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  1. Last week
  2. Living with a hidden illness.

    Hey, man, I suffer from neuropathy in my feet causing to throb, swell and constantly hurt like the burn of an iron. I feel your concerns about pain. I tries everything, some medications which almost killed me to some that would work for maybe three weeks then nothing. Finally after some research on my part, I asked my doctor for a prescription for medical marijuana. I have been on it for about three months and have experimented until I find a combination of THC and CBD I am now almost pain free. Please consider doing some research as I have met a number of people recently, some with Crohn's, who are now leaving almost pain free lives. There is no chance of overdosing and some of the side benefits are slower aging and a clearer brighter brain function. Take Care. I hope you find a good combination for you. Please try and see the 6 part documentary on medical marijuana called "The Sacred Plant"
  3. How rigid are sexual identities? What happens to the men and women who are sexually fluid – and how are they viewed by their friends and the broader LGBT community? Gays.com talks to three individuals about their personal experiences. “I was trolled on Grindr.” David, aged 28, came out when he was 18. “I spent years knowing that I preferred men, although I’d had some early relationships with women,” he tells me. “On balance though, I knew I was more physically attracted to men.” After he came out, David found himself living a typically urban gay lifestyle: “Long weekends clubbing, bars, hookups – I was the usual young gay man about town, and like a child in a sweetshop, I couldn’t get enough,” he says. But over time, David noticed things were changing. He found the drugs and clubs and increasingly meaningless sex unfulfilling. “I’d always had close friendships with women – they were my best friends, but eventually I found myself in an intimate relationship with one. Yes, we were having sex – and it was great – but this was more about the emotional connection, which I hadn’t found with the men I’d been with.” David has now been with his female partner for eight months. Their relationship, however, is open – and they have agreed to play together only. David’s partner doesn’t define her sexuality but enjoys sex with both men and women. “I’m still on the apps,” David says, “but I make it clear that I’m in a relationship with a girl and we’re up for threesomes.” This has led to a range of responses, David explains. “Some guys are curious – and up for it! But others – and I’d say a significant proportion, troll me, sending me insulting messages, basically telling me that if I am ‘straight’, as they put it, I shouldn’t be on this app. I think it’s really sad that some gay guys are so threatened by someone who chooses to challenge the boxes we put ourselves in. Still, it’s their loss.” Being queer means, by definition, that we're open. “Then came the Fish jokes” Wayne is of a different generation to David. Now aged 55, he has always considered himself an “outsider” in the gay male community. “I’m not even sure there is a community,” he laughs. “There’s certainly a lot of infighting and bitching among gay men.” David has had long and successful relationships with both men and women, though he is currently single – and quite happy. “What I found most upsetting,” he says “were the reactions I got from certain gay men when I told them I was dating a woman. Out they came with the ‘Fish’ jokes – so bloody predictable. One (formerly) good friend cornered me, after one too many Proseccos, and said, ‘do you like cock or cunt? It’s that’s simple. Make your choice.’” Unfortunately, David has encountered these issues repeatedly over the years – though in recent times he has found other gay men more accepting. “I think gay men – at least the decent ones, anyway – have grown up,” he says. “If they haven’t, I just walk away.” “Then of course,” he adds, with a wink, “there are the reactions when I tell people that I have not only a son but a grandson.” David is rightly proud of his family, which he had before any of his subsequent relationships with men. “My wife always knew that I was also attracted to men. It was never a problem – and that wasn’t why we broke up,” he explains. “Relationships are not just what body part you put where, and I’ve found love – in its truest, most joyful sense – with the most unexpected people – male and women – over the years. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.” “Being queer means, by definition, that we’re open.” Jax, aged 33, defines herself as a “proud queer”. To her, sexuality and gender are fluid – and boundaries are there to be challenged. “I’ve had relationships with men and women and trans women,” she says. “I don’t define a person by their sexuality or gender, but on how they are as an individual, and what we can offer one another in the relationship we have – and it’s always different depending upon the person - that’s the really exciting thing.” What kind of prejudice has Jax encountered from the LGBT community for her choices? “You spend time with people who understand you, who get you, who don’t judge the choices you make,” she says. “I’ve never found anyone, within the queer community, who had a problem with who I chose to date, or got hung up on meaningless ideas of sexuality. Being queer means, by definition, I think, that we’re open. The best of us never stop exploring.”
  4. Earlier
  5. In the wake of the allegations against Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey, Alex Hopkins speaks to gay men about their experiences of sexual harassment. Gay bars and clubs are often highly-charged sexual spaces: half-naked go-go dancers, topless barmen, men-only cruise bars and saunas. In such environments, ‘groping’ – the touch of a buttock, the tweaking of a nipple, even the plunging of a hand down some Calvins - is frequently considered just part of a night out. Seldom are these actions remarked upon, let alone precipitate an allegation of sexual assault. But does this make them any more acceptable? “Dodging the groping was part of the job.” Steven, who worked at a popular London gay club, sees little harm in such behaviour. “When a grab to the crotch is the cause of PTSD, what to make of my bruised buttocks and swollen nipples after a night collecting glasses? I had to dodge and swerve at every turn and had to politely but firmly turn down the offers of sexual favours and chancers' kisses - this was just The Job. I read now how some poor, fragile flower has been traumatised by a brush of the knee or ill-judged ‘witticism’ and I wonder how I survived without the receipt of years of counselling and financial compensation.” Taken under the wing of an older gay man Joe is one of many gay men I have spoken to who was “taken under the wing” of an older gay man who “routinely touched me inappropriately: a pat of the arse, a hand a little too high – but he never assaulted or raped me, and I loved him”. But given the proliferation of this kind of behaviour within a gay social space, are gay men more likely to shrug it off if similar things occur in the workplace? Carlos, who works in theatre – where he claims sexual harassment of young gay men is a major issue - certainly thinks so, believing that the lines become blurred, meaning that gay men struggle to challenge such advances in other, more formal settings. “I believe our upbringing as gay men also plays a part,” says Carlos. “We grew up conditioned by heteronormative behaviour in many ways - this has affected and informed our sexuality throughout the centuries, and there are plenty of fetishes and preferences related to the ‘daddy role’ that sort of makes these things a bit harder to define in our heads. Or at least we accept it more because we have histories of abandonment, power struggle in a society that doesn’t accept us”. Are gay men more likely to shrug it off if a pat on the bum happens in the workplace? Image: Hotlanta Voyeur. Flickr Creative Commons. Sexual harassment of gay men in London’s theatreland Carlos’s stories are disturbing. He says that he has repeatedly been the object of inappropriate sexual behaviour by some notable West End theatre producers. He speaks of how a former partner – a fringe theatre producer – who repeatedly told him “to be nice” to certain, older producers. This culminated in a coke-fueled party where young gay men were being encouraged to perform. Sexual harassment also led Carlos to resign from a post at a prominent West End Theatre after a producer was “practically foaming at his mouth by watching me bend over”. “Gay men also are part of a patriarchal society that sort of normalises this behaviour,” Carlos believes. “We are recipients of privileges that women and non-binary or cis minorities don’t have access to, and in the same way, we learn hyper-masculine behaviour and still employ it as we are very much part of that system. The even more tragic thing is that we are also told by that same patriarchy that we are less than, and inferior as gay men.” Do gay men have a different definition of ‘inappropriate’? Steven, however, strongly disagrees with Carlos over what should be categorised as sexual harassment. “Do gay men put up with, or are more accepting of, sexual harassment? Maybe we are. Or perhaps, generally speaking, I don’t think we recognise the definition given as even remotely applicable to everyday situations. “The constant use of that contemptuous word ‘inappropriate’ means that soon we will emulate the stagnant centuries-old court culture of the thousands of years of Dynastic China. Where every simple incline of the head, movement of the hand, turn of the ankle proscribed, so that what is acceptable, for which occasions, and with whom one is meeting is written in law and may your omnipotent Deity of choice help you should you ‘cross the boundary’.” The furore of Kevin Spacey has undoubtedly polarised some gay men. Some, like Steven, dismiss it as “a load of old bollocks”, while others believe that it is finally shedding light on the far too long ignored issue of sexual harassment of gay men in the workplace. “These things are deeply entrenched in our society,” says Carlos. “I just hope that this has deep changes in the way we treat people at work and outside of it. We need better education systems that teach consent and respect, but also sex education that goes beyond the heteronormative bullshit we are told to follow.” Names have been changed in this article.
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  8. The Iris Prize is a six-day celebration of LGBT film in Cardiff. The programme includes screenings of 35 international short films competing for the Iris Prize and the 15 Best British Short nominees. Iris continues to be the only LGBT short film prize in the world which allows the winner to make a new film. Gays.com's Alex Hopkins speaks to Iris Prize spokesperson David Llewellyn. What can a short film showcase about the LGBT experience that a feature can’t? Why is it so important to LGBT culture? The major difference is one of intimacy, I think. In the best short films, the focus is sharp. Sexuality and gender identity are intensely personal things, and short films offer an opportunity for the filmmaker to home in on an individual character with more intensity than a feature film. What is so unique and special about this year’s winner(s)? Mother Knows Best (Mamma vet bäst), which won the Iris Prize, is about a mother and son's conversation as she drives him home from a date with his boyfriend. It stands out because again, there's that sense of focusing in on something intimate. Most of the film is done in one take, with the mother slightly out of focus in the background, so we're really judging everything by the son's reactions to what his mother says. It's all subtle gestures, and it does a brilliant job of hinting at a world outside the car. We Love Moses won the prize for Best British Short. It's rare enough to see a film with a young black girl as the protagonist, as our point of view in a film, so that feels unique enough. Also, childhood and adolescence are common themes in LGBT+ movies, for obvious reasons, but portraying it convincingly takes a huge amount of skill and empathy, not to mention good performances from young actors, and We Love Moses had all three. Where do you see the Iris Prize going from here? There are certain genres that, for whatever reason, don't tend to pick up the big prizes. Animation, documentaries and comedies, mainly, and that’s a shame. Leroy (a comedy, shortlisted for Best British) and Half a Life (which had the double whammy of being an animated documentary) were two of my favourites this year. Maybe one day we'll have prizes for Best Documentary, Best Animation etc. And as a writer, I'd like to see some focus on screenwriting further down the line. What sort of short films would you like to see more of? I'd love to see more films from communities and parts of the world that are still underrepresented. More films from Asia and Eastern Europe, more films from the Middle East outside of Israel (we're already partnered with a festival in Tel Aviv), more films from people of colour, and most glaringly of all, more films from women filmmakers. The majority of filmmakers on the Best British shortlist were women, but that was a first, and internationally we still have a gender imbalance. How you resolve that, I'm not sure. Our focus has always been excellence in storytelling - we don't have any other criteria, and though the juries are independent, we don't want it to be an exercise in box-ticking. It's a personal opinion, but I tend to think that if you focus on excellence, diversity and representation happen organically, but we're still dependent on a wide range of films being nominated or submitted, and that's an area where there's still plenty of room for improvement. Cover photo: Still from We Love Moses, winner of Best British Short. Director: Dionne Edwards.
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  10. Breaking up, as the song goes, is so very hard to do – but when you know you’ve exhausted all other options, how do you break up with someone without causing a trail of destruction? Gays.com takes a look. Prepare There’s no getting away from it: this is going to be a difficult conversation. The longer you delay it, the more anxious you’re likely to get, but take time to get it right: prepare what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it. Rehearse, if necessary – and get the feedback of a trusted friend. Choose your phrase Unsurprisingly, few people receive the news that you’re breaking up with them with unmitigated joy. Rejection hurts - no matter how it’s served. Given this, you can expect your partner to challenge you, to attempt to change your mind, and yes, possibly to become outright hostile. Through all of this remain calm. Stick to your script. It’s helpful to have a phrase which you can return to, such as “this just isn’t working for me anymore”. Be specific Anyone who has been close to you for a decent amount of time can tell when they’re being given the brush off, or worse still lied to. Don’t insult your partner’s intelligence, and treat them with some respect. Be specific about the reasons why you want to end the relationship. Also, whatever you do, don’t use the condescending “It’s not you, it’s me”. There are few worse lines. Don’t be cruel and personal However, while being specific, avoid being brutal and hurtful. Jibes about their appearance and their lacklustre performance in bed are a big no-no. If you've met someone else, don’t start comparing that person’s attributes with your partner’s. Be sensitive and sympathetic. Before you open your mouth, just ask yourself “is this appropriate?” Remain calm and avoid a boxing match between you and your partner. Acknowledge hurt Breakups are painful, and of course, your partner is going to be hurt. Acknowledge this – and your role in causing this hurt, but at the same time stick fast to your desires. You have a right to be happy too. Apologise, but don’t overdo it. Emotions are going to be running high, so your job is to defuse the situation before it descends into a slanging match of biblical proportions. Don’t list their faults Focus on how you both feel rather than listing your partner’s faults. Crucially, you should also listen to how they feel and what they have to say. They will inevitably have questions: hear them out and answer them as clearly as you can. For god’s sake don’t get into the “but you did this” game and start dragging out their wrongdoings from years back. Privacy Choose the right place to have this most delicate of conversations. No heaving cafes full of screaming kids, or worse still romantic restaurants full of loved-up couples. Don’t compound your partner’s sense of failure and rejection by insisting that the entire world must witness their emotional distress. Curtains means curtains The end of a relationship means precisely that: curtains, finish. You need to make it quite clear – in the kindest way possible – that you're moving on. All roads have now been exhausted, and this is one flame which cannot be rekindled. Moreover, that means no ‘friends with benefits’ arrangements or lingering emotional baggage. Stand firm and be fair.
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  13. Ever wondered why everyone else gets approached by the hot guys? Do you give off all the wrong signals when you’re in a gay bar or club? Being unapproachable is just one challenge some guys face when dating on the gay scene. We take a look at some of the reasons why some gay men are just not... Mr Irresistible. Doing a 'Greta Garbo' We’ve all seen them – those guys who seem to have been hanging around the same bars since The Spice Girls were on the hit parade. They’re practically as old and yellowing as the wallpaper and reek of gin and regret. And they’re always on their own. Sure, it’s okay to pop out on your own once in a while, but if you’re continually playing solo, it’s a red flag. No one wants to appear friendless. Being an old lush Guys who are out on their own are also likely to be boozing more, and swigging back the vodka like it’s mouthwash – but swallowing. Alcohol boosts confidence, but it can also exacerbate feelings of isolation – and delusion. Swilling back the shots and thinking they look mysterious, seductive and glamorous, while everyone else just thinks they look like a sad old lush who is well past his sell-by date. Arrogance appears to know no bounds Walking around with an expression which appears to proclaim 'my shit does not stink’, is not a way to ingratiate with the masses. Guys who are all stuck up nose, flaring nostrils and jutted out chin, are likely to be giving off entirely the wrong vibe. The sad thing is, of course, that shyness and lack of confidence are often mistaken for arrogance. Guys who are monosyllabic and find it tricky to make sustained eye contact, are just going to come across as aloof. Be aware of social skills and take some measures to improve them. Are you giving off the wrong vibe without knowing? Trapped in the 1990s We have to face facts here: the gay scene can be monstrously shallow. Appearances do, I hate to tell you, count – particularly if you’re on the pull. No, you may not like it, but as soon as you walk through the doors of some establishments, you’re going to be scanned like you’re going through a supermarket checkout. You’ll then be judged, accepted or chucked in the bargain bucket bin. Consequently, it helps to be mindful of your attire: baseball caps, flares, shell suits and any other hideous fashion crimes are not dissimilar to herpes: they keep cropping up, despite having no allure what so ever. Don’t become a fashion victim and do be yourself – just find the bar which matches your style (or lack of it!). Uninteresting and uninterested OK, so you’ve finally struck up a conversation with someone. Now – presuming you find the guy hot and are planning to drop your pants and have a rummage in his – you need to keep the talk going. Eye contact is essential. You need to make him know that you find him fascinating and unbearably sexy. Your mission is to make him feel like the hottest guy in the room. But then there’s you… are you coming across as dull or infinitely attractive and mysterious? Have something to say for yourself; be bold, brave, witty, cheeky, flirty and intriguing. You’ll ensnare him in your web in no time. Perhaps you’re just not very pleasant Highly unlikely! Most of us have at least some redeeming characteristics. Practice self-awareness, not delusion: learn where your shortcomings and strengths lie and practice parading them in public. Don’t get hung up on it (tension and desperation are ghastly looks, darling); treat it as a new game, and your playfulness will become infectious.
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  18. A successful first date can be the start of a whole new life. But how do you impress him? Gays.com looks at some of London’s lesser-known places to take him on a date. For Culture Vultures The Viktor Wynd Museum Slightly off the beaten track, the Viktor Wynd Museum is in east London’s Cambridge Heath, but well worth the trip. The museum is set in a former call centre and features vast displays of fine art and natural history. Lively conversation is essential for a good date, and there'll be plenty to talk about here. Highlights include the Curiosities Tattoo studio and a witchcraft museum, due to open this winter. Leighton House Museum The former home of Victorian artist Frederic, Lord Leighton, in Kensington, is arguably one of London's most extraordinary buildings. Housing a collection of paintings and sculpture – and interior design which has to be seen to be believed - it's both stunning and utterly camp. Feast your eyes on the Arab hall with its colourful mosaics and gold dome as you take a step back to a divinely decadent age. The Wallace Collection Located in central London’s Manchester Square, the Wallace Collection housing some of Europe’s most beautiful works of art, furniture and porcelain. It also has a gorgeous restaurant which is an excellent spot for a highly civilised lunch, afternoon tea or a glass of bubbly. The interior of the Viktor Wynd Museum, London Cocktails and culinary delights Cahoots This quirky underground bar is reminiscent of the 1940s speakeasy and offers a wonderful array of cocktails to get your evening off to a banging start, or indeed, to an end. Immerse yourself in the world of the world war two blitz as you shelter down below with the help of some fine liquor. Maggie Jones downstairs Tucked away off Kensington High Street, Maggie Jones is charm itself. Upstairs you have a great setting for a romantic meal, while the private booths downstairs are warm and cosy and the ideal setting for a tete a tete. The Holly Bush in Hampstead This centuries old, wood-panelled boozer is a real gem in the crown that is north London’s Hampstead. Superb food and tradition rule supreme – and it offers to perfect nooks in which to cosy up. Brasserie Zedel Step back in time to the unrivalled sophistication of Paris, and sample the delights of the Grand Brasserie. Afterwards, pop along to the divine Crazy Coqs cabaret room which continues to host some of the world’s most celebrated performers. Oh la la, indeed. The quirky and fun, Cahoots, London. Out in the open air Horniman Museum and Gardens The clue here surely is in the name! Situated in south London’s Forest Hill, this beautiful museum and stunning gardens offer the perfect retreat in the city. Stroll arm in arm through the butterfly house or get quirky with a zoo made of animal robots. Inspiration and discovery await you around every corner. Brockwell Park – the walled garden Brockwell Park is one of south London’s most picturesque open spaces and is just a short walk away from buzzing Brixton. The walled garden is a hidden gem. It once served as the kitchen garden for nearby Brockwell hall and offers an array of dazzling flowers and plants. It’s the ultimate quiet space to commune with nature – and one another. St James's Park at night Located in the heart of London and bordered by Buckingham Palace, The Mall and Horse Guards, the 23-hectare St James Park is arguably the finest of London’s royal parks. The bridge that on one side, faces ugly Buckingham Palace has the most beautiful view on the other side which has been referenced in Tom Stoppard plays and looks like a fairyland. It’s a stone’s throw from vibrant Soho, so is crying out for a romantic stroll before you part ways with your intended – or drag him back to yours. Chelsea Physic Garden London’s genuinely secret space, this former apothecaries’ garden is the last word in tranquillity and peace – and the ultimate setting for a lovers’ stroll. After exploring the 5000 varieties of plants and flowers, stop off at the Tangerine Dream Café for an afternoon tea. Yes, this exceptional place is like falling into the loveliest dream. A romantic St. James's Park at night Images: Viktor Wynd museum (c) Wikipedia. Cahoots Restaurant (c) Cahoots. St James's Park (c) Shutterstock
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  23. Dating shouldn't be a chore. Detox your love life with these top tips for gay dating – and you’ll be lining up Mr Right – and having some fun with Mr Wrong – in no time at all. Spend time alone Before you embark upon an endless dating marathon, you need to be in the right place – physically and mentally. How are you feeling? If you’re desperate and are exhibiting all the charm of a Bunny Boiler you’re on the road to absolute ruin. Take stock of previous dating disasters and relationships. What is it you want to achieve? How and why have things gone calamitously wrong in the past? Only by spending time in your own company can you begin to like yourself a bit more – and understand what you’re looking for in your romantic exploits. Scrap the boring questions You’re not at a job interview or filling in some tedious form, so scrap the obvious “where are you from?” “what do you like?” questions. You can get the answers craftily, by engaging him in intelligent, playful conversation. Pick up on his body language when he talks – it will tell you a lot about what he likes. Exploit that and go with the flow. Clunky conversation is just damn right embarrassing. Dating is not a tick-box exercise. Become that fascinating creature How many times have you been attracted to the bad boys? What is it about them that turns you on? Bad guys are mostly mysterious, emotionally unavailable and probably have more than a generous helping of narcissism – if not outright psychopathy. Pepper your conversation with a mild hint of these traits. Become intriguing – subtly allude to a darker aspect of your character – and then reveal no more. Think of yourself as an exotic, intoxicating cocktail: a mixture of bitterness as well as sweetness – that unique taste which will have him sipping from your cup in no time. Do bad boys turn you on? Turn him into a sex god Men – at least the truly alluring ones – have considerable egos. While you should avoid the guy with the ego the size of the sun, you can’t deny that confidence in a man is attractive. Turn this to your advantage. Flatter him and make him feel like he truly is the hottest guy in the room. But be subtle and flirtatious. Desperation is a truly devastating look. Reach out and touch! No, we’re not talking about grabbing his bulging package as you say your goodbyes, but human beings communicate not only through conversation but the power of touch, the sensation of skin against skin. Brush against him as you walk to the bar; place your hand on top of his shoulder as you get up to go to the bathroom. Just don’t let it linger there or you’ll come across as a needy one-man freak show. For god’s sake put your phone away We’re living in an age when we’re more connected than ever but strangely less connected than ever; it can’t hurt to reiterate it. You need to be in the room entirely with your guy, which means no perusing of Facebook or Instagram – and certainly no checking our other nearby guys on the apps. Put it away, man! Forget fear How many times have you heard guys say, “gay dating is so difficult!”. Cut out the complaining and get on with it. It does not need to be a chore; in fact, it’s up to you to make it fun and playful. Dating is just meeting other people – which is what makes us human. Leave your expectations at the door and treat it for what it is. And banish fear forever more! You have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain. Become the confident, sassy, sexy creature you’ve always desired – and soon you’ll need a social secretary to manage your diary full of Gentleman Callers.
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