Sep 30, 2009

MIT project on Facebook could determine whether you’re gay


A 2007 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) project has found that you can reliably determine whether a guy on Facebook is gay. The project was dubbed “Gaydar” and it is essentially an analytic application of the adage “Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are.” You can read all about it from this recent Boston Globe article, an excerpt of which is found below:

Using data from the social network Facebook, they made a striking discovery: just by looking at a person’s online friends, they could predict whether the person was gay. They did this with a software program that looked at the gender and sexuality of a person’s friends and, using statistical analysis, made a prediction. The two students had no way of checking all of their predictions, but based on their own knowledge outside the Facebook world, their computer program appeared quite accurate for men, they said. People may be effectively “outing” themselves just by the virtual company they keep.

Now before you go “unfriending” all of your gay friends on Facebook, Friendster, Multiply, and other social networks, take note that this project only looked at a small sample of MIT students on Facebook and that they verified their hypothesis with only a small fraction of that. Their study might not be applicable to us because of our different social culture and norms.

That said, I think there’s some truth to their findings. I was able to guess that a college acquaintance of mine is gay (let’s call him X) when I noticed that X started hanging out a lot with this other guy (whom I’ll refer to as Y) based on posts on Y’s blog. I suspected that Y is gay, though I have no definite proof. My only evidence for Y is that he commented on MGG several times, which is pretty incriminating, right? I confirmed my suspicion when I ran into X and asked him about it. Turns out he and Y became boyfriends. Well, I confided to X that I was PLU too.

You can actually infer quite a lot based on one’s circle of friends. So if you’re the ultra-discreet PLU, I suggest covering all of your tracks, especially online (use proxies!), if you value your closet. :-P

Sep 29, 2009

Donate your gimik money to Ondoy victims


Here’s an idea: instead of spending your money at gay clubs, bars, or bathhouses this week, why not donate the money instead to the victims of Ondoy? The 350-peso entrance fee you would pay to get inside Bed this Saturday would go a long way towards relief efforts in this unprecedented flooding. In fact, probably the quickest way to spend that P350 is to donate it to the Philippine National Red Cross via text message. Just type “RED <space> <amount>” then send to 2899 for Globe and 4483 for Smart. Valid denominations are 5, 25, 50, 100 and 300.

For other ways to help, check out this Google Typhoon Ondoy page, which seems fairly comprehensive.

I do hope you are all safe and sound. I have several friends who lost their house or their belongings but at least they are all alive and safe.

Sep 26, 2009

PinoyG4M is back!

1 comment.

Wow! Bringing back online took a shorter time than I expected. This is probably old news for some of you, but there you go: PG4M is back up! The unofficial G4M successor was taken offline early last month due to web hosting issues and if I’m not mistaken the site administrators managed to bring it back up about 10 days ago. I actually learned about the news a few days after.

Poking around, I think most, if not all, of the data was restored. I’m just a casual lurker in the site so I’m not sure if there were any changes in functionality or if there were any added features. I plan to be just a bit more active since I saw an interesting thread in the forums. :-)

Sep 25, 2009

How things work in Club Bath


I’ve already told you guys how to get to Club Bath and how it’s layed out inside, so, just like what I did for Epitome, I’ll do the same for Club Bath and give you a rundown of what to expect and how to conduct yourself in this bathhouse. Before we continue, you should review Club Bath’s website since it already provides quite a lot of information. I’ll just elaborate or fill in the missing details.

Club Bath’s entrance along Valhalla St. is manned by the hired security guard. He can also help with parking if ever you’re bringing a car. Just inside the gate, you just need to go straight ahead to the end and enter the registration area. If there is already somebody else at the counter, you need to wait your turn.

Once at the counter you then need to register and pay for your entrance. If you’re registering for the first time, the registration fee is 250 pesos while for renewal, it’s 100. To register, you only need to provide them an ID and to fill out a membership form. You can probably get away with providing minimal information in the form, but the name you write must match the one on the ID.

Unlike in Epitome, the membership fee does not serve as your entrance fee. (This is probably why Club Bath has this high-end, pricey air about it.) You need to pay for the entrance separately and you need to tell the attendant whether you’re availing of a locker or a private room. Also, you and a friend cannot share costs by availing a room (or locker :-)) for both of you. Each has to avail a locker or a room. The rate for a locker is currently 200 pesos during weeknights and 230 pesos for weekends, holidays, and the nights before them (e.g., Friday). The rates for a private room are 350 and 400 pesos respectively. When you hand the payment (and your ID and membership card if you’re a returning member), the attendant will then give you a card where you need to write your name and sign it. Then he will ring up your fee on the cash register, give you change (if any), staple the receipt from the cash register to the card from earlier then have you sign that receipt. Only then will the attendant press a button unlocking the inner door to the bathhouse. Just pull the door to open and get inside.

Just past the door, there is a smaller counter where you can get your bathhouse stuff and deposit your bag. If you availed of a private room, another attendant will escort you to it. If you got a locker, the attendant will usher you to your locker. Unlike in Epitome, you don’t need to deposit your valuables with the staff—you keep them in your locker or your room. Each room has a safety deposit box for your use. The aforementioned bathhouse stuff consists of a bath towel, a face towel, a pair of slippers and the key(s) to your locker or room/deposit box. Like in Epitome, the key(s) are attached to a wristband.

By policy, cellphones are not allowed in the common areas. But since you did not deposit them with the staff, you are free to check it anytime in your locker or room. Just don’t bring them out or the staff will reprimand you when caught.

Stripping down and wearing the towel is the norm, but you can get away with wearing just your briefs or boxers. I’ve even seen some people roam around in jeans (but shirtless) and a guy who wears a black tank top over his briefs. So the attire is quite lax, but expect guys to look at you askance if you go around in full street clothes.

Smoking is not allowed in the air-conditioned areas, but there are two balconies on the second floor, a dark room and lanai on the third floor and the open area at the back of the ground floor for that. Free biscuits/candy is available on the first floor (by the gym area) as well as free coffee and drinking water. If you want heartier snacks, you can buy cup noodles or chips; just ask the staff at the registration area. The available snacks can be found in the display cabinet at the back of the TV area near the Internet cafe room. Speaking of Internet, there is free Wi-Fi available though I haven’t seen anyone use it. :-)

When you’re ready to leave, just change back into your clothes then proceed to the third registration counter facing the gym area. This is where you will drop your bathhouse stuff. Then exit at the door to your right and wait for your ID and membership card (and bag). You will also need to sign the back of the card from earlier to signify that you received your things. Leave the premises and come back again next day!

Shown above is how Club Bath’s membership card looks like. Unlike Epitome’s, Club Bath’s card is a classy plastic card. Anyone who looks at it might think that it’s for a swanky gym or spa. The back side of the card has a space for the member’s signature, the expiry date, a barcode, and some legalese text which states:

Signer agrees to abide by all club rules. This card remains the property of the issuer and must be surrendered upon request. This card is not transferable and additional photo ID is required.

It’s a good thing that the card now features a nice gold-tinted gradient. I’ve seen an older card with garish rainbow colors!

Sep 20, 2009

A couple of tech world hotties


I keep up somewhat with the consumer electronics and tech industry (like many guys who are into computers and gadgets) and I came across this recent list of the 100 most influential people in the tech world. This list was compiled by the T3 website/magazine in the UK. They admit that the list is slanted towards the United Kingdom and consumer electronics, but the list contains a wide representation of people. It was no surprise that Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page occupied the top spot and the top positions were dominated by the founders or CEOs of Google, Microsoft, Apple, Twitter, Facebook, LG, Sony, Intel and Samsung. A mild surprise was U.S. President Barack Obama at #18, but I guess it’s because of his heavy use of the Web and the Internet during his campaign and in his administration. Musician Trent Reznor even made the list at #59!

The list diplays photos of these people so being the PLU guy that I am, I scoped out who was cute or hot. Below are the two hottest guys on the list in my opinion. The guy to the left is Mashable blog founder Pete Cashmore at #71 and the other one is Apple Senior VP of Industrial Design Jonathan Ive at #52.

Pete Cashmore looks more like a GQ model than a tech blogger. He has this really nice unshaven look on his strong square jaw as you can see from pictures of him on the web. This Scotsman just turned 24 last Friday. Jonathan Ive, on the other hand, is this nice big, hunky, buzz cut dude that gave us the iconic designs of the Mac, iPod, and iPhone. See more pictures of him online. Hmmm... they actually look similar to each other. Hehehe. :-)

Among the Asians in the list, I think ASUS designer Aken Ko at #87 is the hottest, while the following seem to be handsome as well: #91 Josh Silverman of Skype and #57 Kevin Rose of Digg.

Agree, disagree?

Sep 19, 2009

A look at the UN declaration on sexual orientation and gender identity

1 comment.

For another dose of current affairs and issues, I turn you now to the world map above. The countries in green are those that have backed a 2008 declaration on sexual orientation and gender identity that was proposed to the General Assembly of the United Nations. The countries in red, on the other hand, are those that oppose the said declaration and have backed a contrary statement (along the lines of religious freedom). (See this NYT article for more info.) The proposed declaration, according to Wikipedia:

includes a condemnation of violence, harassment, discrimination, exclusion, stigmatization, and prejudice based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It also includes condemnation of killings and executions, torture, arbitrary arrest, and deprivation of economic, social, and cultural rights on those grounds.

It’s quite obvious from the map that most of the Western world (including the whole of the European Union) have backed the statement while almost all Islamic countries don’t. Among the opponents (but not a signatory to either statement) is the Vatican’s Holy See, which is a UN observer. One surprise, given the Islam-sponsored backing of the opposing statement, is Albania, a European Muslim-majority country, which backs the first declaration. The United States, under George W. Bush, originally refused to sign the declaration but under Obama became a signatory.

Closer to home, we see that the Philippines is quite neutral on the declaration (or apathetic). Quite curiouser is the fact that East Timor signed the declaration despite being a predominantly-Catholic country. (Yes, the Philippines is no longer the only predominantly Catholic nation in Asia when East Timor gained its independence from Indonesia in 2002.)

This declaration is easily the most important worldwide issue directly affecting the PLU community and breaks a longstanding taboo regarding discussing homosexuality at the United Nations. The main aim is to extend the values enshrined in the UN Declaration of Human Rights to include sexual orientation and gender identity, and one of its first goals is to seek the decriminalization of homosexuality worldwide. French state secretary for human rights Rama Yade said at the UN, “How can we tolerate the fact that people are stoned, hanged, decapitated and tortured only because of their sexual orientation?” But this declaration will be a hard sell especially in countries having a state religion that forbids homosexuality.

While many people deplore the fact that gays can’t legally marry their partners almost everywhere, let’s not forget the fact that there are areas in this world where people are executed just for being gay. So this UN declaration deserves our support.

Sep 17, 2009

What would you tell your 18-year-old self?


Reader RD recently sent me an email asking for advice to give to barely-legal people like him:

Subject: hey there :D

First of all, I’d like to thank you for putting this little piece of cyberspace awesomeness up. Obviously, just from the “:D” smiley, you could already tell I’m not exactly that mature yet. lol. 18 to be exact. I’m an avid [yet discerning] reader (’di pa ’ko super legal hehehe) anyway, I suddenly thought of something I’d actually want to hear from you: advice for the new-bloods like me. If you want pa nga something more dramatic, what would you tell your 18 year-old self? :D I know that teens aren’t exactly your target audience, but whatever. lol. pretty please?

can’t wait ’till your next posts,
-Romeo Delta

Dear RD,

Thanks for the compliment and for supporting this site! I must say that it is tough to find a suitable general advice to give to young people like you. I guess it’s much easier to give advice if there’s a specific problem to be tackled, right? Another problem I see is that I observe that gay/bi guys are starting to come to grips with their sexuality and exploring around at a much younger age. (I guess the growing acceptance of homosexuality—nagiging uso daw—has something to do with it.) So trying to put myself in the shoes of people like you might be difficult.

Anyway, I think your idea of what I would tell my 18-year-old self is very good, so let’s do it!

I don’t really have any regrets and I consider the mistakes I made to be lessons learned. But I would definitely advise my 18-year-old self that he’ll be facing life-changing experiences in the coming years. I’d advise him to take things one at a time (especially when it comes to exploring the PLU world). The thrill of meeting new guys and the excitement of getting laid is quite natural at this young age and it’s very easy to get carried away.

I’d tell him that there’s nothing wrong with exploring but to always remember to keep one’s head and to always be careful. Finally, I’ll tell him to find good friends—friends who know about his situation since he’s in the closet. The friend can be one of the guys he meets or a close existing friend that he can open up to. Having someone to pour out one’s heart to, especially in PLU matters, is one good way of relieving emotional stress.

RD, I know it may not be much but I hope that this helps. If this isn’t what you’re looking for, you know what to do. :-)


P.S. I don’t think using “:D” smileys speaks of an “immature” mind. But I do definitely think that using txtspk wen ur nt txting is appalling. ;-)

How about you guys: what would you tell your 18-year-old self?

Sep 16, 2009

Discreetionary: ISO


ISO · abbreviation. in search of.

ISO was one of those terms that I encountered when I poked around the gay personals websites (i.e., the “old” social networking sites) back in the 90’s. It took me quite a long time to learn that it meant “in search of.” I wasn’t about to ask around lest people think that I was a newbie, and Google was non-existent back then. This term is usually followed by other acronyms like GWM (gay white male) or GAM (gay Asian male) to signify that the searchee is looking for such.

On hindsight, it appears that ISO, as a term, is not used very much, if at all, by the local PLU community. I barely see it in the chatrooms and even in the modern gay social networking sites like PlanetRomeo. What’s more common is “ASL,” right? :-)

Sep 13, 2009

Is drug use really a part of the PLU scene?


One thing that has perplexed me is the way the illegal drugs subculture is seemingly a prominent part of the gay culture. I thought that this was just an American thing but I have to admit that it was only through the local PLU scene that I encountered drug use firsthand. (No, I don’t take drugs and will never do.)

In the local PLU scene, I’m guessing the most abused illegal substance is MDMA, also known as Ecstasy or colloquially as E. Abuse of this substance is inextricably tied to the clubbing culture since the effects of ecstasy is best experienced with good thumping music. (And I must note that this is not exclusive to the PLU crowd.) I have a good friend that I met in BED and he’s the one that exposed me to ecstasy use. It was through him that I learned such terms like “parteee” (taking ecstasy), “journey” (feeling the euphoric effects of the drug), and “good vibes.”

Before it closed down, Club Government was where ecstasy use was most rampant. I witnessed several people “journeying” there for myself and it’s one of the reasons why I disliked going to that place. It’s sort of an open secret that drug use was extensive and even slyly tolerated in Government that I was not surprised when a blog sprung up last year denouncing Club Government, the people who frequent there, and the drug use in that club. I won’t link to that blog anymore since it’s too negative (a la Brian Gorrell vs. DJ Montano), but you can probably find it if you have enough Google skills.

Going away from the clubbing scene, another drug that I’ve seen used is poppers. A guy I had sex with in Club Bath inhaled poppers to enhance the sexual pleasure he felt. I was definitely weirded out that time.

To be fair, I think the vast majority of PLU people do avoid drugs. But you have to admit that it’s hard to avoid the stereotype shown by the American gay culture of rampant drug usage (think Queer as Folk) and wonder how it translates to the local scene. Anyway, I’d like to point you to this really eye-opening blog of a Pinoy PLU who used to do drugs but is now trying to live cleanly, especially after he was diagnosed with HIV.