Is the gay scene a good or bad thing for gay men who want to find a partner? Surely it makes sense to frequent the places where most gay men hang out if you are looking to meet a boyfriend? There are so many dance clubs, leather bars and phone apps full of sexy single gay guys, so it would seem the possibilities for meeting a partner are endless!  In reality things are not so clear.

Is the grass always greener?

Firstly, there are so many gay men ‘available’, especially in big cities, that many single guys who are looking for a relationship find it hard to settle into seeing the same person for a long period of time when the grass could be much greener with that cute guy on the other side of the bar or that hot guy who just looked at me in the club. The choices are endless so why settle for something that could be second best? You might be able to find a richer guy or a guy with a better body, maybe you should hold out for him. This is a trap that so many gay men are falling into; they are not valuing the person in front of them for fear of missing something better. This may seem pretty normal for gay (or straight) teens/ early twenties but things start wearing a little thin if this behaviour continues until you are 45.

Pressure for perfect bodies.

The second issue, which is perpetuated by what gay men see all around them in the gay scene, is the perfect physique. Open any gay magazine and you are guaranteed to be bombarded with gym toned, muscular models. This is now the norm that gay men are supposed to aspire to and this affects how gay men are viewing potential mates who may have so many great qualities, but not washboard abs. Next! This pursuit of the perfect body also causes competition: do my arms look as big as that guy over there on the dance floor? Should I lose someweight so I look hotter and will be able to look better when I take my shirt of in the club? Should I do steroids so I don’t feel inferior to the huge muscle bears I keep seeing around, they must think I’m so puny. I would ask how healthy this atmosphere of competition and comparaison really is and what the long term affects of being exposed to it are on our ability to attract and maintain a healthy relationship.

Are gay men more promiscuous that straight men? I personally don’t think so; I just think gay men have more opportunities to get more sex and it’s a hell of a lot easier. So, what is the gay scene based on? Guys meeting mainly to pick up and have sex. There are at least 8 different apps gay men can use just in London to find sex but how many apps to find a boyfriend? How many gay apps where you can arrange to meet for a coffee and not be expected to send half naked photos to strangers? I don’t know of any yet. Couple that with the heavy sexual atmosphere in any male club and the posters and magazines screaming ‘you should be having more sex’ and we have a recipe for a lot of distraction from finding a partner. That can wait! Or can it? If so, how long can it wait for? Till I’m too old to attract anyone half decent? What happens then? These questions don’t come up much in the gay magazines you find around town.

Scene Queen or non-scene?

Many guys who are looking for a mate state ‘I’m non-scene’ on their online ads. The last thing they want is to go out with someone who spends all weekend surrounded by topless hunks on a dance floor. Too much temptation and this leads to issues of trust cropping up. What if you both go out separately with your friends to gay clubs? Both of you know you will be exposed to sex hungry men on the prowl and you can’t help but wonder if your bf is strong enough to resist that. On top of that, it seems the norm for all these shirtless guys packing the dance floor to either be in open relationships, where anything is permitted, or single and regularly stating ‘I don’t do relationships’. If you hang around that scene for long enough you will start to think that is the norm for you too (especially if you have just come out or are a young, impressionable guy trying to find your gay feet).

Another barrier to meeting potential mates in a gay club is that most of the guys there are totally off their faces on drugs or drunk. Although this is not the ideal time to strike up a conversation or approach someone, getting high in a club is the norm. The more you hang around these clubs, the more normal this becomes, but it does not have to be the norm for you.

Some readers will identify with maybe one or all of the above, while others may think I’m over exaggerating. But if you mix all these factors together, does that create a healthy backdrop to meeting a potential mate?  If the gay scene was just a physical place where gay men could meet, like a street or a building, that would be great. But the scene is actually more to do with the attitudes, behaviours and habits of the people in it. Think about the first gay rights marches back in the 1970’s: those men were marching for the right to have places to go to freely express themselves, form communities and be who they want to be without being arrested. If you were a gay men back then, the idea of a bar where you could go and look for a potential mate would be a revelation. Now we have plenty of gay venues but are they actually condusive to forming communitites and relationships? I would say no, but I also acknowledge we are in a brave new age of being bombarded by perfect body images by the media, the gay apps and press that do exist encourage as much sex as possible and, in an age of stress, many gay men are looking to drugs as an escapism on the dance floor. But the evolution of the gay scene will continue and possibly go back to basics as, who knows? If you find that you are finding suitable men to date on the gay scene, that’s great, but my advice for gay men who are looking to find a partner is to distance yourself from the gay scene and stop reading those magazines: if you goal is to find love, then the gay scene can be a huge distraction and even a barrier to that.