Single is the New Gay
By Steven Bereznai
In this exclusive excerpt from his new book, Gay and Single...Forever?: 10 Things Every Gay Guy Looking for Love (and Not Finding It) Needs to Know,
Canadian journalist Steven Bereznai explores what happened to gay men during the journey to sexual liberation.
When did being alone become the modern-day equivalent of being a leper? Will restaurants soon be divided up into sections? Smoking, non-smoking, single, non-single?'Carrie Bradshaw (a.k.a. Sarah Jessica Parker), Sex and the City
I am a catch.
I have a good job. I can use power tools. I own a brand-new condo high in the sky with floor-to-ceiling windows, and my cupboards are stocked'martini glasses from Caban, gourmet cheesecake recipes from Williams-Sonoma (thank you to my friend Parker!), and I've dumped the Ikea couch in favor of a loveseat import from Montreal. The wool weave isn't brown, darling, it's llama.
In short, as one of my personal ads on the popular queer Web site Gay.com once read: I have EQUITY. University-educated, well-read and -traveled. I'm also funny. My improv teacher says so.
And let's be honest. I'm not sore on the eyes. I boast a waistline that's smaller than it was in high school. I get compliments on my chest and biceps. I'm versatile and my cock's bigger than a baby's arm. Well, OK, it's average. So apart from size queens (who needs them anyway?), I've got a pretty good package.
And yet here I am, 32 years old, never had a boyfriend, chronically single-and-searching.
This is not how my life was supposed to go.
When I was 19 I started coming out to my dormmates during my freshman year. As this process gained momentum, it became imperative that I tell my parents that I was gay'stat! Obviously once I started coming out, I would have a boyfriend in short order, and it would be unfair of me to expect my parents not only to open their arms to their fresh-out-of-the-closet gay son but also to enthusiastically embrace his new boyfriend at the same time.
Even as a 19-year-old in heat I understood that the right thing to do was to tell them I was gay, give them a bit of time to adjust, and then I could get into a relationship. I had to drop the pink bomb before my window of singlehood slammed shut.
Clearly there was no time to lose.
Aside from a deep blush on my mother's cheeks, and asking me three times in a row if I was 'sure' (she cut herself off the third time: 'You already answered that,' she said more to herself than to me), all went smoothly with friends and family. In fact, there were a couple of unexpected bonuses. Not only did mummy dearest take on the responsibility of coming out to my dad and older brother on my behalf, I finally no longer had to answer the dreaded question 'So, do you have a girlfriend?'
Nor did they ask if there was a guy in my life, for which I was grateful. For a brief time I existed under an unspoken gay single's amnesty. Everyone was accepting of my homosexuality but just uncomfortable enough about the details to leave my dating life alone.
'So, are you seeing anyone?' my mother asked.
I nearly spat out my goulash.
'Too much paprika?' she inquired, her Hungarian accent indiscernible to me who'd grown up with it, but which my high school friends considered 'wicked,' in the good sense of the word.
On the one hand the question was a sweet gesture that indicated acceptance, but in all honesty that query made my insides shrivel when forced to reply, 'No, no one special in my life. Still single. Nope, no one on the horizon. Couple of crushes. No'they don't know that I exist just yet, but fingers crossed.'
It was in that moment that my brief relationship grace period was over. Among my friends, and within gay culture, it never existed. My straight friends would excitedly introduce me to any new gay acquaintance, simply because we were both gay and single. Is that really the best you think I can do? I wondered, quickly learning to thank them while demurely explaining that I do not do setups.
And there were the times when, in the midst of sex with a trick, he'd suddenly ask, 'So, do you have a boyfriend?'
With my brain concentrated in the head of my erection I wondered when such questions had become casual pillow talk. I'd stammer replies intended to assuage whatever fears might be attached to my singleness, for make no mistake, this state of being perplexed them, even though it was usually another single gay man asking the question.
'But you seem like a great guy,' he'd persist.
And for the moment of silence that inevitably followed I felt as if they were waiting for me to rip off my mask and reveal my horrible defect.