Ask JT: The Last Confession of JT Riley

Note from “JT Riley”: There’s something I’ve wanted to say to my readers since way back in the days of SGM Seeks LTR in NYC.

Well, two things, really. The first is … thanks. Thank you for reading my stuff,  commenting, letting me know when I made you laugh… or pissed you off. Seriously, guys. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

And now, the second thing.

JT Riley is not my real name. It’s an alias I made up when I started writing SGM. (There, the big reveal I’ve been hinting at on Twitter all week has been revealed.)

For some of you extraordinarily sleuth-y folks, this doesn’t come as a surprise. But for the rest of you, I’d like to introduce myself.

Hi. My name’s Tim O’Leary.

You may be wondering why I’m choosing to out myself now. I actually began writing for TheBacklot (back when it was called AfterElton) with my real name in the byline, mostly doing theater reviews and TV recaps. But when I got the opportunity to write an essay series about my dating life in New York, I knew I had to write it under a pen name. After all, I was writing about real people, sometimes in very intimate situations, so everyone got a fake name. Including me.

But my SGM days are behind me. I’ve been with my boyfriend Morris (which, yeah, not his real name) for a good long while, and he’s been urging me to “come out” for a long time.

What finally pushed me to get to this point, though, was that I wrote a book. Okay, I know that sounds like I’m just coming out to hawk a product, but that’s only because that’s totally, exactly what I’m doing.

No, I kid. Actually, since I’d garnered more attention as JT than I ever did as Tim, I thought about just using JT Riley as my professional name. But I’m pretty proud of the book, and I want to have my real name attached to it.

And as not-his-real-name-Morris pointed out to me, my main purpose in writing my book was to increase visibility of LGBT characters in genre fiction, so it seems a little bizarre to have a mission statement of visibility while keeping a veil of semi-anonymity.

So what’s the book about?

It’s a Young Adult contemporary fantasy, featuring gay boys in love, magic, martial arts, sword fights, girl detectives, shadowy cults, telekinetic smack-downs, shield maidens, reincarnation, and King Arthur. It’s called The Dream Seer, and I’m pretty proud of it.

If interested you can read the first chapter on And if you would be so kind as to like my Facebook page,, that would be awesome.

Okay, one last bit of business. Now that I’m officially changing my byline, we might need to change the title of this advice column too. What do you think? If you have ideas for a new advice column name let us know!

Now, finally, let’s get to what you’re really here for….

Dear JT,

I’m a 32-year-old recently out gay man.  Also a 100% virgin. You name it, I haven’t done it.  I’ve always been too afraid to act on my sexual interests. A fear of rejection fueled by a lifetime of low self-esteem.  I thought finally coming out would spur change things, but instead I still feel like a freak. I’m afraid of what a potential sexual partner will think. Plus chances are the sex will be terrible, right? 

I’m in therapy, no surprise there, and my therapist thinks I should try online dating, like OKCupid. I don’t know what to do. I have no gay friends, and certainly no straight friends, I can admit this to.  It took me so long to come out, I feel like I’ve missed out.  I feel like I went from one closet to another.  Please be honest, if you were dating someone and they confessed all this to you would it be the last time you spoke to them?


First, I want you to drop all the “freak” talk, S, because I get so many letters from adult virgins I could run one every other week. And one problem that you all have in common? You all think you’re the only one!

The other repeating motif I see in a lot of these letters is the expectation that their first time will be “terrible,” and I use that in quotes because almost to the last man, every letter uses that word – “terrible.” Just like yours did. To me, this implies there’s a cultural trope stating that, no matter what, your first time will be terrible, and this trope just gets repeated over and over until people start to believe it.

As I’ve said in other columns, this just isn’t the case, dude. Will you be flexing and posing like a Greek god during the act, leading to a spectacular finish where you see fireworks? Of course not. Great sex takes practice, but even your first time, fumbles and all, will still be the most fun you have that day. Trust me. (Just remember the old cliche about how sex is like pizza – even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.)

Also, for those of you who do see fireworks during sex, I’m very concerned that this has something to do with a neurological condition and I want you to make an appointment with your doctor right away.

What you need to do, S, is take the emphasis off of sex. I agree with your therapist that online dating is a good place to start. I won’t lie: blind dates can be scary, but they can also be extremely liberating. Being introduced to a brand new person who has no preconceived notions about you can be a blast, because you get to build the relationship from the ground up. If you find someone you click with, let them know you like to take things slow, and aren’t looking for sex right away.

If the guy isn’t a jerk and agrees to drive in the slow lane, then when you feel comfortable, you can let him know that if an open bedroom door is on the horizon, it’ll be your first time walking through it. My guess is the guy in question will probably be flattered more than anything else that you chose to take that step with him.

If online dating feels too daunting, I have two suggestions for you that regular readers will be able to recite along with me. The first: a great way to meet good-natured, caring gay men is by volunteering your time at a local LGBT community center or shelter for LGBT youth. There are a lot of demons still plaguing our community – particularly our youth – and volunteering your time to help out is A) truckloads of good karma, and B) a great way to find kindred spirits in the form of other volunteers. And since the focus is on doing good works and not dating, romance can blossom naturally and on its own time, instead of the “Is it going to happen or not?” feeling of blind dates.

And finally, you can go to meet-up sites like, which is a user-generated site that organizes group outings. Go to the site, plug in the place you live, and look for the gay groups that pop up. The best part is you can narrow it down to activities you enjoy. For example, if seeing plays is your thing, you can search to see if there’s a group for LGBT folks who like to go to the theater. And if there’s not, you can make one.

The best part of these sites is that, while they do have singles groups and that kind of thing, they also have a ton of groups for people just looking to make friends. And that works in the same vein of volunteering: romantic relationships may spring up, but they’re not the focus, so there’s no pressure.

The thing to remember, S, is you have many options to meet the potential Mr. Right. If he’s at all put off by your V-card, then he’s a jerk and not worth your time. Good luck, dude.

Hi JT!

I’m a little on the hefty side and was wondering if you knew the best and fastest way to lose the weight? I’m trying to get to a point where I can take my shirt off without shame this summer. Any advice?

–A Little More to Love

The best way to lose weight and get in shape is to have a plan. A lot of people think they can just join a gym and boom – problem solved. But if you walk in without any specific plan on how you’re going to get in shape, you’ll find you won’t get results quickly enough. For a lot of people, the lack of results begins a spiral of disappointment, and they stop working out altogether, convinced they’ll never see any real changes.So, how do you combat this?

If you can afford it, hire a personal trainer. Nothing will ever get you results as fast as trainers, and it’s amazing how your workouts will be optimized.

If that’s a little out of your price range (and I won’t lie, they cost a lot) then do some research on your own. Read magazines and watch weight-lifting videos. There’s a ton of info out there. Last year, before I started working out with a trainer, I actually saw a lot of results by following Scott Herman on Youtube. I don’t know him, so this isn’t an official plug. I just found his stuff really useful, and his mostly-shirtless videos were, well, let’s just say “easy watching,” while also educational.

Good luck, dude!

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