in the meantime

I'm getting ready for my trip, which you'll undoubtedly hear all about shortly. I intend to blog a lot. But in the meantime, I had an amazing customer service experience, and wanted to share.

So, I have this Norelco shaver thing. I was using it, and the top busted open and cut my skin all up. Looked like I'd been scratched by a cat. Bad, right?

So I called Norelco, and said "WTF, it broke, I want a new one." He took my name and address, and said "Ok, you'll have a new one in 1 to 2 weeks." And I said, "Wait, you're replacing the whole thing, not just the part that broke?" Yup. And so I said "So, you're not going to verify that I actually have one of these things? You're going to just send me one in the mail on the honor system?" And he said "Yes, we trust people."

WHAT?! That's amazing! I guess it's bad that it broke open and cut me, but everything breaks eventually. We live in a culture of disposable everything. But usually when something breaks, we just have to buy a new one. I can't believe how easy that was!

In other news, I went to a movie with the guy I want to marry who is hard to usual, he was hard to read. He held my hand through most of the movie, fingers intertwined. But when it came time to drop me off, he just gave me the normal hug and peck on the lips that we always do. Bah! I guess I'll just have to keep trying.

In still other news, I have a crush on a blond for the first time in a long time. I used to have such a thing for blonds, remember? But it's been a couple years. The drought has ended.

More soon!

lemonade and actors

I was just driving through the flats of Beverly Hills, and saw two little boys on a corner waving signs. Kinda unusual for the neighborhood, so I took a look... LEMONADE!! They pointed me left, and cheered when I turned. I pulled up in front of a big white mansion, waited my turn behind a Range Rover and a Bentley convertible, and bought some lemonade. I'm not so good at guessing ages, but I'd say the two at the table were probably 4 and 6. They had ENORMOUS smiles on their faces, and were so excited to have so many customers. I looked past the gates of the house and saw mom and dad sitting there watching. I asked what they were earning money for, and the older one said they want to buy Legos. Hahaha!

In addition to it being ridiculously adorable, I LOVE the fact that the parents made them earn money to buy the toys they want. Also, I love the fact that people were stopping to buy it. Even I, who love LA, would assume that the people driving through that neighborhood would be assholes. But they did a lot of business! I gave them $5 and told them to keep the change, just to see them smile bigger. Too cute!

Also, have you heard about the gay Emmy winning director who told people at Outfest (the GLBT film festival in LA) that actors should stay in the closet? People seem to be all up in arms about it, but I'm not sure why. Ideally, yes, all actors could come out and it wouldn't harm their careers. But as far as I know, he wasn't asked what he WANTS the world to be like. He was asked for advice about an industry he works in, and that was his honest answer. It would have been intellectually dishonest to lie. And if he's correct, it would have been damaging to the careers of whatever actors took his advice to come out.

Yes, I know, somebody has to go first. Nobody will come out until everybody else is out. But nobody will come out until middle America will accept a gay actor. But middle America won't accept a gay actor until they see more of them. Catch-22. It's the same problem in professional sports.

You all know I'm a huge proponent of coming out, so don't get me wrong. I think it's healthier to live an honest life, and that ultimately what you lose by coming out will be compensated for. However, I also believe there is a time and a place. Many of you have told me stories about your situations and my advice has been NOT to come out, at least not yet.

It's easy for bloggers and gay rights leaders to say this guy shouldn't have said that, and that actors should feel free to come out, and that it won't harm them. But those people are speaking in the abstract, they're speaking against evidence to the contrary, and they're sending those actors up as sacrificial lambs for "the cause." Essentially asking them to take one for the team. That's all well and good, and part of me thinks that too. The blogger, anti-Prop 8 activist part of me.

But then I think of my friends. REAL people struggling with this question. For them it's not abstract; their careers hang in the balance. They have been living their lives completely out, but have now started to have real success in film and music. At their age, the target demographic is teenage girls, and what they're selling is an image. So they have to decide whether to be out in the media too.

To be clear, it's not like they're contemplating going fully back into the closet. I would NEVER advise a friend to do that, career be damned. And I don't think that's what the director was suggesting. My friends have boyfriends, and will freely tell anybody who asks that they're gay. The cast and crew of their projects all know. Their friends all know. They go out to gay bars. The issue is whether to correct the Cosmo/GQ/Maxim/Vanity Fair/Rolling Stone reporter who asks what you're looking for in a girl. The issue is whether to introduce your boyfriend to reporters on the red carpet and hold his hand, or introduce him as your friend/publicist/stylist and let him stand back while you're interviewed.

When I talk about it with these friends (and with their boyfriends who are asked to stand back on the red carpet...and I have personally been that guy who was asked to stand back during interviews), I agree with the director. If they can live their lives fully and freely, but also remain a heartthrob for teenage girls in middle America, I don't see why not. I wish more people would take one for the team like Adam Lambert. But in my role as friend and adviser, my loyalty lies with my friends, not with "the team." I don't LIKE what the director said, but I think he's correct. We all need to work to change that. But I'm not willing to advise my friends to sacrifice themselves, so I need to find another way.

working for it

Here's a semi-related follow up question:

I understand that a relationship takes work. It's not always going to be about "happiness". Love is deeper, takes commitment, compromise etc. In other words, sometimes you're going to be miserable, but you have to trust that you made the right long-term decision that this person was worth it, and struggle through.

But to what extent is that true in the beginning of a relationship? Obviously you shouldn't commit to a relationship with somebody who makes you miserable, even sometimes. But on the other hand, you can't expect to be in love with the person right off the bat either. In the beginning, it's much more shallow, so I think it's legitimate to ask how "happy" you are to be around this person.

Here's the scenario: I went on a date last night with a guy I really like. Have liked him for years. And I think, in the long term, we'd be quite compatible. He's somebody I could potentially see being worth it to struggle through some hard times with.

However, in the short term, I have already ceased to feel that giddy happiness to be around him all the time. In some cases, I'd even rather hang out with one friend or another than with him. And that concerns me. If somebody is the right one for a relationship, shouldn't I still be in that ecstatic crush stage? I definitely was, with him, when I met him years ago. And then I was, again, when we re-united about 2 years ago. I still liked him and wanted to pursue him even after it wore off. I still like him and want to pursue him now. But sometimes I find myself thinking "Meh, I'm going to pretend I had a prior commitment so I can hang out with X friend instead."

So, have I reached the "compromise" stage too early? Am I asking myself to WORK for a relationship earlier than I should? Shouldn't it still be natural and easy at this point? Or is it legitimate to have friends that make me "happier" on a shallow, short term basis, and still work for a relationship with somebody else? Or maybe is it that I'm kidding myself, and despite having patiently pursued him for 3 years, I don't really like him that much?


high fidelity

I have been thinking a lot about monogamy, or lack thereof. It seems a strange thing for me to think about, since I don't have a boyfriend (dammit). But for some reason, the topic keeps coming up in my life. I find myself being asked for advice, or for action. But as much as I've thought and talked about it lately, I can't come to any conclusion, either in a general sense or with respect to what I would want in my own relationship.

Here are a few things that seem to be true. I'm generalizing, obviously, so don't have a coronary:

1. Guys are very visual. They see something beautiful, and they have to have it. They do stupid things to get it.

2. Guys are able to fool around without getting (as) emotionally meepy about it. It's kinda like masturbating, but using somebody else's body instead of a fleshlight. Guys don't seem to particularly care whether the guy loves them when it's over, and they don't necessarily expect a relationship to come out of it.

3. Notwithstanding #2, guys do get jealous and get their feelings hurt. Even though sex and emotion don't always go together, they often do. Particularly when you're well into the relationship.

4. Guys are hard-wired to want to sow their wild oats (or whatever metaphor you like). At least from what I've been told, the propagation of the species used to depend on guys impregnating whatever females they could get. Society may have domesticated us a bit, but our animal instincts don't seem to have changed. And whatever gene makes us horny seems to be connected to the one that makes us male, not the one that makes us straight.

5. Guys have trouble articulating their feelings/desires. So there is rarely a productive "defining the relationship" talk that sets out rules both can agree on.

6. Guys will agree to just about anything in order to be allowed to stick it where they want to (see #1). So even if the couple discusses "the rules", and they very clearly agree to have an open relationship, it's likely that one is more into it than the other, and is just saying what he has to say to get the relationship going. Once the other one strays, feelings are hurt.

7. "The rules" that western society runs on were designed by and for straight people, and are heavily influenced by religion.

8. People are hypocrites. They want the rules to apply only to the other person.

9. Totally open communication is hard, because there are some things we'd rather not know. Particularly when it comes to our lovers being interested in others. And the lies and half-truths tend to snowball, until it's too late.

Here are some things I know to be true about me (I'm not generalizing anymore):

A. I get bored easily. When I do get a boyfriend, it probably won't be long before I want to sleep with somebody else.

B. I'm very insecure, particularly about my looks, so if my boyfriend even expresses interest in sleeping with somebody else, I'll immediately jump to the conclusion that he's falling in love with the other guy, and out of love with me.

C. Threesomes are hot. I'm all for it. But see #2.

D. I like it when other guys find my lover desirable.

E. I am way too good at talking myself into things, but not good enough. I could definitely see me convincing myself I want an open arrangement, being devastated when my boy uses the opportunity, and then being unable to convince myself I'm not hurt by it. But I'd want to try to pretend, wouldn't tell him I feel bad, and it would happen again.

F. I (thus far) have only dated people who I consider to be hotter than me. So if we have an open relationship, he'd probably get more play than me, and I'd be jealous.

So here are various scenarios that have cropped up in my life recently to make me think about this:

I. Max and Eric started dating, but things weren't settled for a long time, because Eric was still in the closet. Max was dating somebody else for the first year and a half of this relationship, but Eric didn't know it. Then they became monogamous for a long time. Then Eric moved to another city. They did the long-distance thing, and were faithful, but Eric met somebody else. When Max and Eric finally broke up, Eric went immediately to the guy that he'd met, leading Max to think they'd been cheating. He was hurt.

II. Jason and Dirk had an agreement that its ok to sleep with other people, as long as the other one is invited to join. Dirk is much hotter than Jason. Dirk started making out with a colleague of Jason's at a party, took him to a room, and started fooling around. Jason searched the house, found them together, and joined in. Everybody was happy.

III. Adam and Steve had an agreement to be open. Steve didn't really want it, but agreed to it in order to keep Adam. Adam and Steve had threesomes, which seemed fine. Adam is a bit slutty, and slept with other randoms. Steve didn't like it, but knew he'd lose Adam if he said anything. Then Adam slept with one of Steve's friends. This was technically not against the rules they'd discussed, but was way outside Steve's comfort zone. Miscommunication = hurt feelings = breakup.

IV. Tom and Albert met at a sex club. They have been together for 15 years, and are married. Their relationship has always been open. They both sleep with (and even date!) other guys. As time passed, Albert became more domestic/traditional, and Tom became more slutty. This makes Albert jealous, but he is reluctant to say anything because he's afraid to seem uncool or weak, and because it's hard to change the rules after 15 years. They generally have excellent communication skills, so they talk most of it through, and it's working for now. They're considering a third person in the relationship (not just for sex).

V. Joe and Mark had recently moved in together, and Mark was admittedly "possessive." One of Mark's friends off-handedly complimented Joe, and Joe tattled. Mark flipped out, openly accusing the friend of trying to steal Joe from him. The friendship ended.

VI. Henry and Chris had been together about 4 years. They'd just bought a house together, and seemed the very picture of domestic bliss. They had an agreement to be monogamous. Henry went to P-town with some buddies, and he sucked one of them off. He confessed to Chris, who was crushed. In order to save the relationship, Henry agreed to give Chris full access to all his email and Facebook etc, and never speak to that friend again. Trust is broken.

VII. Jordan knows he's a slut, and doesn't want to be. He has cheated on his boyfriends in the past, and it hasn't ended well. He's smitten with a new guy, and wants to become monogamous to please this guy. Yet within the first few weeks of their dating, Jordan got jerked off by a masseuse, sucked off one of his friends, and fucked a random guy at a club (yes, AT the club). He feels guilty. Somebody will probably end up being hurt.

There are more, but I'm tired of typing. And yes, I have become aware of all of these within the last 6 months. Drama, right? Ugh. And no, I'm not necessarily involved in any of them. It doesn't matter, so don't bother speculating.

From all of these experiences, and from the things I know about life and about me, here's what I think right now: I don't think we should impose on ourselves any kind of norm, like there is in the straight world. Those rules have been imposed on us by our hetero-normative Christian society. If it works for some couples, wonderful. If it doesn't work for others, they shouldn't feel they're wrong for trying out different arrangements. Monogamy shouldn't be the default. The couple should talk about it and do what's right for them. And then they should KEEP talking about it, all the time, because their feelings will change. They should be willing to re-evaluate not only the rules about monogamy, but the relationship itself. There's no reason to fool yourself and stay in a relationship that no longer makes you happy. Life is too short.

My totally unsubstantiated guess is that if all gay guys were truly honest about what they want, most would like to try an open relationship (or at least they'd like to sleep around themselves, if not also let their partner do it). And most relationships would fall apart as a result. So maybe gay guys aren't cut out for "til death do us part," unless they truly have found the one they're meant to be with forever, and either have eyes only for each other, or can withstand the competition and avoid the jealousy. When you've got two people in a relationship who are visually oriented and hard-wired to sow their wild oats, it's hard.

In my case, an open relationship would be ideal. But it could only work if the communication was COMPLETELY open and honest, and if I could somehow believe that the sex my guy was having was ONLY of the "just for fun, no emotion involved" variety. I would have to know that he loves only me, and will love only me forever. Of course, that's impossible. The more he sleeps with others, the more likely he is to find somebody else he loves more. And the less likely he is to want to tell me about it, because he'd know I'd be hurt. The lies will snowball. I will get hurt. And that, of course, is why we insist on sexual monogamy: to protect emotional fidelity.

I do believe what I said earlier, that life is too short to be with somebody you no longer love. Emotional fidelity is stupid if you could be happier without it. But, of course, I'm a hypocrite. I believe it in theory, but not if it means the guy I love will leave me for somebody else. I want an open relationship, but I want a lifelong partner more. Maybe I shouldn't. Maybe I've bought into the hetero-normative ideal. And maybe it's unfair and possessive and unnatural, but I think I would probably rather draw a line in the sand about sex with others, so that the emotions couldn't develop with others. The emotions could develop anyway, of course, but it's an effective prophylactic.

So what does that mean when it's all boiled down? In an effort to preserve a relationship one or both of us may not want forever if we knew better, I'd rather we both deny ourselves the opportunity to find somebody we love more? Or, more honestly, in order to prevent my lover from finding somebody he loves more than me, I'm willing to forego the opportunity to find somebody I love more? That doesn't sound very good.

I don't know. This is already too long and I'm hurting my head.