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How do I find a boyfriend?
November 5, 2009 5:56 AM   Subscribe

I'm a young, "straight-acting", alternative guy who is tired of being single. Help me find a boyfriend!

First of all... I'm 23 and live in the North East of England. I've had a modest number of sexual partners, and only one short-term relationship.

Maybe because of the way I act and dress, and the places I hang out no-one suspects that I'm gay, and it seems to be ruining my chances of finding love. I'm quite well build (probably need to loose a few lbs), have piercings, dyed hair and mainly wear band t-shirts and jeans.

Some of my friends were quite shocked when they found out, or I told them I was gay; mainly due to the fact I'm not particularly camp and I hang around the metal music "scene" (bands/clubs/etc.)

I'm not particularly into the gay scene, although I have previously been to a few gay bars, just as part of a regular pub crawl with friends. I'm also not really into camp queeny gay guys and generally don't really like the promiscuity and bitchyness. I don't want to have to change myself or my social habits in order to find someone.

I'm on various gay and regular dating sites and have made a couple of online friends, but it seems most people are just after a quickie and nothing more.

My main question is: Is there a way I can subtly let people know that I'm gay while hanging around my usual social venues? I'm not a very confident person and not really the type to walk up to strangers and enquire about their sexuality, I also think my gaydar has been defective since birth ;)

Hive mind, help me find love (or a close approximation!) :D
posted by mosherdan to Human Relations (23 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Might help you if you drop the wording "straight-acting". It is considered homophobic. Straights walk this way, and queers walk this way.

Otherwise, I suggest you cruise the hell out of the internet. You can 'meet' more and sort more candidates that way than any other. It can work. Met mind on the net, and we've been together 12 years.
posted by Goofyy at 6:13 AM on November 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


How close are you to the people you hang out with at your usual social venues? If you're comfortable with it, talk to them about people you find attractive (which is something straight people—well, this straight person—do all the time with their friends). I have found out many friends were gay because they would say things like "That fella over there sure is cute" or "What do you think of that girl over there? Do you think she'd like a girl like me?"

If you're open about these things with your friends in this context, and your friends are supportive of you, other people at the same venues but who aren't part of your close group of friends will gradually become aware of your orientation, and at the same time will know that your friends know and are cool about it.
posted by ocherdraco at 6:26 AM on November 5, 2009


How big is the community you live in? Sometimes there's not much to choose from because...there's just not a lot out there. I'm not saying decamp for London tout suite, but you're going to have to look harder (and maybe a little farther away).

Use your network: sometimes people you meet online turn into friends and they may introduce you to people they know. And you don't have to go out of your way to "act gay"--you're not going to be happy, and it's essentially false advertising to whomever you meet. ocherdraco's point is a good one, too--some straight people love setting up gays together and they get coolness points if it works out. Basically, you're going to have to come out not just as gay but as single and looking.
posted by kittyprecious at 6:40 AM on November 5, 2009


Depending on the area in which you live, there may be gay-male-centric activities that have nothing to do with clubbing. Where I live, there are several dozen gay sports teams (from American football to badminton), a gay chorus, gay writers' groups, etc. It may be better to decide on an activity you like and find the places that are designed for or welcoming to gay guys around your age.

If you're not a group-joining type of guy, then I'd find some friends who know you're gay and single, and go out with them with the express purpose of checking out guys. You don't have to set a goal of finding Prince Charming right away, but getting used to hanging out with folks who can encourage you to approach men you find attractive will probably break you out of your shell a little bit.

Finally, if you're hooking up with guys already, you may want to take a shot and say, "Hey, that was fun...would you like to do something outside of the bedroom, too?" I heard the complaint a lot that "everyone just wants to hook up" when I was catting around, but I found that everybody thought everybody ELSE just wanted to hook up, but when asked about dating or just hanging out for fun (that could lead to dating), a lot of guys were happy to be asked. In that scenario, you already know that the guy you're asking is 1.) attracted to guys, 2. ) attracted to YOU and 3.) is fun in the sack.
posted by xingcat at 6:54 AM on November 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Get a rainbow pin, ring, badge, sticker, tattoo, whatever.

A single earring might help.

Also, if have previously taught yourself carefully to suppress anything you might do or say that would "out" you, you could unlearn this and start saying "Oh yeah, my ex-boyfriend loved that band" or "check out that guy's ass" or "would anyone come to the Pride parade with me?"... lots of straight people's conversation is chock full of casual references from which one can detect their orientation, without making a big deal out of HEY LOOK I'M STRAIGHT.
posted by emilyw at 7:02 AM on November 5, 2009


Is there a way I can subtly let people know that I'm gay while hanging around my usual social venues?

Isn't this what rainbow flags are for?
posted by desjardins at 7:02 AM on November 5, 2009


Goofyy: I don't particularly like that term either, hence it being in quotation marks. It is unfortunately a commonly-used term to describe someone who doesn't fit the homosexual stereotype. Obviously not everyone changes the way they act because of their sexuality, it's just that many people are described or describe themselves as either camp or straight-acting. Well done for 12 years btw, that sounds like a lifetime to me :P

ocherdraco: I'm more comfortable talking about guys and "gay stuff" with my female friends than the male ones, and have occasionally said things such as "ooh, he's fit!" to them to see what they think. A couple of my more crazy friends will actually go up to guys and ask them right out if they are gay or not, which leads to endless embrassment! Thanks for the advice though, I'll try and do a bit more of this :)

kittyprecious: I live in a medium-sized town not too far from various larger towns and cities with gay scenes. I know a few local gay people and have a few gay friends from old jobs, school, etc. I'll certainly try and build up some more contacts though and see how it goes.

xingcat: I'm not really an activities-type guy although I'm sure it won't do any harm to make some enquiries about such things in the local area. Great advice about asking people for a date after "bedroom things" - don't know why I've never thought of this before. I'm probably being too presumptious by assuming they were drunk and wanted a one-nighter. I will be sure to suggest a night out to a few friends for a bit of practice.
posted by mosherdan at 7:20 AM on November 5, 2009


emilyw: Thanks for the advice. I think I may have taught myself to watch what I say in public in fear of being homophobically bullied, etc. I'm glad to say I've never had any trouble and the places I hang out tend to be relatively gay-friendly (obviously barring one or two people here and there, like you no doubt get everywhere). Maybe I should try slipping subtle hints into conversations as you say.

In regards to a single earring, I can't do that unfortunately as I have stretched lobes on both ears. Although, I have recently bought a couple of button badges that are symbolising "gay". One badge is two male-shaped figures (like you'd see on some male toilet doors) standing together, and the other is a female-shaped figure behind the standard red "no entry" type sign. Might give these a test drive when I next go out =)
posted by mosherdan at 7:33 AM on November 5, 2009


I have a small handful of gay friends in your same position and my heart goes out to you; unless you live in a city with a large gay population, it's a lot harder to meet people if you're not into the stereotypical gay scene, and even harder if you don't naturally set off gaydar.

All my friends have done is use online dating services, and they sometimes go to the gay clubs anyway. This works out alright for them; not great, but alright. It gets you out there.
posted by Nattie at 7:35 AM on November 5, 2009


An option is moving in with gay flatmates who then know other gay people. I think lesbians in the U.S. used gay bookstores & their coffee shops for many years, before Barns & Noble pushed them all out of business, maybe some gay men too.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:52 AM on November 5, 2009


My main question is: Is there a way I can subtly let people know that I'm gay while hanging around my usual social venues? I'm not a very confident person and not really the type to walk up to strangers and enquire about their sexuality, I also think my gaydar has been defective since birth ;)

You remind me of one of my best friends. He does alright though, because he lives in Washington, D.C. which has a pretty lively gay scene. Also he's a giant flirt, ok, tease. I tell him that if he was a woman I would dislike him severely. I think you just need to be more aggressive. People do use how you dress, talk and act as shorthand for who you are.

This means two things (1) flirting more; (2) being firm and upfront about what you want. If you are a one guy guy, then let them know from the beginning and stick to your guns. People who just want sex are gonna go for it with you, so be firm.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:17 AM on November 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was very into the gay 'scene' - clubbing, parties, lots of gay friends, lots of hook-ups, difficulty finding a long term boyfriend. My boyfriend was more like you - into metal, mostly str8 friends, not really into the gay scene, lots of surprised reactions when he came out to people. We met online and were wildly sexually attracted to each other. Got to know each other better, found that we in addition to the sexual chemistry, we got along great, so we moved in together within the year. Still happily coupled a year after that. I think gay dating (and maybe all dating) is a numbers game. You need to go through a lot of folks before you find a match. So, get online and keep looking. Set-up lunches, dinners, hook-ups, or shared activities with guys you find online until you meet one you click with.
posted by hworth at 8:37 AM on November 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Bluntly said, I see a lot of internalized homophobia in your post and it is going to inhibit your goal to meet people. In my experience, gay (and lesbian) people find other gay people in gay contexts and social venues. The world at large is not a great place to find a lover, though of course it happens. But I wouldn't want to count on it. (I'll admit the small possibility that this is generational and not true for young people but hmmm... it's a small possibility indeed.) Your squeamishness about gay social venues seems to be based on limited experience. Which "gay scene" are you not into? The rugby team one? The political action one? The bowling team one, the weekly discussion one, the community service one, the bicycling club one? The promiscuous bitchy queen one is just another sub-segment of a community that assuredly is way more diverse than you seem to assume.
posted by Wordwoman at 8:38 AM on November 5, 2009 [8 favorites]


When I was 19, I moved to London to find a boyfriend. It worked: we just celebrated our fifteenth anniversary. And I'm an American who was living in the midwest at the time.

So, my question is: what's keeping you in your current location? Because meeting other gays is a hell of a lot easier in a big city.
posted by roger ackroyd at 8:53 AM on November 5, 2009


n'thing discreet rainbow pins, single earring, etc. No need to be super obvious about it, since anyone interested in you will be paying close attention to detail.. :)

I've been in your situation. The easiest way out is to move a big city, where there will be many more people who happen to be gay (and not gay people).
posted by mezamashii at 9:22 AM on November 5, 2009


Ironmouth, hworth: Thanks for your advice, I'll certainly take it on board for the future :)

Wordwoman: I certainly don't mean to put myself across as you see me. Maybe the way I worded my statements was wrong. I obviously like gay people, I am one :P

In using the term "gay scene", I was referring to most peoples' perception of the flamboyant, promiscuous, clubbing lifestyle that most homosexuals apparently lead. I don't deny there are different activities/groups/sports that people do in their spare time, I was merely referring to the "scene" that most people (ignorantly?) would think of.

When I was much younger I did go to gay clubs occasionally and found that it simply wasn't for me. I don't particularly enjoy cheesy or dance music and from my personal experience (maybe its specific to my particular location or the clubs I went to) it seemed very bitchy, superficial and people only wanted one-nighters.

I definately don't HATE the people that do all the clubbing/queeny stuff, I merely perfer to live my life differently and be a person who happens to be gay, rather than having it be who I am entirely. I apologise if you thought I was being internally homophobic, because I'm far from it.

roger ackroyd, mezamashii: Mainly due to financial reasons I can't consider leaving home at the moment, but it's definately an option for the future. I don't see myself staying around here all my life, so who knows who I'll meet elsewhere :)
posted by mosherdan at 10:03 AM on November 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


first of all, putting down other queers is not terribly cool nor helpful. frankly, you'll never know when a fierce, bitchy promiscuous queen will come to your rescue. seriously. i identify as a queer punk, but i don't limit my friends to others who are copies of myself. build friendships and communities, not hierarchies of whose a 'good' queer and who isn't.

second, bollocks to "move to London" talk. be who you want to be where you want to be. i'd say go to Manchester before London, but maybe just try the Internet more. my single queer friends do dabble in on-line dating sites and the like. yeah, a lot of guys use it simply for sex, but if you are clear of your intentions (it's ok to want to be true to one guy, and have dates not sex hook-ups), the guys looking simply for sex won't bother you. have a trusted friend write a profile or description you can use if you aren't up to the task yourself.

drop any notion that you can 'just tell' who is queer or not, or that somehow you always have to be putting out 'pings' that gaydar can pick up. people always know i'm queer, and i scarcely have any of the signifiers people have mentioned here. they might not hurt, but certainly you don't have to rely on them!

so go out and take a healthy risk, and do things you maybe don't do ordinarily. join an activity or sport you fancy that may have a queer angle. i met my partner by going to a political meeting for a radical queer event that i would ordinarily never have gone to ... i just did it so that i'd be active and out of the house on that particular day. not only did i meet my sweetie that day, but also loads of other lovely queer folks who are still friends to this day (and that was almost a decade ago!)

but above all, start from you at the centre. be confident about who you are, what your desires are (emotionally and sexually), because frankly, confidence is dead sexy!! change your personal outlook, and how you view the world, and you'll be gently surprised at how things will be different for you.

good luck and queer blessings to you!
posted by kuppajava at 10:05 AM on November 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


"a female-shaped figure behind the standard red "no entry" type sign"

Yikes, please don't wear that! Please don't define yourself by who you're not attracted to, it's kind of sad, and also kind of nasty. I also don't think it makes it at all clear that you like men.

I'm a queer woman who people tend to assume is straight, and I bemoaned my luck at finding women to date for years. I met my wife on an internet message board, but before that, I had much more success when I bit the bullet and started going to bars and events where I thought I wouldn't meet anyone I'd like, but occasionally did. I'm not saying you don't do that, but it might be something to think about - look for the few people like you in the scene, rather than the scene where everyone is like you.
posted by crabintheocean at 10:26 AM on November 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


kuppajava: I have never once said that I dislike "bitchy promiscuous queens", nor have I been putting them down. Maybe I'm not a particularly articulate writer, but all the way through this post I have merely stated that it is not my preference to spend my social time in such environments. I like what I like, and therefore go to places that cater for my interests.

I'm also a great believer in equality and would never categorise anyone as a "good or bad queer". I have a wide variety of friends; straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual. Some camp, some not. Some who are drag queens in the local area. I never dislike anyone based on first appearances. I judge people on their personality, how they treat myself and others, and how they portray themselves.

I think I've been slightly deluding myself by thinking (hoping) I could somehow tell if another person is gay or not. I think this comes down to shyness and not being the type of person who approaches random people.

Thanks for all your advice, and sorry if this sounds too defensive, I just felt I had to make myself clear :)
posted by mosherdan at 10:31 AM on November 5, 2009


I definately don't HATE the people that do all the clubbing/queeny stuff, I merely perfer to live my life differently and be a person who happens to be gay, rather than having it be who I am entirely. I apologise if you thought I was being internally homophobic, because I'm far from it.

Among the people who do all the clubbing/queeny stuff are activists, cops, physicians, artists, fathers, animal rescuers, and philatelists. The person who you distinguish yourself from -- the one who is gay and only gay, unlike you, who just "happens to be" -- is imaginary. Best of luck in your quest.
posted by Wordwoman at 10:59 AM on November 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wordwoman: I don't deny there are people from all walks of life that go clubbing, etc.

What I was trying to say was I don't want my sexuality to be my defining factor. I'm a regular guy who just so happens to be gay. I don't feel the need to make it the centre of my existence and for my life to revolve around the fact that I'm gay, screaming it from the rooftops.

I hope you understand what I'm trying to say. Once again, I have nothing against anyone who chooses to do things differently, I just personally do things my own way :)
posted by mosherdan at 11:40 AM on November 5, 2009


I'm a regular guy who just so happens to be gay. I don't feel the need to make it the centre of my existence and for my life to revolve around the fact that I'm gay, screaming it from the rooftops.

Be exactly who you want to be. Don't let other people tell you who you ought to be.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:51 PM on November 5, 2009


How about The Gay Outdoor Club- North East. It seems that they do hiking and biking.
www.goc.org.uk/groups/northeast
posted by blast at 4:55 PM on November 5, 2009


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