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Dumped again?
Curses!

Dumped again?
Curses!

Dumped

Some gay men in their 20s--including this writer--are hoping to land a partner and start raising a child before hitting the big 3-0. Are we all just fooling ourselves?

Nbroverman

This guy is different. I squeezed the thought out of my head before it could marinate in my mind; I had a habit of becoming starry-eyed whenever I began feeling comfortable with someone. Be cool, I ordered myself, as a Spanish waiter walked us to our table at the tapas restaurant. It was one of those wonderful nights early on in a relationship--we were about eight or nine dates in--where affection is the most thrilling thing in the world and you imagine this is what it feels like for straight sweethearts in high school.

As we sipped our wine silently, I couldn't help but betray my own orders to myself, and I blessed my good luck. Finally, something real.

When the silence broke, so did my illusions.

"So, Neal, what are you expecting out of this?"

I can't remember how I responded, but whatever it was, it didn't matter. When you hear those words, it's clear where your relationship is headed---nowhere. I've been through this so many times that my eyes glaze over when they lay it on me: "I'm not ready for a relationship"; "This is moving too fast"; "I met someone else."

As this soon-to-be-ex broke it down (I was one of three boyfriends in his North American harem), I couldn't focus, instead thinking only of the curse. The Gay Curse. The affliction that attacks gay men in their 20s, robbing most of any hope for a monogamous, committed relationship and ensuring some serious rings of fire for those lucky few who pull it off.

Queer boys in their 20s like myself came of age in the gay '90s, when a media explosion of representation turned the word gay from a filthy pejorative into simply a word. Suddenly, anything felt possible. Being gay wasn't a disease that would infect the rest of our sad, lonely days but was just one aspect of our complex identities. Who could stop us from having everything our straight peers had? We saw our life paths follow a familiar trajectory: Graduate college, rock your career, meet a great guy, settle down, and have a baby before 30. So all those who dreamed those dreams ventured out into the world, emboldened and empowered. But before long, we realized we were a minority in the young gay world, and soon we were rejected and demoralized, dumped for not having the ideal body fat ratio or because we refused to have a boyfriend who already had one.

"The Gay Curse is having all the things that should matter, like loyalty, patience, intelligence, the desire to be part of a couple, and yet you're constantly passed over," says "Alex," a 27-year-old gay man who chose not to give his real name for fear of sounding bitter and further diminishing his chances for a boyfriend. "As a gay man in his 20s who's willing to put in the time and effort needed to sustain a relationship, I certainly feel I'm in the minority."

For Alex, meeting men is not the problem; keeping them is. When comparing the attention spans of his former boyfriends with those of the men his straight female friends have dated, the difference is staggering. But to some, Alex's comparison of his love life with those of straight women is what's dooming him in the first place.

"Straight women have a completely different agenda on dating," says Jeremy Lucido, a single gay 28-year-old. Jeremy doesn't buy into the Gay Curse but feels straight men have more incentive to get serious with women because of the ticking of their biological clocks.

"I think [the difference between gay and straight dating] is a gender thing. Men and women are chemically different," Lucido says. "Women want babies and the family and the big wedding."

Young gay men can't want babies and the family and the big wedding?

"It feels at times that wanting to be in a couple might be an alternative lifestyle," says Alex. "I'm told, 'Wanting to start a life with someone at 27 is too soon' and that I should 'enjoy life,' like something is lost by being in a relationship."

I've met looks of befuddlement when I tell fellow gays--not potential boyfriends, mind you--that I want a life not unlike that of my straight girlfriends (partner, kids, career, condo). But Alex could be right; maybe it's not fair to compare myself--and other men--with women.

"Of course the rules are different; we're dealing with two men," says Jim Sullivan, author of Boyfriend 101: A Gay Guys' Guide to Dating, Romance, and Finding True Love. While Sullivan acknowledges that young single gay men face special challenges--like dealing with the exorbitant amount of gay serial daters--he implores the discouraged not to become defeatist.

"I think younger gay men are much more open to monogamy than the older generation," Sullivan tells doubters.

But what about the dating proclivities of queer men compared to those of hetero males? My 32-year-old straight brother has been married for five years and was with his wife for another half decade before his wedding.

"I think the woman keeps the man in check," says Lucido, who also has a married straight brother.

It doesn't escape Lucido that even if he found his Prince Charming, the only place where he could marry him is Massachusetts, and he doesn't care much for the Red Sox.

"Marriage adds an extra incentive to stay together," Lucido says. "I wouldn't say [the inability for gays to marry] gives you permission to stay single, but it is easier to move on."

So while my brother planned his wedding, started a college fund, and tackled a mortgage in his 20s, his gay sibling instead hits the bars, trolls singles Web sites, and endures speed dating in the vain attempt to find Mr. Right. Like others in my situation, I am stuck in a suspended adolescence, while our straight brothers can act like adults and receive the respect that goes along with that.

Lucido, who's had long-term relationships in his past, thinks gay men like me are just thinking about it too hard.

"I don't think being single is a good enough reason to get a boyfriend," he says. "That may be a reason and may be the start of it, but I don't want someone coming after me just because they're lonely."

Touche. Nonetheless, Lucido can't convince me we're not at a disadvantage compared to both straight men and women, since society reinforces their pairing. And what about lesbians? My 28-year-old sapphic friend Leslie is convinced my gender and orientation won't foil my hopes of finding someone as wonderful as her partner, who she's been with for six years. She also doesn't think I'll have to wait until I'm 40 to meet my betrothed. Unlike Lucido, she's a huge Red Sox fan, so clearly she knows every curse can be broken.

Nbroverman
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Neal Broverman

Neal Broverman is the Editorial Director, Print of Pride Media, publishers of The Advocate, Out, Out Traveler, and Plus, spending more than 20 years in journalism. He indulges his interest in transportation and urban planning with regular contributions to Los Angeles magazine, and his work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times and USA Today. He lives in the City of Angels with his husband, children, and their chiweenie.
Neal Broverman is the Editorial Director, Print of Pride Media, publishers of The Advocate, Out, Out Traveler, and Plus, spending more than 20 years in journalism. He indulges his interest in transportation and urban planning with regular contributions to Los Angeles magazine, and his work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times and USA Today. He lives in the City of Angels with his husband, children, and their chiweenie.