An Openly Gay Life Coach Gives Advice To Cypher Avenue And Its Readers

By Nick Delmacy | Posted Sep 19 2014 | 30 Comments  

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For those keeping score, Cypher Avenue recently celebrated its 3rd birthday. The site quickly went from being the only masculine gay and “discreet” blog on the Internet to one of the most visited black gay leaning sites on the web globally.

Despite that reality, Cypher Avenue (and its creators) exists in a bubble from the rest of the gay community due to the knee-jerk negative reactions from those that can’t seem to relate to or understand the overall mission of the site. While being “liked” was never our goal, the desire to be “understood” has always been the “tickle in our anus.”

Having said that, I was very surprised when I stumbled on this year old article originally published in the October 2013 issue of Baltimore OUTloud written by life coach, Gerry Fisher.

He details his experience as a openly gay Caucasian man being introduced to Cypher Avenue for the first time, giving both positive and negative opinions on the articles, the writing and what/who the site seeks to represent.

He also offers some advice to discreet and/or masculine gay men of color. Advice that I knew would be prime fodder for discussion for the Cypher Avenue Squad Members in the comments section below.


GETTING UNSTUCK: LOVE ACROSS RACE

By Gerry Fisher

Gerry Fisher

I was meeting with a black, gay-male client recently, and he asked me my thoughts about the challenges of meeting “discreet, masculine” men. Trying to understand the question before addressing the question, I said, “Do you mean closeted men?” I don’t recall where our conversation went from there.

Months later, my client sent an email with a link to a website entitled Cypher Avenue, and he said that it would help me to understand better some of the issues faced by gay and bi men of color. According to its About page, Cypher Avenue is dedicated to gay and bisexual men who love hip hop culture, geek culture, pop culture, and open-minded conversations.

I read a few articles – one about picking up guys, and one about “levels of gay comfort” when trying to meet men, and I’m glad that my client pointed me to the site. Both articles seemed to emphasize the difficulty that discreet, masculine gay and bi men of color have when trying to meet one another, and they acknowledged that “feminine, ‘out’ guys” didn’t have as many problems perceiving and operating within the sexual playing field.

First, let me tip my hat to the skill the writers have in conveying some basic themes that are very important with regard to socializing and finding partners. They emphasize boosting basic social skills, avoiding the appearance of being too needy or pushy, and using methods for overcoming hesitancy and moving into action. Great stuff!

Having said that, the articles often felt muddled to me, and I think the reason for that is that they fell into the same trap affecting gay and bi men across race: they were conflating sex and relationships. “Getting to know someone” and “seduction” felt oddly and unnecessarily intertwined in the writing. Although the authors do a terrific job of describing levels of gay comfort, they don’t really mention the vital connection between the goal of meeting – hook up? Casual dating? LTR? – and how that goal affects your approach.

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As much as Cypher Avenue did a good job of boosting my cultural competence, I offer this column as “sorting out sex and relationship” food for thought for my discreet, masculine gay and bi black brothers:

Do your best to be clear about the difference between hook-up culture and family-and-community culture. Both are fine; I’m not judging either. Just understand how operating in hook-up mode can interfere with your attempts to build relationship, family, and community.

Similarly, be clear on the difference between “Finding love” and “building your home.” There are a lot of people whom I love but I’d never want to buy a home or raise children with them.

The more discreet you are, the harder it is to find someone with whom to build your home. Think it through in your mind about what a long-term relationship often requires: living together, merging your finances, hanging with mutual friends, and meeting each other’s family. Being discreet will always push against activities needed to form family, and vice versa.

When you meet your compatible partner, you won’t have to “seduce” him. On the one hand, be careful with the emphasis that Cypher Avenue places on seduction. On the other hand, heed the Cypher Avenue advice about being direct and “real.”

Don’t take masculinity too seriously; you might not need as much of it as you think in order to find a great relationship. Take a good, hard look at a lot of those straight guys around you; they’ve got some softness about them, and they’re doing just fine.

Don’t conflate masculinity with bravery.

Be clear on the mechanics of sexually transmitted diseases. It’s what you do, not where you do it. It’s possible to go to bathhouses and play parties with some regularity and risk nothing more than crabs. It’s also possible to date someone 3 or 4 times, have unprotected sex during a love making session, and come down with some nasty STDs.

When I lived in Boston, I played in the LGBT basketball league there. I remember having a conversation with a friend about the lack of black guys in our league. He replied that he knew of a team of discreet gay and bi black men who preferred to play in the city league.

Thanks to my client, I was reminded that group identities like race can create very different paths for gay and bi men. At the same time, let’s not kid ourselves about how discretion limits and hurts us all. Finally, as a masculine man myself, let’s all keep working on the progress needed to join our brave, more feminine brothers who have always been our flag bearers.

More at Baltimorelifecoachgerry.com.

About the Author
Nick Delmacy

Nick is a founder, editor and the pop culture expert at Cypher Avenue. Serving as the designer and webmaster of the site, he is the architect of The Cypher Avenue Matrix.

   
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30 Comments Feel Free To Join The Cypher.

  1. over it | September 19th, 2014
    -2

    Honestly he makes some valid points about the difficulty of fostering LTRs as a discreet man. I agree that as a discreet man, it’s more difficult to obtain and build a LTR because you’re almost always “push(ing) against activities” that would generally bring one about. Nick D even eluded to that somewhat in the last podcast. Most of what this dude said is b.s., but I’m rocking with him on a FEW points

    • lyriq88
      Lyriq | September 19th, 2014
      +7

      I don’t think the vast majority was BS. A lot of it is actually true. Granted this is all opinion. His opinion… me agreeing with his opinion… whatever. But I do think more self analyzing needs to be done as far as our behavior goes and if we’re self sabotaging our own happiness.

      Everybody wants an amazing LTR… yet most folks don’t appear to be finding that. Instead of constantly pointing fingers we all need to step back and look at ourselves objectively and see if we’re helping or hindering the process.

      • John | September 20th, 2014
        +1

        Exactly.

    • Rhode | September 20th, 2014
      0

      The clouds just parted a little bit and a tiny ray of light shined through! Just that tiny concession is huge for you. It is almost a miracle! (Smiles).

  2. SB3
    African King | September 19th, 2014
    +3

    I gotta say that there are some valid points brought up in this article for real. @nick and @ocky I want to know what YOU GUYS think lol.

    I like the point he brings up about the difference between making a community, friendship and such between hook-up mode. I think that it would be great if people can be more clear about their intentions because at least NOT speaking from personal experience and hearing other’s stories, I see that there is the confusion between seeking platonic relationships or something more. I know that I have really been able to “practice meeting” gay masculine men of color on Cypher Avenue. I am grateful for the experience and I have learned so much.

    I do agree that discretion can be limiting in some instances. For some like in my case, I can blend in and not have others focus on the fact that I am “obviously gay” for a lack of better words so that is the part where I guess it isn’t limiting. As for the times where it is limiting, I know that MANY MEMBERS ON CYPHER AVENUE can vouch for the fact that my discretion has been limiting on so many levels. I was afraid of meeting other people and I was acting a “fool” on the activity stream asking so many questions. But now that I am moving up in the “levels of outness” so to speak, I would say that while it has been scary that I have been doing much better.

    I will always respect what Cypher Avenue (fka Discreet City) has done, is doing and will keep doing. I have learned a lot and I will keep growing. I’m glad this is my safe space and I have my big bros @ocky & @nick to thank for that.

  3. Rod Turpin
    Rod! | September 19th, 2014
    +4

    I like a lot of points made here. I think we do often times fall into the trap of conflating sex with romance with LTR potential. Though they often tie into each other, they are not necessarily as intertwined as they may seem. Being able to distinguish the three can help to give a clearer idea of what you’re looking for in a given partner.

    • SB3000 | September 19th, 2014
      +6

      Yea, this is prob the part that stuck out to me the most. Esp the hookup part. I feel like him in that I’m not judging, but I feel like the comfort level at which ppl hook up vs the comfort they lack in sitting down having a drink, and using words, is mind blowing. If this is ur auto go-to for intimate human interaction, then talk about an uphill battle to getting to a relationship.

      • alton
        NYCforEVER | September 19th, 2014
        +4

        You make an excellent point, bro. I know for me, it’s easier for me to whip out my shit and pop off with some random stranger than it is for me to actually sit down and get to know someone. Could be tho, stemming back to the fear of judgement/ rejection. “The Random Stranger” I don’t have to talk to, like, or even really look in the face, but with a potential dating partner I have something invested so the thought of him finding something wrong with me (there’s plenty IMO) and rejecting me scares the shit outta me. I’m sure there’s dudes reading this and side eyeing the fuck outta me, but we all have some kinda demon.

        • Steven Austin | September 19th, 2014
          +2

          Wow. That is very real. It’s also very true. It is very interesting how everyone is inside their own heads and struggles with their insecurities. Meanwhile, I see dudes every day that I think must be on cloud nine, just because they’re so fine. (Don’t mean for that to rhyme; I just thought you were very poignant and truthful in that self-analysis)

        • ControlledXaos | September 19th, 2014
          0

          Man, I beat myself up all the time on my self criticisms. But sometimes you just have to start tooting your own horn until you get someone else who will.

          I know I’m not everyone’s type. I’m a thick. I’m geeky. I’m sarcastic. I’m interverted. I could go on. But I know I have some good qualities as well. I know I’m not ugly. I’m smart. I’m almost done with my Masters. I have a lot going for me. So, I can cancel out all of the things I think may be negatives with the good stuff. You just can’t keep focusing on what you are insecure about because you do project that stuff and others will pick up on it.

        • Sb3000 | September 19th, 2014
          0

          To be honest, idk how any1 can give u the side eye. Look at all of the gay social apps/sites. I don’t know a single one that isn’t considered a hookup site. I say that to say ur clearly not the only one who’d rather fuck a stranger than have a convo w one.

  4. achris
    achris | September 19th, 2014
    +8

    “Similarly, be clear on the difference between “Finding love” and “building your home.” There are a lot of people whom I love but I’d never want to buy a home or raise children with them.

    The more discreet you are, the harder it is to find someone with whom to build your home.”

    Mmmm that’s GOOD!

    • ControlledXaos | September 19th, 2014
      +7

      TL;DR: That’s good but there’s still the question of “What is the end game?”
      ——
      If you are super discreet, and only want to limit the people who know your sexuality, then what do you expect when you do meet that person who you do want to build the home with?

      Eventually, you are going to have to forget what other people think if you want to share a home with someone of the same sex. If you don’t have some kind of plan in mind on how you’ll handle the eventual merger of worlds, then what do you expect?

      I think the fact that guys don’t know how they are going to tie all the strings up kinda sets some of us up for defeat. If you are in a state that allows for marriage, that would be easier. If not, you’ve got a ton of paper work to fill out like trusts, DNR orders, deeds, wills, power of attorney. It’s a lot to think about.

      For real, you have to ask yourself when you see someone: We are 70 years old, and he get’s cancer, will I be willing to literally wipe his butt, feed him, make sure he takes his medicine and etc like many other older couples may have to do.

      If you don’t think you can do those things, then maybe you don’t need to be in a relationship or maybe you don’t need to be in the relationship with the person you are currently with.

      I plan on taking care of myself with regular exercise so that I can ward that off, but it’s something that is possible. And if the shoe was on the other foot, I think we would ALL want someone willing to ‘go there’ for us if we couldn’t. Especially since most of us will not have children to help in those situations.

      I guess I don’t understand what the LTR problem fully is because I’ve thought of these things before. I’ve been in a LTR. I know what I want in a person and what I expect. It’s just for me, the difficulty would be finding someone who also has at least pondered these things.

      I think we all need to take a moment and think about what would happen when we found our Mr. Rights and what we want for the long haul after the honeymoon period is over, after you both put on a few pounds, after you’ve gotten sick, lost a job, found another job, moved to a new town, disagreed with each other, made up, gone to Paris, one of your parent’s died, house caught on fire, been in a car wreck, got a promotion, won the lotto, sold your first house and etc.

  5. BlackguyExecutive | September 19th, 2014
    +6

    I actually think that his analysis is thoughtful and reasoned. When I came to this site, I was brought in by the engaging topics and the commentary from the peanut gallery (broad range of opinions but also like-minded). I think @nick and @ocky should be proud of the product you have built and the community, that even in my time on the site is vastly growing.

    • Dre G | September 20th, 2014
      +1

      Nothing beats this site’s community.We have the best interactions.

  6. 850famuman
    850famuman | September 19th, 2014
    +2

    LOL…..I took this article as seriously as I could from anyone who wears the made up job title of sandwich guru..I mean lifecoach;-)

    He does make a few valid points about how masculine, discreet,and DL gay/bi men should be more supportive of out,more fem gays who fight for all of us on the frontlines and how those gay comfort levels will always limit the search for real love, but lost me completely by once again using heterosexual men as a baseline for masculinity whereas achieving self sufficient, fully mature and responsible manhood should be the ultimate goal of any male.

    I think Mr. Life coach (and many members of this site) miss the inescapable fact that while love and building a life with someone are beautiful things, some of us were put here on this Earth not for our own grand and glorious destiny, but to positively influence, educate, support and protect those with the world changing futures. Realizing many years ago that I am one of those chosen people, being wonderfully made an educated, out spoken black gay man now makes complete sense to me.

    For me, that means having both feet firmly and equally planted in the mainstream and lgbtq community and being in love/being alone or just hooking up for safe, casual sex are ALL OKAY things. Things that do not take away/distract me from my true life’s purpose. BASICALLY, I appreciate his point of view but I do not need anyone’s life coach pointing out the difference in sex and relationship to me when I know the unmuddled answers have nothing to do with Gods purpose for my life. #sitlifecoachgerry4588522.gif

    • alton
      NYCforEVER | September 19th, 2014
      +2

      This meme made my day, dude. Love me some Prince (well, the 80’s Prince). LOL

  7. Ksolo187 | September 19th, 2014
    -3

    I think that the “Good Points” that “Coach Gerry” makes is basic common sense; other than that I think he should fall back because he has never been a Same Gender Loving AFRICAN-AMERICAN MALE.

    • Rod Turpin
      Rod! | September 19th, 2014
      +6

      I definitely got the impression that in addition to his mostly common sense advice, it was an exercise in learning for him (he notes that his client showed him how race as an identity can create very different paths in one’s life). If anything more white GBT men should have the willingness to learn from another community as he’s displayed. I think one of the biggest issues within the larger community is that too many people want to fall back away from cultures and communities outside their race; keeping that distance makes it easy to dehumanize a group, as opposed to empathizing with them.

    • straight_up | September 22nd, 2014
      +1

      EXACTLY! This white “life coach” hasn’t made any revelations or otherwise offered any more insight than Nick and Ocky have already provided over the years. Yet, these black men on this site are salivating over a few common sense comments this “coach” has made and acting like he has revealed the date and time of Christ’s return. GTFOH!

      I’m in total agreement with your statement. There’s not much this coach can tell me because he AIN’T a gay black man. Any gay black man that’s looking to a white gay man to coach his life needs a little more than a damn coach….he needs a good psychiatrist.

      • Ant | September 23rd, 2014
        +2

        I was able to ignore the fact that he was white because, in my opinion, his advice transcended race. The issues he touched on are not exclusive to black gay men, they’re exclusive to a certain “type” of gay man that can be found in all races.

  8. Yoshi!
    Yoshi | September 20th, 2014
    0

    His point about the difference between love & home building was a good one. But just as you may love someone who isn’t right to build a home with, you can build a with someone with whom you just aren’t in love. One without the other seems pointless.

    Also not sure what he meant by “taking masculinity too seriously” or confusing it with bravery. I think he was trying to say don’t be so concerned about masculinity to the point where it becomes disingenuous or a constraint in your pursuit of an LTR (maybe?)

  9. budda | September 21st, 2014
    +2

    I thought he made so really good points. Personally. I would like to be in a relationship with no gender roles. We both hustle, we both cook,we both pay,we both work and we both spoil each other.

  10. skippity do da skippity day | September 24th, 2014
    0

    There is an old saying that goes as follows: “Sometimes you have to meet people where they are”. Therefore , most of what the Life Coach articulated was aimed at those who lack base intellect and common sense. Curiously, he refers to ” conflating masculinity with bravery”. I bet my last penny … he was hinting about Discreet City’s preoccupation with masculinity, and how that premise was the underpinning of the sites content. l believe this; all that negative energy about “Femininity” served only as a ” tearing of us under “. I ponder if Nick and Ocky have a crystal clear understand of how being in that mode impacts them when they are trying build relationship with others. See… the ” common sense ” in me… already knew that they where shooting themselves in the foot dudes. You see… I want for my brother… what want for me. Next.

  11. jusrawb
    Rob | September 24th, 2014
    0

    I think it’s good to have a outside pov from someone that’s not familiar with our culture. Taking the cultural ignorance out of the article, he made some decent points to think about.

  12. DC.
    dc102293 | September 24th, 2014
    +1

    This was an interesting read, and I’m actually quite surprised Nick and Ocky allowed this post to be honest.Even though they may or may not agree with this article I can respect their objectivity to allow the opinions and critiques of others regarding this site to be heard.

    Even though the lifecoach may not be a “Same Gendered loving black man”, I don’t think means he won’t understand the struggles. Because maybe since he’s not exactly it, he can see things more objectively as they are then we can. Personally, I love the concept of now “Cypher Avenue”, (Let me just say the name change is so much better. The word “Discreet” to me sounds like you doing something forbidden or abombinable. And of course that was a usual term we know to be well pegged among down low African-American Men). And at the same time, I’ve always felt Nick and Ocky go a little too hard with how they define masculinity. I always feel in my mind, unless your a super alpha male or thuggish, they won’t categorize you as masculine. And I know that’s not what they mean, but that’s just how it seems to me almost at times.

    And the lifecoach is right, how can you find who you want “Being discreet”. Let’s remember in this world, shy people don’t really get opportunities coming their way. Nobody has time for that. I’d also like to add that introversion and being shy are not the same thing, because I’m introverted but I’m not shy. I mean sometimes some of the ideologies on this site, make see why I was so hard on myself back in the day in regards to coming out. And I obviously understand wanting to date a masculine guy, because it reminds most of us of what we want, which is a man. I’ve seen alot of masculine gay male couples out and about these days. And this brings me to my next point, I noticed Nick and Ocky don’t show themselves (picture wise and whatnot on this site from what I know). Which I think says something right there. You have a very successful website, why not make your identity more known, unless they just like being naturally mysterious, if so then I get that. But if it’s tied to the old testament ideologies that was “Discreet City”, then I’m gonna be having a side-eye marathon in my head.

    I think being gay is only a portion of who we are. But not all of who we are. Like me, I am Haitian, a college student, Black, a son, brother etc. And those are only parts of who I am, but altogether they make up the whole. Because being gay is my sexuality…

  13. Purpleman | September 28th, 2014
    0

    There were some great great points in this post. I am still trying to figure out what an LTR looks like for me. I ran the streets, now I am done LOL. I do not think that a person has to be black to talk about the issues in this post. The man said that this was a learning experience for him, so he is going to get some things wrong. I am just as black as the next dude, but whats wrong with a white man Engaging these topics and trying to learn something. Many black people say that white people do not understand, but when one tries, we swoop down on him.

  14. Black Moses | October 1st, 2014
    0

    Who knew Leonard Maltin had a gay brother?

    (j/k)

    It’s interesting and enlightening to see the site and its community through another’s eyes in this way.

  15. Cal3bg | October 2nd, 2014
    0

    He sounds like a bit of a fckin weirdo with that “my client” shit. Someone pays his ass to give out this basic advice??

  16. Rox808 | November 19th, 2014
    0

    Wow. Amazing. I like how he is distinctive between “sex” and “relationships”




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