The complexities of sexual identity, relationship issues, safe sex and how to come out to family and friends - these are just some of the issues covered in the Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual expert forum.
Q: What are my rights?
I've been involved in a co-habitual relationship for more than 10 years. I have fallen on hard times and my partner has decided to end the relationship and is contemplating kicking me out of his house. What are my legal rights, if any?
A: I passed your question on a gay lawyer, who commented as follows:
"Unfortunately you have no rights over the house or contents. The parties could have married, but chose not to. There is no such thing as a common-law marriage, and the rights of unmarried parties are not entrenched. The only thing recourse is: if the other person takes steps to evict, then he would have to show cause and also the courts must take into account the length of time the parties have been living in the house, the personal circumstances of both parties and any other relevant factors. This usually translates into the court giving the person being evicted a period of grace before getting out of the house. Anything between a month and six weeks, on average."
I regret that this doesn't sound very encouraging. Please post again and tell me what city you are in, and I will try to connect you with a gay organisation. On another level, you could use your friends and family to attempt to persuade your partner to be reasonable by giving you a grace period of six weeks, in order for you to make relevant plans?
I suspect my partner is sexting (having raunchy text chats and mms). What do I do, how do I catch him? Or do I just confront him?
A: I don't think you need to "catch" him, but maybe you do need to have a conversation: we talk about being monogamous and faithful to our partners regarding sex, but what do we actually define as "sex" and when is a behaviour "naughty"? For example, is flirting with someone included under the heading of "naughty"? Is kissing someone considered sex? Likewise, you need to chat about sexting - not just via telephone, but also in chatrooms on sites such as Gaydar. Once you have reached an agreement on what is acceptable, you can confront him if he breaches the agreement.
Q: Preventing STI's
Is there anything I can do, besides not ever having sex and using condoms for anal sex, which will seriously prevent me from getting HIV? My friend told me today that he tested HIV positive on Monday and, needless to say, I'm a bit flipped out by this.
A: HIV is spread by the body fluids of someone who is HIV positive, most notably semen and blood - the two fluids that can contain a very high concentration of the virus. In addition to always using condoms and water-based lube for anal sex, prevent someone else's semen or blood entering your body. For example, semen in your eye poses a risk, as does semen or blood on any broken skin that would allow the virus to get into your body. Cuts, sores, blisters and scratches that haven't healed are examples. If you want to know whether the skin on your hands is cut, apply a few drops of lemon juice or vinegar - if it burns you'll know the skin is broken. You should also avoid someone ejaculating in your mouth - there could be small sores or cuts that the virus could pass through. I hope this helps - if not, please post again.
Q: Gay or Bi?
I have been gay for as long as I can remember, had numerous relationships which ended in heartache because of my sex preference. I am as gay as you get, but I prefer sex with the female gender which I don't date. Before I enter a relationship I make it clear to my partner-to-be and at first they're fine with it, but as time goes on they start to label me as bisexual.
I have never had a relationship with a female since Matric and don't intend to have one. Why do gay studs run away from me when the in-love stage turns to Love, I am confused...is this considered a lack of respect to the gay community?
A: You are confusing two unrelated issues: sexual identity versus sexual behaviour. You can identify as anything you want to - many MSM (men who have sex with men) do not know, or uncomfortable with the term "gay". If you wanted to you could identify as a lemon tree, if that made sense to you. However, sexual behaviour is about what we do sexually, and who we prefer to do this with.
It sounds as if you prefer having sex with women (and I assume this is vaginal, as opposed to anal sex) but that you are more emotionally attracted to men and would prefer to bond with a man in a romantic sense. However, I think you may be expecting a bit much of the average gay guy to enter into an enduring relationship with you which will be asexual. What about his needs?
While some gay guys aren't into anal sex, the average gay men isn't into vaginal sex either. I'm curious as to whether your internal sexual fantasies focus more on women or on men, and how your last relationship with a woman ended.
All said, identifying as gay but only having sex with women sounds a bit whacky. It would be easier to change your identity than to change your behaviour, so you may want to consider trying out the brand of being 'bi' for a while.
Q: Is my brother gay?
How will I know for sure if my 22-year old brother is or isn't gay? I saw some gay porn on his laptop (I wasn't snooping). He sometimes dates girls, but I think this is maybe more as a smoke-screen than anything else, as these dates don't seem to lead anywhere.
He spends tons of time with his friends, whom none of us have ever met and they never come to our house, and he's generally quite secretive about his social life. One of my mates says he saw my brother at a gay club, which doesn't mean much because my friend is straight and was there with his girlfriend, but he says my brother was alone. No big deal and maybe it's none of my business, but I'm curious and I hope that he doesn't feel bad about being gay, if that is what he is.
A: All you can do is make sure that you never make any homo-prejudiced comments, and try to create an environment that would make it safer for your brother to disclose his sexual orientation if he is indeed gay.
Q: How do I come out to my family?
A: Please read the full article: Telling your parents you are gay.
(Joanne Hart, Health24, March 2011)