Why is it So Hard to Approach Men at a Gay Bar?

The 2010's have been riddled with app after app after app for gay men to peruse in an attempt to steer us away from the normalcy of approaching someone you like at a gay bar to the comfort of a woof button from your very own bedroom.

Sure, these things have their perks.  You, for the most part, get to know who the person is in terms of what their likes are, albeit sexual or not, so you already have an idea of what you're getting yourself into.  But what would happen, god forbid, if the internet and these apps went away and we were forced back into doing something completely shocking: actually approaching someone we like in real life?

My particular generation came about with the usage of internet hookup and dating sites like Adam4Adam, Bear411 and Manhunt before that parlayed into the usage of apps like Scruff, Growlr and Grindr.  This time period rarely allowed our generation (I'm talking about the super late in the game Gen-x'ers to the early millennials) to explore the cruising elements that gay bars became known for thirty or forty years prior to us entering into it.  

This of course, can be very frustrating for guys around my age, because it limits us in terms of how we can really approach someone that we like at said bar or any social environment.  I consider myself to be someone who is very friendly, amicable, fun, and easy-to-like so I have no problem fitting into a lot of social groups yet I have a very hard time saying hello to someone I find physically desirable.

Am I afraid of rejection?  Sure.  Everyone is.  There are "cheat" ways of approaching someone without having to directly do it, though, that I do find work for me.  Situations like them being in a group of guys that I happen to know someone in can make it easier to go in "for the kill" per se.  You can also find yourself talking with someone else and they interject into whatever you are talking about.  Those are all and good, and can make everything less complicated, but what happens when you actually have to approach someone?

I can't remember the last time I actually said "Can I get your number?"  It sounds archaic almost, in that a lot of dates that I go on now don't even involve the number trade, it's more chatting on an app first prior to meeting up.  Then, if there is chemistry, the numbers get exchanged and we go from there.  

My therapist recommended (yes I see one, we all should no matter where we are in life) that I try and actually go up to a guy and say "Hello."  I usually don't go to gay bars by myself, unless its for a quick drink prior to an engagement later on that evening, but I actually did try twice this past week to go solo and actually approach someone at a popular bar in New York City.

It was happy hour which meant that the crowd was a bit lively, scattered, and diverse in terms of the kind of guy you could go for.  I gravitate towards many a kind, but I did find someone very attractive that had a solid beard, nice build, and great smile and eyes.  He was casually chatting with someone else, and when that person got their coat and left, I noticed he did not.  He, like me, was alone.  So what would actually happen if I really did approach him?  Would he reject me immediately, not even talk to me, find it weird that I wanted to talk to him first or maybe, just maybe, actually talked to me back?

I noticed he was watching some sort of Olympics recap, and given that they had Gus Kenworthy's adorable face on the screen, I knew I had a way in.  "Isn't he just so fucking cute?," I said to the guy nervously.  "Yeah, I've seen his Instagram and he definitely knows how to showcase his assets."  (Laughter).  "I'm Ryan."  "I'm John."

I wanted to quickly switch the convo from how great Gus' ass was into more about who John was, who I am, and if this was just a friendly conversation.  It became that, as he happened to have a boyfriend and they are not open (womp womp), but, I accomplished something that truly terrified me and I'm glad that I did it.

I can't be alone in this situation in terms of approaching someone you like at a gay bar, so I asked some of my friends if they have done the same (this includes straight people as well at a straight bar).  Surprisingly, most of them have, and it led to a serious relationship and even... marriage.

So maybe the idea of approaching someone you like isn't as dead as I thought it was, maybe it was me shielding myself in my bedroom from something great that could truly happen.  I think this was a life lesson for anyone out there who fears rejection the most: it happens.  It will happen, but at some point you'll get lucky and those anxiety-ridden thoughts will disappear for good. 

I’m Fat and (Probably) Get More Than You: Here’s Why

If you think the title of this article is clickbait, you thought wrong.  Do I want you to leave reading this article thinking that the author is a cocky douchebag who thinks higher of himself than others?  Absolutely not.  For as long as I have written about the LGBT community, in particular the bear one that I am most associated with, the common theme throughout it is to tackle the insecurities each and everyone of us faces while in this world that we live in, and to live each day with the understanding that we are all equal and no one is better or lesser than us.

To write something like this with a point, you have to start somewhere to get to where you are now.  Growing up, I was never the skinny guy and was sometimes ridiculed for my weight as I tended to be huskier than most of the other kids in my grade.  Being gay wasn’t exactly helping the situation, which then made me feel even more isolated as I didn’t have anyone around me who looked like me or was going through what I was going through on both ends of the spectrum.

Got out of high school, went to college being an out and somewhat proud gay man.  I was still very overweight, and just coming into the whole process of dealing with the endless shade when it comes to online dating.  When I started with sites like Bear411 and Adam4Adam, 95 percent of the guys I would reach out to would not follow up.  Even worse, some would even block me after my initial contact.  I didn’t get it... how rude can someone be to another person who is simply just saying “Hi”?

As time went by, however, I worked on myself, lost some weight, gained a beard and noticed a complete 180 in the dating spectrum.  When I updated my photos and stats, many guys who would ignore me when I would message them originally would actually message me first.  It was a complete shake up that I myself wasn’t prepared for yet enjoyed every minute of.  It actually got me to a point where I was cocky and really thought that no one was out of my reach from a physical POV.  I didn’t think about the other aspects that makes up a man.

My cockiness bit me in the butt however, as over the past couple of years I have put the weight back on and am struggling to get rid of it again.  We all have our own weight problems, and food is and has been a big issue in me for years, yet even with the weight gain my dating life & gained perspective really hasn’t changed.  So what gives in that aspect? 

The older I have gotten, the clearer my vision is when it comes to finding a partner, partners or even someone that you want to casually date.  In that vision, I got beyond the thoughts of how big their dick is or how good of a kisser they are and actually get to know the person beyond the aesthetic.  You would be surprised how many guys out there actually want to converse with a guy about real life things and not just about stats and unlocking their private photos.

It also helps when you come into any situation and show off your personality.  Yes, even you wallflowers can exude this in certain scenarios.  Something that a person, regardless of their physical prowess, can find very attractive is how confident someone portrays themselves. There are so many aspects to a person that if you walk into any scenario and showcase what makes you great, people will follow and want to know more.  I have friends who are in the best shape of their lives who say that they wish they had my type of confidence when it comes to putting yourself out there.  To me, it isn’t necessarily confidence, it is knowing who I am and getting to an age where I don’t worry too much about people judging me.  If you want something, whether it is a job, a person, or even a piece of cake, go for it.  It is your life, not theirs.

So when I say “I get more than you”, what is meant by that is I don’t let my weight or something that is perceived as a negative in society stop me from experiencing the most with a partner. The “you” in this situation is not one person, its the society that we’ve grown accustom to that breeds our insecurities to levels that we don’t deserve.  We shouldn’t use things that make us insecure, whether its weight, age, race, etc, to deter us from really putting ourselves out there.  I have said this before and I will say it again- you make your own destiny and you shouldn’t have to rely on a group of people or even one person to shift that goal of yours in order to make them happy.  Make yourself happy.  Get yours.  It is as simple as that.

This list was created by one of our Contributing Writers and does not reflect all of Instinct Magazine's taste.

September/October Show

Reviews by Jeff Katz & Gary Kramer


Valentine Road (TV)


4.5 stars

Five years after the tragic murder of 15-year-old Larry King comes the powerful doc Valentine Road, debuting in October on HBO. Speaking with friends, lawyers, former teachers and family, director Marta Cunningham attempts to explain the whys of both how a young boy who felt different wasn’t protected, and how his classmate could go to such extreme measures when he felt threatened. Cunningham does explore the backstory of what some have dubbed the other victim in this unfortunate incident—King’s killer, Brandon McInerney. His family and friends are interviewed and we learn of his abusive upbringing and, much like King, a difficult childhood. Perfectly timed for National Bully Awareness Month, Valentine Road, in part, brings to light how the school administration failed both boys, with interviews from teachers and staff that are equally heartbreaking as they are infuriating. At times the doc feels as if it’s lacking a bit of call to action, possibly masked behind the in-depth backstory. But it's the contributions from Larry’s friends that will leave viewers with a bit of hope at the end of this sad story, as one boy’s ability to live his all-too-brief life authentically continues to inspire those who knew him. — JK





Laurence Anyways (DVD)

Breaking Glass

2 stars

Out filmmaker Xavier Dolan’s ambitious film about the title character (Melvil Poupaud) becoming a woman is overlong—nearly three hours!—and underwhelming. While there is plenty of style on display with Dolan’s fancy camera work, imaginative fantasy sequences, and his penchant for gorgeous clothes and fabulous set design, there is, alas, no heart here. Laurence and his girlfriend, Fred (Suzanne Clément), are shrill, selfish characters who lie and fight. There are points to be made about gender roles and the treatment of and marginalization of trans people, but Laurence Anyways suggests punching men in bars and screaming at insensitive waitresses are effective methods for teaching tolerance. Poupaud is unconvincing as the woman he was not born to be, even when he walks confidently down the street in female dress and attracts stares. Dolan’s uneven film swerves wildly between dramatic and melodramatic crescendos without an ounce of emotion, save frustration. At least Nathalie Baye is terrific as Laurence’s mother. — GK





Bashment (DVD)


Bashment is an ambitious, overstuffed, but not ineffective film about a queer, white MC in the UK grappling with the aftermath of a violent incident that leaves his lover brain damaged. Writer/director Rikki Beadle-Blair asks many provocative questions about race and class, as well as masculinity, gender, and sexuality as victims confront their jailed attackers to find the source of the hate and rage. The ideas about forgiveness and bridging the gaps between black and white, gay and straight, even male and female are valid, although viewers will have to get past some wildly unrealistic transformations. Additionally, the characters’ thick accents, plus the film’s plot contrivances and staginess—Bashment is based on a play—can be straining. And while Beadle-Blair may cudgel viewers with loud, angry language, his mission here is to promote a new way of thinking about manners, racism, and homophobia—and for that he should be applauded. — GK





Aleksandr’s Price (DVD)

Breaking Glass

1 star

Written, directed, and starring the handsome but talentless Pau Masó, Aleksandr’s Price is a laughably bad drama about an illegal broke young Russian in New York City who turns tricks to support himself. While Aleksandr had a few good experiences initially, he soon experiences a downward spiral of epic proportions. Recounting his story to a therapist (one of the many bad performers in the film), Aleksandr talks about his regrets. Viewers who watch this film all the way through will have some as well. Aleksandr falls for his clients and would-be clients to ease his loneliness and stave off debt; he gets raped, blackmailed by a cop, and into a quasi-S&M-like scene. And just when the film cannot possibly get any worse, he hits absolute rock bottom by sleeping with the wrong man. Aleksandr’s Price is never sexy or stimulating, but the title character has an odd habit of masturbating to ease the tension in his life. Yes, it’s that kind of wrongheaded film. — GK