It was early morning when I went to use the bathroom and heard ball-slapping and the farm-like groans of my flatmate Mitch. That was breakfast out the window. Although I was curious as to exactly who was having sex when there was only him and his 'best friend' here. There must’ve been a mistake. A missing link. Unless going balls-deep is the new 'good to see you, mate'?
When I bumped into them in the kitchen the following day, Matt - Mitch’s guest, and my new friend with pot - announced he’d be staying another night.
“If you don’t mind? Mitch will be at his boyfriend's.” BOYFRIEND? Wait a second child, I needed to boil the kettle for this. Thankfully I had sunglasses on ‘cause my eyes nearly rolled out their socket - and not just ‘cause my slob of a housemate had two men on the go.
It wasn’t until Mitch left for his man's that Matt began to deliciously divulge all the juicy details of their dramatic clique. When I asked how they were friends, he nonchalantly told me: “Through my ex - that's Mitch's boyfriend now.”
Apparently Matt and his ex were on good terms. (Although not quite good enough to resist pounding his new man). Too close for comfort? Turns out Matt too has a boyfriend, with whom he adopts a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy when it comes to playing with other men. And apparently the four of them hang out together regularly. Can you EVEN?
Imagine: you, your man, your ex, and your ex’s new man who you’re sexing in secret, all just playing Scrabble. How many points do I get for ‘awkward’? Girl, I can’t even bump into my ex at a train station without hiding in a pile of litter, let alone sitting around sharing a quiche with him and his new man. And y’all thought Vauxhall was incestuous...
When I broached the topic of having sex with your squad, Matt explained: “I have a lot of friends that I’ve met on Scruff!” My mind boggled. I can count the hook-ups that I’ve stayed in touch with on one hand, but that seemed to be the one common trait of his friendship circle.
The ‘sex with friends’ debate is usually divided, but what happens when you don’t even need an entire hand to count the number of strictly platonic friends you have? Curiosity got the better of me.
“Do you have any friends that you haven’t had sex with?” I asked.
“Of course!” he exclaimed. “My friend Tom and I met on Scruff. We've jerked off together, but never had sex…”
I found it surprising that someone’s relationships - especially friendships - could be so sexually-driven. I’d encountered a number of gay men throughout the years who seemed only to have 'friendships' with former fucks or failed flames. Was I missing something? I’d often assumed that these men purposely prioritised sexual encounters before meaningful friendships, but was their lifestyle a result of the ageism and our reluctance to form genuine friendships within the community?
“But you’re a lot younger than me.” Matt told me. “You must have a lot of friends from your younger years.”
He was right: I’d only just reached the age at which he’d came out and already had a family of friends. To a certain extent, it’s hard to make friends whatever age, especially on the gay scene - because often when gay men frequent bars and clubs if they’re looking for anything, it’s a boyfriend (or boning); not to make new friends. Surely that difficulty only increases with age?
Many of us are faced with the daunting opportunity of making gay friends after we’ve come out. We’re in this cluster-fuck of desiring dick, but needing guidance. Although Matt had been out for six years longer than me, had he stifled forming friends because he’d come out a decade later than I had?
“It’s just so much drama,” I sighed, as he delved further down a rabbit hole of negative cycle patterns, unstable behaviours and trashy anecdotes. I was exhausted just listening to all of the bed-hopping and backstabbing, let alone actually pulling my dick (or a knife) out.
“It’s just so fun…” Matt defended. Was it really though? His excitement reminded me of somebody that had just discovered circuit parties and was still swept up in the facade of three-day benders.
Sure, friendships are hard to form, but you have to at least try for them. It seemed that a lot of these ‘friendships’ revolved around drinking, drama and very little depth - and some men thrive off that. Don’t get me wrong, I’d watch that reality show for sure. But in real-life doesn’t that just bring aggravation?
I couldn’t figure out whether these guys were addicted to the drama, had deceived themselves that sex is more valuable than friendship, or were just out of options. The logical explanation seemed to be that coming out at an older age makes it more difficult to make friends; so naturally men gravitated toward the likes of Scruff and Grindr for companionship and form friendships with their fuck buddies.
We can blame the apps, our community as a whole, or the individuals themselves, but at the very least, if more of us saw each other as brothers, rather than competition or conquests, separating friendships and healthy loving relationships might be a little easier than it currently is...
Anthony Gilét is a London-based writer, blogger and YouTuber – follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
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