Sunday, 28 April 2013

The Shane Saga

Ugh, you would not believe what a long time coming this post has been. Pretty sure it's been sitting as a draft in one form or another for at least 4 months. For the last few months, I would get a little glimmer of hope that Shane and I will get a chance to meet and/or hang out, and keep adding to this post, only to have things fall apart. The problem, I realize now, is that I never took control of the situation and let my crazy, irrational fears get the better of me. But that's the case no more. First though, let me start back at the beginning:

Shane is Nate's cousin, who Nate had mentioned in passing a few times before. Even before I was out to him though, it was established that Shane was gay. Even after I was out to him and his girlfriend Cara, his name would only pop in to conversation every so often (including that one time Cara suggested I be his FB...). It wasn't until I actually got to meet the guy in person back at the end of last summer that I really started to develop a bit of a crush on him. We've met once, at a (gay) club, where he impressed me with his cheerful personality, friendliness and talkativeness, and by turning down a hookup from a dude there alone without his boyfriend. That's where the saga begins: I never really got a chance to see him after that. On our way down to PAX in Seattle last year, I made it clear to Nate that I thought Shane was a good guy and that he should bring him to more things because I wanted to get to know him better. I wasn't sure if Nate got the hint (things like this sometimes go over his head), but I left it. Fast forward to Thanksgiving long weekend, and Nate and Cara (perhaps coincidentally?) had made plans for the four us to enjoy a nice dessert and coffee shortly after the Seattle trip. That fell apart, and somehow he and Nate managed to meet up, and I ended up running into him at the door as he was leaving and I was arriving to drop off some supplies for the vacation Nate, Cara, myself and others were taking the next day. Shane had also bailed on plans to go clubbing again with us, and he couldn't make a Halloween party that I had maybe too-subtly-suggested to Nate that he should invite Shane to. Then more teasing: I got a text from Cara while she, Nate and Shane had been hanging out, talking about possibly arranging a trip to Vegas for a bunch of our friends, and apparently Shane had said he was kinda into me. Of course, none of that materialized into anything (and I suspected Cara exaggerated a bit).

By now, I was starting to lose a little hope and patience (thus starting this post's journey as an everlasting draft), but then one night, things started to get interesting. One night shortly after I signed up, I hopped on OkCupid, deciding to finally make a move and check out the site a little more closely. So I fooled around with some of the features and other things, including the "Quickmatch" buttton. Maybe because it was a little late and I wasn't thinking straight, but at the time I didn't realize it would randomly pull up anyone's profile. And the first profile it pulled up? Shane's. Of course. Browsing the site before, I had noticed a profile that looked suspiciously like Shane, and this just confirmed it. I was a little horrified at first, since OkCupid tracks who views your profile, so Shane would see that I viewed/creeped his profile, which I found a little more than awkward at the time. After that, I shut down my computer, accepting the fact that I would have to deal with the awkwardness of Shane knowing I saw his profile, and went to bed. I lay there for a bit, slowly falling asleep, until I got an idea: why not make this odd situation an icebreaker? Just log back in, and message Shane saying how awkward and ridiculous this happened. And so I did exactly that...he responded back a little while later, although he kept his reply pretty short. I tried my best to keep a conversation going, but he really wasn't responding to it, keeping his responses pretty succinct...odd for a guy who seemed pretty chatty upon first meeting him. I left it on a note that we could hopefully get things together with Nate and some other friends in the future, which he seemed pretty agreeable to.

So thus came the next round of poking Nate to set us up. By now, Alex had wandered into the picture and I wanted to make SURE Nate understood that I was into Shane so I could get my chance before anything with Alex arose. I was at a Tim Hortons with Nate and Brian when I decided to try once again: I presented the whole Alex situation, and how I wanted to play the field more before and message other guys before I settled on anything, which lead me to tell him about the exchange between Shane and I on OkCupid. I really made it obvious this time: I asked him to bring Shane around AGAIN, told that I'd willing to find out if Shane was a little dramatic in his relationships like Nate suspects and I wanted to give other guys, LIKE SHANE, a try before I went ahead with Alex. I had REALLY hoped Nate got it that time, and he may have since he started texting Shane to say hi right afterwards. Nate even made the comment while he was texting that "he wished it was summer, so we could have a bbq or something, and (he) could just text Shane saying "Hey, we're having a bbq, and you should totally come!". Promising, but I wasn't going to hold my breath.

Of course, more time goes by and things don't come to fruition AGAIN. I really started to lose hope again, and considered calling it quits. And sure enough though, another glimmer of hope: I get a text from Nate, saying Shane "really wants me to come" to the club for his birthday party on the weekend. Great! Let me know when it is and I'll be there. The weekend comes and a few hours before the evening arrives, I text Nate...and nothing. Apparently he fell asleep after playing touch football and didn't get up till the next morning. By now, I'm so exasperated that I don't even care that we missed out; I even start to wonder if Nate is just bullshitting me on some of the events and texts he's sent me over the last few months out of pity or something. I make one last attempt myself at taking a bit of action by inviting Shane to my birthday, hoping that Nate will pass on the message and things will finally work out. Nope. Shane's twisted his ankle and he can't make it.

I went back to counselling last week, and the topic of my dates happened to come up. We talked about my apprehension about dating Alex and his advances, and why I'm uncomfortable and worried about leading him on. Of course, part of this has to do with Shane, I'm still wrapped up on that first meeting and the things I've heard about the guy to commit to Alex just yet. I need to give other guys, including a try first, before I even consider settling down with Alex. We slowly talked about what I had to lose in terms of me making a move on Shane (Just about nothing, it's the internet and I hadn't seen him in person yet, at least if I was going to get rejected, there's no chance of me seeing him in person) and what that meant for me (nothing - I won't embarass myself in front of Nate because FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, I had told him a million times now...I hope he knows I'm into Shane). I basically ended up my counsellor the entire story you see here, and yet I must've been still been gushing about the guy quite a bit because at one point, when he asked me about why I wasn't making a move on Shane, I answered that "I wasn't quite sure if he was worth it" and he just laughed. Total lie...he's worth it.

Which bring me to the other night. With the work on the topic from counselling still fresh on my mind, and perhaps with a little prod from a fellow blogger (thanks bud =) ), I decided to do it. I sent him a quick message on OkCupid:


Sorry I missed your birthday bud! From what Nate's been telling me, it's been a comedy of errors trying to get together.

Now I know it's a long time coming, but would you be interested in meeting up for a coffee or something? You seem like a cool guy and it'd be nice to get to know you somewhere outside of a club. =P

Let me know!


Felt awkward as all hell writing it, and I couldn't help feeling like I was sounding a little desperate, but I went for it anyway...what did I have to lose? Well, apparently nothing, and everything to gain too. Shane sent me back a message a few hours later after I was asleep apologizing for missing my birthday too (Awwww, what a sweetie =) ) and that it sounded like fun. He said sure! How about that. Plans are in the works =)

Writing this back, I realize how silly this whole saga has been, my friends (minus Nate and Cara) have been saying the same thing all along. I did let my fear get in the way of things, and hoped that things would just fall into place through Nate. I always rationalized as asking him directly would seem as if I was looking for more than friends, which goes against that "friends-first philosophy" I've been touting the last couple of months. But as I realized in counselling, Shane is definitely worth me "making an ass of myself" (says my head) and it paid off this time. All it took was a simple message, and now there's definitely a good chance we'll get the hangout I was after all along. I won't beat myself up for it though, now's the time to take in the rewards of me putting myself out there.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Invite your "Friend"

As far as coming out goes, it's almost a non-issue...more and more of my co-workers are starting to find out as I fill them in on my weekends and share little tidbits of my life. It's getting easier and easier each time, and there's a pretty large audience that knows. Despite that, there's still times that I get reminded that I'm a SEMI-out gay guy. Case in point: my grandparents.

My actual birthday was on a weekday this year, so I saved my celebrating and partying for a weekend. To celebrate the day of, my mom made a nice dinner and invited my grandparents over to join us. Not wanting to celebrate alone with just my family, I invited my dear confidante Britney over too. We sit around the table, me next to Britney and her next my grandparents. And of course, being the polite, cordial, sweetheart that she is, Britney offered to serve my grandparents, talked with them when she could and was just her usual awesome self. We all finish dinner, and my grandparents leave so my grandfather can catch the end of the Canucks game, and Britney and I make our way to play the new Tomb Raider (which is awesome BTW).

Fast forward a week or so later, and I come home from work to my mom who reminds me in an unusually serious voice that we have a large family dinner this coming weekend. I could already tell by the tone of her voice where this was going. She continues on..."We might have given your grandparents the wrong impression the other night. They asked for you to invite your 'friend' along".  I just laughed in my head, of course they would make that assumption; everybody does when they see Britney and I together. My mom's tone lightens a little and she tells me that they thought Britney was very sweet and polite, and that she's a good girl.

Now sure, maybe they were just being polite by praising Britney and inviting her to dinner, but in my mom's side of the family, bringing a "friend" to a large family gathering sets a precedent. Every single one of my cousins' "friends" that got invited dinner are still coming to dinner. My sister's "friend"? She's living with him. My oldest cousin's "friend"? Father of her kids. Second oldest cousin's "friend"? Married him then got divorced (she's the only "friend" that doesn't show up to family dinners anymore...). So naturally, I had my mom graciously turn down the invite for Britney, or otherwise risk giving my grandparents a complex down the road.

I found the whole situation pretty funny, it feels like a huge inside joke now when somebody isn't aware, but maybe not so much for my mom. I know she'll do it, but I don't think she's exactly counting down the days to when she has to explain things to my grandparents. It'll happen sooner or later, two of my single, older cousins catch flak from my grandmother as to why they aren't married yet, I'm probably immune because I'm still in school, but give it a couple years...I'll get it too. I almost wish I could do it myself, but unfortunately I don't speak Taishanese or Cantonese, it's on her. I could make out with a dude in front of my grandparents, but since I don't speak the language, I won't understand anything that come my way; all the questions/concerns/fallout will have to be taken by her. I remember my mom and I had a brief conversation in the days following me coming out to her. She thinks that my grandparents may not understand and will be concerned (for my mom, of all people...), but they'll accept it. They like tradition, but they're not about to let that get in the way of the family's happiness. They've accepted the fact that my aforementioned cousin with kids will not get married after being together for 20 years and the fact that my other cousin got divorced and the fact that my sister is living with her boyfriend. So what's a gay grandson? If there's a reason to be worried, it's about the stress coming out is going to bring on my mom. And even that, she'll live =P

But don't let me get ahead of myself, I still need to find a boyfriend to bring to family dinners first...

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Social Butterfly

I had an impressive run a couple weeks back: two dates in one day. How about that?

Date #1 was with a 21 year old I had met off of OKCupid. We sent a few messages back and forth, and when it seemed like we had a few interests and values in common, I suggested we meet for coffee. He seemed a little surprised that I wanted to meet so early (sidebar: I think we had sent about 5 or 6 messages each when I asked...for those of you who do the online dating-thing, what's your procedure?). But he agreed, and on a sunny Easter Sunday we met up down at the Quay in New Westminster to enjoy the first nice spring day. He was a nice kid; polite, grounded and hard working, and by the sounds of it, just in the beginning stages of finding himself and enjoying life (like a certain someone...). It was a bit of a role reversal from Alex, as I took the reins to organize where we were going, what to do and doing the chivalrous things like holding doors asking if I could get him anything else, etc, which wasn't really a problem because that's what I'm used to anyway.

What I'm not used to is being the chatty one in a group. I'm a pretty shy guy, and unfortunately I wasn't given the gift of gab, but I can definitely make conversation and talk my ass off sometimes. It's just not something that comes naturally though, and it takes me a lot of focus and energy to do, so normally I'm the one listening and giving my input every so often rather than driving the conversation. When I first met him, he definitely came across as a shy guy, and he was definitely nervous, which probably didn't help. He seemed a little apprehensive and avoided eye contact with me initially, politely giving me some short anecdotes, but not much else, so I tried my damndest to be friendly, cordial and chatty. It seemed to slowly pay off, since by the end of the date, I could tell he was getting more comfortable; he's a TA and research student and he more than willingly offered pieces about his research and hobbies without my prompting.

Overall, not a bad date, I think most importantly I proved to myself I'm not as socially inept as I think I am and I can be a pretty talkative, confident guy. As for a second date, maybe...? I like how he's down-to-earth and from what he told me, he's got some neat hobbies and tastes (astronomy & star gazing? Awesome!), but I really need a guy whose more open and chatty than I am. I can't constantly be the talkative in a relationship, otherwise I'll exhaust myself. =P We have been though, chatting on Skype every time I see him online and he seems pretty chatty there, so there may be hope. I also left it open with him and offered to give him a shout when I get a hike together with friends so he can join us. Hopefully maybe he'd warm up a little bit more as we get to know each other better. 

Date #2 with Alex however, was a different experience. I went into it with a different mindset than I did the others, after he rather blatantly hit on me over text the last time I had messaged him ("I'd enjoy Netflix a lot more if I had someone to watch it with me..." "If you come down to San Fran, I'd give you a ride in my Scion..." Uh huh...). I wasn't comfortable with what he was saying since it made it seem like he had some expectations for where we were supposed to being going, so I decided I needed to put the brakes on things. Over dinner, he made a few comments about coming to visit him and hang out in San Francisco, but at least it was much more casual and low pressure compared to the texts he was sending. After dinner, we took a walk to enjoy the last of the daylight, and conversation was much more like it had been the first couple of dates. We talked about what was going on in our lives, plans for the rest of the weekend, our future careers, everything and anything, and it all came so naturally. I started to find myself forgetting about the texts that had left a sour taste in my mouth and the worries I had about leading Alex on.

We walked a bit more before deciding to get dessert at a nearby coffee shop. But before we did, I decided to be bad and put Alex on the spot. I straight up asked him where he imagined he would be, relationship-wise, in one year. His answer? As I expected, he wants to be in a long-term relationship, but he wouldn't be upset if it didn't work out; he just wants to find the right guy to settle down with. Naturally, he threw the question back at me and I answered honestly. I told him that, while I'm more geared toward a long-term relationship, but that I'm still new to the dating scene and I just wanted to meet new people, make new friends and see what I'd want in a guy, and if that's where I was in a year still, I'd be okay with that. He tried to start a bit of a conversation about already knowing vaguely what I should want in a guy, as if it was a vague, weak attempt at saying I shouldn't be ignoring what's right in front of me, but I shrugged it off and told him that may be true, but that I'd want to test and see what I like and might not like for myself. By then, I was relieved that I had my feelings about where we should be going off my chest, so much so that I may have overlooked the magnitude of the question "Have you been hanging out with any other guys?". And being bad, I mentioned the Meetup group and how Adam and I had been meeting up for lunch; he seemed a little alarmed, but quickly dropped it as we arrived at the coffee shop.     

It's a bit of a shame that his not-so-discrete hitting on me makes me feel uncomfortable around him, because he truly is a nice guy to talk to. I'll be honest when I say that I'm still a little worried about leading Alex on, but at least now it's not like he doesn't know what he's getting into. He didn't run screaming when I said I was only looking for friends right now or when I implied I was seeing other guys, so... And at least now, I feel like I'm back in control of where things are going with him. But now, post-date is where things are getting interesting. Maybe now that we're a little more transparent with what we're both looking for, we're both still somewhat interested and we're back up to texting almost everyday.We're keeping up with what's up in each others' lives (I know he was at a Giants game last night...) and it's nice to be involved in someone's life like that. But for now, all is good and I'm happy (and sane...for the time being.)

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

How Times Have Changed

So, it's my birthday this week and I think this is one year in a long time that I've actually been really excited for it, mostly because I don't have final exams/papers, but also because I'm actually genuinely happy with where my life is going right now. I remember writing this somewhere, but I treat my birthday as a "New Years'" as I watch the clock turn over from 23 to 24, and take the time to re-evaluate what I've accomplished in the past year and set some goals for myself in the coming year.

This time last year was sort of a funny time for me. I was finally out to a few of my closest friends, but quite a few still didn't know. I remember starting to get a handle on being gay and accepting who I was, even though it still felt awkward at the time. Reading back on some of my posts then, I feel like it really shows, at least compared to now. I still cared a bit on how my friends and family would take it, like it was a big thing. That pressure to make it known and out there is gone, and it truly is just coming up in conversation now, whether it's correcting somebody's use of "girlfriend/future wife/etc" or just talking with co-workers about my dates over the weekend. I've hugged a guy in a "more-than-just-a-bro" way out in public, and while perhaps it's a small step, it's one I don't think I could have made a year ago. Socially and mentally, I'm pleased with the progress I've made. These are two areas where I think I was really lacking the year before, but I've tried. I went to the LGBT Centre, tried the Meetup groups and, of course, the dating thing. For a shy guy like me though, it's not still not easy to put myself out there, and even harder not to beat myself up for minor failures, but I'm proud I can say that I'm at least trying. I took a break from counselling for basically the last year, and while I'm back again, I feel like I'm ready to leave already. Like last time, I just need to learn to be easier on myself and not let my stressors build-up and overwhelm me.

As for the goals for this year, here they are:
  • Get into something a little more serious: The dating thing is fun and I'm enjoying getting to know these different guys, but at some point I'd like to get into something a little more serious and see how I do handling and supporting another guy.
  • Keep pushing the boundaries..: Keep getting out there to meet new people, because it is tons of fun :-) Find more climbing friends? Volunteer a bit more? Or Gay volleyball maybe? Just do it, wheatever it may be. Texting Britney today, one of the things I'd like to do is randomly give a cute guy my number. Simple, yet reasonably attainable goal.
  • ...don't be so hard on myself: It's good to try, but I have to remind myself that if things don't go well or how I'd like them to, it's no big deal and it isn't always my fault or a failing of my character. I just need to remember lots of good stuff does happen (just look at this post!) and still will.
  • Finish my degree and/or keep this awesome job: Two semesters. Two semesters! That's all I've got left, and I can totally finish that in a year. Unless I get extended/hired on at my job, which would be pretty sweet too.
  • The embarrassing one: Have a first kiss. Lose my virginity. I think I could be in the right place in a year. Why is this on the internet again?

In closing,  I wrote this last year:   

"I went back and read nearly all my posts from the beginning and looking back, it’s really amazing how far I’ve come. If you told me that in a year, I’d accept that I’m gay and be out to my closest friends and family, I would have told you that was bullshit and that I was going to be in the same place as I was back then, too focused on school to find a girlfriend. Funny how times change."

Sitting here a year later, I can pretty much say the same thing, but let's just replace a few words. I'm amazed how far I've come. If you told me that in a year, I'd be going on a few dates, meeting new people and making friends, I wouldn't have believed it. Lets see what this post looks like this time next year.