Do heterosexual people still apply for the Guardian Blind Date? Do they even still exist or has fracking obliterated them all? I can’t say I’ve noticed.
Anyway this week we have Jeff and Gerard, who sound like a gay couple in an arch Alan Bennett play about people staying in adjoining rooms in a Trusthouse Forte in 1979.
Jeff is 26, and a media manager (no idea, shouts on the phone a lot probably) and 30-year-old Gerard is a lawyer. Youthful, a lawyer, single – gay boys, your mother’s heart just quickened in anticipation.
Here they are in full length glory.
Jeff on Gerard | Gerard on Jeff
What were you hoping for?
At minimum, a painless evening of conversation and lots of drinks. At best, someone I could bring to a Mariah Carey concert.
What were you hoping for?
A date who wouldn’t ask for the bill while I was still eating (the experience that prompted me to apply).
Haha I have had this happen to me once. All because he didn’t know how to eat edamame. (This nightmare date was adapted for my first novel, which is out now.)
“I really hope he’s got good chat, because he’s quite fit.”
Put your tongue back in, Jeff; I can see what you’ve had for breakfast.
Handsome, big glasses, Canadian.
Handsome is an A1 first impression. Big glasses is a little… errrr… functional. And Canadian… well, what a first impression. Did Jeff make it clear he was Canadian before he started speaking? Sitting upon a moose, maybe? Or instead of hello did he trill the “da-da-da-durrrrduh-duh-da-DA!” intro from Shania Twain’s Man! I Feel Like a Woman? Let’s go girls!
What did you talk about?
Mostly music. He had just gone to see Kylie, I’d been to Shania Twain, we both think Spiceworld is an iconic album and loved Mamma Mia 2.
Shania Twain, racism in the LGBT community, why Mamma Mia 2 is the greatest film of all time (he’s seen it twice, I’ve seen it five times).
OK, so this is nearly a full house.
Mamma Mia 2 ✅
Racism in the LGBT community: This is a thing. An actual problem. Some will tell you it isn’t, and that infighting is pointless when there are bigger more outward-facing struggles LGBT people should be focusing on and 🚨🚨🚨 I’m afraid that is not the case. We can sort out more than one problem at a time – we usually have plenty of them on the go, let’s face it. The LGBT community is a section of society just like any other and has its own ecosystem of intolerance and prejudice. Yeah, we might march with rainbow flags and chirrup “Love is Love” at every given opportunity but you don’t have to delve too far into a (usually) white gay guy’s Insta to see he’s problematic af. It manifests itself in myriad ways: fetishisation of people of colour; dismissal of older/camper/butcher/fatter/thinner/non-buff people; slut-shaming; kink-shaming. Oh, you name it, tbh. If you want to stay within your own particular lane of the community that is your right – you do you, as some might say – and you can fancy who the hell you like, but don’t execute or communicate your “preferences” in a way that hurts others, or stand in the way of those who want to speak out and make things fairer; otherwise you’ll be showing us exactly who you are, and we’ll be forced to believe you. Remember when your gran said, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all?” – apply it. And as Madonna said, wisely: “I’m not your bitch, don’t hang your shit on me”.
Any awkward moments?
He pretended he didn’t know who Janet Jackson was, which was stressful.
Any awkward moments?
I tend to make overly sassy jokes when I’m nervous or tipsy. I was both nervous and had downed two large glasses of wine with colleagues beforehand.
Warning: if the word “sassy” brings you out in hives, do not read on, because Gerard says this a LOT.
When The Last Romeo first came out, I did a Q&A about it in a bookshop, and someone asked if I was worried about the characters (many of whom are gay men) being stereotypes and BOY did I love this question because if there’s one soapbox I love clambering upon, it’s the “gay stereotype” one. It’s my cardio.
So, in the book there are a range of gay characters and among them is a sassy gay – a larger than life, saucy, bitchy, hilarious, deadpan queen, and he is often marked out by readers as a character they love. And it was important to me to include a character like that, because after decades of conditioning against Mr Humphries from Are You Being Served? and Larry Grayson – along with a good 20 years of most gay men on TV being gruff, confused, straight-acting dude-bros, you would be forgiven for thinking good old-fashioned sassy queens don’t exist. Where are they all, unless they’re the foil for some super-smart straight dude and/or getting killed off in the first act? Yet head to Twitter, or to your nearest rainbow flag hostelry and they’re there, quipping, hair-flipping and being their very own entertainment. I think as long as the sass isn’t spiteful, bigoted, and plain dumb – and some gay people take things to the extreme and betray their prejudices in the guise of sass, which I am not here for, thank you very much – there is plenty of room for it. Bring on the sass! More sassy gay men immediately!
There’s a deeper reason many gay men (especially) develop this sass and it comes from a place of sadness, or trying to fit in, or attempting to talk your way out of a beating. Our sass, our humour, our entire being, is like deep, horrific scars melding together to become armour. It protects us, but it can make us vulnerable too, and can be compromised easily. Don’t hit us too hard with your comebacks.
Good table manners?
A definite gentleman.
Best thing about Gerard?
When we finished our cocktails, he suggested we get a bottle of wine.
Best thing about Jeff?
For his degree, he did a paper on political dimensions to the work of the Spice Girls.
I went to a launch the other day for a book about feminism called What Would the Spice Girls Do? (congrats, Lauren, btw) so it would appear that what on the surface of it was a fairly straightforward pop quintet with a brief era in the spotlight actually have far-reaching cultural impact. Oh culture snobs will tell you this isn’t possible – usually those who scoffed at Princess Eugenie having a reading from The Great Gatsby at her wedding as if their own lounge isn’t full of “LIVE! LAUGH! LOVE” stencilling – that they were nothing but capitalism in platforms, a cynical ploy to sell merchandise, but this is bollocks. The Spice Girls exposed class snobbery, challenged sexism and misogyny, prodded at the “rules” around sexiness and sexuality and, above ALL that, released Viva Forever, which is a fucking work of art, and I’ll fight anyone who tries to tell me different.
Describe him in three words
Honest, sassy, and articulate.
Honest, unlike whatever someone who starts a sentence with “To be honest” says right after it.
Sassy, like all the best LGBT dudes and dudettes are. (You are allowed to be boring too btw, that’s fine, I don’t mind, I’m quite dull, we are not alone.)
Articulate, like someone on the phone to Virgin Media, attempting to elicit decent customer service by using a Margo from The Good Life voice.
Describe him in three words
Charming, chatty, relaxed.
Charming, like a snake, or me at a wedding.
Chatty, like *record scratch* – I am fucking sick of seeing this adjective here. Starting from next time, anyone who says this will have all further answers followed up by a gif of an exasperated, yet fabulous, middle-aged woman. I need material – this is barely a thread.
Relaxed, like the cat, who you have just got home to find sprawled on your bed, stubbing out a joint, watching The Godfather Part II on your iPad.
What do you think he made of you?
Overall, I think he was pleasantly surprised with how well we got on.
A complex blend of nerves and sass.
Own it, babycakes.
And… did you kiss?
There might have been a cheeky make-out session in front of the Novello theatre. Cher would have been proud.
I’m not one to kiss and tell.
If you could change one thing about the evening, what would it be?
I would be less sassy.
No you wouldn’t and please stop saying that word. And, look, Gerard, if Jeff can’t love your sass, he doesn’t deserve your ASS.
Why aren’t I Poet Laureate yet?
Marks out of 10?
Oh man, Gez is THAT bitch. That 10! He is up for it, taking no chances, he wants to let Jeff know that round 2 is on the table and that’s exactly where they’ll be doing it – on the table.
Jeff’s 8 is… I mean, I find it highly disrespectful to mark a date where you snogged anything less than a 9, unless they were sick in your mouth. So either Jeff is playing it cool, or he is an actual player (how dreary), or he is just sitting right there awaiting cancellation.
Do. Not. Let. Me. Down.
Would you meet again?
He has a choir show coming up, so we’ll see what happens.
Would you meet again?
I would, but it may not be reciprocated. At least he didn’t ask for the bill while I was still eating.
Don’t fight it, boys; feel it. For me.
NOTE: The comments I make are based on the answers given by the participants and not what they may actually be like in real life. The Guardian chooses what to publish and usually edits answers to make the column work better on the page. Get in touch if you want to give me your side of the story; I’ll publish whatever you say. I hope it was a decent snog.
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