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Monday, 5 November 2012

Going to a Queer Gathering for the First Time

One of the most challenging steps in the "what now?" stages of my coming-out, is getting out of my comfort zone. I was smart enough to know that unless I'm a character of a gay fiction novel or movie, the ensuing phases of what is to come, is not going to and will not be served to me on a plate.

It's a symbiotic relationship between extinguishing internalised homophobia and getting comfortable around gay people. One will not be ready to be in the presence of other gay guys without first getting rid of homophobia, and one cannot get rid of homophobia without first being ready to be in the presence of other gay people.

For me, it was a process that had to be tackled simultaneously. I knew I needed to surround myself with gay guys, but not in a sauna or bar environment where casual conversations and social etiquettes are much harder to apply. I guess I needed to talk to people, I don't know.

Using social networks and the internet, I researched hard and by chance, found a local queer social gathering in the city I was residing in. The social gathering was on a Thursday evening. I took Monday to Wednesday to think about it, waking up every single day and asking myself: "It's a day closer to Thursday. Have I made up my mind to go?"

By Thursday afternoon, my heart and mind was just completely flooded with the same emotions and anxious state of mind I was in when I first tried to get myself to walk into a gay bar. It was all very nerve-wrecking and I was still on the fence with my decision. "Damn. Do I really have to put myself through another scenario like how I did with the bar? I hated how much it took out of me. But then again, do I want to go to bed tomorrow night, knowing how it went, or regretting that I chickened out once again on an opportunity?"

To be honest, I was very afraid of venturing into a gay circle, fearing everything it could mean or would possibly mean. But running away from my sexuality for the past 9 years has gotten me no where. I can't expect different results, doing the same things. Something desperately needs to change and this might just be the opportunity.

After much contemplation, I finally arrived with a bottle of wine and knocked on the apartment door. The host welcomed me with a pleasant smile as I walked in and went for a friendly handshake. As I turned to follow him into the common area filled with gay men, every eye darted instantaneously across the room to appraise me. The whole tribal council atmosphere was a little daunting. Although it felt very shy and awkward, but all I could think of was: "Christ, I'm here. Can't believe I finally came to this thing. I did it again."

I calmed down and introduced myself to everybody with a handshake. My façade was casual friendly, with hints of boyishness to cover up my nervousness and it worked like a charm. I've never socialise with gay guys before in an environment like this, where I could finally see for myself, and with my own eyes, the reality of being in the company of other gay men. An idea of where I stand amongst them.

The night was fatal to my narrow-mindedness and killed off many preconceived notions I had of us, including myself. Gay guys, just like humans come in all colours, all nationalities, all sizes, all physical types, all styles, all personalities. It really was hard to define a perception of what a gay man is and it made me realise all of a sudden that stereotyping just doesn't work any more. That there's more, and a whole grey area to sexuality and people, than just plain black or white.

I met many interesting characters and talked to a handful of guys about a broad range of general topics. If it's one thing I noticed is that most gay guys are far more intelligent than any other average guy. Eventually after a few glasses of wine, someone was bound to venture into gay topics which I was dreading.

They asked if I was a bisexual. Although I've used the "bisexual card" before, but this time I said: "Don't think I'm a bisexual, so I'm gay." Even though I wasn't completely comfortable with admitting it out loud, but I thought I'd have to start getting used to that word if I'm ever going to make any progress. There's no point denying, and there's no point delaying the inevitable either. Let's just be honest with ourselves and get it over and done with.

Before I left the gathering, I shook the hand of the host, in which he gave me a European send-off and said: "Handshakes are for the straight people." I laughed. 

I woke up the next morning, feeling fresh and glad, no longer the same clueless person I was yesterday because of a simple decision and effort to get out of my comfort zone. It still wasn't easy trying to convince myself to go the next week, but I went anyway, thinking that it'll be good for me. The key purpose to this whole thing was that one needs to learn how to socialise and be comfortable in a gay environment before anything further can happen.

After a few more times to this thing, I started questioning: "Okay. What happens next?" Although the socialising opened me up a little bit more, but there was still no sex, no prospects. What am I missing here? In fact, there came a time when I found myself once again trapped in a social situation at the gathering where I questioned my personal level of homophobia, and what do I really want out of a gay life? I wrote about this in a previous post titled: Battling My Internalised Homophobia.


  1. Wonderful post and well done you for the courage in taking that giant leap forward. Congratulations.

    1. Thanks Jason! I'm sure we've all been there. Hope you're well.