Fear Factor: First Date Edition.

“It was a pretty lousy episode this week. Nobody died.”

Remember when I said that I met a Jake Ryan-esque dreamboat on OKCupid? Remember how I said that we talked for several hours and that one conversation single-handedly restored my faith in humanity? Well, several hours has turned to several weeks. Last weekend, I was passing through his town on my way to somewhere else, and we agreed to meet for coffee.

 

I texted him at 6:25 PM: “Hey, I’m in your town. At a McDonald’s on 4th. Point me in the right direction!”

6:30, no text. 6:45, no text. At 7:00, I give it up and start the long drive home. I grow old and die alone, with only the Valentine’s candy I bought for myself to hold me at the end.

I texted him at 6:25 PM: “Hey, I’m in your town. At a McDonald’s on 4th. Point me in the right direction!”

He takes a few minutes to respond. These minutes are tense; is he going to stand me up? The bitch better not stand me up. Finally I get a response. “I’m sorry, I got caught up on something. Listen, can we meet another time? I’m just super busy avoiding you because you kind of freak me out. No offense. Drive safe!” Alternating between sobbing and cursing, I order a giant thing of ice cream from the McDonalds drive through and allow it to melt on the drive home while listening to Judy’s “By Myself” on repeat and singing very loudly and very off-key.

I texted him at 6:25 PM: “Hey, I’m in your town. At a McDonald’s on 4th. Point me in the right direction!”

He takes a few minutes to respond. But he does, at 6:32. We work out where I am to discover I’ve missed the Starbucks target by about 5 miles. That’s ok, he responds, just stay where you are. He has moved the meeting from Starbucks to McDonalds, which has effectively moved this from “coffee thing” to “let’s just get this shit over with,” which is the official slogan of McDonalds. He pulls into the parking lot at 7:05 PM, and walks towards me, tall, gorgeous, stylish. I walk towards him. We get under the street lamp, and he stops, aghast. “My God, man! You’re hideous!” He stumbles back into the darkness, and the lights of his blue Chevy Equinox illuminate and are out of the parking lot before you could say, “I just want somebody to love me.” The people inside the McDonalds grab their pitchforks and torches and angry-villager me into the night, never to be heard from again.

I texted him at 6:25 PM: “Hey, I’m in your town. At a McDonald’s on 4th. Point me in the right direction!”

At 7:05, he pulls into the McDonald’s parking lot.

There is some awkward handshaking. We stumble inside to find it relatively devoid of loud high school kids or angry white ladies clearly taking a dinner break from making meth in their storage shed, which is rare for a McDonald’s. The very unenthusiastic salesperson behind the counter offers an encouraging, “wut.” He offers to pay. I provide the socially appropriate amount of resistance before ordering a double Big Mac and large fry, extra salt. It costs $12.98. “You’re going to kill yourself, man,” he says, “You’re disgusting. And fat. See you never.” He storms out, and I’m left with nothing but 5000 calories and the unenthusiastic salesperson getting very frustrated that I won’t tell her whether I want cheese or not. “Yes,” I say. “Give me all the cheese you have.”

At 7:05, he pulls into the McDonald’s parking lot.

Awkward handshaking and stumbling words turn into polite conversations about work and the weather. Red Pants offers to pay the unenthusiastic salesperson, and after the socially appropriate amount of resistance I order a large sweet tea. He follows suit but adds a soft-serve ice cream cone, claiming he is “addicted to them.” We choose a booth as far as possible from the two men who have clearly either just been rustling cattle or have seen High Noon one too many times. The conversation stays on the weather and work. For an hour and a half, we sit around and name our favorite kinds of weather. “I really like the cold,” I say, “I could live in someplace like Lansing, Michigan.” “I like the hot,” he disagrees. “I’m moving to The People’s Republic of Congo eventually, I love the weather there so much.” After a painful hour and a half, there’s some polite “Well, this was fun” and a half-hearted “yeeeeeaaaahhh..” and we part ways never to see or hear from each other again. I die a few years later, cold and alone, surrounded by my porcelain doll collection and a wall mural of Michael Fassbender made entirely out of smaller pictures of Michael Fassbender.

At 7:05, he pulls into the McDonald’s parking lot.

We order, choose a booth, and spend most of the first 3 minutes assuming we have stepped on the other person’s feet. We are eventually able to assume normal conversation. The conversation moves smoothly from TV (which he has great taste in) to working out (which he is also “addicted to” and which I consider a phrase to mean “all of my coworkers know I’m gay”) to religion (which we share similar views on) to coming out (a process in which we are both in similar places).

We talk for an hour and 45 minutes. It is 8:47.

He says he has to go meet a friend. I ask, not so subtly, if he wants to do this again sometime. “Umm… I don’t think so. Have a nice life. Hey, could you throw this napkin away for me?” He walks out. 20 years later, when the neighbors start to smell something strange, they’ll call the police, who will bust in my apartment to find a raccoon feeding on my corpse desperately clutching a 20 year old McDonalds napkin in my left hand.

We talk for an hour and 45 minutes. It is 8:47.

We’re getting up to leave, when I stroll up to him, grab his shirt collar, and say, “Listen up, boy. I see something I want, I take it. And I am done window shopping.” Unable to resist my raw sexual energy and perfectly groomed facial hair, he rips his t-shirt off right there in the middle of the McDonalds and shoves me into the backseat of his car, where even the Good Lord above has to avert his eyes. Within a week we are married, have 2 Himalayan whistle kids named J.Crew and Bookcase, and are making out on top of a moving van, Fear Factor style. We live happily and muscly and environmentally friendly ever after.

I texted him at 6:25 PM: “Hey, I’m in your town. At a McDonald’s on 4th. Point me in the right direction!”

For the next 7 minutes, those scenarios and others are racing through my head. There was even one where he set the McDonalds on fire to avoid spending one more second with me. None of them came true. I wasn’t fending off angry villagers with ogre-like growls, nor devouring an entire truckload of processed cheese slices, nor making out on top of a moving van (however that works).

No, I freaked out for no reason.

Because the 3 things you want to happen in this kind of scenario happened.

  1. Smooth conversation with a combined total of about 3 minutes of awkward silences.
  2. A firm hug at the end of the night.
  3. A tentative plan to do it again soon, “barring any major natural disasters,” which is a thing he said.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to spend the next few weeks alternating between planning our wedding and planning my Legally-Blonde style rom-com revenge plot when he dumps me.

I’m OKCupid, You’re OKCupid.

Me, once again, comparing myself to Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail.

What a brave new world we live in.

I’m not talking, as you might expect, about how we have more than one TV series devoted to the day-to-day life of pawn shop owners. I don’t mean how someone decided that tablets were too big and smartphones too small so they came up with something in between, and people are buying it. I’m not referring to the fact that Jennifer Lawrence made a First Wives Club reference at the Golden Globes and not everybody caught it.

I’m talking about online dating.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “But Bro-tein Shake, Han Bro-lo, Bro-mosexual! Surely the boys are all over you. What could someone like you need with profiles and compatibility ratings and usernames like “big_balls” or “mostlynormal04″?” And you’d be right. The boys are all over this, like moths to a very attractive, very funny, perfectly groomed flame.

But sometimes fending off the advances of the entire homosexual male population of North America (and a couple of drunk straight ones) can get tiresome. Sometimes a Bro-tato Chip could use a break.

And so, our generation, ever the technological pioneers, decided to take all the awkward and slightly assault-y stuff that the last generation did face to face in bars and college classes and church, and move it to the Internet.  While just a few years ago, a guy could get slapped in the face for a simple sentence like “Hey girl, I’m just a chill guy lookin’ for someone to chill with and maybe bang like 2 or 3 times a day, you know, all chill or whatever,” now, that kind of sentence is commonplace; nay, expected. I’ve never seen a dating profile that did not contain the word “chill” actually. Hell, mine has the word “chill.” Twice.

Yes, friends, I created an online dating profile. And I fully realize the irony of this next part: it started as an experiment. I know. Everyone says that. And it never is. I will continue to insist that it started as an experiment, but don’t believe me for one second. It was the crippling loneliness and soul-crushing fear of dying alone that started it, and don’t ever let me tell you otherwise.

I am curious about the online dating world, though.  It’s a strange dichotomy.

First, we live in a world where you can order pizza online. We live in world where “friend” is a verb. We live in a world where someone who looks like Manti Te’o can be in a relationship with a girl he’s never met, and no one bothers to investigate (and THAT wasn’t even the weird part of that story).

Our interactions are increasingly digital. Email, text, IM, poke (if 5 years ago I had said I “poked” a girl I went to high school with, I would have been arrested). These are everyday conversations now. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just the way things are headed. So in some aspects it makes sense to move the dating scene to the Internet, because the Internet is this generation’s version of “Rick’s Cafe Americain”, and a message about your favorite movies is this generation’s version of “As Time Goes By.” (Watch that movie again; this reference will make more sense, I promise).

But on the other hand, we like things on the Internet because we can have them right now. Instant streaming, direct deposit, two-day shipping, get laid tonight. UPS lets you track your packages by the hour, because for some reason knowing our new PajamaJeans left Nashville at 3 AM is important to us. Grindr was invented to literally make it easier to hook up with strangers. Call me old-fashioned, but I think when two men want to have a slutty one night stand, they should at least be in the same room. If we can’t have it now, we don’t want it. Is the same true for love? 

What do you think the percentage is? How many people on these dating sites are looking for the modern Mr. Right, and how many just want a modern Mr. Right Now? This is what I was curious about. This is partly why I joined OKCupid (it’s not). I needed to know (I didn’t). I wanted to see if I could get an answer (I just wanted somebody to love me).

And after about a week, the answer is not any clearer. I’ve run into both. My favorite messages are the ones that just say, “top or bottom” without so much as a comma or an effort to get me drunk. I’ve never gotten any of those myself, but a couple of my friends have. Chalk them to the Mr. Right Now column.

There’s the ones who try to hide behind the guise of Mr. Right but are really only interested in who’s going to pitch and who’s going to catch. I talked to one of these. He was nice, and we had similar interests. But if you look at my text history, my last text to him says, “Um.. I don’t know, I’m not really into that.” After that, radio silence. Which did not bother me.

Then, of course, just when you’re about to give up hope and give one of these creeps your address, you run across a Mr. Right looking for his Mr. Right who lists hobbies like “baking” and “reading” and is looking for a “true gentleman.” You’ll feel incredibly stupid for answering that Who is your Role Model? question with “Anyone from Queer as Folk,” and you’ll wish you hadn’t listed your diet as “whatever you want to stick in my mouth.” Despite your slutty alter ego having filled out your profile for you, you might message this guy. You’ll find out that he’s just as perfect as he seems and you both love movies and Golden retrievers and were both strangely attracted to a couple of the dwarves in The Hobbit. You might text for 6 or 7 hours. You might end on a pretty good note, and then you’ll go to bed and smile to yourself a little, because you’re suddenly reminded that there are normal people in this world, and some of them have online dating profiles.

This guy seems too good to be true. He says his name is Lenny Kekua. Should that raise any red flags?

I Have No IKEA

ikeaman1

I’m sorry it’s been so long, my 3 loyal readers and you occasional redirects from Google Image searches for “Scooby-Doo underwear.” (Target audience: consider yourself reached!) I haven’t blogged in several months, although my Twitter activity has increased tenfold since a cute boy offered me a marriage proposal based solely on my Twitter feed. But since marriage proposals have been less forthcoming since, I have learned my lesson: quantity does not mean quality. So perhaps its better I neglected this blog. Not to oversell anything, but this will probably be the best blog post since the beginning of all time and including any past universes that may have existed before this one exploded from a single point.

I’m going to continue on as if I haven’t ignored this blog for 3 months; as if you already knew that I found a job and moved out of my parents house and exchanged my curmudgeonly car for a hip, single, 20-something Civic with a great ass. As if you already knew that my sister finally got married and the wedding couldn’t have been classier if a gay guy helped plan it (which I did). I’ll continue as if I dont have to tell you about my boring but decent-paying job where I use words like “receivable” and “office Christmas party” and “GODDAMMIT SHEILA QUIT STEALING MY STAPLER” almost every day (I swear to God, Sheila). As if I don’t need to tell you about my snazzy new batchelor pad decked out in IKEA and filled with booze in preparation for my snazzy new batchelor gentleman caller (who has yet to show, I’m taking applications!) and how amazing it feels not to be living with my parents anymore. Granted, I still call my mommy at 4AM when I wake up with food poisoning or when I need someone to do my laundry and cook me food, but we’ll take it one step at a time. Ill go on and not waste any time telling you about any of that.

It’s a new year. The Maya Apocalypse came and went without so much as a tidal wave or somehow-John-Cusack-is-the-only-person-who-survives-every-single-time moment, which was good. We didn’t fling ourselves off of any cliffs, fiscal or otherwise. So it’s time to hunker down, America, because we’re in for the long haul. My New Year’s resolution is probably similar to yours; I’m going to do something good for my mind/body/soul for a few weeks, then quit because it’s too hard. I’ll pick it up again every couple of months or so, but it won’t last. Sometime in March, I’ll be lying on the couch desperately trying to reach the remote without getting up, and suddenly be trying to remember how long it has been since I ate a salad or saw the sun. This will frighten me for several minutes, until I remember that there are 7 whole season of The West Wing on Netflix and my New Years resolutions will disappear into the bizarre (yet somehow beautiful) jawline of a young Rob Lowe.

New Year’s Resolutions or no; I’ve got some changes I’m going to make. After a pretty terrible case of food poisoning on New Year’s Eve, I’ve decided I’m going to start eating healthier. Did you know I live within 4 miles of a Whole Foods Market, where middle-class white people can go and get all the gluten-free lemon squares and stoneground pillowcases they can ever imagine? Oh yes. Now, don’t take this too seriously; my previous diet was, to say the least, disappointing. Let’s put it this way: me and Kim are BFFs, and Kim is the lady behind the counter at the local McDonalds. So “eating healthier” is actually just going to consist of me eating things that the FDA has labeled “food;” a pretty marked improvement from my 2012 diet. Now most health professionals recommend an exercise routine along with a good diet, but I was all like, “Woah. Take it easy, Doc. Who am I, Jesus?”

Now, I’m fairly certain that this single change will drastically alter the course of my life. That by eating a couple more carrots for a few weeks or so, I’ll get along with my parents, and I’ll stay in touch with my friends, and be out and proud, and have a young Chris Evans as a boyfriend, and my body will somehow magically resemble a shirtless werewolf’s. But in case it doesn’t, I’m going to have to make some effort.

I’m going to be more understanding of my parents and encourage them to do the same (immensely easier now that we aren’t under the same roof). I’m going to make sincere efforts to stay in touch with old friends and work to develop new ones (as much as I love eating mac n’ cheese out of the pot and crying over 10 Things I Hate About You all alone every Friday night). I’ve already made sincere strides in being more honest about myself to other people (this includes effectively ruining my best mate’s bachelor party, a story I’ll save for another time). As for the boyfriend and the spray-on abs, we’ll have to see.

What I’ve got before me is a bunch of pieces that look like they fit together, but probably don’t. Like some existential version of IKEA. All I’ve got is a vague set of instructions and a drawing of a guy who clearly has no idea what he’s doing, and a fuzzy camera-phone picture from the store of how this thing is supposed to look. And that’s where this IKEA metaphor falls apart.

I did OK with my actual IKEA furniture, so we’ll see…

What are your resolutions?

50 Shades of Gray’s Anatomy & Kama Sutra for Your Thumbs

What’s cookin’, Good Lookin’?

I’m a bit of a veteran of the sext.

When I say ‘veteran’ I of course mean, ‘one time I totally sexted and now I’m the world’s champion sexter.”  My thumbs bring all the boys to the yard. (See This Date Is Dolphin Safe for other things I’m totally boss at, namely gay dating.)

Then again, what I do can hardly be considered “sexting.” In the first place, I don’t even know how to spell all those strange sounds people make in bed. My strange-sounds-in-bed experience is limited, but I do know that the sounds that were made would hardly be arousing in print. Painful grunts and uncomfortable laughter do not a well-composed sext make.

Second, I am absolutely terrible at thinking of appropriate adjectives, and any veteran sexter knows that adjectives are what seperates the players from the squares. I mean, there are only so many words assigned to each body part. What’s a brother supposed to do after he’s exhausted all the anatomical names for elbow? I’ve found that the sextee does not find it particularly helpful when the sexter keeps referring to his sternocleidomastoid, and it’s really hard for both of us to be really “into it” when we have to search Wikipedia for what the “sternocleidomastoid” is. It’s getting to the point that I’m actually aroused by those medical drawings or anytime someone says something in Latin. (Because I’m a generous narrator, I’ll let you walk into that 50 Shades of Gray’s Anatomy joke on your own.)

There’s another reason I shouldn’t be sexting, and it has nothing to do with freshman biology class. It’s that I have a difficult time taking sexting seriously. I’m bound to turn a steamy text about your pants into a joke about, well, your pants. A guy once asked me to send him a “dirty pic” and I sent him a picture of me shoveling actual dirt. Not only did I make the joke, I actually went outside, found a shovel and some dirt, and posed for a picture. I’m clearly not cut out for this. I’m the Michael Jordan of making sex awkward. Lena Dunham would be so proud.

However, because I consider myself somewhat of an expert in virtual sexual encounters, let me offer you some pearls of wisdom. There’s some things you should know if you’re going to sext like a pro(stitute).

First, it’s never a good idea to be drunk. You’ll undoubtably say something that you’ll regret. However, if you are like me and don’t feel confident enough to send that casual acquaintance a HD picture of your junk while sober, then alcohol may have to be involved. In the event that you do drunk-sext something foolish, you will wake the next morning – or the following evening, if it was a particularly boozy brunch, and you know how we gays love a good alcoholic brunch – with a strong urge to send a couple of long apologize-y texts. Resist this urge. Recalling attention to that unfortunately-timed “your mom” joke you made will only make matters worse.

Second, watch your autocorrect. Phones can do so many cool things now. They can order pizza without you ever having to interact with another human being! They can turn your lunch into art! They can even tell you “I don’t love you, not like that” just like real boys! But what phones absolutely should not be allowed to do is know how to spell. Autocorrect can lead a casual Amazon search for “black crocs” down paths that you didn’t even know existed. It can also cut a steamy sexting session short. It’s the phone equivalent of real-life rolling onto the TV remote and switiching on Cheers, which has actually happened to me. Twice. Autocorrect can have the same mood-killing effect, like when you want to say, “You’re pretty hot” and instead you get something like “You’re pregnant.” If you can turn off autocorrect, do it. It’s much better to send a “I’ve got a ennfuirmos hudj” than something unintentional and completely legible and end up having it go viral.

Third, learn to group sext. It saves time and energy! No doubt you’ve got several explicit digital relationships in the air at one time. Make sure that each one of your sextees do not have one of those phones that let’s them know if they are receiving a group text, then begin your menage a SMS! Most conversations will start out exactly the same (“Let’s have sex over texting.” “Ok, you start.”) but as they begin to diverge, there are several responses that can apply to each and every one of your conversations.
“Yes, keep doing that thing you just said you were doing.”
“I want to put my chin on that.”
“I’m saving myself for Luke Perry,” (or anything
from Clueless.)
“You should get a tattoo there.”
“Try that again, and this time put a little
oomph into it.”
“Tell me your name again?”
Just mix and match these responses and you should be able to successfully conduct three to nine unique yet simultaneous conversations!

So sully forth, my 21-and-over friends! Have intercourse, both physical and intellectual! Make love using only your thumbs! Describe your body parts to unsuspecting members of your contact list! Send those pictures that you will instantly regret! Copulate during board meetings and dinner with your parents and Real Housewives marathons on Lifetime! Go forth and sext.

Want to practice? Here’s my phone number.

My First Time.

She got some grief for sexualizing the POTUS, but can you blame her? have you seen dat ass?

Last political post. I promise. (I’m lying. I can’t promise that.)

Four years ago, I was attending a conservative Christian college in a small west Texas town. Voting for my precinct was held in the local Church of Christ, which I’’m sure was our town’s little way of reminding you that God wanted you to vote Republican. The little old lady checked my shiny new voter registration and shuffled me off to a little wooden box near the front of the church gym. Above me, on the wall, a picture of Jesus, white skinned with a middle American accent and a beard that would make a hipster blush. He was holding a lamb made of cotton balls and construction paper, and he was spouting some “Good Shepherd” Biblical jargon. I looked up at white Jesus, then down at my ballot. Just 2 names. No wait, 13 names. Hold up.THIRTEEN?!? Who are these other people? Is the Green Party about saving the whales? I’m all for saving the whales. No, that’s probably not what that means. A Constiution Party sounds like a really boring party that homeschoolers throw. Nope, not that one. Librarian Party? I like libraries…. Oh. Libertarian. Sounds like Planet of the Apes shit. Prohibition party? They have that? Ok, focus.  

My little punchy-pen hovered over the page. I looked up at white Jesus, then down at the ballot. Back at white Jesus. Back to the ballot. Back at white Jesus. Nervous, I decided to skip that one and come back to it. I looked at the rest of the ballot. Sheriffs, judges, bills with numbers that no one could possibly memorize. I just guessed. I liked the sound of “Sheriff Sanders” because he sounds like a sheriff from the end of I Know What You Did Last Summer, and a judge named Jury was just too good an opportunity to pass up. I went down the list. Yes, No, Republican, Republican, Funny Name, No. I ran out of other voting options. Back to the big one. White Jesus was hovering above me and that stupid lamb was watching me with it’s one googly eye. Obama? McCain? First woman VP? First black president? I felt like the entire election was up to me. WWJV? What Would Jesus Vote? Panicky, I closed my eyes and punched McCain/Palin.

Yes, I voted Republican. Wouldn’t you? Jesus was watching me. I had come from a background that said Obama was a Muslim socialist out to take over the world Pinky and the Brain-style. I had walked to the polling station from a school that could technically expell me for being gay. I was with friends who would all vote Republican. I was sure that’s how Jesus would want me to vote.

The next day, in daily chapel, our conservative population was in an uproar, and the Democratic students were proudly sporting their red, white, and blue. My Facebook newsfeed was full of “No!!! I’m moving to Canada!’s”. But on this particular day in chapel, I heard a message I was not expecting. It made me sorry I had let peer pressure decide my vote. It made me sorry that I thought Jesus would want me to vote Republican. It made me sorry that I was a part of a community with so many people who could hate a person so much because they didn’t agree with him. I can’t remember all of what she said now, but here’s what I do remember:

“The last 24 hours have been life-changing for a lot of people. The candidates, their staffs, the American people as a whole. But while the last 24 hours have been important, the next 24 hours are crucial. Life-and-death type stuff. Here’s why.
“McCain lost. His supporters have 24 hours to be disappointed. Express your concern. Be bummed. But after 24 hours, move on. As evidenced by his concession speech, McCain has.
“Obama won. His supporters have 24 hours to be excited. Have your parties and drink your champagne. But after 24 hours, move on. As evidenced by his speech, Obama has and he’s ready to get to work.
“You all have 24 hours. Then it’s time to buckle down. There is some serious work to be done. We’ve got a messed-up economy and a terrible war to deal with. We’ve got social issues and foreign issues and domestic issues to deal with. We can’t sit around and wish for things to be different, becuase they won’t be. We’ve got to do something about it. Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, we’re all citizens. Most of us are Christians. Let’s start acting like it. This is a critical 24 hours in our history. Let’s make the best of it.”

So this year, no matter who wins the election, I’m fighting for my rights. I’m looking to volunteer with my local LGBT community center. I’m not completely out of the phone booth yet. Does this mean I don’t have anything to offer my local LGBT community? I hope not, but I intend find out.

(Readers, I’ve been suffering from a mad case of writer’s block. So tell me, how do you beat blog boredom? How do you keep churning out all this great material I’ve been reading? Want to see me make light of some serious topic or turn a light topic into a life-or-death matter? Want to discuss anything with me? Let me know in the comments or email me at effortlesshipster@gmail.com. I’m just asking for a friend.)

Gay Like Me

Alternate titles included: “Walk a Mile in My Louis Vuitton Suede Loafers (But Don’t You Dare Scuff Them)” and “If You Give A Conservative a Lesbian.”

I have waited to comment on this issue, because, much like Channing Tatum’s meteoric rise to fame, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. After taking some time to think and doing some research, however, I hope I can give an informed and decisive opinion on this week’s “look-what-a-decent-person-I-am!” celebrity and current media darling, Timothy Kurek.

For those who live under rocks that are underneath other rocks, Timothy Kurek is a straight, Christian man who pretended to be gay for a whole year. Prompted by the coming out of a close friend, he “came out” to his parents and family, had a friend pose as his boyfriend, got a job at a “gay cafe,” and attended LGBT events. He says he went into the experience a homophobic conservative and came out an ally of the LGBT community. You can watch his hen-pecked, sweaty-palmed interview on The View here.  He also documented the experience in his new book, The Cross in the Closet. I read the first couple of chapters, but I found it to be unneccesarily wordy and then Parks & Recreation came on so I was busy. But it’s the thought that counts, right?

When I first read the news, I was impressed. It is not often that you see a Christian, especially a conservative Southern Christian like Kurek, choose to tackle a controversial issue like homosexuality with such vigor and committment. Often we’re content to sit on our pews and preach about how everyone else is doing it wrong, but this guy actually went to some fairly extreme lengths to examine his own beliefs. And he came to the conclusion that “homosexuality and Christianity are not mutually exclusive terms.” Great strides for a Bible Belt Bible-thumper from Nashville, Tennessee.

And that’s where my admiration stopped. I thought I should be more impressed by this “experiment,” but I couldn’t manage it. I had a hard time imagining how this guy, as noble as his intentions were, had managed to do anything for me or any other member of the LGBT community.

Perhaps the right word is suspicious. I was suspicious of Kurek’s methods, of his intentions, and of his results; a sentiment shared by many. As a gay man who grew up Christian, I wondered, “Why do we need a straight man telling us about what it’s like to be gay? Shouldn’t we be hearing it from gay men themselves?” Coming out to a Christian community and being rejected is not an uncommon experience. Why is this man receiving national attention for doing something for a year that I’ve done my whole life? 

Our skepticism is not unfounded. Leaving behind a life of privilege means this person had privileges to abandon in the first place. We approach the subject with the knowledge that the difficulties of a marginalized life were assumed voluntarily, and can just as easily be discarded. At the end of the journey, Kurek can reclaim his place in the community that had shunned him. Unlike LGBT people, he can now get married and have kids. Unlike LGBT people, he can now tell his mother, “Just kidding! I’m straight!” His life as a majority can be comfortably resumed, albeit with a newfound respect for his minority friends. (Kurek himself acknowledged this in this HuffPo article.) It leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of someone like me who doesn’t have that option. I tried to shake that feeling while reading his book but couldn’t do it; I decided to set it aside and pick it up again when my sentiments were more neutral. (Also, I’m not kidding about Parks & Rec. It’s a great show.)

Most critical responses to Kurek’s story have criticized his means of reaching his own personal realization: leaving a trail of confused, hurt, and betrayed people behind him. His new friends must be feeling decieved and maybe even a little used. If you’re going to be asked to be accepted into a new community under false pretenses, you better have a damn good reason for doing it. Kurek’s “experiment” if you want to call it that, seemed, to the casual observer, incredibly selfish. It is not far from the truth. His drastic efforts to overcome his own homophobia affected many other lives, leaving both conservative Christian and LGBT camps scratching their heads: What did he really intend to accomplish here? And more importantly, was it worth it?

We find it difficult to let people like him speak for people like us. We feel as though this privileged person can never truly experience the struggles that an underprivileged person would face. To some extent this is true: he can experience prejudice and isolation, but he will never know the difficult internal struggle that same-sex attracted men and women face (in this case, especially, but not limited to, Christian gay people). He experiences that prejudice knowing full well that he is not gay, while LGBT people have to listen to people who hate who they actually are. He has a safety net and a comfort that other people can never have.

The fact that his story is garnering national attention comes with a realization: people who wouldn’t listen to me or others like me will listen to him, because he is “one of them.” People seem to require a messenger from their own ranks. An unfortunate side effect of his book is the portrayal of the LGBT community as lacking a voice. In an effort to reach out to his gay brothers and sisters, Kurek and the national media have accidentally given the impression that his message is a new and necessary one. His book may seem innocent enough, but it has the potential to make an enormous difference in a world where chicken sandwiches can divide a nation, leading to misguided protests on one side and misplaced anger on the other (but that’s a story for another time. If you want to read more about that, read this great post by a former schoolmate and LGBT advocate, Brent Bailey.)

I don’t like what Kurek did. But I have to remember that I am not his target demographic. It’s for my parents, my fundamentalist friends, my hometown church. It’s a small, unfortunately misguided, somewhat underdeveloped effort to communicate a message to people who might not listen otherwise.

What do you think, readers?

Do the ends justify the means? Was Kurek selfish? Do experiences and books like Kurek’s have value? Should we welcome Kurek’s spokesmanship? Where is the best burrito in town (I’m asking for a friend)?

Dear Ryan Reynolds’ Abs: An Open Letter To My Ex-Girlfriend.

Now there’s a man I could make brazen overtures to! BRAZEN!

Dear Ex-Girlfriend, 

I hate referring to you as that. Let’s call you Ryan Reynolds’ Abs. We both had such respect for Ryan Reynolds’ abs, and spoke of them on more than one occasion. I’m glad we connected so well, I’m just sad that it was because of a man’s lower obliques. So, let’s start over.

Dear Ryan Reynolds’ Abs,

I’m writing this letter to you and the rest of the internet because I feel like you should know some things. I owe you an explanation and probably an apology. So here we go:

We dated for 8 months. Granted, for half of that time I was living 4932 miles away in the UK and there was a literal ocean between us; though at times I’m sure it felt like there was a metaphorical ocean between us as well. I wasn’t the best boyfriend. You were my first girlfriend (if you don’t count Daphne from Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?) so I didn’t actually know what makes a good boyfriend. I probably should have called you more, and I could have gotten you better gifts for your birthday and I probably should have known you didn’t like chocolate when I got you chocolate for your birthday.

Abby (Can I call you Abby?), you got me hooked on $1 Dr. Peppers from McDonalds, then stopped drinking them. It’s a bit like you got me to smoke and then quit yourself. I’m still drinking them by the way. More than a few times a week. Thanks for that. I send you the dental bill.

I had my Hugh Grant moments though. I dare you to find a better date-scheduler. That day we spent at the Zoo and Botanical Gardens, then at the picnic in the park, then at the fancy restaurant and then at the musical was literally the greatest date in the history of dates. (Although, in retrospect, that’s a pretty “gay” date…) And when I brought you flowers and soup when you had the cold? And when I brought you a scarf from Florence and cookies from Paris? And when I helped you move into your apartment? I was veritable knight in shining armor, if the shining armor was a sweater vest and Converse sneakers (those were not good years for me, satorially).

We made a great power couple. All our friends were jealous, just so you know. We both knew how to dance, we both appreciated a good Beyonce single, and we both watched way too many movies for our own good. We had great conversations about life, and about Ryan Reynolds abs, and about disgusting medical anecdotes. Our Sam & Diane dynamic in high school only made our relationship all the more popular among our friends. “I told you so,” said more than one of our friends when you weren’t around. “I knew you guys would get together.”

Then one of our really conservative friends called it “courting”and asked in all seriousness when I was going to marry you. “No, character from a Louisa May Alcott novel,” I thought, “I’m NOT sure I’m going to marry this broad.

I didn’t answer him then but his question got me thinking. “What the hell am I doing?” I was going on dates with you and checking out our waiters. I was spending just as much time admiring Ryan Reynolds abs as you were. I was pretending we had a future together. Because I wanted a future with you, I wanted it for real. A happy, hilarious, sexless future. Just like Samuel L. “Sam” Jackson and Diane Lane. That’s a thing, right?

I’m sorry I didn’t have the guts to break up with you. I’m sorry that you had to do it. I still don’t really understand why you ended it, but in the end it was the right thing to do.

Also, let’s talk about that break up. I realize that it was a first-time break up for both of us, but, real talk: we did not handle that well. It was my birthday. Not cool. I mean, I’m glad you didn’t sit around and wait for a better time to do this, but for future reference, don’t Facebook message a boy on his birthday a week after he helps you move into your 3rd floor apartment and tell him, “we need to talk.” He will not enjoy it. Of course, his flirting with the cute French boy living next door will help ease the pain, but still. It was a bit like losing a best friend. Let’s not do that again.

Let’s be friends again. Because you have excellent taste in TV (except Battlestar Gallactica. We’re going to have a talk about that). I’m sad that we were both a little bitter afterwards. I promise, after 3 years and several comings out, I’m no longer bitter about it. In fact, I’m thankful. Thankful we had the time we did, and thankful that all of it led me to where I am today, comfortable with who I am.

So.

Sorry that you are one of those girls who can say their first boyfriend turned out gay, but then again: You are one of those girls who can say their first boyfriend turned out gay. If that’s not material for your future rom-com, I don’t know what is!

Sincerely,

Your College Boyfriend Who Turned Out Gay.

P.S. That new boyfriend of yours seems ok. But I bet he’s nowhere near as fabulous as me, honey. I bet he doesn’t even know how to ‘twerk.’ So, your loss.