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Hey Alex, How are you? My question is well I’ve been exploring my sexuality for the past couple of years. I have fooled around with guys, done hookups, had connections, and think of myself as bi.
I’d like to explore more about the culture and because I have a birthday next month, I’d like to possibly go to my first gay bar or club. Because I’m from Atlanta, I know I should expect tons of the culture in the downtown area, but how do I know I’ll enjoy myself fully?
I’d be open to the possibility of dating more guys and building connections but I’m just scared because I haven’t come out to my family, though I do think it’s no one’s business ya know. But there’s also a side of me that doesn’t want to get too serious and have my fun for now.
I’ve had one guy who I frequently hooked up with and though we became friends, he felt like I was catching feelings for him and wanted to break it off. I was confused and hurt (kinda still am) on why he did that if I didn’t feel like I did nothing wrong.
So yes I’d like to know if I’m a “beginner” in the LGBT world, then how can I make myself have a good time and avoid situations in which feelings for somebody else get in the way. There is quite a stigma on how monogamy among gays and lesbians is seen as repulsive and how we’re seen as people who hook up and want to have fun.
I’m ok with that but the one person who I had the experience with, has given me a lesson on how to not do fwb all the time.
Yes, you’re new. There’s a lot in your message so I’ll start at the top, pull out the questions as best as I can, and work my way down.
It sounds like you’re ready to explore gay bars, and you should, but your first experiences might not be great. You’ll be uncomfortable. Don’t give up or decide they’re “just not for you” after one or two visits. Every beginner queer is uncomfortable in queer establishments at first.
There’s no way to know if you’ll enjoy yourself. You just have to go. Any expectations you set will be shattered and probably should be. Gay bars are our chapels, our homes — but they’re unanimously intimidating to first-timers. Also, each one is different. The social DOs and DON’Ts of a stand-and-pose glitter palace, with box dancers and bachelorette parties, are different from a cruisy, sexy leather bar. You’ll need to go to several gay bars in several cities before you learn how different from each other they can be.
The best parts of my life happened at gay bars. The best parts of your life will happen among your own kind — and we tend to gather in gay bars.
There is generational distrust among queer men which can be hard to navigate — young men often feel nervous around older men, and a small percentage of older men warrant this distrust. Flirtation is a universal language, but it might feel predatory to you because you don’t know how to do it. And — let’s face facts — it can become predatory when it crosses the line from flirtation to unsolicited touching. That will happen. But for every older man who sees you as a hot, young, easily-manipulated thing, many more older gay men are kind, safe, and protective and can give you good advice. Befriend them and respect them.
Be nice. You’ll meet people who come on too strong, who don’t know how to flirt, so they’ll do it badly. Remember that no one teaches anyone how to do this stuff, and certainly, no one teaches queer people how to be queer. We’re all learning by trial and error.
Learn to say no. Learn to strike up a conversation with a stranger, and learn how to leave a conversation. These skills will come with practice.
You don’t want a relationship right now. You want to have fun and sleep around.
Don’t come out to your family unless you feel safe doing so. If you’re financially dependent on them, wait. If you live with them, wait. If they’re ultra-liberal vegan librarians who donate to Planned Parenthood, go ahead and come out.
Regarding this guy you were sleeping with, the one you caught feelings for: that will happen a lot. And he did the right thing by breaking it off. You’re going to get attached to guys you sleep with, and these attachments will lead to complicated feelings. Don’t worry — people come and go so quickly here. You’ll shed attachments as quickly as they come. First-time sexual experiences are powerful, and beginners to sex to do latch on to the people we have those powerful experiences with. These brief, intensely romantic feelings are emotional hangovers from these new and intense discoveries in your life. They burn briefly — you’ll discard people like paper napkins and go from crush to crush for a little bit until you learn to disentangle sex from its emotional intensity and learn to just see it as sex. That will take time and experience.
Invest in good friends — ones who stick around while your bedmates come and go. Some bedmates will become good friends, but most won’t.
You won’t be able to avoid romantic feelings. You’ll catch feelings, get jealous, get your heart broken, and grow. This won’t comfort you now, but these feelings are part of the richness of youth, and someday you’ll look back and wish you could do it all again. This time of newness comes only once in a life — enjoy it as much as you can.
There is no stigma among gays and lesbians against monogamy. I don’t know who told you that, but they’re wrong. If you want to be monogamous, be monogamous — you’ll find plenty of queer people who prefer monogamy. If you want non-monogamy, do that. But all this is irrelevant because you have no idea what you want. How can you? You haven’t even dated yet. Get a good breakup — a good, crushing heartbreak — under your belt before talking about monogamy and relationships.
Last bit: suspend everything you think you know about queer culture. It’s not RuPaul’s Drag Race. We love RuPaul, but there’s much more to us — a history you haven’t learned and a language you don’t know how to speak. Go to gay bars — and into your queer life — with an open mind and gentle heart.
Keep a watchful eye on your Vodka Redbull.