The numbers are not in a gay man's favor

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I shocked my straight friends last night when I told them that, contrary to Kinsey’s famous 10% figure, the actual amount of homosexuals identifiying as such in the United States range around 3.8%.

If you can imagine around only 3.8% of the people you are attracted to are available options to date in the first place, those are the kind of numbers I’m working with every day.

I rage about this. I want to be able to meet someone because the two of us happened to connect at a moment — one that isn’t contextually based on being in a specific gay location (bar, beach, party, bathhouse…) or on an app.

I am a proud gay man, but I wish there was more of us. I recognize that this is a privileged point of view considering, first of all, that I live openly in the gay magnet city of New York. Many people do not have such a luxury to express their homosexuality in our country, let alone the world. In Bali, the four gay bars on the entire island are located door-door on one stretch of a street in Seminyak, huddled together like a new Stonewall, the only haven where Balinese don’t have to excuse themselves as just not having found the right opposite gendered partner yet.

I was recently on the paradise island of Gili Air. I lay on the sand watching the sunset next to a gorgeous man fussing with his GoPro. He was my type in every way even before he took off his sunglasses and showcased some dazzling hazel eyes. I initiated the conversation — we were both solo travelers, him a flight attendant from Barcelona taking a long layover, both looking for company on an island of honeymooners. We were initially chatting ten feet apart, by the time I’d bought him a beer and a pack of cigarettes, we were sharing a towel to sit on. This was our view of the sunset:

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I mean…c’mon. I could not dream up a more romantic vista. He asked me to join him for dinner at his hotel. At the hotel, there was a Balinese karaoke band jukeboxing American tunes and somehow against my will I ended up onstage singing “Stand By Me.” We shared a bottle and half of wine. We ordered desert. We chain-smoked cigarettes. Everything idyllic, and he picks up the check and insists on paying for it. I am tingling all over, imagining our adventures until dawn. As we are leaving the restaurant, he segues, “This was so much fun, Philip! I have to Skype my girlfriend before she heads to work. But it was really nice hanging out!” and proceeds to give me a bro-hug.

I am crestfallen. Part of me wants to literally say, “What the hell was this all about? Aren’t you at least bi-curious, bi-sexual, closeted, fluid sexuality…what the fuck…were these last four hours?” But I don’t. I am at a point in my life where if my feelings aren’t clearly being reciprocated; I’m not going to push it or chase affection.

I’ve done that before, literally playing out the ‘gay porn fantasy of seducing a straight man and turning him gay.’ His name was Simba. Well, that was his name on the tag Norwegian Cruise lines made him wear as an employee in whatever they called “childcare” on that ship. He had to choose a character name from a Disney film so the children could better remember it and torment him. He was a South-African, twenty-one year old guy; and we got drunk together at the 2011 employee Halloween Party. I guided him over his fears and into his curiosities and sleeping with me. It was the worst sex of my life; like teaching a baby what to do. Scratch that last simile. Worst of all, I became his sexual lifeboat in the subsequent months; he would not stop calling my satellite phone for more hook-ups, and I had to spend the next three months of my contract avoiding him on the ship.

I was despondent after the Barcelona boy fell through in Bali. My brain had created a BEFORE SUNRISE storyline; I would miss my flight home; he’d request more days off; we’d shuck off our responsibilites and travel the East side of the world together; and it would be the epic story of how we met I would tell for the rest of our partnered life.

I eventually bit the bullet and picked up one Grindr ‘date’ while I was in Bali. This guy almost immediately recognized me when we met in person and said, “Oh my god, we hooked up six years ago in San Francisco!” I had no memory of him, but he goes on: “I remember you because you’re the guy with the one-man show…Sparkle something.” I mean, what…are the odds. But even more shocking, I realize at that moment that I am such a marketing whore, I felt the need to tell an anonymous hook-up about my one-man show.

Was this the synchronicity I had been waiting for? He was likewise on a soul-searching journey by himself. The movie storylines began coagulating in my head again…four hours later, nothing like the magical night with the Barcelona boy happened. I wasn’t attracted to this guy on a level further than hooking up — hadn’t been six years ago, and wasn’t now. We halfheartedly spent the night idling at a gay bar, and I went home around 11 PM.

I have committed to the universe that I am ready for a long-term relationship for years now. It scares the hell out of me that I’m 30 years old and my longest relationship is officially four months. Is it that my standards are too high? That the perfect is the enemy of my good and I either write off the potential in someone I just meet or find excuses to wiggle out of any relationship less than perfect — beccause I’m always searching for someone just a little bit more {blank}?

Is it that I’m resentful there aren’t more gays to meet in the first place? That I have to limit myself to what’s available on a geo-tagged app or in a single strip of bars? That I don’t feel I can organically find love without looking for it in limited places? I don’t really like gay bars. I don’t like the crowdedness. I don’t like the extremely loud music where I am screaming one-syllable conversations into others’ ears because I don’t know how to ‘meet’ someone by just grinding on them. I don’t like the fashion (gay fashion = less is more = why are you wearing a collared shirt = just wear this tank top = nevermind, just don’t wear a shirt at all). I don’t like the sense of humor at most gay shows — it’s boring; it’s too easy; it’s mostly just penis jokes.

Is it that I don’t like the body image perpetuated by the gay community that your physique should look like:

 

Yes, as if we weren’t exclusive enough at just 3.8% of the population, let’s go and narrow down our expectations to only find people with this sort of body acceptably ‘attractive.’ I torment myself every time I look in a mirror that my body does not look like this. I see failed potential; lost mates; if I had only had a body like this I would have found love by now. It is an insidious and deeply disturbing train of thought that I don’t know how to get off. And this is not even getting into the huge issue of the CIS-male-gayze perpetuated by the gay community; that minorities are somehow inherently less attractive. The vast majority of gay porn websites I’ve visited brainwash us with this stereotype via scenes between hetero-looking-straight-acting-white-male-bro’s. Even when I visited the gay bars in Bali, the first thing the bartenders said was, “Oh, look, a white boy!” and tried to treat me like royalty. I did not like being made to feel exclusive when all I want is to include someone in my life.

I recognize my notions on sexuality are out-of-touch anyway. I know sexuality is fluid for many people; though it has never really been for me. The only girls I ever ‘dated’ were in middle school, and our relationship didn’t go beyond a kiss. One of them is now a diehard Lesbian, so we were both fooling ourselves.

I don’t have an answer to the question in this story. I see so many examples of loving gay couples in my communities in New York. They found each other, somewhere. And I’m committed to putting myself out there; it’s just the numbers game that daunts me.

Any advice? Leave it in the comments.