Publications.

Much to my surprise I have won the James White Award for science fiction writing in Scotland, so look out for my story The Morrigan in a future issue of Interzone.

http://www.jameswhiteaward.com/archives/3800

I have nice gay-themed sonnet The Goblin in this month’s British Fantasy Award Journal too, but only members get to read that. Give me a shout if you want to read it.

My life as a Gay Man, so far.

 

pride I only came out as gay about three years ago, and I never had any sexual experience with a man until my late forties. I’ve been married to a woman for most of my life and, despite knowing from childhood that I was attracted to men, I never did anything about it until the last year of my marriage. It sounds ridiculous now but that’s the way it was.

So my take on gay culture, the scene if you like, is different from most. I’m less obsessed with sex than most younger men, and although I have been an enthusiastic convert, I’m almost looking in as an outsider.

I decided that my experiences and the opinions I’ve formed might warrant being written down, partly to help me get my thoughts in order but also because people might be interested. I’ll tackle various aspects and experiences one at a time and see if any patterns or conclusions emerge. I’m not sure myself what my opinions are, and it’s likely that I’ll look at this in a year or two and disagree with.

 

Hook Up Sites and Apps.

This was my first introduction to gay life. My kids were grown and I was getting old and I could see my life drifting off without me ever experiencing sex with a man, so I looked up the hook-up sites. There are lots: Grindr is the most famous, though I never used it, but there is Fabguys, Manhunt, Gaydar, Onlylads, and a gay bit on all the dating sites. Men sign up, go online and arrange to meet other men for casual sex. Some of the members are extremely promiscuous and are on every site.

A few things struck me as I browsed available gents. First, there are more bottoms than tops. (For the uninitiated, a bottom is what it sounds like – a man who plays the female role and likes to be penetrated) Also, there are lots of married men who state their sexuality as straight, yet want to have sex with other men. Lots of men will refuse to kiss, and deny the need for any affection or intimacy. Frankly, I think they’re fooling themselves.

There is pleasure in the physical experience of being sodomised, once you get used to it: there are as many nerve endings round the anus as on the head of the penis, and the prostate gland is a whole other G spot. It’s rare but possible for men to achieve orgasm purely from stimulation of the prostate. All of that though is only part of the story, and perhaps I only truly understand now that I have a long-term loving partner. Put simply, bottoming is when a man feels most loved. The emotional aspect of allowing your lover inside you is stronger than any physical sensation. It’s setting aside all the expectations of masculinity, relinquishing control, and as well as being pleasurable in its own right, you give yourself to your lover in the most intimate way a man can. It’s also a thing that most straight men never experience.

I think western men are brought up to be strong, masculine, independent, never emotionally needy, when in fact we are just as much in need of affection as any woman. I think  this is what we look for when we go out to meet strangers for casual sex, and why so many of us tire of it quickly. Meaningless loveless sex is a poor substitute for what most men are afraid to admit they want.

So when a profile says “just want fucked”, it means “just want loved”.

 

Gay Bars

Even after I came out I didn’t go into gay bars for a long time because I thought they would be seedy pickup joints where I would be objectified by predatory men. The reality has been the opposite. Every gay bar I’ve visited has been friendly, welcoming, and completely unthreatening. The only difference you might notice is that bouncers and bar staff are likely to call you darling or sweetheart and perhaps there’s a bit more sparkle in the decor. I have interacted with other patrons and, while some men have been flirtatious, never once have I felt as thought I was being sized up like a piece of meat, the way I imagine women often feel in mainstream bars. It could be that my experience would be different if I were younger and cuter, or if I went to the busy clubs on Saturday nights.

Also, despite being niche, gay bars are the most inclusive places I’ve been in my life. During my first visits I might turn my head at people of indeterminate gender, stereotypically butch lesbians, people in kinky leather gear, anything out of the ordinary. But I soon realised that no one else batted an eyelid. In a single night in a gay karaoke bar I saw a woman in a wheelchair dressed and coiffured as KD Lang and singing one of her songs, a man with learning difficulties getting hugs from strangers in the crowd before and after his turn at singing, and a muscular trans woman singing “I’m Just a Girl Who Can’t Say No”. All of these people received warm and genuine applause. There are also typically lots of people who look perfectly mainstream. The cliché that straight women go to gay bars is true, presumably to escape unwelcome attention from sex-crazed straight men.

 

Acceptance

Perhaps I’ve just been lucky, but I’ve experienced no homophobia at all. I’ve had nothing but support from friends, family and work colleagues, and when I’m out and about holding my partner’s hand, people smile and say hello. Women especially like to talk to us and tell how adorable we are. (We are both middle-aged, bald and rather sloppy dressers but the two jack russell terriers we routinely have in tow may be partly responsible for our popularity.) I read that there has been an upsurge in homophobic and other bigoted attacks recently but we haven’t seen any evidence. We were recently approached in a pub by a heavy-set, shaven-headed fellow who looked like someone on his way home from a building site. He looked us over then told us it was good to see guys like us in “a pub like this” and he was glad that we felt comfortable. We talked about dogs a little then he went back to his wife and his pint. Mostly though, people don’t even mention it.

I’m sure there are still pockets of it but homophobia is no longer the norm. On the other hand, I’m a white gay man, absolutely mainstream these days. From taking to other people I understand that bisexual, trans and non-binary people still suffer rather more than we do, and if you belong to a secondary minority (if you’re black, or disabled, or any number of others) things are more difficult still.

 

I have a lot more thoughts spinning around but they’re not yet coherent enough to be written down – this will do a first shot at a gay-themed blog. It makes a change from reviewing horror movies.

If you have any comments, or perhaps want to tell me I know nothing, please get in touch.