Well-being

By Richard Emery

February 2021

Pic of my civil partnership in June 2006, Central London.

If you were born in the Western World and certain other enlightened areas of the world you probably pay little attention to the plight of millions of gay men that live their entire lives in constant fear of being severely beaten, tortured, sent to prison or even killed. At the very least ostracized and live very lonely lives for doing what you take for granted.

It is hard to imagine, in this day and age, whilst dancing in a nightclub, drinking beers with your friends in a bar and holding hands walking down the street, or on Gay Pride marches dressed in full leather or drag, that for many men even looking at another man could be so dangerous.

However, well known fun places to be gay are, or were prior to Covid, Amsterdam, Berlin, Madrid, Lisbon, Paris, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami, Key West, Bangkok, Melbourne (apparently better than Sydney) and Cape Town. I’m leaving London off the list because it has gone through a serious decline in recent years with the amount of bars and clubs seriously falling in number. However, Manchester, in northern England, has a huge gay scene for it’s size.

Of course with Europe being so open, mostly, there is fun to be had in most of the major cities as well as some of the lesser ones.

The US is a mixed bag, the coasts both East and West have great open cities up and down them. But generally in the centre, specifically the deep south, be careful. The same goes for the mid west.

From a summer point of view. The holiday resorts of Sitges, Ibiza and Mykonos, are famous. Malta is very gay friendly although there is little to do but it does have some gay (nudist) beaches.

In America great holiday places like Fire Island and Province Town in the NW are fun. Again Key West is more of a summer place.

There are gay rodeos in Texas and Nevada.

In the middle east the only safe place is Israel, with the gay scene in Tel Aviv supposedly one of the best anywhere.

To the East in Thailand Bangkok is the best but Chiang Mai, Phuket and Pattaya (which has a great gay beach area) as well as Ko Samui are great gay destinations.

South America is a bit unknown. Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo, in Brazil, both have a lot of gay bars and clubs but both are known to be dangerous places. I have heard, recently, that there are great places in Lima, Peru, as well as Medelin and Bogata in Columbia.

If anyone has an update on any of the above places or recommendations please email me at richardemery839@gmail.com using the subject ‘fun gay places’ please.

Map curtesy of International Lesbian and Gay Association (link to site if you want to zoom in)

Of the 197 countries in the world, it is still illegal to be gay in 70 with 12 of those frequently imposing death sentences.

The worst of the worst are Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Sudan where the death penalty is regularly imposed across the county. You can also be punished by death in some provinces of Somalia and Nigeria where Shariah laws are strong.

Afghanistan, Brunei, Mauritania, Pakistan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates all have laws prohibiting being gay or religious provisions making it so.

Whereas the in the following areas there are basically no formal laws making it legal to be gay and in most it is illegal.

In the Middle East/West Asia it’s Lebanon, Syria, Oman, Uzbekistan, Kuwait, Turkmenistan, Qatar, Yeman, Chechnya and Bahrain.

Apart from these mainly middle Eastern countries most of Africa is a no go area for being gay.

Kenya, Nambia, Algeria, Burundi, Ghana, CAR (Central African Republic), Sierra Leone, Togo, Chad, Comoros, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Gambia, Mauritania, Morocco, Eswatini, Egypt, Eritrea, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Malawi, Libya, Somalia, Botswana (practically illegal due to ban on unnatural acts, although the law prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation). Mauritius is questionable as there is an anti-discrimination law protecting homosexuals at work. The anti-sodomy law covers straights and gays. But gays are mostly not bothered, apparently, making it one of the better places in Africa, apart from South Africa, to be gay. Nevertheless, conservative attitudes towards gay people are still commonplace.

Caribbean area – Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Jamaica, Grenada, Dominica.

The Pacific Islands of Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands, Soloman Islands.

South America – Guyana is the only totally illegal country and in Peru it’s ok to be gay unless you are in the military, or police, where penalties range from suspension of service to 20 years in prison.

In Eastern Asia the countries are Bangladesh, Singapore, Myanmar, Maldives, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Malaysia. Sri Lanka (where anti-discrimination laws for gays are unconstitutional, however anti-sodomy laws are not aimed at gays but everyone in society). In the Philippines regional laws and religious provisions stand.

Singapore and Manilla, in the Philippines, both have thriving gay scenes and, at least on the surface, appear gay friendly. Singapore is very conservative and although there is the occasional arrest most gay activity goes unenforced. Indeed there has been an annual gay pride event, Pink Dot, every year since 2009 and public opinion is gradually changing.

Oddly enough China made homosexuality legal in 1997 and although most men are still in the closet acceptance and the numbers of ‘out’ gay men are increasing steadily.

Not illegal but not Gay friendly Russia, Armenia, Vatican City, North Korea, Iraq (police and military track down gays and there are reports of murder and rape). Rwanda, in Africa, does not have a law stating one way or another whether its legal or illegal, however the topic is taboo and Gays are shunned by society. The police frequently harass gays.

Although technically legal to be gay in Turkey there is widespread discrimination, abuse and violence against gay men. Gays are also not allowed to serve in the military or government service.

Poland has the worse reputation in Europe with many ‘no go’ areas for gays. The population is highly catholic and right wing.

If anyone has an update on any of the above places or recommendations to stay away please email me at richardemery839@gmail.com using the subject ‘bad gay places‘ please.

 

Foot note: I would like to know how Covid has affected the gay scene globally and any updates would be appreciated. Again, use my email richardemery839@gmail.com with the title ‘Gay Covid Update’ as the subject line. Many thanks.

Finally, an uplifting statistic. The American Psychological Association recently reported that over half of queer Generation Z guys in America are out to their parents. Generation Z is classified as those being born between 1998 and 2010.

The report comes out of Northwestern University’s Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing. David A. Moskowitz, lead author of the study, had this to say:

“This study is encouraging in that it shows that many teens, including those under 18 years old, are comfortable with their sexuality. At the same time, we must be cautious, as the data also point to some of the same barriers and discrimination that previous generations have faced. Work still needs to be done”.

Over 1,900 queer Generation Z guys (assigned male at birth, AMAB) — ages ranging from 13 to 18 — were surveyed between January 2018 – January 2020 as part of an HIV prevention study. All of them identified as gay, bisexual or as being attracted to others regardless of gender.

The study states that “[openly] identifying as a sexual minority has become more prevalent now than in years. This may be attributable, in part, to increased political and societal acceptance of individuals identifying as gay, bisexual, queer/questioning or pansexual. Today, GBQP individuals more readily appear in popular culture and social media, sports, politics, and business marketing.”

See what happens when we have representation?

The survey asked both demographic (race, age, etc.) and social (religious affiliation) questions. The queer Generation Z guys were also presented with a number of statements they had to answer on a 1-to-4 agree/disagree scale, such as, “Sometimes I think that if I were straight, I would be happier.”

At the end, the study found that over half of those queer Generation Z guys surveyed (66%) were out to their mothers or other female parental figures, and 49% were out to their fathers or other male parental figures.

The importance of this study?

Moskowitz said:

“This gives us an understanding of the factors that move teenagers to share this type of information with the people closest to them. We can now compare these practices with how other generations deal with these issues and think about what it all means for future generations”.

 

There’s always been a lot of misinformation and myths surrounding the fine art of masturbation (don’t even get me started on the “masturbation is only for single people” claim). So it’s about time to clear things up and give masturbation the recognition it deserves.

Can excess masturbation cause blindness? Only if you look directly at the sun while you do it. And can it lead to erectile dysfunction? No, but carrying your phone in your pants’ front pocket for long hours might. Does masturbation have any health benefits? That’s what we’re here for! Men, we have good news for you – masturbating helps you have a better sleep, reduces stress, and increases self-esteem by boosting your perception of body image. Basically, you get the same benefits of lifting weights or running on a treadmill, but sparing you the gym membership fee and sore muscles the day after.

Masturbation makes you more confident, study proves

According to a study carried out by a toy company named TENGA, masturbating more can make you a better lover and even boost your orgasms. After looking into the masturbatory habits of 2,000 men, their research showed that men who masturbate weekly are 10% more confident in their performance than those who rarely touch themselves.

On the other hand, 12% of men who touch themselves have a better quality orgasm, and 6% are more likely to feel they have a beautiful body. The bottom line here is, pleasure yourself more often or get yourself a man who does.

Alix Fox, sex and relationship ambassador for Tenga has no doubts: “Guys who regularly take time to pleasure themselves and appreciate their bodies are more likely to feel confident in their own skins, and they’re thus more likely to be relaxed when playing with a sex partner. The more men discover their own bodies, the more likely they are to bring that same liberated sense of adventure and thrills to their lovers.”

Touching yourself could literally save your life

No mean to get dramatic here, but masturbating, getting to know one’s body and feeling comfortable talking about it could genuinely save lives.

A recent survey found that 60% of men wouldn’t know what having a potentially cancerous lump in the testicles might feel like. Moreover, an alarming 82% reported that they felt overall uncomfortable and unwilling to openly bring up any issues concerting their genitals with their general practitioners.

As Alix says, “men die because symptoms of testicular cancer are not identified fast enough or simply go unrecognized. Men are too worried or embarrassed to discuss possible signs with their doctors. This is a real thing, the taboo of masturbation has made men feel secretive about touching, knowing, and talking about their bodies, which doesn’t help this type of situation.”

So for the sake of men’s health and a fun sex life for everyone, let’s elevate the conversation around masturbation and encourage men to indulge in it.