New Article on Medium! “Can’t We Just Be Friends?”

Just put up a new article on Medium!

I had noticed a trend of men in the queer community (especially gay men) putting too much of a focus on romantic/sexual attraction when it comes to forming any sort of connection with other queer men. This mostly came from experiences I’ve had on dating apps, but it was something I assume isn’t only isolated to being on the queer dating apps.

Here is a short excerpt from the article:

“It’s so easy to just blame ‘the apps’ for why we can’t find these queer friendships. They’re structured in such a way that seems to be geared toward sexual encounters and casual dating, but I think the responsibility is ultimately on us to create the connections we’re looking for (or at least make those first steps). I also realize that “the apps” are far from the only way to make queer friends. In fact, there are, most likely, several better ways to make connections with other queer individuals. However, I talk about these apps often because sometimes, that can be the most convenient resource we’ve got. While I would never say that people have to use the apps any certain way, why not keep yourself open to the idea of other possibilities? So maybe that guy didn’t want to have sex with you, but if you have a lot in common, why not just keep the conversation going? Sure, that guy isn’t interested in a date with you, but why not still go have coffee and talk about the shows you both watch? Why does the conversation have to end because there’s no potential of sex or a relationship? Why do we, as queer men, have to suggest to other queer men that we’re not worthy of attention or energy if they don’t want to have sex with us?”

Click here to read the full article! I would appreciate it so much! Let me know what you think about it, and share it with friends if you agree!

Why You Should Learn to Love Being Single

 Photo by  rawpixel  on  Unsplash
Photo by rawpixel  on Unsplash

Lately, I’ve been hearing some people lamenting their relationship statuses. It’s usually something along the lines of being sad that they’ve been single for so long, or the fact that all the people they’ve been talking to on dating apps aren’t showing any interest in them. It’s the same old “ugh, I’m gonna be single forever” shtick that people often perform to gain sympathy from those who most likely feel differently. 

After 8 years of being single, and having just about every self-doubt-related thought in the span of those years, I’m kind of over this mentality.

Look, I understand the basic desire to be in a relationship. A lot of us naturally crave that special kind of attention, and a lot of us feel like it will make a major improvement in our quality of life. I’d be lying if I said didn’t feel that way. However, there’s a line between wanting that kind of attention, and being desperate for it. When I first came out as gay in high school, I was the thirstiest I had ever been for a relationship, and it made me attracted to people who I now realize would be wildly incompatible with me, and would probably have brought my already low self-esteem even lower. I then ended up in a relationship with a really nice guy, but the spark for me was because it was a relationship, not because of him.

This relationship taught me that I should be more discerning about the guys I get involved with romantically, because both people in the relationship should be feeling the spark. Since then, I’ve been on many dates, some that were an instant no, some that seemed like they could have gone further (but didn’t), and some that were in between that tiny spectrum, and you know what? I’m okay with the fact that none of them worked out. Of course, I still have my insecurities telling me that it’ll be this way for the rest of my life, but I’ve learned to not let these dumb, nagging voices get the best of me when I’m trying to get involved with someone. Does it always work? Not really, but I’m still learning, and I at least know how to start that conversation with myself when the anxieties about dating start to get too loud. 

And honestly, I feel better than I used to. I still get anxious just because I sometimes like a person so much, that I never want have any doubts about whether or not they like me back. Unfortunately, that may not ever stop, because anxieties can be unapologetically ruthless, no matter how soundly you rationalize against them. However, when you get right down to it, what’s the worst that can happen if your anxieties about the person you’re trying to date are right? What if it turns out the person you’ve been seeing for a month or two winds up saying they’re not into you? Honestly, the thing you do from there is move on and find someone who doesn’t make you so damn anxious. Sure, you may feel some pain for a bit, especially if you really liked them, but at least you’d (hopefully) be moving on to someone who actually makes you feel worth-while. 

The thing is, dating in general isn’t easy. It requires some work, and that work isn’t easy. It demands a pretty deep sense of self, and a strong willingness to express your emotions. Dating someone is attempting to bring them into a significant portion of your life, and you can’t expect that person to just know what you’re feeling, why you’re feeling it, and how they can help if you’re not able to communicate those feelings to them. You can’t have a healthy relationship if you don’t know yourself enough to establish what will work for you, and compromise with the other person who has their own feelings about it, as well. It’s basically as RuPaul says. “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love someone else?” You have to love yourself enough to be open with someone you’re romantically interested in, to really tell them what it is you need from them, before you can treat their feelings with the same amount of tenderness. 

If that doesn’t sound easy, then, well, you’re right. It’s not. The things that are most rewarding in life often take a lot of work.

But at the same time, relationships shouldn’t feel like work. When it’s ideal, or pretty damn close to it, it should all feel so fluid, so easily done, that every step you take together feels like it was meant to happen. It shouldn’t be a game of guessing the other person’s stance on the possible relationship, and doubting that it will go anywhere. If the person you’re interested in can’t express in some way that they’re in awe of just how brilliant and inspired you are as a human being, and if they ever make you doubt that, then move on. You don’t have time to waste on people who make you feel insignificant.

Is some really hot guy on a dating app ignoring you? Find another one to message. Is the next one making it really hard to talk to him because he only knows how to respond with one word? Tell him “bye, Felicia.” Are they not showing any interest in where you’re going with your life? Gurl, get outta there. You are too beautiful and important to waste your time on someone who makes you feel like anything less. Your time is too precious to be spent trying to convince them of something that should be massively apparent. You have plenty of time to find someone who will cherish all of the significant aspects of you, but you don’t have all the time in the world to be dragged down by those who want to ignore them. 

Expect them to treat you in a way that validates who you are, and where you’re going, but be emotionally available to give them the same. You can’t expect someone to join in on your journey through life if you’re not willing to lead them through it. That’s not to say that you’re not allowed to stumble, or get lost along the way, but they need a reason to want to be on that path with you, in the first place. 

Being single is an important step to being in a relationship. Taking the time to learn who you are before becoming romantically involved with someone will help you understand yourself, which is so crucial to being there for a significant other. Learn who you are, what you like in a partner, what you’re passionate about, what makes you happy, and what you’d need out of a relationship before you truly decide to get yourself into something serious. Really, though. Get to know yourself as much as possible. Get to know yourself even deeper than that list that I provided, because you have to live with yourself more than you’ll ever end up living with whomever you’re trying to date. In addition to that, make yourself aware that you’re important, beautiful, and worthy of love, and it will become so much easier to recognize when others also see that in you. It does take work, but so does a healthy, sustainable relationship. That work just becomes much easier when you love yourself enough to communicate in a way that helps both of you strengthen that bond.

Dream Daddy? More Like Dream LGBTQ+ Representation!

The ever anticipated Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator finally made its release after having to leap over several dad-sized hurdles, and let me tell you, I am beyond impressed with the game. What I originally thought would be just a silly dating sim filled with dad puns and jokes about “daddies” as a sexual fetish evolved into something so much more impactful. There’s such a level of LGBTQ+ representation that most games haven’t come close to displaying, and along with that, the story writing itself is well beyond what I expected it would be. My little gay heart was beating with so much joy, and it might not stop as long as this game continues to exist (even if my favorite dad rejected me. It’s fine and I swear I’m not secretly sobbing, right now.)

I jumped into the dating sim thinking I’d just be a gay dad who goes on dates with other gay dads, you know, because I guess I just assumed the developers might not think past the G in the LGBTQ+ spectrum. That changed immediately after I started making my custom Dad character, when I saw that they included the option to make him trans! That’s huge! I have a trans friend who actually cannot stop talking about this aspect of the game because it means just that much to him. It’s already tough to get any good representation for gay, lesbian, or bi people, and to see that they made an option to be inclusive of trans identities is beyond progressive, compared to other games. Even Damien, one of the dateable dads, is trans! That’s more possible trans representation than even some of the most progressive TV shows!

Something else I’ve found pretty game-changing about Dream Daddy is that none of the sexual orientations of the dads are explicitly mentioned. This could seem non-progressive, because it might seem like they’re avoiding representing specific identities, but in my opinion, it’s quite the opposite. Many of the dads talk about previous wives, relationships, and even current wives (oh, Joseph) and the protagonist of the game doesn’t bat an eye at it, whatsoever. The fact that they may be something other than gay doesn’t have any importance to whether the main character wants to pursue them, which is so much more progressive than most people are in the real life LGBTQ+ community. I’ve seen so many gay people not want to date someone who identifies as bi because they could “fall for someone of the opposite sex,” or because they think being bi is synonymous to being questioning (which is false), when that’s something that should have no bearing on whether or not we choose to pursue them. It was so uplifting to see that the game focused so little on whether the dad was gay, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, or anything else under the spectrum, and more on the fact that there are very apparent feelings between the main character and the dad of choice.

The thing that impressed me most is just how seriously the game takes itself, despite how silly it can get. We all expected to put a dent in our heads from face-palming at just how many dad jokes/puns there would be; that was a given. What I didn’t expect was just how serious the writers of this game took the story, and how the idea of men dating men was never the butt of the joke. Though TV shows, movies, and video games have gotten way better with how they represent same-sex relationships, they still manage to slip in something that makes their sexuality the subject of humor, which to me, is counter-productive for normalizing LGBT identities. I can’t even begin to tell you just how gosh darn pleased I am that this game is the actual best representation of LGBT people in a video game that I have ever seen.

It was also so refreshing to see LGBTQ+ men as parents in this game without zeroing in on the fact that they’re not straight. Society seems to have this idea that being a non-straight parent is wildly different than being a straight one, and it ends up being reflected in a lot of media that we consume. Sure, a child may be raised differently by LGBTQ+ parents in the sense that same-sex attractions would be normalized for them, since they’d be learning by example, and there might also be a higher chance that they’d encourage more freedom when it comes to gender expression. Other than that, the actual parenting experience isn’t all that different. They change diapers, they get emotional about sending their kid off on their first day of school, and they pull their hair out about their teenager getting angsty, all in a similar fashion to how a straight person would. Dream Daddy did a perfect job of representing parents in the community, as it never calls to attention that these dads’ parenting styles have any relation to their sexual orientation. Even their kids treat it like it’s just a typical thing, knowing that their dad is into guys. They just treat it with the nonchalant attitude that it should be treated with, because it’s not a thing that needs to be treated like it’s anything out of the ordinary.

Aside from the positive LGBTQ+ representation, the story, dialogue, and characters are all so well-thought out, that it was just the icing on this dream of a cake. The characters are multifaceted and complex, the story takes twist and turns that I never expected, and some parts even get you right in the heart-strings. It felt so validating to play a game with such well-rounded LGBTQ+ characters that also had quality story writing, because more often than not, the quality of representation ends up taking a back seat to the quality of the content, itself. I’m so pleased to see that this game has great representation condensed into an entertaining story, because it’s really showing that you can have a successful video game that also normalizes same-sex relationships. It seems bizarre to me that you’d even have to prove that such a thing was possible, but regardless, It feels great to see that Dream Daddy made this impression in the gaming world.

Without trying to sound to hoaky or overly sentimental, this game is honestly a gift. I truly appreciate the work Game Grumps, Vernon Shaw, Leighton Gray, and the whole crew put into making this game with the kind of refreshing representation that it has. The way the game features the LGBTQ+ community is honestly one in a million, and it shows a great deal of consideration to us to show us in a way that doesn’t make us seem so different from the rest of society. With the overwhelming success that this game has gotten, I’m hoping that it can inspire other developers and gaming companies to put our community in the same kind of light.

 

How to Be Single for Seven Years

As we sit in this coffee shop, the clinking of spoons against ceramic cups becomes more apparent within the lingering pause in our conversation. We’ve already caught up on each other’s jobs, social lives, and reminisced about the “good ol’ days” of high school, so I can just feel that the conversation is about to go…there, to a place cultivated by an amount of bitterness only known to me and the several blank word documents I’ve talked to about it. I don’t want to get into it, but they’re about to ask, and I know I don’t have enough tact to get the hell away from the conversation without appearing socially anxious. I’m sure as hell not prepared to answer with 100% of the truth, and I feel the cyclone of thoughts whipping through my brain as they ask that dreaded question. In a panic, I let the amount of time I’ve been single slip past my lips, forgetting that human beings are usually more concerned about my single-ness than a blank word document would be. 

“You’ve been single for seven years? Seriously?! How?” 

Ah yes, how could something like that happen? Though I can’t confirm without bias, it could be because I am one ugly-ass guy. All those tea tree facial washes, masks, and the implementation of a regular skincare routine to keep my face from erupting in pockets of pus is what’s keeping the boys away from my face, right? Or maybe it’s the non-chizzled shape of it, and the way my features were just thrown together in a way that doesn’t resemble Ryan Gosling, or whoever is considered the god of beauty among gays, right now. Oh, right, gay boys like six-pack abs, and I definitely don’t have those. Shit, I fucked up. I fucked up bad. How could I let myself go by not keeping up with a seemingly unanimous set of fickle standards? Shouldn’t I know that my worth is completely dependent on whether or not a boy thinks I’m cute? 

Maybe I shouldn’t let them know that I have feelings for them. Here I was, thinking this technique was a helpful way to avoid the infamous “do we like each other or not?” dance. I should have known this would completely backfire on me, though; who the hell even says how they feel about people? Losers, apparently. Only clingy, desperate losers tell love interests that they “seem like a great guy” and “we should go out, sometime.” Since I’ve consecutively used those phrases quite often with guys, I guess that makes me a mega loser who knows nothing about dating. Damn, who knew I was fuckin’ that up for a whole seven years?

I should also try not to be so understanding about them cancelling on me three times before permanently flaking out. I don’t think boys really like that kind of generosity, right? I’m assuming they don’t, since I’ve had a large handful of them go ghost on me after I tell them something along the lines of “don’t worry, I completely understand the feeling of getting sick two hours before we were supposed to meet for sushi,”  so I guess this might actually be an act of rudeness? It’s hard to know, since it’s not all that easy to talk to ghosts. Wait…are men actually ghosts? Do I need to learn how to perform a seance for the sake of a better love life? Damn, where the hell have I been these past seven years?

Should I not be trying to maintain a sense of fashion? I think that could also be why guys haven’t wanted to keep me around; my nice sweaters, button-ups, and moderate-to-above average sense of color coordination must SCREAM that I’m not ready for a relationship. It’s completely logical. Maybe I should dumb it down to cargo shorts and sandals everywhere I go, since caring about how you dress seems to be a concept that men don’t like. I mean, they always say they love the shirts I wear, but I guess that’s the equivalent of a left swipe. 

Am I…am I really this out of touch? 

Thank God that I have a friend who cares enough about my self esteem to ask how I, a boy who hasn’t even existed for a quarter of a century, am not several-years deep into a relationship with the man of his dreams. In the seven years of wondering what the hell I’ve been doing wrong, I’ve definitely never thought about how this could be happening to me. 

…wait, that wasn’t a rhetorical question? I’m actually required to answer a question like that? I didn’t realize that this was becoming a sadist/masochist sort of friendship. Well, do you think you’d want the word-vomit version, or the nice little version that makes me look like I’ve got my shit together?

“I wish I knew.”

Nailed it.

“Well, I have a gay friend that I can set you up with, if you’re interested.”

Oh, well of course I’m interested! We, as gay people are absolutely incapable of knowing what we want in a partner, so the only solution must be to entrust a straight friend to save us from society’s crippling pressure to find love! 

“Maybe. Do you have a picture of him?”

The only reason I’ll ask this question, and the only reason I’ll smile as you slip your phone out of your pocket and start to open the Facebook app, is to trick my brain into thinking this isn’t a complete waste of our time. If only my brain could then trick my heart into fluttering as you shove the screen in my face the same way you’d shove a nervous skydiver out of a plane.

“See? Isn’t he cute?”

Oh, bless your heart, straight friend. No one thought to explain to you that attraction is complicated for gay people, too. What you meant to say is “what do you think, friend with standards that aren’t solely dependent on the suitor’s sexuality?”

But because I’m a hopeless romantic of a human being who’s halfway down a slippery slope to desperation, I look at the picture of your gay friend anyway, performing an internal sigh (that I have to actively prevent from becoming external) as I feel nothing when seeing his face, other than sympathy. Trying to put both of your gay friends into an awkward situation is pretty messed up.

“I mean, he’s okay. Just not really my type.”

Well, he likes all the same geeky stuff that you do. Maybe go out to coffee with him and give him a chance?”

Ah, yes, we’re both gay, and we like the same geeky stuff? Shit, why aren’t we saying our vows right this very moment? Sure, I bet we’d have a grand old time chugging some iced lattes and chatting about the latest episode of Supergirl, but, oh, I don’t know, I feel like being in a relationship with someone is a bit deeper than that? You know, maybe at least feeling some sort of romantic jolt through my veins upon looking at their face? Something that at least tells me “you know, being with this guy would make up for hating myself for the past seven years.” They don’t even have to be drop dead gorgeous, because let’s be real, I’m far from being just plain gorgeous. I just want their face to at least make me feel something.

And as much as I want to blame you for thinking our matching sexual orientations meant we’d be boyfriends for life, I secretly wish that it worked like that. But since that’s not how it works, your assumption actually becomes such a blatant disregard for our complexity as human beings, and that’s no way to make us feel like you’re doing us a favor.

“We’ll see, we’ll see. I just don’t want to waste our time.”

“Well, have you tried online dating?”

Have you tried online dating?

Imagine all of the problems you’d have as a straight person, and double – no, wait, triple – that amount of frustrations, and you’ve got yourself the full experience of being a gay man on a gay dating app. If you don’t look like a white Olympic athlete, you’re knocked down a few pegs on the romantic totem pole. If you don’t at least look like the nice guy who never gets the girl in heterosexual rom-coms, you might as well just delete your account. However, all of this can be reversed if you describe yourself as “masculine.” The Grindr scientists (AKA: real life love experts, obviously) will tell you that this is a proven fact. You could even use “masc” for short, if you really want to show the boys that you’re made of 100% testosterone.

As a boy with a somewhat visible gut, barely toned arms and legs, and a solid balance of masculinity and femininity, I think there’d be some serious repercussions for even looking at my dating profile. The gay gods would surely smite them with some sort of punishment, perhaps condemning them to being single for seven years (at minimum). I guess I lost eighty pounds and became more confident about my identity for no reason!

“Yeah, I’m not having much luck, though.”

“Yeah, online dating can be rough. But you know, sometimes it’s better to just be single, for a bit.” 

You’re absolutely right. I need plenty of time away from the companionship and security of having a boyfriend. I mean, I do enjoy being single, don’t get me wrong. I enjoy being able to just take my pants off after a long day at work, slip on some gym shorts, and play some video games to escape the crippling stress from the day. I’d never be able to do that while in a relationship. Could you imagine doing that when you have a significant other? It would be catastrophic. Think of how your partner of several years would feel about just the thought of you in an oversized shirt and gym shorts, sprawled out on the couch on a Friday night with a PS4 controller in your hand and a slice of pizza on the coffee table, relaxing after a particularly stressful work week. I mean, there’s just no way they’d even be able to comprehend that, right? I should be able to enjoy that for as long as possible. With that said, how long is a good amount of time to wait? Maybe…seven years?

“You’re probably right.” 

“And I mean, you’re only twenty-four, so you have plenty of time.”

You know what? You’re totally right. I mean, you’re too old for romantic consideration in the gay community when you’re…forty, right? Or is it forty-five? Maybe it’s fifty, but only if I can get my shit together and acquire bulging biceps, calves of steel, thighs that could crush boulders, and abs that can slice apples. But even then, my eyes already start getting heavy once eleven o’clock rolls around, even if the horror game I’m playing is inducing stressful amounts of adrenaline, so I guess this transformation into being “too old” is already under way.

I guess I have less time than I thought? Either way, it sounds like I have 16-22 years to find a guy (which, apparently, could take more than seven years), date him enough for him love me, and somehow get him to marry me before the gay community hands me a death certificate, all while trying to achieve personal career goals, maintain a social life, and take at least a moment or two out of the day to tend to my sanity. I have plenty of time! 

“True.”

“I wouldn’t even worry about it. Being in a relationship is overrated, anyway.”

I know, right? So overrated. That’s probably why I’ve been single for a whole seven years while you have a boyfriend, my best friend is married, and every week, I groan at yet another engagement photo on Facebook of a couple in my age group. I don’t even know why I groan at them, because professing the deepest romantic love for someone, despite all of their flaws and shortcomings, is overrated, right? I shouldn’t even feel jealousy about a luxury in life that the gods are clearly hiding from me, which, according to what you’re implying, must be for my protection. It’s definitely not because they want to see me struggle through conversations like these for seven years (or more).

But I mean, I should just consider this a blessing, right? Having someone to love you so much that they’d want to spend the remainder of their life loving you is just so overrated. Having someone to come home to and hold you while you watch Broad City in bed because you just need a down day, someone to be your partner in crime for all of your shenanigans from baking cookies to fighting the crowds at concerts, and someone to grab you by the shoulders, look directly into your heart through a broken look in your eye, and tell you that you’re more beautiful, more talented, and more valued than your insecurities try to make you believe…I mean, it’s just not what it’s all cracked up to be. It’s just…not a luxury that anyone should want…right?

That must be why couples always look so happy; they’re thinking about dumping each other.

“Totally.”