Author Archive: Bill Coleman

I have worked as a psychologist and counsellor for over 25 years with gay men. I now am a counsellor in Vancouver where I mostly work with gay men. I do a monthly column on gay health in the local gay newspaper - Xtra.

Gay Relationships, What works?

Communication is the key to a relationship

Communication is the key to a relationshipThere is no doubt, relationships take a lot of work. Having a partner you like and care about, it shouldn’t be a lot work to pay attention to what he has to say. When it is work to be around your partner, then there is a problem. It’s time to talk openly about your feelings and listen to what each other have to say.

The part of communication that is often missed is learning how to listen. Listening to what your partner has to say and understanding their feelings is really important. People think that they are listening, but most people are really not good at it. People hear what they want to hear, or what they expect to hear. Listening takes skills and much more attention than talking.

When your partner is talking, you need to act like they are the most important person in the world, and that everything they have to say is important. When you both feel heard and understood, it brings couples closer together.

When listening, you need to clear your own thoughts and focus on what your partner is telling you. Don’t think about what you are going to say next. Think about the message behind the words. To make sure you are understanding what your partner is telling you, paraphrase back to them what you believe they are saying.

It’s also important to respond to what you are hearing by relating back and giving your own feedback. It is acceptable to respond with:

  • This sounds important to you.
  • It bugs you when I…
  • You would like to do…

The attempt to show you understand what is being told to you will result in further explanation; so you can both clearly know what the situation is, and how to come to a resolution.

If what your partner is telling you is not important to you, then it could be a signal that your relationship is in trouble.

Another part of communication is delivering the full message. If you suggest to your partner to go away for the weekend, it’s better to give them all your thoughts and feeling around the trip, the purpose, why it’s important to you, and what you hope to get out of it as a result. When you explain the whole message, your partner can have a better understanding of your expectations and why you are suggesting the trip.

It’s not uncommon for people to get right to the point and to leave out how they have reached their own conclusion. The thought process is important to share with your partner. You should assume that your partner likes you, wants to understand you as much as possible, and that they want a deeper understanding of your main message.

Communication is simple. Remember to not interrupt when the other person is speaking, and stop what you are doing so you can pay full attention.

Growing and developing a relationship shouldn’t be difficult. Always be honest. Don’t lie or protect them from information you feel that your partner may not want to know. When couples keep secrets from each other, it adds a barrier and a separation. Dealing with difficult subjects should be a priority; not ignoring them, hoping they will go away.

– See more at: http://www.thehomoculture.com/author/billcoleman/#sthash.izn6gr3H.fdaDSKhW.dpuf

Using Crystal Meth; make sure it is a positive experience

The dangers of crystal meth in the gay community

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Crystal meth is one of the most widely used drugs in the gay community. It is very seductive, cheap, and sexual. The drug creates a fun and uninhibited feeling and the cost is significantly cheaper than buying drinks in a bar. These are all factors of why the narcotic has become popular in use by the gay community.

However, there are many downsides of using crystal meth. Using crystal meth can:

  • take multiple days for the body to fully recover,
  • cause memory loss, heart conditions, or psychotic behaviour,
  • make it difficult to maintain an erection,
  • make it hard to reach orgasm,
  • lead to uninhibited and risky sexual situations,
  • create a false sense of happiness, and
  • become an addiction after the first use.

While crystal meth may be seen as some as a wonder drug, giving users the chance to feel like they are having a wonderful sexual experience, it can easily make people lose themselves by chasing the high to have the sex they think they are looking for. The drug psychologically seduces the user.

People who use crystal meth on a regular basis report that is has effected their job performance, social connections, financial position, and sex lives. The hunt for crystal meth fuelled sex marathons becomes the routine goal.

The difficulty in the situation is not knowing when the addiction has set it, to the point when crystal meth takes over your life. Guys can lose themselves easily and quickly. When firm boundaries are not set users are more susceptible to get lost and start heading down the slippery slope. It’s accepted that someone might go to work a bit hung over from the previous nights escapades, but crystal meth users aren’t able to do that.

Thankfully there are treatment programs for people who need help. Finding a program that is designed for gay men is important, to be able to share and support each other along the path to recovery

– See more at: http://www.thehomoculture.com/author/billcoleman/#sthash.izn6gr3H.fdaDSKhW.dpuf

Gay Nerds, A large part of the Gay Community

Gay geeks and nerds don’t get the proper recognition they deserve

IMG_4499Geeks and nerds are more common in the gay community than you think. Some people would never want to be in a room full of this crowd, some people happily blend in, and others are attracted like magnets. But the fact is, gay geeks and nerds are a cool part of the LGBT community.

Scruff, a gay slang dictionary, defines a gay nerd as: A gay man with deep and enthusiastic knowledge of one or more hobbies, sports, activities, professional fields, or intellectual pursuits.

The Urban Dictionary defines a gay nerd as: Though he wears glasses, neckties, and is always reading a book, Jack does have a sculpted face and chiseled abs. He’s the ultimate cute gay nerd.

The Random Geekings defines a gay geek as: One who is perceived to be overly obsessed with one or more things including those of intellectuality, electronics, etc.

Who really makes up the gay community? The first types that come to mind are the muscle gays, the circuit sisters, the club kids, and the gaybours. But these types are just a small part of the gay community, and the ones who are most visible. The largest part of the community aren’t usually seen. However, it’s those who aren’t seen in the community, at the bars, and in the clubs, that you might find on the next sex-dating app.

Gay geeks and nerds don’t get the proper recognition they deserve. While some guys may not identify with being a geek or nerd, in social situations they will find themselves talking about their ideas, politics, or areas of keen interest. Very serious and in-depth discussions.

The community would look much different if it was accurately represented in the media, specifically the gay media. Most gay men are shy, socially awkward, and uncomfortable. However, many are overachievers too. Gay geeks and nerds enjoy discussions ideas more than the latest fashion trends. Most of them are not flamboyant or social butterflies, but they have a place in the community right alongside the muscle gays and party boys.

Most clubs and venues have fetish and theme nights. Perhaps it’s time to have a Geek and Nerd night, where its comfortable to talk about ideas and have the opportunity for hot sexual encounters. No, not a library or an Internet café. A real place where geeks and nerds can cruise and be cruised, enticed out to explore meeting others like themselves.

Gay Geeks and Nerds unite. Take back the community!

– See more at: http://www.thehomoculture.com/author/billcoleman/#sthash.izn6gr3H.fdaDSKhW.dpuf

Drugs – Alcohol; How do they fit into your life? Why we use them!

Making real changes in your life

The Blueberry SmashPeople use drugs and alcohol for their own personal reasons. Most people don’t realize that these substances are not a problem, but rather a symptom. They are used a coping mechanisms and in fact don’t solve the problem at all.

For many gay men, growing up isn’t easy. Most lessons in life are difficult, including fitting in and have concerns about fitting in. This leads to anxiety, stress, and fear of being rejected. This is where drugs and alcohol often come in, to be used as a way of coping with emotions, but not solving the problem on how to grow.

Once you’ve identified that substances may be a problem for you, overtaking your life, it’s a good time to make some changes. But making real changes is hard work. It’s not easy to get over social anxiety. Learning to have uninhibited sexual pleasure with another person is really hard for the average person.

Just because it’s difficult to make changes, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. First off, identify the emotional forces that drugs help you cope with. It could be anxiety, sexual inhibition, poor self-esteem, or something else.

Once you’ve identified your reason for using drugs or alcohol, focus on how to make better choices and change your behavior to get control. Each person has his or her own path to understanding. It could be personal counseling, reading books, talking to a friend, researching online, or just taking a deep look within you. It could even be a combination of many of these. You have to find a method that works for you, to help make the changes in your emotional state.

Personal counseling can be expensive and not accessible. When you are ready, if you can make the investment, personally or through a health insurance plan, then it will help move you a long ways in making the changes you needed. Find a counselor that you feel comfortable with and has both knowledge and experience with drug and alcohol use.

Reading books can be very helpful. Not all books will be useful, so choose ones that speak to you. Here are some suggestions:

  • Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story (Perennial Classics) Paperback – May 25, 2004, by Paul Monette
  • Becoming Gay: The Journey to Self-Acceptance Paperback – May 5, 2009, by Richard Isay
  • The Best Little Boy in the World Paperback – May 11, 1993, by John Reid (one of my favorites)
  • Coming Out of Shame: Transforming Gay and Lesbian Lives Paperback – December 1, 1996 by Gershon Kaufman Ph.D., Lev Raphael Ph.D.
  • Queer Blues: The Lesbian and Gay Guide to Overcoming Depression Paperback – July 10, 2001, by Kimeron N. Hardin, Marny Hall, Betty Berzon
  • 10 Smart Things Gay Men Can Do to Find Real Love Paperback – May 24, 2012, by Joe Kort
  • Ten Smart Things Gay Men Can Do to Improve Their Lives Paperback – July 31, 2012, by Joe Kort
  • Growth and Intimacy for Gay Men: A Workbook – April 4, 2014, by John Dececco, Phd and Christopher J Alexander
  • The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man’s World Paperback – Bargain Price, Apr 25 2006

Talking with a knowledgably friend is challenging. Hearing friends say uncomfortable things or hiding the truth may not solve the problem. However, it can be very helpful when used with multiple approaches, to ensure clarity and guidance.

Self-examination is not usually through of as an effective way to make changes, but some find benefit in examining their own lives. Most of the time this is most successful in combination with other approaches.

Addressing drug and alcohol use means taking control over unresolved internal emotional needs and taking changes in your emotional self. It is important to recognize the use for a particular reason, identifying the issues behind the use, and to create a plan to make life changes through the use of counseling, reading, talking, and self-examination.

 

Looking at Why You use Drugs

Is your substance use masking a bigger problem?

Gay men are known to be anxious, inhibited, fear criticism, and have a need for connection to others. Party drugs are one of the easiest and most common ways for gay men help cope with these feelings and fears. While drugs my help cope, they never deal with unwanted feelings or address insecurities.

When drug use begins to cause problems most people admit that it’s time to make a change, which often results in discontinuing with the drug use. But it’s important to understand why guys are turning to drugs or alcohol as coping mechanisms.

Most people turn to drugs or alcohol because the substance helps in dealing with a scary world and make things more comfortable. Gay men have learned that to survive as youth you need to fit in and be nice to others. That means looking outside and not being true to you. It’s not being genuine or authentic to you. But this is how confused youth learn how to survive.

Unfortunately, most queer youth don’t get the opportunity to learn what being gay is, or how to be themselves. As they enter adulthood, most don’t even have basic dating experience. Pile on top of that the stereotype of gay men being creative, artistic, fashion conscious, obsessed with being neat and tidy, and having exemplarity behavior. Except for being creative and artistic, these are similar characteristics of someone who may have anxiety with concerns of fitting in and pleasing others.

Substance use helps get out of this restrictive box, but only temporarily. Drugs work short term, but they don’t fix or address the problem. They just mask them. The hard work comes by addressing the need of the substance use.

If you feel you have a drug or alcohol problem, consult with a physician or medical professional

– See more at: http://www.thehomoculture.com/author/billcoleman/#sthash.izn6gr3H.fdaDSKhW.dpuf

Using Drugs and Parting (part two)

Using drugs and alcohol could be a symptom of a bigger problem

Matinee Las Vegas 2015 Circuit Party

Addiction traditionally it relates powerlessness and bad behaviour, especially in the gay community. Gay men do not need any more negativity; they have enough to deal with as it is. It’s important to understand that while many gay men do drugs or drink alcohol, which is not the problem. It’s the symptom. If you only focus on the symptom and not the problem, then the problem remains unaddressed. Reasons for taking drugs or alcohol need to be understood or the opportunity to grow will be missed.

Drugs and alcohol are often used to help cope with difficult life situations. It’s a positive way to conquer fears and give an illusion or sense of control and understanding about why they are used.

Just because someone may use drugs or alcohol does not mean they have a problem. What can the problem is when substances begin to interfere with allowing yourself to be you. When your job or relationship is being hurt it’s time to take a step back and understand why drugs and alcohol are being used. Gay men especially need to find other ways to meet the needs these substances are giving them, instead of relying on them as a crutch.

As example, a young guy name Joe goes to a gay nightclub and he is nervous. He decides to bring a friend along to be more socially comfortable. Early in the evening they spend most of the time focused on each other and enjoy small talk. After a few drinks they begin to relax and the rest of the room comes into focus. Eventually smiles and eye contact begins, followed by dancing and conversations with others at the bar. It might even lead into Joe going home and having sex.

For Joe, alcohol helped him cope with his social anxiety. However, if Joe doesn’t learn how to get past his social anxiety, because the alcohol seems to do the work for him, it may become the only way Joe is comfortable in socializing with other gay men. Alcohol then becomes the solution to the problem, but years later the alcohol becomes the symptom of the real problem, which Joe never learned how to resolve in the first place.

Understanding why people use drugs and alcohol is important. The most common reason gay men use drugs and alcohol is because they have social anxiety, lack self-esteem, and have sexual inhibitions. Sometimes substance abuse is so destructive that halting or significantly reducing the use is necessary before learning how to move forward with self-examination.

Here are a few common drugs people use and the general effects each have:

  • Alcohol: Generally relaxes and lowers inhibitions. Can allow you to feel freer to express yourself.
  • Cocaine (coke): Generally gives the feeling of empowerment, strength and confidence.
  • Ecstasy (molly): Generally feel less inhibited, enjoy the sense of touch, and the feeling of connecting with others. Other feelings of increased sexuality and less stress.
  • Crystal meth: Generally inhibitions are greatly reduced. Emotional feelings with others.

– See more at: http://www.thehomoculture.com/author/billcoleman/#sthash.izn6gr3H.fdaDSKhW.dpuf

Dealing with Gonorrhea

Go-away Gonorrhoea

Posted on May 11, 2015 by Bill Coleman, PhD | Sexual Health | Leave a comment
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Gonorrhoea

It’s Wednesday morning. You got up early, went to the gym, had a great breakfast, and enjoyed a cup of coffee on your way to work. As you start to settle in for a long work day, all the sudden you realize something doesn’t feel right. As you sit at your desk you get the sensation like you’re dripping pre-cum, only, you haven’t been hard all morning. You run to the washroom and when you piss, it burns like fire. It’s at this point you realize, the random guy you hooked up with on Saturday night must have given you gonorrhoea.

Gonorrhoea is the second most commonly reported sexually transmitted infection (STI). It’s a bacterial infection that is transmitted through sex. A 2006 study found six per cent of gay men had gonorrhea in their throat, two per cent in their rectum, and one per cent in their urethra. When you realize you have gonorrhoea, you just want it to go away, fast.

Symptoms

It can take two to ten days for gonorrhoea symptoms to show up. In some cases, you may not have any symptoms at all. For people who do, they can experience:

White, yellow or green discharge from the penis
A burning sensation when urinating
Itchiness, pain, and/or mucus with bowel movements
White or green fluid leaking from the rectum
A dry and/or sore throat
Swollen neck glands
Inflammation of the eyelid
Transmission

Oral, anal sex, and fisting are all methods that gonorrhoea can be transmitted. It’s spread by skin-to-skin contact and through infected cum.

Even if you use condoms every single time you have anal sex, you can still get gonorrhoea. Transmission is as easy as putting your cock in someone’s mouth who has gonorrhea. It can happen that fast, and that easy.

Getting Tested

Testing for gonorrhoea is easy. Simply visit your health care professional or your doctor. It is a simple swab taken of your throat, urethra, and/or anus. Test results usually take 24-48 hours.

Treatment

In 2004, the treatment of gonorrhoea changed, based on new medication that was proven to be found more effective. The two common types of treatments are either a 125mg injection of Ceftriazone, or a 400mg pill of Cifixime taken orally. If either of these two options don’t treat the STI, then other treatments may be considered.

In some cases, gonorrhoea can resolve itself, about 50% of the time in cases where there is an infection in the throat. While it can take up to three months, it is possible. While taking no action is possible, you would have to live with the symptoms and be aware that you are knowingly and deliberately transmitting the infection to your other partner.

Gay men and Syphilis

You could have syphilis and not even know it

Syphilis

The rate of new cases of syphilis is on the rise among men who sleep with men, especially in British Columbia, Canada. This isn’t because there are more gay men, or more gay sex, but because condom use in on the decrease.

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI), and is spread by skin-to-skin contact. Oral sex, rimming, and anal sex are the most common ways syphilis is transmitted. A person can have sores in their mouth or anus, which would not be visible to a partner.

Even if condoms are used, a person can still get syphilis if the condom does not cover the sore. You don’t have to have intercourse to get syphilis. In a dark room you may not be aware your partner has a sore. Simply touching the infected area and then your partner can easily transmit the infection. It’s that easy!

Gay men need to get tested for syphilis on a regular bases, and treated as necessary.

Signs and symptoms of syphilis

Syphilis is a bacterium. It is easy to get; but luckily, it’s also easy to cure. The trouble is, you may not know you even have it.

First 2-12 weeks

  • Painless sore, it is a small round sore with raised edges usually without pain
  • Usually on or near the penis, balls, inside mouth or anus.
  • The sore goes away without treatment in 1-5 weeks

6 weeks to 6 months after infection

  • Rash on palms or soles of feet, sometimes torso or limbs
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Mucous patches in mouth or urethra or anus
  • Moist heaped wart-like lesions
  • Patchy hair loss
  • Symptoms go away without treatment

Up to 1 year after infection

  • No symptoms but can be infectious

1+ year after infection

  • Neurological problems including mental health, deafness, tremors, and blindness

Diagnosis and treatment

Syphilis is detected through a simple blood test. It should be part of your regular quarterly HIV testing, along with other STI tests. Syphilis is difficult to diagnose after one year of infection; however, if caught early, it is completely curable.

Syphilis is easily treated with a single dose of two needles of penicillin, one in each cheek of the ass. Sometimes guys who are HIV positive may need to have additional treatments for two or three weeks.

Sexually active guys should be checked for syphilis on a regular basis. Some guys get tested every six or eight weeks if they are really sexually active. If you have a red mark on your cock, in your mouth, or on your butt, don’t ignore it. It will go away in time, but the syphilis will not.

– See more at: http://www.thehomoculture.com/author/billcoleman/#sthash.izn6gr3H.fdaDSKhW.dpuf

Gay Guys need to know about Anal Cancer; Get immunized for Anal Cancer

Gay men need to be concerned about anal cancer

Cervical cancer in women is caused by a wart virus called human papilloma virus (HPV). A man’s penis transmits the virus to the cervix, which the virus can sit there, dormant, for years, and may cause cancer and could kill the woman.

Gay men also have to worry about the same wart virus and cancer. While gay men do not have a cervix, a man can still pass HPV when a guys cock or even a finger comes into contact with your anus. You don’t have to have big, ugly, painful warts to have the virus or get cancer.

Most gay men do not know enough or even feel comfortable talking about anal cancer, the symptoms, the cause, or even the treatment. The Bottom Line, a new Australian website, has done a great job at covering the topic.

It’s important to know that HPV is spread for skin-to-skin contact. A guy can touch his cock and then put his finger on your ass, exposing you to the virus. Many physicians say almost 100% of HIV positive men have HPV in their anus.

HPV can lay dormant in the body for years, without any side effects or issues; however, it can still slowly, over time, cause cancer. It’s best to speak with your doctor or a nurse that specialises in STIs, to check your anus. It’s not always as easy to see the small changer in pre-cancer growths.

Gay men need to be concerned about anal cancer

Men should also conduct their own self-exam, looking for small bumps and inflamed areas just inside the anal canal. You can also do this with a partner who, over time, would be aware of changes in your anus. After all, your partner can look at your anus better than you can! You only need to explore 3-4 centimeters, but you can always explore more, just for fun.

HPV is a terrible cancer to get, and you do not want to die from anal cancer. The good news is that you can get vaccinated. The vaccine has almost no side effects and new studies have shown even if you have been exposed to the virus that the vaccine may be helpful in fighting the virus.

Most people can get the vaccine covered through their health insurance. Some government assistance programs also cover the cost. There are also some gay men health clinics that offer the vaccine free of charge. If you cannot access one of these free resources, then you can try your local pharmacy where you can get it for about $450 CDN.

– See more at: http://www.thehomoculture.com/author/billcoleman/#sthash.izn6gr3H.fdaDSKhW.dpuf

You could be immune to HIV and not even know it!

Published in Homoculture.ca

 

You could be immune to HIV and not even know it!

 

Posted on April 13, 2015 by Bill Coleman, PhD | Sexual Health | 1 Comment
If you have the CCR5 gene you could be immune to HIV.

 

If you have the CCR5 gene you could be immune to HIV

Many northern Europeans and their decedents are immune to HIV. Up to 13% of people from Northern Europe are immune to HIV, and up to 10% of the population of the United States and Canada are partially immune. The gene is called CCR5, and it inhibits HIV from infecting a person.

If you have the CCR5 gene from both parents, you would be considered immune to HIV. If one of your parents has passed the gene to you, then you would be partially immune, reducing your changes by about 70%.

Being partially immune means that you do not have as many receptors to allow the HIV virus to enter your body, greatly reducing your risk. Should someone who is partially immune become infected, they would be considered a ‘slow progressor’, meaning they would not get sick from HIV for many years.

For someone who is already HIV positive, they may find knowing they are partially immune and would be less likely to experience difficulties as a result of having HIV. Some HIV positive people who are partially immune have worked with their physician to reduce their HIV medication and maintain an undetectable viral load count.

How to get tested for HIV immunity

www.delta-32.com is a website that provides the test kit (a cotton swab), that you move around in your cheek and mail back to the company. They will then conduct a series of tests and send back the results. The cost is $199 CDN in Canada and $199 USD in the United States.

Why get tested?

Some people may change their sexual behaviours and activities if they knew they were immune to HIV. Some people will worry less about sex and HIV if they know they are immune or partially immune. You have to decide if you wish to know if you are immune to HIV, and if it would be helpful for you.

The FDA has recently approved the use of inserting the CCR5 genes into HIV positive patients to explore a cure for HIV.

Nothing is 100%. In 2002 it was found there were rare cases of ‘immune’ persons who seroconverted and became HIV positive. The chances of becoming HIV positive if you are immune to HIV are extremely low but are not impossible.