ADVICE from BENT's own Bear

Everybody knows what bears do in the woods—they sit around telling each other their life's stories and giving one another advice. What else would those big, hairy beasts do when they get together for their Teddy Bear Picnics?

Inspired by the wisdom of my fellow growlers, I'm here to give advice, when asked. So, if any of you have questions you'd like answered by someone who's been around the block a couple of times, please send them to

And in case you're worried that you might have to censor your thoughts, please remember that my walks around the block were often done while dressed in kinkwear and with a thought or two about who I might encounter along the way.

So let me know what's on your mind. If it's a Big Unanswered Question (or even a little one), let me have a crack at it. It is, after all, what bears do best.


"Potatoes? Rice? When Did Dating Become a Buffet?"

Dear Max,

Finally I've found a wise man willing to share his infinite wisdom.

I am a 44-year old professional, retired because of Parkinson's Disease, lupus, and a few other goodies mixed in for good measure. These generally are not a day-to-day problem for me. My biggest dilemma lies elsewhere: I am a white man who seeks a chance to meet an Asian man for something lasting, meaningful, something for when the hormones kick in or the Prozac wears off.

My question to you: how can I do this? I have tried going out since becoming ill, only to be ignored completely. I've "grazed" some of the finest "restaurants" in these parts, but the line at the "buffet" always closes just as I get to the entree. Okay. Okay! To be honest, I haven't had a meaningful conversation with any Asian man since my retirement, and I do believe—honestly, I dothat I am making a conscious effort.

Can you help me? Any pearls of wisdom for a man on the verge of a self-declared hunger-strike?

Sign me,
Jimmy Kata


Did I ever tell you how much I appreciate a man who talks in food metaphors? Of course, any talk of a hunger strike depresses me immediately. I would much rather hear that everyone is feasting as much as possible, especially on all of the carnal delicacies on the menu. I'll admit that I am concerned when I hear that you're choosing only from Column A and not Column A, B, and right through the alphabet. I do understand, however, your wanting one particular dish that you might have discovered appeals to your palate more than the others.

I, too, have my personal favorites, but I've always been experimental when it comes to what I choose to eat. So, the first thing that I have to ask is whether you are insisting on sampling only dishes from the Far East, or if you will settle for something less exotic and possibly more readily available. I'm not suggesting fast food, or anything that might give you heartburn. But I am recommending that you think about some of the characteristics of your preferred food and contemplate searching out ingredients that are similar in overall size and shape but easier to grab off the shelves at your local supermarket.

That said, I will now move on to the other part of your question, which is where to find the Asian man that you hunger for. I can offer up the usual possibilities, with the Internet at the top of the list. You might consider entering (or even starting, if you're feeling ambitious) a chat room featuring Asian men, particularly those looking for non-Asian partners. Most likely there are a number of Websites where you can answer ads placed by Asian men or where you can place your own ad.

As for local bars and other traditional gay meeting places, well, I don't think that the odds are really in your favor, considering the usual racial makeup of those places. I don't know what city you live in and that, of course, will have a great impact on how likely you are to meet men of your preference. You stand a much better chance in a large urban area than in a smaller city, but you know that already.

Of course, you could consider a move to Hawaii, which has a number of advantages in addition to a larger-than-usual Asian population. If you choose that route, please invite me to visit for a week or two. But seriously (yes, I can be serious), your search is not an easy one. In the affairs of the heart (and loins) success seems to creep up on you when you are not actively looking for someone. I'm convinced this is doubly true when your search is for someone of a specific race.

By all means continue to look for your ideal meal. But please, don't overlook other culinary possibilities. Having disabilities and searching for a partner is difficult enough; being so specific only makes things more difficult. I know that this is probably not the kind of advice you want. But other than offering you up the man of your dreams on a silver platter, I would hope that you would vary your tastes long enough to give some of the other dishes on the menu a chance. Who knows, you might end up salivating over curry or knishes or soul food or all-American meat loaf and apple pie. Whatever you choose, Bon Appetit!

© 2004 Max Verga

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MAX VERGA has been an activist ever since getting a call from a friend reporting that he'd been in a riot at the Stonewall Bar only hours before. His work is featured in "Queer Crips: Disabled Gay Men and Their Stories," edited by Bob Guter and John R. Killacky (Harrington Park Press, 2003). For more about Max, see his longer biography.


BENT: A Journal of CripGay Voices/January 2004