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In which I discuss my boyfriend.

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May 23, 2011 | 12:29am
Mood: pleased as punch
Music: Bliss N Eso - Addicted

I will probably regret posting this, but let's be optimistic.

Today I deleted Grindr.

It started, as well as ended, with Grindr. For the uninitiated, Grindr is labeled as a social network for gay men. In reality, it's an app to make it easy to creep on and hook up with other gays.

It was one of the first apps I downloaded when I first purchased my iPod. I found many dates through it and other, similar apps (Skout, Jack'd, Boysahoy, etc). While these are meant to be used as a convenient means for hook ups in the west, in Asia these apps are used for dating - as a way to meet other gays. The community here is so suppressed that it revolves around the internet, as it has for the last ten years or so.

In the middle of February a guy messaged me on Kakaotalk, a modern-day version of AIM or Y!M. Our first few lines of discourse were in Korean. He then asked me - in Korean - "Are you a robot or really a foreigner?" to which I responded, "한국말 잘 못해요. I don't speak Korean very well." His English wasn't very good, but we messaged once a week or so.

In March he went on a business trip north to Paju, near the DMZ. We continued messaging. I had dates with a guy from Ulsan (excellent sexual chemistry and reasonable English but the distance did us in) and the other side of Gwangju (fantastic English but far too busy to date). He returned to Gwangju April 2nd. April 3rd we met.

The first meeting was very awkward. When I first saw him he was wearing sweatpants - Korean style - and he looked and acted like your typical straight Korean guy. Most gay Koreans have some sort of tell: the way they talk, or how they move, or what they say. Just like most westerners have similar tells. If I'd seen him on the street, I would've mistaken him for a straight guy. Hell, if I'd talked to him I would've mistaken him for straight.

His English was very bad, he was very shy, and conversation was painful. Not a wonderful first date. I wasn't sure what I was expecting. A hook up? Friends? The latter didn't happen. The former did, sort of.

The first week we met three times and talked every night, and he stayed the night Saturday. The second week we met up a few more times. It kept up like this, talking and meeting every chance we got. I received an offer to meet up with Busy Guy during the first week, but I was already feeling committed to this new guy so it fell through.

I agonized over buying his birthday present. Koreans don't really bother to celebrate birthdays here with anything more than a nice dinner and a few drinks, if that. But I'm not Korean. We'd only been seeing each other for a month, so I bought him a big card and two six packs of beer - his favorite brands. He was thrilled and didn't expect it.

Then I went to Taiwan.

At some point I'd made the (distressingly slutty) decision to have sex in every country I travel to. I had Grindr and Skout and Jack'd and I was ready and raring to go. But I just didn't know what to do. We weren't official, although it was looking as if we were heading in that direction. I turned on Grindr, then I turned it off. Then I turned it on again, saw that I had new messages from a variety of tops and bottoms and bears and twinks and turned it off again. Then I stayed in every night and talked to this guy on Kakaotalk.

Saturday night, the last night I'm in Taiwan, I message him. "What are you doing?" I ask in Korean. "I am drinking at a bar," he replies. "I am thinking of coming out to my friend."

This is Korea. The one publicly gay celebrity lost his job and endorsements and any chance at remaining a celebrity over ten years ago. Gays are increasingly featured in the media - TV dramas and movies - in a decent light. When asked about gays, my pre-teen students respond in the same way as western pre-teens: either with a "Ewww!" or a "Who cares?"

An average Korean man coming out to his straight guy friend is virtually unheard of. I've never met a gay Korean man who came out to a straight guy in Korea. Girl friends, yes, on occasion. Sometimes sisters. Never mothers or fathers or guy friends - unless they're foreigners, in which case they don't count.

My dating partner came out to his friend by saying, "I am gay. And I am dating my boyfriend named Adam," and his friend was okay with it. This is impressive stuff, folks.

But I digress. I was shocked that he came out to his friend. I was shocked that he told his friend he was dating someone. I was (pleasantly) shocked that he considered me to be his boyfriend. But it didn't sink in. What I focused on was the fact that he was brave enough to come out. He's braver than I could ever be.

A few days later, once I was back in Korea, we had a talk: we would only date each other. But we didn't use the word "boyfriend." We were dating, monogamously, and we would be in a relationship later. Things continued on like that.

This weekend he came over at 1am Saturday morning. He spent the night. We spent all day Saturday together. We went out Sunday night, where he went to a foreigner bar and danced with my lovable, nutty, drunken friends whom he barely understands, all with a smile on his face. He left at 1:15pm Sunday afternoon.

Sunday morning - this morning - I came to the realization that there are few people I like enough to stand being around for 36 hours straight. He was, apparently, one of them. I asked him, flat out, "Will you be my boyfriend?"

I believe in being blunt.

He went quiet. He shook his head. He frowned. He smiled. He shook his head again. "What?" I asked. "왜? Are you okay?"

"Yes," he said. "But... I thought we were boyfriends already. A month ago." He thought it was official when I gave him his birthday card. When he told his friend. When he stopped by my place at 1am when I had to wake up at 3:30am to catch a bus to the airport, and again when he came by my apartment at 11pm after I'd just returned from Taiwan. We'd been dating, boyfriends in his eyes, for a month.

I've been on dates that I didn't know were dates. I've never been in a relationship that started before I knew about it. Hell, I'd never been in a relationship before, period. But when I think about it, I've known: I didn't hook up with anyone in Taiwan, I stopped dating every guy I came across, I agonized over his presents. I was okay with waiting to have sex because I knew this guy was worth it. I knew, but I was just too blind to see it.

Our anniversary is May 1st. That's not the real day we became boyfriends, but it's as good a day as any.

I haven't used Grindr in earnest since before I met my boyfriend, and I've only turned it on to be a creeper and see how many feet away other gays were (20 feet? Holy shit you guys, there's one RIGHT HERE!!!) for the last two months. There's no reason to keep any apps that are taking up space.

Thank you, Grindr. You helped me find Minkyu. Frankly, that's more than I'd ever expected.

Today I deleted Grindr. I'm glad I had the opportunity.

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Comments {2}


(no subject)

from: violentwhispers
date: May 23, 2011 11:14am (UTC)

This post made me so happy for you. You seem like you're very happy and in love. :)

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(no subject)

from: aodh
date: May 23, 2011 04:01pm (UTC)

Thank you! I am very happy. haha. :)

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