Kenny Asks: As a bi Asian man, I've noticed that there is a lot of sigtma to both. What are your thoughts on racism within the gay community?

As a Bi Asian man who is trying to get into the gay dating scene for the first time I have noticed that there is a lot negative stigma to being both. There have been people who would not give me a chance because I’m Asian or don’t believe that I’m truly Bi, saying I’m just secretly gay in the closet. So here’s my question for you what are your thoughts on the racism within the gay community? Also with gay men not believing or accepting that there are men out there that are really Bisexual?
— Kenny

Hi Kenny,

Oh man this is a tough one. As a white and fully gay male, it’s hard for me to truly understand what it’s like to be in your shoes. I can only empathize with the fact that I’ve experienced such rejection for being HIV positive. That’ll be the source from which I will impart my thoughts.

First, the bi thing. I think this comes from the fact that people are typically uncomfortable by what they don’t understand. It’s my theory that, when people don’t understand something, they feel a sense of a lack of control. And when we feel lack of control, we are uncomfortable.

Rather than take the time to try and understand something (which could help give us knowledge and ironically feel comfortable), people take a short cut and convince themselves they already have the answers. Of course, if they have to convince themselves, that means they must convince others too - hence them telling you what your being bi “really means.” I base this theory on the fact that I was, once upon a time, a total douchey-dick-hole that acted like he knew everything too.

As for the race aspect… yes, I absolutely believe there is racism in the gay community. But I don’t believe there is any more or less racism than society at large. Racism isn’t a gay flaw, it’s a human flaw (unfortunately). Though certainly racism in our community can mirror differently. Also, as gay men, I think it hits us harder. We’re supposed to live under this rainbow umbrella of diversity and acceptance. And when a fellow gay person expresses racist behavior, it is far more jarring for us than maybe those in the straight world.

So, how do you deal with these crappy human aspects when dating? First, say something gracious and/or informative to the offender and then move on. If you try to start a debate with a know-it-all or a racist, it will be an uphill battle that will just cause you more stress than it is worth. But this doesn’t mean you can’t create a quick learning opportunity before you leave the conversation.

You have to do this cautiously. If it comes off like you are schooling them, they won’t be receptive to it. That’s why I say to start off with empathy and grace. It helps keep their guards down and makes them more receptive to hearing something. Then give them a little non-judgmental nugget of wisdom as to how they could do differently.

For instance, when I got rejected for being HIV positive, I would say something like “That’s okay. I get it. I understand what it’s like to be scared of such things. But just a heads up, if avoid positive guys as a means of safety, you’re actually at a higher risk of contracting HIV.”

After that, I would just move on and not engage them anymore. Though, often, my little wisdom-nugget would bate these guys into learning more about actual HIV safety rather than their ignorant assumptions.

Okay, second part (and this will be shorter), if a guy rejects you for being Asian or being bi, then remind yourself that they have actually done you a favor. Although it seems like they were the ones that rejected you, in a way, it has inadvertently given you the info you need to reject them. Would you really want to be with a partner who has such a mentality? Again, I was once a know-it-all. I can tell you that they are miserable to date. And dating a racist? That certainly doesn’t sound fun either.

The moment they say their shitty thing, these people have proven that they are not worth your time. Remind yourself to take pity on them. Racists and know-it-alls are NOT happy people. If they were, they wouldn’t need to overcompensate by putting others down

Yes, it feels shitty when this happens (and as often as it happens). But it always pays off to be the bigger person. It’s a small way of having an impact on that individual. And it also means you have the good decency to treat others the same way you want to be treated. Beyond your sexual orientation or race, that is what makes you better than them.

Cheers,

Scott
Bare InkSlinger

Brad Asks: To Manscape or not to Manscape? I kind of like the untrimmed all natural growth. Why are so many guy turned off by this?

To Manscape or not to Manscape? I was just wondering your thoughts on this one. I am not nearly as hairy as you in the chest (wish I was), but below the belt, it is kind of like that corner of the yard that no one ever bothers trimming. But here is the thing, I kind of like the untrimmed all natural growth. Why are so many guy turned off by this? Was there some rule created at some point that I completely missed? On the rare occasion that I do trim the bush, and shave the boy, I always end up more uncomfortable then before I started.
— Brad

Hi Brad,

I actually wrote a piece on body hair not that long ago. You can check it out here: www.bareinkslinger.com/mainblog/body-hair-purgatory

Trying to find a balance between what you like and what others like is tricky. To me, what it comes down to is whatever makes you feel most sexy and confident. If it makes you feel more confident when guys enjoy it trimmed, trim it up a bit. If it makes you feel more confident to go full Sasquatch, then let it grow.

But when trying to find this balance that makes you confident, keep this in mind: you cannot please everyone. When you trim it down, others will say they like it full. When you keep it full, others will say to trim it down.

Hope this helps.

Cheers,

Scott
Bare InkSlinger

TJ Asks: My friend asked me to pose with him for an erotic art group. I'm 19, a virgin, and I'm in love with him. What should I do?

My older brothers best friend poses for a gay erotic art group of 11 people once every two weeks. The model he was to pose with for next week cancelled and he asked me if I would be willing to take the model’s place. I’m 19, a complete virgin (not even kissed), and I’m in love with him. I want to do this but the poses get pretty adult and I’m nervous about having all those firsts being in front of so many people. What should I do?
— TJ

Hi TJ,

Oh man I messed up on this one. You asked this a while back and I failed to answer it in a timely manner. I apologize for this. By now, this event has already passed. So you may have or have not done it. But I will still offer up my thoughts.

Oddly enough, I would have said “no,” not to do it. Normally I am all about pushing one’s boundaries in order to experience life to the fullest. But if you are a virgin and have never kissed someone, then the simple act of kissing and sex is already a major boundary to push.

When it comes to boundary pushing, it’s best to go one step at a time. Posing for an erotic art group (which I have done many times), is a fantastic way to do it. It can be an awesome experience. But doing it while broaching these other major life events can create a bit of internal chaos. A person’s first sexual experience should really be a positive life event and should not feel like chaos.

As for the being-in-love part, that makes it even trickier. Some people struggle to differentiate that of being love vs having a crush. This can happen to any of us but I think it is common among young people especially and it is a major mindfuck. I would recommend labeling these feelings as a “crush” until those feelings are reciprocated and you can actually start building a bond with that person… then love comes into the picture. Recognizing the crush label helps keep the brain thinking about the scenario more rationally instead of emotionally. Otherwise you will be stuck in mindfuck mode. And if you are in mindfuck mode, that is going to make the “pushing of the boundaries” that much more chaotic.

Hope this helps.

Cheers,

Scott
Bare InkSlinger

Bryan Asks: What advice would you give someone after their father just finished up cancer treatments?

What advice would you give someone after their father just finished up cancer treatments? Should I remember the good times or how can I deal with this in my own terms?
— Bryan

Hi Bryan,

It means a lot that you could you felt you could come to the blog with this question. Loss is so confusing and my brain still struggles with it. Fortunately, I have a partner whose brain knows how to grasp it - not only from his profession, but also in dealing with his own losses. Luke has taken the liberty to answer this question for me. Buckle in. You are about get a beautiful explantation of exactly what you wanted to know.


Written by Luke:

First of all, thank you for being brave enough to address an issue that I think we all would benefit from having open and honest discussions about: death and dying. If I am reading your question correctly, it sounds as if your father has finished his treatments and is facing his last days. My heart goes out to you, as my mother has had an ongoing battle with cancer and I understand the complications, the confusion, the shock and the grief this horrible diagnosis brings, not only to the patient, but to all of their surrounding circle. If this is the case, what you are experiencing is called ‘anticipatory grief’ as you wait for your eventual loss.

  • To start with, there is no ‘correct’ way to feel. Grief is a tricky enough issue on its own, and it can feel more complicated when it seems you haven’t suffered the actual loss yet. But in many ways you have, the process has already started. The difference is, you may actually get to create some of the ways you remember and navigate this loss.

  • Give yourself permission to feel whatever it is you have in that moment, everything from the joy from remembering the good times, as you stated; all the way to anger at the disease. Really, any emotion you have is most likely appropriate.

  • Find somebody to share these feelings with, you might even want to find a support group or a professional to process with.

  • If your dad is able to participate, you may want to create new memories with him. Simple things like going for a walk, looking through old photo albums, or just ‘being present’ with your father can help the process.

  • Continue living your life. Make sure that while you go through this incredibly heavy time, you don’t put your life on hold. Like most situations, you have to take care of yourself in order to be at your best when you are with him. Find ways to laugh.

  • Practice forgiveness. Emotions run high when someone is dying or has passed, and not all of them are pretty. Forgive yourself. Forgive your father. Forgive others. It is so freeing.

  • Lastly,I would recommend maintaining or developing a spiritual experience for yourself. This can come through many faiths, but can also come from simpler things like meditation, or practicing yoga, or spending time in nature.

This response is so incomplete for such a heavy topic. My most important word would be to keep talking…. Talk to your friends about what your going through. Talk with your father about what he is going through and how he is feeling. Talk to others who are going through the same thing. AND…. talk about other things too.

There are helpful grief resources out there, and then there are also resources to help you talk about this often uncomfortable topic.  I would suggest the link below to get your heart and your brain engaged in conversation. Take care of yourself. Be good to yourself.

https://www.dyingmatters.org/page/TalkingAboutDeathDying


Sincerely,

Luke (& Scott)
Bare InkSlinger & Co.


Gabriel Asks: What is the Hebrew tattoo on your right forearm?

Hi! You’re lovely all over, but I was especially drawn to the tattoo on your right arm. Sometimes it seems to say “demakhon” but other times not. So, what is it, and why is it there?
— Gabriel

Hi Gabriel,

Out of all my tattoos, the red forearm tattoo with the Hebrew script is the one that draws the strangest response. First because people ask if I am Jewish. I have to sheepishly say, “no.” But then I jokingly follow it up with, “What Chinese symbol tattoos are to normal people, Hebrew tattoos are to me.” They usually giggle and forgive me after that.

The truth is that I am a bit of a Judeophile. I don’t know what it is about it, but I love the Jewish culture and I think the Hebrew script is gorgeous and so cool that it is read backwards when compared to the English language. One day, I would freakin LOVE to go to Israel. Though, in hindsight, my tattoo might be even more weirdly received over there.

Okay, on to the tattoo itself. I gotta go back to being sheepish again. I am not familiar with “demakhon“ since I do not speak Hebrew. But here is the reason why the tattoo is throwing you off: it is not technically Hebrew. The tattoo is actually Aramaic Hebrew - the form of Hebrew used in biblical script. I’m not religious but it was just the route I went.

My tattoo, in short, says “Bleed Like Me.” It is the title of a song that I listened to a lot after I got my HIV diagnosis. After that, I knew I would never bleed the same again - both literally and metaphorically. To me, this phrase took the concept of “taking a walk in one’s shoes” to a whole new level - something more raw and dark that could only represent the experience of going through a traumatic event.

Aramaic Hebrew did not have the word “bleed” in it so if you translate it literally, the phrase actually says “pour out your blood like I do.” Cute, huh? When I explain this part to Hebrew speaking folks, they tilt their heads and ask me to rotate my arm three or four times as they look at it. They almost always say, “Oh yeah. I can kind of see it.” Then they walk away thinking, what a weirdo (I assume).

I put it on my right forearm so that I could constantly see it as a reminder to bleed like others as well. If I encounter people who are abrasive, it reminds me to be empathetic.

Cheers,

Scott
Bare InkSlinger

Chris Asks: What would you do if you found out the person you were juuuuust about to get with was F-to-M?

Hi Chris,

That’s an interesting question, but not a difficult one. It has come up in my life before. Back when I used the gay apps (many many years ago), I chatted with this handsome gent. Not longer after we flirted, he told me he was F-to-M. While this did change the scenario, I didn’t write it him off. I still wanted to meet up. I asked him to take things slow as it was new for me and when I told him this, he absolutely understood and was so gracious. Alas, we never did meet up. He is now in a relationship with another guy I know and they are very happy.

His being upfront quickly really helped me find interest in exploring new territory. But if he had done it differently and not told me until after I got to his home, things would play out differently. I feel like it would have been like those times where someone ends up being 10 years older or 30 lbs heavier than their photo.

In these instances, I would have been fine if they were older or heavier in their profile. But the fact that they misrepresented this until actually meeting would be the turn off - not their age or weight. Same would go for someone who did not reveal their gender as F-to-M until meeting in person. The reason I am giving this scenario is because I really think it is so important for people to be upfront about themselves on the apps. Rarely has anyone had a great outcome after misrepresenting themselves beforehand.

Cheers,

Scott
Bare InkSlinger

James Asks: Do you believe in polyamory as an orientation, like homosexuality?

Do you believe in polyamory as an orientation, like homosexuality? I am not just talking about having an open marriage for hookups, but having deep, emotional, sexual and romantic love for more than on one person at a time? I have been married, in my first monogamous relationship, for 13 years and I find myself periodically falling in love with other men, without losing any of my feelings for my husband. He refuses to have any kind of open relationship. I can’t find support groups for anything like this online or here in Denver.
— James

Hi James,

Absolutely I do. I think we are all hard-wired differently. And like being hardwired to have attraction to the same sex, there are certainly those who are hardwired to have more than one deeply romantic connection at a time.

But like homosexuality, you potentially face some pushback from other folks in your life - people who find it confusing or unthinkable. You would get the same comments that someone would say to a gay guy like “Oh he just hasn't found the right girl yet.”

I have never been in any kind of polyamorous set up and I can’t foresee my partner and I doing this. But I often wonder if it is one of those things that seem better in fantasy than they would in reality. Once I made a friend while he was in a polyamorous relationship and I asked him, “Is it easier because you have more people participating and doing the work? Or is it tougher because you have more people to satisfy?”

He took a deep breath and just sighed out a single, “Yes.” This simultaneously told me nothing and told me everything. In truth, almost all polyamory scenarios I have personally encountered were short lived. But I have also met a triad who all three had been together for 22 years! So, I think it absolutely can work.

When it comes to navigating this feeling with your current partner, I advise to tread lightly. The more abrupt you are about it, the more of a shock it will be to him. And the more of a shock, the more his defenses will go up and he will be resistant to any change.

If you want to transition your relationship to something more polyamory-like, take baby steps. You said he already doesn’t want to open up sexually, so maybe a good place to start would be to tell him you’d like to experiment with threeways. This might certainly be a struggle for him, but at least he will feel included on it.

When he is resistant to this too, then I always suggest couples counseling with a therapist who has an (unbiased) emphasis on sexuality. This is what my partner and I did when opening up and we could not have been more grateful for it. The outcome was not determined when we began the counseling, but it guided us to a decision in a way that was healthy and constructive for us both.

From there, as you get comfortable with that, you can test new waters to open things up further. If you try this, BE PATIENT!!!! This process could literally take years. If you love your partner, remember, it is not all about what you want. In order to get what you want, you have to first give them what they need.

Best of luck,

Scott

PS - Oh, shit! I forgot the part about support groups. So yes, there might not be any support groups out there. But as I say, “Community is a ‘do it yourself’ project.” What I mean is that, if you can’t find what you are looking for, then create it yourself. Create the group, find others who have this same hardwiring, and gather regularly. If you approach life passively, you will get nowhere. So be active.

Anonymous Asks: Have you ever hooked up with somebody based on their proximity to your phone?

Dear Anonymous,

Of course I have. What do you take me for? A sloth? (I am assuming sloths move too slow to hook up ever.)

But here’s the thing I need to admit: I never really enjoyed it. That’s why my time on the gay apps was fairly short-lived. I feel the same way about hookups as I do about eating dessert. If I am gonna do it, it needs to be worth it. And I found that I just didn’t have much chemistry with the few guys I linked up with over proximity.

I really like sex to feel sexy. And these quick hook ups on the apps never really felt sexy to me. It made the sex feel forced and as if I were doing errands. It would be like “Okay, I am gonna go to the gym and then I am gonna stop and pick up the dry cleaning. Then, I’ll mess around with this guy and then swing by the grocery store and then I’ll be home.”

I have no judgments about guys hooking up on apps. Probably 90% of the people I know do it and I couldn’t give two shakes. But, for me personally, this just doesn’t do it for me. That being said, I also don’t get laid a lot because of this.

Cheers,

Scott
Bare InkSlinger

Josh Asks: I have begun going back to college. I am 39. What are your thoughts on intergenerational romantic relationships?

Hi Josh,

Congrats on going back to college! That’s awesome! And yup, your new stomping grounds would certainly bring opportunity for intergenerational romance. Honestly, I don’t believe these kinds of relationships are better or worse than couples who are closer in age. It just brings on a different set of things to consider.

The tough thing about new relationships is that everything is so rainbows and unicorns. We often ignore the rougher habits of our new partner while simultaneously acting on our own best behavior. This makes it hard to see the pitfalls(?) you might face. How we come to acknowledge and approach these things sets the road ahead for success.

Think of it like a literal road that you’ve never been on. You can either take the time to create a map that estimates where all the potholes will be before you take the journey. Or you can just wing it once you start driving. This applies to all couples.

In my observation, the more a new couple excitedly has things in common, the more they tend to ignore the need for a road map and just hit the road without any fear of potholes at all. To me, this is where an intergenerational couple can have an advantage. You’re in a scenario where you KNOW you’re going to have differences. It can give you the awareness to be proactive about figuring those and creating your road map.

That’s what my partner and I did. We have 14 years between us and were already different people as it was. He’s an introverted home body and I’m an extroverted socializer. By discussing such things in the beginning, we learned how to float in and out of each other’s interests as well as letting each other do our own things without being clingy or needy about it. For this reason, our intergenerational relationship has thrived.

Each person in a couple has strength and weaknesses to bring to the table. Your age differences will certainly be a factor in those strengths and weaknesses. So, actually lay them out on the table and don’t let your ego get in the way.

Cheers,

Scott
Bare InkSlinger

Chris Asks: Are you the jealous type?

Hey Chris,

Wow. Great question. The answer is yes and no. Allow me to explain.

Prior to experimenting with and understanding non-monogamy, I was an incredibly jealous person. And it not only took a toll on me, but also my relationships - both romantic and non-romantic (I’d get jealous of friends liking other people more than me too).

Jealousy is SUCH a weird thing. I once read someone describe it as “Jealousy is a bad way of showing you care.” I feel like this just scratches the surface of what it means to be jealous. Eventually I would discover that it has very little to do with the other person and primarily driven by our own insecurity.

The bottom line with jealousy is that NO good can come of it. It cannot manifest anything positive for a relationship at all. It is purely destructive, and drives people apart, and nothing more. It’s not an attractive feature (there’s a reason you never hear any single person say “Oh, I would just love to find someone who gets really jealous”). Jealousy is purely a negative emotion and you cannot achieve positive things with negative thinking.

When I came to these realizations, that jealousy was self-driven, off-putting, and totally destructive, I really explored how to overcome it. And to no surprise (I swear you guys are going to get sick of me saying shit like this), the way I overcame it was with self-love, self-compassion, and self-acceptance. When I feel good and confident, I have no reason to feel jealous.

Non-monogamy also taught me that when a partner is attracted to someone else, that sensation fills them up with joy. If I react with jealousy, it shits all over that joy. It will drive them further from me. If I act supportive, then he will feel loved and supported.

Of course, “not being jealous” is not a destination. It is a continuous journey. There are times when I fail, and mess up, and something nags at my jealousy bone. It is up to me, and solely me, to fix it. I have to work on reminding myself that I am both worthy and here to support my partner and friends that I care about. That is the best me I can be.

Cheers,

Scott
Bare InkSlinger

John Asks: What made you decide to write a blog?

Hey John,

It’s actually a funny story. I never, never, NEVER intended on being a blogger.

Back when I wrote for a local LGBT publication, I had wonderful editors who really nourished my writing and helped me better my craft. But I hated being limited in content, such as not being able to curse, and limited in word count (because I am one wordy motherfucker). By the time my last editor had cut my column down to 650 words, I knew it was time to retire.

I took some years off and knew I wanted to return to the world of writing, but wanted to do so in book form. This way I could write whatever I wanted as lengthy as I wanted. Not long after starting this journey, I met with a publisher who already knew my work and was interested. However, they said I probably wouldn’t go very far since nobody outside of my city knew who I was.

They suggested starting a blog in order to build an audience first. I hated this idea. I didn’t wanna do it. I had no interest in blogs. To me, blogs were blah. But I try to be open to the wisdom others provide and the path that the universe pushes me towards. So, I educated myself on the world of blogging and, with the help of some crafty talented friends, Bare InkSlinger was born.

It has now been two years with more than 50 posts! As it turns out, I love blogging. I love being able to connect with the audience through a digital medium. I wouldn’t be able to do that with books. Though, as everyone knows (because I can’t shut up about it), I still plan on writing books and the first will come out this spring. In the meantime, the blog will continue on.

Thanks for asking such a fun question!

Cheers,

Scott
Bare InkSlinger

Robert Asks: I'm feeling as if I've lost my joy for everything. Did you ever feel that way, and how can I overcome this dark place?

In reading your blog, I’m impressed with how you transformed from living in fear to becoming the fearless man you are today. Recently, I’m feeling as if I’ve lost my joy for everything. Did you ever feel that way, and how can I overcome this dark place?
— Robert

Hi Robert,

Thank you so much for the kind words. I always try to make the distinction that I am still filled with tons of fear. I just try my best to not run away from it.

Sorry to hear about your loss of joy in life. I do very much know what this is like. Around 6 years ago, I fell into a horrible deep dark depression. I haven’t written much about it because it’d be better in a book rather than blog posts (though it won’t be in the upcoming book).

Doctors tried to heavily medicate me but it only made things worse (though currently I am on a medication that works really well). I had to figure out how to pull myself out of this and find my way back to joy. It was as if my brain somehow re-wired itself for darkness. I weened myself off the medications and asked my therapist to help me figure out how I could take to stop this awful negative thinking through practices. What she suggested absolutely helped.

First I am going to suggest a product but I want to emphasize that I have not been paid to endorse this product. I speak of this product as a testimonial to its success of when I used it. It’s going to sound a little strange. But it worked. And this product is a subliminal messaging program.

The philosophy behind it is that daily affirmations are not effective in healing the brain because when our brain consciously hears the affirmation, we can easily negatively reject it (even if we don’t mean to). With subliminal messaging, you listen to music and the affirmations are implanted into the music. Because you cannot actively hear the affirmations, your negative brain cannot hear them and refute them. The messages slip their way into the unconscious mind which will then receive the affirmations.

When we have a thought (or in this case when the brain interprets the message), it fires off a neural pathway. The more we can create these neural pathways, the more permanent they become in the brain and our positive thinking can slowly return. It’s interesting stuff and I swear it worked for me. I found joy in life again. The drawback is that it is a bit of a commitment.

The product I used was called “Positive Thinking” by Brain Sync. With this program, you get two audio tracks. One is an “anytime” track that you can listen in the background anywhere while you do something (I.e. driving, working, etc). The second one is the “headphones” track. Both tracks are about 30 minutes long. But with the headphones track, you have to put headphones in (obviously) and NOT do anything else. You sit back and close your eyes and absorb the music - basically meditation.

You have to do this EVERYDAY for six weeks for the program to be effective. So, like I said, it is a commitment. But there’s also something said if you cannot take a half hour a day for yourself to heal yourself (my therapist told me that). Again, this really worked for me - better than any pill I had taken.

Another thing that really worked for me was doing a gratitude journal. I’ve mentioned this several times before but it always warrants repeating. Before bed and after I wake up, I would list ten things I was grateful for (the same things can be repeated from entry to entry). At first it was tough coming up with ten things. But after doing it for a while, I would start to come up with like fifteen things. It became so easy and was such a lovely exercise. It helped me maintain thought of the things I love and that bring me joy in life.

Let me know if you try any of these methods. I’ll be curious as to if they help you as well. And if they don’t, then perhaps medications might be worth a try.

Cheers,

Scott
Bare InkSlinger

Dominick Asks: What are some of your go to albums, that aren’t mainstream, that people should give a spin?

Hey Dominick,

You just made me cream my pants with this question. If you’ve been subscribing to the newsletter, you’ve seen the “Music Video of the Week” result in some very non-mainstream stuff. I don’t hate mainstream stuff. I just think there are so many other artists doing so many other exciting and creative things.

I have given up on trying to show people new music because it’s obvious that my taste in music is a little “weird.” The stuff I like is still fairly poppy, it’s just not anything you’d hear from Top 40 artists. So if you love the top 40, the following will not be for you. If you are a bit more adventurous, then please continue. These are the top albums that have been in my rotation in the last decade:

  1. “Massseduction” by St. Vincent - St. Vincent is one of those artists who have just gotten progressively better with each album. “Massseduction” came out last year and it is still in the top album in my current rotation. This is true “art pop" perfection as it is incredibly fun and weird. It kicks off with a lovely textured ballad, slips into a speedy electro jingle about pills, and then moves into pop and dance tracks that are very addicting, but nothing predictable. There is such a variety of tracks on this album and yet ebbs and flows so perfectly well. Things get a little dark at the end but it’s a perfect way to leave the listener wanting more. If you want more St. Vincent, I recommend working backwards through the albums. Earlier albums tend to sound like Disney Princess music on acid (which I also really appreciated). Check out video “Los Ageless

  2. “Not Your Kind of People” by Garbage - Anyone who knows me knows that Garbage is my all time favorite band. Their multi-genre infused rock sound revolutionized my taste in music. And their 2012 comeback album “Not Your Kind of People” really demonstrated how they set themselves apart from other rock artists. The lead single “Blood For Poppies” is like a Frankenstein song of five other tracks - mixed with heavy guitar riffs into an upbeat poppy chorus, and funky lyrical structure for the verses. This sense the tone for the variety of tracks you will get on the album. Check out song “Blood For Poppies

  3. “Master of My Make Believe” by Santigold - I love everything Santigold does. And it’s almost impossible to describe her music. There’s a heavy influence from other black genres such as African tribal sounds, Jamaican dance hall, and even a little rap (just a little). Yet she ties it up in a bow of electronica filled with synths and percussion that sound wildly original and fun. The album “Master of My Make Believe” is, to me, her best work. Every track is consistently phenomenal through out. Check out song “GO!

  4. “Amen & Goodbye” by Yeasayer - New York based Yeasayer consist of three guys who create this alt-rock-pop hybrid that is artsy but cool at the same time. Like St. Vincent, their album just got progressively better over time. Their last one “Amen & Goodbye” had the most perfect ebb and flow of any album I have ever heard. It’s weird and creative and fun and addicting. And I fear it will be their last. Their previous album “Fragrant World” is also one of my tops. Check out video "I Am Chemistry”

  5. “The Family Jewels” by Marina and The Diamonds - Marina Diamante is actually a one woman pop artist. There are no diamonds. On the surface, this is straight up PURE pop music. But if you listen to the phenomenal lyrics, you discover that there is something super dark here. To me, it speaks painfully of mental illness. Yet it is so funny and boppy and danceable. This weird dichotomy has gotten Marina a myriad of fans, but alas didn’t allow her top 40 success. So, she remains a cult pop treasure. Check out video “Mowgli’s Road”

  6. “Plunge” by Fever Ray - Fever Ray is true musical experimentation at its finest. If you want weird, THIS IS WEIRD. Her last album Plunge was far different than her first self titled album and many fans were unhappy about this. But to me, it showed an excited side of her that we haven’t seen before. The album is split between upbeatly frustrated or sexual synth driven tracks and more lovely downtempo electro ballads filled with incredible textures. The split between the two does cause for a disjointed sound that turned off listeners as well. But I enjoyed that we got to see multiple sides of this incredibly artistic electronic musician. Check out song “Wanna Sip”

  7. “Fever Ray” by Fever Ray - Okay, I am a big Fever Ray fan so I recommend both albums. This was the debut album which actually won the award for best electronic album at the Swedish music awards. Unlike the second album, the entire thing is downtempo. But it does it in a way that no other artist has. The songs are eerily dark but curiously beautiful. There’s lots of vocal tweaking that at times make it sound like you are listening to a ghost. Check out video “Triangle Walks”

  8. “Doom Abuse” by The Faint - Omaha based band The Faint blends rock and dance in a way that often feels super inspired by 80s new wave. It’s loud and brash but fun with wicked lyrical arrangements. Their top albums are “Danse Macabre” and “Wet From Birth.” Their last album “Doom Abuse” offered up more of a “garage rock” sound mixed in with some spastically dance dance tracks. It’s wild and is not for those who don’t like rock music. Check out video “Help In The Head”

  9. “Daughter in the Choir” & “Make A Shadow” by Meg Myers - Meg Myers recently came out with her second album “Take Me To The Disco” and it is excellent. She does a great blend of angry alternative rock and pop melodies that totally get stuck in your head. But when it comes to Meg, my favorites will always be here two earlier EPs known as “Daughter in the Choir” and “Make A Shadow.” Together, they make a full sized album and feature some of her most interesting work. Check out videos Curbstomp, Desire, and Go. “

  10. “Backspace Unwind” by Lamb - Lamb is one of those bands that I’ve been with since their beginning. At first they got known for blending downtempo music with drum and bass which was a unique sound. The second album even brought in some blues/jazz elements which paired with the lead vocalists’ raspy vocals so nicely. After that, things got a lot softer and a lot sweeter and it spoke to my soul in ways other artists couldn’t. Like Garbage, they got fed up with record labels and quite only to then come back years later independently with incredible new music. Their last album “Backspace Unwind” had them experimenting with more traditional dance beats which turn out excellent. And it still provided some lovely melodic ballad tracks that are like poetry for the heart. Check out song “We Fall In Love.

Here are artist that have too many good albums to mention: Goldfrapp (pop or downtempo - depends the album), Peaches, Amanda Palmer (and also her earlier band “The Dresden Dolls”), Garbage (of course), The Knife (Fever Ray’s original band), and Bjork.

Other weird artists include: Brazilian girls, The Presets, Royksopp, LCD Soundsystem, Chicks on Speed, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, ADULT., and jeepers so many more.

Hope you find something you like.

Cheers,

Scott
Bare InkSlinger

Matt R. Asks: Do you believe in New Year resolutions? If so, can you share some of your past ones?

Hi Matt,

I think resolutions can be good. It’s a great way to set goals for ourselves. But it’s only great if we really take them seriously. If people are only making resolutions just for the sake of making them…then, eh, best of luck.

If people are really wanting to make resolution from something lacking in their life, then it has to be an active process and not a passive one. Making change for ourselves is not easy. So, by all means, yes, make resolutions. But if you are not making a game plan to do it with in the first couple of weeks, then the likelihood of success is nil.

I can’t remember my past resolutions. If I didn’t have an idea for them, then I wouldn’t make any. But for this year, I have made three resolutions. Here they are and my game plan for them.

  1. Have a social life again. This last year was really lonely for me. I worked really hard and I traveled a lot which didn’t leave me much time for friends locally. I also lost a good friend over the last year (it might be the next blog post). But my game plan is to do a better job connecting with locals that I know. I need to reach out to these folks on a regular basis. Find local events and invite them to join. Or just go to a dinner.

  2. Fixing my posture. I’ve always had bad posture and it makes me really self-conscious. I think I am more prone to it because I have an extended sternum which could contribute to pulling my chest muscles forward. No doubt being on my phone all the time makes it worse. My game plan is to pursue both chiropractic and physical therapy to correct this. I might get one of those monitors you stick on your back and it alerts you when you slouch. But they’re pricey. I did already buy one of those braces that pull your shoulders back, but I’m not loving it.

  3. Publish my book. Getting this book done and in the hands of you all was my goal for 2018. I didn’t make it happen. Writing a book is such a hard journey - especially while managing a blog and finding ways to stream in income. But I am in a good place with this project. I have a shit ton more to do on it, so it will take time and lots of hard-work still. But my game plan is to buckle down on the editing and get three chapters edited a week (there will be 18 or 19 chapters - depending if I cut one). Hopefully my amazing volunteer editors can keep, up but we shall see.

If anyone else wants to share their ideas for their New Year’s resolutions, feel free to comment below! Maybe we can help each other develop game plans.

Cheers,

Scott
Bare InkSlinger

Juan Asks: Are we definitely a shallow community? Or have I built a wrong mindset or ideal about body image on our community?

I have been struggling with accepting my body for a long time. I’m a short and slim body type guy, people always ask me if I’m eating enough or if I’m feeling well. I have normal eating habits and do exercise. At the same time, I feel that our gay community focuses on your body type and apperience. I feel out of place in our gay community. I’m not strong or gym body type, don’t have a bubbly butt or a big dick. Have I built a wrong mindset or ideal about body image on our community? Or are we definitely a shallow community?
— Juan

Hey Juan,

In my quest to defeat my own body dysmorphia, this is a question I have given A LOT of thought.  In my most honest, honest, honest, most honest, objective opinion possible, my answer is ‘no,’ I do not think we are a shallow community. 

I do think there are some human beings who are very shallow.  And being shallow is not about gender or sexual orientation or race or any of it.  Being shallow is a human trait, not a gay trait.  Now, that being said, I also have to honor the fact that we, as gay men, can experience it a little more.

I totally believe that we do have the whole ‘peter pan’ syndrome thing.  We don’t have the same social expectations as straight men to settle down, get married, and have kids.  Thus, we get to have a more youthful approach to life for way longer (and for some guys…always).

This is a double edged sword.  I love that we get to have fun adventures and enjoy the more entertaining side of life.  But with youth comes immaturity.  And with immaturity comes some silly things like vanity and superficial focuses.  So, yes, there could definitely be more people behaving shallow in our community.

But here’s why I do NOT think we are a shallow community.  Those shallow people?  They are the minority.  They are a small fraction of our community.  The majority of us are normal people with normal bodies and normal insecurities who aren’t jerks. So why does the shallowness feel so overwhelming?

I think  the first part of it is due to marketing, Hollywood, and pornography.  It’s the same things that make women feel self-conscious.  Society at large is mirroring images of ‘perfect bodies.’ And because we do have a fascination with it (being that we don’t encounter such bodies often in daily lives), the marketing/Hollywood/pornography uses it as an easy way to get our attention.

And by continually seeing this, we start to personalize the fact that our bodies are not that way.  It tricks our brain into thinking a muscle body is the norm rather than the normal body.  Combine that with those  few shallow assholes on the gay apps, and suddenly we feel as this is all that our gay community is about.  But I think these are just mind-fucks that we internalize.   

I truly, whole-heartedly believe that if we want to heal our body-image-issues, we have to start with our own psychology and learn how to move beyond all of this.  Because here is a bigger issue: the more we label our community as “shallow,” the more we are stigmatizing our own community in yet another way.  We end up doing just as much damage as we think those shallow folks are doing to us.

Also, we cannot heal ourselves this way: pointing fingers at those who are behaving badly.  We won’t be able to change them ever, but we can change ourselves and our outlook and even our own bodies if we want to.

We also cannot create positive change for ourselves through negative energy (and calling  others ‘shallow’ is certainly negative).  Blaming others who make us feel shitty is WAY easier than working on ourselves, but it also still leaves us feeling shitty.

And here’s one last thing that people REALLY need to know: all those shallow guys who have muscle bodies?  They are hurting deep inside just like the rest of us.  Trust me on this one.  A confident person doesn’t need to put others down. And a confident person definitely doesn’t need to jab a needle full of black market chemicals in their ass just so they can have muscles.

So, when that guy is a dick to you on Grindr, remember… that is only one person, not everyone.  And feel sorry for him! Happy people don’t need to be shitty to others.  They are obviously miserable in their own lives (remember those black market chemicals).

Know in your heart that you are better than him (assuming you do not do the same to others).  And the more you love your body, the more others will love it too.  The more you hate it, the more others will sense that too.

Cheers,

Scott
Bare InkSlinger

 

Gary Asks: I am wondering how you came about this site and your blog.

Hi Gary,

This blog was not my plan for being a writer. But I regret not having done it sooner. Originally, all I wanted to do was write books. But then a publisher said that a blog would build a bigger audience so that I would have a better chance at selling books. This was brilliant advice that I wanted to shove in the trash.

I started the blog anyway and it has completely derailed my ability to finish writing my first book (it’ll finally come out in the spring). But honestly, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I wrote for many years for other publications and I hated having limited word count and also that I had to watch my dirty fuckin mouth.

I wanted to do something totally independent so that I could create whatever I wanted as a writer. As much as I wanted to do that with books (and still will), creating this blog has really given me that space. I didn’t set out to be a blogger, but I am so happy I am now. I thank that publisher for giving me the advice to create one. Ironically, now that I have done all this myself (along with a team of rag tag genius friends), I don’t feel the need to have a publisher. So, yay!

Thanks for the thoughtful question. Hopefully that’s what you meant.

Cheers,

Scott
Bare InkSlinger

Hani Asks: When you love someone, how do you show him you love him without scaring him away?

Hey Hani,

Without knowing your exact situation, it’s hard to say. Is this a friend who you have fallen in love with? Or is it someone you are newly dating?

In either case, when it comes to love, the trick is to balance your emotional heart with your rational mind. Letting our feelings dictate our actions is always highly risky and oftentimes doesn’t work out the way we fantasize. This is not always a bad thing as long as you can sit back and reflect on what rational thinking you may not have taken into account and use it as a learning lesson for the future.

If this is a scenario with a friend, then I would say to tell him rather than “show” him. Don’t be passive about it as that might make the situation more confusing for the both of you. He may not understand what all the gestures mean and the miscommunication might leave you frustrated. The word “love” can be very strong, so it might be wise to say that you care about him more than a friend. If you don’t get the response you want, use the experience to learn and grow.

If this is a scenario with someone you are newly dating, then “showing” love with gestures would be more appropriate. But again, don’t let your heart take you too far down the rabbit hole. Put yourself into his shoes and do only things that you’d feel comfortable with someone doing for you. Again, don’t make the goal to confess love, but more so make it a “deep sense of caring” that you'd like to take further.

Best of luck,

Scott
Bare InkSlinger

Bill Asks: I lost my Mom Oct 22nd. I've gone through various mourning periods but I don't feel like it is over. In fact, I'm afraid of it ending.

I noticed your fb page hasn’t had anything since Oct 30th. Is that still being used?

Lastly, I lost my Mom Oct 22nd. I’ve gone through various mourning periods but I don’t feel like it is over. In fact, I’m afraid of it ending, because then that means I’m over losing her. I don’t want that.

Not sure if these are questions or just sharing.
— Bill

Hello Bill,

Wow! Thanks for noticing that on my FB page. I didn’t think much of anyone paid attention there. Yeah I skipped posting an essay on it during that time (but there had been one on the blog). I do not use Facebook much as it wants you to pay in order for it to show your posts to the audience who already follows you. It’s very frustrating. Also, it won’t even promote a lot of my stuff because it considers it “adult content” (even when the story doesn’t contain any nudity or sexual topics). So, that’s why I love it when folks subscribe to the blog. You’ll always get it (unless it goes into your junk box, then I’m just screwed).

Anyway, on to your second and more important question/statement. I actually commissioned my partner Luke to answer this one. He is a brilliant therapist who has worked with grief a lot and even experienced it first hand. Hope you find some solace in his beautiful words below.

______________________

Hi Bill,

Luke here, Scott's partner. First of all, many thanks to you for being so vulnerable.  Loss is hard, grieving is hard, and it takes a lot of courage to say that out loud and ask questions about it. Our society does all it can to cover/mask or deny the reality of death and loss and I am always thankful for an honest approach such as yours.  I am so sorry for your suffering right now, and at the same time I am thankful that you had a relationship with your mother that warrants that grief.

Grieving anybody in our lives can be complicated, but losing a parent definitely amplifies the experience and emotion. That being said, I want you to know that there is no ‘right’ way to grieve. There are many who will identify ‘the stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance),’ and these certainly can be many common denominators for people, but the way we experience loss can vary greatly.

It's interesting that you say you have had various mourning periods, because I often think of grief as a tsunami…. It comes in, overwhelms our lives, and feels like all is lost. Then it recedes. But right when we are starting to feel some sense of normalcy, it returns; again taking us to our knees. This can happen repeatedly, but each time the waves become smaller and smaller until eventually we are no longer knocked down. But we are changed.

I would hope that in your mourning, you allow yourself to feel the sadness and loss, but that you are equally able to grow and strengthen all of the qualities and gifts you have gained from your mother.   Also, know that you are not alone, and often telling stories, sharing pains, and hearing from others can be helpful. There are several grieving resources that could be helpful, if you are interested.

Please continue in your honest appraisal of your grief. The holidays can be especially hard, and it might be important to surround yourself not just with friends and family, but a grieving support system as well. And, if your pain continually impedes on your ability to work, has negative impacts on your relationships, or you start sensing depression, please seek further supports.

Be good to yourself this season.

https://www.griefshare.org/findagroup

https://sparkoflife.org/

https://www.promises.com/therapies/grief-counseling/

Sincerely,

Scott & Luke

John Asks: How do you find love?

Hi Scott, my name is John. I’m 24 years old living in Georgia with a couple of questions to ask. For right know I’m just going to do a really simple one, love. I now love isn’t a simple question to ask but here goes nothing. My question for you is how do you find love? I want to find a guy to be with but I have no idea how. I fear the idea of going online to a site or join one of those hookup apps. I’m not a very confident person because of my body and personality, also I’ve never had a boyfriend or a real crush with anyone. I just don’t know what to do, any advice would be appreciated
— John

Hola John,

That is a tough one to answer as we are all different in what we want and how we pursue it. I am sure you’re tired of the predictable response of “You’re young! You have so much time!” Blah blah.

Here is what I have come to know about those who are in high search for love: a watched pot never boils. The harder you search for it, the harder it is to find it. I believe there is wisdom in being happy with where you are in this moment. Pursue it as it comes up, but don’t force it. In the meantime, enjoy being single and use it as an opportunity to learn and grow.

I highly recommending growing your confidence. Since you mentioned that, it’s important to address it. People have different types they go for, but the ONE thing that is universally sexy is confidence. The way you feel about yourself sends a message as to how others should feel about you. If you don't believe in yourself, guys will sense that energy and also not believe in you. But if you believe you are worthy and like who you are, then guys will most likely see you as worthy and like you as well. Confidence is key. If you don’t have it, work on it.

Another important key to finding love is to let go of what you think you want. A lot of the things we look for in a mate are more superficial than we realize: good looking, good job, similar interests, makes us laugh… a lot of that doesn’t help sustain a good relationship as much as we think. Be sure to look for the more humanistic qualities such as kindness, compassionate, understanding, communicative, empathetic. Without these, love is not as lovely as it sounds.

And one last thing, I have come to see that when people are desperately looking for love, they often times end up in bad relationships. This is not how it always happens of course. But often times, when we want something bad enough, we will go with the first thing that marginally fits the bill. Thus, we can end up with guys who were never that great of a fit to begin with. The honeymoon period can fool us easily. Have open eyes just as much as an open heart.

Cheers,

Scott
Bare InkSlinger

Anonymous Asks: How did you and Luke meet? Did the status affect the relationship dynamics?

How did you and Luke meet? Did the status affect the relationship dynamics? If so, how did you guys manage to navigate that? Sorry if these all have been answered before.
— Anonymous

Hey there Anonymous!

Never worry if a question has been asked. Oddly enough, in my two years of blogging, it has rarely happened.

The story of Luke and I getting together is so incredibly bizarre and complicated, that it could warrant a whole chapter in a book… which I plan to do in my second book (which should hopefully go faster than my first book). Here is the mini version:

I had not yet been diagnosed with HIV when he and I met at the beginning of summer. We went on a date and immediately wrote each other off. Luke thought I was too wild and I thought he was too reserved. But we liked each other enough to remain friends (which of course meant friends with benefits). Over the summer, we came to really appreciate a lot of the things we saw in each other.

Then in September, I got my diagnosis. It completely shattered me. Even though he was scared and didn’t understand it, he didn’t run away or make it about himself. Luke was the most kind and giving and caring person in the world . He gave me far more hope than any of my friends did (who were so freaked out they could hardly talk about it). I realized that I would be incredibly lucky to end up with a man like him. And in all of my brokenness, he somehow saw someone he would want to be with as well. In the midst of my crisis, we fell in love.

Then shit just got weird from there (CLIFFHANGER!).

Eleven years later, I still love him so much and truly can’t imagine myself with anyone else. This is why I constantly give the dating advice of: date who you don’t think you’d want. Luke was not the guy I imagined myself with and I couldn’t be more grateful that it worked out this way.

Cheers,

Scott
Bare InkSlinger