3 min

Finding the right time & place

A former dancer, now 47, and a wealth management adviser, now 37, met at a New York gym in 2002 and didn’t do anything until three years later when they met on a New York street. One of them was carrying a copy of Harry Potter. The other was impressed by his new friend’s balance on the subway.

Whoa. What else aren’t they telling us here?

After years of controversy the New York Times now carries reports on gay/lesbian weddings on its Weddings/Celebrations page in the weekend edition. One recent issue alone contained four same-sex unions, including the one summarized above.

The tone of these things is so understated that emotional connection seems out of the question, but, oooh, the possibilities. When the Times writes that a 67-year-old man who has just married another man “was a widower” and that “two previous marriages ended in divorce,” you know there’s a whole lot of subtext going on here.

Figuring out the hotness factor is another thing entirely; it has to be done almost entirely from the tiny photos showing suited couples looking anything but unbalanced by lust.

In fact mostly what you learn from reading these things is that nobody in upper-middle-class gay America is marrying down. Most of the reports read like corporate mergers with all affiliations, connections and spheres of influence duly noted and the projected long-term financial strategy clearly implied, if not spelled out. Times readers, it seems, do not marry outside their class.

But every once in a while you get lucky and they tell you a bit about how long the couple has been together or where and how they met. This is the part I like best.

In fact, “Where did you meet?” is pretty much my favourite question in general. It’s what I always ask anyone who tells me he’s got a new boyfriend. Not how old or how cute or what does he do but “Where did you meet?”

In a wired world where location isn’t supposed to matter and you’re supposed to be able to order in whatever you want, meeting someone interesting still seems to come down to being in the right place at the right time, and I’ve always wondered what that “right place” might look like or if it even exists. Perhaps it’s just a figment of our pattern-making minds, a desperate attempt to control the uncontrollable.

Every couple of years I do a mental review of where I’ve met the significant people in my life; I’m always surprised by the results. Surprised not just by the lack of pattern — I met one guy in a bakery and another at a Body Politic party and a third from across an empty beach — but also by the fact that none of the obvious advice applies.

That old adage about marrying someone who grew up within a mile of you doesn’t apply to gay men, most of whom hail from anywhere else but “here.” Nor does the seemingly sensible suggestion that you follow your interests because that way you’ll meet somebody with whom you have something in common. I like books, art and music and I’ve never yet met anyone in a bookstore, art gallery or concert hall.

When it comes to gay men, you’ve got to play the numbers and head to a place where there are enough sociable gay guys to make meeting a possibility. That usually means the downtown of a big city, but beyond that, who knows?

Parties are supposed to be good for meeting people, less intense than the bars, but I usually end up standing on the sidelines munching carrots.

The baths have yielded a few short-term affairs but nothing long-term, although I certainly know couples who’ve met there (loath though they would be to admit it).

Even places with high gay turnover — and therefore a high chance of contact — don’t necessarily work all that well. Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time at both Woody’s and the Metro-Central YMCA but neither place has yielded more than one significant relationship. Lots of connections but no real contact, if you know what I mean. That’s pretty slim pickings for a lot of time spent peering.

So, in general, I figure you can get all fatalistic and start humming the Supremes (“You can’t hurry love/ You’ve just got to wait”) or start to wonder if location isn’t really more of a state of mind.

One of my most cherished and significant “meetings” took place late at night on a summer street and the reason it took place I think, aside from synchronicity, was that I was pissed off. I’d just come from a shitty dance party at the Guvernment and I was pissed at the security and the music and the friends who were doing ecstasy when I wasn’t and I was so annoyed that it gave me a certain animation. I was open to something new and I got it.

So there you have it — the key to all happiness — mood management for horny guys. Not an easy technique to replicate, of course, but worth considering.