I’m a gay man in his early 40s who has been single for nearly seven years and hasn’t even had a date for almost three. Although I’m by no means ugly, I’m also far from the Adonis stereotype that permeates so much of homo culture. I have plenty of “friends,” but only a small handful of people I’m truly close with, and virtually all of them, both gay and straight, have committed partners.
I’m also pretty socially awkward, introverted and shy. I have a tough time meeting new people, because the very idea of striking up a conversation with a stranger stirs up a profound anxiety in me. I feel like I have plenty to offer, intellectually and emotionally, once the ice is actually broken, but getting to that stage is really tough. I’m also way out of tune with popular culture, gay or otherwise, and my interests often seem to bore or disconcert others.
I have a profile on Scruff, and I’ve tried meeting guys on Craigslist; however, the latter is more for NSA hook-ups (not my style anymore), and the former just seems so superficial, even fake. I only infrequently go out to bars, but when I do I try to go places that have a gay-friendly reputation, like Little Kings, Go Bar and Church. Once there, though, it’s hard to talk to guys until I’m pretty drunk and in no condition to really be myself or make good judgments.
I know Athens is a really youth-oriented town and gay-male culture in general is pretty obsessed with the twentysomething look, but I’m more like somebody’s dad. When we used to have Boneshakers and then Detour, these problems weren’t quite so acute. Now, though, the generally free acceptance of gay people in this town, along with the absence of a place dedicated to us, has led to a sort of social dissipation that makes me feel lost and pretty forlorn. I don’t even know how to look for Mr. Right (or even Mr. OK), much less find him, and I’m afraid I’m going to live out the rest of my days and die alone. Life is tough enough; being single in middle age is that much harder. What should I do?
Lonely, Awkward, Worried
I know your pain. I’m also over 30 and not straight, but the gay part of my identity went pretty darn neglected in this town until I paid closer attention to the scene. There’s plenty of hooking up to be done if that’s your bag, but it’s not the way you meet a partner. I can imagine it’s even more complicated when you’re not the hooking-up type or if you’re socially awkward. Attempting to cruise at the bars is doing you no good if it’s just fueling your anxiety and causing you to drink too much. I’d recommend you take a break from that and find a more mature scene.
Over time, I’ve found that there are plenty of mature queer people in this town looking to partner up and settle down, but they’re definitely not at bars. The Boybutante Foundation hosts lots of fundraisers throughout the year, from brunches to cocktail hours to dance parties, and they are usually attended by older LGBT+ folks who have the money to donate to such a great organization. Remember, people who can write off a donation to charity are usually gonna have more going on their lives than those who are Craigslist trolling. That’s where you’ll meet all the awesome gay couples and professionals this town has to offer.
Also, in my experience, settled-down gay couples in Athens tend to have lots of gay friends in their social circles, and they’re usually the types who’ll take grilling and movies over a night at the glory holes. I’d recommend making friends with two local husbears and asking them to refer you to an awesome single friend of theirs. Cultivating a quality circle of gay friends—real friends, not people you see every weekend at the bar—will open you up to a whole new dating pool. I mean, I think we all know that most of us won’t find love downtown, so make friends with gays who have graduated from that scene.
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