Q: ” Our son is 19 and gay. He came out several years ago and is very comfortable with who he is as a person and his orientation. In addition, he is good looking, confident, has a number of interests, good circle of solid friends, is a capable student and has a student job. All good. The challenge comes in finding a person with whom to have a “meaningful relationship”. His words, not mine. He is not naturally effeminate and nor are his interests stereotypical (so does not easily signal to other gay men, his orientation – he is proud just not loud). He has done Grinder and Tinder and frankly is sick of dick pics, older men (mostly heterosexually married men with children – I kid you not) looking for a quickie. He finds it “highly sexualized and predatory. Any ideas?”
A: “Most cities have areas where there are many gay restaurants and bars. In Cape Town, for example, there are many options, not all are meat markets… The “gay village” waterkant area has some lovely restaurants, clubs and pubs. The Alendra bar is also a great evening out with brilliant theatre in their upstairs area. – all patronised by straights , lesbians, gays and bisexuals. Maybe start going to dinners etc their to maybe make some new friends.”
” What about creating a group for like-minded people on Meet Up? I’m absolutely sure that there are many gay people who are just like you. Not into the “scene,” wanting something more meaningful? He could perhaps see if there is interest around one of his interests, over and above sexual orientation? perhaps in that way he would be able to not only forge a deeper connection with any potential love interest, but also, perhaps, just expand his social circle?:
” Well he is in the right city with the volume of gay men compared to heterosexual being extremely high in relation to the rest of South Africa…
Click on this link for ideas on places for him to frequent…
But as with any desire for a relationship and connection, the onus is actually on each individual to live their life to its fullest and find passions that fill their time and make their lives whole.
It is when our lives are lived to their full potential and we are whole and content within ourselves that we are then in the right place for that someone special to enter our lives and join our already fulfilled journey.
At such a young age, so much more growing to do and so much more living to be had… the “gap” he may be feeling is not necessarily a meaningful relationship that is missing.
The meaningful relationship will come naturally when he fills that gap himself .”
” Rather than depending on meeting someone in bars he could try volunteering at some organisations that interest him. Broadening one’s normal networks are good for meeting new friends.”
” In Joburg, there’s a gay rugby club called the Jozi Cats Rugby Club. If he’s into sports perhaps he could find something similar?”
” He could volunteer or get involved in LGBTI groups, such as Triangle. Most uni’s have a queer student group which is great fun too.”
” My brother (now 45) had similar issues as he’s also gay but was never into the whole ‘scene’ so it took him a while to find his tribe and connect with like minded gay men. He’s an eco warrior so found his groove in participating in workshops and tree planting etc.
It could be worth looking into gay Tantra workshops as that is a more spiritually awake route to connect meaningfully with others.”
” My (straight) son only found his meaningful relationship at 22. I suspect the ‘highly sexualised’ nature of dating is of this time, not particularly gay or straight. And it’s particular to his particular age.
Yes, let him bide his time. I know many gay guys that have really awesome relationships. I know many straight guys still struggling. Or for whom it happened later.
Another great idea from above is for him to volunteer in organisations he feels strongly about.. LGBTI or something else he has a passion for.
But … patience and same thing I’d tell my kids… no settling for me anything less than what he wants.”
” Perhaps he could sign up for volunteering at an organisation like Triangle Project? Will expose him to a wide range of people with same orientation who aren’t looking to get involved with anyone but may lead to meaningful connections and who knows what down the line?”
” I think landing in a serious relationship too young has very dangerous consequences. Many young people internalize criticism of the gay community and subconsciously try and correct those in their own lives. People often accuse gays of being promiscuous and unable to make long-term commitments or at the very least unwilling. Young people than often push themselves into serious committed relationships too early to try and correct this stereotype which is often mirrored by their close environment. The damaging potential of this is enormous. You would not be encouraging a heterosexual person of 19 to look for a serious relationship. Let him make friends and kiss a few frogs until he is old enough to find his Prince. Don’t forget that sometimes young people deliberately sabotage the very thing they are afraid of. No matter how sorted or 2gether the young person may seem, I would always recommend a good dose of therapy even if there are no obvious difficulties or problems. Some conversations are just easier to have with an adult that is not your parent. I totally commend you for your positive attitude and support of your child. Our job as parents is to love First. Love strong and passionately and love as If Our Lives and theirs depend on it. Because it does.”