Gay men have a reputation for having a three-word philosophy: Anything That Moves. There's a perception that we can have whomever we want whenever we want for whatever we need. Not true. We throw a look or a smile and if we get it back, SCHWING! But if we don't get it back -- and trust me, mostly we don't... the wheels come off. We're as threatened by beauty, tongue-tied by crushes, and paralyzed by fear as straight guys when they see a beautiful woman.
That's why the reaction most gay guys have when they see somebody at a party or a bar goes something like this:
• Who's the cute guy in the corner and why isn't he looking at me? • I can't go over there and say something unless he looks at me, I just can't • If he were interested he'd look back • Damn, he's not looking • I wouldn't know what to say, anyway • I'm lonely • How am I supposed to go on a date if I can't even meet somebody? • God, he is so cute • This is ridiculous, just go talk to him! • But he's not looking • The last time I got the nerve to say something the guy just turned his back on me • WHY WON'T HE LOOK AT ME? • How come I always have to be the one to approach somebody? • What's wrong with me? • I'm tired of going home alone • LOOK AT ME, DAMMIT! • I'd say something to him but I can tell I'm not his type • He's probably got a boyfriend • If he were interested he'd come over and talk to me • How come my best friend goes home with the cutest guy in the place and I go home alone? •
Here's why this is such a typical reaction: It takes more than a look and a line to get the guy you want. People assume it's easy for gay men to meet guys they're attracted to, but it's not. Some of us are in the closet, some of us are recently out -- with no experience in dating or hooking up. Some of us are in a long dry spell, or just getting out of a relationship. Some of us are shy, some of us can't get over our ex-boyfriend, some of us simply don't know what to do.
We're all pretty much intimidated by good-looking men. That's why the most common question I get in my nationally syndicated sex and relationships column has nothing to do with sex and relationships. It's "How do I meet guys I'm attracted to?"
The answer is simple: Overcome "Hot Guy Phobia," (the fear of approaching handsome men who aren't noticing you), develop fun, non-threatening ice-breakers, use body language to draw him to you, learn the art of "threading" the conversation so you have a bottomless well of topics, build rapport and close the deal.
Yeah, right. While those are the necessary steps to hooking up with or dating somebody who isn't paying attention to you, it's an art form that escapes most gay men. Straight guys can look to people like Neil Strauss and Mystery to show them inventive ways to meet and attract women, but would their tactics work on gay men? Maybe. The national tour of my seminar answers that very question.
In the meantime, gay guys have to deal with the fact that where we meet, how we meet and even what we want has changed dramatically.
We've gone from lurking in bathhouses and public restrooms to checking out bars and parties; from anonymous scrumping to emotionally resonant sex; from fleeting liaisons to meaningful romances, and from fake marriages with women to real ones with men.
Gone are most of the venues where you could meet guys with a sexually charged glance, nod or smile. Discos? Raves? Circuit parties? Gone or going. Bathhouses? Sex clubs? Dead or dying. They've been replaced by what gay guys derisively call "S&M" bars -- Stand & Model.
Bottom line: Our options have changed but our methods have not. We're still almost completely dependent on the old cruisy ways of meeting even though our venues make them increasingly less effective. It's a classic case of trying to solve new problems with old ideas.
My prediction: There's going to be a run on books showing gay men how to meet and attract each other. Neil Strauss and Mystery created a whole new publishing segment ("Attraction") for straight men but nobody's stepped in to, ahem, fill the gay hole. Is that because it isn't necessary or because nobody noticed?