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Do you have problems with your love life? Hate your job? Your social life lacking that certain zing? All questions can be answered through literature—or maybe at least by the people who create it. With that in mind, we here at The Lambda Literary Review have started our very own advice column called “Reader Meet Author.” Think of the column as sort of a “Dear Abby” for the LGBTQ literary set. You can send “Reader Meet Author” questions for publication to ReaderMeetAuthor@lambdaliterary.org.
Every month readers can submit questions to a chosen LGBTQ author about love, work, and life, and the author will answer them to the best of their ability.
This month’s column is handled by writer and activist Kenyon Farrow.
Kenyon Farrow is as an organizer, communications strategist, and writer on issues at the intersection of HIV/AIDS, prisons, and homophobia. Farrow is the former Executive Director of Queers for Economic Justice—an organization dedicated to organizing, research, and advocacy for and with low-income and working-class lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.
Farrow is the co-editor of Letters From Young Activists: Today’s Rebels Speak Out (Nation Books 2005). His work has appeared in publications such as The Huffington Post, Colorlines.com, theGrio.com, Bilerico.com, After Elton.com, Utne Reader, Black Commentator, and in the anthologies, Spirited: Affirming the Soul of Black Lesbian and Gay Identity (Red Bone Press 2006) , Against Equality: Queer Critiques of Gay Marriage(AK Press 2010) and the new collection For Colored Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Still Not Enough: Coming of Age, Coming Out, and Coming Home (Magnus Books 2012).
I’m a single gay guy eager for a relationship, but the guys I seem to attract are only interested in one-night stands, and many times they don’t even spend the whole night. I think I’d make a great boyfriend: I’m smart, funny, reasonably good-looking, with a creative job and a wonderful home. What can I do to attract decent, relationship-oriented men?
Tired of One-Nighters
Dear Tired of One-Nighters,
I used to be you. I used to really pine for a relationship, and feel really sorry for myself when I couldn’t “find” a boyfriend. I thought that I wasn’t sexy enough, smart enough or had some other flaw that made me the type that men only wanted to fuck.
Well, you know what? I really enjoyed sleeping with half of New York City, and look back at that time with a lot of fondness and nostalgia. Every time I pass a former bar with a backroom that’s now a boutique or a dog-grooming place, I well up with tears.
How did I start actually attracting men who ended up being potential partners? I stopped stalking. What I mean by that—I stopped trying to put a ring on every dick I sucked. I started looking at people as individuals, and not make any presumptions about where the relationship should or could go. That meant that people I met on Adam4Adam could very easily become boyfriends and eventually partners, and some have. Some people who were friends, or friends of friends, we knocked boots once or twice and that was that. There are some people I’ve been friends with, but have lived in different cities, but we’d fuck every time we see each other. There are friends with whom we recognize there’s an attraction, but don’t or have not had intercourse, and there are aspects of the relationship that are as romantic as a partner or boyfriend. There’s no one way to do it. There’s no one relationship that will give you everything you need. So stop searching, stay open, and don’t stalk!
If you find yourself going on dates with people, and that date never turns into a second or third date, I would ask them was there anything you did, and if they have any advice to give you. I’ve had men that I wasn’t interested in dating ask me bluntly those same questions, and while it’s uncomfortable, I try to tell them the truth, at least as I see it. Often, it’s not that they’re horrible, but they just weren’t my cup of tea for whatever reason.
And the reality is, we have to stop believing a long-term relationship is promised to any of us—no matter how good looking, wealthy, or what good people we are. Enjoy what you love …what you have in your life …with friends or family.
I am very much in love with my partner, but I do find it somewhat irritating when he begins to rail about this or that. Perhaps age has something to do with this, too. He is 73 and I am 63.
The other night, I got to his apartment, and he almost immediately began griping about the doors and doorbells in his building (they’d had a problem that day). Now he lives in Senior Housing, and of course, there needs to be a way for EMT or police or fire officials to react to problems, but apparently the problems didn’t really have to do with that.
Unfortunately, he is often bringing up something that has frustrated him, and he goes on and on (like he’s 73 or something!). He’s very caring, always asking me about my job and other details; and that’s pretty much why I fell in love with him. Of course, our sex lives are important and that’s a very favorable thing in our relationship.
How can I try to overlook his grumpiness?
A (not so avid) Listener
Dear Not So Avid Listener,
Well it sounds like you’ve got a great relationship! My partner is also a complainer—and his ass is only 32! But it sounds like he’s good to you in all the ways you need it. I don’t think there is a way to overlook his grumpiness. But I would try two things:
One, I’d try to reflect back to him what he sounds like when he’s in the thick of his bitching. When my boyfriend is grumbling, I respond in a very sarcastic and over-the-top tone, as if he’s telling me an outrage of Shakespearean proportion—then he knows how ridiculous he sounds, and settles down.
Your second option—If your sex life is so good, next time he starts complaining, just put something in his mouth to immediately shut him up!
I think my girlfriend is stealing from me. Every time she stays at my place I notice a couple of bucks missing from my wallet or change missing from my coin jar.
We have been dating for about a year and I thought I knew her pretty well. I know she often has a hard time managing her finances but her stealing a couple dollars (and some change) is strange and alarming. She always seemed like an honest person. Plus, I would give her the money if she just asked!
I am almost too embarrassed to broach the subject. Hard as it may be, should I just end it? If she is stealing from me…even these little amounts…can I trust her with anything at all.
Stole my heart and my quarters
Dear Stole My Heart and Quarters,
I just can’t do with stealing. But I know what its like to be desperate, broke, and embarrassed. I would broach the subject, with love and care. Maybe she’ll be honest and will own up to stealing from you, and ask your forgiveness. At that point you can offer to help her out once in a while, or to help her get her finances in order (if she has work that should be able to pay for her basic needs, but is bad at managing her money).
But if you opt for silence, hoping it will go away, you wont help her learn to be honest about her needs. Nor will you respect her. Over time, you are likely to get damn resentful. But no relationship can sustain itself where there is silence on the more difficult parts of the relationship (that’s a whole book I could write). And if you remain silent, both of you are laying the foundation on dishonesty, that will likely seep into other areas. And a relationship may go on, but it will certainly not be healthy where either partner is not able to be honest with the other about what ails them.
So speak up now. It’s either going to help you grow closer, or at least you’ll be able to keep those coins intact.