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“Desperately Seeking Sex Online”
Q: I need a bit of advice on my sex life. I’m 24 and my main goal at the moment is to have fun and sleep around. I’m not bad looking but I’m no model. Here’s the problem: Ever since I came out eight years ago, I feel like an oddball on the scene as I don’t know how to approach guys with the intention of it leading to sex. My friends say I look very sweet and innocent and they think it can put guys off. I am on Gaydar and other sex websites that are only about hooking up, but I struggle about what to write and most of the messages I send go unanswered, or worse, I get a “no.” I’d really like to hear what you’ve got to say.

A: Man, I really feel for you, especially since you’re reminding me of what dating and hookups were like for me when I first started playing around. Before I give you any advice, let me just say two things. First off, it’s great that you know what you’re looking for – in this case, sex. Less risk of wasting other people’s time, let alone your own. Second, if some guys aren’t turned on to you because you’re “sweet and innocent,” believe me they are going to be many more who just love those qualities in you.

To get to the nitty gritty, I think there are some other things you’re likely overlooking. Hooking up online is all about first impressions and that’s why you need to pay such close attention to your screen name, profile, and photos that you post (and you must post pix). When it comes to a screen name, be explicit:  BangUBud, SexyStoner, and Jeff11X7 put it on the line. For you, I might suggest: NastynNice – or some other handle that suggests there’s more to you than meets the eye. Then, you also need to be clear in your profile about what you want. Here are some highly specific ones I found online: “I’m most attracted to younger, masculine bottoms.”  “Definitely not a vanilla type of guy” or “Poz seeks same.”
One of the great advantages of hooking up online is the ability to put out there what you want – and, often, get it.

Next: Your photos. Sometimes I visit sex pickup sites and I see a handsome guy but he looks like he just came from work. You need to show some skin! Or he’s a perfect ectomorph and has unwisely chosen BigMuscle.com as his hookup site. Choose a site that’s going to work for who you are and who you’re seeking. Last point: You need to be explicit in your photos although it’s your choice whether that extends to full-frontal nudity; remember what you put up online stays online – potentially forever.

Finally: Bear in mind that many – if not most – guys don’t get responses back. Don’t take it to heart; it’s simply the way of the Internet.

“Grandma, I’m bi”
Q: I’m a bi woman, and my current boyfriend knows it – and it’s not a big deal to him. My grandparents however, don’t know yet and I want to tell them. They’re very loving but deeply religious. However, they deserve to know the truth since they took ten years raising me when they didn’t have to. How do I tell them that I like men and women equally without worrying about how they’ll react to the news?

A: I think it’s great that you want to share your truth with your grandparents (even though being in a relationship with an opposite-sex partner means you don’t have to) and that you’re so considerate of their feelings. Most of the time, respect begets respect (if not acceptance). Of course, coming out to one’s family as bi – or gay or transgender for that matter – is often a big step and telling your religious relatives could put your knickers in a twist  (it would make me want to reach for an Ativan.)

Before you sit down and talk with them, I suggest doing some research into your grandparents’ likely beliefs on this subject so that you can be prepared. Certainly, not all religious folk are homophobic, especially when it comes to a family member. But if that’s what you’re facing, take aim against that much-quoted Leviticus argument against homosexuality: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination,” which is frequently translated by Christian fundamentalists to: “Homosexuality is absolutely forbidden, for it is an enormous sin.” A good reply to this argument is to point out that Leviticus also says that shaving and eating pork are abominations – and supports the idea of owning slaves.

Whichever way the discussion goes, I would definitely be careful to avoid getting into an argument. Fights generally produce more fire than light. Do your best to remain patient and respectful, speak from your heart, and be prepared to walk away if necessary. And definitely don’t expect to actually change your grandparents’ views on bisexuality – at least not right away.

*Steven Petrow is the author of the forthcoming book, Steven Petrow’s Complete Gay & Lesbian Manners (www.gaymanners.com). To ask him your personal question: ask@gaymanners.com.