The over-analytical, relationship-destroying Christmas Gift Guide

What do the gifts your other half gets you for Christmas really say about your relationship? Welcome paroxysms of angst and doubt into your life with my handy guide to what his presents mean for your romantic future…

A bubble bath/body lotion/face wash gift set
The first thing you should do when opening this present is jam your hand into your armpit and then give it a going over to make sure you don’t pong. Is this a hint?

On the whole, “smellies” aren’t a very fascinating present unless you’ve asked for them or have some thought behind them – perhaps your signature scent or an in-joke or something really “luxe” or whatever GQ is calling pricey stuff this year.

Nine times out of ten, however, they are a Boots 3-for-2 panic buy and you’ve got the gift he had to buy to make the deal and, as we know, you should never, ever date a man who does that.

Prognosis: You’ll probably make it to next Christmas. Up your hints game though if you want to avoid another box of hand cream in 2015.

A novelty item

Popcorn maracas

He doesn’t have a clue what to buy you, never listens to you and only just stops short of calling you in a rage at 3:59pm on Christmas Eve from Tesco shouting “What the hell do you actually want?! WHAT???”

So instead he buys you a popcorn maker – well hello again 2003, how are you doing – which turns into maracas. Of course he does.

Prognosis: If you have a sense of humour and a distinct lack of homicidal tendencies, you might just go the distance!

A gadget
Ooh, a hand warmer. Wow, a garlic press that lasers the cloves into heart shapes! Hey, is that a keychain you can store £20 notes in? Awesome! He will have pilfered this from you by Easter.

“Well, you never use it and I don’t want to see it go to waste.” He planned this all along, of course. A gadget-buyer is only ever buying for themselves.

Prognosis: If he’s as selfish in bed as he is on the gift-buying front, maybe you should find yourself a new bauble to shine.

Socks
How nice are the socks? Are they a pack of seven M&S “cotton-rich” odour breeders with days of the week or cartoon characters on? Or are they quirky, or comfortable, or cashmere?

No self-respecting man would want his other half to be wearing rubbish socks, and while socks tend to be a present best left to dads and uncles, there’s a lot to be said for a sexy sock, especially if you haven’t been together that long. They don’t have to be expensive, they just have to be worth flashing your ankles for.

And to receive a present that’s still pretty but not showy or for everyone else’s benefit is the sexiest thing of all. (Yes, I am buying my boyfriend some socks for Christmas.)

Prognosis: Never let go of a man with great taste in socks.

Expensive scarf
He’s having an affair and it was for the other guy but he thinks you spotted it in his bag so had to give it to you.

Prognosis: Do not get too attached to the scarf – or the man.

A marriage proposal
There’s always one. Open Facebook on Christmas Day and you are almost certain to see either an outstretched finger sporting one of Gerald Ratner’s finest, or a special cupcake with a message in it, or some loveheart balloons, or a fortune cookie or a heart-shaped fried egg or Alpha Bites spelling out “Will you marry me?” or just some other absolute bullshit, LOOK EVERYBODY, faux-mantic gesture.

Getting engaged isn’t a gift. Starting out on a lifelong commitment together isn’t something to be traded under the tree like a maracas-shaped popcorn maker or some really nice socks that a totally great boyfriend like me would buy.

If your boyfriend starts tearing up and reaches into his pocket for something on Christmas morning, you’d better pray he’s just been peeling onions and needs a tissue. Tell him to hold it right there and ask you another day.

You don’t want to ruin Christmas by saying no – maybe wait until his birthday instead – and even saying yes is bound to raise the ire of the rest of your family who just want to sit down to the turkey and not hear about your total bollocks wedding that will probably never happen anyway. Plus, this will kill your sister.

If you do say yes and it all later heads south, your Christmases will be forever tarnished, and you’ll have one sloe gin too many and text “the one that got away” and you’ll be that clichéd person who has sex with an ex in a Harvester car park on Boxing Day while his partner waits patiently at home watching a skin form on the top of the eggnog.

Say no, no, no, no.

Prognosis: *fairy lights fizz and spark before going out for good* That.

No gift
Did you fall into the trap of saying “No presents this year!” to each other? Aw, every year, there’s a couple who does it and lives to regret it immediately.

Did he really mean it? Did you?! You have no way of knowing, so you get him something anyway. And then Christmas Day arrives and he looks on in horror and says “You said we weren’t doing presents?”

You’ll then shrug and say that it’s OK and that you don’t mind, all the while silently counting down the seconds until his face cracks and he guffaws and says “Just kidding!” before reaching behind his back and pulling a Lamborghini out of his pocket.

Prognosis: Keep counting.

Note: It really doesn’t matter what your boyfriend buys you as long as he is a nice person and genuinely loves you. But you still need to say no to that proposal.

The Table For Two

A restaurant. The lighting is low, there is candlelight. Muzak pipes out of unseen speakers. Save for the waiter absentmindedly picking his teeth with a taxi firm’s business card, this is a perfect romantic setting.

Of course, I didn’t pick the venue. I like my restaurants either comfortingly luxurious or the type of joint where you gnaw through an overcooked chicken brochette on an upturned tea chest. This middle-of-the-road suburban eatery isn’t what I’d normally go for.

I can’t help but think it is a shame he’s picked somewhere so romantic as I am about to do the least romantic thing you can do on a date. If the night goes the way I have planned – which is not at all, really – I will be leaving this place single again and free to have a pudding elsewhere.

It’s not that he isn’t nice enough – maybe he’s too nice – but he is not for me. As I wearily toil my way through just about every cardigan wearer and documentary lover on Guardian Soulmates, I have come to know quickly what will work and what won’t.

Sure, I could give them a bit longer and warm to them, but I don’t to warm to somebody like an old stew being given a stir on a low light, I want instant heat, an attraction that burns at volcanic temperatures and so brightly it blinds everyone who dare look up from their copy of Metro. I will come to discover one day that I may well be on a hiding to nothing with that criteria, but that is in the future and as I sit awaiting my date – late, like I need another reason to get rid – the future is exactly what I am hoping to change tonight. He sees me in his, and, well, I beg to differ.

He arrives, all smiles and nervous apologies, orders a drink before he has sat down and takes off his coat, a huge designer number in a beautiful colour I won’t see in normal shops for another two years. As he removes his layers, he lightly splashes me with rain that must have started while I’d been waiting. His eyes, bright blue, are huge. I recognise that look; I have seen it once or twice before. He’s pleased to see me. In his ignorance, he’s glad he schlepped out in the rain to come and meet me, an even bigger raincloud clad in H&M and armed with fatal disappointment.

There’s a menu in his hand but it’s just binary with added vowel upon vowel and all I can focus on is my empty glass. I signal to the waiter for another and he puts aside his plaque-filled piece of card and slopes to the bar to grab me another beer.

The date is talking and I answer but I don’t really know what I’m saying and he touches my hand and I don’t move it away and all the time I am drifting, drifting, drifting away to two hours in the future when I am leaving the restaurant alone, pulling up the collar of my jacket and stalking out into the night, away from the romance and the candlelight and the hope-drenched eyes.

“So what do you think?” he says jolting me out of my trance and bringing me right back in the moment. I blink and look around me then down at the table. He’s still touching my hand. Then he removes it.

“Are you OK?” he asks. Eyes huge again.

“Yes,” I reply, dazed. How long did my out of body experience last?

He is talking again. Now I listen. “I just think it’s for the best,” he is saying. “There’s a bond there and I can’t really imagine there ever not being one.”

“Right.”

“So, y’know.” He touches my hand again. “I’ve had a lot of fun with you, but I think my future’s with Steven. Though I’d really like it if we could be friends.”

Hang the fuck on.

“I mean, it wasn’t anything serious was it?” he continues as I gape. “Just a few dates. You either click with someone or you don’t, right? I think we’re better off as mates.”

I compose myself. “You’re, erm saying we’re not… erm. You’re getting back with your ex?’

His smile is fixed. He can’t wait for this to be over. “Yes, is that OK? What do you think?” His eyes aren’t big with affection – it’s worry, guilt.

I nod slowly. “Cool.”

And we decide not to eat, because he thinks I “need some time to digest things” and I try to make a joke about not eating and digestion but the will has left me and within 20 minutes I am out in the rain, by myself, and I pull my collar up and hunch up my shoulders and head off into the dark. And it feels darker than it ever has been before. I’m supposed to feel good – this is where I saw myself, albeit an hour or so in the future and with a full belly.

Rejection stings twice as hard when it’s from somebody you never wanted anyway. I’m supposed to be striding off triumphantly leaving the debris behind me. The fucker stole my moment.

Shrugging off the pain of a thousand paper cuts and the shame of a hundred disgraced royals, I learn another lesson. Next time, don’t wait for him to take his coat off – he’s going to need it.

The Muse

Some people really love talking about their job. And I should know – I have spent many a sunny evening sitting under a cloud of boredom at a smeared pub table across from a guy going through his company’s sales figures in mind-numbing detail. Curriculum Borae.

I don’t really like talking about mine; I never have, really. People always think it should be more impressive than it actually is, that I should be sipping champagne at celebrity events and photobombing Taylor Swift’s selfies.

The sad fact is, however that most of the time I am in my living room, slamming my fingers on my laptop’s much-maligned keyboard, limbering up for a lifetime of back and shoulder pain thanks to my terrible posture. Either that or I’m doing the same but in a local café, while demonic children on microscooters encircle me.

But when a date asks, you have to tell – and Luke, my handsome, but slightly vanilla, date for the evening, is about to do just that.

“So you’re a writer?” he says.

“Yes.” I’m hoping my blank face will stop him from enquiring any further. It never works.

“What do you write about?”

I resist the temptation to roll my eyes and instead begin to tell him about my job, leaving out the key detail that sometimes I write about men I go on dates with, too. Describing what you do for a living to a date is one of the least fun parts of the whole process. Like I say, they’re almost always disappointed that I don’t get to meet any celebrities or break any big political stories.

My date listens intently, or at least pretends to, and then takes a swig of his drink. “I’ve been on a date with a writer before,” he says.

“Oh, really?” I reply. “And how was that?” Although from his tone, I can guess it went badly.

“Fine,” he shrugs, “except that he told me he was in the middle of writing a book about going on loads of dates with different men. Can you imagine that?”

Well, I kind of can. I gulp. After a silence lasting infinite millennia, I lean forward in my chair. “And what did you say to that?”

“I was really annoyed,” he retorts with a furrowed brow. “He didn’t want to be on a date with me because he was interested in me; he just wanted to put me in a book.”

While I sympathise, I can’t help but think it would be highly unlikely for my date to have been interesting enough to make it into the final draft of any book about dating. We have been sitting here for about an hour and this is the first time he has asked me a question, yet I know everything about his firm’s redundancy procedure, which in the main seemed devoted to getting rid of him and him only. What a shame someone so beautiful has turned out be such a dullard.

“So what happened?” I ask.

“Well, nothing. Once he told me that, the date was over.”

I consider revealing all, just so I can get the exit I’ve been waiting for. Instead:

“Would it really have annoyed you to see yourself in print?”

He looks at me quizzically. “Well, of course it would. What a stupid thing to ask. Jesus.”

“…”

I drain my drink and stare at the glass, my throat tight with awkwardness. I resolve not to ask him anything else, stupid or otherwise.

Luckily, my date seems to have tired of me considerably, as he gives a very stagey yawn and stretches his hands above his head. “I’m pretty beat,” he whimpers. “Shall we call it a night?”

‘Beat’, yuk. I check my watch. 8.30 pm. Hardly “a night”, but fair enough.

“Sure,” I smile. “It was nice to meet you.”

“Yeah,” replies my date with not even a hint of sincerity. “You too.”

“Ooh, by the way,” I say as we part. “Do you read Gay Times magazine?”

He scratches his head. “No, I can’t say I do. Why?”

“Oh, no reason. Goodnight.”

Stats: 31, 5’9″, black/blue, Hertfordshire
Pre-date rating: 8/10
Post-date rating: 5.5/10
Date in one sentence: Write about me, like one of your French girls.

Image: Flickr

This post originally featured in truncated form in Gay Times (funnily enough – sorry Luke) in a monthly dating column. I still write for them, answering readers’ dilemmas and looking at some of the types of men it might be best to avoid. You can get the latest issue now at gtdigi.co.uk

11 men you really don’t want your boyfriend to follow on Instagram

They’re hot, they’re bored and they’ve got a smartphone. Meet the boys of Instagram who, you hope, your boyfriend hasn’t met yet.

Because when he does… you’ll be filtered out of view.

1. Topless “night-night” selfie

Goodnight #me #gay #instagay #gayboy #home #bed #shirtless #chest #tired #night #sleep

A photo posted by Nick Barnekow (@nickbarnekow) on

You daren’t take selfies at bedtime because, eight days out of seven, you’re bloated from too much wine and you’re saving that spot to squeeze in the morning. Meanwhile, Prince Charming has plonked his pretty head down to rest in a sea of Touche Eclat, and is saying to your boyfriend “Imagine us here, together”. Your other half will have sweet dreams all right – you don’t get so much as a cameo role.

2. “Look at the state of me. So #hungover.”

Wacky hair though #weird #tired #hungover #hungry #blueeyes #selfie #canadian #bedhead

A photo posted by Zakk (@zakk.hall) on

Absolutely nobody with a true hangover would be in any fit state to endure the hours of studio time these pictures entail, swathed in immaculate white bedlinen. And if this is what he says he looks like hungover, you can bet your dry-mouthed ass your boyfriend will be asking himself why you look like shit ALL THE TIME.

3. Downview shots of bare legs with new trainers or feet shots with perfect toes at the end of them.

#NikeMornings…. Marseille here we go!

A photo posted by g u i l l e r m o (@geeyay) on

Your trotters are so hideous you wear socks in the bath so you don’t scare your rubber duck. All your shoes crave polish and your trainers smell like a tramp’s dog. You cannot compete.

4. Healthy lunch photographer

American Salad! 😍 #salad

A photo posted by Nash (@nfwiz) on

You’d take pics of your food, but a) it’s always pie and chips and b) your gut would always get in the way unless you stood up from your seat, took a few paces across the room and then snapped away – and that would cause a scene. Once your boyfriend points at this guy’s picture of a heap of salad with misery dressing and says: “Ooh, we should try that sometime” your days are numbered..

5. Me and my doggy

Some down time in NYC with my buddy Rambo 🐶 #Frenchie

A photo posted by Nick Bateman (@nick__bateman) on

There’s no better way to reel in a gay who’s a bit ticked off with their other half than a cutesy pic with a dog, usually with brunch or a sexy Manhattan apartment lurking in the background. You like the idea of a dog, but your general lack of enthusiasm for picking up dog crap and having everything you’ve ever owned covered in hair has helped to elevate this Instagram dog-worshipping idol to boyfriend material in just a few clicks.

6. New hair, don’t care!
BeakerHands
He cares, and despite having the most average haircut this side of Michael Gove at a christening, your boyfriend has doled out a like. He’s never commented on your hair, not even when you got an orange buzzcut, grew a beard and said you were now a one-man Eurythmics.

7. #nofilter

#noholdsbarred more like. He’ll let him put it anywhere.

8. Wearing a face mask.

Just your average Face Mask Friday! #facemask #clay #friday #goofy @taylorgandy @frogjuicefat

A photo posted by Nick Mangiapane (@nmangiapane) on

He’s sorting out his skin so he can “steal ur man”

9. Starbucks name LOLs
guyliner_starbucks
“I told them my name was Matt, but the barista wrote ‘Cocksurfer’ on it, LOL. Get it right!!!”

Do you really want to date a man who hangs on every word of someone STILL amazed by this phenomenon of Starbucks baristas not giving a shit what your actual name is?

10. Changing room Charlie

Movie Premiere in Toronto tonight 🎬😜

A photo posted by Nick Bateman (@nick__bateman) on

Which outfit do you like best? He is broadcasting a show called “Your potential perfect partner” right into your boyfriend’s eyeballs and there is NOTHING you can do about it but hope he puts on weight.

11. You

A photo posted by The Guyliner (@theguyliner) on

Because then they’ll be able to see you behave like a drooling lech over every swimsuit-sporting twink in the Insta-world – and that simply won’t do.

Main image: Flickr

Note: If your Instagram pics have been used here and you’d rather they weren’t, get in touch and let me know. Please don’t send dick pics.

Coming out isn’t a one-off event – you’ll do it day after day for ever

Did you come out on National Coming Out Day? And how was it for you?

What people never seem to tell you about coming out is that it’s not restricted to one day – it’s a never-ending event. See those closet doors? They’re revolving. Day after day, you will find yourself – directly and indirectly – coming out to a host of people, even total strangers. The coming out never stops.

Think you have everybody covered? Relatives, friends, key people at work – check. However, you’re not out of the woods yet. We live in a world where there may be equality in law, but socially, we’ve still a long way to go.

Even a simple trip to the doctor, or a casual chat with a colleague, and having to say that dreariest, laborious word “partner”, like you’re in love with a law firm, is an act of coming out. It still feels strange on the tongue, let alone in the head, having to explain yourself.

You never know whether the news you’re gay will get you a shrug, a hug or a punch in the mouth. You wonder whether sitting next to that straight guy on the bus will make him think you fancy him, because he can tell, right? He knows you’re gay.

Will that drunk woman who caught you steal a glance at her boyfriend laugh it off or get in your face and throw a drink over you, calling you a “poof” and warning you to keep your eyes to yourself.? Welcome to the worst lottery ever.

Perhaps one day it will be no big deal and there’ll be no need for a lurching stomach or a mild stutter as you get the words out, wondering what the reaction will be. Here’s hoping. But despite all that, coming out is worth it. It really is.

I have already documented how I broke the news to my parents 14 years ago, and while I thought my work was done, about a month ago I realised there were two other people who’d remained blissfully ignorant over the years – my siblings.

I have a 17-year-old brother who I don’t see very often. He’s never really asked me about relationships or anything like that – teenagers tend to have their own stuff going on – but it niggled at me that he was in the dark.

I never had to tell my 18-year-old sister, to whom I’m very close. I suggested to Mum I should reveal all, but she said there was no need. Looking back, she was right. While it took her a few years to work it out, the fact she had her very own gay best friend at school helped her realise that I wouldn’t one day be bringing home a blushing bride.

Despite it never being explicitly said, she never questioned it,  instead accepted it without so much as a shrug – how disappointing for my inner dramatist – and my sexuality has become just another drab fact of life.

She may have had her suspicions about where my ‘flatmate’ and I slept in our one-bedroom flat but she never voiced them. We have settled into our relationship as grown-ups brilliantly. In her own words: “I didn’t really notice.” Perfect.

My brother was a different proposition. How do you tell a sporty 17-year-old just discovering girls that his big brother, who for some bizarre reason he looks up to, can never really join in on the whole lady appreciation thing? How do you prepare yourself to be a disappointment?

Well, the way I did it is spend the entire weekend with him and not say anything about it, before going home and telling him in a language he would understand – on Facebook Messenger.

In the middle of a conversation about a gig I was going to – Kylie! Of course – I decided now was the time to drop the bombshell, or gayshell, if you like. I decided not to make it too emotive – the slightest hint of sentiment can send even the most sensitive of teenagers reeling and heading under the nearest Xbox. I kept it matter-of-fact:

“It’s just occurred to me that you may not be aware – my partner is a bloke. I’m gay. Hope you’re cool with that. I should’ve mentioned it before, I guess. It’s a difficult one to drop into conversation. If you need a bit of time to think that one over, I understand. I should’ve said at the weekend really. Anyway, now you know.”

So now he knew. I awaited his reply with the kind of feeling you get when you know your electricity bill is due – crippled by inevitability. I was also kind of excited. Something was about to change. Finally, some drama.

Hours dragged. Then: a tick appeared by his message. He’d seen it. I closed Facebook and went into another room and pretended to tidy up. Any distraction welcome. Finally, I scraped myself off the ceiling and opened Facebook again. And like a beam of light, his reply shone:

“I can imagine you would’ve found it very hard to put that into conversation!
But yeah.
As long as you’re happy bro I’m really happy for you!
I have the utmost respect for you, it must be really difficult sometimes.”

Whether it’s a blatant acceptance like my brother’s, or a  marvellously unspoken one like my sister’s, never underestimate its power. And even though I have come out a thousand times to a million faces, the feeling of being accepted, that good reaction, never, ever gets old.

If you have come out to friends or family this weekend, I hope they reacted as brilliantly as my most excellent siblings.

National Coming Out Day is all yours – make it count

It’s National Coming Out Day, the day when the collective force of a zillion closet doors being thrust open is enough to knock you off your feet.

Coming out is a milestone that every gay person feels obliged to pass – it’s the ritual that all of us have to go through on the ridiculously long path to being ‘the real you’.

The main issue I had with coming out is that I really didn’t want to – I was convinced my sexuality wasn’t anyone’s business but my own.

I was a late starter, getting to the grand old age of 24 before I was ready to admit to even myself that I was actually gay, and so to announce my sexuality felt unnatural and odd.

It was such a small part of who I was, I told myself. It didn’t define me at all; it was no more relevant to my life than the colour of my hair or my eyes, right?

These are the ridiculous things you say in your head when you’re on the cusp of changing everything for ever. You don’t realise how relevant it is to your life until you don’t have to keep it a secret any more.

Coming out to friends was interesting. Some had badgered me about it for years, only to be met by strenuous denials. I almost didn’t want to give them the satisfaction of being right all along, and dreaded the conspiratorial “I knew it!” I didn’t want to be a bright, shiny gay bauble for people to marvel over.

Something you should be prepared for when coming out is not just a bad reaction from parents or relatives, but that you may even find friends’ positive reactions distasteful. I found horrifying the idea that my newfound self-acceptance could become the most interesting and important thing about me.

Don’t make this mistake: be pleased that people are happy for you. “Oh we always knew” might leave a nasty taste in your mouth (not for the first time ho ho ho) but remember they are just trying to make you feel comfortable. Don’t resent them for it.

For a while I played down my homosexuality, not allowing myself to celebrate it. It was no big deal. Next question. I realise now that coming out doesn’t mean an end to the awkwardness – revealing all is just the first step to accepting who you are.

Once I was out to friends, the inevitable next step was to tell my parents. They’re divorced, so I did this separately – in very different ways.

I told my father when I was drunk and in a terrible mood, my secret bursting out of me during a heated debate. Oh, and it was also his birthday. I know, I know. What a model son.

I spat it out angrily, but his reaction was far from furious; after momentary shock, he was understanding, gracious and happy I had confided in him. Despite this, I continued to do it all wrong, saying once again it was no big deal and that I didn’t want to talk about it, when all my dad wanted to do was be supportive. It takes a really long time to be comfortable in your own skin, but open up if you can.

Coming out can be an utterly selfish act – as you deal with your own emotions, you forget that the people you tell have feelings too. Learn from me: don’t come out in anger.

I told my mother soon after, one breakfast just after Christmas, after remarking that in the upcoming Absolutely Fabulous special, Edina would find out her son was gay.

I found myself blurting out: “What would you do if I were gay, Mum?”

My mother did not look up from the pan of boiling eggs she was hovering over.

“Why? Are you?”

“Um, yes.”

There followed a brief discussion about the gay men Mum had known when she was younger – sadly, all drug addicts and emotional wrecks, so not the best poster boys for my cause – and once she’d had a think about it, she too was supportive, just like my dad.

My mother admitted she’d idly wondered if I was gay, so wasn’t entirely shocked, but as I hadn’t said anything, she didn’t want to risk upsetting me by asking outright.

One of my mum’s friends when I was growing up was a militant lesbian who was obsessed with outing me when I was about 13, before I’d ever even imagined a man’s body pressed against mine. I’m sure she meant well, but those who try to out others before they ready only serve to push them so far back in, branches of trees of Narnia scratch them.

Coming out can help set others’ minds at rest. My parents were, of course, concerned, but it was my responsibility to show them they had nothing to worry about. Now my sexuality is the thing I wanted it to be all along, just another part of my life. I was lucky. Not everyone is.

Did I need to come out to finally be at peace with myself? I think so. Coming out is difficult for many reasons; the fear of people’s reactions; the conflict with religious beliefs; the knowledge that there is still a huge amount of intolerance and hate out there to name just a few.

What coming out does do for you as a gay person is allows you to be at peace with yourself. The turmoil doesn’t vanish, but the internal struggles you’ve had for as long as you can remember can suddenly become less painful. Your friends’ and family’s reaction may surprise you – in a good way.

And if you’re not gay, if someone you know stares intently at you today and clears their throat, there’s a good chance they’re about to tell you they’re gay – or they have a peanut stuck in their throat and are unable to speak, silently willing you to decode their desperate glaring. Before you put on your best understanding face, check their airways just in case.

I’d encourage anybody who finds themselves as a coming-out confidante to react calmly, positively and maybe save the celebratory air punches and that you “knew it all along” for later. Be prepared to fight their corner, as not everyone is going to react as well as you. Make sure the voice of acceptance shouts the loudest.

So why the big fuss about National Coming Out Day, when you can make the big announcement any day of the year? Well, if you do it today, you know you won’t be doing it alone. Most of us need motivation for a lot of things.

You may tell yourself you’ll do it tomorrow, or the next day, but they’re just like any other day, full of trivial things to help you put it off until later.

But if it’s not the right time for you to take the plunge, don’t. Coming out should be a personal thing; you’re doing it for you, not them.

But when you’re ready, do come on out – the water’s lovely.

To find out where it all began, read The Hogmanay Kiss.

Earlier versions of this post have appeared elsewhere.

An additional 25 men you should never date

The dating arena is an unforgiving place. There’s no time to waste on that search for lasting love.

As ever, I only want to help, so if you want to separate the men from the boys and the woulds from the would-nots, here I have 25 more men you should, if at all possible, avoid when dating. Everything I do, I do it for you.

You should never date a man who…

1. Has a ‘hilarious’ answer-phone message.
Wacky outgoing voicemail messages are up there with novelty underpants, Homer Simpson ties, “Take me to your dealer” T-shirts and socks with the day of the week written on them when it comes to turn-offs.

2. Types “hehe” when he means “haha”.

3. Goes on about how Alanis Morissette’s Ironic isn’t actually ironic.
Yeah, I love to have someone explain to me in spine-tingling detail the official dictionary entry for ironic. May 10,000 spoons rain down on your head.

4. Says “Grauniad” or “Torygraph”.
Or the Daily Fail, or the Daily Diana, or the Scum, or any other annoying, smug nickname for a national newspaper. Apart from News of the Screws – but that doesn’t apply any more. (Interesting fact: my local paper growing up was called the T&A and NOBODY ever made a joke about it. Imagine.)

5. Tweets this picture and claims it’s his local Tesco.
It’s from Canada. And is really old. Piss off.

You should never date a man who posts this picture and claims it's his local Tesco.

6. Says “thanks for the birthday messages” on Facebook before his birthday is actually over.

7. Calls holiday ‘annual leave’, especially in his out-of-office.
He’ll probably end up begging you for ‘sexual relations’, after you’ve had a few ‘beverages’ down the local ‘hostelry’.

8. Has commented “YAAAAAASSS SLAY” on a YouTube video.
Or indeed comments on YouTube videos full stop.

9. Still has a Yahoo! email address.

10. Thinks he’s less lame on social media than everyone else.
He’s wrong – we are all terrible.

11. Claims someone is pretending to be him on Grindr.
It’s him. 101 times out of 100.

12. Says #sorrynotsorry
He should be sorry.

13. Uses the word ‘funky’ about anything other than James Brown.

14. Thinks texting you the entire lyrics to Dress You Up counts as flirting.

15. Talks about ‘payday’.
Or goes on about being ‘skint’ at the end of the month. Ooh, minor, surmountable money problems? Now that’s what I call talking dirty. Let’s have sex immediately, maybe on a bed of bounced cheques and Starbucks receipts.

16. Has a strong opinion either way on the great, sexless Apple vs Android ‘debate’.

17. Has a birthday party in a bar and expects you to pay to get in.

18. Uses the word ‘shenanigans’.
It usually describes the tamest night of sipping weak cocktails in an All Bar One just off the ring road, gazing out at a car park while a lightbulb gently buzzes somewhere just out of your eye line. And that’s what the sex will be like. And every day for the rest of your lives. Always a buzzing lightbulb somewhere.

19. Won’t ask for extra gravy.
There should always be more gravy. The man who will get it for you should be proposed to immediately. Marry. This. Man.

20. Accepts the first table a waiter offers him.
It’s always the worst one.

21. Sets all his Facebook profile pictures to public.
He’s a slut.

22. Wants you to write about him.
What if there’s really nothing to say?

23. Doesn’t have a favourite Victoria Wood quote.
“You’ve a look of Eva Braun – did you know?”

24. Doesn’t think this is the best X Factor duet ever.

25. Thinks admitting his selfies are “shameless” means he can take five times as many.

And one more for luck…

26. Is James Franco.
I mean, I love him, but God he’d be exhausting. And you’d need a nailbrush before you even got going.

I could go on. And I will, soon…

In the meantime, check these ‘pearls of wisdom’ out:

25 men you should never date

Another 25 men you should never date

A further 25 men you should never date

Yet another 25 men you should never date

I write a monthly column for the wonderful Gay Times magazine on all the men you should never, ever date. Get it now at gtdigi.co.uk

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