Two men can't live in a house together."

"Sure they can.  What about My Favorite Martian?"  

"They live in an apartment -- you know, where a house is divided into a lot of little rooms?"  She sat down next to me, as if she was about to share a sad truth of adulthood.  "Sometimes, when they're just starting out, two men will share an apartment.  But only until they find the right girl and get married.   Then each one gets a house of his own."

"Why can't two men buy a house, if they want to?" I asked.

"If they tried, they'd be arrested!  Houses are just for married couples."

Some local ordinances did indeed prohibit landlords from renting to "known homosexuals" through the 1970s.

I looked down at my floorplan.  Suddenly it looked vast and cold and empty.   There could never be a cute boy waiting there when I came home, only a wife.  I thrust it aside.

"What if they never meet the right woman and get married? Then they could live in an apartment forever, right?"

Mom laughed.  "The things you worry about!  That never happens! Sooner or later, you'll meet the girl of your dreams, and get married.  Then you'll go to work in the factory so you can support her, and pay for the house."

So the three Big Events of my future were linked -- marrying a woman, working in a factory, buying a house -- three aspects of the same heteronormative prison.

Maybe if I escaped just one, the others would fade away.

I never went to work in the factory, "discovered" girls, or lived in a house.  Except for a few years of renting rooms from Derek in West Hollywood and Barney in Wilton Manors, which hardly counts.

 I refuse to buy, rent, or live in a house, in spite of everyone around thinking that there is something seriously wrong with me.

I like apartments.

See also: Dad Takes Me to See Naked Men

The Indonesian Temple of the Penis

In Central Java, Indonesia, on the slopes of Mount Lawu (and eight hours by car from Jakarta), there's a low-sloping truncated pyramid called Candi Sukuh, or Sukuh Temple.

Covered with bas-reliefs of people in erotic poses.

Surrounded by statues of naked men, gods, and monsters.

An elephant-headed god  and his dog dancing with two men who are forging a sword.. Most of his gigantic penis has been broken off.

Men having sex with men.

Men having sex with beings of indeterminate gender.

A life-sized statue of a naked, muscular man grasping his two-foot long penis (it's so explicit that I can only show you the base).

There are phallic symbols everywhere, carved into the walls, protruding from walls, lying on the ground.  There was once a 6-foot tall penis rising from four giant testicles, but it's been removed to the National Museum in Jakarta.

The temple looks like a smaller version of an ancient Mayan pyramid, leading some para-archaeologists to claim that Mayans traveled halfway around the world in 300 AD. and established a beachhead in Java.

Or that both cultures were remnants of ancient Atlantis, or Mu.

Or that it was built by aliens and holds secret messages about the end of the world.

But relax: it's Hindu.

The elephant-headed god is actually Lord Ganesha.

The giant lingam (Hindu phallic symbol) contains a Sanskrit inscription proclaiming that this "sign of masculinity is the essence of the world."

Another inscription allows us to date the temple at 1440 AD, long after the Mayans.

Indonesia is staunchly Muslim now, but previously it was the site of several powerful Hindu kingdoms, including the Majapahit Empire, the largest in Southeast Asia, extending through modern-day Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

In 1440, Majapahit was in decline, falling to internal disputes and the incursions of the Muslim sultanates to the east.  So a crew of artists and builders came out to the jungle to ask for the help of Lord Ganesha, the power of masculine energy, and the penis.

See also: Top 10 Public Penises of Hinduism;

Nov 20, 2014

Summer 1979: The Colombian Hustler

In the wilds of Colombia
During the summer of 1979, just after my freshman year at Augustana College, the Nazarene Church was looking for some able-bodied college students to help build ten new churches in Colombia.  I hadn't attended regularly for about a year, but you stay on the membership roster forever, so they called me.

They warned us: this was the jungle, where Jim Elliot was killed trying to bring the gospel to the Auca Indians in 1956.  Expect poisonous snakes, crocodiles, and naked cannibals.  They might try to eat us!

Um...did you say cannibals would be naked?

I'm in!

Itagui, Colombia
Actually, my group ended up in Itagui, population 200,000, a major industrial center with gleaming modern architecture, a gigantic soccer stadium, and restaurants called "Chocolate Chicken the Prince" and "Nice Sandwich and Juice."

No poisonous snakes, but lots of poverty, crime, and drugs.  We were cautioned to not leave the Youth Hostel at night, and not go into Medellin, about 5 miles away, where murder and kidnapping were daily events.

"Reto," "The Challenge," Itagui
Heck with that!  I was going to find a nice Swedish leatherman to dance with, like in Switzerland, or at least a cute gay waiter, like when I visited Olivet.  Only now if he offered "Come back to my hotel! I have Schnapp!", I would know what to do.

But with no internet and no gay guidebooks (I had never heard of the Damron Guide), how could I find the gay men of Itagui?

It turns out that they found me.

I went downtown, to a small, brightly-lit taverno that seemed to have all men inside, mostly elegantly-dressed young adults.  I sat down at the bar and ordered a Postobon, an apple-flavored soda.

Not Marco, but close enough
Five minutes later, a college-age boy named Marco sat down next to me: short, muscular, with black hair and intense black eyes. He was wearing a track suit, as if he was in a race -- rather out of place for such an elegant clientele, I thought.

 We chatted, in my pretty-good Spanish and his rudimentary English, mostly about the Sandinistas taking control of Nicaragua and Skylab falling out of the sky.  His leg brushed against mine, and he didn't move it away.  Then he said, apropos of nothing: "Necessitas marimba?"

Why would I want a xylophone?   Later I figured out that he was offering me marijuana.  "No,"  What was the Spanish word for gay?  "Hombres que aman los hombres." (Men who love men.)

"Oh!"  His eyes lit up, and his hand fell onto my knee.  "100 lucas...200 dollars."

"Para que?  No quiero comprar algo."  I didn't want to buy anything!

"Ok, ok, 50 lucas!"

"No quiero comprar..."

"10 lucas!" he exclaimed in exasperation. "Que barato!" About $20.  What a bargain!

Finally I understood -- I had read The Happy Hooker, after all.  I just never realized that there were male hustlers, with male clients.

"No way!" I exclaimed, pushing aside his hand and getting up from the bar.

He followed me out into the street and yelled, "Oye, chino!  Medio  luca!"  About $1.00.

Amazonian guy with fish
"Estas burlando?"  I asked.  "Are you kidding?  That's about the cost of a Postobon!   It's not even worth it."

He grabbed my arm and started speaking very quickly in Spanish. "You're very cute, but you have to pay...I'm not a pillow-killer...I'm a's only for the money."

I threw him off and walked away, through the warm tropical night toward the youth hostel.  I was gratified that there were enough gay men in Itagui to make hustling profitable, but upset that Marco couldn't bring himself to acknowledge that he was gay, a "pillow-killer."  He was a "cannibal" (apparently slang for "hustler" or "on the downlow"): telling himself over and over again that it was about the money, not about desire.

So I met a cannibal after all.  Just not the kind that goes fishing in the nude.

See also: The Top 12 Public Penises of South America.

Nov 18, 2014

Trying to Escape Church

I hated the Nazarene church.

1. Hour-long sermons three times a week, with dull funereal hymns from a hundred years ago, full of "thou hasts" and "wilt thee."

2. The preacher pacing the stage and pounding his Bible and screaming about how evil the world was.

3. Excruciatingly long altar calls, where the backsliders and the sinners had to go to the front of the church, kneel at the altar, and beg and whimper and sob for God's forgiveness from their sins.

4.  And there were lots of sins.  God hated movies, cards, games with dice, swimming, dancing, short pants, long hair, earrings, bad words, Catholics, comic books, restaurants that served alcohol, carnivals, circuses, rock music, science fiction, and evolution.

5. And the three sermons per week were just the beginning.  There was Sunday school, Nazarene Young People's Society, Afterglow, choir practice, Calling (visiting people who had missed last Sunday), Canvassing (knocking on doors of strangers to try to Win them for Christ),

Having a school activity or a lot of homework was excuse enough to skip the weeknight activities, but the Sunday morning and evening services were another matter.  You had to go.  No exceptions.  I tried various ways to get out of it:

1. "I don't want to go to church!" That didn't work, even if I started to cry.

2. "I have a lot of homework to do."  It worked during the week, but not on Sunday.  It was a sin to do work on Sunday. You had the whole weekend.

3. "I have an upset stomach!"  Foolproof, right?  No one can say that you don't.  But then my parents would sneakily serve fried chicken or pie-and-ice-cream for Sunday dinner, with some thin soup and jello for me.

4. "My friend invited me over for a sleepover Saturday night."  Nope.  First I had to be actually invited to a sleepover, and then Dad would pick me up Sunday morning early enough to get to church on time.

5. "My favorite tv program is on!"  Nope.  You'll just have to miss it.

In junior high and high school, I attended regularly, due to my fondness for the jump quiz, male grabbing and fondling at the altar call, and Verne, the Preacher's Son, and because I wanted to be chosen to go to Switzerland for the Nazarene International Institute.

But during my senior year, Verne was gone, Switzerland was over, and the preacher had discovered "homa-sekshuls,"

I wanted out.  

I thought of the "what girl do you like?" interrogations of my parents and practically every other adult.  They were so obsessed with compiling evidence that I was wild about girls that I could get away with anything, from coming in after curfew to losing my new jacket, just by claiming that I had been trying to impress a girl or meet girls.  

Why did you sign up to fight tigers? "I heard there would be girls in the audience."

Why did you jump out of the airplane?  "There was a girls' school below."

Getting out of the Sunday evening service was easy:  "I want to stay home to watch The  Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries," with Shaun Cassidy, Parker Stevenson, Pamela Sue Martin."

You have a crush on Pamela Sue Martin!  Great!  Wonderful!  Stay home and watch her all you want!

Sunday morning was a little harder.

1. "A girl invited me to her church."  No -- I would actually have to get a girl to invite me, and then it would just be more church.

2. "I want to go to the library to study.  There will be girls there."  No -- the library was closed on Sunday.

Ok, think!

Awhile ago, church princess Debbie Stark asked me to go with her to the Afterglow, the teen party after the evening service.  When I refused, she stared at me for a moment as if she had never heard such nonsense, then flounced off in a huff.  Ever since, neither she nor her cronies would talk to me.  If I was just walking down the hall toward them, they would turn and flounce off.

3. "I can't go to church -- Debbie won't talk to me!"

Rejected by the girl of your dreams! My parents commiserated.  Heartbreaking!  Of course you can stay home!

I still had to go on occasion.  But it was a start.

See also: The Preacher Discovers Homa-Sekshuls; and Sleeping with Baptist Boys

Fall 2003: Straight Guys Never Figure It Out

When I was living in Florida, newcomers from the small towns (or big cities) of the vast homophobic Straight World often went crazy with joy: "You can be open here!  You can be free!"  They found a job in a gay venue, read only gay books, went only to gay movies, and never ventured beyond the magic square bounded by Oakland Park Blvd., Powerline Road, NW 13th Street, and the Atlantic Ocean.

"Oh, you live on NW 12th Street?  Isn't that a little...iffy?"

Most residents of Wilton Manors weren't quite so insular.  But all of our friends were gay.  So were our neighbors.  And, as far as we know, so was the guy on the next treadmill at Barney's Gym, the guy sorting coupons in the check out line at the Publix Supermarket, and the woman browsing among the humorous cards at To the Moon.  We avoided heterosexuals as much as possible.  They were the enemy, screaming "God hates you!" from behind security fences at Gay Pride, or asking simpering, insulting questions, like "What do they think causes it now?"

So my house mates were surprised, and not entirely sympathetic when I befriended a heterosexual.

In the fall of 2003, when I was working at Florida Atlantic University, I saw Josh (not his real name) in the locker room of the campus gym, stripping out of a plaid shirt, suspenders, and a ridiculous red bowtie. I concluded that he was heterosexual almost immediately, through the gleaming, new-looking ring on his finger and his casual references to his wife. Surely Josh concluded that I was gay almost immediately, from my answer to the question " What are you working on now?” (media images of gay teenagers), or from the shelves of gay books, rainbow flag mouse pad, and gay pride poster in my office.

But no, when an attractive girl passed, Josh nudged me so I could look.  "I only look at guys," I said.

That didn't do it.

"He will never figure it out," my housemate Yuri told me.  "Stupid straight guys can never see anything but straights."

"Anyway, why would you want to tell a breeder?" my other housemate, Barney, said with an accusatory glare, as if I was planning some act of treason.  "When he finds out, he'll start screaming that you're trying to molest him."

"He's not a friend, really.  He just comes to my office to chat.  Besides, it's a challenge.  Somehow or other I'm going to get him to figure it out!"

"Impossible!"  Barney exclaimed.  "But why don't we make it interesting?  I'll bet you $20 that you can't get him to figure it out during the next week.  You can say anything you want except 'I'm gay.'"

"I want in on this thing too," Yuri said.  "But you can't cruise him.  Or talk about your old boyfriends."

I spent the next week dropping all of the hints I could think of.

"I can't get married in this state.  It's illegal."
"Oh...still married to the wife back home, huh?"
No, you nitwit, gay people can't get married!

"I can't donate blood.  It's illegal."
"I hear you.  Get a venereal disease just once, it haunts you for the rest of your life."
No, you idiot, gay men can't donate blood!

"My childhood church was totally homophobic.  It blamed gays for everything from child molestation to 9/11."
"That's ridiculous!  Gays are just people, like you and me."
Are you in on the bet?  Did my housemates pay you to pretend ignorance?

Finally in desperation I invited Josh over for dinner with Barney and Yuri.

"Oh, a guys' night!  Leave the girlfriends at home!  Sounds great!"

During dinner, I brought up Wilton Manors' reputation as a gay mecca.
"Yeah, gentrifying neighborhoods often have gay guys fixing things up."

Barney's job managing a gym with a mostly gay clientele.
"It's great that you're so secure in your masculinity that you aren't worried about them seeing you naked in the locker room."

Yuri's quest for the World's Biggest Penis in the Basque country of Spain four years ago.
"Wow, are they really that big?  They must really impress the ladies!"

My housemates grinned at me.

After dinner I invited Josh to select a movie to watch from our collection of 200-odd DVDS. Other than a few classics, they all had gay characters, gay subtexts, or covers displaying muscular guys with their shirts off. Without a word or even an odd look, he selected Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, which has none.

Josh sat on the couch, directly behind a coffee table containing a pile of gay magazines. On top was an issue of The Advocate, selected deliberately because the word “Gay” was written on the cover three times, along with photos of the gay icons Harvey Milk and Chad Allen. Surely that would be enough.

It wasn't.

After the movie, we were channel surfing, when an attractive man appeared on the screen. “Wait – go back,” I exclaimed. “That guy was totally hot!”

"What for?"  Josh asked.  "It was a guy."

Finally in desperation, I pulled out my wallet, handed $20 bills to Yuri and Barney, and said, in a loud, clear voice, "I am gay."

"Yeah, right.  Don't be funny."  He turned to Yuri.  "Does Boomer always joke around like this?"

"Yes, all the time," he said, barely restraining his laughter.  "Except when he wants to impress a girl."

I hit him on the head with a pillow.

When they finally assured Josh that I wasn't joking, he was shocked.  "I had no idea.  You hide it so well!"

Hide it?

Then: "I think it's great that you guys are so secure in your masculinity that you don't mind having a gay roommate."

See also: My Relatives Never Figure It Out; Was It a Screen?; and Gay People Do Not Exist

Nov 16, 2014

Turning a Straight Guy Gay in 10 Easy Steps

Ok, you can't turn an actual straight guy gay, or vice versa.  Sexual orientation can't be changed.  If he isn't into guys, he isn't into guys, period.

But there are plenty of men who think they are straight but are actually bisexual, attracted to women most of the time, but sometimes interested in men.

Or who think they are straight but actually gay, interested in men 100% of the time. They assume that being heterosexual means having cool, unsatisfying relationships with women and passionate, intense same-sex "buddies."

You can help him figure it out.  He -- and his family and friends -- will be a lot happier if he stops pretending.

Getting someone to acknowledge same-sex desire is not for the faint of heart.  It might be a better idea to stick to guys who have already figured it out, who know that they're gay, or bisexual, or straight but curved a little around the edges.

But if you're determined, here are 10 simple steps to success

1. Define your goal.  Why do you want him to figure it out? If your goal is sex or romance, be careful: after figuring it out, he  will want to try everything the gay community has to offer, mostly things that don't concern you.

2. Judge the strength of his same-sex interests.  Is he almost exclusively interested in men, or is his desire fleeting and trival?  That is, could he live happily in a heterosexual relationship?

3. Judge the strength of his homophobia.  Does he just have a few minor stereotypes about gay people, or is he seething with rage?   Does he make homophobic jokes, or does he say "live and live"?  If he's exceptionally homophobic, skip Step #4.

4. Come out to him.  Don't expect him to just figure it out by your lack of heterosexual interests and frequent discussions of hot guys.  Straight guys never figure it out.  You have to give him "the talk."

But assure him that you don't find him physically attractive.  Even if you do. Straight guys are under the impression that every gay man wants to have sex with them, and may refuse all future contact unless you make it clear that you don't intend to gawk at him in the shower or grope him in the subway.

5. Introduce him to gay people.  The biggest reason for not figuring it out is the belief that gay men in real life act like they do on tv: they squeal, flutter, gossip, leer, and discuss skin care products.  He likes football and beer, so he must be straight.  Introducing him to a variety of gay people, with a variety of behaviors and interests, will disconfirm him of that notion.

6. Introduce him to accepting heterosexuals.  The second reason for not figuring it out is the belief that family and friends will reject him.  Straight guys rarely read about or discuss gay rights, so they often believe that the world is far more homophobic than it really is.  Introducing him to some straight people who aren't screaming bigots will disconfirm him of that notion.

7. Know your Bible.  The third reason for not figuring it out is the belief that God hates gay people.  There are five Biblical passages that have been used to justify homophobic hatred.  Be ready to look them up and explain what they're really about.  If he's particularly religious, have a list of pro-gay churches and religious groups available.

8. Introduce him to physical contact.  The fourth reason for not figuring it out is the belief that masculine physical contact is creepy and icky.  You can disconfirm him of that notion quite easily. Tell him that gay guys always hug -- it doesn't mean anything.  Invite him to a party that's so crowded that you have to sit pressed together.  Once you get past the barrier of physical contact, he's almost there.

9. Invite him to a gay venue.  Like a Gay Men's Chorus concert or a gay restaurant, but not a Gay Pride festival (too noisy).  By this point, you're acting as if you assume that he's gay, and he's probably figured it out.  If he continues to protest that he's straight, ask "Aren't you about ready to stop pretending?"

Be prepared for some trauma some guys aren't thrilled by the news that they're gay.  They may experience guilt, shame, anger, and all of the other baggage they got growing up homophobic.  You may even have to point out some support groups for newly-out gay men.

10.  It make take awhile.  
But hang in there -- he's got nothing to lose, and quite a lot to gain.

See also: Yuri Comes Out; and The Homophobic Thad Becomes a Male Stripper

Fall 2004: George Bush Broke Up My Family

The U.S. just had its midterm elections for some Senators, Representatives, and Governors, and guess what?  Mostly of the winners were Republicans who ran on a campaign of hate.  Sometimes virulent hate, with the bloodlust of a Puritan witch-hunter.  What we thought of as laughable extremism just two weeks ago.  But now they're in office, and the homophobic backlash has already begun.

No one expects the Spanish Inquisition.  But then, suddenly, it's here.

I haven't been this depressed since Tuesday, November 2nd, 2004.

It was two days after Halloween, still dark and scary out.  Election Day

Incumbent George W. Bush was running against John Kerry on an overt platform of anti-gay hatred.

He wanted to re-criminalize sodomy, pass a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, strike down anti-discrimination laws, and generally save America from the gay people who are trying to destroy it.

He wanted to make this an evangelical Christian nation, where evangelical Christian beliefs were law.  No more teaching evolution or sex education.  Belief in Jesus Christ a requirement for public office. Strict regulation of mass media to ensure that there was nothing obscene, like gay characters.

Barney and I voted early in the day; Yuri was not a citizen,so he couldn't.  Then we went about about our everyday activities.  I went to the gym, drove to Boca Raton, taught my afternoon class, drove back to Wilton Manors, met Yuri for dinner at a Thai place.  We walked around, thought of going to the bars, but they all had election results on tv.

So we went to the Club, and immersed ourselves for three hours in the warm, dimly-lit hallways of naked men and disco music.

Then we went back home and turned on the tv.  Bush had taken Florida, naturally -- we all knew that outside Fort Lauderdale and Miami, the state was a cesspool of hatred.  He had taken all of the South and crazy redneck Mountain states.  But he also had swing states like Ohio and Virginia, and even in staunchly democratic states, he lost by less than 1%.  They were predicting an easy Bush victory.

Barney and his boyfriend came home, and we watched together, four of us wondering what would happen next. We all agreed that we couldn't live in the U.S. with Bush in the White House.  I wrote on gay topics; Barney owned a gay gym.  It would be too risky.

Then we went to bed.  I had my own room, but that night I slept with Yuri. We held each other.  We knew that this was the beginning of the end.

By June, Barney had sold his gym, sold his house, broke up with his boyfriend, and moved to Costa Rica.  Yuri found a new job in London, and moved at the end of the semester.  I tried to find a job in Canada, briefly worked in Slovakia, and finally took a job in Dayton, Ohio.

I haven't seen either of them for about 8 years, though Yuri still emails me on occasion.

I blame George W. Bush for breaking up the family.

See also: I Escape to the Gay Haven of Slovakia.