Saturday, May 30, 2009

Death of the Metro-Sexual Man

Well, it is official South Africa is now also experiencing an economic recession but I don’t believe it will be as bad as the great depression of 1929 – I Googled it! Many of us will experience the economic recession in different ways and feel the pinch of it. As a gay man the recession has already impacted on my life. As most of you know the grooming rituals of the homosexual male is quite intriguing and complex. With our particular style of grooming I’d like to believe that we were responsible for the emergence of the Metro-sexual Male (heterosexual men with a strong concern for their appearance, and/or a lifestyle that displays attributes stereotypically related to gay men). This being said, I believe the recession is posing a tremendous threat not only to homosexual men but the recession is also killing the metro-sexual male!
As we tighten our belts and wallets and cut on seemingly unnecessary expenses I have noticed a decline in people spending money on personal grooming. There are fewer metro-sexual males on the street and most are reverting back to the Hugh Jackman look – sexy but unfortunate. People just aren't spending money on waxing, facials, manicures etc. The metro-sexual male has stopped visiting the Spa! It has gotten so bad that the Spa I use to go to closed down. My cosmetologist disappeared without leaving a forwarding number! Not everyone would see this as a crisis, but to me it is! That woman who have been waxing me for the last 2 years, seen me naked and ripped hair from parts of my body very few people get to see is gone. Finding someone else with whom I’d be comfortable being 95% naked with male/or female and someone that can do a full body wax in less than 1 hour will be a mission. In the mean time, I have grown hairy! I have gone from being smooth to what my husband now refers to as monkey boy - I am no Hugh Jackman! The economy is in a recession so I have rationalized the growing back of my “man hair” as my “winter fur” as we are in late autumn and I hope by spring the economy will have stabilized and I would have found someone to transform me back from primate to homo-sapien.
Not only are people replacing wax with razors they are also now compromising on their hair, opting for do-it-yourself hair coloring instead of having a professional do it - some even attempting to cut their own hair. I can hear the entire hairstylist community cringe in horror!!! Walking through the shopping malls I have seen the yellow hair that was supposed to be blond, the bad dye jobs and botched highlights. The once metro-sexual male with a tell tail barber shop hair cut; the men and women who on account of saving a penny here-and-there allowing those grey hairs to protrude through their once stunning colored hair. Experiencing a recession I understand that people have to cut expenses but at what cost? Personally, I’d rather go without that stunning pair of shoes or exquisite jacket than compromise on my hair.
The metro-sexual males also seem to fading into oblivion when it comes to fashion. The once growing section of enlightened heterosexual men are becoming more difficult to spot, as facial and body hair now disguise them and the only way of recognizing these diminishing few are with wardrobe. As I refuse to compromise with my hair by letting a fashion item elude me, the metro-sexual male seem to compromise not only on grooming but on fashion too. They no longer appear to pay attention current fashion and last years trends are recycled. Some metro-sexual men also seem not to be able to remember how to put an outfit together, as last years magazines have been thrown away. They walk around bearded and in mismatching attire - they are almost unrecognizable. At least gay men are finding ways to cope with the recession and are better at prioritizing our spending when it comes to grooming and fashion. We understand that you don’t have to down scale and deprive yourself of all things, a few compromises is enough to ride out this difficult economic time. It’s truly unfortunate that the world economy is experiencing a recession and that it’s finding its way into most countries. Having to adjust your spending patterns in order to be able to pay your bills, keep your head above water and hoping not to be retrenched as companies down scale is unpleasant. It truly is serious and for some a dire experience. As a gay male, seeing the effects of the recession around me makes me grateful for everything I have. It has caused me to also down scale, adjust my spending habits and compromise. But at least I can still keep some of my grooming rituals and maintain my gay attributes. The true tragedy is in gradual demise of metro-sexual male, whether they will survive the world wide economic crisis nobody knows. I hope they will not go extinct like the dodo, and once this is all said and done they’ll return. I truly hope the recession will not kill off our beloved metro-sexual males!

Till next time.

Wanda Sykes - Wanda & Bobby On a Plane

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cyber Fidelity

The Internet has become an important part of most people’s lives, but apart from being a useful tool it also could have a dark side that could threaten relationships. With social networking sites, pornography and chat sites a thin and blurred line has been drawn between what is considered to be faithful behavior in relationships and what is not. Recent conversations and some shared experiences on the Internet by my friends and I, and debating the issue of fidelity with reference to the Internet it repeatedly raised the question - Is cyber flirtation and cybersex or browsing pornography cheating?
Like so many people, I spend a good couple of hours everyday on social networking sites chatting to my friends, reading my message and participating in discussions. Every now and again the inevitable message from a stranger pops up asking “ASL”. Being blond I needed a friend to explain to me “ASL” stands for “Age Sex Location”. Usually my first though is “Haven’t you read my profile?” Usually I responded and the next question that follows is “Are you gay & single?” Which brought me back to my previous question combined with wondering whether this person is illiterate, retarded or just lazy? A number of times I fell into the trap of pursuing these kinds of chats and most times they always ended up with some kind of proposition for cybersex, reference to penis size and/or other forms of cyber sexual behavior –it annoys me especially when I am actually in the middle of doing something important! So now I just snub these kinds of messages.
I have never quite understood cybersex or what people get from it - even having a lively imagination myself! I just don’t comprehend how sexually charged discourse typed on a cold keyboard between 2 strangers can culminate in an orgasm. Besides, on the Internet people can create a whole new persona for themselves, and you never can really be sure whether you are chatting to a hot young sex god or whether it’s a vile sex crazed predator. A psychopathic killer who in the basement of his house has a pit, a bucket, some lotion and a white poodle and once he has lured and trapped you there utters the ominous words “It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again” – the lambs will never not stop screaming for neither Clarice nor you!
In my opinion a distinction should be made between cybersex and cyber flirting. To me flirting, like in real live, can be an innocent act of being friendly in a sexy way without crossing the line. However, once flirting advances into action it can be considered cheating. My foolproof rule relating to both are when in doubt just ask yourself 1 simple question “How would I feel if my partner were doing this and I found out?” The other good way at preventing being solicited into cyber flirting or coerced into cybersex is not accepting chats or friend requests from people whose profile pictures are of their genitals – duh?! That too I learned the hard way and have since either deleted them from my friend list or blocked them! As all of them tend to favor the cybersex.

When it comes to pornography, the issue becomes a thorny one. Different people have different views on the issue. My personal view of porn is that I am more concerned about the people that star in them: I always wonder whether they grew up wanting to be porn stars, whether their parents know and if they are proud of their careers… But I digress… Some heterosexual women I have known are fervently opposed to having their partners even having pornography in their homes, and would not allow their partners to watch or read it. Many of my gay friends who are in new relationships also indicated that catching their partners watching or surfing porn on the Internet behind their backs troubles them. Is this due to insecurity or is it a form of cheating?
One of my old lecturers (a Prof of Criminology) did a research study on pornography and the exploitation of woman. She was in her early 60’s, married and had to watch a lot of porn as part of her research. We always joked behind her back that her husband probably couldn’t wait for her to bring her work home and we were all perturbed at imagining their sex life. I remembered asking her this question years ago and her answer was fascinating. She said that men and women who are bothered by their partners watching porn may feel that way due to insecurity, as they feel they have to live up to expectations created by the images in the pornographic material, it provokes self-image issues and it challenges their inhibitions. Especially women ends up feeling inferior as they perceive themselves as not being sexually arousing and sexually not being good enough for their partners; they could also feel insulted that the partners have to watch porn to get aroused. I think many gay people may feel the same way – it’s a human thing!

When it comes to pornography, in my opinion, it will depend on the 2 individuals in the relationship to make up their own minds on the issue. If your partner watching or wanting to watch porn makes you feel insecure, or uncomfortable the best advice would be to talk about it. Many couple use porn to spice up their sex life which can be healthy and good for their relationship. When one person in a relationship has to do it in secret and actively hides it, then it could be construed as cheating and damaging to the relationship.

The Internet is a great resource that we all have come to rely on. We have access to a magnitude of information; it’s made the world seem smaller and made our life more convenient. With the good also comes the bad. The Internet can also complicate relationships as new ways of interacting with people can now also compromise your relationship as a whole new spectrum of infidelity has been born from it. One can now have a passionate affair with some sitting on another continent and have passionate sex with that person without uttering a single moan or breaking a sweat. Whether this will have or has caused many relationships to break up, I don’t know, but as technology and we as a society evolve we have to adapt to all the challenges and opportunities. So is having a cyber flirtation and cybersex or browsing pornography cheating? This was my opinion, what is yours?

Till next time!

Meet my Gay Boys by Julia Stretch

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Myth of Super Gay Couples

My husband and I will celebrate our 11 year anniversary in 2 days time. Coincidentally, I came across an article titled “Secrets of Gay Super Couples” on a webpage that regularly publish some of my work. Having read the article and agreeing with most that was said I reflected on my own relationship and marriage, and it had me asking two questions: Are we a “Super Gay Couple”, and what exactly is a “Super Couple”, be it gay or straight?
I met my husband for the first time just over 11 years ago. It was at a night club. As usual a friend and I were at the club early so we can spot all the hot guys as they arrived. That evening my husband arrived at the club early as well and I spotted him from across the room – a hot young Italian looking man! I promptly had my friend go tell him that I thought he was hot (kind of immature but I was only 20 at the time). A while later, being the polite diplomat he is, he came and thanked me for the compliment and told me he was waiting for his boyfriend. Being single at the time I was gutted! As we had a polite and flirtatious discourse his boyfriend pitched up and saw me flirting with his boyfriend and gave me the evil eye as only a gay man can – a look that could melt the flesh from bone!
Not being easily intimidated nor being a home wrecker I introduced myself, had a pleasant chat with them and left. But being the type of person I am I vowed that I would wait until the moment my husband-to-be was single and then pounce at the opportunity. So I had my social network of spies, fellow gay gossip mongers and loyal friends activated: Every night every gay club and gay bar would be patrolled and I was to be notified of every sighting of my husband-to-be and informed of his relationship status at all times. Finally, after just over a month news arrived via the elaborate gay grape vine that he was single!

One Sunday evening I attend a drag show with my cousin, and lo-and-behold, my husband was there as well, but he was not alone. I remember telling my cousin that if the guy that accompanied him was his new boyfriend that I was going to be throwing in the towel! As I would have been convinced he had bad taste in men! As it turns out, it was just a friend and that ended up being our 1st date. The 2nd date was filled with passion, flirtation and butterflies in both our stomachs but ended up with us having to push-start my beaten up old car because it did want to start (not the best ending to a 2nd date as the car issue prevented us from getting to 2nd base).
Our relationship progressed slowly but was not with out its speed bumps. The 1st time I told my husband that I loved him there was a dramatic pause and he responded with the words “I like you too”. I remember driving away thinking to myself “Did I just make a fool of myself, did he really say what I think he did, and maybe I should have waited longer before I told him how I felt!”. The 1st person that utters those 3 significant words always stands the chance of getting the response I did, and I do not recommend it! It will leave you feeling confused, embarrassed, slightly angry and rejected. A few days later he returned the favor and those 3 comforting words dripped from his lips like honey onto my very pleasantly receptive heart.

The 1st couple of years of our relationship we spend 1 evening a week, every weekend and every holiday together. We waited 3 years before actually moving in together. We waited until I finished my post-graduate studies and until I started working. Now 11 years later and having been married for almost 3 years we have made significant progress and both our relationship, careers and social standing. It still amuses me when people we have known from many years back crosses our path and asked with amazement “Are you guys still together?” promptly followed by “How do you do it, what is your secret?”. The fact of the matter is we have no secret, there is no manual and no easy short cuts. Making a relationship and/or marriage last takes a lot of work, dedication, communication, commitment, respect and sacrifice from both parties. It’s also not always sunshine and pink roses, rainbows and butterflies and earth shattering sex. You have to be committed to make the relationship work even when times are tough, even if you have a sexual slumps and when you sometimes feel less in love with your partner due to whatever fight you had or problem you face.
Having read the article about the “Super Gay Couples” I have come to the conclusion that there is no such thing. Having a gay relationship that last should not be idealized, as it makes it seem unattainable. I also don’t think that there is anything such as a “Super Couple” in heterosexual relationships they too share many of the same relationships issues. All relationships have 1 central thing in common - it takes 2 dedicated people to make it work. Love and respect, in my opinion, are central to any relationship and your partner should also be your best friend - if these 3 things are secure the rest of the pieces will naturally fall into place.

Maybe there are “Super Couples” out there with special powers that cross the globe doing super things. If they are out there, I hope they have cute matching super hero outfits and share their secret with the rest of us normal folk. Until that time the only wisdom I can impart is love is not for the faint of heart and successful relationships are not destined for the lazy and uncommitted.

Till next time!

Kathy Griffin She'll Cut A Bitch

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I never did mind the little things!

This past week I realized I received my Botox treatment in the nick of time, as life’s “little” annoyances definitely would have aged me prematurely. During the last 7 days I endured stress ranging from what most would view as mundane to quite significant. First my Facebook account was disabled without warning, secondly a family member ran into trouble in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and thirdly I am in the process of changing jobs.

The combination of all three had had me experience emotions ranging from anger, frustration, irritation, stress, fear to relieve. Not all these issues are resolved at present, but it had me appreciate what is really important in life!

My Facebook account was disabled on Wednesday last week. No warning messages, no explanation nothing! One day I had over 4000 friends and a fan page for my blog with 1200 fans and the next day all traces of my being was erased. It’s as if I no longer existed! Quite a few people noticed my mysterious disappearance, which made me feel kind of blessed – at least some people noticed and missed me! To me it felt like Facebook’s Super Nanny ordered me to take a time-out and go sit on the naughty chair without explaining to me what I did wrong. What makes it worse is the fact that they are also not communicating with me, and I am getting the silent treatment as well!

Oh the horror of being excommunicated from a cyber community! The shame… The isolation...

All 4000 of friends disappeared somewhere into cyberspace and I have no means of contacting them – it’s like I died a cyber death! They really should establish a Cyber Obituary for people who have experienced the same thing. At least then your friends will know of your untimely cyber demise.

The frustration of trying to contact a company that only choose to communicate with their clients through e-mails, had me yearning for the days when one could actually speak to a human being instead of getting automated responses by bots, with impersonal replies and no speedy resolution. At least some of my friends decided to take action and have e-mailed the Facebook Black Hole of Appeals and if I am lucky someone will eventually read 1 of these e-mails and reinstate my account. In the mean time I'm in exile from Facebook, isolated and forced to interact with my friends in the real world - which isn’t such a bad thing but is hell on my phone bill! The Facebook drama has taught me the value of true friendship and to never put all your eggs in 1 basket (one social networking webpage). Currently, I am suffering from Facebook withdrawal symptoms and I am wondering whether there are any support groups that I can join!

“Hello my name is Pierre and I am an Excommunicated Facebook Addict!”

Over the weekend we learned that the patriarch of our family ran into trouble in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). He was being held “hostage” there and was unable to return to South Africa. This made my Facebook woes seem quite insignificant! If there is one place in the world you never want to run into trouble it is an African country! I don’t know how many people have ever tried to contact an attaché of an Embassy or a Consulate over a weekend – it’s almost next to impossible! Being the persistent bitch that I am, and dealing well with multi-tasking, trouble shooting and getting things done I managed to get hold of someone on Sunday. The person was quite shocked that our family member was told that the Embassy could not assist him because his problem was not of a political nature. So on Monday someone was fired from the embassy, and I am sure that individual will take greater care in future not to make reckless statements due to laziness and/or apathy. We were lucky that the Embassy took swift action and secured our patriarch's safe return. The whole experience was stressful and the fear and uncertainty of having a family member in a dire situation in a foreign country and the sense of helplessness one experience is difficult to describe. It is also peculiar how one learns to what extend you will go to protect those you love when they are in danger!

They say the death of a loved one, divorce, relocating and changing jobs are the top 4 most stressful things a person can experience. I can honestly say that this is the truth. I have lived through all of these experiences apart from divorce. Currently being in the process of changing jobs for the second time in 2 years I must admit I find the process taxing.

Negotiations, paperwork, meetings, getting signatures, and dealing with Human Resource Departments are getting to point where I want to scream ENOUGH ALREADY!!!! At this stage I just want to pack my little cardboard box with my little private nick-knacks and move offices! Unfortunately, like most things in my work environment, things happen at a snails pace testing my patience. I have tried working on this virtue they call “patience”, which I seem not to have, by growing bonsai trees and orchids. The bonsai trees have died and the orchids refuse to flower! I have made peace with the fact that my career transition will take time, so I will wait impatiently for all the red tape to be completed, and grind my teeth with every delay and bare it!

With the past 7 days and the associated dramas I have come to realize that there is no use in sweating the small stuff. In life you will experience a crisis from time-to-time, some significant others mundane. Your attitude in dealing with each little blow life deals you greatly will determine the general outcome. There is a line in a movie that has become a motto for me during trying times that say “I never did mind the little things”. The most important things in my life, which I have gained greater appreciation for this week are: The safety of my loved ones; having true friends; being healthy; and being fortunate enough to have a job and being able to live a comfortable life. Everything else is just a bonus – the cherry on the cake! I urge all of us to have a good look at our own life and list all the things that we deem most important - I am sure the list will open up all our eyes as to what truly is important in life.

Till next time!

Vidur Kapur

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