A few years ago, I was asked by a gay newbie to be his mentor, and this isn’t one of those things that should make you go “hmmmm…” Nothing sexual here, just an advisory post. I admit that I’m not a good mentor, since being one solicits expectations of being knowledged in most aspects of the lifestyle, even the sexual ones. I’m the last person to approach when it comes to those experiences.
The neophyte is almost always curious about exploring sexuality openly. As Will & Grace's Jack would say, it's putting the 'sex' in 'homosexual.' But one doesn’t need to throw himself face-first into the food chain, or be too excited about bagging that first boyfriend. It’s all about choice and circumstance. Even though I’ve consciously been attracted to guys as early as sixth grade, I never had a boyfrined till I was 24, and I became part of a gay posse only in 2002. In my youth, I felt out of place among the more flamboyant gay guys, and found comfort instead in the hetero-groups who liked comics, games and cartoons. I was a gay geek, rated “rare” in the whole spectrum of homosexual character classes.
But what I do know is that there are many paths for the gay newbie, as much as there are many kinds of homosexuals. Nowadays, newbies enjoy the privilege of testing the waters by doing things online. They go to chat sites, peruse personal ads, participate in discussion forums, or maybe even subscribe to internet porn, sticking to their learning curve. This virtual encounter with PLUs (or People Like Us) can lead to phone calls, text chats and EBs (eyeballs), with possibilities for friendship, romance or lust thrown in. Others who already have a set of gay friends get the bonus of going to gay bars and meeting other members of the community. Then comes the fascination with being in a homosexual relationship for the first time.
Like any other socio-cultural group, the gay community has its share of the good guys, the bad guys, and the outright disgustingly evil-as-hell guys. Newbies aren’t really forced to do what they don’t want to do, unless they want something really interesting to blog about or share with straight friends for shock value. They’ll discover that being gay is not all about hooking up, getting down and partying till dawn. One day, they’ll wake up to the real issues LGBTs face, about religion and society and politics. Many homosexuals declare atheism or agnosticism, or a change of religion. Many homosexuals wonder about growing old alone, and whether the world will be kinder. Many begin to sense or even be victims of political and professional prejudices.
And eventually, they’ll wrestle with being called bakla.
If we set aside the sores and scabs, being gay can be fun, enjoyable and exciting, and the present allows homosexuals more opportunities than ever before. Though the novelty is wearing thin because of the sudden increase in the homosexual population, there’s relatively less to worry about on a social level compared to twenty or so years ago. I see more guys holding hands in public, and transvestites strutting their stuff confidently in malls. As Icon magazine’s EIC Richie Villarin would say, it’s important for members of the community to step forward and be counted. Hopefully this will help make more of the closeted less afraid, and help society understand what we’re all about--that like every single soul, we just want to live life the best way we know how, and that we’re no more or less than everyone else.