You can easily tell whether heterosexual partners have broken up. They begin going to social events alone, and no longer spend the night together. Usually they never see each other again, period.
In gay communities, the boundaries are more fluid.
Romantic partners who have broken up continue to run into each other all the time (there aren't many gay places to hang out, after all). They may still go to social events as a pair. They may still spend the night together.
So the question "Are you still a couple?" comes up often:
1. Should I ask about the other guy?
2. Should I invite them to things together?
3. Should I try to fix him up with someone else?
4. Is he free for me to date?
It's gauche to ask, or tell. You're expected to just know.
My soon-to-be partner Lane met Danny at a gay Passover seder in April 1987. He was an intensely hot Tropy Boy, 19 years old, newly out, with a handsome male-model face, short blond hair, flawless pale skin, a smooth chest, and muscular legs. Jewish, not observant.
[Description of their bedroom activity censored.]
After only three weeks, Danny moved from his parents' house in the San Fernando Valley into Lane's apartment.
Danny was so hot that Lane became the envy of West Hollywood. Suddenly everybody at the Gold Coast, the gym, and the gay synagogue was his bosom buddy, and wanted to "share."
The problem was: Danny was so used to being a Trophy Boy that he didn't do anything, except drink milk right out of the carton and leave dirty dishes piled on the coffee table.
He was ostensibly studying education at Cal State L.A., but he didn't go to class, and got straight D's (how do you get a D in an education class?). Mostly he watched Duck Tales, went to lunch with his Cute Young Thing friends, and spent Lane's money on grooming products and clothes.
Lots of clothes. 55 shirts, 21 pairs of shoes, and 32 belts (he had something of a belt fetish).
The clencher came in May 1989, when Danny failed all of his classes and then cleared out the joint checking account on a Beverly Hills shopping spree. Lane had to dip into his savings account to pay the rent.
He was furious! There was crying. There was yelling.
Danny's wardrobe was thrown, fancy belt by fancy belt, off the balcony.
By the end of the evening, Danny had packed up and moved back in with his parents.
Lane spent two days in his apartment, eating ice cream and listening to sad songs. On the third day he went to the Zone, hoping to pick up a sleazy one-night stand.
He picked up me instead. We were together for the next ten years.
But of course, Lane and Danny didn't cut off all contact. About two weeks after the breakup, Danny came over for dinner and sharing.
[Description of bedroom activity.]
But the change of boyfriends happened so quickly that Lane's friends were clueless. He introduced me around, of course, but they seemed to think that I was just a new friend, or maybe a temporary fling, a mere setback in the Saga of Danny and Lane.
When Lane and I went to the gay synagogue, the usher tried to seat us separately.
His friend saw us at the Greenery, and asked, pointedly, "So, where's Danny?"
I ran into another of his friends at the Different Light Bookstore, and was asked "How are Lane and Danny?"
A full month after we started dating, a party invitation came in the mail, addressed to Lane and Danny.
"They see me with you all the time. They never see me with Danny," Lane said. "What else can I do? Obviously I can't make an announcement!"
I had an idea. Danny was a trophy boy, so hot that no one could believe that Lane would break up with him willingly. But Danny could break up with Lane.
On the night of the party, I drove to the Valley, picked up Danny at his parents' house, and came as his date. Lane came by himself.
Danny and I stood with our arms around each other, flirted, kissed, brought each other drinks, sat together at the dinner table.
Lane said "hello" politely, but otherwise ignored us and sat by himself.
Heads turned. Tongues wagged.
At the end of the evening, Danny and I opted to go cruising at Mugi instead of "sharing" with anyone. Soon Lane joined us, effervescent.
"That was incredible!" he exclaimed. "'How are you holding up?' 'He wasn't good enough for you!' Trying to fix me up with Cute Young Things! Offers of sympathy sharing. I never had so much fun in my life!"
Finally all of West Hollywood knew that Danny and Lane were no longer a couple.
And when Lane and I appeared together, no one commented on my sudden change in allegiances. Obviously Danny was so hot that I couldn't handle him, so I latched onto Lane as the next best thing.
It's better than being Lane's "new friend" for the next 10 years.
The uncensored post, with nude photos and explicit sexual content, is on Tales of West Hollywood.