Dear Bearded Confidant,

Hello Mr. Bearded Confidant.

First off, great website.  Just discovered it today and have been browsing it for the past couple of hours.  Entertaining, educating and.... ejaculating, all at once!

I am a semi-openly gay twentysomething.  I say 'semi' because my close friends and some family know that I am gay.  My family back home doesn't explicitly know (though I'm sure they're perceptive enough to deduce the fact considering 20-odd years of no girlfriends and evasiveness on the subject of sexuality) and I don't explicitly tell them.  Only in the last 4 or 5 years have I become quite comfortable with my sexuality and individuality.  I realize that not fully coming out may represent some continuing issues with my sexuality, but I also don't see the need to announce it, like straight people don't announce they're straight.  Plus I have never tried to 'act straight'... mostly I'm just myself, and when people find out I'm gay, the reaction usually goes: " it makes sense."

The reason I am writing to you is that in the last couple of years, I have found myself cruising for sex online - mostly when I'm really bored/horny at home and/or can't sleep.  It's never consistent....maybe 15-20 times in the last 5 years.  I'm a fairly horny individual, a self-diagnosed commitment-phobe, 90% straight friends, and I've only been in a handful of relationships, nothing over 6 or 7 months.  I'm always paranoid about meeting guys online, mostly due to a fear of HIV.

Any thoughts on why I'm drawn to online cruising and how I can stop acting on it?  No one knows I do this and aside from the purely physical act, I don't enjoy trolling around for guys online. 

Could it be related to some lingering hesitance about "fully coming out"?  And do you think it is necessary to announce one's sexual orientation if one doesn't try to assert an 'ideal self' and is just him/her self??

Dear Chris,

You're right: straight folks don't announce their sexuality -- they merely go about their lives openly and people notice that they do stuff with opposite-sex partners.  I tend to feel that officially announcing one's sexuality seems artificial.  At the same time, I tend to encourage guys to feel comfortable admitting they're gay if directly asked by a non-threatening third party.  It sounds as though you're living this way already, because you have friends and some family who know you're gay, and you tend to act like yourself (good for you, by the way!)  So do you need to take it further and start wearing your sexuality emblazoned on a t-shirt for all the world to see?  Absolutely not.

And does your lack of "radical pride" or commitment-phobia somehow feed your desire to cruise for sex online?  Here's my two cents (hey, even two cents is a money shot, right?)  You find yourself cruising for sex because you're horny and you know that you can find just about anything you want in life via the internet.  Finding men online is a lot easier and more efficient than cruising public parks, and there's less chance of being arrested along the way.  Fear of commitment is nothing unusual -- check out the divorce statistics and you'll know you're in very good company.  Indeed, the male animal seems hardwired to roam and spread his seed rampantly. 

Now I actually wouldn't discourage your occasional online hookups except for one important factor: some deep part of you feels guilty or otherwise weird about it.  You shouldn't feel weird or guilty about mansex, and if your higher self has problems with this particular method of enjoying masculine passion, you should pursue other avenues.  I was going to suggest joining a hobby group to meet guys with similar interests (that's how I met my own first gay friend), but that might not be a good idea if you're actively avoiding boyfriend material.  A gay bar/club is probably your best bet, in that you'll have an array of guys to choose from and the visual stimuli and wafting pheromones will make the experience feel much more natural than the coldness of cyberspace.  You can still have a blast even if you don't drink -- let the music and the eye candy inebriate you, and then you'll be in your right mind so as to better sidestep STDs along the way.

Stay true to yourself, my fellow man!