As a self-appointed Brand Ambassador to the hags in Jakarta, I get asked a lot whether certain dudes are playing in my field or sitting at the fence.
Discreet ‘butch’ gay men (especially those in uniform) occupy the highest strata of our caste system and they enjoy the perks of NOT being judged in public. They are worshipped, the stuff of sex fantasies and the most sought after characters on online hook-up sites, where pictures of men with endearing smile get the fewest hits. Unassuming and with no gender-bending voice, in real life they are the flavor of the week, though not necessarily relationship-worthy materials. (I said “not necessarily”, stop throwing tantrums, you macho queen!)
It’s perfectly okay if they play in our field, enjoying action of which I want some.But, it’s not okay once they venture offside and lay a dirty, unmanicured finger on the naïve ladies, who are led to believe they are the love of their lives. I don’t get a kick out of outing people – that’s just mean and vindictive. But what’s crueler than lying to a clueless wife/girlfriend or stringing some unsuspecting woman along merely to protect your social status?
I’m no angel and I have dated men who were in a relationship with women, but for the record, I always stay away from married men.
So, ladies, it's time for some Quality Control check. Let’s run a "straight" checklist, just to make sure that your Mister Right isn’t going sideways. Remember, you must digest the information into your own context and exercise some common sense. The checklist is particularly most useful if you’ve already detected some subtle signs and have been feeling that things just don’t add up.
1.Watch out for these social network apps!
Know the name of instant dating apps such as Grindr, Jack'd or the more obvious sounding ones like Manjam. These apps – available on IOS and Androids – allow users to browse and get connected with other men literally anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds. Ever heard of GROWlr, Scruff or Bear4U? These are not sites for fans of grizzly bears or other members of the animal kingdom (except the civilized one that walks on two legs). They are for those who are into hairy men on the plus size. In some cases, a neutral platform such as WeChat can even be a hookup platform for us. If he insists on chatting with a particular buddy on WeChat, ask him why he doesn’t use Whatsapp or LINE. If he is indeed talking to a genuine friend the two apps should suffice. Granted, anyone who has invested so much efforts in living a double live all their lives must have a good sense to hide those apps, but trust me if he was guilty as charged, one of these days he would be caught reading incoming messages, and you will be there to find out on which online application this message was delivered.
2. Be very, very suspicious if he has one or more much younger/older “brother-friends”, or any kind of “brother-friends” for that matter.
Two years ago my ex-boyfriend introduced me to his future wife, to whom he gushed about me as someone who’s ”practically like a brother” to him. I responded with piercing silence. I broke up with him weeks later, just two months before they tied the knot. Unless your hubby’s friend goes to the same primary school, middle school and high school, or unless they hail from the same neighborhood, then get ready to smell something that’s more than platonic bromance in the air. Remember, straight men don’t go around in their adult years looking for an adopted “brother”. They meet a bunch of other males, and may end up becoming good buddies with some, but none would likely be considered practically a brother, unless they’ve spent their formative years together. So, do probe where your hubby or boyfriend meet this ‘adopted brother’, and revisit his answers periodically. If in doubt, check his smartphone.
3. Don’t take his excessive display of homophobia at face value.
Popular online community in Indonesia is peppered with homophobic slur (“don’t be a Maho!”). Unfortunately, some Indonesians are rather permissive when it comes to making a mockery out of effeminate gay characters. Tune in to any youth-segmented radio and you’ll get my point. Nonetheless, you should be extra suspicious if your man spends too much time bitching or expressing his disgust towards gay men, especially when he’s around his peers. Frankly speaking, if your spouse were homophobic, you wouldn’t be my hag anyway.
4. Look for signs of nauseating amount of narcissism
Back in Friendster day in 2005, I met this not-so-famous radio personality who I suspected suffered from narcissistic disorder personality (yes, like most other radio or TV personality) His 2 megapixels Olympus camera was filled with endless images of himself, some in suit, others shirtless. There were photos of him eating, him sleeping, him viewed from the right angle, then left, and him in an acupuncture session. Once I got bored with the sex, I left him. His then poor girlfriend who was living in Sulawesi naturally had no clue of his double life.
5. If you’re in a long-distance relationship, pay him a surprise visit
Speaking of girlfriends in Sulawesi, last year I met a guy who was living together in Jakarta with his boyfriend, who is married with two children and a dutiful wife, all of them conveniently live in Sulawesi (I’m not against Sulawesi, seriously this is just pure coincidence). I asked this new friend whether his boyfriend’s wife ever suspected anything, he casually said, “He forbids her from coming to Jakarta." I was flabbergasted. Ladies, please pay an unannounced visit to your spouse every once in a while.
6. If they spend more than 25 hours a week in the gym, it might not be sweating they’re addicted to.
There are two undeniable facts here and they’re hardly discussed in Indonesian media: a) Popular gyms are our cruising place to pick up other guys. Straight guys know this, so they spend as little time as possible inside the locker room and do not exchange glances; and, b) Some gay guys are known to have unhealthy obsession with carving their body to achieve a Greek god-like physique. Unless your beau is a certified personal trainer, or working on a career as a bodybuilder, you should be wary of his chiseled pecs and perfect six-packs, and check his smartphones.
7. And he's probably not looking for health tips in those men's fitness magazines either.
What about those "Satisfy Your Women in Bed" articles? Those are just a front, like how executive spas and karaoke places in Jakarta are really just euphemisms for the thriving sex trade inside. Straight men don’t waste their time reading magazines that feature muscled men in briefs and tank tops lifting dumbbells. Even the straight chief editors hardly read those articles. Straight men get their fitness tips from their buddies or from the Internet. If he has a pile of fitness lifestyle magazines, especially the local edition, the next time he goes to the bathroom, check his smartphones.
You could always try the last resort: Introduce him to your gay friends or just show his photos to them. We are born with a natural radar that can detect comrades just by looking at pictures (how else would I get any dates from WeChat?).
Some of you might think I’m being presumptuous by listing out signs that don’t necessarily apply to all individuals. I agree, they’re not. But guess what, discreet butch gay men exist, and some of them dupe women into long-term relationship, even marriages. To quote a good friend, we can’t keep ignoring the big pink elephant in the room.
Downtown Boy AKA DB
Named after a classic hit by Petula Clark, DB is a twenty something hipster trapped in a thirty something gay man's body. He's a regular office worker in Jakarta and his hobbies include listening to oldies and doing physically challenging sports. He used to do martial arts but was forced to stop after he hurt his lower back. All of his friends suspect the injury was triggered by something fishy.