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Editor's Choice, Popular Topics, and COVID-19Finding friends
Types of gay men
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Our road map
We know we can’t please everyone, but that ship sailed the moment we put pen to paper. Even so, we hope we’ve given you a starting point from which to can explore and a reference point to come back to should you need it.
Let us know if we should add or change anything, though there’s a reasonable chance you’ll be asked to help us make it better.The Gay Men Project: The First 470 Portraits | Kevin Truong | 2013 | 7m 6s Back to top
Men loving men
This section is a happy accident, prompted by the publication of two books “63 E 9th Street. NYC Polaroids 1975 –1983” and “Loving: A Photographic History of Men in Love, 1850-1950″; and the discovery of a photograph from 1949 of two men with a handwritten note on the back: “To Buzz, I’ll always remember the times we spent together … All my love, your Tommy.”
The book’s photographs and Polaroids are a testament to love and affection between men at a time when being homosexual (or gay) was illegal, with persecution and harsh prison sentences when caught. It’s also worth noting that the Polaroids were taken on the cusp of the HIV and AIDS epidemic which laid waste a generation of gay men like those depicted, many starting out in life.
Buzz and Tommy
As for Buzz and Tommy, all we have are clues and it’s unlikely we’ll ever know their story. But, there is something seductive, even heartwarming, to want to believe that they embarked on the holiday romance of a lifetime. And yet, the same year, the United States Department of Defence standardised anti-homosexual regulations across all branches of the military: “Homosexual personnel, irrespective of sex, should not be permitted to serve in any branch of the Armed Forces in any capacity, and prompt separation of known homosexuals from the Armed Forces is mandatory.”
This is a far cry from today’s TikTok endorphin soaked gay culture. While it’s almost impolite not to strip off for your boyfriend on camera, there’s something more in these everyday vintage photographs filled with love and defiance, and revealing how gay men are threaded through – while also apart from – society and history. Some of the smaller codified gestures can be difficult to find while the position of a hand, entwined legs, or even a kiss seem terrifyingly brave.
Of the Polaroids, Bianchi recalls. “Back then we were in the early days of a revolution that seemed inevitably headed to a more loving, playful and tolerant way of being. We were innocents.” In contrast, many of the vintage photographs in “Loving” seem to express a forbidden love in which burned hardship and repressed emotions. One can only imagine the days leading to the click of the shutter, and the stories behind each photograph.
LGBT+ people have come such a long way in 100 years so perhaps it’s a little silly to compare photographs like these with TikTok. Nevertheless, it’s difficult not to be moved by these men loving men, immortalised on nitrate and cellulose acetate film, for us to celebrate and remember.‘Not married but willing to be!’: men in love from the 1850s – in pictures | The Guardian | 16 Oct 2020
This vintage photo of two lifeguards who were maybe probably more than friends has everyone talking | Queerty | 14 Apr 2020
1900–1949 in LGBT rights | Wikipedia
Vintage Gay Love | Glen Moore (Pinterest) Vintage Workingmen Beefcake | Facebook Group (Private: you need to join)
Kick the Ick | Facebook Group (Private: you need to join)
Adonises of the Silver Screen (Silent Era to 1980s) | Facebook Group (Private: you need to join) Discovering Gay Tik Tok | My Reaction | Bradley Birkholz | 31 Jan 2020 Gay’s the Word Book Shop | MEN R US
HIV ad AIDS History | MEN R US
Loving: A Photographic History of Men in Love, 1850-1950
Loving: A Photographic History of Men in Love, 1850-1950 portrays the history of romantic love between men in hundreds of moving and tender vernacular photographs taken between the years 1850 and 1950. This visual narrative of astonishing sensitivity brings to light an until-now-unpublished collection of hundreds of snapshots, portraits, and group photos taken in the most varied of contexts, both private and public.
Taken when male partnerships were often illegal, the photos here were found at flea markets, in shoe boxes, family archives, old suitcases, and later online and at auctions. The collection now includes photos from all over the world: Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, France, Germany, Japan, Greece, Latvia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, and Serbia.Loving | 5 Continents Editions | Oct 2020
Loving: A Short Documentary | Hugh Nini and Neal Treadwell | 2020 | 8m 28s
63 E 9th Street. NYC Polaroids 1975 –1983
In 1975 Tom Bianchi moved to New York City and took a job as in-house counsel at Columbia Pictures. That first year Tom was given a Polaroid SX – 70 camera by Columbia Pictures at a corporate conference. He took that camera to the Pines on summer weekends, those pictures became the book, ‘Fire Island Pines. Polaroids 1975 – 1983’ published in 2013. Now some 44 years later we finally get a first look at another extraordinary collection of polaroids by Tom taken in his NYC apartment at 63 East 9th Street. Whereas Fire Island is an expansive communal experience happening on a sunny sand bar outside of the city under huge open skies, Tom’s New York apartment was an intimate track lit den, a safe stage where he and his friends invited each other to play out their erotic night games. Tom’s ‘NYC Polaroids’ take us behind the closed door of his apartment, “Back then we were in the early days of a revolution that seemed inevitably headed to a more loving, playful and tolerant way of being. We were innocents.” Bianchi recalls.63 E 9th Street. NYC Polaroids 1975 –1983 | Tom Bianchi | Damiani | Apr 2019 Back to top
For most of us a day won’t go by without contacting a friend or mate, whether it’s just to catch up, make plans or do something together. And when our world seems to fall apart, or we just need cheering up, we turn to our friends.
Granted, friendships can take a back seat when a man walks into our life but they’re there to help you pick up the pieces after the little sod has moved on (despite the fact you deserted them while you were loved up in your flat with Mr Right).
Gay men have shared identities, coming out stories and common histories which bind us and are a bedrock of our extended family that not only protects us against loneliness and isolation but also provides a space where we are loved, supported and valued.
Underlying the magic which brings friends together is time, mutual give and take, and respect if friendships are to remain happy and healthy. Being with the wrong people who don’t love you for who you are can damage your self-image and do more harm than practically anything else. Bottom line: surround yourself with good friends and dump the ones who put you down or use you as a punch-bag.
Importantly, people come in and out of our lives for a stack of reasons: by chance, through friends, serendipity, and circumstance. It’s at this point that the seeds of friendship are often sown. Some flourish, some struggle, while some just don’t survive, however much we invest in them. But some endure over the passage of time and it’s these which will deepen and grow stronger.
How can I make gay friends without having sex with them? | Queerty | 6 Jan 2018
How to make friends as a shy, gay man | Huff Post | 23 Feb 2017
How to make friends in the gay community | Huff Post | 23 Mar 2016
The art of gay friending | Matthew J Dempsey | 27 Nov 2017 | 9m 30sBack to top
Tips for finding and making friends
In preping this section, one of our younger volunteers told us about his father who is a teacher, now retired. As you can imagine, he met many people, young and old, who were shy, reserved, anxious and nervous. The top tip he passed on to his son about making friends … or at least getting a conversation going with a stranger … is to find out a person’s passion or hobby and get them to talk about it … whether it’s sci-fi, abseiling, stamp collecting, or drag. It’s a great way to break the ice and who knows where it might lead.
The gay thing
For some, our sexuality … and whether we disclose it or not to others … is not an issue while others prefer to meet other LGBT+ people. If you’d rather not go to bars and clubs (or use apps) get involved in something socially. Check out our Get Out and Active directory.
It can also be easier … and less stressful … to make friends by not approaching it head-on, rather find an activity which you can enjoy with like-minded people, the focus being the activity rather than being in “I need a friend” mode.
We have lists …
Top tips for making friends on the Internet are broadly similar but we’ve pulled together several lists which caught our eye:
7 ways to meet guys that don’t involve Grindr or gay bars | GMFA
- Talk to strangers
- Play sport
- Go to the gym
- Take risks
How to make friends as an adult in 4 simple steps | Huff Post
- Start by getting to know yourself
- Develop your physical and emotional resources
- Chase your passions, not people
- Be proactive and invite people into your life
Seven hilarious ways Londoners make friends, as told by Redditors | Time Out
- Go to a meetup
- Try dating apps
- Take up sports
- Join a club
- Drink, party and rock ‘n’ roll
- Form a support group
- Or, just follow these bits of advice
Top tips for making friends | Childline (children and young people up to their 19th birthday)
- Find things to share
- Use your body language
- Get out there
- Starting conversations
- Give a compliment
Problems making friends | BBC Radio 1
- Talk to everyone
- Use body language
- Choose your friends wisely
- Be a good listener
- Have the courage of your convictions
Meeting apps/ platforms
There are a ton of apps and platforms encouraging us to meet people. The reason why we have highlighted Meetup and Eventbrite is that their focus is on meeting people in real life in the real world rather than perpetuating relationships and friendships online. Also, they both have LGBT sections. Our list is short (!) so clearly not exhaustive but let us know if there are any we should add.Meetup | Meetup
“Getting together with real people in real life makes powerful things happen. Side hustles become careers, ideas become movements, and chance encounters become lifelong connections. Meetup brings people together to create thriving communities.” Meetup. Eventbrite | Eventbrite
“Eventbrite is the world’s largest event technology platform. We build the technology to allow anyone to create, share, find and attend new things to do that fuel their passions and enrich their lives. Music festivals, venues, marathons, conferences, hackathons, air guitar contests, political rallies, fundraisers, gaming competitions — you name it, we power it. Our mission? To bring the world together through live experiences.” Eventbrite. Proudout | Proudout | Has pop-up ad’s
Proudout say’s it’s “one of LGBTQ+’s leading global directories, providing visitors with information about events, travel deals, service providers, and products. Back to top
Value most, like least
There are a ton of lists on the Internet about what friends should and shouldn’t be, so we’re not certain what we can offer. However, some MEN R US spunky monkeys got together over several bottles to decide what they value most and like least about friends.
It turned to be a very long night when some of the guys started going through their Facebook friends with a meat cleaver. Tears were shed, texts were sent… but contrite and bleary-eyed, the next morning gave everyone the perfect excuse for an alcohol-free brunch and time to write this up:
- A friend who loves and supports us unconditionally
- A friend who can ‘just be there’ and is around when we’re down
- A friend who can be our life coach, mentor, and all round oracle
- A friend who will help us grow personally, and share in life’s lessons
- A friend who is honest but who can be brutally honest
- A friend who challenges us and keeps us grounded (eg: when we’re being a knob)
- A friend who has fresh perspectives, judgement and integrity
- A friend who is loyal, and who can keep a secret
- A friend who nit-picks and finds fault and/ or whose bottle is always half empty
- A friend who is boringly competitive
- A friend who has to be centre of attention
- A friend who is self-absorbed and/ or self-centred
- A friend who cancels plans or breaks promises
- A friend who is manipulative and/ or controlling
- A friend who is not self-aware and/ or cannot share
- A friend who morphs into his friends rather than be his own man
- A friend who stabs you in the back or chooses personal gain over friendship
Only you can decide how close you are to your friends, and how close they are to you, but here are a few pointers:
- After spending time with them, do you feel better?
- Are you yourself when you are with them?
- Do you feel like you have to watch what you say and do?
- Can you have friends over without cleaning the flat from top to bottom?
- Would your friends drop everything if you had an emergency (including leaving work/ their bed)?
- Do you have friends who know they can just drop by?
- Do you feel the need to put your wallet away or hide valuables?
- Do friends offer to help you move before you ask?
- Would your friends watch out for you when you are wasted?
- Do you put a friend up for the night without a moment’s hesitation?
Friends behaving badly
- He drinks to the point of collapse
- He cannot manage his drugs and expects his friends to clean up after him
- He always ‘takes’ and never ‘gives’
- He puts you down in front of others
- He never chips in
- He ‘steals’ your boyfriend
- He steals
Of course there are often two sides to a story: people who drink or take drugs to excess (hurting themselves and those around them) may be trying to block stuff out or be happy when in fact they are in a pit of despair. Some people just don’t have any money to spare and feel very embarrassed about it; it’s not as though we have a solvency check when someone joins a group of friends. And the friend who puts you down may be jealous, or unhappy with his lot and envious of yours. For many, stealing from friend is a deal breaker, but have you ever asked why?
Sometimes you’re prepared to put up with it until eventually – thankfully – he works through his shit. However, if you are trying to be a friend and getting hurt in the process, it may be time to boundary your friendship in terms of when and how you see him, including who else you’re with when you do.
If this doesn’t work you may need to decide whether to give it one last try by talking with him and/ or ending the friendship. This can be both difficult and stressful, particularly if you consider him a close personal friend.
It’s tough stuff but be firm, consistent, and fair and don’t expect the talk to be one-sided. If there’s a way forward it will take both of you to make it happen. If this doesn’t work and he keeps contacting you then say you’re busy and can’t meet up; hopefully they should get the message and leave you alone. If you think this can work then you are mistaken! Bottom line: be diplomatic but honest.
Alternatively, you can ‘disappear for a few weeks’ avoiding him completely, including breaking all social media ties. This may sound a bit harsh, but life is too short to spend time with those who harm or hurt you, or make you feel bad about yourself, and/ or take you down the rabbit hole… again and again.
Whatever the reason, sometimes it’s just too tough to end a friendship. If this happens, just be aware that there may likely come a time when he drags you into shit at a whole new level, and you will eventually crash and burn together. (And maybe this is what you wanted all along).Back to top
There is always some disagreement around the terms we use and whether we should use them at all. You should therefore be sensitive if applying a type to someone, bearing in mind some gay men reject them altogether as narrow, superficial and demeaning. Equally, many simply use types affectionately and as a convenient shorthand.
It’s a bit of a bear pit (no pun intended) but here’s our take on types, though you are perfectly entitled to throw them out and be your own gay, your own homo… etc etc etc
Physical types and personal characteristics
Some guys are primarily attracted to physical types of gay men (eg: bears, twinks, and muscle guys) while some find characteristics in men most attractive (eg: warmth, intelligence, and humour). Others mix and match and understanding these distinctions is important.
For example, the type(s) of men we find attractive sexually may not necessarily be the qualities we are looking for to sustain a relationship. Trouble is, we can get so caught up in a type we can lose sight that not far beneath the surface we are all simply men wanting to be loved, respected and held. The solution involves open-mindedness, flexibility, and/ or compromise.
So, what pushes your buttons:
- A guy’s age, or the way he fits a T-shirt?
- A pencil thin physique, or the way he smiles?
- The hair on his chest, or his positive attitude to life?
- It could also be the size of his dick (though this is a whole new conversation).
Bottom line: types, preferences, and the laws of attraction are as varied as they are fickle, complex and seemingly contradictory.Handsome Man | Matt Alber | 1 Oct 2014 | 4m 44s
Gay app and website categories
Types of gay men saturate the gay media and magazines, and if the name of a club night doesn’t tell you what to expect, the promo pics will. Types of men are also pressed home by the boxes we are expected to tick on web apps. Here are the categories from 4 of them:
- Bears, bikers, builders, chubbies, clubbers, farmers, firemen, footballers, geeks, labourers, leather men, married men, medical, military, muscle men, older guys, policemen, fireman, preppies, punks, rugby players, short guys, skins, tall guys, transvestite, and transsexual. (And hot garbage men, says Luke)
- Bear, clean cut, daddy, discreet, geek, jock, leather, otter, poz, rugged, trans, and twink
- Daddy, bear, leather, geek, discreet, military, muscle, jock, bear chaser, daddy chaser, poz, college, transgender, and twink
- Slim, athletic, average, muscular, a little extra, and big guy
- Grunge… but we’re uncertain if it’s still a thing? Let us know!
Granted there’s space to write about who you are (which some of us read BTW) but who hasn’t checked out a guy’s photo, sexual position, or likes to make a snap decision as to his ‘suitability.’ Even so, it can be hard to be you when you are reduced to a string of boxes.
There’s been some hellish squabbling at MEN R US as we’ve pulled together a list of ‘popular’ types. However, our collective tongues are in our collective cheeks and we’re definitely open to additions and amendments:
- Bears: 30+, broad/ heavier build (drinks beer), usually hairy, often with facial hair. Likely habitats: RVT, XXL
- Cubs: Late 20s-30s, younger bears, usually hairy, often with facial hair. Likely habitats: RVT, XXL, Brüt, Eagle
- Chubs: Heavier to overweight (eats cake), often less hairy or none. Likely habitats: XXL
- Drag queens: Big buxom or svelte, smooth as a babies, very possibly waxed, facial hair no longer a barrier: Likely habitats: Halfway to Heaven, Molly Moggs, Two Brewers, and on stage everywhere
- Gym bunnies: Late 20s-30s, athletic to muscular build, less likely to be hairy, possibly waxed. Likely habitats: Fire, RVT, Ministry of Sound
- Hoxton Queer: Arty types of any shape or build. Likely habitats: Hoxton
- Jocks: Late 20s-30s, muscular build and gym obsessed, less likely to be hairy, possibly waxed. Likely habitats: Fire, RVT, Ministry of Sound
- Muscle bear: 30+, broad/ heavier build (drinks protein shake), usually hairy, may be trimmed or sculpted to reflect their body shape, often with facial hair. Likely habitats: RVT, XXL, Brüt, Eagle
- Otters: Late 20s to 30s, leaner, usually hairy, often with facial hair. Likely habitats: RVT, XXL, Duke of Wellington
- Pups: Late 20s-30s, lean to muscular, can be hairy, puppy genre becoming increasingly popular. Likely habitats: RVT, XXL, Brüt, Eagle
- Spunk monkey: 30s. Laid back but easily excited around men. Into long bouts of energetic bouncy Tiggerish sex. Likely habitats: Brüt, XXL (barred from the Eagle)
- Twinks: Late teens-early 20s, boyish features, thinner to slim build, usually smooth, may have highlights. Likely habitats: GAY, QBar, Heaven
- Boy (Boi): Huge in the 1990s, a young gay man with bleach blond hair often wearing a boy T-shirt and cap. As sexy-tragic then as it is now, there are rumblings the word is being reclaimed and re-imagined by today’s queer community.
- Wolves: Late 30s to 40s, lean to semi muscular, usually hairy, often with facial hair. Likely habitats: RVT, XXL, Brüt
- Everyone else: And everyone else
Those we have not included from the list of web app categories you can probably work out for yourself and there is a lot of overlap. For example, ‘preppies’ tend to be ‘clean cut’, ‘bears’ and ‘muscle guys’ are also ‘bikers’, and ‘daddies’ are a not so much a type rather a state of mind and an attitude.
So, when a guy shows you no interest it maybe because:
- He’s attracted to guys without hair (and you have a full head of hair)
- He’s attracted to slim, toned guys (while you are broad shouldered and muscular)
- He’s attracted to shorter guys (and you’re taller than him)
- He’s attracted to a particular skin colour or ethnicity
Or maybe it’s because he doesn’t see you smile or you slept with his ex. Where does it end?!!
Build it and they will come
Not even a life time ago, when the gay scene was smaller, having visible and shared identities was a way of finding each other (literally, in some cases) and bringing us together. And we should rightly be proud of this. The leather, clone and denim scenes dominated the 80s, the muscle scene has been pumping iron since the 90s, and the bear scene has been on the rise since the 00s; each with their interpretation of masculinity and what it is to be gay. London’s bear scene, for example, started because they had no place to go and (some say) a reluctance by other parts of the scene to share and play nice. The bears have built their own scene and the otters, wolves and cubs have come! Unfortunately some of these scenes have come self absorbed and ‘exclusive’ morphing back into the very thing they sought to over come.Inside The World Famous Tom of Finland House With Terry Miller | It Gets Better Project | 8 May 2018 | 6m 39s Tom of Finland: Archive 2008 | homotopiafestival | 5 Dec 2013 | 12m 50s
Touko Laaksonen born a Finn. He was a soldier,advertising executive, pianist, artist, had a destiny, to be the liberator ‘ TOM OF FINLAND ‘ giving homosexual males an identity and releasing them from the shackles of guilt and shame. Pups, Otters, and Large Furry Men: Thomas Morton on the Slanguage of Bears | Vice | 20 Apr 2016 | 3m 40s
Are Gay Men More Masculine? | AsapTHOUGHT | 27 Apr 2016 Gay Men: Are You a Jock, Otter, Bear or Wolf? | Hub Pages | 31 May 2015
The Queer Collective video inspired by Charli XCX’s Boys music video (2017)
The Queer Collective put a call out for anyone who identifies with the word ‘boy’ to make a video inspired by Charli XCX’s Boys music video because they wanted to showcase the diversity of the word ‘boy.’ And while GMHC loves our American cousins it’s great to have a video like this made in the UK.BOYS: The LGBTQ+ Video | Dir. Harry Adams | 8 Dec 2017 | 2m 44s
The future of queer: a manifestoThe future of queer: a manifesto | Fenton Johnson | Harper’s Magazine | Jan 2018
In the spring of 2017, for the first time since publishing a memoir set at the height of San Francisco’s AIDS epidemic, I summoned the nerve to teach a course on memoir—which is to say, at least as I taught it, a course on the necessity of personal witness, a course against forgetting. Mostly I avoided the subject of AIDS, not wanting to be the grizzled old veteran croaking war stories to a classroom of undergraduates. But since AIDS memoirs are among the best examples of the genre, I decided I had to foray into the minefields of those memories. I surprised myself by choosing not one of several poignant memoirs but the edgy anger of Close to the Knives, by the artist David Wojnarowicz, with its hustler sex and pickup sex and anonymous sex on the decaying piers of Chelsea and amid the bleak emptiness of the Arizona desert, one eye cocked at the rearview mirror to watch for the cop who might appear and haul your naked ass to the county jail, sixty miles of rock and creosote bushes distant.1 Wojnarowicz was thirty-seven years old when he died of AIDS in 1992.
Click here for full article.
Who sounds gay?
A short documentary explores the reasons that some men sound stereotypically gay, whether they are or not.
“For the last few years, I’ve wondered why some men “sound gay.” I began asking people for their thoughts on the subject, and received a surprising range of answers. Some people said the gay voice was a put-on, like a man in a conspicuously sparkly dress. Others thought gay men sounded gay just to let other gay men know they were. Some thought that every man who sounds gay is gay, even if he claims otherwise. A lot of people said, “Wow, I don’t know.”
I decided to make a film about the stereotype of the “gay voice” and my own anxieties around “sounding gay” (I am gay, and sometimes worry that my voice gives me away before I’m ready to come out). I interviewed strangers on the street for the film because, as I discovered, the origin of men’s gay-sounding voices intrigues people of all backgrounds, regardless of their sexual orientation. (I subsequently became intrigued by the intrigue.) Nobody knows for sure why some people sound stereotypically gay and others don’t. This Op-Doc video explores one of the prominent theories.
As you watch, consider something that a linguist kept reminding me: There’s no such thing as a fundamentally gay voice. Plenty of men may sound gay, but their voices aren’t evidence that they are gay. What we call the “gay voice” belongs to us all.” David Thorpe.
Bearspace: geographies of the double stigma of sexuality/fatness in a gay/bisexual men’s subculture | Research: June 2018 – June 2019
This research attends to an unexplored intersection of geographies of sexualities, and fatness/obesity. In a nation grappling with an ‘obesity epidemic’, fat people in the UK are highly stigmatised as unhealthy and sexually repulsive, with resultant serious mental/physical health impacts. Fat stigma is intensified in gay/bisexual men’s spaces, yet the impacts of fat stigma on men’s health or sexuality have received little attention.
The project aims to uncover the role of geography in the marginalisation and/or empowerment of fat gay/bisexual men in the UK. It engages with space, fatness and sexuality through work in the ‘Bear’ community – a large global subculture of large-bodied gay/bisexual men.
The double stigma of fatness/sexuality has significant impacts on Bears’ mental and physical health, and Bear bars, clubs, and events are consequently experienced as ‘safe spaces’ for those excluded from both mainstream (due to sexuality) and gay/bisexual men’s spaces (due to fatness). The project will develop six case studies of UK Bear spaces, each comprising an on-site focus group, individual interviews, and the researcher’s own autoethnographic account as a self-identified Bear.Bearspace: geographies of the double stigma of sexuality/fatness in a gay/bisexual men’s subculture | University of Brighton
Bearspace | University of Brighton Back to top
Random Acts is Channel 4’s short film strand dedicated to the arts, founded in 2011 to escape the conventions of arts broadcasting and to create and showcase the world’s boldest and most innovative creative short form work. Featured below, artist David Hoyle on his first time attending a gay club, Kareem Reid on navigating the world as a queer black body, Ian McKellen on growing up gay and coming out, and two young men try and hide a secret from their community.Artist David Hoyle on his first time attending a gay club | Random Acts | 3 Jul 2017 | 3m 23s
Kareem Reid on navigating the world as a queer black body | Random Acts | 7 Aug 2017 | 4m 24s
Ian McKellen on growing up gay and coming out | Random Acts | 7 Apr 2017 | 3m 58s
Two young men try and hide a secret from their community | Crashing Waves by Emma Gilbertson | Random Acts | 24 Aug 2018 | 3m 12s University funds research into bears | Pink News | 11 Jul 2018 Back to top
CampCamp (style) | Wikipedia
What Alan Carr taught me about gay men’s homophobia | The Guardian | 20 Apr 2014
Queer Language | Rictor Norton
Why does society still have a problem with camp men? | The Telegraph | 21 Feb 2014
The History of Camp | Film Reference
On the Persistence of Camp | Gay and Lesbian Review | 1 Mar 2013
Polari: Origin Of Gay Slang (Read It, Mary!) | Queerty | 30 Mar 2006 Camp Needs More Gay | rantasmo | 17 May 2016 Back to top
Racism and gay men
“Racism of all kinds is always despicable but experiencing it from within the LGBTQ community can have a particularly negative impact on QTIPOC. In a world still often not accepting of LGBTQ people, QTIPOC also have to deal with discrimination in the community that should be there to support them. This can lead to isolation, loneliness, and poor mental health, on top of the direct impact of the racism, discrimination and violence they may experience. This is why it’s so key that white people are more vocal about challenging racist behaviour within the LGBTQ community, even when QTIPOC aren’t around and when they do not feel able or safe to challenge it themselves.”
Tackling common myths and misconceptions, and clarifying questions asked of QTIPOC (queer, trans and/or intersex people of colour) | Stonewall
Why you might be guilty of white fragility | Stonewall
The importance of QTIPOC specific spaces | Stonewall
Using the terms BAME and PoC | Stonewall
Cultural appropriation and why it can be so damaging | Stonewall
The impact of tokenisation | Stonewall
The impact of microaggressions | Stonewall
What its really like for QTIPOC in relationships | Stonewall
The experiences of Muslim and LGBTQ people | Stonewall
The experiences of QTIPOC in the workplace | Stonewall
The experiences of QTIPOC navigating health services | Stonewall
What does intersectionality actually mean? | Stonewall
The difference between racism and institutional racism | Stonewall
The difference between racism and colourism | Stonewall
Three things you can do to be an ally to the QTIPOC community | Stonewall
Three surveys from GMFA about racism and gay men
Sexual racism is sexual discrimination or sex preference and prejudice based on a person’s skin colour and/ or perceived ethnicity. It is one of the most psychologically damaging and mentally exhausting forms of racism on the gay scene, on gay scenes online, and around the world.
“Recently over 850 Black, White, Asian, South Asian, Arab and mixed-race gay men shared their thoughts on race and racism with GMFA. More than two-thirds of the men from the Black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds had personally experienced racism on the scene.”
Racism and the gay scene | GMFA FS #148
“Over 400 white gay men filled in a short survey for GMFA who asked for their honest thoughts on racism on the gay scene – whether they discriminate against other races, whether they have ever experienced racism themselves, and their general thoughts about preference vs. racism.”
Dear white gay men (Survey) | GMFA FS #148
“Of course not all white gay men are racist. Many of the men in the survey were shocked and outraged by instances of racism they had observed on the scene. However, there were also plenty of examples of casual racism in some of the responses from the white guys in the survey. And we were surprised by some examples of more overt racism.”
I’m black but you still have to ask for consent | GMFA | FS #162#
Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic LGBT+ Organisations
Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic LGBT+ Organisations | MEN R US
Black Lives Matter
Black Lives Matter | MEN R US
BAME Voices from StonewallVisibility | BAME Voices | Stonewall | 27 Nov 2018 | 2m 21s
Race | BAME Voices | Stonewall | 27 Nov 2018 | 3m 33s
Culture | BAME Voices | Stonewall | 27 Nov 2018 | 2m 53s
Religion | BAME Voices | Stonewall | 27 Nov 2018 | 4m 40s
Gender | BAME Voices | Stonewall | 27 Nov 2018 | 5m 28s
Accessing health services
In March 2015, Guy’s and St Thomas’ published a report dealing with the sexual health, mental health, access to services and social issues of Black, Latino and other minority groups. The report found:
- Racism on the gay scene
- Black gay men found racism on the gay scene to outweigh homophobia within Black communities
- Black men often feel they are sexualised and objectified and used as ‘accessories’ for white men
- They are presumed to have large cocks and to be sexually aggressive
- They feel like they are not recognised as a whole person, and once the sex is over they are discarded
- In contrast Latino gay men found stereotypes, such as being ‘hot lovers’ to be a positive thing
- Both groups expressed the view that the gay scene is segmented and elitist and this can have an impact on their self-esteem
More stories on film
Creating your own space to be black and gay
Lee Gray came out to his traditional Caribbean family in an unusual manner but thankfully they were welcoming of his decision to come out. However, Lee is well aware that his experience isn’t the norm across the black community and has set up a podcast helping black people navigate through the world of LGBTQ. His advice? Create your own space to be the person that you want to be.
Creating your own space to be black and gay | HuffPost | 6 Feb 2019 | 5m 5s
Beyond labels: what does it mean to be Black and gay in the UK?
What does it mean to be Black and gay in the UK? Back in 2010, GMFA explored the life experiences of a group of men who all too often have been rendered invisible in history and stigmatised by their own communities because of their sexuality and race.
Beyond abels: what does it mean to be Black and gay in the UK? | LGBT HERO | 7 Aug 2018 | 57m 48s
Is there racism in the gay community | Kyle Krieger | 30 Aug 2016 | 8m 37s
You’re really sweet, I’m just not into Black guys | ImFromDriftwood | 31 Dec 2014 | 4m 40s
Racism and the gay community | rh2ac | 13 Jan 2015 | 7m 30s
Race | The Grindr guide (Ep. 4) | 6 Mar 2013 | 2m 35s
Racist dating profiles | Davey Wavey | 10 Feb 2013 | 2m 11s
Wolves in the City
Wolves in the City is a podcast for black men who are exploring their sexuality in the city. Hosted by Youtube Presenter Lee Gray, Grime Artist Karnage Kills and DJ Jay Jay Revlon. This podcast is not suitable for the workplace. You have been warned.
Wolves in the City | Podcast | Lee Gray, Karnage Kills and Jay Jay Revlon
Articles and featuresGay communities are rife with racism. Removing Grindr’s ethnicity filters won’t fix that | GQ | 2 Jul 2020
Grindr is deleting its ‘ethnicity filter’. But racism is still rife in online dating | The Conversation | 7 Jun 2020
The Gay Community’s Obsession With Status and Looks Has Huge Mental Health Costs | Them | 7 Apr 2020
Racism, marginalisation and PrEP stereotypes affect PrEP uptake for black MSM in London | nam aidsmap | 9 Apr 2019
Dealing with racism in gay online dating | ABC Life | 28 Feb 2019
Challenging racism in the LGBT community | Stonewall | 28 Jun 2018
Dear white gay men, racism is not “just a preference” | Phillip Henry | 19 Jan 2018
LGBTI racism: How to fix the exclusion of black and Asian people | Gay Star News | 26 Jul 2017
Gay bars can be mind-bogglingly racist | Vice | 22 Apr 2017
An open letter about racism in the gay community | Attitude | 4 Jun 2015 Sexual racism sux! | Sexual Racism Sux | Facebook Cover
Racism In The LGBT community | Wikipedia
God’s Other Children | Vernal Scott | CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform | 2013 LGBT racism: ‘I felt like a piece of meat’ | BBC News | 14 Feb 2020 Back to top
Hugs and cuddles
Often underrated and misunderstood, hugs (especially big hugs) and cuddles are two of the most natural ways to express our friendship, and show closeness and affection. Cuddling, particularly, can also lower blood pressure and heart rate, reduce fear and anxiety, and reduce stress. What’s not to like?!
Whether between mates or partners, it’s often best enjoyed and appreciated as a stand-alone activity without ulterior motives or hidden agendas.
Be mindful that cuddling can be interpreted as an exploratory step between ‘friends’, or a prelude to sex (though cuddling can be a big turn off if sex is always the end game). We can also get carried away, particularly if we misread signals.
There is more about Hugs and cuddles under our sex section.
Sometimes we just like to be held by another guy, or to hold a guy. It’s an instant mood boost, can dispense with words, and help us feel better about each other and ourselves.
So, make your intentions clear such as a touch on the arm rather than a hand on his crotch, or a gentle rub on his shoulder rather than finger tips snaking down to his arse crack. If you’re all loved up with a new guy in your life, lots of cuddles add an important dimension to your relationship, helping develop feelings of intimacy, confidence and trust.Can I Cuddle Hold You | All About Strength | 11 Dec 2015 | 2m 28s
How to Give Amazing F*cking Hugs! | Davey Wavey | 14 Apr 2014 | 2m 16s
First Gay Hug (Extras) | The Gay Women’s Project | 16 Apr 2014 | 2m 20s
Ellen Hugs Lesbian from Audience | RainbowlLove74 | 16 Mar 2011 | 1m 49s
Free Hugs Campaign | 22 Sep 2006 | 3m 39s Back to top
Polari is an eclectic mix of slang, dialects and foreign words, and original words and phrases, woven into English language grammar and syntax. Even today, you have used Polari if you’ve ever had a few bevvies at the pub, zhooshed up your bijou flat, or said something is a bit naff.
Before homosexuality was decriminalised, Polari allowed gay people to speak openly and identify themselves as gay without attracting unwanted interest or the attention of undercover charpering omis (policemen). Unless you were in the know, you would only partially understand what was being said and hear nothing incriminating.How gay men used to speak: a short film in Polari | Brian Fairbairn and Karl Eccleston | 24 Jun 2015 | 6m 17s
MoreLearn these shady Polari phrases during quarantine, You cackling Alice! | Hornet | Daniel Villarreal | 3 Apr 2020
Polari: The code language gay men used to survive | BBC Culture | 13 February 2018
Polari | The One BBC: One Show 17 Jan 2010 | 4m 00s
Stuart Feather and Bette Bourne talk about Polari | Re-Dock | 28 May 2014 | 4m 40s
Bona Eke: Song in Polari | artdecoandy | 7 Dec 2014 | 5m 03s Polari | Wikipedia
Polari: Word List | Chris Denning
Polari, a vibrant language born out of prejudice | The Guardian | 24 May 2010
The secret language of polari | Merseyside Maritime Museum
Polari Magazine | Polari Magazine Back to top
Vocabulary and phrases
Dolly: Nice or pleasant
Nante: None or nothing
Here are some examples of Polari phrases:
- How bona to varda your dolly old eek!
How good to see your dear old face!
- Vada the dolly dish, shame about his bijou lallies
Look at the attractive man, shame about his short legs
- Can I troll round your lally?
Can I have a look around your house?
Writer/ editor Daniel Villarreal penned some shady Polari phrases during the COVID-19 lockdown. Enjoy!*
- I’m not into palone-omees because I’m not bibi, but anyone with ogles can varda that she’s got a bona bod.
I’m not into lesbians because I’m not bisexual, but anyone with eyes can see that she’s got a nice body.
- I’ve nanti dinarly; park me some handbag for another buvare.
I’ve got no money. Give me some money for another drink.
- Mais oui ducky! Let’s nish the chat and go troll for rough trade … just gardy loo for chickens and don’t blag an orderly daughter!
Oh yes! Let’s stop talking and go walking for a working-class sex partner … just watch out for underage men and don’t pick up a cop!
- Everyone thinks that auntie is a total fruit, but her gildy clobber makes me think she’s a duchess.
Everyone thinks that older gay man is a total old queen, but his nice clothes make me think he’s a rich gay man.
- I don’t mean to cackle, but he’s not manly Alice. When I first varda-ed at her mince at the sweat chovey, I thought, “She’s mauve.”
I don’t mean to gossip, but he’s not a masculine gay man. When I first looked at his effeminate walk at the gym, I thought, “He’s someone who appears to be gay.”
- As an omi, he’s naff. But in drag, she’s fantabulosa! She titivates with fortuni slap, zhooshes up a switch and is one hell of a hoofer.
As a man, he’s dull. But in women’s clothes, he’s fabulous! She makes herself look great with gorgeous makeup, styles up a wig and is one hell of a dancer.
- And no flies! It’s so bona to vada you! Your lovely eek and your riah! Sharda that we don’t palare more often!
Honestly! It’s so good to see you. Your lovely face and hair! What a shame that we don’t talk more often!
- I’ve nanti jarry, nante latty and what’s worse, nante doss. I’m basically living off the national handbag — I might as well become a Dilly boy.
I’ve no food, no place to live and what’s worse, no bed. I’m basically living on welfare — I might as well become a male sex worker.
Julian and SandyRound the Horne: Julian and Sandy | BBC | 9m 55s
Episode clips: Bona Ads, Bona Bauffont, The Lazy Bona Ranch, Bona Rags, Carnby Street Hunt, Bona Tours Ltd
Polari started declining after the 1967 Sexual Offences Act made homosexuality legal. Nevertheless, it is a proud part of our LGBT history.Back to top
Gay men also move to London to escape intolerance, homophobia, and violence. Most of us have heard at least one heartbreaking coming out story, and who hasn’t been asked “Have you come out… what was it like… does your family know?”
What new arrivals often don’t realise is that London is one of the high maintenance capitals of the world. Living there is tough, and being happy tougher still. It can be very lonely, and even lonelier than the past you came from. Many of us are happy in London, some of us do OK, but some of us struggle.
So, whether you’ve travelled from a field in Norfolk, a village halfway around the world, or from a family who do not accept you for who you are, the quality of the friendships you make will be a key to your happiness and well-being. And that’s a promise.Summer of Love ‘21? How London’s clubs are preparing for the return of the Big Night Out | Evening Standard | 9 Mar 2021
‘We lost the love’: UK nightclubs using Covid crisis to reassess scene | The Guardian | 21 Aug 2020
Life after lockdown: will London ever be the same? | Huck | 7 May 2020
Nine reasons why London is the best place on earth to be gay | Time Out | 14 Jun 2016
The ‘gaytrification’ effect: why gay neighbourhoods are being priced out | The Guardian | 13 Jun 2016
17 things you’ll learn when you move to London | Gay Star News | 16 Oct 2015
Are people in London more likely to be gay? | Pink News | 1 Oct 2015
FilmsWhy does London have 32 boroughs? | Jay Forman | 4 Apr 2020
Oldest Footage of London Ever | Yestervid | 16 Apr 2015 | 11m 2s
Jason Hawkes: London Aerial Footage | Jack Cook 7 Jan 2015 | 5m 13s
Oldest Footage of London Ever | Yestervid | 16 Apr 2015 | 11m 2s
Jason Hawkes: London Aerial Footage | Jack Cook 7 Jan 2015 | 5m 13s
Story of Two Gay Men: Ireland and London (Documentary) | No Credits | 7 Jul 2016 | 14m 11s
London in 1927 & 2013 | Simon Smith | 30 Dec 2013 | 6m 1s
Jason Hawkes: London from the Air | Den of Lambs | 9 Sep 2012 | 4m 2s
Queer Tours of London
Queers Tours of London shines a light on London’s rich LGBTQI history through creative and life-affirming interactive tours. The tours tell the stories of London’s queer history, shedding light on the lives, spaces, identities, repression and resistance that form the backdrop of LGBTQI lives today.
Queers Tours of London do this through educational, accessible and interactive walking tours, cabarets, street-art and events that bring life to the complexities and lived experiences of our history, present and vision for the future – watch this space for the calendar of events.Queer Tours of London
London Underground: 150 fascinating Tube facts | Telegraph | 6 Jul 2015
LGBT+ London or should it be LGBTQIAABAACG
Greater London is 1,572 square kilometres (607 sq miles) and you will live in one of 33 boroughs that make up the Capital, packed with 8½ million people from all backgrounds, cultures, creeds and colours. Running beneath your feet are 402 kilometres (249 miles) of Underground carrying 1.265 billion passengers a year. It’s expensive, noisy, and it will take you an hour plus to cross the City, north to south, east to west.
The debate as to whether a single gay community exists is an old one, and London is no different. One is more inclined to say it is a diverse range of smaller communities with local geographies within the Capital. In the past, London’s wider LGBT community has come together in times of need: gay liberation in the 60s/ 70s, march against Clause 28, and created from scratch a network of life-giving community AIDS/HIV services in the 80s and 90s. Annual Pride marches in London stretch back to 1972, and while Soho has the largest concentration of gay venues in London there are many smaller scenes and communities threaded across the City.
London Underground | Wikipedia
London | Wikipedia
London’s top 10 towers | The Guardian | 5 May 2014 Soho Goes Gay: Greek Street, Soho (1955) | British Pathé | 13 Apr 2014 | 2m 8s Back to top
The gay scene
A brief history of the gay scene
Barely 60 years ago one of the few places you could meet other gay men was in a public toilet. Not only was it frightening and dangerous, but police arrest and the subsequent court appearance would almost certainly cost you your job, family and home. Any friends you had would vanish, if only to protect themselves. Coming out to your family was unheard of, health advice and support for gay men were virtually non-existent and access to the small homosexual scene was only for those in the know.
If you’re in your 80s you’ll remember this all too well. If you’re in your 70s you’ll have witnessed the fight for recognition and the law that legalised sex between men. If you’re in your 60s you’ll have visited the new pubs and clubs. If you’re in your 40-50s you’ll have experienced first-hand the AIDS epidemic. And, if you’re in your 20s or 30s under the illusion that you invented gay life: please think again.
In the 60s, when the SK (Gay Social) Group was formed, gay men and women looking for a little bit more than a backstreet bar or cottage, have set to and baked, knitted and organised their own communities, and today we enjoy their legacy. If you were around in the early 70s, you had little option but to make your own ‘amusement’, hence the existence of the Gay Liberation Front, the Campaign for Homosexual Equality or a local befriending group. Thirty years ago they were playgrounds in the same way that Mardi Gras is today.
We would do well to spare a thought for the small group of flamboyant people prepared to give us all a bad name by taking to the streets and laying the foundations of the major festivals and events which exist today. Gay men and lesbians also laid the foundations for the effective responses that our community had in spreading the message about AIDS when it came along. Gay men became – and often still are – the backbone of many AIDS organisations and self-help groups who took that ethos of self-help and went on to apply it to all people with HIV.
Some volunteer or give money, or provide other support, to our communities and groups. Volunteers get involved for as many reasons as there are people, giving a few hours a week to a lifetime of commitment. And forget the woolly socks goody-two-shoes image, along the way we find lovers, get skills we never dreamed of and meet people we would never normally talk to in a million years. It’s a great way to find out more about yourself and what you can do.
One thing that’s true is that not only do you get back what you put in, but you can end up with a whole lot more beside – community, friends, respect and a more rounded understanding of who we are, pride in the fact that you didn’t wait for the plague wagon to carry your friends off, pride that you got accepted because of who you are not in spite of it, pride in the fact that when someone is in the same difficult spot as you once were, you can be there for them.
The rise of the scene …
While the gay scene grew steadily from the early 70s, in the last decade it has changed dramatically. The boarded-up windows and alleyway entrances of the ‘twilight world of the homosexual’ have evolved into a thriving industry of trendy bars, restaurants, cafés and shops filled with the latest fashion, lifestyle accessories and sexual accoutrements. A new generation of gyms and saunas have exploded on to the scene while myriad pubs and clubs continue to serve up a wide range of music, theme nights and sex venues. Pride, Mardi Gras, and other festivals and exhibitions have helped to revolutionise our image.
Even the smallest town can usually boast a gay pub, and new venues spring up every year. Nevertheless, access to the ‘playground’ is often dependent on living near a town or city with a scene of some kind, and having sufficient cash and the confidence to go out and play. Many gay men still live in desperate isolation, survive on nominal wages and have yet to find the confidence and opportunity to travel the yellow brick road.
Going to the gay bar | BBC Radio 4 | 14 Sep 2019 | 57m
Performance artist and writer Travis Alabanza asks if the venues have served the purpose they were originally built for or if now, more than ever, LGBTQ+ people need these spaces. Speaking to Professor Ben Campkin from UCL, Travis finds out why individual venues are closing and the impact of their loss.
Summer of love: Exploring London’s LGBT clubbing scene | i-D | 30 Jun 2016 | 3m 5s
The fall of the scene
While successive generations have reinvented the gay scene, there’s no denying the 70s, 80s and 90s were awesome adventures while also devastating for many. As today’s generation disappears into cyberspace … it may want to take a peek at what we once built and what … some argue … we are letting slip away.
Rent hikes and gentrification also have their part to play but since the recession in 2008, LGBT venues have been shutting at a faster rate than ever before.
While some say we don’t need a scene anymore there are buds of a new more inclusive scene and maybe it will be this generation that reimagines the scene(s) our LGBT+ communities need tomorrow today.
There will also an appraisal as to how the COVD-19 pandemic has decimated the scene further or if it will survive!
News and articlesThe memoir unearthing the vibrant history of the gay bar: Why we went out | Huck | 17 Feb 2021
Somewhere to go: the fight for London’s queer spaces | Huck Mag | 21 Apr 2020
Space promised for LGBTQ occupier in London following backlash over eviction of XXL | Attitude | 28 Aug 2019
London gay nightclub XXL could close to make room for luxury flats | Pink News | 28 Jun 2019
Queer today, gone tomorrow: the fight to save LGBT nightlife | The Guardian | 3 Apr 2019
Turbulent times for London’s gay scene | HuffPost | 7 Nov 2017
A short history of the British gay bar | Vice | 17 May 2017
Gay nightlife Is dying and Grindr and gentrification are to blame | Vice 27 Jul 2017
A short history of the British gay bar | Vice | 17 May 2017
LGBT London: what venue closures mean for the capital’s future | The Guardian | 21 Apr 2017
24 photos that show London’s disappearing lesbian and gay scene | BuzzFeed News | 28 Aug 2015
Why are London’s gay bars disappearing? | BBC | 28 Aug 2015
The Black Cap closed a week after being awarded ‘asset of community value’ status | The Independent | 14 Apr 2015
Closing time: the loss of iconic gay venues is a nasty side-effect of London’s sanitisation | New Statesman | 11 Mar 2015
Bar and club archiveTimeline of London Bars and Clubs | LGBT History Archive
Timeline of London Bars and Clubs | Wikipedia
Gay in the 80s | Gay in the 80s
Centred is a community organisation run by diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ) people. Its main activities include: publishing, community events, networking, volunteering, LGBTQ history and heritage activities, and community infrastructure.
Its work focuses on diverse LGBTQ experiences, especially where these issues intersect with experiences concerning race, gender, disability, deafness, age and minority faith. It work closely with friends, family and allies who also wish to achieve equality for all.Centered | Studio 4a, 16 Kingly Street, London W1B 5PT | 020 7437 6063 Helpline, advice and victim support | MEN R US Back to top
LGBTQI nightlife spaces in London
The project uses surveys and archival study to map the breadth and diversity of the LGBTQI scene, gathering additional data from community members, venue managers, event promoters and performers through surveys, workshops and interviews.
The research highlights the diversity of the capital’s LGBTQI nightlife, as an important contributor to neighborhoods and the wider night-time and cultural economy. Through survey and interview data it also shows the importance of these spaces to community life, welfare and wellbeing.
LGBTQI nightlife spaces in London | UCL Urban Laboratory
“In July 2017, we released our full report from the project, which showed that the number of LGBTQI venues in London has fallen by 58% from 125 to 53 since 2006. Reasons given for this fall include the negative impacts of large-scale developments on venue clusters, a lack of implementation of safeguarding measures in the existing planning system and the sale and change of use of property by landlords whereby venue owners, operators and clients have severely limited negotiating power compared with large organisations.
The Mayor of London has supported this work as part of the development of a Cultural Infrastructure Plan. This is a manifesto commitment by the Mayor and will be published in 2018. The Plan will identify what London needs to sustain and develop culture up to 2030. The collection of quantitative data on venues openings and closures will be reflected within this as part of the capital’s cultural infrastructure. In making this commission, the Greater London Authority (GLA) note the ‘significant work’ published in our interim report.”
UCL Urban Laboratory is a crossdisciplinary centre for critical and creative urban thinking, teaching, research and practice, based at University College London. Raze Collective | Raze Collective
The Raze Collective is a new charity established to support, develop and nurture queer performance in the UK, defining queer performance as “performing arts undertaken by people who identify as Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Intersex (LGBTQI) or that contains LGBTQI themes, content or context.”
Helpline, advice and victim support | MEN R USBack to top
London scene listings
QX Gay London | QX
Boyz Online Gay Scene Magazine | Boyz
Time Out London LGBT | Time Out
OutSavvy | OutSAvvy |
LGBTQ Meetups in London | Meetup
Patroc: Gay Travel Guide Europe | Patroc
TheGayUK | TheGayUK |
Polari Magazine |
45 years of Pride: LGBT+ Londoners chat … through the decades | Time Out | 7 Jul 2017
Gay London: a guide to clubs, bars, cabaret and culture | The Guardian | 15 Oct 2015
Helpline, advice and victim support | MEN R USBack to top
Lost Gay London
Lost Gay London on Facebook is awesome … keeping the memories of London’s past gay scene alive … pulling together some amazing memories, film clips, photos, and newspaper articles…. and remembering what we have loved and lost.
While successive generations have reinvented the gay scene, there’s no denying the 70s, 80s and 90s were awesome adventures while also devastating for many. As today’s generation seems to move inexorably toward cyberspace … it may want to take a look at what was once built and what … some argue … we are letting slip away. Or maybe we don’t need a scene? Or maybe it will be this generation that reimagines the scene(s) our LGBT+ communities need tomorrow, today.Lost Gay London | Lost Gay London HRH Regina Fong: Advanced Typewriter | Lost Gay London
Peter Tatchell talks about the first London Pride | Lost Gay London
Trade: 23rd Birthday Party | Lost Gay London
Helpline, advice and victim support | MEN R USBack to top
Pubs clubs and bars
Pubs, clubs and bars are an obvious place to meet friends and are still among the easiest places to find other gay men, though the massive increase in the use of apps has hammered the traditional gay scene hard. We will eventually realise what we’ve done and may well bitterly regret the time we turned our backs on our scene.
The skills we use for cruising, meeting and chatting-up are pretty universal and can be adapted for use just about anywhere. Above all, if you go out thinking you’re going to find ‘him’ you are likely to be disappointed. The air of desperation is easily recognised and drives many men away.
Go with the flow, relax and enjoy yourself. You’ll be a much better mood, you’ll communicate better and if you don’t pick up it’ll be a case of “so what… there’s always tomorrow” rather than beating yourself up over failure.
- Say hello to security on the door as you walk in – you never know when you might need them.
- A lot of bar etiquette is macho stuff inherited from traditional pub culture where you can only ‘be a man’ if you look tough and drink a man’s drink; it’s against this we can be measured. You should drink exactly what you want, although bear in mind that certain combinations may make you less-looked-for cruising material. When was the last time you saw a skinhead with a piña colada, or a drag queen holding a pint of Guinness. In fact, we’ve seen both and they were tremendous!
- If you smoke, make sure your pack is to hand and you’re not wrestling with a drink and lighter (through some guys are very skilled). Seems an age ago, but as a consequence of the Health Act 2006 smoking in enclosed spaces was banned on 1 July 2007 and venues were quick to establish smoking zones outside. Better still, why not give up? You’ll have better health and only your drink to worry about.
- Find a place that gives you a decent view of what’s going on, but, if it’s busy, avoid the main thoroughfares to and from the bar, coat-check, toilets, dance floor and loudspeakers.
- A busy venue is not necessarily a great place to cruise. If the venue’s packed with punters moving around like herds of cattle it can be difficult to both see and be seen.
- Guys are likely to look at you so, even if you’re shy, try to acknowledge them with a friendly look or smile rather than looking as if you’ve lost a contact lens at the bottom of your glass.
- By all means move around, but not so much as to appear desperate or nervous. Someone could be looking for you, and staying in a couple of regular spots improves his chances of finding you.
- Difficult though this might be to believe, you can’t cruise everyone! So identify a few guys and concentrate on them.
Helpline, advice and victim support | MEN R USBack to top
Unfortunately, this can be at the expense of some common sense stuff that can help a first meeting get off to a flying start. On some of the larger scenes we can also compromise our chances: if one guy doesn’t fit the bill within a nanosecond, we move on to the next. This sort of behaviour can become habitual and you’ll miss out on some great men.
Unless you’re carving notches on the bed post, it’s the quality not the quantity that counts. How we connect with other men varies enormously but if you like someone let him know. If you don’t he’ll never know what he’s missing. The looks… the glances… the ‘ballet’ around the venue to find better vantage points (from which to see or be seen) or to engineer a close encounter… are all part of the ritual to reduce the possibility of rejection. (Of course, if we could handle the rejection better, more of us would go straight up to a guy, say hello, and take it from there).
We often aim to find a balance between showing interest, casually ignoring him, and making our intentions clear. Eventually though you should do something about it, if only to spare yourself the nagging doubt as you go home alone.Furious Saint Jack | Dir. Ethan Roberts (US) | 2014 | 3m 38s
Many of us have developed our own individual styles of chatting to and picking up men and so the following suggestions may seem contrived. But, if you go through the following points, you’ll probably pick at least one thing you could do better (apart from him).
Everyone has an opening line and it’s not as if we haven’t heard them all before – particularly the crap ones. Even if it’s terrible, you’ve plucked up the courage to say “Hi!” and that’s more than he’s done if he’s just standing there waiting for you to make the first move. However, just for the record, here are a few chat-up lines that didn’t quite work out as intended:
- “Is that a gun in your pocket or are you pleased to see me?” “It’s a gun.”
- “What would it take to get a kiss from you?” “Chloroform.”
- “My friends have told me about you…” “What friends?”
- “What’s your idea of a perfect date?” “The one I was having before you came over.”
- “Got a light?” “Yes.”
In the first instance, conversation should be easy-going and relaxed and any questions should be straightforward. If you start with something clever or devastatingly witty you may catch him off-guard or put him on the spot. He may then feel he needs to match you and if he’s shy or out of practice then you’ve immediately put him at a disadvantage. On the other hand, some guys do it to sort out the men from the boys, so if it works for you do it – but you know the risks. Here are our chatting up tips:
- Your voice should be friendly, confident and relaxed – not pushy, smarmy or over-eager
- Find out his name, remember it, use it every now then and don’t forget it
- Keep the eye contact going
- Get him to talk about himself but don’t turn it into an interrogation or forget that you’re part of this too
- If you don’t want to talk to him be polite, firm and honest
- Consider your body language and observe his. Unless he’s been explicit about what he wants, don’t get too close in the first instance. Believe it or not we all need some time to get accustomed to being in each other’s space. Instinct and practice will let you know when it’s time to get closer, particularly if his hand wanders on to your arse or crotch.
- Mirroring each other’s body language can also help relax you both. For example, taking a drink when he drinks and re-positioning yourself when he does generates a comfortable rhythm between you. Mind you, it needs to be casual – not a comedy routine.
Helpline, advice and victim support | MEN R USBack to top
Indications that you’re not onto a winner usually include minimal eye contact and/ or his eyes scanning men other than you, one-word replies, the tone of his voice, or an unwillingness to initiate or respond to conversation. If he turns you down, don’t necessarily think that it’s you; it could be for a number of reasons:
- He’s already got plans
- He’s drunk
- He’s got a boyfriend
- He’s just broken up
- He’s just had sex
- He’s nervous or shy
- He’s not in the mood
- He’s on drugs
- He’s not good enough for you
- He’s got a STI
- You just don’t turn him on
Turning a guy down
If you’re not interested in a guy who’s obviously got you in his sights, it goes a long way to be polite when saying ‘No’.
OK, you may want tell the guy to stop bothering you, but imagine if the shoe was on the other foot: how would you feel? You should always aim to make a polite getaway. Speak firmly to make it clear that the conversation is over but – if you can – smile genuinely. This way no one is made to feel uncomfortable or embarrassed. We’ve all been there so don’t do it to others.
If he won’t go away and you’ve shown him every reasonable courtesy, then tell him to… [in your own words].Helpline, advice and victim support | MEN R US Back to top
Cruising the streets
Meeting guys on the street happens all the time, but while the theory is simple, the practice requires a little more balls and timing. So, if you see a guy you like, here are a few handy tips:
- First things first, check your ‘gaydar’ (that exclusive sixth sense only known to gay men). Looks can be deceptive, and many straight men dress gay for fashion.
- Depending on the distance between you, you may need to change your angle of approach to ensure you pass by. Be casual, and if you’re unfamiliar with the art of subtlety it’s possibly best not to try. As you near each other look straight into his eyes in friendly non-threatening manner. If he does the same – and any longer than is usual between strangers – continue to look at him as you pass him.
- Now this is the hard part. At what point do you look over your shoulder to see if he’s doing the same? When you’re doing it he might only be thinking about it or he could be doing it while you’re making up your mind! Hopefully, five or ten paces on, you’ll both do it at the same time. If not, you’ll never know what you missed, quite literally.
- If he’s doing the same, you’ll both pretend not to cruise when in fact you both know what you’re both doing. Your heart pounds as you work out who’s going to make the next move. A friendly smile, a casual remark or a straight forward “Hi!” can break the ice but it does help if one of you has the courage to speak. His body language, his voice and facial expression should all tell you whether he’s interested or not.
- If, after talking to him, you change your mind, you should make a clean polite getaway. “Nice to meet you” or “see you around” and a friendly smile will usually do it, but say it as you’re leaving so as to make it clear that the encounter is over.
When you are out and about, it’s easy to forget personal safety and that assaults on gay men still happen. If you’re on the street or on your local cruising ground, remember:
- Keep your wits about you
- Don’t over engage with everyone you meet
- Try to avoid being on your own in an unfamiliar area, especially if you are drunk or have taken recreational drugs. Be vigilant when leaving gay venues
- Always walk with a purpose, head up, and as if you know where you’re going. Be alert. Know who or what is behind you at all times. If you think you’re being followed, cross the road to check. If possible keep to well lit and peopled streets
- If you feel threatened, try to attract attention or go into a shop, a pub, even knock on a door using the premise that you’re looking for someone who you thought lived at the address.
- If you think there is going to be trouble – get out. Think about how you might defend yourself if you had to – screaming, shouting, and/or running. (If available, self-defence courses are excellent for teaching you disabling tactics)
- If you can, carry a whistle or attack alarm and use it. Scream for help, bang on doors or flag down passing cars. But try not to look totally mad or they’re likely to ignore you
- If you see someone being attacked, try to help without putting yourself in danger. If you can’t help yourself – get help
- Always use a registered taxi firm that you can trust. Be wary of unregistered cabs and taxi touts. Agree the fare before you get in. Be cautious about travelling in a taxi alone. Consider sharing
- If you feel threatened on public transport, stand near the exit, change carriage or seek the company of others
- In an emergency always call 999
- Cruising grounds can be dangerous places: know your exits. Tell a friend where you are going
- If you know someone else there, make contact: you can look out for each other
- Listening to music using headphones make you less aware of danger or attack
- Try not to carry valuables
- If you’ve met someone for the first time you may be tempted to take them home or go home with them. Beware of the risks. Get their phone number and suggest meeting another night
- Sexy though they may appear to be – stay clear of groups of straight men, particularly if they’re loud or drunk
- Be wary of accepting lifts from strangers. If you are with a group of friends but do not know the driver, you should be cautious about being the last person to be dropped off. Hitch-hiking can be dangerous. Try not to hitch alone although this may make getting lifts more difficult.
- Some guys have a 2nd phone (left at home) to which they send themselves messages with a quick description of the plan before running off with a complete stranger. Doing this in front of a potential shag also lets them know you are connected. Over the top (OTT) perhaps but it depends on how you value your personal safety (especially if you are not out).
Meeting guys safety check
When meeting a guy for the first time:
- Tell a friend what you’re doing and where you’re going
- Arrange to meet in a public place
- Consider asking a friend to phone you on your mobile after 20 minutes (just in case you need to make an escape)
- If you have any serious doubts: make an excuse and leave
- Don’t give out your address until you’re sure you want to continue seeing him
- You may wish to check out the busier times (or not) depending what you’re after; eg: weekends and bank holidays can be uncomfortably packed
- Some venues have strict dress codes and will refuse entry. Depending on what you wear (and whether you’re travelling in public) consider taking your gear with you and changing at the venue, or wearing cover up; eg: trackie bottoms over chaps
- If you’ve not been there before, it’s well worth checking what’s what before you get down to business. Many venues have Facebook pages that are useful reads.
- If you’re going with a friend, agree a check-in time and place and stick to it
- If you’ve had some great sex, think about having a break
- While it is a sex venue, don’t be afraid to talk to a guy if you think that there may be something more going on
- Don’t forget to take condoms and lube, and chewing gum
Our experience says:
- Don’t let sex venues become habitual and your only way to meet other men
- Sexual frisson or energy is just that – then it’s gone – so don’t expect anything else from a guy
- Take care of your valuables
Modern guy’s guide to cruising | GMFA# Helpline, advice and victim support | MEN R US Back to top
Times may have moved on but guys still use them.
Whether you’re looking for friendship, a relationship or sex, contact or personal advertisements can deliver just about anything that appears in print. You’ll find them in magazines and newspapers, and the gay press includes more explicit ads.
It can be an exciting way to meet men and, in some cases, dispenses with the niceties (or otherwise) of cruising. For some, it provides opportunities to meet men who prefer not to use the scene or who don’t have easy access to pubs and clubs. Answering ads is relatively simple and most papers and magazines operate a similar process:
- Find an ad you like and reply in writing. Advertisers often want a photograph and preferably not from a photo-booth at 9am on a Monday morning when you’re hungover
- Put the letter in an envelope with its box/reference number clearly marked on the outside
- Post it to the advertiser care of the publication including a first class stamp (for each reply).
- Wait and hope!
If you’re placing an ad check out the costs and the terms and conditions first. Advertisements are usually charged by the word which is why they’re short and why a dictionary of abbreviations has evolved; eg: corporal punishment – CP, sadomasochism – SM, or defined by hanky codes.
If a guy is explicit about what he’s looking for sexually then it’s reasonable to assume he’s being honest. Some ads are prone to gross exaggeration and dick size can often stray into fantasy world. By all means have the fantasy but you may be disappointed. When it comes to writing your own ad, phrases like ‘genuine’, ‘seeks similar’ and ‘for good times, maybe more’ are fine but just scan through the ads and they appear with unerring regularity.
While phrases like ‘would like to meet a guy who’s DNA hasn’t fallen off the back of a lorry’ and ‘you’ve tried the best… now I’m the rest’ may not be your cup of tea – your eye does at least stop on the page. Think about what you’re going to say and try to be original.
ALA – All letters answered
ALAWP – All letters answered with photo
BND – Boy next door
CS – Clean shaven
CT/A – Can travel/accommodate
GL – Good looking
GSOH – Good sense of humour
NSc – Non scene
NSm – Non smoker
NTW – No time wasters
SA – Straight acting
SL – Straight looking
VGL – Very good looking
VWE – Very well endowed
WLTM – Would like to meet
Not everyone feels the need for a relationship. There are times in our lives when we‘re ready to settle down, other times when we prefer to play the field or be alone. Gay men may not have invented the one-night stand, but we have certainly turned it into an art form and, for many of us, it’s how many friendships or relationships start. The unique sexual experience which comes with each new encounter also gives us an opportunity to develop our techniques and experiment with new practices.
Take your sex drive for a spin
Casual sex is not restricted to bedrooms or clubs. It can happen just about anywhere and sometimes when you’re not expecting it. It can also involve more than one person (hopefully). Casual sex should be about taking your sex drive out for a spin and having fun – without feeling guilty or feeling as if you’re settling for second best. It’s important to see casual sex for what it is. It should not be a substitute for that ever elusive relationship, although it’s understandable that finding a boyfriend can mean having sex with several – perhaps many – men along the way.
Peaks and troughs
While multiple partners can mean more experience, more confidence and more sexual satisfaction – it can also mean the reverse. Occasionally, a string of disappointing one-night stands can lead to a decrease in confidence and, over weeks or months, it can feel as if you’re never going to find anyone again. All of us experience this and it’s perfectly natural to have peaks and troughs. However, if you start to feel lonely or desperate or if you find yourself pining at two o’clock in the morning, its time to take a fresh look at your plan to get a man.
Fear of closeness
Casual sex over months or years may indicate a fear of closeness or loss, anxiety about rejection, or some other difficulty. It may help to talk about it with your friends or, if that’s not possible (or uncomfortable), to seek professional help.Helpline, advice and victim support | MEN R US Back to top
Fuck buddies are guys with whom we have sex on a regular basis without the complexities of a relationship. You might have met through the scene, the internet or a personal ad, but the pleasure you get is a sexual quid pro quo and an explicit understanding that you can stop seeing each other without anyone getting hurt.
Fuck buddies only work if you are both clear and honest about this arrangement. You can phone each other up, meet when it’s convenient, but know intuitively that you are unlikely to become boyfriends.
You can experiment, swap roles, practice technique or just fuck each other’s brains out because you both just love it – not each other. If this presents a problem then it’s possible you’re actually looking for a boyfriend. Sometimes it happens, but if you develop feelings – let him know. He may not be interested, or he may be thinking the same, but the arrangement has changed and you owe it to each other to be honest.Helpline, advice and victim support | MEN R US Back to top
Over the years, unspoken rules of etiquette have evolved to help make sure we get the best of the encounter – even if there’s no plan or arrangement to see each other again.
- Guys may have different interests to you, and if you’re into one thing sexually, make this clear beforehand. Deciding ahead of time what you are going to do sexually can seem tacky (or be a turn-off) but it’s nothing compared to the disappointment you may both feel when you discover you’re not sexually compatible.
- If you’re taking a guy back there’s usually an assumption on his part that it’s okay to stay the night. If he can’t stay the night – tell him in advance. If you’re going back but can’t stay, sort this out before you get into the taxi. Also, make sure that you can get home. Always have cab money, and refuse invitations to the middle of nowhere.
- If you later discover that you don’t click or the sex doesn’t seem to be working out, or if you start to feel uncomfortable, make your excuses and leave. At this point you may regret having told him that you can stay over, but there’s no point in being over-polite if it’s quite clear that you’d rather be somewhere else. Sometimes casual encounters work – sometimes they don’t. Conversely, if you ask somebody to leave, it’s not essential but it’s certainly a considerate gesture to make a contribution towards his fare home.
- Once you’ve got down to business, don’t roll over and fall asleep until you have both had an opportunity to cum unless one of you has said that he’s not going to.
- When you’ve done your stuff, it’s usual to go your separate ways. Do not feel obliged to exchange phone numbers. You’ve (hopefully) both got what you want and the ‘contract’ is finished. But does that stop us? No. More often than not we play that fucking ridiculous telephone numbers game!
Days are long gone when you could transpose the last two numbers of your phone number on a scrap of paper. Today’s technology obliges you to exchange personal information. If a guy offers you his number but you’re not going to use it: say so. The tone of your voice can be friendly but be just that. You should only offer him your number because you want to see him again and not because you’re trying to be polite and/ or let him down gently.
This becomes more difficult if you’ve swapped phones to enter each other’s details – often done in haste and quickly regretted. You may also want to consider whether you give your last name as it can be surprisingly easy to find/ track/ stalk someone on Facebook, Google+ and other social media.
The morning after
If it’s the morning after the night before and you don’t want to see him again, don’t hang around. Get dressed, say something casual like ‘see you around’ and leave before the ritual of exchanging phone numbers can start.
If he offers you his number and you’re not going to use it – be polite, but decline. Remember: it’s a casual encounter… you’re not married… there are no obligations. If you want to see someone again and you have a partner – be honest and tell him the score.
The bottom line is that many numbers are scrawled down in haste and never used again. It’s just what we do to tie up the end of an intimate sexual encounter with the harsh reality that you’ve both done the business and are now getting on with your lives.
Learning and understanding this stuff can be both slow and painful, particularly when you think you’ve met someone really special who then never calls. The pit opens up and you start wondering if you should call… If you shagged on Saturday and it’s now Monday, do you call on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday? How long do you give him, two, three or four days? You feel wretched and vow never to feel like this again. BTW: Luke’s motto (one of the MEN R US team) is “48hrs or bust!”
Maybe he didn’t call you because he’s gone home to the boyfriend he didn’t tell you about, he’s met someone else, he’s afraid of getting too close or he’s just an arsehole. Maybe he likes you but not enough.Helpline, advice and victim support | MEN R US Back to top
Hook-up safer campaign
Get your free hook-up safer booklet
Get your free “Hook-Up Safer” booklet (A6) through our Contact form.
Hooking-up is about connection, intimacy, affirmation, and fun. For most of us, it is but — when things go wrong — it’s only afterwards we think about making better choices.
We should learn from these experiences — and learn from each other — because some hook-ups have resulted in tragic consequences.
So, whether you’re new to hooking-up – or been around the block a few times – here are our tips for safer hook-ups
- If you’re sexually active: your sexual health matters. This includes condoms and lube, PrEP, U=U, check-ups, and STI self-test kits.
- If a hook-up doesn’t feel right: don’t think with your cock! Think twice before agreeing to meet up.
- Let someone know where you’re going. Keep your phone charged, and keep the location GPS on.
- Have an exit plan home, keeping money or cards in a safe place.
- Sex should be consensual. That’s both of you, not just one of you, and you can change your mind anytime.
- If you use drugs: know what and how much you’re taking. Pace yourself, and take breaks.
- Be aware that some drugs are odourless and tasteless, and have been used to spike drinks and lube.
- When calling the emergency services for an ambulance, be aware the police may also attend.
- Know where to get professional help and support should you need it. If in doubt, phone a helpline or ask a friend.
- Know your rights and where to get legal help in the event you are questioned and/ or arrested by the police.
- All hate crime matters so report it to the police or through a third party.
- When hook-ups don’t go to plan, we often don’t talk about them when they go wrong. Chatting it through with a friend can help.
More on safer hook-upsSafer Hook-Ups
Useful links to other parts of this websiteConsent and sex
Violence, sexual assault and rape
Reporting hate crime and hate crime support
LGBT+ Helplines Drug, alcohol and chemsex service listings
Your sexual health
London sexual health services | Self-test kits
Accident and emergency (A&E) Being online
Gaslighting Play Safer
Safer drug use (harm reduction)
Calling 999 and the police
Drugs and the law and legal help
Back to top
Hook-Up Safer video to spearhead campaign from March 2021.
Tips to reduce risks
Whether you use them, mix and match, or ignore them, it’s your choice but do read them:
- If you’re cruising with your dick, don’t forget to engage the brain
- Keep your personal information personal
- Use the anonymity that some web apps provide
- Check those GPS location settings are what you want
- Hate crime happens so be vigilant, and report it
- Tell a friend where you are going
- Consider getting a second phone for cruising
- Are his photos recent?
- Are your pics OK if they were shared publicly?
- Think about what he’s after
- Consider speaking before you meet
- Meet in a public place
- Get safe transport to/ from your destination
- Always carry condoms and lubricant with you
- Be aware that drinks can be spiked
- Know what to do if you have been assaulted or had non-consensual sex
- Trust your instincts, trust your gut
- Keep personal belongings safe
Share and discuss
The trick is to find a balance between who you are – remaining open, interesting and attractive to others – while maintaining your personal safety. But don’t just read the stuff here: share, discuss and argue with a mate. You don’t have to be alone in reaching informed decisions about your personal safety, and you’ll be surprised how similar our experiences and concerns are. Our tips are not exhaustive and are rarely foolproof. The rule of thumb seems to be that nothing goes wrong when we hook-up but, if it does, do we say anything or just chalk it up to experience?
Friends don’t always mention bad experiences
Friends don’t always mention bad experiences, and if it has happened to them then statistically it’s less likely to happen to you (or so you’ve rationalised in your head). So, while personal safety is an issue, do we afford it the attention it deserves?
- Who hasn’t hooked up or picked up without telling anyone?
- Who hasn’t accepted a drink (or drugs, for that matter) from somebody you don’t really know?
- And when was the last time you gave some serious thought about your personal safety online, or on the scene?
Hands up if you’ve taken out insurance after your phone has been stolen?
We tend to find a better mindset to make changes only after something hurts or damages us, or goes wrong. These are experiences from which we should learn because, for some gay men, hookups have resulted in tragic consequences.
Meeting men, getting to know them, and having sex should be fun, and for the most part, it is. Collectively, can be pretty good at looking out for each other on the scene, whether we go out with friends, and we’re always messaging each other (rubbish mostly).
However, meeting guys online is more solitary: we surf, chat, swap info, and within an instant, a stranger is standing at the door.
Telling someone you’re hooking-up
There are many reasons why we don’t feel the need to tell anyone we’re hooking. These include:
- I’m in a rush
- I love the thrill
- I’ve had no problems before
- I can look after myself
- I’m [young so] invincible
- It’s embarrassing
- My sex life is private
- I’ll be slut-shamed
But it’s savvy-free ‘insurance’ to let a friend or a mate know you’re hooking-up, PnP, or on a date, just in case something goes wrong.
- Letting them know who the hook-up is (eg: profile screenshot via WhatApp), where you’re going when you expect to be home again
- Keeping your phone and GPS on, making it possible for friends and/ or the police to know where you are
- Chat with your hook-up at the front door or in a public place first, if you can
- Leave if it’s not working for you or if your gut says something’s not right
- If you do go to someone’s place: take a photo of the street or building name as you approach
- Consider transport options back before leaving home; eg: travel/ taxi app, concealed £20 note
24/ 7 online smörgåsbord of men and drugs
Today we can meet more men in less time than ever before: an online smörgåsbord of men just a few clicks away. And powerful drugs like GHB, crystal meth, mephedrone, and ketamine make it so much easier to make rubbish decisions, and for other men to do things to us without our knowledge or consent.
And for those of you who don’t take ‘those’ sorts of drugs: we’re also talking about alcohol and the long list of other easily available recreational drugs.
Finding the middle ground
Writing this section on personal safety has been a little depressing as it seems to be packed with negatives and warnings. If you were to follow all our tips there’s a pretty good chance you’ll come across as weird and never get laid. If you ignore everything we say then there’s an increased likelihood you’ll get hurt, perhaps seriously. So, reduce the risks by finding the middle ground.
Keep your personal information personal
When chatting online and things are going well we can use our personal information as currency, as a way of validating the connection we think we’re making and reassuring him we’re interested.
- You type “come to mine” and give him your address
- You say “let’s chat” and give him your mobile number
- He seems really ‘nice’ so you give him your full name
- He asks you what you do so you tell him where you work
- He finds you on Facebook and wants to be your friend
This is understandable, but exercise some caution until you are certain that you want to take things further. Many online conversations start but never go anywhere, by which time he has information about you. Chances are he’ll do nothing, but he may have enough to cause problems.
Use the anonymity that web apps provide
Rather than feel obliged to give out your mobile number, why not actually use the anonymity that web apps provide, using them as your primary method of communicating with guys. Meets can be arranged with messaging, copies of which are stored on web app providers’ servers should problems arise.
Smartphones use GPS technology to locate your position and apps in relation to other guys locally. Granted this is kinda the point, but check the settings to suit your needs and the level of privacy you want.
A second phone for cruising
We’ve chatted a lot at MEN R US about having a second ‘trick ‘or ‘burner’ phone to keep your personal and play lives separate. While this seems to have some traction in the States, we’ve quickly reached the conclusion it’s not going to happen here. Anyway, we’ve told you about it.
Most phones today allow you to block a number from the handset if you want to. But if you’re getting serious ongoing hassle you may have to get a new number. It’s a lesson learned, and a royal pain in the arse to inform friends, family, utilities, bank…
Are his photos recent?
If you think his pics are not genuine, photo-shopped or just too good to be true, then maybe they are. If you ask for more pics and he declines then maybe it’s best to end the chat politely.
This is a tricky one, particularly if you lack that little extra confidence but, if after meeting he doesn’t look like his pics in the flesh, don’t be afraid to end things and walk away. You do have a choice, so don’t allow yourself to feel compelled, obliged or pressured to be there and have the sex.
Are your pics OK if they were shared publicly?
Sending guys a pic of you standing on a beach is one thing, sending him one of you in an intimate family photo, or having graphic sex may come back to haunt you. They can be used to track you via face recognition on some social media or, worst-case scenario, to blackmail you. Consider sending only face and/ or torso shots.
To put it another way: check out your horniest sexiest ‘dirtiest’ pic and ask yourself if you would mind your employer, co-workers, family and friends, or granny seeing it.
There have been cases of web apps being used to target LGBT+ people in hate crime. This includes people pretending to be LGBT+ people who then bully, intimidate, menace, and threaten to share personal information, pics and videos.
All web apps that we have researched have functions and/ or settings to block and/ or report this behaviour, though you may need to create a new profile if the harassment persists.
If you have received threats from someone who knows you, where you live, or where you work, consider reporting this to the police.
And learn how you can take and save a ‘screen grab’ or ‘screenprint’ so you have a visual record of any abuse or threats.
There have also been instances of supposed meets or dates being used as opportunities to assault and rob. Be vigilant!
Think about what he’s after…
Be mindful about what he wants. If he wants you to party, that may mean he’s looking to use recreational drugs; if he’s only top maybe he only wants to dominate you, and if he insists on coming to your place maybe he has a partner (even though he says he’s single). Maybe this is exactly what you’ve signed up for, but ask yourself if this is what you really want the first time with a stranger.
Consider speaking before you meet
Our preference is that you use your web app facilities to arrange everything during the early stages of getting to know someone after which time you can decide whether you want to give out your number.
However, if you choose to use your phone you can usually get a better feel for a guy, over and above what you see online, by chatting on the phone. It doesn’t have to a long conversation but it should give you a better idea as to whether he is high, and whether there’s still a connection and you feel comfortable.
If he doesn’t want to speak before you meet this may be a warning sign, although some guys find it much easier to chat in person, getting nervous or tongue-tied on the phone.
BTW: Most phones today allow you to block a number from the handset if you need to.
Tell a friend where you are going
More experienced guys tend not to do this, but consider letting a reliable friend know where you’re going and when they can expect to hear from you. A simple text message might read:
- Shag alert: call me in 2 hours, or
- Shag alert: call me at 11pm
The more information you give a friend the more they will have to go on if something goes wrong; eg: a name, phone number, a profile name (even a pic he’s using). Or consider using your smartphone to share your location with a friend.
This may seem like common sense advice, but it can be difficult to share intimate shagging details even with our closest mates. It can also be a faff to send a 1st message before the meet, and a 2nd after the meet (at the right time, regardless of how things went).
Meet in a public place
While meeting a guy in a public place is an ideal, circumstances often don’t make this easy if you are just meeting for a (quick) shag. Perhaps it’s night time and/ or one of you has already agreed to go to the other’s flat.
If you can meet in a public place, do so, but if you are going to an address you’ve not been to before then this is one of those instances when you should seriously think about sending a text to a friend.
Meeting in a neutral public place gives you greater control over the meet and helps ensure that no one has an unfair advantage. Having guys coming to your home or meeting in a guy’s flat immediately gives you less control, and you lose much of that power.
Get safe transport to/ from your destination
Arrange your own safe transportation to and from the meet/ date or be very cautious about allowing a stranger to pick you up in his car and take you to what is likely to be an undisclosed location.
Make sure you set out with enough money to get home, whether by public transport or taxi. Even if you just end up walking away from the meet you have so much more control.
It’s the stuff of legend, but many guys have gone to a place, decided not to go through with it, then found themselves in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night. Sometimes the quickest and best thing to do is jump in a cab and just get home!
Be aware that drinks can be spiked
If you go to a guy’s flat then it’s likely you’ll be offered something to drink, eat even. If you are happy to do this then go ahead, otherwise the safest and easiest response is “No thanks, I’m good.” If you do accept a drink, and haven’t seen it being made, take small sips and see how it goes.
You need to be mindful that sometimes drinks are spiked with drugs like GHB or Rohypnol, and these can put you at a severe disadvantage, and at risk of sexual assault and/ or rape, and/ or make you very ill.
Some guys do this to try and relax you and improve the mood, rather than necessarily to take advantage of you. Nevertheless, this is non-consensual, this is wrong, and it is illegal. Granted, this advice may seem counter-intuitive given you’ve gone to meet somebody to have a good time, but bad things can and do happen.
If you’re hosting, one of the things you can do to reassure a guest gives them an unopened can of beer/ bottle of water, or open a bottle of wine in front of them. You get the drift.
Know what to do if you have been assaulted or had non-consensual sex
If you have been assaulted or had non-consensual sex
- Get somewhere safe as soon as possible
- Ask for help from someone you trust
- Call the police in an emergency
Consider going to the nearest accident and emergency department, the Havens (in London), or a police station asking for a LGBT liaison officer.
If you don’t feel you can do any of this, consider calling a helpline. Whether it’s a few hours, days, weeks, or months later, the vital thing is that you do something and find help and support.
Trust your instincts, trust your gut
Sometimes we can’t put our finger on it, but we are pretty intuitive creatures. If something feels wrong or weird then it probably is. And if you are concerned in any way about your personal safety, or you are asked to do things you don’t want to do, then this is not a person you should be with. You should leave as quickly as possible in a way that puts you in the least amount of danger.
Trouble is that if you are high on drugs your judgement and your ability to pick up on warning signs can be greatly impaired. You’re much more likely to waltz into a bear pit, and a whole heap of mess. And it’s not just drugs or alcohol we’re talking about here; even without them, we can make surprisingly rubbish decisions when we are horny as hell and desperate for that shag.
Condoms and lube
Discuss and agree the kind of sex you’re going to have before you meet; whether it’s protected or unprotected sex, for example. And we suggest you always carry with you condoms and lubricant.
Keep personal belongings safe
When heading off for a meet or date most of us take a bag of some description. No harm in this, but take only what you need and try not to leave your belongings unattended (eg: while you’re in the loo) as it might provide the opportunity for someone to have a dig around and retrieve personal information, your wallet, even your phone.
Protect yourself and if in doubt “Run!”
If you are a shorter guy into muscle daddies be aware that there are potential physical disadvantages. That’s not to say there are not skinny short-arses with the aggression of a Jack Russell, along with bears who are in a fixed state of hibernation. Sometimes opposites attract – who says we’re not multi-layered and complex?!
If you think this is an issue for you, consider joining a self defence class, a boxing club, or getting fitter generally, just in case the need arises to “Run!” (in the words of Dr Who).
Anonymous ‘open door’ encounters
Some guys get off on the anonymity of meeting total strangers, but this is the most dangerous thing you can do.
If your idea of heaven is having your head buried in the pillow with the door unlocked, waiting for guys to slip into your flat and plough your hole, then you need to seriously think about getting over this turn-on now. There is very little wiggle room on this one as you are putting yourself at tremendous risk.
Granted, it can be immensely difficult weaning yourself off something which really turns you on but (if this is it) we strongly advise you talk it through with a trusted friend, a counsellor, or phone Switchboard – even if it’s just to clarify in your own mind that this is what you want, the risks you are taking, and the reasons behind it.
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Apps: the game changer
Born in late 1999, Gaydar is probably the daddy of all profile-based dating websites from which has spawned a multitude of other websites and smartphone apps (web apps). There is no denying they have transformed the way gay men connect and communicate with each other.
The gay app market today (2020) is far less crowded than it used to be with apps like Grindr, Scruff and Tinder rising to the top and other with others falling by the wayside including Chappy which closed in early 2020.
We’ve not checked these recently but some of the less known apps include Gay Farmers Dating, BoyAhoy (Skout), Compatible Partners (eHarmony) and My Single Friend. Other web apps we found in our travels: Adam4Adam, Caffmos Community, G Kiss, Gay Adults, Gay Cupid, Gay Fish Dating, Gay X Change, GayQuation, JACK’D, Lavendr, ManCrunch, ManJam, One Good Crush, One Scene, OnlyLads, Perfect Match, POF (Plenty of Fish), Senior People Meet, and Zoosk.
Whether you are looking to chat, flirt, hook-up, or find a partner there are many smartphone apps to choose from and an increasing number of gay dating websites with an emphasis on longer-term relationships.
If you are starting out, you may find some web apps overwhelming, but there are alternatives where you can explore your sexuality in a more chilled environment, perhaps taking the first steps towards acceptance and coming out, if that’s where you’re heading.
Also, we should not forget that web apps have been a game changer for people living in parts of the world where being gay is criminalised, considered evil, and a sin against God.Apple addresses future of Grindr and Scruff after ‘hookup apps’ ban | Pink News | 9 Jun 2021
Grindr faces £8.5m fine for selling user data | BBC News | 26 Jan 2021
Rape prosecutors in England and Wales given new advice over dating apps | The Guardian | 19 Oct 2020
Gay dating apps and sexual practices, a mixed-method study into the normalisation of chemsex in London | 3rd Year – Dissertation | Felix Alfredo Cardenas Chu | Jun 2020
20 Things to Stop Doing on Dating Apps in 2020 | Inside Hook | 27 Dec 2019
How Grindr changed gay life forever | Frieze | 23 Dec 2019
Where is it illegal to be gay? | BBC | 14 Feb 2014
LGBT rights by country or territory | Wikipedia Old Gays Meet Gus Kenworthy | Grindr | 19 Oct 2019 | 8m 26s
Helpline, advice and victim support | MEN R USBack to top
Agree or disagree
While powerful web apps have brought us together in quite profound and positive ways, we believe that there are conversations to be had about their impact and influence. For example, while some of us berate the fact they reduce us to commodities we still use them every day.
We’ve pulled together some statements, so why not find a friend, settle down with your favourite beverage, and discuss…
- You can’t determine chemistry online but it doesn’t matter
- Against a long history of rejection, persecution, discrimination and violence against LGBT+ people, web apps ‘take advantage’ of our need for acceptance, validation, and recognition
- Learning to use web apps can help better understand what you’re truly looking for off-line
- Web apps like this are tracking devices which invade your privacy and expose you to unwanted attention
- Web apps perpetuate an LGBT+ culture rooted in narrow, unrealistic images of beauty and attractiveness leaving little to no space to celebrate difference and diversity
- The goal of web apps should be to take whatever it is you find (or whoever finds you) off-line
- If stats, preferences, likes, and tick boxes are the tools we are given to find a man, it is how we will be seen by men
- Web apps dull our characters, and the personal and interpersonal skills we eventually need to make, nurture and maintain meaningful friendships and relationships
- Web apps should be part of a healthy online and off-line mix to meet guys, and make friends
- 24/7 web apps throw up many more guys than you will ever meet so scrolling through the latest profiles and gorgeous bods is as soul-destroying as it is addictive
- Web apps perpetuate a 24/ 7 hook-up culture of self-gratification from which we will eventually burn out, returning to a scene which will have disappeared through neglect
Or maybe we do realise it’s all superficial and just a bit of fun. That we’re better than this and web apps do nothing more than connect, empower, and liberate us. Guys do find what they are looking for online, including Mr Right or Mr Right Now. And whether it’s love, a shag, a chemsex, or cuddles we’re after, it turns up in many different forms and in the most unexpected places.
Our cautionary tale
So, our cautionary tale is more about:
- managing expectations
- understanding it’s in the real world where lasting relationships are forged
- being clear about what it is you want and need (and knowing the difference). If not, web apps will leave you bitter, disappointed, and hurt.
What Gay Men Really Mean When They Say… | Davey Wavey 28 Jun 2012 | 1m 34s
Real Life Grindr! | Davey Wavey 12 Apr 2012 | 1m 2s
IQ Millenial Question | Simon Sinek | 30 Dec 2016 | 15m 25s (go to 2m 5s)
Helpline, advice and victim support | MEN R USBack to top
Video chat apps
The Mozilla (or moz://a) Foundation has reviewed some of the most popular apps to help you decide what to use whether you’re working remotely, chatting or flirting with friends; fuck buddies, boyfriends or partner; or family.
The following apps have been reviewed looking at encryption, security updates, passwords, vulnerability, and privacy policies: BlueJeans, Discord, Doxy, FaceTime, GoToMeeting, Hangouts, Houseparty, Jitsi Meet, Meet, Signal, Skype, Teams, Webex, WhatsApp and Zoom.
Just for the record, we don’t know Mozilla, we have not knowingly slept from anybody from Mozilla, and we have no vested interest in them whatsoever. Furthermore, let us know if anybody else has reviewed video call apps in this way and we will include them here.Which video call apps can you trust? | Mozilla | 28 Apr 2020
Helpline, advice and victim support | MEN R USBack to top
Writing and reading profiles
- Your profile name and/ or headline can grab people’s attention so make it original
- Keep what you say truthful, accurate and light
- Write something that is distinctive, special and unique about you
- Think carefully before falling back on the clichés of liking long walks and enjoying cosy nights in
- While you only have to write a few lines and others will say more, there’s a balance between writing an essay (which nobody reads) and a blank profile (which kinda says it all). However true they may be for you, whinges, gripes and moans are unattractive, and pessimistic downbeat profiles will have guys clicking away fast
If you’re reading…
- If a guy takes time to write something about themselves then read it. If not, then maybe a guy who can string a sentence together and use punctuation correctly is not for you
- Avoid men with profiles which make aggressive/ negative statements about ethnicity, HIV and STI status, age and build. Flip it and think how likely is a guy to pick up in a club, sauna or bar if he says ” I’m disease free, and not into fatties or Asians. Any takers guys?”
- Granted there maybe be characteristics about men which push our buttons sexually, but sexual racism and body fascism is unacceptable, though visible and seemingly tolerated online
Chat and messaging
- For some, this a doddle; for others, we get nervous or struggle to even start. It’s not so different plucking up the courage to speak to someone we like for the first time. So don’t write somebody off immediately if they don’t come up (or down) to your standard or style of writing
- Chat and messaging is ‘voiceless’ so we create one in our head which perfectly natural but this can lead to over-analysis, misinterpretation. However, bear in mind short snippy messages can be fun and sexy and but also can make for an equally short shag
- Exclamation marks suggest energy but overuse (including emoticons) can indicate he may be high and/ or highly strung
- MEN ARE BEST AVOIDED IF HE WRITES ALL HIS MESSAGES IN CAPS
- And it’s not an interrogation (unless it’s what you want it to be)
Being HIV positive
Some guys say explicitly they are HIV positive, often using shorthand such as HIV+, +ve, poz, or [+]. The reasons for this include:
- It is nothing to be ashamed about
- It is nothing to be stigmatised
- The nonsense some untested or negative guys come up with
- It can provide clarity in terms of who you want to have sex with
Stop HIV Stigma | GMFA
HIV isn’t dirty, stigma is | GMFA
What is stigma? | NAM aidsmap | January 2018
The Stigma Project: Ending HIV stigma one image at a time | The Stigma Project | 27 Apr 2014 1m47s DDF | Xtranormal | posted by pozmonaut | 27 Oct 2010 | 3m 14s
My Fabulous Disease | Mark S King
Just in case you haven’t worked it out, DDF is the acronym for “drug and disease free”.
There is more …
- Spell check
- Juggling men
- Step away from the man
- Stay away from the office
- Keep the man local
- Conversation or inquisition
- Thanks but no thanks
- When and what do you want?
- Plans and meets
- The Behemoth (fantasy v reality)
- Partners and open relationships
- More doesn’t mean better
- Online off-line balance
- Playing nice
Rather than assume anything, it’s worth checking your settings; eg: alerts, privacy, and tracking/ following. If your profile has an option to tell guys why you’re online then set this correctly; eg: if you’re not looking to actually meet anyone, say so and use a ‘chatting’ or ‘picking up messages’ option. It may stop some guys thinking they’re in with a chance when in fact they have none.
When you finish writing don’t forget to check your spelling or run a spell check. While correct spelling and grammar shouldn’t be a deal breaker, a little effort to show you care can go a long way.
For many guys, picture-less profiles are a non-starter. So use a clear pic taken in the last year. It should be a straightforward shot, without pipe work, litter boxes, laundry or family members in the background, for example. Unless it’s what you’re ‘selling’ avoid cutsie, posed, glamorous, funny (at least you think so) and/ or photoshopped.
Face, body, and dick pics send out different messages, so make sure you’re sending out the message you want. Unsolicited dick pics usually mean a guy’s horny. We all have dicks, we use them and we get horny. It’s just part of the language some of us use and can be just what you want to see! If you are offended then you’re not going to sleep with him are you? Job done, move on.
It’s tempting to be funny. Sometimes it works, but our rule of thumb is that it usually doesn’t travel well. Guys get confused or offended quickly, particularly if your sense of humour is dry, acerbic, or slightly left of field. We sometimes forget this online, where we don’t have the additional signals we take for granted when you’re standing opposite someone.
One man too many
If you can juggle several men at once successfully we’ll give you a gold star, but it’s exhausting, often self-defeating and can end in tears. You have to remember individual profile names and characteristics if you’ve been chatting (so as not to confuse them with someone else), and it really starts to go downhill if you confuse message strings or pick up a conversation with the wrong guy.
Step away from the man
If someone is rude or argumentative avoid the temptation to answer back. You can spend hours in meaningless dialogue, eliminating any chance of you and he hooking up. In fact, that ship sailed the second he called you an arsehole and you replied. So, step away from the man, say something like “hope everything works out for you” or “have to head out now” then block ‘em.
Stay away from the office
Office environments are getting savvy in monitoring what goes in and out across their Internet, with many employers having strict guidelines about what it is you can/ cannot do with your PC. In some ways, the solution has been smartphone apps but, there again, people notice if you keep looking at your phone repeatedly, or spend a disproportionate amount of work time tapping messages. Bottom line: keep your work/ office life separate from your personal life and only pick up messages during legitimate breaks.
Keep the man local
If you are investing time and energy in getting to know somebody who you hope to meet, make sure they’re local and/ or within reasonable travelling distance. If you can get the location check out Google maps before you start trekking off into the wilderness, or asking someone to drive into town who doesn’t know about the congestion charge or that it is usually hell parking anywhere.
Conversation or inquisition
We’ve a volunteer on the MEN R US team who gets goose bumps if you ask him “where are you from?” On the face of it it’s a reasonable question, as is “where do you live” or “what do you do?” The truth is that these lines have been done to death, so why not actually read his profile and respond to something he’s said, or try to come up with something a little more original.
A barrage of questions has got ‘ignore’ and ‘block him now’ written all over it. Chat and messaging should be attentive but relaxed. Tease out the answers (if that’s what you’re after) rather than subjecting your prey to an inquisition.
Thanks but no thanks
- Someone saying “no” is never nice but it happens to all of us
- Most guys are polite about the way they say it, but you really don’t have an automatic right to reply. A ‘no thanks’ is what it is. Move on
- Arguments start easily because guys don’t take no well (even if the rejection message is reasonable) and from here on in it goes from bad to worse
- Short answer: do you really want to meet him now?
- Some apps have automated ‘thanks but no thanks’ messages, although (we would argue) it’s more adult if you have the decency to send a short personal message yourself.
- If your profile has an option telling guys why you’re online, set this correctly (eg: checking messages) as this may stop guys messaging you in the first place.
When and what do you want?
Spare a thought for what you want and need. The less you put on your profile the more it is assumed you are there for immediate sex and hook-ups; not always, but bear this in mind. Absolutely no point logging on if you’re knackered, fed up, or if your profile says one thing when in fact you’re feeling quite another.
- Do you want sex NOW, or later?
- Are looking for a date when in fact you want sex?
- Do you want sex when in fact you’re looking for a date?
- Are you looking for a relationship?
- Are you really checking your messages, or cruising; or maybe you’re bored and just seeing what passes by?
Plans and meets
Say what you mean, mean what you say and stick to the plan. If you can’t follow through don’t make plans which you then break with some feeble half-arsed excuse. Before you start cruising, be clear in your own mind whether you’re hosting or travelling.
And there’s absolutely no point in getting horned up in chat if you have no intention of leaving your flat at 1AM! Some guys are just bored and chatting to pass the time. They may sound really into you but never agree to meet. Sometimes this person is you.
It can be helpful to speak on the phone before you agree to meet. Until that point, all you have are words, tick boxes and a few pics. Hearing someone’s voice can make all the difference before you trek off across town, or invite a complete stranger into your home.
The Behemoth (fantasy v reality)
“Between chatting online and turning up at his flat, I had created this crazy fantasy about who he was and what we were going to do. Had this weird shit going on in my head which squeezed out any possibility that he could be anything else. The sex wasn’t going to happen the moment he opened the door. He seemed a little taller (so), his was voice different (but I’d never heard it before), he wasn’t wearing what I expected (as if he was going to be wearing the clothes in his photo); and he also had glasses (which I wear for reading). Our imagination can be our best asset and our worst enemy. It was me that killed the moment, not him.”
Lucas | 1 Jul 2015
Partners and open relationships
Tread carefully when meeting partnered guys who say they are “just looking for friends” or guys who say they are in an open relationship. Sometimes it’s cool but it can also get messy. It gets messier still if you develop feelings for someone who’s attached. Rule of thumb: meet single guys if you are single or be clear about what you’re getting into.Open relationships? It’s a no from me | GMFA
More doesn’t mean better
Making full use of a smörgåsbord of men doesn’t automatically translate into better sex, or that you’ll be any a happier. In fact, there’s often a feeling that you will never be satisfied or never find the right one. The prevailing 24/7 sex culture can make you feel as if you are a product or commodity, but it’s really is up to you as to how far you buy into it or not.
We suggest quality over quantity every time and some breaks between hook-ups. Scratch the surface and there is usually something deeper and constant within us about finding someone with whom we can really connect and love. There’s nothing wrong with this, though it’s almost an elephant in the room in a culture which promotes the opposite.
Online off-line balance
Add up the time spent searching, messaging, swiping and scrolling; you could also use that time actually meeting real people perhaps in a bar, or getting involved in an activity. This is not a shout against apps but a reminder that some of us spend a disproportionate amount of time immersing ourselves in an artificial construct of code, pixels and tick boxes.
There is nothing more satisfying than a guy who looks you in the eye, smiles, and says “Yes.” It pushes all sorts of really cool buttons inside us which are often absent during marathon adrenaline-fuelled web app manhunts.
It’s very depressing when we are less considerate to each other simply because we are using a web app. Guys are still guys even if there is an Internet connection between you and him. If we refuse to learn to balance authenticity and consideration, we will have great ways to bring us together but we will never be a truly great community.
Unfortunately, some guys think they don’t have to play nice because online is not real. Almost without exception, this has more to do with how they are feeling about themselves and nothing to do with you (unless you deliberately poked the bear with a stick). It’s not worth taking on their pain or hardening yourself. Just acknowledge it and move on.
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Helpline, advice and victim support | MEN R US
We first mapped gay apps in 2015 but, since then, the market has become less crowded with apps like Grindr, Scruff and Hornet rising to the top while others have fallen by the wayside, including Chappy which closed in early 2020.
We have divided the apps into a main group and other apps we have stumbled across in our travels. Researching this stuff is a bit like going down a rabbit hole, never knowing where you’re going to end up. As of September 2020, this is our best shot at mapping apps, but we need a lie-down!*
- Most apps have free and premium/ paid features and are available from the Google Play and Apple app stores.
- Take some time to read the reviews remembering the (star) ratings are geared towards technical competence.
- It’s a very rough guide to ‘popularity’ but bracketed figures next to the app names listed below are download numbers (according to the Google Play Store; 1/9/2020).
- Bigger does not necessarily mean better. Some guys like a sex frenzy while others prefer a niche app.
Only you can decide which one is best for you, and some trial and error is likely needed. However, if you’re looking for older men and bears check out Daddy Hunt and GROWLr. If you’re after something rougher, raunchier, and/ or fetish orientated then check out BBRT, Recon and Nasty Kink Pigs.
- Adam4adam (1,000,000+)
- Bare Back Real Time (BBRT)
- BoyAhoy (1,000,000+)
- Qutie (50,000+)
- Daddy Hunt (1,000,000+)
- Gaydar (1,000,000+)
- Grindr (10,000,000+)
- Growlr (1,000,000+)
- Guy Spy (1,000,000+)
- Hornet (10,000,000+)
- Jack’d (5,000,000+)
- Manhunt (100,000+)
- Mr X (100,000+)
- Nasty Kink Pigs
- Romeo (5,000,000+)
- Recon (50,000+)
- Scruff (10,000,000+)
- Surge (1,000,000+)
1 Japan with an Asia-Pacific central focus
2 Israeli LGBT community
3 Threesome dating app for couples and singles
4 No website
5 Activities on hold (30/04/20)
Positive Plus One
Positive Plus One is a free app for the HIV community. It connects members locally and globally, providing a safe and secure environment for support, friendship and connection.
Positive Plus One
The road to a good hook-up, shag, or a relationship can be rocky. We mention this because you will likely to come across ‘types’ of men who:
- Just chat, chat, chat … and only chat.
- Will put you in your place if they think you’re out of their league.
- Will say “hey” or “hi” then disappear forever.
- Can’t stop messaging, and messaging, and messaging.
- Cancel at the last moment. We always suggest you update travel plans with something like “ETA”. If there’s no reply: you know where you stand.
- Only fuck without condoms though the advent of PrEP and U=U have been game-changers for HIV transmission.
- Only have sex on drugs which can both be exciting and liberating but also problematic.
- Are racist, some blatantly so, though many apps seem to have a mechanism to report this relatively swiftly.
- Want “real” “straight-acting” men only, that’s rough, tough and masculine, apparently.
- Are only looking for a relationship, not sex. Go figure.
You’re Gay, Now What
This promo short from Moovz caught our eye, both intelligent and funny as far as web apps ads go. And before anyone asks, MEN R US doesn’t know them, nor do we have shares!
You’re Gay, Now What?! | Moovz | 15 Jul 2015 2m 49s
How technology has changed the LGBT+ experience | Tech Nation | 25 Jun 2019
Gay dating app calls it quits | Queerty | 18 Feb 2020
Best Gay Dating Apps of 2020 | Dating News | 4 Feb 2020
Jack’d gay dating app exposes millions of private photos | BBC News | 7 Feb 2019
Scruff gay dating app bans underwear photos | BBC News | 30 Jan 2019
Gay dating apps: a comprehensive guide to Jack’d, Grindr, Hornet, Scruff and the rest | Pink News | 5 Mar 2018
Is it time to get Kindr? | GMFA | FS 2018, 167
Join the new dating app… unless you’re HIV-positive | Queerty* | 25 Aug 2017
This new gay dating app bans HIV-positive men from joining | Pink News | 25 Aug 2017
Gay dating app cops backlash for banning HIV positive guys | Star Observer | 28 Aug 2017
Sugar daddy dating app proudly and sadly promotes HIV stigma | plus | 28 Aug 2017 Comparison of online dating services | Wikipedia
Online dating applications | Wikipedia
Helpline, advice and victim support | MEN R USBack to top
What's up with WhatsApp?What’s up with WhatsApp? | Podcast | The Guardian | 29 Jan 2021 | 20m 42s
The privacy update relates specifically to features that allow users to message and interact with businesses. However, Facebook doesn’t have a terrific track record when it comes to privacy. Some say it’s the thin end of yet another privacy wedge and its difficult to ignore the fact that WhatsApp founder Jan Koum left Facebook over privacy and encryption disagreements.
Though WhatsApp has delayed the update1 that has caused both confusion and anger among users, it will be interesting to see whether this brouhaha signals a more substantial shift away from WhatsApp. .. and Facebook, for that matter.
A nerve has been struck hard and even if Facebook is completely ‘innocent’ the optics, as they say, are pretty awful. Facebook has a mountain to climb, perhaps several, if it’s to regain the trust of its users … something in short supply when it comes to big data tech giants and privacy.
So, which messaging app best protects your privacy? Do you care? Does it matter?
1 From 8 Feb to 15 May 2021
- Does not collect data, only your phone number
- Free, no ads, funded by nonprofit Signal Foundation
- Fully open-source
Signal | Wikipedia
- Data linked to you: Name, phone number, contacts, user ID
- Free, forthcoming Ad Platform and premium features, funded mainly by founder
- Only partially open-source
Telegram | Wikipedia
- Data linked to you: Too much to list (see below)
- Free; business versions available for free, funded by Facebook
- Not open-source, except for encryption
WhatsApp | Wikipedia Viber | Viber
Viber | Wikipedia Snapchat | Snapchat
Snapchat | Wikipedia KakaoTalk | KakaoTalk
KakaoTalk | Wikipedia Keybase | Keybase
Keybase | Wikipedia Signal vs. WhatsApp vs. Telegram: Major security differences between messaging apps | Cnet | 29 Jan 2021
Fleeing WhatsApp for Better Privacy? Don’t Turn to Telegram | Wired | 27 Jan 2021
Is it time to leave WhatsApp – and is Signal the answer? | The Guardian | 24 Jan 2021
WhatsApp changes: Signal messaging platform restored after surge prompts outage | BBC News | 17 Jan 2021 Back to top
Abbreviations and acronyms
If you use Grindr, Scruff, Gaydar … or one of the many other apps … you will have seen or used its shorthand. Depending on your age you’ll either be in your element or confounded by some of the internet slang abbreviations and acronyms used. Today is about efficiency and a sex-now culture, and time is of the essence in the twilight world of hook-ups, meets and dating. LOL.
Once upon a time we wrote fully formed sentences. Letters became emails which became texts, so it should come as no surprise that would abbreviate them. Yes, they’re quicker to write but some ABS (abbreviations) are nonsensical gibberish. However, we should not forget that abbreviations and acronyms came about as a by-product of newspapers and magazines personal ads which charged by the letter. WTF!
Pulling together this list of acronyms and abbreviations has not been our finest hour. We lost interest several times and failed to embrace this ‘foreign’ language fully. It’s not exhaustive, we’ve probably missed something, and it’s an evolving shorthand so some ABS drop off as new ones emerge. IRL.
A3: anytime, anyplace, anywhere
AMF: Adios motherfucker
ASAP: as soon as possible
ASL: age sex location
ASL: age state location
ASLP: age, sex, location, picture
B&D, BD: bondage and discipline
BHM: big handsome man
BiM: bisexual male
BRB: be right back
D&D FREE: drug and disease free
DD: drug and disease
DS: dominance and submission
DDF: drug and disease free
DL: down low
DOM: male dominant (active)
DTE: down to earth
DTF: down to fuck
FWB: friend with benefits
GAM: gay Asian man
GBM: gay Black male
GHM: gay Hispanic male
GSOH: good sense of humour
GWM: gay white male
HMU: hit me up
HU: hurry up
HWP: height weight proportional
ILYK: I’ll let you know
IRL: in real life
ISO: in search of
ITAI: I’ll think about it
J4T: just for today
LIC: like I care
LMK: let me know
LOL: laugh out loud
LTR: long term relationship
MYOB: mind your own business
NBD no big deal
NSA: no strings attached
PnP party and play
RTS: real time sex
S&M, S/M: sadomasochism
STD: sexually transmitted disease
STI: sexually transmitted infection
SWS: sex without strings
TYVM: thank you very much
VGL very good looking
WE: well endowed
WS: water sports
WLTM: would like to meet
YOYO: you’re on your own
ZZZ: sleeping, bored, tired
Polari: the secret gay language you’ve probably never heard of… | BBC 3 | 17 May 2016
20 hookup abbreviations you should know (JIC you didn’t already) | Queerty | 16 May 2015
Glossary of acronyms and abbreviations in personal ads | Creative Loafing | 21 Jun 2012 Polari | MEN R US Stuff gay people like: acronyms | Out Front
Dating and texting acronyms | Dating Site Reviews
Helpline, advice and victim support | MEN R USBack to top
Online data and safetyAvoid and report internet scams and phishing | GOV.UK
Cyber Aware | National Cyber Security Office Online safety | Information Commissioner’s Office
Share Take Care | BBC
Internet Matters | Internet Matters
Get Safe Online | Get Safe Online Helpline, advice and victim support | MEN R US
You can improve your cyber security1 by taking six actions:
- Use a strong and separate password for your email
- Create strong passwords using 3 random words
- Save your passwords in your browser
- Turn on two-factor authentication (2FA)
- Update your devices
- Back up your data
General Data Protection Regulation (EU) | Wikipedia
Introduction to EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) | In 3 Minutes | 22 Apr 2017 | 3m NHS data gathering: government plans to collect and share health records are hugely concerning – here’s why | The Conversation | 15 Jun 2021
Tool checks phone numbers from Facebook data breach | BBC News | 6 Apr 2021
Are you ready? Here is all the data Facebook and Google have on you | The Guardian | 30 Mar 2018
Grindr finally apologises after HIV data row | Pink News | 6 Apr 2018
Grindr’s HIV data-sharing has betrayed the LGBTQ world | The Guardian 3 Apr 2018
Grindr defends HIV-related data sharing | BBC News | 3 Apr 2018
Revealed: Grindr is sharing the HIV status of users with outside companies | Pink News | 2 Apr 2018 NHS trust fined for 56 Dean Street HIV status leak | BBC | 9 May 2016
Top HIV clinic accidentally reveals the identity of hundreds of its patients | Buzz Feed News | 2 Sep 2015
1 National Cyber Security Office
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Catfishing is a deceptive and abusive activity pretending to be someone you’re not online by creating a fake identity to target individuals with a promise of friendship, a relationship; and/ or fraud. These profiles/ identities are also known as ‘sock puppet’ presences, referring to the manipulation of a simple hand puppet made from a sock.
Reasons people catfish include a lack of confidence, isolation, loneliness and, in some cases, wanting a relationship with someone they believe is ‘out of their league’ in the real world. For others, the goal is simply to scam money, troll or harass their victims.
The Internet provides catfishing an environment in which it can flourish providing – in many cases – anonymity and shielding perpetrators from obligation or responsibility.
There are also instances where a catfisher is confused or curious about their sexuality. They create false profiles so they can confidently explore their curiosity without having to reveal their true identity.
Though tempting to believe it, catfishing has nothing to do with catfishing fish rather it was Nev Schulman’s 2010 documentary ‘Catfish’ that brought the practice to light, and there is a US reality-based documentary series based on this.
How to catfish the world!
Researching this topic, we were surprised to find a makeup video (one of many titled “How to catfish the world!” sponsored by Clinique. The presenter appears to regard catfishing as a positive, saying of her video “Some call it catfish I call it enhancing your beauty to the maximum. Most of you probably know all my transforming tricks and tips by now but I thought I would make a video and go a bit more in detail. What level of catfish is this look?!”
MEN R US volunteers admit we don’t get the thinking behind this even though she has 5.9 million subscribers.
- You search online for their name but they don’t seem to exist
- Photos you do find don’t match the photos on their profile
- Their photographs seem too professional
- They ask for money (they might say it’s to visit you)
- Even though you’ve only known them for a short time (days/ weeks) they say they love you
- They are reluctant or won’t meet for real, video chat, or phone
- They come across as a little too Mr Perfect
- Information or stories conflict or don’t quite add up
- They don’t have any/ many social media followers or friends
- Something is off or just doesn’t feel right
Embarrassment, regret and betrayal
Being a victim of catfishing can affect one’s mental health sometimes resulting in anxiety and depression. It can be especially difficult when a victim has invested emotionally in a friendship or a relationship believing in and falling for a non-existent person.
There are feelings of embarrassment, regret and betrayal, worsened if there is a financial loss or if (explicit) images are involved. Understandably, victims can become paranoid they might be exposed publicly through revenge porn, for example. There are also additional considerations if the victim is still in the closet, fearful of disclosure, and being outed. After the experience, victims can find it difficult to trust other people which can affect friendships and relationships, both personal and professional.Catfish Guide | The Cyber Helpline
7 Signs of a Catfish | The Cyber Helpline
The Cyber Chatbot Helpline 0300 123 2040 | Action Fraud Helpline Mental health helpines | MEN R US
Mental health matters | MEN R US Catfishing | Wikipedia
Sockpuppet | Wikipedia There is no specific crime of catfishing. But is it illegal? | Australia | The Conversation | 29 May 2020
Gay dating app is introducing an AI verification process to clamp down on catfishing | Pink News | 30 | Oct 2019
Why do gay apps struggle to stop catfish? | BBC | 28 Oct 2019
Who’s behind the screen? What is a catfish and how can you spot one? | The Sun | 23 Sep 2019
We speak to the gay men who pretended to be girls online to flirt with boys | GQ | 20 Jul 2019
How to catch a catfisher | The Guardian | 20 Feb 2019
Tinder user jailed for tricking blindfolded men into sex | BBC | 9 Nov 2018
Catfishing: What happens when someone steals your identity? | 13 Jan 2019
What is catfishing and how can you spot it? | Metro | 18 Mar 2018
This is what it feels like to be the face of a gay twitter catfish | BuzzFeed News | 13 Sep 2017
Online dating fraud cost victims £27 million last year | Action Fraud | 11 Feb 2016 Back to top
Web mapping and geocode systems
A geocode is a code that represents a geographic location (or object). Address geocoding (or geocoding) is the process of taking a text-based description of a location, such as an address or the name of a place and returning geographic coordinates. Here are a selection of web mapping, and geocode systems.Geocode | Wikipedia
Address geocoding | Wikipedia
Amongst other things, Google Maps offers satellite imagery, aerial photography, street maps, 360° interactive panoramic views of streets (street view) and route planning.
Google Maps | Wikipedia
OpenStreetMap is a free, editable map of the whole world that is being built by volunteers largely from scratch and released with an open-content license. Its License allows free (or almost free) access to our map images and all of our underlying map data.
OpenStreetMap | OpenStreetMap
OpenStreetMap | Wikipedia
Divided into a grid of 3m x 3m squares each with a unique address, What3words differs from most other location encoding systems in that it displays three words rather than strings of numbers or letters.
What3words | Wikipedia
Rescuers question what3words’ use in emergencies | BBC News | 1 Jun 2021
Center for Humane Technology
Center for Humane Technology are dedicated to radically reimagining our digital infrastructure. Our mission is to drive a comprehensive shift toward humane technology that supports our well-being, democracy, and shared information environment.Center for Humane Technology
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Algorithmic Justice League
The Algorithmic Justice League (AJL) combines art and research to illuminate the social implications and harms of artificial intelligence. AJL’s mission is to raise public awareness about the impacts of AI, equip advocates with empirical research to bolster campaigns, build the voice and choice of most impacted communities, and galvanize researchers, policymakers, and industry practitioners to mitigate AI bias and harms.Algorithmic Justice League (AJL) Back to top
Since 2018, you’ve had the legal right to ask any company for your data and tell them what to do with it. Rightly doesn’t believe you should have to pay to use your rights, which is why we’ve chosen to keep our services completely free. No adverts, no hidden costs. “Rightly values the trust that our users put in us. This means we’ll never, ever sell your data.”Back to top
What is dating?
Perhaps we are stating the obvious by defining dating, but in a 24/7 smörgåsbord sex culture some guys seem to think the ‘boundaries’ and ‘formalities’ of dating don’t matter. They do and guys still date (yup, we’ve said it) so it can be very irritating when some men think it’s OK to use it as a back door, or short cut, to sex.
A date is when:
- two people spend time together
- with the intention of getting to know each other better
- on a potentially romantic level
- over an extended period of time
- to find out if a relationship is something worth pursuing
- during which time sex is not the driver
To clarify further:
- Sexual hook ups are just that, usually arranged online for sex
- Hooking up or hook-ups can include sex, though non-sexual mates and friends will often hook up to spend time together socially
- Hanging out usually means guys spending time together, as mates or friends, doing non-sexual and non-romantic stuff
Sometimes we confuse this stuff, sometimes intentionally. Being clear in your own mind about what you want, and being equally clear with others, will eliminate no end of grief and you will feel better for it.Forever single: a never ending dating game | GMFA, FS Magazine Helpline, advice and victim support | MEN R US Back to top
First date check list
Whatever your age, you should be feeling excited, if a little nervous, but this is good and healthy. This is particularly true for guys who have not been dating for while, or are new to the whole dating thing.
Most likely, there will be a ton of stuff buzzing in your head like:
- Will you like each other?
- Is he the one?
- Will there be a connection and chemistry?
- Will we have anything to talk about?
- Will I say the right thing or embarrass myself?
- Is my breath stinky?
The only way you’ll find out is by going (!) so here are some tips to get you there.
The venue and doing stuff
Keep a first date short-ish and simple so if it’s not a good fit it doesn’t become a marathon. At MEN R US, we really like the idea of actually doing something on a date like a cheap gig, a gallery, a market, bowling; you can try a spa day but you may be pushing it! If you like each other, you can extend it, or plan a longer one next time.
Pick a place where you can talk and hear each other. A drink in a quiet café or a quick supper or lunch can be nice… but it can be intense. Think about getting out, active and having fun!
Check out transport to and from the venue, and getting home afterwards.
Alternatively, ignore the above and make your own rules.
“After the date from hell we had to wait on the same platform. Felt so awkward – jumped on the first train south. Took me ages to home. House mates thought it had gone well cos I didn’t get back ’til late. Had to tell them the whole story and ended up laughing like crazy.” Adam | 23 May 2015
Your appearance should matter to you. Jeans and T-shirt worn well can make just as good an impression as a suit and tie. Be comfortable and be you.
Old fashioned perhaps but ‘manners maketh the man’ or ‘don’t be more of an arsehole than you naturally are’. Whether you are attracted to him or not, treat him as you would like to be treated yourself, and be courteous to waiting and bar staff.
Be on time
Turn up on time or let him know if you are going to be late, for any reason.
Turn your mobile phone OFF during the whole date, or put it on silent if you are expecting an urgent call.
We all have a past and life experiences that influence who we are and how we behave towards ourselves and others. Examples can include a line of ex-boyfriends (which didn’t end well), difficulty connecting with men, and/ or a history of drug use. However, it is also said that we are what we are, the sum of these and other parts, and ‘baggage’ is life’s rich tapestry conveniently labelled for the 21st century.
Whatever we call it, managing it in some way often helps us in ourselves and the relationships we make. This could mean some introspection, a self-help book, a damn good cry, a heart to heart with a friend, counselling, or at the very least acknowledgement that you/ we all have baggage which, with some effort, can – to a greater or lesser extent – be sorted, put to rest and stored away.
The important thing is we don’t bring this stuff to a date, and certainly not a first date. So, you don’t bang on about your last failed relationship, or a traumatic coming out, or a struggle with alcohol. Equally, it would be wrong to present yourself as squeaky clean (unless you are) and sometimes these moments shared at the right moment are very important.
It’s said there’s a time and a place for everything and there’s a knack of being true to yourself without frightening the horses (the horse, in this case, being your date). Too much emotional baggage, too soon, is never attractive and if things start to get serious you’ll have plenty of time to share your past, hang-ups, regrets and mistakes – as will he.
A guy should like you for who you are, so let him see the real you. The key is not to over analyse, relax, and be yourself. Dating is not a time to try being what you think your date would like you to be. Attempts to exaggerate, impress, dress up the truth or lie will likely end in tears.
Regardless of whether you hit it off romantically it would be good if you could both say that you had a good time. Whether you see him again or not, he should feel better off for having spent some time with you.
This also means not lying or giving false hope, leading someone to believe you are keen to seen them again when, in fact, you have no intention of doing so.
Many of us make up our minds as to whether we like someone in the first few seconds or minutes of meeting. But first impressions can be very misleading. You will risk missing out if you judge too quickly or are too fussy or rigid about what you are looking for in a potential partner.
Try not to rule people out straight away. Instead, spend some time getting to know them; it’s what the date is for! If you’re not sure about someone, it may take a few dates before you can really decide.
Being attracted to someone is a great feeling but this is often a ways away from something more substantial. Sex on the first date (particularly if it’s mind blowing) can connect you in complex ways which can then blind your compatibility issues. Don’t underestimate this as they will invariably reveal themselves over time, sometimes destructively. Guys wake up a month or so later to realise they actually don’t like the man and have nothing in common.
So, take time to get to know a guy before getting too emotionally or physically involved. It helps if you can establish that there’s more to the relationship than just chemistry before ripping off each other’s clothes.
As a date or dates unfold, we process compatibility and whether there’s a connection, common ground – and whether we actually like the guy! Sometimes we conclude he’s not the one. The important thing is that you end things as decently as you can.
Being honest and saying ‘thanks but no thanks’ to him face to face says a lot about who you are as an an adult gay man. Sometimes things just don’t end well, but always try to tell him calmly, however difficult this may be. In time he may become a friend, or be a friend of your next boyfriend, and you never know when you might see him again.
And you get no points for ending it by text or phone!
Helpline, advice and victim support | MEN R US Back to top
“Went out with Marco a few times but it didn’t work out. Got really messy when I told him because he said I’d been giving him all the signals. I probably was but couldn’t be honest with him. I’ve been with James a year now but a couple of months in I met his best friend: Marco. Very awkward for a while but then we had the conversation we should have had when I broke up with him. My bad.” Andrew | 1 Feb 2015
He’s just got out of a long term relationship
The average length of a ‘long term’ relationship is variable at best, but we’re going for 2 plus years as a guide. What’s more important is whether he’s single and emotionally available when he meets you.
Asking around MEN R US we came up with a completely unscientific guide of no proper dating for 2-4 months for every year a person has been in a relationship. So, a guy finishing a 5 year relationship might need between 10 and 20 months. This may seem a lot… or a little… but factors to consider include the quality of the relationship, how it ended (eg: a bust up by mutual agreement, or something in between) and the emotional maturity of the guy.
Complete bollocks maybe, but at least take away from this that when relationships end we need time to heal, clear some head space, and sort out life’s practicalities before we start dating again. Forget this, and we catch guys on the rebound, or are rebounding ourselves.
And while you may be perfectly entitled to run for the hills when he says “We still live together but are not in a relationship” just bear in mind the practicalities of separation can take time, particularly if they’ve bought property together.
He’s flirting and checking out other guys
It’s quite amazing how subtle guys think they are when they’re scoping out the restaurants, crowds, wherever, when in fact his eyes should be on you. Particularly when we are looking at someone, we can pick up the tiniest flicker of when someone is looking elsewhere. Trust your gut and gaydar on this.
Unfortunately, we can be remarkably forgiving when we’re really into someone and think we’ve made a connection. Short answer is this guy is probably not for you, and it’s not a good sign if you’re looking for something longer term.
The worst though is when the guy has no interest in you whatsoever, is checking out other guys, and you’re waiting patiently for the date to end. If you can do it, if you can pluck up the courage, say what you have to say and leave, head held high.
He wants to go to a bar
This can be a really bad sign and is it really a proper date if you are surrounded by a pile of other dudes, a high percentage of whom may/ will be cruising. Suggest you go for a walk, go for a wander, do anything else except stand in a bar.
He drinks too much too fast
There is nothing wrong with a drink or two but you don’t want your date becoming rude, loud, clingy, violent or sick. For example, a bottle of wine between two over a meal sounds about right. Several bottles and/ or a stack of liqueurs with the dessert menu perhaps not so good. Also think about whether you are being actively encouraged to line ’em up and drink at a rate which is not comfortable for you. This stuff is tricky and subjective; what might be a lot for one person might be very little for another. In the end, it’s your date.
He is rude to others
It’s a surprisingly revealing trait if your date is dismissive or rude towards waiters, bar or theatre staff for example – often they don’t realise they’re doing it. His behaviour also shows you up by association and can be very embarrassing, particularly if you catch the staff’s eye, both thinking the same thing: “what a dick!” It also begs the question how is going to treat you in a few months time.
He says he’s ‘discreet’
A guy who says he’s ‘discreet’ may suggest he may not be out, or comfortable in his own skin, and/ or is embarrassed or fearful about being around others who might imply or indicate he’s gay, or a type of gay person he thinks is unacceptable.
This may also indicate internalised homophobia which is when you take on negative messages given to you by society, culture or religion and you incorporate these into the way that you view yourself.
Don’t be with anyone who is less than you want to be.
If he wants to have sex on a first date (or the first 2 or 3) then it’s not dating, is it? A date should be just that, uncomplicated by sex and all that it entails. Either you’ve not been honest with him or he’s not been honest with you.
He talks too much
initially, it could be nerves but if he does all the talking, this may mean he’s more interested in himself than you and a relationship with him would be me me me! We are flattered and feel special if someone takes the time to listen, ask questions and draw you out. It is important that you both have a chance to learn about each other, but try and make sure that you are listening as much (or more) than you are talking.Helpline, advice and victim support | MEN R US Back to top
Being a good man
Be healthy on the inside
We probably have at least one friend or acquaintance who seems to be genuinely happy being alone and another who seems to fall in and out of relationships quicker than you can say ‘I’ll call you…’ We probably know some guys who equate relationships with dramas and others who have been together so long we’re secretly envious.
We also know guys who can pick up every night of the week but whom we suspect are lonely, and those who seem to have an unerring capacity to be vicious, self-centred and hell-bent on destroying the men they say they love.
Finding the ‘right’ man can take time and just because he’s not by your side now doesn’t make you a bad, unreasonable or inadequate lover. Despite everything you can do, there’s a surprising amount of chance involved and you shouldn’t feel guilty or angry if you’ve been unlucky today, this week or this year.
“Everyone can’t be the same… Everyone can’t be straight, Everybody can’t be beautiful. Some people are just gay and average. We’re the strongest I think.”
The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy | 2000
It’s one thing to find a man – it’s a bonus to discover that he wants to spend time with you. It’s miraculous that the sex is just what you both want but are you ready? We buy the right clothes, cut our hair, exercise, shave and tan ourselves into oblivion, immerse our skin in creams and lotions and decorate our homes… even the cat leaves the bedroom at the appropriate signal.
But while we spend time, effort and money to look our best it can often be at the expense of preparing ourselves from the inside. If you’re not happy by yourself – in yourself – then you’re not going to feel much better with someone else. In fact you’ll be trading one set of problems for another and dragging someone else into the crap. The axiom that you can’t love others until you love yourself is very true, but equally you can’t receive love unless you feel at one with yourself.
Particularly on the gay scene, we’re constantly comparing ourselves with other gay men and that’s where all self-esteem and self-worth stuff gets in the way. It keeps us from seeing ourselves as whole people, preferring instead something better, younger, more handsome, better-built and more together – not forgetting that extra inch or two. Consequently, our self-esteem plummets, we fill the space with self doubt and question our ability to become involved with other men.
Home from the gym | ASPD Films | 25 May 2018 | 5m 45s
No matter how often someone tells you that he finds you attractive or that he cares, you cannot quite believe it. In fact, the more honest and genuine the compliment the more painful it can be to accept. This is not to say that you can’t love or don’t love, but getting yourself into mental and emotional shape helps raise your self-esteem and replaces self-doubt with positive thoughts and feelings.Helpline, advice and victim support | MEN R US Back to top
The things we do
Over several MEN R US suppers, we’ve pulled together some characters and characteristics which you may know, have seen or have had some direct experience of. If they ring any bells maybe it’s time to a chat with ‘that’ friend, or for you to talk it through with a friend of your own.
There is nothing shameful or embarrassing about any of this. You’re recognising potential issues in you and are prepared to deal with them. This is a strength, not a weakness, and these are healthy and positive steps to take. Alternatively, you may wish to call a helpline, or see a counsellor or therapist and your GP may also be able to help.
- Angus is lonely but when he finds a man he’s happy again
- As the relationship gets serious, he picks holes as to why this guy isn’t right
- You can never love him enough and he’s always finding ways to test your friendship and loyalty
- Actually, Angus thinks he doesn’t deserve a boyfriend, or the love and intimacy that goes with it
- So he keeps his distance, never letting anyone get too close, and when you say you love him he skilfully bats it aside
- He starts using web apps to hook up again but complains it’s all that gay men want
- He’s always looking for validation that he’s good, attractive and lovable
- Freddie focuses on his weaknesses instead of his strengths, his bad points rather than his good ones
- When it comes to him he’s a glass half empty kinda guy
- He thinks that he doesn’t deserve to be happy and, when he finds a man, convinces himself that it’s all going to go pear-shaped
- The pessimism can be so overwhelming and his sense of self-worth so low that he undermines whatever good things are going for him
- Mark is charming, funny, intelligent and would make someone a great boyfriend… but it goes out the window when he’s out clubbing
- Salivating over six-packs and burly bears in surprisingly snug fitting jeans, all he can think about is that he’s unattractive
- In reality he could lose a little weight, but he gets so depressed by this single issue he can’t bring himself to exercise or make even modest changes to his lifestyle
- Increasingly isolated each time he goes out, he thinks he’s lost the battle before it has started
- Tobias always seems to know what you need and insists on getting it for you… a cup of tea, tickets to that gig, or a new batch of drugs
- Nothing is too much trouble, but in giving so much he ignores his own needs
- He doesn’t think well enough of himself to enjoy sex but will do anything to please you (and please you he will!)
- He’s nervous about being touched, moves away after you’ve cum and tends to play the martyr (and he’s really good at it)
- Greg doesn’t think anything he has to say is important
- If he does tell you how he feels, he’s frightened that you won’t like him for him – a lovely guy who just doesn’t know it
- This fear of rejection is preventing him from getting close to anyone, but while he doesn’t show his true feelings he’s thoroughly miserable
- Thinking he’s distant or disinterested guys leave him alone
- Paulo knows what makes you feel bad about yourself and never lets you forget it
- He’s the first to embarrass you in front of friends and broadcast your sexual exploits
- He can only feel good about himself at the expense of others
- He has a never-ending stream of fair-weather friends who stay just long enough to be mauled by his malicious sense of humour
- Hemlock pales beside this bitch, and he’d rather take it than admit that he is unhappy and intensely lonely
If this is too much, then at least take some time to think about how and why it might be affecting your ability to make friends, have boyfriends and sustain them.
And yes, it may seem a little silly but you can do a lot worse than actually write out what makes you a good guy and what points you would like to change or improve.
Aim to tackle them in turn and set yourself realistic goals to achieve them.London Friend | London Friend | 020 7833 1674
Pink Therapy | Pink Therapy
BACP | British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy Helpline, advice and victim support | MEN R US Back to top
Domestic violence, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape
Help and support
LGBT Domestic Violence Helpline | 0800 999 5428 | 0300 999 5428
Switchboard LGBT+ Helpline | 0300 330 0630
GALOP | 020 7704 2040
Rise UK | 01273 622828
Men’s Advice Line | 0808 801 0327
Victim Support | 0808 168 9111
The Havens can help you if you have been sexually assaulted or had non-consensual sex in the past 12 months. You can call them 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for an initial assessment. When they need to see you urgently, such as for a forensic medical examination (FME), they aim to see you within 90 minutes. They also offer follow-up care, including counselling, tests and treatments. Its medical and emotional support services are confidential. That means it will not tell anyone you have contacted or come to see them unless you want them to. And you can use any of their services without involving the police. The Havens has three centres in London:
Camberwell Haven, near to King’s College Hospital (South)
Whitechapel Haven, near to Royal London Hospital (East)
Paddington Haven, near to St Mary’s Hospital (West)
The Havens | 020 3299 6900
Domestic violence | Stonewall
LGBT Domestic Abuse Partnership
Suzy Lamplugh Trust
Sexual violence and abuse | wannatalkaboutit (Netflix) Personal information | MEN R US
Consent and sex | MEN R US
Street safety | MEN R US
Cruising grounds | MEN R US Back to top
Domestic violence and abuse
- Domestic violence and abuse does exist between gay men
- Domestic violence cuts across all groups regardless of race, age, class, religion, lifestyles or disability
- Domestic violence is about control of one person by another
- Alcohol, drugs, stress, etc. are not an excuse for violence
- There is no provocation or justification for domestic violence – the batterer is responsible for their behaviour
If you keep going from one violent or abusive relationship to another then you should examine why, how, and when it happens. This should be a useful start when seeking further help, advice and, perhaps, counselling. Violence and abuse can happen in many different ways and settings. Violence is not always physical, but can also be emotional, mental, verbal and sexual.
Violence or abuse can be considered as an intrusion into your life that does not involve your consent or agreement. It is a very personal thing, and what one person feels is abusive another person might not. If it feels abusive to you, try and do something about it. If you feel unable to confront the abusive person – seek advice and help as a matter of urgency. You might be able to get someone to help or act on your behalf. If you are in an abusive relationship you may:
- Feel that you are to blame
- Make excuses for your partner’s behaviour, “he can’t help himself, it’s his work… his family… his debts… it’s me… it’s just the way he is…”
- Find yourself forever anticipating your partner’s next mood swing
- Feel trapped and believe there is no way out of the relationship
- Go on loving your partner even though you know what’s happening is wrong
- Feel confused, depressed, angry, alone, and frightened
- Do things to make you forget – drink more, smoke more, take drugs, harm yourself
- Feel that no one else will love you or take care of you
- Think it will stop soon
If you are on the receiving end of violence it is important to get out as soon as possible and get help. Do not feel guilty that this has happened to you and that, in some way, it’s your fault. It is also important that you do not feel embarrassed about your reactions after the event – you have been through a traumatic and stressful situation. You do not deserve to be on the receiving end of any form of violence or abuse. Abuse or violence only gets worse and can lead to permanent damage or death. If it wasn’t you, it would somebody else.
If you are being abusive or violent towards you partner – there is something you can do to stop. There are a number of groups and organisations that will work with you to help you understand why you are doing this and how to stop. They are there to help you… not to judge you.
What can you do?
- If violence is happening on a regular basis, find out what help is available to prevent this happening to you. It is also important to record what is happening in case it needs to be used as evidence
- Tell someone what is happening! Speak to a gay organisation/helpline, or tell someone you can trust
- Have someone you can call any time
- Go to a safe place, or plan ahead so that you can get to a safe place quickly if you are abused again or are scared
- Use a helpline or call an organisation for lesbians and gay men who are victims of violence or who can help in dealing with the police. You can call just for emotional support, for referrals to support groups or for practical help about possible police/legal remedies
- The police have specially-trained officers, some of whom are gay or lesbian themselves. When you phone police ask if a gay liaison officer is available
- In an emergency always call 999
Sexual harassment is any kind of unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature that makes you feel humiliated, degraded, or intimidated; violates your dignity; and/ or creates an offensive or hostile environment. Sexual harassment can happen in person (one-on-one or in a group), on the phone and/or online. Examples include someone who:
- talks about you in a sexual way that makes you feel uncomfortable
- who calls you insulting or derogatory sexual names, or makes sexual jokes
- makes unwanted or inappropriate sexual advances or propositions
- who leers at you (looks at you in an overtly sexual way)
- spreads sexual rumours or gossip about you
Anyone can be subjected to sexual harassment whether you’re gay, lesbian, straight, bi, trans, or non-binary.Citizens advice
- Sexual harassment is unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature which violates your dignity; makes you feel intimidated, degraded or humiliated; and/ or creates a hostile or offensive environment. You don’t need to have previously objected to someone’s behaviour for it to be considered unwanted.
- Sexual harassment is a form of unlawful discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. The law says it’s sexual harassment if the behaviour is either meant to, or has the effect of: violating your dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.
- Sexual harassment is unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature. The law protects the following people against sexual harassment at work: employees and workers, contractors and self-employed people hired to personally do the work, and job applicants
- To be sexual harassment, the unwanted behaviour must have either: violated someone’s dignity, whether it was intended or not; created a hostile environment for them, whether it was intended or not. Employers must do all they reasonably can to protect staff from sexual harassment and take steps to prevent it happening.
- Sexual harassment is any kind of unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature that makes you feel humiliated or intimidated, or that creates a hostile environment. When someone calls you insulting sexual names, talks about you in a sexual way that makes you feel uncomfortable (like commenting on your body), or spreads sexual rumours about you, that’s sexual harassment. It can happen in person, over the phone, or online. Sexual harassment can make you feel anxious, depressed and lead to other problems, such as difficulties sleeping.
- Experiencing sexual harassment at work can create a stressful and hostile working environment, particularly if you’re harassed by someone who works closely with you. If you’re sexually harassed by someone at work, you may feel intimidated or anxious about going to work. Sexual harassment is a form of unlawful discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. If you experience sexual harassment at work, you can report it to your manager, HR representative or trade union. It’s a good idea to keep a record of any emails you send or receive regarding the harassment as these may help if you make a claim.
Survey finds 70% of LGBT people sexually harassed at work | the Guardian | 17 May 2019
The Hidden Sexual Harassment & Abuse of Men and Boys (Our Stories) | Men are human | 2 Nov 2018
Me Too: The Difficult Truths About Gay Men And Sexual Assault | Huffpost | 16 Oct 2017 Back to top
Sexual assault and rape
Many people use the terms sexual assault and rape incorrectly because they don’t know the definitions or the legal difference. So, in no particular order, here are three definitions from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), Citizen’s Advice, Victim Support and the Crown Prosecution Service:Metropolitan Police Service
- “The legal definition of rape is when a person intentionally penetrates another’s vagina, anus or mouth with a penis, without the other person’s consent. Assault by penetration is when a person penetrates another person’s vagina or anus with any part of the body other than a penis, or by using an object, without the person’s consent.”
- “The overall definition of sexual or indecent assault is an act of physical, psychological and emotional violation in the form of a sexual act, inflicted on someone without their consent. It can involve forcing or manipulating someone to witness or participate in any sexual acts.”
- “The law defines rape as non-consensual penetration of someone’s vagina, anus or mouth by another person’s penis. Non-consensual means you didn’t freely agree to have sexual intercourse. Someone can also be convicted for rape if they assist or help someone else to rape.”
- “Sexual assault is when someone intentionally touches you without your consent. It wouldn’t count as consent if: you were subjected to violence or threats of violence; violence or threats of violence were made against someone else to force you to consent; you were asleep, unconscious, drugged or incapacitated by alcohol; your disability meant you were not able to communicate your lack of consent.”
- “If a man forces you to have penetrative sex, or has sex with you without your consent or agreement, that’s rape. Rape includes penetration with his penis of the vagina, anus or mouth without consent. Whatever the circumstances, nobody has the right to force you to have sex or have sex with you without your consent. If this happens to you, it’s important to remember it’s not your fault. Both men and women can be raped but only men can commit rape. If someone (male or female) sexually assaults you by penetrating you with another part of their body or another object, this is classed as ‘assault by penetration’ but will be treated similarly to rape if taken to court.”
- “If someone intentionally grabs or touches you in a sexual way that you don’t like, or you’re forced to kiss someone or do something else sexual against your will, that’s sexual assault. This includes sexual touching of any part of someone’s body, and it makes no difference whether you’re wearing clothes or not. Anyone can be sexually assaulted and both men and women can commit sexual assault.”
- “A rape is when a person uses their penis without consent to penetrate the vagina, mouth, or anus of another person. Legally, a person without a penis cannot commit rape, but a female may be guilty of rape if they assist a male perpetrator in an attack.”
- “Sexual assault is when a person is coerced or physically forced to engage against their will, or when a person, male or female, touches another person sexually without their consent. Touching can be done with any part of the body or with an object. Sexual penetration is when a person (male or female) penetrates the vagina or anus of another person with any part of their body or an object without that person’s consent.”
Connection and consent | MEN R US Back to top
Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse where a person makes someone question their perception of reality, memories or sanity. The term comes from from the 1938 play and 1944 film Gaslight in which a husband manipulates his wife into thinking she has a mental illness by dimming their gas lights and telling her she is hallucinating.
Gaslighting is about control and people who gaslight often have low self-worth/ esteem and want to feel a sense of control in their own lives by making others depend on them. The only way they can feel better is when they have that feeling of power over another person.
“In interpersonal relationships, the victimiser “needs to be right” in order to “preserve (their) own sense of self”, and “(their) sense of having power in the world”; and the victim allows the victimizer to “define (their) sense of reality” inasmuch as the victim “idealized (them)” and “seeks (their) approval”. It is a form of emotional abuse with an undertone of maintaining control.” 1
People who gaslight sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual making them question their own memory, perception, or judgement. Other tactics include attempts to unbalance the victim and undermine their beliefs using denial, misdirection, contradiction, and misinformation. Additionally, the staging of elaborate or bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.
The goal of gaslighting is to gradually undermine the victim’s confidence in their own ability to distinguish truth from falsehood, right from wrong, or reality from delusion, thereby rendering the individual or group pathologically dependent on the gaslighter for their thinking and feelings.
People who experience gaslighting often feel confused, anxious, and unable to trust themselves. It may bring about changes in them such as conflicting beliefs, values, or attitudes, or low self-esteem, rendering the victim additionally dependent on the gaslighter for emotional support and validation. Gaslighting may also cause a person to distrust themselves and feel scared and vulnerable.
Examples of gaslighting: 2
This describes a person questioning someone’s memories. They may say things such as, “you never remember things accurately,” or “are you sure? You have a bad memory.”
When someone withholds, they refuse to engage in a conversation. A person using this technique may pretend not to understand someone so that they do not have to respond to them. For example, they might say, “I do not know what you are talking about,” or “you are just trying to confuse me.”
This occurs when a person belittles or disregards the other person’s feelings. They may accuse them of being too sensitive or of overreacting when they have valid concerns and feelings.
Denial involves a person pretending to forget events or how they occurred. They may deny having said or done something or accuse someone of making things up.
With this technique, a person changes the focus of a discussion and questions the other person’s credibility instead. For example, they might say, “that is just another crazy idea you got from your friends.”
An article in the American Sociological Review states that a person using gaslighting techniques may intentionally use negative stereotypes of a person’s gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, nationality, or age to manipulate them. For example, they may tell a female that people will think she is irrational or crazy if she seeks help for abuse.
Mental health matters | MEN R US Gaslighting | Wikipedia
What is gaslighting? | Medical News Today Trans people have bigger fish to fry, so stop giving gaslighting transphobes your headlines | Gay Times | 18 Sep 2020
What is ‘racial gaslighting’ – and why is it so damaging for people of colour? | Metro | 18 Jun 2020
10 Signs of Internalized Homophobia and Gaslighting | Psychology Today | 31 May 2020
Cheating and manipulation: Confessions of a gaslighter | BBC | 11 Jan 2018
Gaslighting: The ‘perfect’ romance that became a nightmare | BBC | 29 Nov 2017
This is what it is like being gaslighted in a relationship | Gay Star News | 16 May 2017 10 Gaslighting Signs in an Abusive Relationship | Psych2Go | 8 Jan 2017 | 5m 14s Back to top
Assertiveness should be about feeling, understanding and believing that you matter in your friendships, relationships, at work and at play. For some gay men claiming the same rights as everyone else can be hard. It’s also about breaking patterns of behaviour and can take time.
We aren’t always treated equally by the law or society in general, though things are getting better. Despite these improvements, a background of discrimination might make you feel you have no rights at all – even within our own community. Wrong! You do have rights – though sometimes the way gay people treat each other you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise.
Wouldn’t it be great if we were treated with respect by other people and, in turn, felt able to respect them. This is the part of what assertiveness is about. It’s also about building your own self-respect and dealing with your own feelings. Would you like to:
- Increase your self-confidence?
- Be clear and direct?
- Be properly understood?
- Feel better because you’ve expressed your feelings?
- Stand a better chance of getting what you want?
- Have fewer situations that are unresolved?
- Be treated as an equal?
This is what being assertive can achieve. It’s not achieved by being aggressive, we don’t need to act like steam rollers. Being passive will not help us get what we want either. When we are passive in situations, we don’t express our feelings. This builds up anger and frustration inside us until finally we blow up over a tiny thing. We often feel bad after this outburst and revert to being passive again.
Being assertive can help you break out of this circle of passive to aggressive behaviour. Being assertive can use up a lot of energy. You don’t have to keep it up 24 hours a day. Go slow. Take it easy and choose your moment. The decision is yours.
“I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want.” (Spice Girls, 1994-2000)
There are no magic words or set phrases for being assertive. However, there are several vital ingredients in becoming more assertive:
- Listen – even when the person is expressing strong feelings or being aggressive.
- Demonstrate understanding – not by using the stock phrase “I understand how you feel” but by referring to what you have heard. For example: “you seem angry and disappointed.”
- Say what you think and feel how the situation is affecting you – take responsibility for your feelings. Be clear about what has given rise to your feelings and attribute them to the event or the behaviour – not the person. For example: “I feel upset and hurt that you left me at the club when you said you would give me a lift home.”
- Say specifically what you want to happen – this minimises the chances of being misunderstood and increases the possibility of getting it. It doesn’t guarantee you will get what you want. Listen to the response you get and be prepared for the person to have a different point of view.
- If you need to negotiate, consider the consequences for you and others of any joint solutions where both of you are satisfied, rather than make a compromise where neither of you get what you want. Don’t give in to passive or aggressive behaviour at this point – you’re nearly there.
Right, now here’s the hard bit. Think about whether you’re happy with your lot. What about…
- Having friends and relationships around you that matter
- A job you enjoy and puts some money in your pocket
- A home where you’re happy and where you can relax
- Getting the medical and health services you want or need
- Getting the sex you want
- Disclosing your HIV status
- Dealing with the gay scene
Try writing down real situations where you would like to be more assertive. Use a variety of situations that aren’t frightening but which you’d still like to deal with better. Build up to more difficult situations that you encounter or are avoiding. Then, working through the five points listed above, note down possible assertive approaches to these problems and, if you need to initiate the conversation, start from point 3. Practise saying them in your head before you try it out for real. Remember that words on their own do not convey an assertive message.
Communication researchers have found that only 7% of a message is based around the words you say, 38% of the message comes from the tone of your voice, and 55% comes from your appearance or body language. Your words, voice tone and body language should all say “I’m confident and your equal, I expect to be treated with respect.”The quick guide to assertiveness: become direct, firm, and positive | Positive Psychology
DEAL: Being assertive | Samaritans
Being assertive: Reduce stress, communicate better | Mayo Clinic | US
Being assertive | Childline
Assertiveness | Wikipedia How to Be More Assertive: 7 Tips | The Distilled Man | 15 Apr 2018 | 11m 39s
How to Be More Confident | WatchWellCast | 18 May 2013 | 5m Back to top
Older and wiser
Hopefully, older means wiser, calmer and clearer about what’s important to us. As an added bonus, friends we made when we were younger may still be our friends decades later. Obviously there are exceptions, but from about 35-40 years plus – older gay men tend to have:
- A more rounded sense of who they are
- Greater emotional stability
- Grown increasingly comfortable with their sexual identity
- A more considered approach to life
- More confidence and are usually wiser
- Built-up strong networks of friends
- Genuine interests … other than alcohol, shopping and drugs!
- An established home and financial security
- More sexual experience and a better understanding of what they like
- The potential for the security of a long-term, mutually supportive, relationship
Contrary to popular myth, gay men get older too! Unless you’re flattened by a bus, most people live to their 80s, although a few of us thrive for more than 100 years. Several factors seem to make us grow old:
- Every time a cell divides (to replace those which have died) the blueprint for making them gets a little fuzzier introducing less precise copies. Consequently, more faulty cells are made.
- The body is gradually poisoned by a build-up of waste and toxins that it cannot process.
- There is a progressive decline in the immune system’s ability to detect and destroy micro-organisms and developing tumours.
- Diet, exercise and hereditary traits.
Put like this ageing doesn’t sound so great – it might even sound a little grim – but, eventually, that’s what bodies are designed to do. Nevertheless, with more of us living longer, more of us will still be here. Getting older is a fact of life and worrying about ageing just wastes time we could be living.The science of ageing | AsapSCIENCE | 7 Mar 2013 | 2m 5s Back to top
Sex and getting older
As we get older, the body’s ability to have sex changes – we may need more time to get turned on, get a hard-on and to cum. Erections may not be as stiff, you may prefer sex in the mornings when you’re rested and erections can occur spontaneously. Having said that, the quality of sex tends to matter more over the numbers of shags we get, we are more likely to know what stimulates us, and we tend to be more considerate bed partners.
Gay men in their 40s and 50s tend to put sex into perspective, prioritising life differently and developing other interests. This is perfectly normal. Sex is still great in later life but it doesn’t occupy every waking moment. Mind you, while there is no reason why you cannot have sex until your 100th birthday, if you insist on fucking like a rabbit every night, you might resent your body if it sometimes refuses to co-operate.Let’s talk the joy of later life sex | Relate
Let’s Talk the Joy of Later Life Sex | Mark and Andrew | 25 Apr 2021 | 1m 25s Back to top
Gay men tend to be more understanding of age differences (than our straight counterparts) and mixed-aged relationships do work; in fact many thrive. You may be exactly what your younger man needs, while you may be what your older man has been missing.
A five to ten year – or more – age difference is not uncommon and the ability communicate, adapt and compromise will often bridge the gap in life experiences. The larger the gap, however, may increase the likelihood of compatibility issues.
- While you go to bed with your smart phone, he remembers a time when mobile phones (and the Internet) barely existed. Flip this and younger guys are appreciating less tech while older guys are embracing the new.
- While he’s happy to relax at home you’re twitching to go out on Saturday night. Flip this and younger guys appreciate the benefits of stable home life while older guys enjoy clubbing (if occasionally).
- While he wants to visit an exhibition you want to catch-up with your friends. Why not do both: you can go with him to the exhibit and he can join you with your friends. Alternatively, respect each others space, do your own thing, and chat about what you did in the evening.
- While you’re still having youthful adventures (usually our teens to 30s) he’s looking back on all of that. Flip this and you might find a little life experience helpful and who doesn’t like to hear about good drama!
- While you’re happy to buy some sensibly priced ingredients he prefers to go to the latest restaurant. Flip this and an inexpensive home cooked meal and good company often hits the spot while a fancy restaurant could be the exception rather than the rule.
This may all seem very obvious; the important thing is that you give this sort of stuff some thought and talk about it together. Because:
- There will be times when you both see life differently
- Remain open to each other’s perspectives
- Be aware that as you grow your relationship is likely to change
- Be mindful of dependency, manipulation, bullying and power struggles (both parties)
- Money is often a issue so discuss the arrangements before spending
Fantasy or reality
Attempting to realise a desire or fantasy for a much older or younger lover is often disappointing and unhealthy (for both of you). Although healthy relationships between older and younger men do exist and can work — you should think carefully before embarking on what might be a fruitless quest. However, if you find that your relationships are short-lived, or just don’t materialise, you should carefully examine the reasons why a younger or older partner is important to you.
Back to top
LGBT documentary: gay, old and out | Channel 4 News | 27 Feb 2018 | 9m 37s
Age and the gay scene
There is no doubt that the gay scene and gay media play a role in making older gay men feel unwelcome. In fact, while younger gay men can be spectacularly cruel, both younger and older gay men can also be predatory.
Many younger gay men (particularly in their teens, 20s and 30s) have a distorted view of what it means to be older, often equating it with becoming less attractive, an inability to get or have sex, and leading a sad and sorry life. Younger gay men also assume that because older gay men are not like them – or don’t look like them – they cannot be happy. Some men resent older gay men on the scene and scorn their efforts when they try to make conversation.
There will always be a few older gay men who just want one thing, and there will always be younger gold-diggers! But, as a rule, younger gay men make arrogant and simplistic assumptions about what older gay men want and are rarely able to see beyond their own prejudice and vanity. Not surprisingly we don’t see so many older gay men on the scene. This is because – in many ways – it’s served its purpose and is no longer of any use to them. They have simply grown up, moved on and have got themselves a different and more varied life.
Since first impressions and appearance are often the factors which determine whether we approach men, what older men have to offer is sometimes not immediately apparent. The deeper qualities are more likely to emerge over a drink, a meal or a one-to-one encounter. But if this is not what you want, it costs nothing to be polite and courteous when declining.
Of course, you will see men in their late 50s, 60s and 70s who still use the scene, and while it may be difficult for some men to understand their motivation, it’s perfectly possible that they’re happy, well-adjusted and getting on with their lives. You’ll probably also find that they won’t be making the kind of crass and juvenile assumptions younger gay men make about them.
Young, gay and illegal: then and now | Trent and Luke | 5 Jul 2017 | 11m 12s
Organisations and further information
OrganisationsOpening Doors London | 020 7239 0400
Positively UK | 020 7713 0444 *
Cara | 020 7243 6147 *
The Silver Line Helpline
Operates the only confidential, free helpline for older people across the UK that’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year.
The Silver Line Helpline | 0800 470 8090
The Silver Line Helpline
* For people living with HIV.
The story of Age UK’s LGBT+ section | Age UK
Pride in Ageing | LGBT Foundation
Digital community for the over 50s | Restless
Living with HIV and mental health | NAM aidsmap
Looking after your mind and body | Age Concern
LGBT People in Later Life | Stonewall
HIV and aging | Poz
London Age UK Business Directory | Age Concern
Growing older and ageing with HIV | Avert
Over 50s LIving with HIV | Terrence Higgins Trust
Older People’s Project | Switchboard | Brighton
LGBT+ rights | Age UK
Aims to inspire today’s generation of over 50s and 60s to get the most from life – focusing on lifestyle, learning, financial wellbeing, work, volunteering, community and more. Best4OlderLGBTI | Best4OlderLGBTI
Best4OlderLGBTI | PDF | Best4OlderLGBTI
The aim of Best4OlderLGBTI is to develop a raising awareness campaign in six EU Member States, contributing for the decrease of inequalities and discrimination in attendance of public services and health and social care, as well as in encouraging the report of cases of discrimination.
News and featuresHow should we care for older people with HIV? | nam aidsmap | 19 Nov 2020
Grandfather bravely comes out as gay at 90 years old, proving it’s never too late to embrace your true self (US) | Pink News | 22 Jun 2020
What’s it like to be in a big age-gap relationship? | Gay Star News | 9 Nov 2018
Combating loneliness amongst older LGBT people | Sage Programme, Leeds | Feb 2018
Reducing social isolation amongst older LGBT people: A case study of the Sage project | Care Connect/ University of Sheffield | Feb 2018 Do gay men have a particular problem with getting older? | Gay Star News | 7 Aug 2018
Gay men over 45 far more likely to be single – and these are the reasons why | Gay Star News | 28 Jul 2018
Ageing and HIV | HuffPost | 1 Mar 2018
I’m an older gay man and I know it will get worse | HuffPost | 23 Aug 1917
The age of gay men | GMFA | 16 Jun 2017
‘Invisible’ older LGBT community facing social isolation and discrimination | Homecare Magazine | 27 Feb 2017
Why are so many gay men afraid of getting older? | Attitude | 6 Oct 2015
Freaking out about age gaps in gay relationships is homophobic | The Daily Beast | 9 Jan 2015
Don’t mind the (age) gap | Queerty | 5 Dec 2013
Support for older LGBT people | Age UK | 5 Jul 2019 | 1m 10s
Why older gay people fear being forced back into the closet | Channel 4 News | 17 Jun 2014 | 7m 58s
What younger gay men really think about older guys (and vice versa) | Logo TV | 11 May 2015 | 2m 58s
Older gays Vs. younger gays | Davey Wavey | 21 Dec 20 14 | 3m 58s
I love the older gay men | luciendante | 25 Mar 2013 | 6m 28s
Relationships are as individual as you and your partner, and it’s up to you to find the type of relationship that meets both your needs. There is often a magic which is undecipherable but which intuitively draws two guys together. It’s the heady stuff which makes us feel so alive when we fall in love and can also help to keep the relationship fresh and alive years later. Underpinning the emotional stuff are practical things we can do to give the relationship the best climate in which to grow.
All relationships are risky, there is no guarantee they will work but this should never stop you trying.
Not all relationships are meant to last forever. All relationships have a timeline: sometimes that’s until the end of your life, sometimes it’s for three days, sometimes it’s for three months, sometimes it’s for three years. Whatever your age, recognising that is important.
I say potato, you say potarto…
You should have interests that are similar or complement each other, but accept that there will be differences between you. Trying to change someone into what you would like them to be will drive you apart, so acceptance of who he is is a pre-requisite. Fortunately, differences are often part of the attraction and so trying to smooth off the rough edges can dull the magic which brought you together.
For example: gym bunnies and couch potatoes, opera queens and disco divas, vegans and carnivores are not necessarily going to work out – but stranger things have been known to happen. Sex is often an important (but not obligatory) factor in a healthy relationship but, all too often, it is the instrument against which we measure compatibility.
The penis issue
It’s been said that sex is 90% of a bad relationship and 10% of a good relationship. Think carefully before dismissing out of hand a man who has everything except a truncheon knob; equally, beware of starting a relationship with someone’s dick (it might be all he is).
You only have to read problem pages (gay or straight) to see that many relationship problems hinge on an inability to communicate honestly. Misunderstanding, conflict and mistrust are the staple diet of many a soap opera and invariably stem from partners not being open about their feelings.
A relationship where partners are honest with each other makes it much easier to face up to problems and find solutions and, as an added bonus, you will learn to understand each other better. This can sometimes be difficult where someone close to you is concerned – but it will be a testament to your abilities that he won’t feel threatened, betrayed or hurt.
Love and respect between two people cannot exist if niggles, gripes, tensions, frustration and resentment are allowed to fester. In short, if you can’t be honest: you’re screwed.The Conversation | Three Flying Piglets for MEN R US | 2017 | 33s
Support and sharing
When a guy gives a damn about you, life’s little arsewipes become that bit easier to manage. Equally, when you succeed in life, having your man there to share it with you is a big part of why guys get together in the first place. If you’ve been there already you’ll understand, if not: it comes highly recommended.
Successful relationships are based on mutual support and sharing. He’s there for you and you’re there for him. You’re sick and he cares, he’s sick and you care. He’s sad and you hold him. You cry and he doesn’t go clubbing. Bless.
However, If you make all the effort in the relationship, he may soak it up like a sponge and in a short space of time you’ll be drained, angry and resentful… or vice versa. He’ll wonder what the fuss is about while you’re making his thousandth cup of tea… he’ll tell you not to be so stupid… and he’ll say he loves you… and tears and dramas may follow.
Safe and sound | Kitchen Films | Alejandro Ibarra | 26 Jan 2018 | 19m 9s
Like everything in life, relationships change. Be grateful: it would be a sorry world if Westlife were still in the charts ten years from now or flared jeans were permanently fashionable. The first year or so of a relationship is usually very special: you still want him all the time, you’re fucking like rabbits, and you’re both very happy.
Over time this changes and usually not for the worse. You will still want him but it’s okay that he’s not attached to your hip, the sheets are changed less often but the sex has got better through trust, experimentation and familiarity, and the happiness has found a home inside you.
As the relationship grows you will need to be willing to accept change, be flexible in your approach and in some cases, take the initiative before you get stuck in a rut. As you and he grow as individuals it’s likely that expectations and priorities will also change. Your lives together may become predictable, safe and dull and – while this may be okay for some – there is ample room for resentment, disappointment and missed opportunities.
Being your own man
Being in a relationship should not mean that you give up who you are. You are both individuals with your own personality, friends, and interests – some of the very attributes that attracted him to you in the first place. The differences between you should be appreciated and save you from becoming two archetypal clones with matching clothes and whiny lovey-dovey voices. Get the picture?
We all need that 20th century cliché ‘space’ where we can be by ourselves and enjoy some privacy. It’s perfectly natural and gives us an opportunity to chill out and relax. Relationships can be fantastic but are also hard work. Time alone is essential to re-charge the batteries. It may mean a night apart or an evening set aside to see respective friends. Whatever you decide remember that you’ll be doing this because you care for each other not because you don’t.
If you can’t leave your partner alone, it’s a sign that you are feeling insecure and/or jealous. You may have good reason but that’s no reason to behave like this. It’s a real killer and a sure-fire way to drive him away. You need to look at why you’re doing this and take it from there. If, on the other hand, you feel trapped, suffocated or resentful then you also need to examine the root cause. You need to sit down and talk things through before you get angry and upset. If not, you’ll get on each other’s nerves: one will feel that the other doesn’t love him while the other one runs away from his ‘clingy’ boyfriend.
Relationships run the risk of becoming too comfortable, easy and predictable. You start to take each other for granted, make assumptions and become lazy. All relationships need a work-out occasionally. It doesn’t have to be anything major but it does need to blow away the cobwebs away and get your hearts beating again.
Surprise him with a weekend break or a holiday (then both panic when you can’t find the passport). Tell him how you’ve longed to be strapped to the shower head. If you’re used to cinemas – go to a theatre. If you go to theatre – go to a gallery. If you always go to one club – choose another. Do stuff on the spur of the moment. If you’re used to lying in bed on a Sunday, why not visit a market or jump on a train and while you’re there – suck him off.7 Things You Learn in Your First Gay Relationship | MTV | 29 Jun 2019
Gay Men’s Relationships: 10 Ways They Differ From Straight Relationships | HuffPost | 26 Jul 2016 Infidelity and the gay community: Do gay men struggle to be faithful? | GMFA
Stages of Gay Relationship Development | psychpage.com Back to top
Open relationships are consensual agreements, negotiated jointly – which should allow you and your partner to have sex with other men. This should not threaten your commitment to each other and you should both sort this stuff out before you start shagging around.
Just because the sex has become less exclusive doesn’t mean that the relationship is any less devoted and committed. When talking stuff through, key ingredients should include honesty, being upfront about fears and concerns, and respecting each other’s viewpoints.
For example, you should talk about the difference between sex and love: meeting another guy should be about getting your rocks off, not about falling for him. You also need to manage and overcome feelings of jealousy. Take your time: don’t feel as if a cast-iron agreement has to be signed, sealed and delivered in a single session. This is a big step for both of you, and it could take weeks or months to reach an agreement, or not.
When we start a relationship
When we start a relationship it is often with an expectation that we will only have sex with each other. One-to-one, or monogamous relationships, can provide security and be particularly helpful in getting to know each other without distractions. This works well for some, but for others living up to this ideal can be difficult as time goes by.
As the immediate intensity, horniness and passion of a new relationship settles, we may feel the need for something different. While it’s natural for sexual needs, desires and fantasies to change over time, a partner may not be necessarily able (or willing) to adapt to meet them.
Additionally, scene culture endorses and promotes sex with multiple partners and, for some of us, it can be difficult to break the habit even if we’ve met the man of our dreams. It can be hard to stop ourselves from making comparisons, believing – often mistakenly – that the grass is greener on the other side of the bar. If you care enough about your partner you won’t slip off behind his back for an illicit shag. If you don’t care enough you probably will and – in time – you may reap what you sow. (Little sympathy there then).
Suggested rules for open relationships
- Sex with other men is restricted to once-only shags, or times when one of you is away or threesomes (which doesn’t mean one of you is shagging while the other is asleep)
- If you don’t use condoms within the relationship – use them every time you have sex with someone else
- If you go out together, you return home together
- You talk openly about who you’ve been with, or don’t talk about it at all
- If you go back with someone you don’t stay overnight
- Sexual partners are never brought back home, or always introduced when they are
- Express any fears, concerns or worries as soon as they occur
- Agree times when you intend to be together
- Revisit the agreement every now and then to ensure you are both comfortable with it
- Tell the third person what the deal is
Open relationships are unlikely to work if:
- Either of you breaks the agreement
- Either of you fears losing your partner to someone else
- Either of you has doubts about the existing relationship
- Either of you conceals any fears or worries
- Sex is the main or only thing keeping you together
- The true motive of the open relationship is to hunt for new partners
- You don’t tell the third person what the deal is
For some couples it’s helpful to write out the agreement. Most important though is that you both stick to what you have agreed and are prepared to discuss any issues promptly, should they arise. One of the more obvious problems is falling for one of the guys you’ve met.
Communication is key
Talking it through with your partner first is essential but, if you can’t do that, chat to a trusted friend and ask yourself the following questions:
- Why can’t I talk to my partner?
- What has the new guy got that my current partner hasn’t?
- How might these feelings for this guy be a response to something else in my current relationship?
Why I stopped hooking up with guys in ‘open’ relationships | HuffPost | 4 Feb 2019
Tackling the four main arguments gay men have against open relationships | Out | 30 Oct 2018
Open relationships: Do rules really matter? | GMFA | 12 Feb 2018
Sleeping with other people: how gay men are making open relationships work | The Guardian | 22 Jul 2016
Gay marriage, monogamy, and the lure of open relationships | Advocate | 29 Jun 2017
Why I stopped hooking up with guys in ‘open’ relationships | Huff Post | 4 Apr 2017
Sleeping with other people: how gay men are making open relationships work | The Guardian | 22 Jul 2016
How to be in a healthy open relationship | Ending HIV | New Zealand AIDS Foundation
Open relationship | Wikipedia Is an open relationship right for me? | Brian Murphy | 28 Apr 2019 | 7m 27s Back to top
We wouldn’t be human if our relationships didn’t have difficulties and many of them are simply part and parcel of being together. The secret is to tackle them early before they fester and resentment builds up. However, some behaviour – by either of you – can indicate deeper and more serious problems. While the list is virtually endless, here are some typical examples:
- Bad moods, disagreements and rows
- Being argumentative or deliberately contradicting each other
- Monosyllabic conversations or the silent treatment
- Sniping and backstabbing when out with friends
- Being demanding and bossy
- Interrupting privacy and space
- Long work hours at the expense of the relationship
- Resistance to touch, cuddles and hugs
- Noticeably less sex, or hurried, emotionless sex
- Abuse of drugs and alcohol
- Refusal to return calls or respond to messages
- Failure to keep appointments and agreements, eg: regarding open relationships
- Moving out!
Being in love can skew your judgement, and while the shit has been hitting the fan on a regular basis we can be oblivious to the fact that something is wrong. In the end, if you don’t work it out for yourself nothing gets sorted out. We tend to be optimistic and reluctant to admit shortcomings, eager to rationalise or forgive inappropriate and destructive behaviour. Before long we can’t see the wood for the trees.
Even if we do recognise there is a problem, our ability to act can be hindered by a fear of losing him, being lonely (again) and throwing away everything we’ve built up together. One of the most difficult things to do is to get him into a frame of mind where he will tell you what’s wrong, so that you can work towards a solution together. If you’re the one being the arsehole then you’ve got to get through the anger and resentment before you can start making things better.
Thylacine | Alex Lampsos | 23 Feb 2014 | 10m 10s
A young couple nearing their nine months anniversary hit a road block when one decides to have lunch with an admirer. The relationship is tested as they face their insecurities along the way.
- Deal with the difficulty or problem as soon as it arises – don’t let it fester
- When you’re ready to talk avoid airports, football matches or pubs. Choose a place that provides privacy, quiet and gives you space. A neutral location is often best
- Stay calm and adopt non-threatening body language
- Tell him what you think the difficulty is without being accusing. It’s the things people do that are the problem and not the people themselves
- Avoid embarrassment or humiliation
- Be honest, straightforward but tactful and remember that you’re here to save the relationship – not to get your own back
- Listen… listen… listen
- Acknowledge his perspective even though you may not agree with his point of view
- Reassure him that you want the relationship to work
- Give him time to talk and listen to what he has to say
- Be prepared for him to be critical of you and recognise that the difficulty may also lie with you
- Sometimes these talks don’t find solutions in one go and accept there may be limitations to what you can achieve initially. Be clear that you both need to continue the discussion at a later date
- If you are able to find a solution, make sure you both understand what it entails and agrees to it.
- If you love him, say so. If you can be affectionate, be so
- Afterwards, you may be physically and emotionally drained. If you need to take a day off work, do it
- Remember that solutions can take time and may raise other problems. Take it a step at a time
- Don’t just jump back into bed as a quick fix solution and at the expense of resolving problems fully
If all efforts to resolve relationship difficulties fail, you will need to decide whether you wish to finish it. Take your time, perhaps talk to a friend – preferably one who doesn’t hate his guts and won’t just agree with you. In the final analysis you will need to ask yourself: will I be happier with him in or out of my life? If you decide to finish the relationship:
- Tell him face-to-face, difficult though this may be for both of you
- Try and stay calm and adopt non-threatening body language
- Tell him that you want the relationship to end and explain the reasons
- Avoid embarrassment, humiliation or blame
- Be honest, straightforward but tactful
- Give him time to talk and listen to what he has to say
- Remember: he might try to persuade you to stay, so you need to be clear that you have reached the best decision you can before talking to him. If you start wavering, you could be open to accusations of emotional blackmail or ‘crying wolf’
- Own what you say and the decisions you take
Some relationships work, others don’t, many reach a natural conclusion. It’s best that we recognise it and move on rather than being swallowed up by unhappiness, boredom and resentment. Some relationships are short but have been bursting with life while others simply rumble on interminably – a marriage of convenience devoid of warmth and love.
Before you throw your hands up in despair try and recognise that it is the quality of a relationship that matters most, not necessarily its length. Eventually though, it’s often changes in our emotional, physical, and spiritual needs – combined with other interests and lifestyles – which outgrow relationships however hard we have tried.
Gay men have a remarkable capacity to remain close friends with their ex-partners and if there is a possibility of bringing a relationship to a civil close, do so. However, don’t feel you have to. Discuss your feelings, remember the good times, reflect on the not-so-good times. Tie up any practical matters, eg: property, furniture, personal possessions, and legal/money matters.
Recognise that breaking up is hard and can be very emotional, but ending a relationship on an even note makes its much easier to let go and move on. It will be at times like these that your friends are all-important. Good friends are a selfless bunch and you’ll be able to be wistful, whinge and cry your little heart out. Mind you, some won’t miss the opportunity to say something like “…what you need is another man” or “…you’ll get over it.” Just slap them and cross them off your Christmas card list.Back to top
When it's over
- If it hurts: let it hurt
- What’s done is done and you can’t change the past
- It’s okay to miss him but you will get by
- Recognise that he is not your responsibility any more. Make a clean break and don’t allow him to creep in through the back door (pun intended!)
- You may want to take some time off the scene. If not, recognise that you may be vulnerable
- Sometimes it can be many months before you feel able to even consider another commitment. There’s nothing wrong with that
- You have gained valuable experience: use it positively. If mistakes were made, learn from them
- Don’t mope about at home – get out and about, have a meal with friends, go on holiday
- Exercise and sports are a great way of burning off the calories and the angst
- Don’t look for blame or blame yourself
- Hold on to the good times and the positive aspects of the relationship
He's a bastard!
Putting aside the caring and sharing stuff for the moment… he could just have been a complete bastard. Sometimes the anger, hurt and resentment we feel towards an ex-boyfriend can be overwhelming, particularly if he has really fucked you over and there’s nothing you can do about it. It can be months, sometimes years, before it seems to matter less and then an unexpected reminder can bring it flooding back.
However right it feels to be angry, these feelings will have an impact on new relationships and will use up emotional energy that could be better used making yourself a happier and healthier life without him. Sometimes the sweetest victory is using a painful experience to rebuild your life and – if you see him again – let him know it… with a smile.
Lastly, if you seem to end up with all the bastards, you should examine why. Talk it through with a trusted friend, contact a helpline or consider seeking professional help.Back to top
Civil partnerships and gay marriage
Civil partnerships and gay marriage
Amongst other things, there are still those who complain about gay marriage as political correctness gone mad. There are also some LGBT+ people who regard gay marriage as copying an outdated straight ceremony in the heteronormative world.
On the flip side, supporters celebrate gay marriage as a sign of progress, and it is quite extraordinary how far the LGBT+ rights have come over several decades. Few can argue the recognition of marriage for same-sex couples is truly historic, sending a clear message that we live in a modern, open, and inclusive society where equal rights are respected.
Today, both civil partnerships and gay marriage are enshrined in law and, when all is said and done, it’s up to the individuals in question whether to be boyfriends, partners, enter into a civil partnership, or get married. It is their call, and nobody else’s, and who are we to pooh-pooh their special day.
However, we couldn’t help ourselves and, browsing past new articles, members of the House of Lords made arguments for and against gay marriage in June 2013. Here are some against though you may need to hold onto your bouquet:
- It would make the word “marriage” meaningless
- It would be confusing and awkward for everyone
- Those who are anti-gay marriage could be accused of a hate crime
- It would diminish the role of women
- Gay people will regret it in the long run
- Marriage can only exist for heterosexual couples
- Removing the requirement for consummation from marriage will lead to inter-sibling union
- Not even gay people support gay marriage
- People might lose their jobs
Civil Partnership in the United Kingdom is a form of civil union between couples open to both same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples. Originally civil partnerships were introduced for same-sex couples under the terms of the Civil Partnership Act 2004.
In February 2018, the United Kingdom and Scottish governments began reviewing civil partnerships, to expand them to include opposite-sex couples. In June, the Supreme Court ruled that restricting civil partnerships to same-sex couples is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. Long story short: opposite-sex couples have been able to enter into civil partnerships in England and Wales since 2 December 2019.
Same-sex marriage is legal in all parts of the United Kingdom.
As marriage is a devolved legislative matter, different parts of the UK legalised same-sex marriage at different times:
- England and Wales since March 2014
- Scotland since December 2014
- Northern Ireland since January 2020
If you want to find more, select one of the following resources:
Information on civil partnerships and same-sex marriage | Stonewall
Registering a civil partnership | Citizens Advice
Living together and same-sex marriage: legal differences | Citizens Advice
Marriage and civil partnership in England and Wales | GOV.UK
MoreMethodist Church allows same-sex marriage in ‘momentous’ vote | BBC News | 20 Jun 2021
The history of same-sex relationships is the history of marriage LGBTQ Nation | 26 Oct 2019
First same-sex marriage takes place in Northern Ireland | The Guardian | 11 Feb 2020
Suicide rates fall after gay marriage legalised in Sweden and Denmark | The Guardian | 14 Nov 2019
Same-Sex Marriage Around the World | Pew Research Centre | 28 Oct 2019
Where Europe stands on gay marriage and civil unions | Pew Research Centre | 28 Oct 2018
Civil partnerships extended to heterosexual couples – the legal protections explained | The Conversation | 3 Oct 2018
Evidence is clear on the benefits of legalising same-sex marriage | The Conversation | 21 Aug 2017
The secret history of same-sex marriage | The Guardian | 23 Jan 2015
Gay marriage law comes into effect in Scotland | BBC News | 16 Dec 2014
Same sex marriage becomes law | 17 Jul 2013 | GOV.UK Civil partnerships in England and Wales | 2018 | Office for National Statistics Back to top
MONEY AND DEBT
Money and debt
Debt is an ever-increasing problem in the United Kingdom, affecting people of different ages, backgrounds and incomes. The nature of the problem means that once started, the cycle of debt and poverty can be difficult to break and, for some, the COVID-19 pandemic has added further difficulties and misery.
Debt can lead to problems at work, relationship breakdowns, loss of personal assets, county court judgments, or in extreme cases, criminal prosecution. Debt can arise in many forms, from credit cards to mail-order catalogues, purchase agreements to mortgages, and not having a basic understanding of domestic finance.
The information in this section is for guidance only. If you have debt or money worries, take the first step by contacting one of the organisations below ASAP.
Organisations that can help
0808 808 4000 | National Debt Line
0800 138 1111 | Step Change Debt Charity
Online benefit calculators | Entitled To
Options for dealing with your debts | GOV.UK
Finance and money worries and concerns in a time of of COVID-19
Coping with money worries | NHS Inform
Debt and coronavirus advice | Step Change Debt Charity
Coronavirus finance and bills help | Money Saving Expert
If you can’t pay your bills because of coronavirus | Citizens Advice Debt crisis warning as UK reports steep rise in emergency borrowing | The Guardian | 12 Nov 2020
Charity calls for ‘full review of debt options’ in the wake of Covid-19 | Money Advice Trust | 28 Oct 2020
Coronavirus: six money-saving ideas for lockdown and beyond | BBC | 8 May 2020
Is this you?
Look down this list. If you can relate to one or more of the points below, then call one of the organisations listed.
- Anxiety, stress and/or depression related to money matters
- Unopened or hidden bills
- Repeated requests or threats from your landlord for rent
- Fucking the landlord or sleeping with him to pay the rent
- The threat of disconnection of utility services
- Ignoring the telephone or monitoring calls from creditors
- Travel card ‘won’t work.’
- Bumping into guys to whom you owe money, and making lame excuses
- Afraid to open the front door
- Worried about losing your home
When it starts to go wrong
- Dreading the arrival of the post
- Court summons
- Threats of legal action
- The threat of bankruptcy/ liquidation
- Bailiffs at the door
- Income and tax demands
- Multiple debts
- ‘Robbing Peter to pay Paul’
- Tax and VAT demands
- Avoiding the bank
- Never can get cash out of cashpoints
- Withdrawal by your bank of services
- Turning to prostitution solely to pay off debts
Debt or borrowed money comes in all shapes and sizes
Debt or borrowed money comes in all shapes and sizes. Properly managed credit can – and does – work for many people. But, we all have periods when it can be difficult to manage the money we have coming in. It can be particularly difficult if we have fallen on hard times, for example, through health problems, an unexpected period of unemployment, redundancy or a change in personal circumstances, Even a delayed benefit payment can seem to tip the balance against us.
But, ever hopeful that the money will somehow ‘miraculously appear’ or ‘just turn up’, the need to comfort ourselves and spend what we don’t have can be overwhelming. For some, it’s a comfort meal here or a small treat there. For others, it’s ‘plastic’ holidays and party, party, party. Then it’s a matter of patching up the problem with increased spending limits, new credit cards and ignoring the problem by spending more. This behaviour triggers the debt problem from which point we make it worse by not dealing with it.
The sorts of things that can happen
- You miss regular payments, ‘rob Peter to pay Paul’ and take out additional loans, which lead to multiple debts and increased pressure to pay it all back.
- You promise to repay creditors – usually unrealistic amounts due to fear/guilt/pressure – then break promises resulting in increased pressure (e.g. debt collectors).
- This is followed by legal pressure: letters from solicitors, court summons (often ignored), court orders often leading to bailiffs’ action and then agreeing to unrealistic repayments.
- Finally, furniture/ equipment are seized by bailiffs, utility supplies can be disconnected, you can lose your home and face potential imprisonment.
- Underlying this, there is often denial, depression, frustration and anger accompanied by relationship breakdowns, domestic violence, deterioration of physical health, problems at work, mental breakdown… if they haven’t already happened. It’s a miserable and frightening existence, and so sorting debts out sooner rather than later can reduce the likelihood of it happening in the first place.
Tips and guidance
- Don’t bury your head in the sand. The problem will not go away. The longer you leave it, the worse it gets.
- Do not be tempted by consolidating your loans. Take advice, especially on secured second loans. You could end up losing your home.
- Make sure you pay your priority debts. eg mortgage, council tax, fines etc.
- Contact your creditors immediately either by phone or write to them. You may be amazed as to how helpful they can be.
- Check your entitlements ie benefits, insurance claims etc, to work out your income/ expenditure and an offer of repayment.
- Keep a paper trail. Note every phone conversation, letter, date, time and name of the person to whom you spoke.
- Do not accept rejection. Creditors are like any business, and they are only as good as the staff. If you find a staff member unhelpful, ring back and speak to someone else, you may be amazed at the difference.
- Do not ignore court papers. Courts actually work to your advantage as much as the creditors. The majority of court judgements are issued by default because the debtor doesn’t respond!
- Always attend court hearings. There is no jury, and you will not be sent to jail (unless you are a criminal, of course).
- Disclose all information. Always declare all debts and income/expenditure. Do not underestimate or exaggerate your expenses.
- Keep in regular contact with your creditor. If you promise to return a call, make sure you contact them before they have to contact you again.
Bargain tips (most of us have been there)
- Don’t borrow money unless you can afford to pay it back.
- Don’t lend money unless you can afford not to get it back.
Gay men in prison
Gay men in prison
Being convicted of a crime and spending time behind bars is never going to be easy. It is not intended to be. However it is important to be aware of the additional risks of being a gay prisoner, and what is in place to support and protect you.
Homophobia still exists in UK prisons. Whether this takes the form of verbal or physical abuse, the Prison System has a duty under the Equality Act 2010 to ensure that you are not discriminated against in relation to your sexual orientation.
Whilst not illegal, prison-specific rules can outlaw sexual activity between prisoners. Despite this, many prisoners continue to have sex discreetly. This can range from consensual relationships, being intimidated/coerced into sex acts by other prisoners, to serious cases of sexual assault and non-consensual sex. Often the latter can be in relation to prison ‘debt’, for example as a result of trading cigarettes or drugs.
There are higher rates of STIs and HIV within prisons. Access to condoms can be tricky; prison healthcare services have a legal duty to provide these to you if you are at risk of having unprotected sex otherwise.
All prisons should have an Equalities Officer to oversee issues in relation to these concerns. When arriving in prison it is important to inform staff during your reception screening appointment of any worries relating to your sexuality so that appropriate action can be taken (they are there to keep you safe). Measures to protect you can include single cells and specific roles in the prison to minimise your contact with other prisoners.
If you feel your concerns are not being addressed you can make a formal complaint via the Independent Monitoring Board (representatives spend time on the prison wings throughout the week to deal with concerns about prisoners’ treatment). There may also be prison-specific one-on-one peer support from ‘Listener’ schemes, or access to national support from organisations such as The Samaritans Helpline or the Bent Bars Project.Aaron is warned that being gay in prison won’t be a walk in the park | Emmerdale | 13 Jun 2017 1m 37s
Aaron Livsey | Wikipedia Bent Bars Project
Prison Reform Trust
Gay prisoner ‘raped and beaten’ after being forced to share cell with homophobe | Pink News | 21 May 2019
There are only two gay under-21s in the entire UK prison system | Gay Star News | 24 Jul 2018
What it’s really like to be openly gay in prison | Metro | 17 May 2017
Being gay and in prison | Prison UK | 6 Nov 2016
What it’s like to be gay in prison | Vice | 26 Feb 2016
Coming out: LGBT people lift the lid on life in prison | The Guardian | 12 Aug 2015
Homophobia is still rife in UK prisons | The Guardian | 25 Sep 2012
Prison sexuality | Wikipedia Inside and out | HM Prison Parc, South Wales | 2015
Inside and Out is a compilation of writings from LGBT people within HMP/YOI Parcboth prisoners and staff alike. The stories are as diverse as the individuals who wrote them. They include all ages and all abilities and are from different backgrounds and upbringings united in their fear of ridicule, upsetting parents and even violence. Sex in prisons: experiences of former prisoners | The Howard League for Penal Reform | 2015
This report explores the experiences of former prisoners interviewed about their knowledge about or personal experience of sexual activity in prison. Nearly all interviewees managed their sexual needs in prison either wholly or partially through masturbation. Eight male interviewees, seven of whom described their sexuality as either gay or bisexual, had had consensual sex with other male prisoners. While these seven interviewees had been open about their sexuality in prison, they conducted their sexual activities and relationships discreetly. Some men who self-identified as heterosexual participated in same-sex activity but did not acknowledge this. Heterosexual men who engage in sexual activity with men ‘out of necessity’ do not perceive that this affects or alters their sexual identity. Interviewees perceived that prison officers were sometimes aware of sexual activity but exercised their discretion not to intervene. Most interviewees thought that coercive sex rarely occurs in British prisons. Three male interviewees disclosed they had been raped in prison by other prisoners, and none of these rapes were officially reported. Rape in prison is certain to be significantly under reported. Revisiting ‘involuntary celibacy’ and ‘latent homosexuality’: sexual relations in prison | Dr Alisa Stevens | 2015 Back to top
Gay web series
Gay Web Series
There’s something for everyone and here’s what caught our eye. Of course, if you don’t think you’re visible or represented – or could do better – why not make something yourself?
Enjoy our picks or type in ‘gay web series’ on YouTube or Vimeo and explore. Some are free, some are paid. And just so you know, we suffered for our art trawling the Internet to pull together these pesky links!LGBT related web series | Wikipedia
The Queens Project
The Queens Project is a fast-paced comedic web series about gay nerds living in Astoria, NY on a journey to discover whether the pursuit of one’s hopes and dreams will lead to failure or fulfilment.The Queens Project Series Season 1, Episodes 1-6 | TQP Series | 2015
Season 2, Episodes 1-6 | TQP Series | 2017
Season 3, Episodes 1-7 | TQP Series | 2018 Back to top
Bad BoyBad Boy #1 | Artie O’Daly & Co. | 11 Mar 2018 | 4m 56s
Bad Boy Comes Out #2 | Artie O’Daly & Co. | 27 Apr 2018 | 5m 8s
Bad Boy on Probation #3 | Artie O’Daly & Co. | 9 Aug 2018 | 8m 7s
Bad Boy and the Gilmore Girl #4 | Artie O’Daly & Co. | 1 Nov 2018 | 7m 17s
A Bad Boy Christmas #5 | Artie O’Daly & Co. | 16 Dec 2018 | 8m 5s
Bad Boy’s Porn Problem #6 | Artie O’Daly & Co. | 7 Mar 2019 | 6m 58s Back to top
Matt and DanChannel trailer | Matt and Dan | 18 Mar 2018 | 1m Season 1, Ep 1-7 | Matt and Dan
Season 2, Ep 1-5 | Matt and Dan Matt and Dan Channel | YouTube Back to top
Michael HenryWow, so you’re a twink now?! | Michael Henry | 12 Feb 12 2019 | 3m 31s
R.I.P. condoms | Michael Henry | 2 Jan 2019 | 3m 23s
Pretty priviledge? | Michael Henry | 16 Oct 16 2018 | 2m 47s
When you know for a fact he’s a bottom | Michael Henry | 2 Aug 2016 | 1m 6s
The worst thing to say before a hookup | Michael Henry | 11 Apr 2016 | 1m 25s
When you’ve been single for too long and try and make your cat act like your boyfriend | Michael Henry | 13 Nov 13 2015 | 1m 12s Michael Henry Channel | YouTube Back to top
BotheredEp. 1 Mouth Noises | Seth Daniel | 18 Mar 2018 | 2m 14s Ep. 2 A Straight | Seth Daniel | 20 Mar 2018 | 1m 54s
Ep. 3 What’s His Place | Seth Daniel | 22 Mar 2018 | 1m 48s
Ep. 4 Self-Esteem Seance | Seth Daniel | 27 Mar 2018 | 2m 6s
Ep. 5 Bouncy Life | Seth Daniel | 29 Mar 2018 | 1m 30s
Ep. 6 Zach Comes to Jesus | Seth Daniel | 2 Apr 2018 | 1m 42s
Ep. 7 Break-Up Smoothie | Seth Daniel | 4 Apr 2018 | 1m 40s
Ep. 8 Fort | Seth Daniel | 4 Apr 2018 | 3m 45s
Ep. 8.5 Catherine Gets Her Wings | Seth Daniel | 10 Apr 2018 | 1m 53s
Ep. 9 Ew Paper | Seth Daniel | 12 Apr 2018 | 1m 21m
Ep. 10 Alone | Seth Daniel | 13 Apr 2018 | 2m 13s Back to top
Pick UpPick Up – “Grindr” | Zach Noe Towers | 1 Dec 2017 | 1m 49s Pick Up – “Bulges” | Zach Noe Towers | 19 Oct 2017 | 1m 32s
Pick Up – “Undercover Straight” | Zach Noe Towers | 9 May 2017 | 1m 43s
Pick Up – “Doomsday” | Zach Noe Towers | 15 Nov 2017 | 1m 48s
Pick Up – “Lying” | Zach Noe Towers | 2 Nov 2017 | 1m 48s
Pick Up – “Family Guy” | Zach Noe Towers | 9 May 2017 | 1m 44s
Pick Up – “Turn Ons” | Zach Noe Towers | 8 May 2017 | 1m 45s
Pick Up – “Accidental Boyfriend” | Zach Noe Towers | 9 May 2017 | 1m 14s
Pick Up – “La Croix” | Zach Noe Towers | 5 May 2017 | 1m 46s
Pick Up – “Date or Hang Sesh?” | Zach Noe Towers | 9 May 2017 | 1m 33s
Pick Up – “Comedian” | Zach Noe Towers | 7 Dec 2017 | 2m 18s Back to top
Michael and Michael are GayEpisode 1: Threesome Night | 28 Feb 2018 | 6m 58s Episode 2: Dinner With Straights | 3 Dec 2018 | 8m 52s
Episode 3: Burning Man | 11 Dec 2018 | 7m 59s
Episode 4: Naked Party | 18 Dec 2018 | 11m 51s
Episode 5: We Need A Web Series! | 19 Mar 2019 | 8m 58s
Episode 6 Health Insurance | 26 Mar 2019 | 6m 11s
Michael and Michael are Gay | YouTube Back to top
More web seriesThe Outs | Wikipedia
Husbands | Season 1-3 | Love Forever
Where The Bears Are
Where The Bears Are | Seasons 1-7
Bulk | Seasons 1-2
The Horizon | Season 1, 8 episodes
The Horizon | Season 2, 8 episodes
The Horizon | Season 3, 8 episodes
The Horizon | Season 4, 8 episodes
The Horizon | Season 5, 8 episodes
The Horizon | Season 6, 8 episodes
The Horizon | Season 7, 8 episodes
Dudes | Season 1, 6 Episodes
Daddy Hunt | You Tube
Queer and gay comics
Queer and Gay Comics
Although comics about queer characters weren’t as common as they should be, they’ve certainly become more plentiful in recent decades, growing bolder and more experimental.No Straight Lines | Compadre Media Group | 12 Apr 2018 Queer Comics Database | Queer Comics Database
Queer Comics Database | Information School LGBT themes in comics | Wikipedia
LGBT characters in comics | Wikipedia
List of webcomics with LGBT characters | Wikipedia
LGBT comics creators | Wkipedia
Gay Comix (1945-1949) | Wikpedia
Meatmen (1986-2004) | Wikipedia
8 superheroes that are openly gay | Looper | 9 May 2017 | 6m 15s
50 queer comics for everyone on your list | The Beat | 29 Nov 2019
Baby, queer me one more time: 39 more indie titles doing right by LGBTA fans | Comicosity | 1 Oct 2018
25 of the Best Queer Comics | Book Riot | 20 Sep 2018
The world of comedy has changed’: how queer comics are making their mark in America | The Guardian | 8 Jun 2018
The rise of queer comics | The Paris Review | 11 Dec 2017
Your brief and wondrous guide to contemporary queer comics | HuffPost | 6 Dec 2017
10 essential queer comics | Vulture | 2 Sep 2015