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If you were as closeted or as Mormon as I was, coming out and immersing oneself in the company of other gay men, many of whom have been out since their early 20’s, can be a daunting feat. This post is for you.

You’re welcome.

I suppose in some places like Utah there are plenty of other recently out gay Mormon fathers who can help each other in the transition. I don’t live there. In my community with a fairly significant gay population I’m the only one I’ve met who:

  • Was a Mormon
  • Has young kids and pays child support
  • Came out later than age 30
  • had to ask what a “circuit party” was

So in case there are others out there just starting their journey, here’s a little primer for you to help make your way in this  gay world where everyone else has been at it much longer than you have.

1. Gay men can’t spell – They call each other “gurl” and “boi” and I can’t tell if either is an insult or a compliment. I just know that I don’t like either one.

Two of these men are in a committed relationship. Can you tell which? Me neither.

2. “In a relationship” can mean a gazillion things – It does not automatically mean that he’s not going to hit on you…again….and again (See #3 below). I’ve also recently discovered that it doesn’t necessarily mean that the 2 in the relationship are having sex with each other, or that they don’t allow sex outside the partnership, or that they do. Confused? Me too.

3. NO – This is a sound you make that goes in a gay man’s ear and travels directly out the other side. It will spend no longer than 5 minutes inside. It will have to be used…again….and again.

4. Just friends – Again, this can sometimes mean the exact same thing as “in a relationship,” but in this case the partners are probably not living together and only “hook up” when they are bored (see #5 below).

5. “Bored” – This is some sort of “come hither” term in the gay world meaning “super horny” as you can tell from the many online personal ads advertising how “bored” the authors are at that very moment.

This get’s gay men really hot apparently

6. Straight-acting – This is a highly desired level of gayhood according personal ads and personal experience. It’s like the celestial room in the gay temple. If you make it there, you are close to God. Gay men seek it in a partner and therefore many gay men try to be it. I’ve personally never encountered one gay men who I thought was straight-acting, but a lot of guys claim to be it. Maybe I’m just not understanding it right or not looking in the right places, but if you are a man and you are looking for a man you’re already out of the running to be “straight-acting.”  I don’t care how much football you watch or how handy you are with a hammer the fact that you are sitting down in the coffee shop flirting with me on our first date makes you pretty gay-acting.

7. Top/BottomShockingly this will be the first question you will be asked. The petitioner is asking about your preferred sexual position because gay men like to hold a board meeting and hammer out the details before proceeding towards a more meaningful friendship or sexual encounter. The assumption of course is that anal sex is a pretty powerful identity marker in the gay world and that that is what you will be doing with this new person. You will know this detail about your new friends long before you even know their last name. There are sub-cultures within these two gay parties such as Vers/Top, Vers/Bottom (see #8 below), Power Bottom, Total Top, Bossy Bottom, Passive Top. Unlike other culture groups, with these definitions you want to look for your opposites.

8. Versatile – A very distrusted person who appears unable to make up his mind. This is the sort of guy who in the Mormon world would be called to be Executive Secretary or Sunday School President but not the Bishop, nor is he talented enough to be the Ward Organist.

9. Camp – There are a host of gay movies, celebrities and icons that everyone seems to be in on, except for the newbie  – so many in fact that I couldn’t possibly list them all. We’re talking far more than Judy Garland and Barbara Streisand here. It takes a lot of dedicated study to catch up. Good luck with that. Take special note: Not knowing these songs and quotes could actually be the one thing that makes you appear as an all-coveted “straight-acting” gay man (see #6 above), so you may just want to leave it alone. To be safe, start watching the Bravo Channel on the sly.

10. Children – These are creatures that lesbians try to adopt. They are completely off a gay man’s radar. When a fellow gay man discovers you are a daddy(see #11 below) he will be slightly impressed and intrigued until it’s clear that you’re not talking about wearing leather or the  type of bar you frequent. When he learns that children mean actual little people and actual time and actual money his eyes will glaze over. If the conversation continues and he uncovers that there are FOUR little people he will enter a full-blown panic attack with visions in his head of Tiffany vases being broken. This is a good topic to introduce when “NO” isn’t working (see #3 above).

11. Twink/Daddy/Bear/Muscle-Mary/Pocket-Gay/etc – There is literally a label for every possibly caricature in the gay world…and frighteningly enough men will pigeon-hole themselves into these pre-determined boxes. I admit though, it is sometimes a convenient way to shorten that pre-encounter board meeting (see #7 above).

12. Gaydar – I’m sure most people already know what this term means, but it’s a skill that’s currently dying with the introduction of the mobile app Grindr. In case you don’t know what Grindr is, it’s the app your date is looking at when he thinks you’ve turned your head. Using GPS, it allows gay men to spot each other in public, flirt in chat mode (and by “flirt” I mean holding that all important board meeting to establish labels and positions), and finally to actually meet each other for some “straight-acting” games.

13. Hung – This is as important as being “straight-acting”(see #6 above). It’s also almost as illusive. As a rule, you can subtract one inch from what men claim on their personal ad profiles. On second thought, if that’s on the profile on the site you’re visiting do you really care about an inch?

14. Troll – That’s what you are when you post personal ads on dating sites that list your age as 45+ and describe yourself as looking for a boyfriend less than 30. It can also be a man of any age who doesn’t take “NO” for an answer (see # 3 above).

15. Hair – This can be really confusing but apparently: 

  • body hair=bad
  • facial hair=good
  • bald=bad
  • shaved head=good
  • pubic hair=mixed (bare minimum, balls must be shaved. the rest must be groomed)
  • armpit hair=mixed (must be groomed also)

So, hopefully you’ll have a naked picture of yourself when you were a 12 year old skin-head with a goatee because that’s the look you’ll be going for here.

16. Hello/Goodbye – Hello is accomplished like this:

Goodbye: This fairly simple greeting in the gay world is accomplish by complete and utter silence. If you are texting you will just not see a follow-up text. That was his goodbye. You may be out on the town or at a party and he will just disappear. That was his goodbye. If you are dating and he wants to give you the ultimate goodbye, he won’t call, text, or e-mail. In gay language he said goodbye to you by not saying anything.

Goodbye (see! I’m really bad at this)