Ask Angelo - Angelo Pezzote
Keeping Gay Discreet
I am a New Yorker who wants to explore my gayness by experimenting with other men. I want a safe and discreet way to explore my sexuality. Discreet is key. What do you suggest?
Signed, Closet Explorer
Dear Closet Explorer,
I can appreciate your need to be discreet and I think it's smart to play safe. I recognize that coming out is a life long process and that exploration at your own pace is an important part of that process. I trust that you'll be able to identify the best way to do this for yourself.
Having said that, I would like to see you put the focus more on feeling comfortable with your same sex feelings than on sexual experimentation.Being gay is about more than sex. It's an orientation that'sphysical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, political and so on.Discovering that youenjoy sex withmen is not sufficient in and of itself to call yourself gay. There's much more to it than that, and I wouldn't want to see you rob yourself of that broader experience by overlooking it.
Often, it's buying into thegay stigma that something is wrong with being gay - that keeps us closeted, discreet andon a narrow path ofsecretive gaysex.While coming out is a gradual process of self-aceptance over time, and deciding how far to come out is a highly personal choice, I work to free us all from the horrible ongoing fear, humiliation and shame of being gay. So I can't supportkeeping gaydiscrete, because I think that would support the idea that there's somethingwrong about what you're doing. Instead, I want to give you this message -love and honor yourself for exactly what you feel and what you are. There's no reason to keep any part of your magnificent self hidden.
All The Best,
Why is it that everyone tells me I'm a great looking guy, yet I can't get a date? I'm a really good, decent and fun person too. Sure, I have my faults, but this is getting me down!
Signed, Can't Get A Date
Dear Can't Get A Date,
You are not alone. I receive a lot of letters from gay men just like this one. There are many obstacles that make it challenging for gay men to establish intimate romantic relationships. But don't lose hope. I know that it's absolutely possible to find gay love. You will not be left out of love.
But why is it so hard? First, gay men are socialized as men. Men are taught not to feel. As a result, many men - gay or straight - can have difficulty establishing emotional intimacy, especially with other men. Second, being in gay relationship means being out more visibly. We have to feel safe enough to be out in ananti-gay culture that makes it hard to express gay love openly. We're certainly free to declare we're gay, but can we really kiss in public without being harassed? We certainly don't get affirming messages about gay relationship from society - just take the gay marriage debate. Third, many of us absorb the toxic lies we see, hear and learn all of our lives, that being gay is bad. Consequently, we can harbor a deeply hidden shame about being gay, that can make it hard to be comfortable in our own skin. Look at all the recent scandals - ex governor Jim McGreevey, ex congressman MarkFoley and ex Evangelist Ted Haggard. While these are extreme examples, they show how being in relationship with another man brings up uncomfortable feelings of shame inside of us. This is true for many of us even if we're out. It's more of an emotional shame than an intellectual one. Such feelings of inferiority touch upon a wounded part of us that can be painful to confront. The list of why it's so hard for men to meet men for something more goes on and on. Until my book on this topic is released, feel free to visit www.AskAngelo.comfor more.Gay men do indeed have many barriers in making relationship with one another.
In spite of this external truth, you have to check in with your inner truth too. Turn within and ask yourself if you're really in the right space for a relationship. I know there's been times in my life when I haven't gotten a single date in a year. And there have been other times when I had several dates in a week. The difference was what was happening in me and not in anything outside of me. We communicate so much information non-verbally. Human beings are very perceptive creatures. We can pick up on each other's emotional availability quite easily - without sharing a word. So make sureyou're doing your inner work too.
In short, strike a balance between confidently putting yourself out there and in doing your work on the inner. This is a winning combo that's sure to bring you more love.
All The best,
The Gay Man's Therapist
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