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The Vine: May 3, 2007

Submitted by on May 3, 2007 – 8:33 AM14 Comments

Dear Sars,

I just got out of my first legitimate relationship (I'm a measly 22-year-old) and I feel like I'm ready to move on to something better. But I don't know where to meet the right guys. I live in New York and I'm gay, so this shouldn't be too hard, right?


College was a great meeting ground, but unfortunately that's over now. Bars and clubs don't work that well for me. I'm fine with my body and I think I look great, but when I go to most gay alcoholic establishments in New York, I don't see anyone who looks like me. The closest I've been to a gym in three years is when I wedge myself into the doorframe of an NYSC so I can light my cigarette without the wind hampering my attempt.

Parties are great, but most of the parties that I go to don't have many gay folk there, if any. And since I'm looking for someone within my age group, most LGBT centers and organization functions aren't a great solution since they're populated by people who tend to be either 5 years too young or 20 years too old. I've tried online personals, but they haven't worked out too well for me in the past. Craigslist would be great if I was looking for a prostitute, but I'm not. I'm just looking for a date that might lead to more than a one-night encounter. Do you have any suggestions on finding the right gay guy in New York?

Sincerely,

The Only Living Gay Boy in New York

Dear Living,

Nice S&G reference.

I've actually come across suitable boys — or suitable-seeming boys — all over the place since moving to the city back when God was in short pants. Looking at the list of New-York-vintage boyfriends, I see one I picked up at a bar, one I ran into on the street, one I met through friends, one I met at a party, a couple of co-workers/guys I met through work, one friend set-up, dudes from college that I ran into in the city — it's a wide range of sources.

I suppose it's different for gay men, although I don't know how different, really, if what you want is a long-term relationship and not just a pick-up, but then, developing an initial attraction into a solid, long-lasting bond isn't easy no matter where you found the guy. And I didn't marry any of the guys on that list, but that doesn't mean it wasn't worthwhile, or that I shouldn't take a guy's number at a party just because the last time I did it, the guy and I broke up.

I'll leave the comments open here in case the readership has any specific "target-rich area" suggestions that I don't know about, but it's like I've said a hundred times — he's out there. He's on his way. I can't tell you when he's going to show up or where or what he'll look like, but he'll get here. In the meantime, live your life. Do what you like to do; do it without an eye to meeting The One. Stop expecting him, because that's when he always turns up.

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14 Comments »

  • Maimy says:

    Sars is right, looking is the worst way to find this particular part of one's life. I looked in all the places mentioned above, and added volunteering at an art museum (as a straight woman, I found that to be a GREAT place to meet gay men and young, married dads with kids), working with Habitat for Humanity, outdoor concerts, and even my father's genius suggestion of taking his beautiful sports car to a British car show.

    The guy I did find after the questing was a bit of a bookmark; I dated him for four months because he was "perfect on paper", finally broke up with him three months later than I should have … and less than a month after that, I met the right man on Girls Night Out ninety miles from home. It's such a cliche', the old "it'll come when you're not looking." But some things become trite and well-worn for obvious reasons.

    Put yourself out there, without endgames, goals or strategies in mind. You say yourself you're only twenty-two. There's time. Give yourself that. And best of luck to you!

  • Jane says:

    One of my best college friends (gay man) moved to NYC after graduation, and after hearing his stories, I can tell you that he met guys pretty much anywhere and everywhere. His most serious boyfriend he met at Starbucks, and he met his current bf at the Gay Olympics. I think the most crucial thing he has done is to specifically seek out interest-based organizations that are geared towards gay men. He's athletic, so he's always been out playing basketball, soccer, or football with lots of other gay dudes. I know you say sports aren't your thing, but if you could think of something that is, and then find a gay organization that is built around that, that would be a good starting point. I think the key thing is just to grow your gay social network, and then the parties and the places to meet guys will become more obvious to you.

  • Catherine says:

    I met the love of my life on Match.com. And I TOTALLY did not expect to! I went on some nice dates with some nice men, and there wasn't much there, but at least I was getting out of the house. And then, WHAMMO! There he was.

    I don't know how good Match is for gay connections, but I'm sure there is some online dating website tailored specifically for gay people. Good luck!

  • Abbie says:

    Whatever you do, don't stay home. Whenever someone asks you to do something, do it. I met my husband at the most godawful nightclub (I went as the winggirl as a favor to a friend) . We were the only two normal people there.

  • Jennaratrix says:

    It isn't always true that "it happens when you aren't looking," but it sure was the case with me. I met my husband playing (*gulp*) Everquest. You can bet yer sweet bippy I wasn't looking to meet the love of my life on an online role-playing game where I ran around as an ELF killing ORCS with my magic wand. Ahem.

    So, yeah, just find stuff you like to do and do it. I think there may be an extra wrinkle when you're gay, but if you're doing what you like, you'll find people who like the same things you do, and some of 'em will be gay. In the meantime, you're doing stuff you like! It's win/win.

  • meara says:

    What Jane said above–I'm a queer girl, and came out after college (there were next to no lesbians at my school, but plenty of gayboys!). But I think the advantage we have over straight people (at least in big cities) is that there are tons of activities that are targeted at the gay population. Here in DC we have gay bowling, gay iceskating, gay rollerskating, gay band, gay choir, gay volunteering, gay filmfestival, gay rowing, gay running, gay two-stepping….the list is endless. Sure, you might go to the gay choir and realize it's mostly 50 year old lesbians. But you meet people. And they know people (it's a tight, incestuous community!!!), and they invite you to parties, and you enjoy the activity you're in (which always makes you more attractive!), etc, etc….

  • bstewart says:

    I tend to agree more with Jennaratrix's suggestions, though they might seem initially tough to accomplish; self-knowledge usually is, and honing in on that which you really love is quite a feat when you're all of 22.

    I'd focus on what you love for the reasons she states, above, but also because finding what you love is easier than trying to find groups of men into that same thing. That is, you'll find what you love, and the other guys will just happen to be there.

    Also, if it's what you love (Books? Bookstore. Photography? Bookstore or gallery or camera store. Live music? You should be able to find somewhere in NYC for that. Badminton? Badminton… rink?) you'll already have some knowledge on which to casually and confidently start a conversation after some flirtatious glances. And, by all means, make your flirty glances obvious! Raise an eyebrow or two to acknowledge your eye contact!

    When I was much younger — though not as young as you, TOLGBINY — I tended to go to gaycentric events and clubs and whatnot, but I usually wound up meeting guys for whom sexual orientation meant a lot more than it did to me. Thus the advice to just do the stuff you love.

  • Shannon says:

    I'm straight woman, and I think the trick is to have a wide social circle. I live near where I grew up, and the impulse is to just hang with the people I went to school with. But if you spend all of your time with the same people, you'll never meet anyone new. So I signed up for a bachelorette auction, put an ad on Craigslist, and never turned down a party invitation. I don't know if I've met the love of my life, but I've met some nice guys. If you go into a date looking for the love of your life, a long-term commitment, etc, you'll put so much pressure on the situation that you won't get to know that cute guy across the table. Relax! Everything really will be OK.

  • LTG says:

    meara is right — you won't walk into your first meeting of some club or association and fall instantly in love with someone, but you will meet plenty of folks who have the same interests as you. And those people will help broaden your social life.

    So, in that light, check out urbanoutings.com, the community resources directory at edgenewyork.com, the groups page at gaycenter.org, and http://www.20somethingnyc.com.

  • hotchachie says:

    I lived in NYC for a time in my early 20's, too, (now am mid-20's) and there really are gay men all over the place. That said, finding another 20-something gay man who wants a long-term relationship in New York is like finding a needle in a haystack, especially since so many in the city are very career-oriented. You will have more options if you consider slightly older men. Also, you shouldn't discount the bar scene so quickly. Not everyone there is a bar rat looking for a hook-up. Try to find bars that fit your type. You'll find fewer guys your age in Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen. More younger guys hang in the East Village. Try happy hour, too, for a far less cruisy vibe.
    Also, I credit finally finding my man to making a conscious choice to only date worthwhile men. You know right away when there's a connection so don't waste any time going out with men you don't have that with. Think about what you need and want out of a relationship and don't settle for someone who doesn't measure up. Good luck!

  • mctwin says:

    While "it happens when you're not looking" is true most of the time, I've found that "true love won't come knocking at your door looking for you" is true ALL the time! When me or my friends lament about having no significant other, we remind each other that no one is at the door, asking for our hands in marraige, unless its the UPS delivery person. You have to at least meet your soulmate halfway and get out of the house! Food shop everyday, go to events, anything as long as you are visible to the human race. Getting out certainly raises the odds.

    Good luck!

  • marykmac says:

    Part of the trick is to find the right balance between doing the things you're interested in, and finding the version of them that's going to have a higher-than-average proportion of gay men. If you're doing stuff you're interested in, then someone comes along and you're already going to have common ground and a reason to see each other regularly.

    Don't take up a sport or volunteer or get involved in book groups or take up sports purely in order to Find A Boyfriend, obviously, but if you are into reading, find a gay book group. If you're into doing volunteer work, get involved with a group that works with HIV+ people or does outreach to sex workers or LGBT education in schools. If you're politically minded, look for queer activist groups. If you're academically minded, take an evening class in LGBT history. Find a cinema that's doing a season of queer films with discussions afterwards. Post on LGBT-oriented bulletin boards and go along to the meet-ups. And so on and so forth.

    Just find ways of hanging out with other gay people with some sort of activity in common, and don't get hung up on whether or not you want to sleep with them. Ninety-nine percent of them aren't going to be people you find attractive, but they'll invite you to parties and introduce you to their mates and you'll hear about other activities going on and so on. Nothing's guaranteed, but you can definitely shorten the odds!

  • beaglegoth says:

    Look into getting involved with community theatre, if that idea has any appeal to you on it's own and not just as a place to hook up with someone. I'm a straight woman who does a lot of community theatre and when my mom asks me, coyly, if I've met any nice men, I tell her that theatre is a great place to meet gay and/or married men.

  • Miranda says:

    I totally agree with beaglegoth. Community theater is a great place to meet people as long as you don't mind if they are a little nuts (speaking as a community theater person, I do think it attracts its share of head cases who didn't get enough love in their childhoods — and I count myself among those!). And even if I can't guarantee you a boyfriend from the community theater route, I can almost absolutely guarantee you a girl friend or two — theater's full, and I mean *full*, of fruit flies. :-) (Seriously, though, theater is a great place to meet gay guys.)

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