Why Gay Men Need A Body Positivity Movement, Too

“Too many of us have spent too much of our lives trapped in the closet. May we not spend the rest of them trapped in the gym.”

Original story from HuffingtonPost.

The restaurant had been particularly busy that night, and I was starving. At the time, I was working as a server to put myself through grad school in a whimsical little eatery where the joke was that “in order to be hired, you have to at least be a little curious.” As the night slowed, I wandered downstairs to the kitchen in search of some abandoned nosh, and as I stood in the hallway munching on some chips, one of my coworkers walked by, ran his hand seductively across my waist, and instructed me to remember that “straight skinny is gay fat” with a judgmental glance at my deep-fried snack.

Read more at: HuffingtonPost.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Top Neighborhoods With the Most Gay Couples in The U.S.

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A recent study by Zillow shows the most popular neighborhoods for gay couples in the United States.
Using numbers from the 2012 U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, the online real estate data company ranked the top 10 communities with the “highest share” of this demographic.
Corona Heights, a section of San Francisco’s Castro District, tops the ranking: 44.5 percent of households there are comprised of same-sex couples. Neighborhoods in Columbus, Dayton, Ft. Lauderdale, Cleveland, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore are also on the list.
Beyond population, the Zillow study showed that overall, property values are higher in neighborhoods with a dense population of same-sex couples. For example, the median home value in Corona Heights is $1.4 million, whereas homes in the S.F. metro area are valued at $738, 200.

“Over the past forty years, home prices in historically gay neighborhoods have steadily outperformed average prices for the metros in which they’re located,” write Spencer Rascoff, the CEO of Zillow, and economist Stan Humphries in their book Zillow Talk: The New Rules of Real Estate.
“Many gay communities across the country are no longer marginalized and undervalued. … They’re coveted,” they add.
See the ranking below:
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Courtesy of: Zillow.

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How Being Versatile in Bed Is a Way of Life

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As gay men, we are classified into different groups. Hell, not just gay men, but humans in general. We like to divide ourselves with labels. In our culture, there is no label more important than one’s sexual position. You can be a top, bottom, versatile, versatile-top, versatile-bottom, total top, power bottom and so on. I completely understand the need to have these labels, but why do they dictate how some of us act?

I’ve had an unconventional journey to my sexual label. My first and second sexual experiences were as a bottom; they were ridiculously awful, so naturally I became a top. During my time as a complete top, I found myself playing some type of role. I put on this façade of what a top was supposed to be. I wasn’t particularly unhappy, just a little tired. Then I got into a relationship that encouraged me to explore myself sexually. After nearly nine months into our relationship, I finally gave the bottom thing another try. Now I’m fully versatile.
Having gone to an area of sex where nothing (position-wise) is off limits, now it’s hard for me to imagine people who refuse to do so. I’ve heard stories of tops that ignore the bottom’s dick and bottoms that want them to; or how about the guy who says he is a top, but has never tried to experience being a bottom? How about the top that doesn’t want you to touch his ass, or the bottom that never gets to orgasm? Is that really fulfilling?

Although this might be an ignorant statement, I perceive strict top/bottom relationships to be a sad mirror of heterosexual relationships. The top has to be dominating because he is the “man,” while the bottom remains submissive because he’s the “woman.” I’ve even heard of this concept going outside of the bedroom; the bottom feels it’s his duty to cook and clean. 
As a versatile man who wants a man, this whole concept is truly unappealing.
Maybe versatile guys are just naturally freakier, or maybe it’s all about openness and willingness. Granted, some people just simply don’t like it. But a huge majority of strict tops don’t like the feeling of being dominated because it makes them feel less of man.

I’ve been told that fully versatile people don’t exist or that people find them confusing. I laughed at that because I feel the same way about strict tops and bottoms. Sexually, if you like it, I love it. But our community will be a whole lot better if we removed the rules, and the stigma that comes along with these titles. If you’re a top, you don’t have to automatically be the one paying for the dates. Likewise, if you’re a bottom, it’s not your duty to fix his plate. We are not in the 50s; we are all men and we should all be equal. We have to stop letting these titles wear us. Your sexual desire shouldn’t have to conform to what you think your position is. Your sexual title shouldn’t dictate what you’re allowed to enjoy in bed. Sexual stereotypes are exhausting and unnecessary. If you ask five different tops the same question, you’re sure to get five different answers.

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Fursecution and Fat-Shaming in the Gay Community

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If there’s one thing that really gets my knickers in a twist, it’s people not being able to accept each other for who they are. Gay people still face so much prejudice and discrimination in the world, but there’s an issue that I view as being even more damaging; gays hating on other gays for not fitting an ‘acceptable’ aesthetic.
Over the years I have noticed a lot of fursecution and fat-shaming in the gay community, as I’m sure many of you have. I have even been a victim of it on more than one occasion. Whether you’re online and see profiles stating that potential guys must be slim and hairless or seeing fat shaming on the scene, I believe it to be an endemic problem.
Personally I’m a relatively big guy and particularly hairy. There was a time I hated the way I looked and wished I could be slim and smooth. Then I came to realise that I wanted to be like that to please others rather than to please myself. When it comes down to it, if I really hated the way I look I’d do something about it. I like my covering of fur and having a bit of meat on my bones. My partner likes it too, so that’s all that matters.
In the past I have come up against abuse and discrimination from other gay men, mainly on the scene and on apps such as Grindr. One guy told me that I looked disgusting and that the only way I was going to lose weight was if I became bulimic. Another guy on Grindr told me I was a “fat f**king twat” who had no chance. It bothered me at first, but actually it says more about them than it does about me.
In magazines we are fed images of so called hot guys and they are nearly always slim, smooth men, with toned bodies. Although I sometimes like seeing those images, I believe that the constant feed of these nearly naked men is damaging to people’s self-esteem and potentially feeds the fat shamers and fursecutors.

It’s not just in the gay world that this problem exists. If I venture into my local town on a Saturday night there will be lots of people mocking others for being overweight or wearing an outfit that’s perhaps a bit tight and unflattering. It’s the same in the summertime when someone chubby takes their top off or wears skimpy clothing. Personally I think it’s great if people feel confident enough to remove their top or wear an outfit they like, regardless of how it fits. If the way someone looks offends you, look the other way. Or perhaps address the reason why you are offended.
Scrolling through my Facebook news feed also shows up incidences of fat shaming and fursecution. Whether it’s a larger lady with little clothing on or a man covered in body hair, it is further perpetuating the thought that being overweight or hairy is unsexy and acceptable to be the subject of ridicule.
I don’t believe that bullying or the shaming of anyone is ever OK, and it concerns me that so many people focus on what others look like instead of concentrating on the bigger issues there are facing us as a community.
As for what the solution for eradicating this form of bullying is, I don’t have the answer. Perhaps there needs to be body image classes at school or maybe people just need to take a long, hard look at themselves to realize that fat shaming and fursecution need to stop. Either way, we should be supporting and celebrating each other, not continuing with this internal prejudice and discrimination.

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Things to Do: Your Guide to Portland Gay Scene


Portland, Oregon is a very gay friendly city, very warm and very welcoming to everyone.  There is no specific gay ghetto, and the gay and gay-friendly establishments are everywhere, so just look around!  NW 23rd Avenue is a very nice area, similar in feel to some San Francisco neighborhoods blended together.

The Burnside Triangle is an area in Downtown Portland. It is centered around SW Stark St. and comprises a triangular set of city blocks. It is arguably Portland’s most visible gay neighborhood and Greek thoroughfare.
Bounded by SW Alder St., SW 14th Ave., W Burnside St., and SW Broadway, the district contains a combination of gay and gay-friendly businesses such as independent shops, restaurants, housing, and social services. It has been a meeting place for Portland’s LGBT community since the turn of the 20th century.

Hawthorne is the “queen” of the many funky and gay-sensible neighborhoods on Portland’s slightly sprawling East Side.  It has a long reputation as the center of Portland’s lesbian scene, but Hawthorne is quite popular with anyone who has an alternative, progressive bent, and many parts of Portland (especially on the East Side) have a discernible lesbian presence.  Hawthorne Boulevard is fairly interesting, but for a few dull pockets, for about 45 blocks, from roughly S.E. 10th Avenue clear out to Mt. Tabor Park, at S.E. 55th Avenue. It’s also near and parallel to some other engaging East Side commercial strips, such as Belmont to the north, and Division/Clinton to the south.  Among the many popular businesses in the neighborhood worth checking out include the lesbian club The Egyptian Room (it’s on nearby Division Street but very close), gay-popular Palio Cafe (within walking distance, in nearby Ladd’s Addition), the McMenamins Bagdad Pub and adjacent McMenamins Bagdad Theater, Bread and Ink Cafe, the Cup & Saucer Cafe, Vincente’s Pizza, and the Hawthorne branch of Powell’s Books.

On the West End of downtown Portland, just off of West Burnside Street, Southwest Stark Street holds one of the city’s small gay entertainment epicenters. Along here you’ll find a number of gay bars and gay-friendly restaurants, including the long-running gay bar Scandals;  a landmark gay entertainment complex, Boxxes; the Roxy Diner; the Ace Hotel; and Stumptown Coffee.

Boxxes (1035 SW Stark St., 503-226-4171), as well as a restaurant and lounge called the Fish Grotto, is an always-hopping spot that takes up half of a city block along Stark Street, just across from the gay-popular Ace Hotel.  Boxxes is a brightly lighted space with cozy lounge chairs, tall cocktail tables, and a smaller dance floor. Theme nights and drag shows keep things interesting, and the crowd is among the most varied of any gay hangout in the city – it’s really an all-ages, mixed-gender bunch. If you hit this place on an off night, it can be a little quiet, but for the most part, this gay party playground offers plenty of fun throughout the week.

One of Portland’s many great attributes is its first-rate, cheap public mass transit.  Portland’s Light Rail is part of the city’s comprehensive TriMet system, which also includes an extensive network of buses as well as the handy Portland Streetcar, which connects the South Waterfront to Northwest Portland via downtown and the Pearl District. MAX is a cheap and easy way to get from Portland’s airport into downtown for a little more than $2 – there are three lines covering several parts of town.

Probably the most remarkable thing about TriMet is that all of its various modes of transport are free, both to residents and visitors, inside downtown’s central Fareless Square.
Visitors and Locals get together for Northwest Pride every June.  Portland is full of pride every day, and is a must “go to” when visiting the Pacific Northwest.

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How to Stay Positive and Resilient Through Adversity

It’s difficult to remain positive despite the countless number of things pulling us down. Have you ever waken up in the morning happy and ready start your day, until the coffee maker breaks, traffic gets stalled and your friends change their lunch plans? Suddenly, a day so full of potential becomes yet another grueling experience.

It’s the little things that pile up into a mountain of misfortunes, leaving our spirits vulnerable to negativity. One chink in the armor is like a ripple in a wave. It takes a while to find our balance again, and in that time-frame, we’re defenseless. We’re exposed to reality in such a way that we begin to see more things that are wrong, which ultimately ruin our day – and eventually our lives.
Why do we get so upset over the little things? In our heightened state we tend to exaggerate things that, in the long run, have little value towards our happiness. We over think till it becomes an obsession. Once we do, we collect other negative thoughts. By the end of the day we’ve collected so many that it’s hard to remember any of the good. This isn’t a path anyone wants to tread.

Let’s say you show up to work – everything’s fine – when suddenly you realize the corner Starbucks is shut down (a rare occurrence, but it happens). You end up walking three blocks to the other Starbucks and risk being late for work. Before you know it, you’re too focused on this fact alone that you begin a thinking pattern which lasts throughout the day: the coffee was gross, my boss didn’t seem happy when I walked in ten seconds late, I might have lost valid work time, ugh I should have just drank the nasty coffee in the break room, etc. Before you know it, this one event becomes the seed towards an unhealthy pattern.

Small adversities like this should be a springboard towards the bigger picture. Instead of focusing on whatever is changing your routine, interpret it as a new experience. You’re not going to die, but rather have a minor skip in your plan. Here’s a tip. One of the greatest sayings to have in your back pocket is “Oh well, at least…”
The coffee maker breaks? Oh well, at least there’s a café downstairs. You accidentally drop your phone? Oh well, at least it’s not broken. Your man forgets to bring you something when he meets you for lunch? Oh well, at least he’s here.

There’s tremendous power in brushing things off your shoulder. “Oh well, at least…” is more than just letting things go. Psychologically you’re training yourself to embrace the positive sides of things. Sooner or later you’ll be able to do it unconsciously. Everyone deals with small adversities in life and the beautiful part about it is that no matter how old we are, it’s never too late to embrace a new form of combat against it.
When something good happens because of a negative incident, we tend to call it “fate.” Let’s say because you chose to walk the three blocks to the other Starbucks, you ended up meeting the love of your life. That’s fate. Yet for most people who are stuck in a negative state of mind, they’re never going to see the opportunity fate brings when it reveals itself.
When bad things happen, never let it define the dynamic of your attitude. Positivity is contagious and it starts with you. Let’s learn to embrace it. Just because there’s a thorn on a rose doesn’t mean it’s not as beautiful. There’s positivity hidden deep within every negative thing, but until we search for it we’re always going to see the outer layer.









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Are You Pressured to Have Sex on the First Date?

I have to say it’s rare for me not have sex on the first date, though it does happen from time to time. I’m still unsure why. Perhaps it’s rare for me to meet a man I connect with on a level beyond sex, which usually makes me want to wait. Whatever it is, I’m finding it harder and harder to keep my chastity belt tightened. I can’t help but wonder if it’s because men in general love sex or if it’s because gay men as a whole have come to expect it.

We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to look good, feel good, and be good at everything. When it comes to love and romance, there’s tremendous pressure to make a good impression the first time out.
I don’t know about you, but sex is no longer a taboo topic for me. I can’t tell you how many friends try to shock me with raunchy sex talk. They expect me to be frazzled, when, really, it’s not a big deal. Now that Grindr and other online sites try to make casual encounters convenient, sex is at the forefront of our minds and it often never leaves. There’s always going to be consequences when sex becomes expected. Are we slowly desensitizing ourselves from allowing an emotional connection to ripen?
We’ve become victims of our own success. Telling a gay guy to wait until the second, third, even fourth date is like throwing a ball to a cocker spaniel and not expecting him to fetch. Where did this pressure come from? In many ways we’re answering our own biological need for it, but at the same time there are huge social expectations rooted from countless of stereotypes the gay community has fallen victim to within the last few decades. Choosing to wait until the time is right is no longer respectable, but weird.

Sex is a way of getting the questions out of the way. We’re on a date with a man and before we find out if we’re emotionally compatible, we need to know if we’re sexually compatible. What would be the worst thing to happen if everyone decides to not give in to the pressure for once? My guess is the person we’re on a date with will take it personally. He’ll likely feel that it’s his fault we didn’t want to have sex, that he’s not attractive enough, or that perhaps the date didn’t go as well as he thought. Why? Because we’ve associated sex with validation.
Sex has turned into an acknowledgment of our worth. It’s as if our opinion is totally left out of the equation. Being denied sex is more traumatic to our ego than almost anything in the world because our culture has turned it into value. If no sex happens at the end of the first date, we end up convincing ourselves it’s because we don’t deserve it. You might think I’m being dramatic, but trust me, there are plenty of guys who think this way. And it’s not their fault.

At the end of the day, we’re all adults. No one is in control of our bodies and to hell with anyone who thinks they are. We should never feel obligated to have sex with anyone because we think it’s expected. You might not believe me, but a man with self-control is way sexier than a man with none. When push comes to shove, it’s not the sex that gets you a second date – it’s the passion behind it.





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Perfection and Acceptance: Body Issues in The Gay Community

There is a problem arising in the gay community with our self-image. We are constantly ranked by our attractiveness everywhere we go. The gym, the supermarket, even the coffee shop. People underestimate the poison that these judgments give to other people. The next thing we know, we’re putting the bag of pretzels back on the shelf because they hot guy in aisle five gave us a look. Why do we give a F**k what people think of us?!
Our body image is everything and the need to please will never leave unless we see the need to breathe. (sounds like a Dr. Seuss rhyme, doesn’t it?)

For decades, gay men’s form of rebellion was wearing skimpy clothing and prancing around, showing as much skin as we can. There’s something about it that makes us feel free, since we’ve been so oppressed most of our lives. However now that society is gaining momentum in our acceptance, wearing rebellious clothes is no longer needed. Instead, we’ve taken that fashion and turned it into a class system based on type. How chiseled can you be?
“Oh – if you’re wearing a tank top and you don’t have a six pack, don’t bother…”
– Random gay guy on the street.
It’s absolutely nuts. In the ’70s, no one cared about body image. The sexiest thing in a man was confidence. Look at people like Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Burt Reynolds. At least these people had personalities. Their bodies weren’t the most amazing thing in the planet, but they had such confidence that made you look past all that. Guys nowadays are so into their bodies – every ripple, every angle – they have no idea how to hold a conversation. Now tell me people, why on earth would you want to be like that?

Your body image is only defined by YOU! Love yourself and realize how stupid the world is for not doing the same. Don’t let the world pass you by because you’re too busy worrying about the little droop under your chin. These things don’t matter. The best thing is that once you appreciate your body, you will start to see how ridiculous it all is. The people that judge aren’t judging you, but in fact they’re trying so hard to make others think that they’re better. It’s kind of pathetic.
You are unique. It’s not the world’s job to love you. I have always believed that you teach people how to treat you. Teach the world to give you respect and lead by example. They’re only going to follow you. Look in the mirror and love what you see, damn it! We’re stuck in this body for life – the least we can do is have a good time.

Life is the biggest lottery ticket in the universe. Just one sperm out of the millions made you. Think of the other “attempts” your parents had to conceive you. Now imagine their parents, and theirs, all the way back to the beginning of time – which ended up here. With you! There’s a reason why you’re here. Speak up for your own self. You are worthy because you were born. You’ve made it this far because you deserve it. And you’re going to thrive because you know you are.

Throw the tears away and dance.





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20 Reasons Gay Men Choose to Stay Single

Are you confused why the men in your life always seem to want to stay single? Don’t let those romance movies fool you, ladies and gentleman. Being single definitely has its virtues … provided being single is your goal. I believe one of the greatest joys in life is falling in love—whether that love involves falling in love with another human being, a career, a beautiful piece of art, or even a tasty culinary delight that causes an orgasm in your mouth.
 
Falling in love rocks AND … it can also suck.
I’ve found that for many gay men, thinking that love sucks is what keeps them from going for the “L” word in their quest for happiness. Honestly speaking, most gay guys fear love sucking and worry they’ll have to give up the recreational sport of sucking in order to find true love.
Truth is, falling in love doesn’t stop life from sucking, nor does it mean a gay man’s oral skills need to suffer or go out of style. Ironically, gay men, like heterosexuals and lesbians, have reasons why they prefer to stay single. Notice I didn’t qualify the word reasons with any superlatives (like “good” or “bad”); I simply stated that gay men have reasons they prefer to stay single.

How do I know this is true?
  1. I’m a gay man, though I never had many of the thoughts I’m about to share with you.
  2. I spend a better part of my professional life coaching gay men through various aspects of their dating and mating adventures.
  3. Most recently, I laughed my butt off at answers gay men gave in an online social media group as to why they prefer staying single.
As you might have guessed, reason 3 birthed this article—partially to humor others besides myself, and also to shine a light on how similar gay men are to the rest of the world, even if the rest of the world won’t admit it.

So, here are 20 reasons gay men prefer to stay single (in no particular order of preference):
  1. “Don’t need to please anyone but yourself.” Doesn’t masturbation get old? (Apparently not.)
  2. “Do whatever you want in your life.” Guess he doesn’t have a boss or a job.
  3. “Your decisions don’t involve someone else’s life.” Really? He’s definitely on an island with himself.
  4. “You can get up in the morning without having to look good.” Or, you can get up before your boyfriend, get spiffed up, and he’ll think you’re just naturally sexy 24/7.
  5. “Sleeping in the middle of the bed.” Um, I still sleep in the middle of the bed. Of course, my husband doesn’t get much sleep, but he doesn’t need it anyway.
  6. “I can have sex with everyone.” The question is does everyone want to have sex with him?
  7. “Being selfish without consequence.” Someone has been in the wrong type of relationship if they’ve been told they’re selfish and that it leads to consequences.
  8. “Not fighting over the remote control.” Amen to that one, but then have multiple remote controls so each of you has something to hold onto to fulfill that masculine urge.
  9. “Being your own boss, and doing what you want to without getting shouted at.” Obviously, any relationship that involves shouting needs an intervention.
  10. “Freedom.” If you want to go away for the weekend with friends, you pack your bag and you go. Guess all us married, and taken gay men have no freedom.
  11. “There is not one good reason to stay a single, gay man.” Okay, finally one whowants a relationship, but is he too jaded?
  12. “You can have lots of sex with different guys, without living by limiting “rules” of open relationships.” Rules, rules, rules. I wonder how often this one ended up in detention?
  13. “Getting up at anytime and choosing the right golf balls for fun.” I like this guy’s sense of adventure and humor. Too bad he doesn’t see that being in a relationship means more balls to play with—golf balls that is.
  14. “Going on vacation and doing what you want to do.” Well, most people who go on vacation do what they want. Isn’t that how it works? It does in our relationship.
  15. “Learning how to love and accepting yourself so you’re 100% ready for a healthy, loving, committed relationship.” You choose to stay in one, not because you’re lonely and desperate for anyone. Bravo, right on, gold star. You go, boy! See, there are gay men who know the value of being alone until the right stud comes along.
  16. “No one to answer to. I’m a single dad with teenage son, so I’m always busy.” I wonder how he trained himself to not have to answer to his son?
  17. “Not feeling bad when you want to hangout with your friends without the other half.” This is what a healthy, independent relationship looks like. If you can’t see your friends, he’s not the one for you.
  18. “Spending time with my 3 kids.” A man after my own heart, but don’t forget that some guy out there might want to share your life with your 3 kids. Just saying.
  19. “Being around positive-minded people.” And it takes being single to make this happen?
  20. “No more gas cramps from holding my farts in.” The visual alone on this one was worth a re-read.

As silly as some of these sound, you have to admit they’re not all that far-fetched. In fact, not one of these actually is gay exclusive. Each and every scenario quoted can overlay any relationship under the spectrum of sexuality and sexual orientation. It just so happens that gay men (bravo, bravo, bravo!) aren’t afraid to speak their truth … for the most part.
Of course, the ironic juxtaposition that often occurs with gay men, as it does for most everyone on the planet, is talking out of both sides of our mouths. I want to live the single life, but sure wish I had a relationship. To that I say, make up your mind and mean what you say.





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Ageism In The Gay Community

The glory days of being new and fresh to the gay world has faded, and suddenly we are relocated to the back of the bar with all the other old farts in the house. When did this happen? With no warning, we became the very person that we had once poked fun of.

What happens when we get old in the gay community?
In a time where youth is worshiped, it is difficult to find your place when people look at you and see a number – not a face, not a soul, just a number – after time, it defines you. You don’t feel old, but the signs are there. Our sight starts to go, our muscles start to twitch, our hearing gets worse – all the while, the bright light of death gets closer and your “Friends” become the “Golden Girls.”
Ageism in the gay community is an issue. Twenty years ago, when we were the hot young newbies celebrating the vitality of youth, we thought it would never end. When it does, it’s hard to believe. People make judgments. We know they do, because we’ve done it. As we mocked the oldies in the bar while they watched the young boys dancing in the club, it never occurred to us that one day, it would happen to us. Now that we’re men of a certain age, does it mean we can’t go to bars anymore?

Being stuck in a state of mourning for your past is never going to move you forward. People will always be younger than you – it’s a fact. This generation didn’t experienced the discrimination in the 70s, they didn’t witness their friends die of AIDS, and most importantly, they didn’t experience Grace Jones – that’s one point for us.
Young people who are just coming out have a sense of freedom. All the built up tension of suppression explodes into an independence they didn’t think possible. We know the feeling, because we were there once upon a time. I’ve seen many men fall into a depression because they wanted it back – freedom, vitality, not giving a damn.
Ageism is found in all ages, but the truth is, it’s mostly from the younger boys. On the opposite side, there is wisdom. We know better. But because we know their youth isn’t going to last long, it’s easy to build resentment, which will lead to a downward spiral.

Why don’t we talk about it?
Somehow it seems like a taboo topic, yet it is affecting our community by the thousands. People feel lost and unwanted by their piers – this should never happen. Open up the discussion. Look! Our friends are aging with us too, right? Chances are, they’re going through the same issues. Be there for each other.
By embracing our age, we welcome the idea of others doing it too. Happiness is a choice – and as we leave our youth behind, we have to welcome what is ahead. Embrace the fact that we are still here – and we ain’t going nowhere! If your friends are going to be the Golden Girls, you might as well make it worthwhile.




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