Miscellany: Dear Serena: Modern Manners: Your Cut-Out-And-Keep Guide To Surviving The Minefield

Dear Serena,

I'm gay, but several times over the last year or so, since I split with my long-term partner, I've met women with whom I have fallen devastatingly in love. I've often found myself at parties gazing soulfully into the eyes of some adorable temptress rather than dancing at my own end of the ballroom. This is worrying me, as I'm afraid that I might not actually be gay after all, which will obviously cause quite a lot of disruption in my life. How do I work out where my mind's coming from, and how on earth does one go about going back in?

Stu, Battersea, London

Don't confuse these feelings for women with an urge to admit that you're actually heterosexual. True, the occasional gay man goes back in for reasons of his own, and this questioning is something a lot of gay men go through at some point, especially after the end of a relationship (and believe me, many a heterosexual woman has toyed with the idea of lesbianism after a nasty run-in with a man). But feeling enormous affection toward women is more likely to be a sign that you're well adjusted, and are capable of strong emotional bonds with people with whom sex is not an issue. Don't panic. Women are great; enjoy the fact that you've found some special ones of your own. You will know you've reached full maturity when you also make a close friend who is male and heterosexual.

I've developed a programme for a minority channel which was designed to appeal to the gay community and cause controversy in the wider world. Instead, there's been hardly a murmur in the press, and gay men seem to be switching off in droves. Help! Where did I go wrong?

X, Manchester

Quite simple, darling: you forgot the old rule that screen sex, unless you're deliberately using it for stimulation, is actually astonishingly boring, and the sort of thing you can show on television is hardly going to match up to the Jeff Stryker videos most of your target audience have stashed in their cupboards. Remember for future reference: even real porn movies make the odd gesture toward having a plot.

Judy Garland or Joan Crawford?

Lester, Prestatyn

Good God, Joan Crawford, of course. Judy Garland is such a simp.

My best friend has recently developed an obsession with "bareback riding" - having sexual liaisons without using condoms; he has become very militant about this theory that Aids is a form of biological weapon against gay men and has persuaded himself that he is fighting a guerrilla action against homophobia. I'm very worried. He means a great deal to me and I don't want to lose him. What can I do?

Gerry, Salford

Oh, dear. If this friend really means so much to you, why haven't you noticed the self-loathing thing going on here? I'm not saying that his problems are in any way to do with his sexual identity but, if you look around you, you will notice that most of the people who regularly take part in extremely dangerous activities, or volunteer for extremely dangerous jobs, are also acting out suicidal urges in a way that they feel would take the responsibility out of their hands if anything were to happen. Pleaseencourage your friend to get some therapy; his best chance of survival is working out why he wants to die.

What do you think? Is it OK for gay men to greet each other with kisses in public?

Magnus, Leeds

Sorry, love, but it still depends entirely on where you are. At parties, yes, in restaurants, yes, probably in most places where women habitually go without a male escort. But don't do it in, for instance, Stoke City Centre on a Saturday just after the football's turned out. It's a shame, and in an ideal world you could do it anywhere, but the sad fact of life is that many people live in certain areas, such as the country or Huddersfield, because it allows them to live with their prejudices unchallenged, and they can react with violence if their limitations are tested too vigorously.

I'm looking to expand my drag act and was hoping you could suggest some personalities who might go down well on the circuit.

Mauricia, Soho, London

I'd have said Hillary Clinton was admirably suited to life as a drag act, though Monica Lewinsky goes down better, at least according to rumour. Have you thought of doing Pauline Fowler out of EastEnders? There's an advantage in the savings on wardrobe costs. There is, I think, serious potential in Kate Winslet or, indeed, Leonardo DiCaprio. Oh, and ditch that Gaultier bustier: Madonna's upper arms have become so pumped up these days that the media are on red alert for an announcement.

Knotty problems with the world today? Write to The Independent, 18th Floor, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL, where they will be treated with the customary sympathy



Dermot O'Leary attends the X Factor Wembley Arena auditions at Wembley on August 1, 2014 in London, England.


Arts and Entertainment
At this year's SXSW festival in Austin, Texas

Music Why this music festival is still the place to spot the next big thing

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall

Mexican government reportedly paying Bond producers for positive portrayal in new filmfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Disney’s flying baby elephant is set to return in live-action format
filmWith sequels, prequels and spin-offs, Disney plays it safe... and makes a pachyderm
Arts and Entertainment
Nazrin with Syf, Camden
The QI Elves photographed at the Soho Theatre. They are part of a team of researchers who find facts for the television programme 'QI'.
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv0-star review: Sean O'Grady gives it his best shot anyway
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss