The Guysexual’s Brutally Honest Review Of Planet Romeo

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We’ve grinded at clubs with Grindr, scratched away at Scruff’s rough surface and had a tryst with ’90s style dating with Hinge. But what do you do when your needs are more carnal and less ‘Can-we-have-another-spectacular-date-again?’

Look at that app skulking away in the corner? It’s Planet Romeo.

What it is: Planet Romeo is the bane of homosexual existence, but such a necessary evil. A German-based networking portal for LGBT ‘singles who are looking to mingle’, Romeo can rightly be called the deeper end of the online dating pool — don’t get me wrong, I’ve found a handful of interesting people there, but it’s like finding a needle in a haystack. For every interesting person you connect with, you have to sieve through a hundred hopefuls of ‘Hi’s’ and ‘Hello’s’, all with ‘a place’, or worse, a bed. It’s the Yahoo chat room of the new millennium.

Only this isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

How it works: Frankly, Planet Romeo is an online directory of men to sleep with — page after page full of profiles of horny men, looking for everything from ‘Now’ to ‘Why not now?’

As a veteran, you feel an odd adrenaline rush every time you log in: the ta-da-ding message alert syncs with your heartbeat (or your libido) and urges you to open the app every 30 minutes (which you will).

Then, as you browse the lists for men you might be sexually interested in, you can decide whether you want to send them a ‘footprint’ (great butt, hot c*ck, fun guy, handsome face, you get the gist), and leave them as souvenirs for the boys you want to keep as souvenirs. Once thoughts (and sexual preferences) match, people exchange numbers, and bodily fluids. Sex has never been so simple.

Since Planet Romeo can get so addictive, most gay men spend a major part of their formative years on it. An anonymous friend has multiple profiles up — one is faceless, asking for ‘discreet M2M fun’, another hides behind a tantalising picture of Ranbir Kapoor. A third, a close up of his excruciatingly well-defined torso seeks immediate sexual gratification, while the fourth shows his face in all its glory, dimples et al — that’s when he’s looking for something serious, but he’s never had to use it yet.

‘I needed to find myself,’ he says to me — and on his way, he found Rajiv, Faiz, Rishi, Kabir and half a dozen other gay men. He likes the variety, he tells me later, as he meets me for a coffee between two dates. ‘Sometimes, if you are lucky, you even get a callback for a threesome’. That’s what he hopes the second one would be, as he gulps down his coffee to boost his sex drive all over again. He’s got the first boy waiting on speed dial.

I have nothing to say, so I simply sip at my iced tea. Rampant sex aside, what’s the plus point of Planet Romeo?

You don’t have to audition to get into anyone’s bed. Unless you want to role-play.

When do you use it: to feed your weekly (or daily, no judging) case of post-midnight blues (or blue balls).

What I like about it: flapping d*cks and a patchwork quilt of sculpted abs aside; Planet Romeo really is very nonchalant about its chief purpose. In so many ways, it’s like your cool aunt who knows about your sexual history, but makes sure she buys you a pack of condoms before you step out for your hot date — Planet Romeo’s info zone shares free (and reliable, unlike WebMD) information about STDs — emphasising the importance of safe sex and condoms.

The fact that it has the largest user base makes this that much more important.

What I don’t like about it: Cluttered with virtual ads, pop up windows and profiles of boys-who’d-rather-pick-your-bodies-than-your-brains, Planet Romeo is as confusing to navigate as your quarterly Zara Sale (sans the clothes, obviously).

But that’s not all. One of the other downsides of Planet Romeo is how NSFW it is for any place apart from the dark confines of your bedroom. Work? Definitely not. Gym? If you don’t want to be deadlifted.  Your daily train rides? Unless embarrassment is the last stop.

 Bonus feature: The upgraded 2018 version of Planet Romeo is full of bonus features (and hopefully, no STDs):

  • Ask Mother: Just like how mothers help nurture a baby, this section offers relationship tips and advice for gay men to nurture their relationships. Unlike your mother, it also tells you to use the app.
  • “G-rated” Version: PlanetRomeo allows nude photos and adult content on their website. However, members who wish to screen out sexual content can choose this option. Think of this like ‘Netflix for Kids’, but secretly hope there aren’t any underage-children here.
  • Automatic Logout: If you are inactive for a period of 10 minutes, you will be automatically logged out of PlanetRomeo. No more catfishing by your colleagues (or your slightly devious friends).
  • Happy Friday: Most of the PlanetRomeoplus features are available for free on Fridays to all its members — Happy Hours for everyone!
  • Planet Radio: When you are browsing through thousands of profiles on PlanetRomeo you can choose to play your favorite internet radio station. Why should musicians have all the fun?

Who is it for: Anyone who’s looking for pure, uninhibited, unadulterated sex. Carry a condom.

Guysexual’s Grade-o-meter:

Hookability: 10/10

Compatibility: 4/10

Usability: 5/10

Downloadability: 9/10

The Guysexual’s Brutally Honest Review Of Hinge

 

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Remember the ’90s — when internet trolls, post-millennials and online dating didn’t exist? Back when people would set each other up with their friends and ultimately get blamed for heartbreak (or worse, Herpes)?

Well, now there’s an app for that.

Oh hi there, Hinge. When a dating app promises that ‘75 percent of their first dates turn into second dates,’ you know they’ve got their hinges sealed shut.

No puns intended.

What it is: Hinge calls itself the ‘Relationship App’, and it leaves no stones unturned while trying to set you up with your soul mate. It’s like the nerdier (and also less attractive) second cousin of Tinder. And that explains why hardly anyone (read: any gay man) uses it.

How it works: Hinge pools all the singles in your extended friend circles (using Facebook as it’s underlying base) and matches you with the most likely of them, based on a serious of questions and common interests — which you have to ‘like’ to initiate an interaction — reducing the chance to run into a hopeless string of men who are just looking for ‘No-strings-attached’ sex. Hinge believes that swiping keeps you single, and focuses on creating more engaging profiles that reduce users from treating other members like ‘a playing card they’d flick to the left or right’.

Instead, it’ll ask you a set of questions, props you for your interests, and it even bugs you till you upload a picture. Some call it cute; some call it ‘too-much-work-to-get-into-someone’s-pants’ (side note: and yet others call it your mum’s second cousin who drinks too much vodka too early in the evenings).

Do you both love dogs? Lovely.

Is your idea of the perfect date a walk on the beach? Bring it on.

Does hiking on a Sunday morning seem viable to you too? Let’s get the wedding rings ready.

On paper, Hinge is like the Instagram of online dating. Profiles are peppered with gorgeous pictures, tongue-in-cheek answers you would want to tongue-wrestle with and captions that are so witty they could star in an AIB video.

Too bad you can’t ask someone to #FollowForFollow.

When do you use it: If you are really ready to commit, Hinge is the app to commit to — it takes long-term relationships so seriously, it could be your mother.

What I like about it: Unlike traditional dating apps, Hinge sets you up with people in your social circle — making sure that you have common interests  (or friends) that you can talk about over a quick beer (or five, if the friend in question is interesting).

Also it offers great prompts for adding personality to your profile, paving the way with ice-breakers like “We’ll get along if…” and “I did this before it was cool…” making our low-pressure dating app a lot like that always-eager-to-set-you-up friend you wished you had. The only difference?

You don’t even need to buy the app a beer if things work out between you and your date.

What I don’t like about it: Since all your matches are pulled from your friend’s Facebook accounts (while obviously avoiding awkward ex and family ties), any match you encounter will already have someone in common with you — which can either be a great conversation starter, or a deal breaker (because you really don’t want this Facebook friend to be the annoying HR department head from work). But that’s not the only problem.

Hinge, like your friendly, local Aadhar card also shares all your Facebook information. Your age? Sure. Your unsavory political views? Definitely. Your embarrassing religious beliefs? Good lord. And that drunken video of you dancing on the bar in your sophomore year of college?

It’s out there for all your soul mates to see.

Every single one of them.

Bonus feature: Hinge has this gift that just keeps giving. The more you use it, the better it gets to know you — it’s like your best friend sans the unsolicited advice — finding you matches based on people you’ve previously liked (and matched with) before. Goodbye catfishers. Goodbye internet creeps. Goodbye boys-who-slide-into-your-DMs-with-unsolicited-dick-pics.

Who is it for: Disney princes looking for their Disney princes.

Guysexual’s Grade-o-meter:

Hookability: 4/10

Compatibility: 8/10

Usability: 6/10

Downloadability: 7/10

The Guysexual’s Brutally Honest Review Of Scruff

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It’s no secret that Grindr is on a one-app mission to be the centre of the gay universe — especially with its online magazine, a new tapping feature and the rather special gaymoji keyboard. Grindr is thus, the rightful king of all queens.

But what happens when you want your men to have more character (and more importantly, more hair)?

Say hello to Scruff.

What it is: Like Grindr, Scruff is a grid of available, attractive gay men with pictures in various stages of undress. It’s infested with bears, otters, wolves and cubs. Is this an app or a zoo?

It’s a mating ground, but more on that later. Scruff follows Grindr’s tried-and-tested formula: scroll through a near-endless grid of thumb-sized profiles of men with not-so-thumb-sized d*cks.

Only this one comes with a few twists and knots on the way, no puns intended. See, Scruff’s all black, faux-tough guy motif isn’t all that memorable, but every gay man’s second favourite dating app comes with its own set of redeeming qualities — namely a narrowed down user base with millions of guys on the hairier side. And they are all looking for the same thing.

You.

How it works: Being slightly more niche than Grindr, Scruff doesn’t have the same critical mass of users, nor the cultural clout. But Scruff is no nonsense that way. It comes with a purpose — letting scruffy men find their hairier halves. You woof at people you like, leaving them little red notifications of love that they can sniff back to your account. However, Scruff’s standard layout allows four profiles in a row (as opposed to Grindr’s three) — so a guy who looks cute in a tiny, thumbnail picture might not look the same blown up — after all, you don’t want your thumbnail Akshay Kumar to look like Akshaye Khanna when you zoom in. The only silver lining on the scruffy cloud, though?

It allows you to search for like-minded men in other cities (and offer airBnB style travel accommodation for the same), making it ideal for that vacation fling that is hairier and smarter than your average bear.

My own phone screen lights up with a message from one such hirsute hottie. It’s a 32-year-old man from 3,000 miles away. He calls himself Entreflaneur. His interests include art, design, film, aimless wandering and compulsive list making. His photos include well-defined pecs. Have we got ourselves a winner?

I send out a woof before I can even open the message. ‘Can I see how hairy you are?’ asks the Amazonian demi-god. He unlocks his highly NSFW album, where each picture is an advanced Biology lesson.

I blink at my phone — is that the new ‘Hello! Nice to meet you?’

‘I don’t have any pictures,’ I ping back — the woof that I sent him two minutes ago, has probably strangled itself in embarrassment. He never texts back, leaving me to aimlessly wander by myself.

Which I do; out of the app, never to come back again.

When do you use it: Like I’ve said before, Scruff is the hairier, bearier alternative to Grindr, which means that the target audience is here for exactly the same reasons — pure uninhibited sex, 24/7 (so think of it as a convenience store for carnal pleasures, only here they don’t accept cash).

What I like about it: Are you a self-proclaimed pogonophile? Scruff takes the basic dating experience and tailors it to men of the older (and muscular) persuasion. So many sets of abs, so little time. Just make sure you hit them up before they hit someone else.

What I don’t like about it: Since everyone on Scruff has already crossed paths with you on Grindr, there’s a high chance you’ll be someone’s sloppy seconds.

And I don’t mean it in the good way.

Bonus feature: Scruff also offers an exclusive Match feature, which serves up, well, matches. But it only seems to pair people based on what they’re looking for — dates, relationships, fun — not deeper criteria, such as common interests or your (often conflicting) views on Donald Trump’s latest shenanigans.

Who is it for: If you are looking for a quick nookie with men who have some hair on their chest and dirt on their nails, Scruff (as the name rightly suggests) is perfect for you.

 

Guysexual’s Grade-o-meter:

Hookability: 7/10

Compatibility: 7/10

Usability: 8/10

Downloadability: 8/10

The Guysexual’s Brutally Honest Review of Grindr

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Before our smart phones took over and we started swiping right for Mr Right, meeting gay men was as difficult as trying to fit into your five-year-old denims — it required a trip to gay bar nights or connecting via dubious chat rooms on now-forgotten chat portals. Do you want the complete gist? You probably skipped the introductory class of Queer Culture 101.

But, technology has now allowed us to come together and spread our glorious wings (and sometimes, even our legs) wide. If you can order a cab through your phone, why can’t you go cruising too?

The gay dating app is thus, every homosexual man’s paradise: a one-way ticket to companionship, without the hassles of getting your friends or family involved. While there might be multiple dating apps that let you find your potential soul mate based on your picks and your preferences (and sometimes, even fetishes), I’ve decided to start off this new series with Grindr, because it’s the one most gay men would swipe right on, no puns intended (also I am lazy with research).

Don’t know what Grindr is?

I’m here to help. Just keep your notifications on.

What it is: Grindr, in its unfiltered GPS-based glory, presents a wide spectrum of gay culture. Here you can find every type of man; there is every shape, size, colour, and age represented within its Cartesian geo-limits. It’s like an online Pride parade, without the police permissions (unless you are into that) and the long speeches (or into that).

See, the thing with Grindr is that there are smart men, there are witty men, there are hot men, but most importantly there are men who want to meet other men, no strings attached.

How it works: With Grindr, it’s all there already — your facts and figures presented like a supermodel’s vital statistics — men are measured in d*ck pics and distances. There are no surprises here, except the ones you are lying about.

Kartik, a 28-year-old copywriter, met a handsome guy on the app just three months ago — an investment banker, with a plush two-bedroom sea-facing apartment in downtown Mumbai, and a face that could have been on a billboard. The man was gorgeous, had dimples that were deeper than the Mariana trench, and cheekbones so high, they could be on meth — rightly said, he was 30 going on 16 — and everything a guy could ever want to be with (or be). They sent each other flames and devils and whatnots, and literally ‘tapped’ at each other through the night.

The only glitch in the plan?

The banker was only five feet tall — a detail they had both overlooked (the banker forgot to mention it on his profile, Kartik forgot to ask). My copywriter friend never saw him again, and his digits were forever lost in Kartik’s sea of deleted phone numbers, along with all thoughts of moving into his picturesque bachelor pad.

Shallow friends aside, we can’t deny that Grindr demands supreme body confidence — row upon row of glistening torsos (some with heads attached, others cut off just above the Adam’s apple) for your perusal. If a guy doesn’t have a profile picture, it means one of two things — there’s probably nothing worth seeing or your subject is shy. Here, abs after abs dance before your tired, jaded eyes — the bodies melding into one mass of skin-coloured blot, and charisma is squeezed into a short bio, 150 characters or less.

So how do you differentiate between the torsos on ‘the Internet’s most popular gay dating app’? How can you tell whether the six-pack of your choice belongs to your potential Prince Charming or the pervert that everyone rain checks on?

You take your chances, and go meet him. What happens if it doesn’t work out?

Next, please.

When do you use it: While there’s no right time to be on Grindr, it’s advisable that you keep your phones away at bedtime, (only) if you are hoping to find the One — because any man who pings you post-midnight, wanting to ‘get to know you a little bit better’, is only interested in getting to know your sexual fetishes.

On the other hand, if you are looking for something on the side, here’s when to reach out to all the Romeos in your neighborhood:

6 am to 9 am:

Looking for someone to work out with? Hit him up when his morning motivation is up and flaring, and he’s ready to hit the bench press (or the sheets, if you are looking for a different type of cardio) all morning long.

Noon to 3 pm:

Interested in a quickie? The afternoon blues are perfect for an after-lunch liaison — this is when your will to work is at an all-time low, and your need to find a distraction is at an all-time high. Plus, you’ve got to work off those greasy rotis from lunch, don’t you?

5 pm to 8 pm:

Are you thirsty for a quick drink at the local pub? Ring up a boy for a spontaneous date in the evening, because it always beats going back home to an empty apartment.

And if things go well, you won’t.

11 pm and beyond:

Four words. No strings attached sex.

What do I like about it: Finding instant gratification is as easy as making instant noodles.

What I don’t like about it: Finding instant gratification is also as unhealthy as making instant noodles.

Who is it for: Everyone’s favourite dating app is perfect, if you are looking for something beyond companionship and compatibility, unless it’s the sort of compatibility you seek in bed.  Do you want a one-night stand that you can potentially network with in the future?

Say hello to Grindr.

It’s buzzing. Someone’s probably sent you a devil emoji.

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.