Sunday, June 20, 2010

What is a “wink”, a “smile”, or a “tug”?

On most of the cruise sites, there exists a button or link to Send A Smile to another site member (whose profile you are viewing), Send a Tug, a Nudge, a Wink, Poke them, and so on.  But you’ll also see profiles where users say “Don’t send tugs” or “I don’t reply to winks.”

You have to wonder why, if some people hate these things so much, they are still even available.

What They Are

What these things are (mostly) intended to be are content-free “Hello” mechanism.

In the real world, motorcycle riders signal each other as they ride by, acquaintances wave to each other across the bar, and people make brief eye-contact at the supermarket.  We acknowledge each other’s presence and existence, and signal a mild recognition.

The intent of these online mechanisms is pretty much the same thing.  “You’re on my buddy list and I thought I’d say hi.”  “I looked at your profile and wanted you to know I thought it was good.”  “I see that you sent me a smile, so here’s one back.”

Why People Hate Them

The problem that arises is that many of these interactions which gay guys encounter (other than Facebook “pokes”) are on cruise sites, and thus may carry sexual intent.  You wouldn’t be there if you weren’t looking for (or at least thinking about) sex, right?  So when you “nudge” someone, what does it mean?  (Well, it means exactly what you meant it to mean, right?)

For the person receiving the “tug”, though, it could be interpreted to mean many things:
  • I’m your buddy, just saying hi
  • I visited your profile
  • I visited your profile and liked it
  • I want you to visit my profile
  • I think you’re sexy/hot/cute/woofy
  • I think you’re sexy/hot/cute/woofy but I’m too shy to send you a real note
  • I think you’re sexy/hot/cute/woofy but saying nothing more than “I think you’re sexy/hot/cute/woofy” in a note sounds dumb (and nothing more than “Hey” would sound real dumb)
  • I expect you to know exactly what I mean by this and for you to do the correct follow-up, and I’ll be pissy if you don’t
Ambiguity in socio-sexual settings unnerves many guys.  They don’t know how to interpret the signals, they don’t know if they should react, they don’t know what the next move is (if any).  And so rather than making some response which might be inferior or outright wrong, they throw up their hands and say “Go away!  If you can’t be 100% clear in your intentions [which is to say, if I can’t be 100% sure about your intentions], I’d rather not have them directed at me!”

What I Do

When I get a wink/nudge/smile/poke/tug, I treat it for the one thing it unambiguously is: an invitation to (think about) conversation.  (That’s the one thing definite: another person was saying “Hey, I’m here!”)

Then I analyze further.  Do I recognize the screen name?  (And if so, do I need to do anything more?)  I most likely go look at the guy’s profile: maybe I’ll recognize his pic, or maybe he has new pics or new profile details.  If he’s someone I have any interest in acknowledging back — I know him, or he’s sexy/hot/cute/woof, or I just feel that it would be polite — I’ll send at least a wink/nudge/smile/poke/tug in return (I’ll “wave back”).  And maybe I’ll linger on his profile, check out his pics, fantasize a bit, and then send a full message back to him, saying how sexy/hot/cute/woofy I think he is and how I’d like to wink/nudge/smile/poke/tug him in person sometime and is he free tonight or this weekend?

But I find it really hard to be annoyed at someone whom I may not know who is waving at me from across the room.

(Now, if everyone across the room started waving all at once with big sweeping arms and jumping up and down… I’d probably pop one of those Viagra pills smuggled out of Nigeria by the prime minister’s cousin and go fuck them all at once.)

What does “Poz-Friendly” mean?

Short Answer

“Poz-Friendly” means “HIV-negative, but willing to have sex with positive guys, using rubbers and such.”

Much Longer Answer

In the 1980s, AIDS and HIV had the gay community running scared.  Early on, no one knew what it was or how it was contracted.  For guys who didn’t have AIDS and who weren’t especially well informed, avoidance became a major method of dealing with it: avoid social contact and especially avoid sexual contact.

Later, when the sexual and body fluids transmission routes became better documented, the social avoidance issues eventually mostly went away.  Of course, habits born of emergency and fear are hard to kill, so it took years for the bulk of the gay community to re-establish suitable social engagement, and that cascades outward, such that you still get bizarre transmission avoidance notions in third-world countries, such as eating lots of garlic with ward of HIV.

But if social avoidance largely ceased, sexual avoidance didn’t.  How safe are condoms?  How safe is oral sex?  How safe is open-mouthed kissing?  These sorts of questions, coupled with the push to desensitize people to the idea of HIV by encouraging guys to reveal their HIV status prior to a sexual encounter, kept sex with HIV+ as a major avoidance subject.  That continues to this day.  You can see online profiles loaded with terms like “negative”, “clean”, and “DDF” (drug and disease free), all of which are code for “HIV+ need not apply.”

One of my regrets from the mid-1990s is that when I was dating Eric, and he informed me of his HIV+ status, I broke things off with him.  Not directly, consciously because he was positive, but over the following year or two, I realized that was the core of things, and that embarrassed me.  That brought me to a few realizations:
  1. Drug advances at the time were making HIV less of a death sentence than it had been in the previous years.
  2. I was living in the San Francisco Bay Area at the time, so I was cutting off a large pool of potential boyfriends and sex partners by cutting out HIV+ guys.
  3. Until I was told, I couldn’t tell if someone was HIV+, and due to incubation periods and other issues, a guy might not know his own status, so any reaction I had might be only after we had had sex, at which point the risks had already occurred.
After achieving these realizations, I accepted that my own behaviors were the most important part of the equation.  If I insisted on appropriate measures, I could have hot sex and even pursue relationships with guys regardless of their HIV status, and even if they didn’t know their status accurately, I could avoid being a blocker to pleasure.

Obviously, I’m not the only person to have come to these realizations.  They are fairly widespread (although not universal) in the leather community, where there is a more strongly stated awareness of both what safer sex practices mean (due to the broader range of sex acts leather guys engage it) and an awareness of the costs when aspects of the community are sidelined and pushed away (since leather has been itself in the past).

Today, many guys who have come to these realizations and want to be sure that other people are aware of it — especially HIV+ guys, since they are those who are primarily targetted with the phrase — use “Poz-Friendly” (often as “Safe Sex/Poz-Friendly”) in their online profiles as such, indicating both that they engage in safe sex (rubbers and gloves) and that they don’t discriminate based on HIV status.

Mr. Friendly

An effort has been made to attach some iconography to this concept, called “Mr. Friendly”, a smiley face with his nose a + and one eye a -.  (Myself, I think the icon fails.  I identify the icon as the Jack In The Box mascot before attaching sex-related meanings to it.)  You can read more about Mr. Friendly here.

Friday, June 18, 2010

If you leave things hanging, a hookup won’t happen
Or…
Apparently being a top means never having to say “Maybe I was wrong”

Prepping for a recent trip out of state, I started poking around the locals on various cruise sites a couple weeks beforehand, to see who was out there and if I could set up a playdate.  After I looked at one guy’s profile — top, into tickling but also into a bunch of other stuff based on the gear mentioned in his profile — he hit me up.  I told him when I was going to be there, and that I was looking to play Friday or Saturday nights.

Four days before I would be there, he left me a note suggesting we play Saturday morning (so I would have the rest of the day free), and he asked if I was ticklish.  He said he didn’t check the site every day, and left his phone number.

I replied that same night that I wasn’t available during the day, was looking for the evening, and indicated that I wasn’t really interested in tickling.  I didn’t expect a reply back for at least a couple days, based on his last message, and when I didn’t hear back by Saturday (5 days), it appeared evident that since I wasn’t available for when and what he wanted, he had simply dropped the conversation.  Miss Manners probably wouldn’t approve, but such behavior is hardly unusual for online cruise site discourse.

Over a week later, he finally sent me a note back and here’s the exchange that ensued.  (I’ve removed all indications of his identity, but left both his and my text as written, with the exception of changing straight quotes to prettier curly ones and the like.)

Him:
Guess you weren’t really interested in meeting.  Provided my phone number to you twice, and yet you never called to try and manage logistics and meeting times.
Me:
No, you provided it once (check your History).  You proposed a time that could not work for me, and frankly, the tickling fetish isn’t what I was after.

While you said you don’t check this daily, the fact that you made no replies after *Monday* implied to me that you weren’t that interested.

So don’t put the entire burden back on me.  “Crossed signals&rdquo is best.

Him:
Gonna disagree here.  You don’t know how I use tickling in a scene…youre scared of some erotic touch?!?!  I gave u my phone number to use…  U didn’t use it.  Pretty simple.  Hope your trip was good but you did drop the ball.
Me:
Look, it’s really simple: your last message on Monday gave me nothing to feed off of.  You basically said “Here’s what I like to do most and when&rdquo (which is great), but I replied “I can’t do it then and I’m not sure that’s what I want to do.&rdquo  And you didn’t respond back for several days.  Why would anyone call someone after four days to set up something in that circumstance?  As the Magic 8-Ball would say, “All signs point to no.&rdquo

Would you have been up for fisting at 10 pm on Saturday, rather than tickling at 10 am?  Where are my clues for that?

If you still think I dropped the ball, the you’re showing that I was right to.  I *could* have called, but I had no incentive to.

Him:
Whatever u need to think to justify your actions.  See… Humans converse.  Had u done the human thing and called you might have learned what u needed.  It’s not my job to “sell” you on an encounter.  I clearly said I don’t use that interface often.  I’ve no shortage of playmates, but I’d say your approach prevented our meeting.  Pure and simple.  And I’ve “incentive&rdquo to chase you.  Might lookup others with whom I played…  That’s why they are listed in my profile.  Once again, u made no effort.  Last MSG from me, uninspired by you, dude.  Your profile led me to believe you were a bit more than you displayed in this encounter.
Me:
Yes, humans converse, and you didn’t.

And it *is* your job to sell me on an enocunter (and mine to sell you).  It goes both ways.

(And then I blocked him, since it sure wasn’t going to get any friendlier after that.)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Diss where I live, that’ll help you get laid!

A couple months ago, I got contacted by a guy on Manhunt who was looking to top in BDSM and kinky play.  We took the exchange to e-mail (that’s what he wanted).  Here’s how it went:

Me:
Hello, sir.  Thanks for contacting me on Manhunt.

I am certainly interested in meeting you for possible play.  I am very much into fisting, but I also like piss play, many forms of BDSM, and just plain fucking and sucking.  I would be happy to strictly bottom for you.

You can reach me at this e-mail address at your leisure.  I am available this weekend, after 11 pm on Friday.
Him:
wknds are unlikely to work for me often
monday mornings are often good for me
where do you live?
Me:
Perhaps some weekday evenings would work?  I could do a Monday morning on occasion; just have to work late to balance it (but I can do that).

I live in Columbia City/Mt. Baker.
Him:
wow, Columbia City, cool neighborhood but not very convenient.
evenings are not easy for the same reason as wknds, happily married with kids
send ass face body pix
Not too happily married, I would guess, if you’re trolling for gay sex to happen when the wife is at work and the kids are at school.

But really: your job as a BDSM top is to seduce me into doing what you want.  My job as a BDSM bottom is to seduce you into doing to me what I want.  It’s a two-way street; just because you’re the ostensible top doesn’t mean you have free rein to dictate all aspects of the scene.

He could have been more firm on the time constraints.  Since Monday mornings are apparently all he was interested in, he really should have made that clear from the first contact.

But for God’s sake, don’t diss where I live!  Just tell me it’s too far to work for you and I’ll understand.

“Fuck off” is a great safeword to stop Internet sessions gone astray.



Updated on October 13, 2010
A few weeks ago, I got hit up by a boy who was looking to recruit another bottom for his daddy/sir to play with.  Guess who his top was?

I politely declined, saying just that I had had a past exchange with his top which didn’t go well, and refused to give details.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

What does “discreet” mean?

I often see cruise posts — especially on CraigsList — where the writer describes himself as “discreet”.

Once upon a time, that would have referred to the person himself being discreet, being trustworthy when it comes to dealing with people who may have careers or other situations where it would be bad to have their name and pics broadcast widely in a homosexual context.  (For example, an elementary school teacher or someone living with an elderly parent.)  By extension, a request for a hookup connection to be “discreet” was a request to respect those sensitive areas: don’t broadcast my name, understand why the only pic I can send you includes a woman, please don’t leave sexy messages on my answering machine.

Today, of course, that meaning has mutated.  Today, “discreet” allegedly means closeted.  From Urban Dictionary:
A word gay/bi men use to describe themselves in a cool way that they are closet cases and have no intention of coming out soon.  This allows them to maintain perceived heterosexual privilege while engaging in their true sexual desires.
Beyond “closeted”, though, these days “discreet” today tends to mean “cheating”.  When a guy says he’s “discreet”, you can bet that he’s not in an open relationship and he’s not just in the closet: he’s sneaking around on his boyfriend/husband/girlfriend/wife without permission.

Which means:
  • He may be giving you a fake name.  (I got hit up by someone going by the name “John Master”, a name one porn film short of “Rod Steel”.)
  • He doesn’t have a facepic to give you.  If he’s gay, he might have a dickpic, though.
  • He may well flake out on actually meeting for sex.  (Yeah, just like the out gay boys, you say, but it’s even more likely.)
  • He will be offended if you suggest that he is cheating on someone.
  • If you ever see him out socially, he probably won’t even acknowledge knowing you (especially if he gave you a fake name), much less be friendly to you.
In general, there are enough horny gay guys out there who are reasonably out that you don’t need to settle for the dodgy ones who won’t do the online equivalent of looking you in the eye.



Updated on June 8, 2010
This post was inpsired by a guy I was chatting with for a potential hookup who dropped the “pretty discreet guy here” bomb only on the third exchange.  I completely blew up at him:
  • If it means you’re scared to death you might be seen in another neighborhood than you are usually in, stay home.
  • If it means you’re scared to death that if I see you out and about, I might say “Hello”, stay home.
  • If it means coming here would be cheating on a boyfriend/husband/girlfriend/wife — if you don’t have an open enough relationship to do this — stay home (and talk to that person about your interests).
On the other hand:
  • I’m not going to come up to you on the street and say “Hello, want to fist me again” in front of your buddies.
  • I’m not going to post your pics on my blog to say “I did this guy.”
  • I’m not going to stalk you after the fact, or get “weird”.
But:
  • I’m not going to protect your closet (whatever sort of “closet” it might be), but neither will I tear off the door and point at what you have in there.

Friday, June 4, 2010

God Save Me from Muscle Tops!

In April, when I was in Vancouver, BC for Rubbout, I got hit up online by a guy whose profile described him as a “muscle top” (and the pics confirmed that, or at least the “muscle” part of it).  He was hot for me, so I invited him to the hotel room.

I’ve never pursued dating muscle boys.  My shorthand quip has been “If they spend that much time at the gym, they won’t be spending it at the Jim.”  And the perception has always been that most of them are interested in other hardbodies; it’s not like I’m fat — I’ve got a small tummy and would like to lose maybe 10 lbs. — but I also sure don’t qualify as a muscle boy, not even as a muscle bear.  But hey, on the occasions when one wants to play with my, I’ll give it a roll.

When he got to the hotel, he had me put on a pair of black socks he had brought, my black boots, and the black baseball cap he was wearing, while he put on a black toque.  He wants to play with someone dressed like him?  Okay, I can deal with a little costume fetish.

We got into some boot licking and cocksucking, but about every five minutes, he had to take a break to take a swig of what looked like Gator-ade and then of water.  Gotta keep the electrolytes up and stay hydrated.  Maybe he just finished a workout.  Okay, I can deal with this, although it sure breaks up the rhythm.

Feeling up his ass while sucking dick, I found that his crack was hairy as all get out, and prickly hairy (like stubble a day or two old).  Bodybuilders often shave to enhance the show of muscle definition.  The amount of maintenance that the hair in his ass crack implied had to be done to keep the rest of his body seem so hairless boggles the mind, though.  Okay, I prefer some natural hair growth to shaved or even manscaped, but it’s not required.

Every two or three breaks to hydrate, he went and stood in front of the closet mirrors for a moment and checked himself out.  Looked himself up and down, posed.  Total narcissist.  Isn’t that what I’m supposed to be here for?  Okay, getting a little weird.  Wonder if he’s just like this naturally or if he’s tweaking on something?

His phone beeped, as a text message came in.  He reached for the phone — made it hard for me to stay on his dick — but he didn’t need to reply to the message, apparently.  Once is forgivable.  Twice is annoying.  Three times is really annoying.  But once you have me in the sling and your hands are gloved and covered with lube…

Let the damn phone alone!

Jesus Christ, if seeing the text message that you aren’t even going to reply to is so important that you’ll risk slopping Crisco all over your BlackBerry rather than wait 20 minutes, maybe you shouldn’t be playing with anyone.  Decide what’s most important: a hand in the ass or two on the phone.

Needless to say, as soon as I could after that, I got things finished up and sent him on his way.  There’s no graceful way to explode at someone’s behavior once you’re in the sling, so I just had to hurry things along and shut them down quickly.

Now, I don’t know if he had some important business deal or some such pending, or if the texts were from other guys he had hit up, or from his dealer or workout partner or whatever.  It really doesn’t matter.  It’s a version of the same thing that I said when people defended those whose cell phones would ring during a movie or the symphony: if you have to be reachable at all times, put it on vibrate and check it discreetly when it goes off.  And if you being reached means you will have to drop what you are doing and leave, don’t do anything where dropping it suddenly will cause problems for others (like cutting out of dinner or the middle of sex).  In those rare cases where such might occur anyway, let the affected other people know up front, and for God’s sake, apologize if it happens.

It doesn’t matter if you are a parent with a baby left with the sitter, or a doctor on call, or bodybuilder fisting top: “Don’t be rude” is the only rule you need in this situation.