My name is Alexander Cheves. My nickname is Beastly. I wrote a bestselling book

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**A note for readers: As with my last book, I will now be pausing posts here to focus fully on my second book manuscript. Follow my social media accounts to see what’s happening with Book Two 🙂 — B

Alex: I came out late in life (I was married to a woman for 7 years). I love queer life, and love interacting socially and sexually with other gay guys. My issue is that I’m a top. Most people don’t see that as a problem. But I want to take as much as I give. And I think it’s important for a top to know what it feels like to be bottom. My first rare experience as a bottom is when I got HIV. I’m undetectable now and free to give and take the cum I love. But I need some training. Suggestions? (Oh, and poppers give me a headache.)

Hi cowboy,

This blog is filled with answers on beginner bottoming, so take a look around. Browse my archives.

Everything written here is free, and none will ever get deleted. Go to the main page and scroll down to Hell.

Getting HIV on your first bottoming experience is hard. I know only one other who got HIV from his first sexual experience. That trauma will likely linger for a bit. Once you start bottoming, you might be surprised at how it bubbles back to the surface. After I became HIV-positive, I had a complicated — and, initially, very unhealthy — relationship with sex. In time, sex — bottoming especially — became a source of empowerment, thanks in part to bareback culture, sex clubs, bathhouses, and all the slutty HIV-positive men in the world who celebrate their sex as the beautiful thing it is. They healed me.

Read my bottoming posts, then start slow. Find nice partners, make good connections with them, tell them your history, and use lots of lube. Talk with your partners. Experiment. Fail. Make a mess. Try again.

We’re faggots: we survive only with each other’s help.

Love, Beastly

Hi Beastly, My pronouns are…probably He/They, but that’s for me and a therapist to unpack…with some internalized bullshit to deal with! I wish I was more masculine. I feel like my life would have been a lot easier if I had been…I kind of hate that it never came naturally to me. Probably never will. I feel like I’m not allowed certain interests or things in general, because I’m not “masculine” enough for them. Honestly, the same thing when it comes to “feminine” things too. I feel like I’m not allowed to want them because I won’t fit in…should I just give up on them, or try to force it? I’m too fem to be masc and too masc to be fem…but like… I kind of want to be both. I guess my gender ideal is…a really masc body with some fem touches in style/clothes. I want to wear more fun things and get my nails done and dye my hair and have more piercings and be cute…but also go to the gym and get beefy as fuck and try to fill in this damn beard! Given the fact that gay men can be so fixated on masculinity, I feel like a somewhat fem (and fat) guy like me will never be found attractive. It’s to the point where I can’t imagine myself having sex. I haven’t done anything, and I already feel like an impostor just for wanting to do certain things. I feel like I’m automatically not masculine/tall/fat (in the “right” way)/hung/hairy enough, etc., to warrant a place in spaces like the leather community or the bear community…or to do things like top or dom or be a slut in the way I’d like to be. What do I do?

My love,

Everyone fails at fitting in. Your question can be whittled down into the ancient human predicament: What kind am I?

Humans are tribal. We rank, categorise, and stereotype each other. This impulse was useful in an ancient world when instant categorisation (“friend” or “foe”, “family tribe” or “enemy tribe”) helped us survive — when encountering another human in the wild was a life or death situation — but it has long outlived its need. We no longer live in nomadic tribes (well, mostly). Yet our native desire to categorise each other remains and causes bloodshed, pain, and social isolation worldwide.

Humans do not fit categories. None do. I am a gay man born into a straight world — I was born, like you, misaligned with the life intended for me. In time, that misalignment was a great blessing: I failed at living that life and, in doing so, learned to live the one I have. I needed that failure. So did you. You’ve already overcome one inability to fit in and have grown from it. Now you have to do it again. You jumped from one messy pit of strictures and expectations (straight) into another (gay). In order to be happy, you must fail at both. Both are bullshit. Neither set of expectations reflects how we really live.

I don’t fit any gay tag. “Bear”, “muscle”, “masc”, and “fem” are all silly labels with no bearing on my life. The most self-aware people I know slip into all these states at different times, in different moods — we all have masculine and feminine sides, and most of us have bodies that do not meet social ideals. People who live outside these margins are cool and tend to be much happier than those trying (and failing) to meet them.

If you judge yourself by image standards and behaviours you think are mandated by gay culture and the men in it you think are hot, you will always come out a failure. On the other side of that failure, some people find endless unhappiness — they never move past it. But if you can move past it and see those standards as bullshit, you will be free. To quote Thor’s mother, Frigga, in Avengers: Endgame, “Everyone fails at who they’re supposed to be. The measure of a person, of a hero, is how well they succeed at being who they are.”

A flawless movie line. Be you. That is, in the end, all you can be. You can love yourself or hate yourself, and some choose the latter. But please don’t: life is better with self-compassion. Step off the treadmill of gay standards. Find people who like you as you are, because the dangling carrot of “hot homosexual” is eternally and miserably unreachable. Gay men die every day from trying — and failing — to reach it.

You will find, as others have, that life gets lighter after you stop chasing fiction and start enjoying yourself. People will be drawn to your energy. Your self-love will give them permission to love themselves, and everyone needs that. You will attract people once you stop trying to be the ideal you think they want.

I hope this helps and doesn’t read too zen. But the fact is, it is zen. I answer questions from my own experience. My life has been dramatically improved by mindfulness and meditation practices that help me with the same thoughts and feelings you are dealing with, feelings we all deal with — insecurity with my body, image, and sexual capital. So at the risk of being even more zen, I recommend meditation. It helps with all this. Download a meditation app. Sit with your head a little every day. Observe the mind. It likes to get preoccupied with insecurities; if left alone, it will magnify them until we see nothing else. That’s just the mind doing what it does, like a barking dog. Meditation helps us live with the dog. It will always bark — it is wounded by years of trauma. We still love it. It needs space, care, and attention. Meditation gives it that.

Love, Beastly

Hi Beastly,
I hope this is the right place to send questions! First, I love what you bring to the community and the internet-at-large with your brain and your writing via this “Dear Abby” for people who love Halsted’s “LA Plays Itself” approach. Does anyone else better balance kindness with zero bullshit? Not that I’ve seen. So, thanks! My question doesn’t get into kink, I don’t think, but your experience, empathy, open-mindedness, and especially, perhaps, your focus on “lost souls” generally makes me wonder about your advice here. Basically, it’s something like: when does baggage/history/misalignment cause fun to morph into a definite bad idea? I’m a 37-year-old cis gay male. I feel like my life is weird, but it’s not weird in a transgressive way; I’ve structured more pseudo-heteronormativity into it than most gays my age, I think. I say this from a place of insecurity and definitely not superiority. My closest relationship, and it’s very close, is with a cis hetero woman. We joke that we’re platonic spouses in an open relationship. She’s the best person I’ve ever known, my favorite person. This is for “me” context, as I don’t see strife with my later question here. In fact, I’m seeing her later today and will definitely have her read my question to you and then we’ll talk about it endlessly over some wine, I’m sure. I have had relationships with guys (I’ve been out for 17 years.) Only one was serious. Sex since then has been sporadic and often unfulfilling; I often feel like I’m doing it because I’m supposed to. Still, can be fun to lean into hedonistic impulses, and I certainly am a sexual person. That said, I don’t feel like I’ve prioritized sex as a hobby. As an example of what I mean, I go through phases of intense obsessions where that obsession takes up most of my free time: music, film, art, and even perfume (there are whole communities!) Maybe I’ll have a sex phase like this, but it’s often intimidating because one can feel “behind”, and it can be fraught with competitiveness, emotions, drama, etc. You’ve addressed this many times in your column, with great advice, so again, this is just for context. Sorry for all the context. I’ve recently re-connected with my ex, let’s call him Michael, in the past 6 weeks or so. It’s the same ex that correlates with my “one serious relationship” above. It started when we were very young: I’ve known him for 17 years, the entire time I’ve been out. Because our thing started when he was 18 and I was 20, it was obviously built around intense emotions and foundational memories. The main initial phases of our relationship ended due to trust issues on my part. (As in, I could never learn to trust him after extensive attempts at communication, revising approach, arguing, etc) We’ve seen each other off and on over those 17 years – it’s usually an intense and short fling, and then it fades away until the next phase. He has had a live-in partner for the past 10-ish years, including now. I’ve never met the partner. Part of my struggle is trying to understand what I want to know for my own well-being – so Michael and I are aligned on whatever rules – and what is none of my business. I’ve clarified that Michael and his partner are not in an open relationship. Over the years, they have played with others in threesomes and foursomes. Mostly this seems like none of my business, but at least I know I’m playing in cheating territory now (and previously in the off-and-on phases). Fine. In these past six weeks, I’ve learned there’s another guy that occasionally lives with them, I’ll call him Bob. Michael and his partner met him through pursuing a threesome, but it didn’t work out. Instead, Michael has, in some ways, become a kind of caretaker for Bob, due to financial and health-related reasons I won’t get into. I’ve now had a threesome with Bob and Michael. (My first! Fun but also kind of like whatever.) I’ve had mind-blowing sex with Michael alone. Bob has romantic feelings for Michael and is jealous of me. I do get along with Bob. Michael’s partner has messaged me a few times via Facebook to clarify if Michael is with me when he is (this happened twice.) I answer these messages. The partner and I otherwise do not interact. Also, I realize this might be confusing. I think I’m leaning towards calling what Michael is doing “open cheating” because he’s communicative, sort of, but it also causes drama. Is this messier than usual? Do I care? I want to have fun and be sexual. I’m truly happy that Michael is in a committed relationship with his partner because I know that I myself don’t want to commit, so it allows me the freedom to have my chill life with my platonic wife and also get laid. Am I fucking shit up for Michael and his partner? Is that Michael’s responsibility? At 37, should I really stop going back to Michael at this point and try harder to get laid elsewhere? He has called our thing “sexual animal magnetism”, which I’d certainly agree with. We don’t have much else in common aside from that and our history. But I have friends I don’t always have a ton in common with – plus, isn’t magnetic sex something to have in common? The last context, because I think it plays into the dynamic: Michael has a preference for “chubs”. I objectively fit this description physically but do not relate to it as a sexual identity, at all. Over the years, it has annoyed me that I lean into competitive insecurity with Michael because his physical self aligns more with mainstream preferences. Also, as I hinted at earlier, Michael’s more extensive sexual experience can be intimidating. But, like, I should grow up and be open to learning from that. He’s into me; who cares if he has more experience, I can learn from him. So, finally, the end. Am I losing the plot? When does fun really become something else entirely? – B

Hi B,

Your question is confusing. I have read it several times and am still a little lost. That is a lot of context.

You sent this via Patreon, and I deeply appreciate your support there. If you had sent this via the Ask Beastly tab, you would have seen that I ask folks to keep questions under 300 words — roughly one long paragraph. This is not an arbitrary request. It helps people define what they are asking, which helps me answer.

Carving away all the information here that I don’t need to know, I see a situation of someone (you) having an on-and-off relationship with a partnered man (Michael) that his partner doesn’t know about. You ask if this is unethical, sustainable, and worth continuing.

Unethical? Only you can decide that, based on your ethics. I don’t think the “other man” is responsible for a partnered person’s relationship. Still, they are actively participating in someone’s cheating — otherwise called “unethical non-monogamy” — and that participation tends to result in bad outcomes, hurt feelings, pain, and so on. Partners always find out. Relationships get ruined. People get hurt. But you know all that. Decide what you think is right and stick to it.

Is it sustainable? No, for the above reasons. I am still not certain from your question if Michael’s partner assuredly does not know about your relationship with him, but if not, he will someday. Your relationship with Michael may continue after his primary relationship’s (likely) ruin, but it will always be marked by the pain of a breakup, which tends not to bode well for sustainability. Continued relationships with “the other guy” sometimes work, sometimes not. It depends on how happy his relationship with his primary partner is.

Is it worth continuing? Continue it for as long as it makes you feel good about yourself. It sounds like some aspects of this relationship — the sex — make you feel good, but other aspects decidedly do not. I would really sit with those latter things for a bit and decide if this is good for you, good for him, and good for all.

Love, Beastly

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