Dear Dr. NerdLove: I don’t know how much you know about gay relationships, but I’m ready to give up and declare myself a “confirmed bachelor,” a quaint term that I might just reinvigorate.
I’m 43 and ethnically East Indian. Also I’m HIV positive and undetectable. That means I take regular meds that reduces the virus count in my system to a level where I cannot infect a sexual partner, especially if they are also on Prep, which is based on one of the three medications I take.
I realized I was attracted to men when I was 17. I came out to my friends first, then my family, slowly. It turned out better than I expected though not to the point where I would be bringing a long term partner home for Ramadan, for everyone’s sake. When I came out in the late ‘90’s I was the only Indian person in the youth group I joined, gay bars and clubs, or in the university LGBT clubs which I was a leader.
I was different (unique) but I assumed I would eventually find a partner and get a dog, house, and live happily ever after. Instead, I’m contemplating a life of being alone. I’m wondering if it’s still even possible to find a partner anymore, or if I even want one.
First, the race issue. Most people I deal in everyday life with are not inherently racist. There are lots of younger Indian gays in the gay village these days. It’s almost fashionable to have an “ethnic boyfriend.” Television and movies have normalized it, but not porn, which still fetishized it as a fringe “dominate the ethnic” fetish. I bring this up because of the dominance of porn and Grindr in the hookup world. I never experienced racism in normal life until I signed up for Grindr and received a torrent of “Not into Asians” or just no response at all when I initiate a conversation.
Wait, you say. Grindr is just for hooking up, if you want a real relationship try a dating site, clubs or other activities. Yes, but my HIV status scares off most “normal” guys on those sites. We might connect on geeky interests, even have sexual attraction, but my status almost always puts a wrench in things.
How did I become HIV positive, you might ask? Well, in my quest to find someone special I started exploring the fetish scene. For the most part, the leather and bondage scene is openminded, healthy, and supportive of any kink or fetish, regardless of race or body type, as long as you are down for it.
However, hand in hand with fetish scene, for me, came recreational drugs. The drugs sanded off the nervous edges, made me more open to trying new things with people I wouldn’t normally be into. But it quickly lead to a catch-22 where the only people I’d hook up with were into the “Party and play” scene, and it took drugs for me to find them hot. Even when we met, I could rarely get hard because a part of my brain was screaming “this is fucked up and you are not enjoying this.”
So I would spend hours on Grindr looking for someone to hook up with, they would come over, we would spend time finding drugs to get high, get high, and then spend even more time looking for other guys who wanted drugs for a group where often nothing would happen because we were too distracted by the next hot by on Grindr. I wasted many weekends and even missed work on this pointless pursuit.
Then the pandemic helped, I no longer “parTy” nor play, but now I’m in this conundrum. I’m still not attractive to the “normal” relationship-worthy guys that I like, and I quickly shut down anyone who suggests the PnP scenario. It doesn’t leave me with much choice other than celibacy. What can I do to change this formula?