Help for a wayward gay?
July 6, 2010 8:46 AM   Subscribe

A friend of mine, who cultivates an image as a mensch, is really a charlatan. He will do anything to be in favor, even if it means betraying his true nature: a gay man who is afraid of ridicule and exile. He moved to a very gay friendly city and his family followed him, to his misfortune. He is relying on me, his best open-minded friend, to set things right. I need some help.

I am a declared bisexual and have been with female and male lovers. I prefer women because they are more likely to relate to and enjoy the experience, whereas men tend to be interested in a narcissistic enjoyment. My friend has told me on several occasions that he would like to be my 'slave'. I use the term lightly because I have no interest in keeping the fellow. He is so worried about his social appeal to a handful of women who care for him that he will do anything and everything to maintain his status. I want to make him understand that there is a world for him to discover that is more worth his while and flavor. He is obviously desperate for release as he tells me so.

Next week, we are going on a road trip where I am supposed to act as a kind of avatar to his longing. I am not interested in doing this. I only want him to experience the opportunity of confidently bringing his true self forward. He must know the experience of humility and possibility on a human scale. I fear for the lives of those who cannot fathom their own rejection.

What worries me is that this man will reject himself and become more bitter. His work at being must be wholehearted and honest. I am working to make him see that he must no longer lie and must no longer pretend his conscience.

I am seeking places north of San Francisco that I could take him for a full experience of GLBT club/bar life. If anyone can help I would greatly appreciate it.
posted by anonymous to Grab Bag (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You're looking for bar recommendations in San Francisco?

I am sorry but I do not understand the background story to this question.
posted by vincele at 8:51 AM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]

Your guy needs a professional, not a meandering wander down the yellow brick road with you. Deeply Closeted men are like alcoholics - they only change when THEY want to, and nothing you do or say will expedite the process. I'm sure he's a nice guy, and I'm sure it's heartbreaking to see him hiding in plain sight. Hook him up with a "questioning sexuality" therapy group if you feel you MUST do something, but trust me, this isn't a battle you can win, or even meaningfully fight.
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 8:56 AM on July 6, 2010

What worries me is that this man will reject himself and become more bitter. His work at being must be wholehearted and honest. I am working to make him see that he must no longer lie and must no longer pretend his conscience.

Are you his therapist? Is he in therapy? Is he as concerned about his "lying" as you are?

Also, "north of San Francisco" is a really big place, and one that does not typically encompass "a full experience" of GLBT club/bar life. What's mostly north of San Francisco is small towns, rural areas, and the occasional small city. You are unlikely to find a "full range" in Redding, for instance.

That said, it's summer, and the Russian River (mostly but not exclusively) gay male scene is in full swing.
posted by rtha at 9:00 AM on July 6, 2010

You aren't the person who can help him with the problems you see him having that he doesn't even recognize as problems.

From what I can tell, you may feel like you can help him, but he wants something from you (a sexual relationship of a certain kind) and he's only presenting to you the parts he feels he needs to get that thing. Like many closet cases with dom/sub tendencies before him, he thinks that a master/slave relationship is about controlling through mind fuck and playing games, when in fact, they only work with actual honest adult communication.

He's being more honest with you than the women in his life you mention about some things, but he's probably lying to you about the same amount but different stuff. You aren't in a position to fix the problems you want to fix.

Help him as a sexual avatar like you mention if you want; that's your call. This is all contingent on him actually having a problem beyond your own judgment. The only power in this situation that you have is the sex he wants. If you truly think he has a problem, if you give in to him and give him what he wants as some sort of sexual tour guide without him making any changes in return, you're an enabler.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:08 AM on July 6, 2010

You can't fix him. Even if you try really hard. Even if you're a really good person. Even if you want to. You can't fix him.

The way you're talking reminds me a lot of the heavy spirituality strains of the alternative sexuality community -- especially when you talk about acting as an "avatar to his longing". In my experience, trying to use sexuality to achieve spiritual awakening results in much the same outcome as any attempt at amateur therapy. Even if you are actually a trained counselor, doing work on your friends is not a good idea.

I am not interested in doing this.

Don't take this trip while he still thinks that that's the plan, then. Take him out to a bar, but make sure he knows that you're his friend, and can't be his therapist, life coach, or messiah. And try not to drink the ego-koolaid of "I can fix him" -- it is tasty tasty koolaid but so bad for you.

As far as bar recommendations, I don't know the area! But hey, the Folsom Street Fair is in September, and it's sure to make practically anybody feel totally normal.
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 9:09 AM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

I apologize for derailing a bit (I do not know any LGBT SanFran hot spots) but I don't necessarily see where you indicate that the friend is actually homosexual. Has he actually said as much, or are you just trying to free him from what you perceive to be his wrong lifestyle? I don't mean to assume too much, but from this limited information is sounds like you might be projecting your lifestyle on him to "free" him to your lifestyle. This is a concern to me because I had a cool gay friend in college who decided incorrectly that I needed to be saved from a life of heterosexuality too.

But yeah, just taking him out to GLBT bars isn't going to help his deep interpersonal issues.
posted by carlh at 9:11 AM on July 6, 2010

Is a bar the best place for "humility and possibility on a human scale?"
posted by amtho at 9:14 AM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]

North of San Francisco is very broad, and we need more details to really answer this. You could try amending your post through one of the mods.

I am trying SO hard not to see this whole posting as some kind of performance art. Meet me halfway in this by following up.
posted by misha at 9:20 AM on July 6, 2010

How about you just put your friend in touch with I'm From Driftwood. It's a website that collects true stories by queer people from all over. Instead of showing a young, scared, closeted gay that there is a whole secret life that he might tap into, why not show him that there are gays from all over the world, from every culture, who are integrated into all different facets of life, living happy and healthy lives. And call it a day. Cause this? All this? It's a) not your job; b) too confusing to even begin to decipher; and c) probably the wrong approach for what you, misguidedly, hope to achieve.
posted by greekphilosophy at 9:37 AM on July 6, 2010 [5 favorites]

I'm going to politely suggest that you step aside as any kind of avatar; your own ego is too fully invested in this.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 9:38 AM on July 6, 2010 [5 favorites]

This is my interpretation of the question:

You friend is living as heterosexual. He recently moved to San Francisco, as did his family. (Not sure whether this means he moved with his wife + kids, or rather whether he moved and his parents/siblings/cousins/etc also moved.) You think he is in fact gay, but "betraying his true nature" to avoid "ridicule" and "exile" from a group of ladies in his life (the aforementioned family?).

Next week, you're going on a road trip together, and you predict he's going to use the trip as an opportunity to watch you live out the free, open life he secretly longs for, so he can sigh dramatically to you and despair over his life in the closet. ("Avatar for his longing" is a little unclear.) Your idea is, basically, he needs a shot at an honest and confident way of living, and since he won't take the initiative, you're going to help him, and you want to find a good place to start.

My answer is:

A bar isn't the place. First, this isn't your life--it's his. Second, apart from the "I want to be your slave" stuff, how sure are you that your friend is not already living his best life (pace Oprah)? I think a sincere, honest conversation with this guy is the best way for you to help him. The rest he'll need to do himself, for himself.
posted by sallybrown at 9:40 AM on July 6, 2010

gay bars are great places for "welcome to being newly out! let me show you what a great party it can be!" they're pretty terrible places for forcefully yanking someone out of the closet. closeted men go to gay bars to hook up and then on to whatever shaming exercise they have.

i have a family member who is closeted (but out to me and a couple friends) and i want more than anything in the world for him to be himself and openly find love. i encourage this by occasionaly telling him beautiful coming out stories i've heard and sometimes i send him the "closeted man ruins his life/kills himself" articles. i try to reinforce that there's another way and that his path is one littered with horrifically sad stories. but, in the end, i just have to let it go. he is a tenderhearted man who can't face the rejection of his parents and it's not my job or inclination to force the issue.

you use a lot of labels in your post - maybe strip all those away from both of you and just relate to him as a human.
posted by nadawi at 10:10 AM on July 6, 2010

He wants to be your slave?

FYI, whether you like it or not, by deciding what he "must" do, creating experiences for him, attempting to make major decision about his lifestyle, working to shape his're already treating him in the EXACT way that people like that like to be treated. Really. Do you want to do that? Do you want to be his dominant/master? If not, stop acting like it.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:07 AM on July 6, 2010 [5 favorites]

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