This Is For Beginners

Anonymous Question:

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 build connections but I’m just scared because I haven’t come out to my family though I do think it 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 that 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 hookup 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.

 

Whoa. Okay. You’re venting. That’s OK. There are a lot of questions there, so I’ll start at the top and work my way down.

You’re ready to explore and ready to go to your first gay bar because you’ve realized you’re one of us. Welcome! Unfortunately, there is no way to know if you’ll enjoy yourself. You might not. I didn’t enjoy the scene when I first started exploring it. I think gay bars can be very overwhelming and very uncomfortable at first, particularly since you’re still dealing with some uncertainties about your sexuality. That doesn’t mean you should avoid gay bars — in fact, it means the exact opposite. You’ll never get comfortable with queer people and queer spaces if you don’t set foot in the door. You have to go, work through your discomfort, and gradually ease in.

I understand that you’re still on your way out of the closet and that you’re not quite ready to tell your family. That’s OK. You don’t have to tell them anything yet, and I would until you’re in a place where you’re financially independent or at least over the age of 18 and able to have a safe space away from them before breaking the news. Unfortunately, queer people have to plan for the worst case scenario when coming out to our families. I don’t know what your relationship with them is, but if you think they might respond strongly and negatively, you need somewhere to go and some way to support yourself.

I’m not entirely sure what happened between you and this guy — your question is a bit confusing — but don’t dwell on him too much. He’s Guy One. There will be Guy Two and Girl Three (since you’re bisexual) and Guy Four and so on. Your first connections, both sexual and romantic, will be difficult, and you’ll probably make mistakes and get hurt quite a bit. But that’s OK — in fact, that’s what you’re supposed to do. We learn by making mistakes. You have no experience with men, so you have to learn.

Try not to derive clear “lessons” from your earliest sex and dating experiences, or if you must, remember these “lessons” will likely change. Whenever you think you’ve learned a definite rule about sex or dating, someone will come along and break it. You have a lot of feelings to sort through and sex to figure out — the lasting lessons come years later.

Don’t avoid friends-with-benefits. FWBs are great, especially when you’re new. They are better than “boyfriend” relationships you don’t know how to do yet and aren’t ready for. You’ll get crushes on people — crushes are part of the journey. You can’t avoid them.

Last bit: Suspend your expectations about queer culture, including the notion that monogamy among gays and lesbians is “repulsive.” You will find many different stigmas in our community and many different views on monogamy. What you think and feel about monogamy is the only opinion that makes a difference in your life.

Yes, you’re a beginner in the LGBT world. But someday you won’t be. Enjoy this discovery process — it only happens once.

— Beastly

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