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Monday, September 20, 2010

The Scary Gay Friend

Hi all.

My extended pit stop in Albuquerque is winding down and I'm afraid I have once again been bitten by the travel bug. I've only been home for around a month since my last trip and already wanderlust has once again taken its toll on me. I feel I am ready to start exploring once again. I learned a lot of lessons from my first trip. The first ring was a balls out adventure through the western US and far southwestern Canada. I spent only a few days in each spot, and unfortunately, passed a lot of great things along the way making haste to my next destination. I spent a ton of cash. I made a few friends, many of whom suddenly seem not to be returning my phone calls/emails/texts and facebook messages.

This bothers me. A lot. A whole great big bunch in fact. It's caused some of the inner voices in my head to wonder what I said/did/thought/presented/am to cause this.

I'm the type of person who wants a lot of wonderful people in my life. I want people who are supportive of me. People who let me crash at their place when I am in town. People who I can reliably get pictures from when their kids celebrate a new birthday if I cannot attend. I want people to ask me to their home for thanksgiving dinner. I want to be considered a close family friend, a confidant, well..... I want to be one of those people that others think highly enough of to participate in their lives and accompany them through this fantastic blessing of life.

One big point of confusion with me is the difference between how we treat other people and how we expect others to treat us. Before you roll your eyes and expect some rant on how we should follow the golden rule, this blog ain't one of those guilt trips. Please resist the urge to pack your emotional baggage. Instead this blog is on eagerness and how we must be willing to both explore, be genuine, but at the same time not give too much of ourselves away to someone new, be the new acquaintance is a romantic interest or new friend.

I've always wondered how many people are privately pushing me away because they know I am gay. What is it about me that is so scary to so many people? Why do I seem to be able to get along with so many people on the surface yet so many seem to slip away? Why do so many not think highly enough of me to return my messages or communications on a timely basis, or at all.....?

Maybe the road is a much more lonely place than I thought it was going to be.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Goodyear Rule: Rubbers And Gay Men

We've all had the notion of rubbers being super important whenever a relationship exists between two men. We've repeatedly had the notion that using one, preferably many, forms of personal protection to prevent the spread of disease between people to be important. I get all of that. Really. It's important and I am sure many, many people have been spared impediments to their health thanks to their common use.

Sometimes I think that the quality of relationships and the commitment required between us is somehow cheapened by these preventative measures. If I find someone who I really like, at what point can I really drop my defenses and really unite with my partner as my one true mate? Can I ever really, completely offer myself to my partner if I insist on using preventative measures whenever we choose to share ourselves? It seems like continuing to use them for a certain period of time lets a small bit of distrust develop between partners. Distrust, tends to be an extremely destructive force in a relationship. I've seen one tablespoon of distrust be enough to destroy some of the strongest, more beautiful relationships I've ever seen in my life.

On the other hand, we've all heard horror stories about how a friend of a friend trusted their partner, their partner cheated, and both then ended up with a horrible disease and incredibly hurtful relationship on their hands afterwards.

So, when is the best point in time to actually drop your defensive shields with your partner? One month? Six months? A Year? Thanks for your personal emails and comments.

- Brad

Monday, September 13, 2010

Thoughts on Personal Etiquette


September 13, 2010

Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico

Have you noticed how difficult it is to speak, interact, book a date, or simply communicate with *anyone* lately? Have all of these new communication options made us functionally unable to date, have meaningful relationships with a core group of friends and to keep social commitments? What has this done to the dating scene? Can we really successfully meet someone for a date online with these social problems?

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I think something may have physically changed within our brains as human beings thanks to constant communication overload. With work voicemail, work email, work phone, work instant messenger, personal cell phone, personal email, home telephone, Facebook, twitter, google SMS/google voice, Yahoo Instant Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger and dozens of other communication alternatives, each person probably has 12-15 things they need to check on an ongoing basis to continue the flow of communication from their friends and other contacts. On top of this, each website with your bank/credit card company/student loan company/YouTube account/flicker etc that wants to have you log into their website to view a "special message" with a "secure" mailbox instead of using your personal @whatever email address.

With the constant log-ins, medium and website hoping, we have become accustomed to communicating in a style where the timing of conversations has little meaning now. We're accustomed to having a deep, well thought out, extremely brief response that is relevant and (sometimes) adds a lot of value to a conversation. We've also become accustomed to being able to return a message at any time without regard to the amount of time, or recipient urgency, that is required for a response. This has royally messed up our speech patterns. I find myself having meals with my friends where I will simply say something out loud while another person is in the middle of expressing a thought. It's not something I consciously do, but I have become so accustomed to responding with a thought in a chat room while the other party is typing. I now regularly interrupt my friends and start to express my own thoughts on something before they are even finished expressing their current thought. It's so damned rude of me to do and I catch myself doing it constantly.It's also caused any kind of personal etiquette between people with social norms, scheduling, and manors to completely fall to complete disarray. With so many options and the stress of different mediums, It's caused my dating life to completely fall to shit lately. It's caused a great deal of friction between myself and old friends, potential partners, and, honestly - I'm really, really tired of it. Many personal relationships are now failing from this.

I now frequently do not have voicemail messages returned from a plethora of people. My texts are frequently not returned. I refuse to believe people are so busy that they forget to respond to a message that comes to a device that is on their person for the better part of 14 hours per day that they check constantly. I also have people that want to take 45 minutes to text when a simple 5 minute conversation could have solved the problem. I also have people who now have a favorite communication medium. Some people insist I use Facebook to have any type of ongoing conversation or to book social occasions with them. I now have other people who insist on only SMS with cell phones (which I hate). Others, still, insist on a spontaneous call for an event and feel they are so self-important they are better than anyone else and insist on not using a calendar. The irony in all of this is that everyone now has a phone with a calendar function on it. It's just interesting to me how picky we have all become and how hard it now is to book simple social events or get in touch with people. This is stupid. The purpose for all of these mediums was to communicate better and solve interpersonal problems based on previous communication issues. Can we please pick agree on a common standard and not be so self-righteous that we at least look at other mediums and keep our social lives working?

This brings me to dating challenges. I'm looking for someone I have chemistry with and who can communicate well. As you can obviously see from my weekly assault on the English language that my blog sometimes is, I'm obviously not perfect. I'm not a grammar Nazi! The difference between me and your average texter, however, is that I make a sincere effort to have a coherent story or group of thoughts communicated with each of my blog entries. I believe in the use of adjectives. I try to make a compelling argument to get my points across in a succinct and engaging syntax that really describes what I feel. I think describing the intricacies of interpersonal relationships between two men deserves more description than "OMG - Hez hot. WTF is he doin wit him? I want him. LOL". Texting contributes to the destruction of literacy and our language faster than Perez Hilton can spread mind numbingly pointless Hollywood shit-gossip. It just sucks. We have people all over the world with malnutrition, sickness and facing death and I have to hear, frequently via text message/twitterL OMG! Lady Gaga is wearing a meat dress! Who the fuck cares? Honestly!

With these thoughts in mind, I hereby propose the following:

- Manage your affairs with social grace. That means thinking enough of your social circle to keep a calendar and think enough of the people in your life to book an appointment and keep it. If you can't handle something so basic as managing appointments and finances, you aren't worth dating. It shows that you're irresponsible and won't treat and communicate well enough with your partner to have a successful relationship based on trust.
- Texting a new friend or online acquaintance for a date is just tacky. Really tacky. Like lime green shirt with pink dots on top of a pair of Zebra print orange pants tacky. Be enough of a man to call me. I want to hear your voice and get to know your personality and mannerisms through speech. Just because we met online doesn't mean I want to reduce intimacy to text-only basis.
- I realize shit happens in your day, and, on rare occasion you might need to reschedule. As soon as this happens, think enough of the person whom you have an appointment to call them (yes, CALL), apologize, and immediately reschedule. Don't leave an "open appointment" where I have to call you to rebook. Not only does this make you look like an ass that doesn't have his life together, you look flakey and stupid. Not a good position to be in. The gay community seems to be awfully small in a big city. Queens know queens and the royal court LOVES negative gossip. Don't be a dick or it might prevent you from, well.... enjoying dick!
- The phone has, and always will be, the primary communication medium between people. It is still the fastest and most intimate method of communication. If you must text me, consider how long the conversation could go and keep it to less than 3 round trip messages. Otherwise, call.

I can feel the flames coming from this one. Your comments?

- Brad

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Blind Date Rules

August 26, 2010
Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

Oh man. This one is huge. 'Why you should always say NO to a blind date' from your best gal friend.

Dear Fruit Flies / Fag Hags / Domestic Partners / Kathy Griffin / Best Girl Friends:
I wanted to thank you for your recent effort at setting me up on a blind date with the one another gay man in your life. It was really nice meeting the man primarily responsible for plastic molding the logo emblems found on most Subaru Forrester wagons made in the 1980's. I found his collection of porcelain cats coupled with a large collection of Pizza grease stained napkins that look like Tony Danza to be absolutely fascinating. I, however, found that his complete lack of etiquette, crude behavior, and episode by episode re-enactments of Joan Rivers "Best Dressed after Emmy's" show reviews in mentally ill chipmunk / Borg (alternating) character to be especially disturbing.

I realize you might think I don't do very well as a gay guy. Your pop culture image crap attitudes on gay men dating at least three men a day month have set the bar really high for me. I suppose meeting one to two men a month on a blind date isn't, in your view, a sufficient number of men for me to find Mr. Right now and you've decided to help out. Thank you. We all deserve to find someone who loves us for us, right?

To protect the innocent, and the interest of bypassing any hurt feelings, I've decided to outline exactly what I am looking for in a partner that might better clarify my blind date expectations and lead to a more harmonious friendship you dumb bitch. To your credit, I realize you didn't have a huge pool of candidates to choose from when picking my blind date target.  Never mind your florist, baker, yoga instructor, plumber, male flight attendant, checkout clerk at Macy's, pizza delivery guy, cell phone salesperson, painter, tech support guy at work and more than half of your former boyfriends (including the one that sorta looks like Ricky Martin and the FINE ASS bodybuilder/craftsmen tools salesperson guy at Sears) are all gay. No, you had to set me up with Mr Subaru that came in second in a Gilbert Godfrey look alike contest (Link) where Gilbert Godfrey and the AFLAC duck were actually competing in the contest. Red Alert!

Part of me desperately wants to believe that you just had to set me up with the one man in your life that just screamed "Need a recovery date" to help him get back in the saddle. No, you set me up with a man who, self-admittedly, hasn't felt the need for human affection since his Siamese cat died in 1993. Rest in peace Whiskers. He demanded I pick him up and take him home from the date. He demanded I pay. It didn't help you got us a reservation at a $300 a plate restaurant where the food rivals the quality of 3 day old moldy KFC chicken and only provides us with about 6 bites and ~218 calories of nourishment after a 4 hour wait *WITH* a reservation. We live in Albuquerque, not San Francisco. This is why you're allowed to wear anything by Ed Hardy for another six months.

As your go-to gay man, I do a lot for you. I take care of your dog when you go out of town. I helped you paint your living room. I let you borrow my Katy Perry Album (Ahem, the FIRST ONE, please return it already.). I tell your friends they look fabulous in clothes they get from Forever 21 despite being well *WELL* over 30. I help you pick out gifts for your friends baby showers. I get you gift cards to the MAC makeup store and then put what you finally buy into Mary Kay bottles so your best friend doesn't suspect you're "make-up cheating" on her. I do the same with your other friend that sells Avon. I put up with your idiot boyfriend constantly asking me to go to Buffalo Wild Wings to "man me up" despite the fact I bench 100 pounds more than he is able to. You call me at 2AM to kill small bugs in your apartment. I live 18 miles from you, and your boyfriend LIVES with you!

So, in the future, please consider the following:
- Just because someone is your one (hopefully not only) other gay friend does NOT mean we are a match. Really. It takes more than liking ding dong to make a couple. Really!
- Setting me up with someone who is actually male helps. That one time you set me up with that hairy Russian girl was simply cruel to us both. I taught Annika how to Makeup-Cheat her Avon lady too. She taught me to bench press and drink more than your boyfriend. It worked out.
- Consider the level of feminine expression in both men. I rank about a 31 / 100 on the fem scale. That means I can change my own car oil but I'm willing to part with the extra $9 to have someone else do it for me. I cannot build my own home. I have no idea what a platform pump is. Look for someone around the same. Just because I am gay doesn't make me a girl with a ding dong.
- Do we share any interests? I'm into Nintendo/Playstation, UFC, Swimming, Dining and have an unhealthy road trip Fetish. Setting me up with a homebody into crafts, QVC and throwing baby showers ain't it. Maybe you could ask this guy to help you shop for gifts in the future.
- Are we physically compatible? I'm looking for someone -/+ 5 years my age. It was mean setting me up with your 14 year old nephew. I helped him with his math homework. Did you know he likes QVC and Joan Rivers?
- Is he an "A" Gay? I like to think of myself as a solid "B+" guy. I do try. An A Gay breeds unicorns that help small children fulfill their wildest fantasies while reducing their parents carbon footprint. I can't do that because I am allergic to rainbow dust and very, very lazy. Sad irony.

and finally.....

- Please give me a chance to decide if I want to date this person before meeting them. A profile online, a facebook page, or even a basic picture will work. Just give me the chance to decide.

I'm off to Buffalo Wild Wings to explain math and feelings to your moron boyfriend. Annika will be joining us to discuss alternative facial hair strategies. Your credit card has a $5000 charge on it from Sears/Craftsmen for me putting up with your shit to get to know the tool guy. Thanks.

- Brad





Sunday, September 5, 2010

Nerd-Gasim! Are HIV+ men todays X-Men(TM)?

August 24, 2010
Location: Tacoma, Washington, United States

Nerd-Gasim! Are HIV+ men todays X-Men(TM)?


I realize some of us in the community might not be familiar with the comic book series that has spawned three Hollywood movies full of absurdly hot, buff, sweaty and hairy men fighting. But, just in case you've been living under a rock, Marvel Comics X-Men series chronicles the story of a group of people undergoing a genetic change that causes them to have super powers that society as a whole fears out of jealousy, inferiority and fear. Rather than embracing these differences, society instead chooses to brand these individuals as dangerous which leads to a constitutional crisis and persecution of these individuals. ( Read more at Cerebro's Guide to the X-Men )

So, that brings me to a sudden realization after browsing the online penis classifieds (Adam4Adam.com) of Seattle and Vancouver. In New Mexico, being HIV+ seems to be a source of great shame for some men. It seems like people go through great pains to hide their status, lie about it, and in many cases pretend like it doesn't exist. Seattle, however, seems to be a cultural leader (shock) and has a very different attitude. It seems HIV+ is the new in crowd. Bareback sex seems to be encouraged and popular. I saw advertisements by 20 somethings advertising they were having "gift giving" (Reference) parties. I saw HIV+ several men online sporting the circle "X" logo for the X-Men ( shown below ).


I guess the ideas of the X-men series really do apply to HIV+ men. The gay community tends to isolate them. Being public about your status seems to prevent you from ever establishing serious relationships with others. It seems like a a huge cross (pun intended) to endure. You have knowledge of death possibly being sooner than originally expected on top of social and sexual isolation. You have your rights taken away, you're treated as a second class citizen, well, you're being treated like a mutant of the gay community. No wonder I see so many HIV+ men sporting the X-Men logo on their chest. I see the affiliation and understanding that comes along with it. I privately wished I was 'Beast' from the X-Men series from marvel comics when I was a kid. I loved how wickedly buff and manly he was (swoon). I also liked how he balanced his awesome strength with intellect and compassion in just about everything he did. He was the very definition of masculinity for me. He proposed a new kind of inner strength - one that could balance our raw feelings of violence and anger with reason and compassion. I suppose having 33 inch arms and killer athletic talent is great too.

But now, it seems like attitudes towards this are changing quickly. HIV/AIDS doesn't seem to be the same death sentence that it was before. They are living longer, healthier lives with better sex, more partners and better community affiliation with other gay men then their negative counterparts do. Is life as a positive gay male really better than being negative? Do positive really live deeper, more meaningful lives becoming by being more appreciative of the time and activities they enjoy? Is the sex better?

I look forward to your comments.

- Brad

Becoming The Best Gay Men We Can Be

August 23, 2010
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia

I find myself in a heated conversation with a new friend today over the reasoning for my trip.

He thinks the only reason I want to travel the world isn't so I can see the world for its unique cultures and ideas, he thinks the real reason for my blog is so I can use it as a crux to experiment and become the ultimate gay man that I, and everyone else really wants to be. We all want to be that "go to" guy that has his career, life and personal affairs in order that bring him joy and happiness far beyond what a traditional lifetime could bring.

I suppose I tend to get annoyed when I get cock slapped by someone so dead on the nail that I feel stupid and incompetent for not having realized it earlier. The truth is, he's right. He's absolutely right. I've been searching for a long time for an opportunity to take me to another city and get out Albuquerque for some time. But - enough with the guilt trip. Who doesn't want to have a really good time? Who doesn't want to have great friends? Who doesn't want to be a sex star in bed? Who doesn't want to have a really interesting career that isn't a McJob that so many of us seem to hate workin at everyday?
That's had me thinking: It's not like every guy I've met was born with his stuff together. It's not like he knew how to have a fabulous, lean, sexy body. He didn't automatically know how to have the most wonderful friends, the most interesting profession and the most exciting personal life ever conceived.  He wasn't born with all of this. These things had to be learned. I'm sure there were often a variety of circumstances where he would have suffered complete, immeasurable setbacks and humiliations along the way of finding himself.

So, with this realization, even though I originally called this the "Big Gay Travel Blog" I think the name should stay. I'm still going to be touring the world, but this time I am going to be doing it with a focus on experimenting with myself and trying to get this sex/money/fun/responsible adult thing down. I really want to meet men that seem to have found some success and learn from their triumphs, and their complete failures. I want to explore the world sexually.... Ask some of the hard, tough and relevant questions that gay men coming of age really need to know. Let's get exploring and talking.

I really look forward to your stories. More to come.

- Brad