Category Archives: The Things We Do

The Queer Guy’s Guide To New Year Resolutions for 2019

2019_resolutions.

 

2018 came to an end, and so did my dreams of ever finding a happy ending.

As I pretend that my seventh glass of champagne is only my second, it’s time for me to ask those questions all over again – what do I remember 2018 by? The number of boys I ghosted? The number of boys who broke my heart? The bad decisions I woke up to (and with)? The bottles of prescription drugs I wolfed down? The shots I downed to forget? The hangovers I’ll never be able to forget? The hours I spent at therapy after? The resolutions I vowed to make? The resolutions I’ll effectively break?

As gay men (such as myself) parade into the new year making resolutions (and asking questions) that we’ll only give up on a week later, here are a few that I hope that don’t get lost in the sea of confetti, cheap champagne and regrets.

Want to know what they are? Simply slide into 2019 with this queer guy’s guide to NYE resolutions (but not like those ugly dick pics that slide into your Instagram DMs):

Ditch the dating apps, but don’t ditch out on the dates

There really is a high chance you’ll find the next big love of your life at the bookstore, or your favourite neighborhood bar (and we won’t judge you even if it happens at the gym.).

Then again, don’t lie about your age, height or weight on your online dating profile

72 kilograms are sexy, and so are you.

Don’t dismiss someone who’s considerably older or younger than you are

But make sure he’s legal.

Put an end to the ‘New Year, new me’

You’ll always be you. If people could change overnight, we would never have so many seasons worth of great television.

Be a nicer person. If you can’t, try till you succeed

Gay men have the potential to be a lot of things – charming, well-dressed, effortless, established, articulate, artistic or even high on drugs. But still, a lot of us choose to be d**chebags.

Take an active interest in politics

Because some of these decisions actually prevent gay men and women from receiving equal rights, which is just plain sad.

Let your biggest regret this year be not eating that last cupcake

But you should go ahead and eat it anyway.

Stop answering texts from the ex

There’s a word for it. It’s called ghosting.

Read more, but don’t read more into what other people said to you

Books are sexy and mysterious, just like the hot guy who makes eye contact with you at the bar (and then disappears forever). Reading online lists doesn’t count though, unless you are reading this one.

Do something that frightens you, not someone who frightens you

The list can include learning how to tap dance, skydiving and eating alone at a restaurant. Things the list should not include? Having unprotected sex with a complete stranger.

Exercise for health, not your crush’s phone number

If you want those six pack abs that you can eat sushi off, make sure you are doing it for yourself (Side note: even though eating sushi off your stomach can be quite unsettling).

Be okay with being single

There’s always 2019. And 2020. And 2021. And 2022. And so on.

Understand that brands don’t make the man, manners do

Very few men who have the latest Louis Vuitton bag will want to hear about your day at work.

Don’t be afraid to end a relationship that’s not going anywhere

Especially when the only place it’s going is downhill, with prescription bills.

Actually enjoy experiences, instead of just Instagram-ing them

And if the ratatouille doesn’t look as good as it does under the Aden filter, don’t eat it.

Tell the next boy you like how you really feel about him

The world would have more romances if less people were scared of sending two text messages in a row.

And if he doesn’t feel about you the same way, respect his choices

Because, boys and men, consent really is key.

Stop all the self-hating

If there’s one thing that I love more than money, it’s myself.

Be happier

Go on, you deserve it.

The Queer Guy’s Christmas Wish List for 2019

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The ‘Most Wonderful Time Of The Year’ is here. That time of the year when we drink our weight in alcohol, forget our love-hate relationship with sugar, and greedily tear open gifts just to get them exchanged a couple of days later.

IT’S CHRISTMAS TIME!

While the Section 377 verdict might have been an early Christmas present for the queer community, when have we (read: me) ever stopped wanting more? Since I’ve been incredibly naughty relatively nice this year, I tried to compile a wish list of all the other things I (and other gay men) would want this holiday season – and as you can clearly see, I tried not being too selfish. (PS: It’s the season of giving after all, and all I’d want to do right now is give you ideas.)

Now pour yourself another glass of rum-infused eggnog, and scroll through my wish list just like you’d scroll through the men’s section of your favourite online shopping portal:

  1. A dating app that changes everything.

Goodbye, Grindr. It was great knowing you, but I think it’s not working out.

Whatever happened to good ol’ fashioned dating, you ask? 2018 did. Most dating apps are breeding grounds for fuckboys (and other such men) who’d rather have you than the crème brulee you plan to share with them after dinner. How about we go for a movie, have fajitas and cola at a hole-in-the-wall, drinks at the friendly neighbourhood gay bar (read below), and then laugh over how great a time we had over dessert before I decide whether I want to be your dessert or not?

  1. An end to homophobia and oppression

Wouldn’t that be an excellent little treat for the Yuletide season? An end to bigotry? Giftwrap it for me, please.

  1. Heartwarming gay fiction.

How about we see a LGBT story that doesn’t follow the same coming out trope? I want to read a love story between two men that didn’t seem like it was written by a middle schooler (or their mother) – one where the leads don’t have loose wrists, and looser morals.

Here’s to reading more gay fiction (and non fiction) that tells untold stories, books that you can snuggle up to and read with multiple mugs of accompanying hot cocoa (or a bottle of wine – who’s to judge?)

  1. A lifetime supply of condoms (and lube)

Think of it as a lifetime supply of pleasure and protection. Now go wrap your troopers, just like you wrap those gifts tonight.

  1. Diet love.

 It’s almost 2019. If we can have diet chips and diet coke, where can we get rid of the empty calories and find ourselves some diet love?

Hold the sugar.

  1. Acne cream that actually works.

Here’s looking at you, pimple-on-my-temple that just won’t go – If I wanted to look like my geeky high school self, I’d go back to 2004 (not really). How many of us want our skin to match our glowing personalities?

Everyone.

I am officially done with activated charcoal masks and DIY scrubs, give me something that is as effective as Ariana Grande’s ode to her string of ex boyfriends.

  1. A friendly neighborhood gay bar

 No, we don’t want a bar that seeks us out every other Saturday of the month – we want a bar where we can be ourselves every single day of the week. Although we might like drinks and drunken banter at the niche pub halfway across town, we’d love it a lot more if we could have them without the masks and your musky colognes.

  1. Adoption rights for LGBT folk

India does not routinely allow same-sex couples to adopt a child. That’s a shame for both, couples looking to start a family, and kids missing out on one.

I think it’s safe to say that having two dads (or two mums) is better than having none – because we can all agree, the world can never have too many self-aware fashion conscious children who know the benefits or organic eating and working out five times a week, can it?

  1. Socks

As a very important man once said, one can never have too many socks. I prefer polka dots.

  1. Nicer gay men.

We might have religious fanatics, bigots, homophobes and extremists in this world, but no one hates the gays like the gays themselves. The Mascs hate the queens. The gym boys hate the chubs. The cubs hate the twinks. The bears hate the daddies. The Katy Perrys hate the Taylor Swifts. Everyone hates the sapiosexuals.

This hamster cycle of homosexual hate needs to stop. How about we enter 2019 with nicer, gay men instead of entering a heated argument over who’s better – Britney Spears or Madonna?

Let’s not go there now.

 

How We Met Each Other: A Brief History Of Finding Queer Love

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Rizvaan, 20, and Sumeir, 22, met each other on Instagram.

Somewhere over their matching flower crown filters and millennial names, they found and added each other, and (over a period of many Instagram stories and inappropriate GIFs) hopelessly fell in love.

Rizvaan calls it fate; the other calls it public privacy settings. It’s been a relationship of many ups and downs, but they’ll always agree on one thing — they look their best with the puppy dog filter (which they use extensively to woo each other).

Dating is that simple today.

There’s no denying that Rizvaan and Sumeir have had it easy.

Before Instagram became an overnight phenomenon for men (and women) to flirt with each other, the dating world for the quintessential gay man was a very different place (even sans the filters); over the past few decades, we’ve come a long way — and it’s nothing like the world we live in today, or the one we read about.

It all starts many thousands of years ago.

Throughout our ancient texts, there have been various descriptions of a multitude of saints, gods and demi-gods breaking gender norms much before Jaden Smith even knew what it meant –– Vedic literature speaks of Mitra and Varuna, gods of great intimacy who were often mentioned together. They ruled over the universal waters; the former controlled the ocean depths and the lower portals, while the latter governed over the ocean’s upper regions, rivers and shorelines (no wet jokes allowed by the editor).

Then, there are mentions of Agni, the god of fire, wealth and creative energy, having various same-sex sexual encounters that involve ‘accepting semen’ from other gods. Elsewhere, Mohini, the ‘female’ avatar of Lord Vishnu has been worshipped throughout Indian culture — gay, bisexual or transgendered — it’s evident that LGBT men have existed ever since mankind did.

And they’ve been finding each other ever since.

Over the decades, we’ve gone past searching for the next big something under the neighbourhood streetlight — we’ve fondled other men in unused washrooms, signaled each other with colourful handkerchiefs at traffic signals, and bumped into one another at seedy, dingy bars (and then a few drinks later, in bed). Was it the whirlwind marathon that I make it sound to be?

Not really. That’s close to four decades of gay cruising, concised in four sentences.

And then everything changed. The nineties happened.

In 1990, the country saw its first LGBTQ platform in the form of Bombay Dost, also the nation’s first queer magazine. It welcomed men seeking men to write letters to each other, making personals popular much before Shaadi.com did. But that’s not all — as we excitedly filled in our classifieds and preferences, trends changed once again. Online portals like Yahoo Messenger and MSN Chat provided a substitute to the magazines in the mid-nineties, and we moved from personals to personal chat rooms. We hid behind usernames and blank silhouettes, stepping into a new sexual revolution that would slowly fashion itself into the one we know today.

This was the beginning of a new form of liberation. Now, we got to type out our ASLs in anonymous Yahoo chat rooms and giggle over gay personals in queer magazines. The trip from the streets to the sheets has been long and hard (no pun intended), but it’s been an interesting journey indeed. Vijay, a 40-something friend who runs an NGO, has seen both sides of the millennium, and he has a lot to say about it.

‘I’ve found myself in a public washroom more than once,’ he tells me over drinks one night. ‘And I found myself loud and clear, if you really know what I mean,’ he adds with a lecherous wink.

really don’t — he’s an activist, so I think that nothing he says can be inappropriate (politically correct, yes).

‘What do you mean?’ I still ask, not being able to help myself.

‘I’ve had help, and it was beautiful.’

‘How so?’

It turns out it was very beautiful, indeed — and a lot of men helped over the years. A cab driver from Bhilai, a student from an Arts college in town, two stockbrokers who work in the financial district, a waiter from an Udipi restaurant down the road and a television star with a girlfriend who stays by the sea (the one time). His list goes on for 10 more minutes — detailed musings of his encounters and escapades, as I drink glass after glass of diluted rum. ‘I know it’s easier now, but there was an adrenaline rush every time you found someone new — was he gay? Would he understand the signal? What if he told on me? What if someone walked in? That made up for more than half of the excitement of having sex.’

Where do we go from here?

Not the restroom.

We evolve (So did Vijay, who is a veteran). We’ve moved on from clandestine trysts in wash rooms to ones on our phones in ways that were previously unimaginable. It’s 2018, and dating apps today are the manifestation of what mankind has been doing for centuries — devising new forms of communication, and then manipulating them for finding love, sex and long-term relationships.

Technology is revolutionising romance. Over the past few years, we’ve sent ‘footprints’ to torsos on Planet Romeo, favourited boys on Grindr, woofed at hopefuls on Scruff and super-liked our way through a dozen matches on Tinder. And we’ve even got the numbers to prove it. With more than 10 million users worldwide, Grindr recorded a surge from 11,000 to 69,000 active new users every month — simply within a span of four years, and that was back in 2015. Scruff, on the other hand, deals with smaller pools of men. And even though they only have an outreach of about 15,000 users in India, they still saw a 25 percent growth within two months of their launch. Numbers never lie; unless it’s the phone number you pass on at the end of a drunken night.

Today, even though online dating has been in the headlines (of mostly trashy online magazines and internet sex columns) for ‘hijacking modern love’ and trivialising the concept of everyday romance, we are at the dawn of a new age. Every year, new dating apps and websites sprout, making it easier for men seeking men to find each other, and fall in love (or in bed.)

And now, we are only moving on to better things — retweeting tweets to rekindle romances through Twitter, poking men indiscreetly on Facebook and waiting for them to salaciously poke us back, sending Instagram love to anonymous strangers, sharing their intimate brunches, birthdays, all the while gushing at pictures of Bobo, their cocker spaniel, when you’d rather be gushing over a romantic breakfast in bed for two. If you look at it, things haven’t changed much. We still scout the roads and send winks, only now we do it from our smartphones — social media has never been more sexual.

Technology makes trysting easier, because now you longer need to explain to a policeman why two grown men are parked in a side alley at midnight, with their pants (and inhibitions) lowered all the way down to their knees. The underworld of gay romances is so out and about, it could be a badly written Karan Johar movie.

And yet, we are nowhere near the end.

Like I said, this is just the beginning. All you have to do is break in.

Just make sure you use the right Instagram filter.

How I Found The Freedom To Be Myself

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‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ a ninth grade English paper once asked me. It was a 20-mark essay, and I had 20 minutes to earn them. I rolled up my sleeves, and pulled out my cursive best.

The thing is, I wanted to be a great many things.

I wanted to be a chef, I wanted to be an actor, I wanted to be a painter, I wanted to be an astronaut, and for two weeks after I turned 11, I even wanted to be a National Geographic correspondent, if only because my older sister said that she wanted to be one. My essay – and the time allotted to write it – might have come to an end at this point, but my story didn’t. From the age of six to sixteen, I raced through changes. My styles, my sexual leanings and my haircuts changed, and so did my dreams.

Only, what did I never dream of being?

Myself.

All my years of adolescence, I had struggled to find myself, even though I struggled comfortably – I was so used to push my problems under a hypothetical carpet, and pretend they didn’t exist, that I never realized the lies I was hoarding up – little white lies, they wouldn’t hurt anyone, would they? It was an easy, lazy life.

I used this complacency as a security blanket, and wound it around myself whenever thoughts of the future terrified me. What would coming out (as a gay man) be like? Would it be a cakewalk or a walk down the plank? Would I have to talk about my feelings? Would I have someone to talk about my feelings to (a fair question, because I grew up thinking that you were only allowed to talk about your feelings at expensive therapy sessions, sappy book clubs or when watching romantic tearjerkers)?

Growing up was always a mark of independence – no more school, no more staying at home, no more rules, no more restrictions, no more getting worried over your mother’s eighteen missed calls (well, almost) – it seemed like a technicolour dream, being so free-spirited. But honestly, I didn’t know what I would do with all the freedom. Independence (or the mere thought of it) petrified me. What would I do being free?

Would I finally have to be myself?

People are terrified to be themselves, especially when bravery is an option, and not an obligation I’ve been called manipulative, selfish, a coward, a sore loser. Why would I want to be myself then? I’d rather be someone nicer and more admirable; I’d rather be someone else.

And that’s exactly what I did.

Some enjoy the peace that comes with accepting who you are, but most of us waltz on the fence in the middle. Take sexuality, for instance. We can stir ourselves to walk free and fabulous, but we’d rather stay safe and sound in the cage of heteronormativity. I made myself feel at home in the cage till I was twenty-one.

The thing about independence is that it doesn’t come gift-wrapped and express delivered to your front doorstep. It needs to be earned, or fought for.

Coming to terms with your sexuality and stepping out of the closet isn’t easy – especially when in a country like India, where minds can be as narrow as Bandra’s bylanes, even if you are an upper-class well-educated man (and sometimes, especially if you an upper-class, well educated man). Everyday life is a battle. As countless films and American television shows have told us, you don’t just wake up one morning and walk out into the sunlit world. To reach the closet door, you need to push through your woolens, those ‘buy-one-get-one-free’ shirts you bought on an impulse but will never wear, and the odd tangle of smelly socks, greying underwear and smutty novels you don’t want your mother to find. It will be tough, especially if you’ve been hoarding – and holding back – all your life.

And even when you do, it’s a never-ending process – those closet doors that everyone talks about? They are revolving. Week after week, you will find yourself coming out to friends, family, acquaintances, and (occasionally) drunken strangers at the bar. Perhaps one day it will not be the big deal that it is today, and you won’t have to worry whether your words are followed by a kiss to the cheek or a punch to the mouth. Every new acceptance is a fresh slice of independence, and you’ll wolf it all down without worrying about empty calories or complex carbs.

It will be liberating, the way you feel after you’ve survived a last-minute clearance sale. Only this is the clearance sale of regrets.

Fortunately, my personal coming out story reeks of acceptance and Hallmark cards – it happened at the dinner table, one Friday evening back in early 2015, over cups of chamomile and desiccated coconut biscuits. I sat my parents down, and told them everything in a diligently rehearsed 17-minute monologue.

In 18 minutes, it was done.

Questions were asked, hugs were exchanged, a tear was shed (that would be me). My mum went for a walk with her friends, and my dad continued solving the crossword puzzle. They accepted it with a simple shrug (and lots of love and support over the next couple of years, but this is the not a story about that). My sexuality was just another fact.

What about the war of words I had been expecting? The emotional bloodshed? The years of torment at the hands of society? They never came, even though the history books said that they would. Times are changing, and somewhere over pop culture references and more inclusive media representations, my parents and peers had changed as well. The history books had it wrong.

What they did get right was this – freedom felt liberating.

The freedom to stay single. The freedom to be a sexual deviant. The freedom to wear a skirt (if you are a man) or a jersey (if you are a woman). The freedom to wear both. The freedom to wear neither. The freedom to never find your way back home. The freedom to stay in for the night, with Netflix and a bottle of wine (that would be me again).

What do we do with the freedom then? Do we let it consume us? Terrify us into never seeking it out?

We do neither. We simply unwind and enjoy it with a cup of tea.

Preferably chamomile.

 

 

 

 

Can We Stop With The #BoysAndTheirToys in 2018?

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Relationship experts, Internet proverbs, and magazines at the dentist’s all tell us the same thing. Men are from Mars, women are from Venus. Men are from Mars, women are from Venus. Men are from Mars, and women… well, you get the gist. Two planets apart, millions of miles away — now repeat it till you believe it.

But that’s the thing, it’s a myth. Men don’t necessarily need to come from Mars – they can come from Venus, Saturn, Neptune or even Ganymede (that’s Jupiter’s biggest moon for the astronomically unaware). In fact, they can come from anywhere they want, just like they can be whoever they want to be.

We might have been conditioned to believe that men need to be (or behave) a certain way, but the dictionary has never told anyone to be a classic d***hebag who smokes like a chimney and eats like a pig. Like I discussed last time, men aren’t a result of their toys, tempers and tastes, they are a result of their manners and their mottos.

Years of conditioning aside, it all usually starts as soon as you come kicking and screaming into the world. See, as a child you don’t understand the ramifications of what you say or the fact that one day, you’ll be embarrassed by what you’ve done – it’s like an Archiesversion of being sh*t-faced drunk and uninhibited – and no one has taught you that you have to behave a certain way just because, so you usually screw that up. You say the wrong things. You act the wrong way. You ask for the wrong toy.

As a child, I’d never had a kitchen set of my own – I had a lot of clowns, cars, books and GI Joes – and any time that I found these miniature cooking utensils freely available was a revelation. I would usually snatch an hour or two with them at my cousin’s, or play house with them with the girl next door.

It was pure, unadulterated joy, and I used all of it to bake make-believe macarons. It was big joke in my extended family, but I didn’t really care (also I really didn’t know). So finally, on my seventh birthday when my parents asked me what I wanted, I thought I’d jump at the idea – the only sort of jumping I would ever do.

I remember being really nervous about not getting anything at all, but I was also nervous that I’d be laughed at, so I checked and double-checked to see whether I really could ask for anything I wanted.

“Yes, please,” they said.

So I asked for a kitchen set. I don’t really remember the exact reaction, but it was politely explained to me that I couldn’t have one because kitchen sets were for girls.

I was crushed. So I asked for books. Video games. Toy cars. Spaceship models. The complete He-Man collection (side note: I got greedy).

For me, playing house wasn’t just about clanking those tiny utensils together; I wanted to act out all the ideas in my head – scripts I’d never be able to live but knew by heart. My crazy imagination was dying to see all the stories I scrawled in my little notebooks come to life.

And then Lego came along, and changed everything.

Conventionally, there was nothing wrong with a boy playing with his Lego set – I could build houses, and cafes and parks, without being disturbed. But the attempt to ‘Masc’ things up wasn’t far away – I got the fire station starter pack one birthday, but I ended up making a fancy condo (albeit with poles) with that as well.

The boys toys stopped coming my way though, and my bedroom filled up with books (and even more Lego sets), but it was a distraction from the seemingly endless amazement that I wasn’t macho enough – not playing sports or climbing trees. As long as I had my nose deep in a book, no one asked me why it wasn’t looking up football strategies online.

Eventually, my fascination with building homes and stories helped; I went on to become an architect, and then a writer, so I could say it all worked out for me – but my childhood remained the same.

A lie.

There’s been some progress, at least in moving away from the ‘pinkification’ of girl’s toys and allowing them the freedom to play with what would traditionally be called boy’s toys – their cars, dinosaurs, cowboys and all that.

It’s an important fight and we need it, but when it comes to the other side of the coin – little boys just dying to pick up a play doll or a play house – it’s a harder sell. Not to mention that in 2018, gender is not just about ‘boys and girls’. Everyone is finding their own way. Boys can play with girl’s toys and girls can play with boy’s toys. Heck, there’s no such thing as boy’s toys and girl’s toys anymore, just like there’s no such thing as a man’s job and a woman’s job.

How can I be so sure?

A few weeks ago, as I played house with my nephew, I asked him what he wanted to be when he grows up. He wanted to be a superhero, his grandmother, a policeman and a race car driver, in that order (He also said he wanted to be ‘happy’, but he’s always been a bright kid). He’s four years old.

His reasons for wanting to be his grandmother were simple. She made all the decisions at home. He wanted to do the same thing. We both high-fived and had tea with the underlying matriarchy in our makeshift hall.

My four-year-old nephew might be a doll (no pun intended), but the rest of us still have a long way to go. Countless dreams (and bones) get crushed every day because men are supposed to be breaking their heads (and their backs) at the workplace, or the gym. So here’s something for you to take away – do what interests you, not something that ticks all the boxes for becoming the quintessential man.

Am I gay because I played with dolls and kitchen sets, or despite the fact that I really couldn’t? Would it have really made any difference? With ‘traditionally masculine’ sports’ stars now coming out of the closet, there really is no fail-safe to stop your child from becoming ‘less macho’ (not even a good ol’ football can save him. Sorry about that.)

If you’d rather your child grow up sad and ashamed, the toy really isn’t the problem here. If they grow up to come out as gay or bi or trans or seem “less of a man”, it’s not because you bought them a Barbie doll when they were seven (it’s probably because they are built in a different way then you are.)

And even if it turns out to be true, so what? Be proud of them and pat yourself on your back for being such a great influence!

Just buy that kitchen set. You’d only thank yourself later when your son (or brother) gets you Eggs Benedict in bed.

You are welcome.

PS: My parents are, and have always been, great and very accepting and shielded me from a lot of bullsh*t (homophobic or otherwise) in life. They eventually did get me that kitchen set, only they pretended it was for my sister.

The Guysexual’s Guide to What Happens After #PrideMonth

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#PrideMonth is finally over today, boys and girls.

Which means that as you read this sentence, thousands of companies are taking down their rainbow flags and pushing their glitter glue supplies back into their office store rooms.

But it doesn’t end here. 19 years ago, on 2 July 1999, something revolutionary happened. The country held its first Pride March in Calcutta, and India walked on the streets, out and proud for the very first time.

And it hasn’t stopped ever since. See, 2 July is a day that is important for many reasons. It also marks the ninth anniversary of the historic judgment of 2009, which decriminalised gay sex by reading down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.

Which makes today (almost) Indian Coming Out Day.

I’ll tell you something: Whether you are 14 or 40, coming out can be an ordeal, but that’s a story for another time. If your friend is lucky, everything will go well, and the two of you will be downing shots at the bar later tonight.

But if it doesn’t, you – yes, YOU – owe it to him to make his life a whole lot easier. To help you in ‘your’ journey of acceptance, here are a few things you shouldn’t say when a friend (or a sibling) comes out to you any time soon:

1. “Oh that’s amazing, dude. But wait a minute, you won’t hit on me now, will you, ha-ha?”

No, because you clearly aren’t my type. If you were, we would not be friends in the first place – I’d just be gushing about you to my best friend.

2. “You know what? I always knew it.”

When someone comes out to you, it’s an exhilarating feeling – it’s full of the giddiness that comes with riding a rollercoaster. Telling someone that you already knew (even if you did) is like pulling the handbrakes.

3. “Maybe if you only started playing more sport, you never know…”

This is when I make a list of all the sportsmen in the world who are gay. Stop with the stereotyping – it wasn’t cool back in 1966, it isn’t cool in 2018.

4. “Haha, is this just because you’ve not had a girlfriend yet?”

Ditch the biology book when you are wondering what your gay friend does behind closed doors – love has nothing to do with how things fit, because it’s not the big 5000-piece jigsaw puzzle that we all assume it to be.

5. “I don’t really know what to say right now, bro.”

If you don’t, sometimes a hug would do – there’s nothing worse than radio silence. Be normal, the best reactions aren’t even worth remembering because they felt so natural.

6. “So, are you the guy or the girl?”

Get out.

7. “Whoa, when did you decide you want to be gay?”

The same time that you decided to be straight.

8. “But bro, do you have AIDS?”

Let’s get it straight (pun intended). AIDS is not a gay disease. On the other hand, sir, you suffer from something far worse: ignorance.

9. “Well, duh!”

Read point number two, but only slap yourself around your head this time.

10. “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”

Making someone’s coming out process about you is usually not the best idea. Focusing on them and their experience instead? Let’s get out those medals of honour.

11. “Man, now you can help me with my shopping!”

The fact that gay men love to shop is probably the worst stereotype that ever exists. That, and the jazz hands.

Just wear what you want to, you’ll look great.

12. “No, you are not.”

Do you know what you are not? A nice person.

13. “Let’s go hit the clubs, mate!”

Yes, thank you. But that’s not why I just told you something this important, right?

14. “Are you really sure about this? Maybe it’s just a phase, you never know? Remember, back when I was younger and I…”

Being able to finally feel comfortable in your skin is the best feeling in the world. Someone wanting to share that feeling with you is like wanting to share a large ice cream sundae on a hot summer day. Cherish it.

15. “You mean you are bisexual, right?”

No. Gay. G-A-Y. Get that?

Now that you’ve finished reading the guide, how about you go help your friend with the closet door instead? Those shackles can be tough to pry open, and they could use all the help they could get.

Move along.

But make sure you do it with pride.

The Guysexual’s Guide To Making A Man in 2018

to_being_a_man_in_2018_

There are all kinds of men in this world. Thin men. Fat men. Tall men. Short men. Skinny men. Hairy men. Loud men. Obnoxious men. Timid men. Flamboyant men. Ferocious men. Hipster men. Daredevils. Douchebags. Atheists. Diehard romantics. Righteous. Vigilantes. Right wing. Left wing. Gay. Straight. Bisexual. Self-made. Self-taught. Self-aware.

But what makes a man?

See, we all know that if you mix sugar, spice and everything nice (plus a large helping of Chemical X), you’d get a Powerpuff Girl. Can you make a man the same way? Replace Chemical X with Chromosome Y?  Or is it all testosterone, cigarette fumes, single malt, revved up engines and golf clubs?

Obviously not, because where would you find a golf club in India?

I asked a few of my friends instead.

‘Balls and a penis,’ said one well-meaning pal.

‘The Y Chromosome,’ another one joked. He’s a professor.

‘A well groomed beard,’ someone else chipped in.

His actions. How he works his tools. How he handles his women (don’t ask, my friends are a mixed bunch). His survival skills. His scent. His character. His job. Confidence. Integrity. Wisdom. The answers trickled in through messages, and slid into my DMs like d*ck pics (and some of them were equally flaccid). They were characteristics, yes, but not the ingredients for the quintessential man. Could you source them locally? Would I have to go to the supermarket? Farm those seeds myself? Bid at an auction? Would I find a recipe online or would the store-bought microwaveable version work?

I didn’t have a clue, so I did the only thing that made sense.

I scoured the internet.

Page after page popped up, till I was swamped under a sea of bits, bytes, memes and GIFs. The internet, I realised, had a lot to say about what makes the perfect man. From the heartwarming (What makes a man really happy?) to the eye opening (What makes man a man in the eyes of God?), from the titillating (what makes a man AMAZING in bed?) to the downright depressing (What makes a man an alpha male?), there were secret hacks for everything.

But yet, after scanning through hundreds (okay, six) of pages full of listicles, blogs and popup ads for penis-enlargement pills, I still didn’t have a solid answer (how to last all night long, yes).

I’ll tell you the problem. They all told you to be larger than life. They all told you to ooze confidence like toothpaste. They all told you to dab copious amounts of charisma like it were hair mousse (this was no beauty tutorial though). But most importantly, they all told you to man up.

Man up. It’s a funny phrase. What could it mean? I first heard the term almost two decades ago, and found it endearing. It’s the natural successor, I guess to ‘grow a pair’, which itself took ‘get a backbone’ away from the spinal cord right to the nether depths of your groin.

Getting a backbone, however, didn’t associate courage or toughness with being a man. But now, even if you aren’t coping very well with something, are down with the flu, or simply don’t want to do something daredevilry (or debauchery) — that is every situation that can illicit the phrase from a well-meaning passerby — you are simply seen as the opposite of masculine. See, sometimes you might just want to say: ‘I’m sad. I’m depressed. I’m drowning. I am dying. Am I lonely? Am I going to be all right?’ but you can’t — because no one cares.  You’re a dude, baby. Not a baby, dude. These crown jewels are for showing, aren’t they?

It seems that we’ve finally reached that point in our life where you can only be more masculine if you stick to the norms. Have that double measure of single malt. Play golf with the crew. Yell at the waiter in the restaurant. Deadlift 150 kg. Micro-manage an entire office floor. Fight a tiger with your bare hands. As you get older, the rules of masculinity become tougher and tougher (just like people expect you to be), but no one tells you what makes you more machismo.

But that’s the thing, boys don’t become men when they strut out their muscled chests and pick tabs (or sometimes, even fights) at the bar — on a side note, I only pick up my drinks at the bar —boys become men when they become themselves.

Because the truth is, the world (and most men I know) would be happier if people could just be who they want to be. So dress the way you like. Do what you want to do. Take that dance class. Go study French. Sing a Miley Cyrus song at karaoke (‘Party In The USA‘ is a great way to test out your vocals). Bake that cake. Knit that sweater. Read that self-help book. Go for a recital. Don’t drive if you can’t.

And if someone tells you to ‘man up’? Just tell them to man off. This isn’t Sparta.

So what makes a man then?

You’ll have to wait for the sequel to find the answer to that question.

Until then, I’ll go prepare for my Pilates class.