¡hola papi!

‘My Friend Is Always Pointing Out Hot Guys, and It Makes Me Insecure’

Illustration: Pedro Nekoi

This column first ran in John Paul Brammer’s Hola Papi newsletter, which you can subscribe to on Substack.

¡Hola, Papi!

I have a dear friend who sexualizes everything. Every time we pass a good-looking guy on the street, he makes a remark. “God, I want him to ram me!” Every horny Instagram meme he sees, he shares with me. You get it. 

Make no mistake, I love him to death. We’re besties! He has the best partner ever and he does this horny stuff with a lot of his close friends. My thing is, I’m tired of constantly “looking” on the street, at the clubs, and in every new city I visit. I don’t like how easily horny I get with these hot gay memes. They remind me that I have no one to share my desires with.

I don’t know how he does it. He’s so light and fun about sexual attraction. Meanwhile, it triggers self-doubt and insecurity for me. It makes me wonder if nobody will love me because I’m a short, femme, Asian fashion twink with resting bitch face. I’ll never be as much an object of desire as the guys on the street he points out or in the memes he sends. He seems puzzled that such things can make me spiral. 

ChatGPT gave me some advice that I do agree with: focus on personal growth instead of basing my self-worth on sexual attraction (I am a very horny person and I want everyone I find attractive to have sex with me). Recently, after setting some personal goals and deleting Grindr, I’m starting to feel better.

So, the question after all this buildup: Will I ever get to a place where I’m free from sex-induced insecurity? Is it possible for me to find a sense of lightness and fun in a sexualized world like my friend?

What do you think, Papi?

Insta Gayn’t

Hey there, IG!

You have a lot of nerve waltzing into my inbox telling me you came to ChatGPT first. What, is your new robot friend not good enough for you? Covering all your bases by asking flesh-and-blood Papi after consulting the Borg? Fine, but don’t come crying to me when the AI gets red-pilled and advises you to find a wife. You’ll be back. You’ll all come crawling back like dogs.


Not to sound like PapiGPT, but I’m about to say something I’ve said dozens of times before in this column. Are you ready for it? Here it comes: I can relate. I just put in an appearance on Fire Island (yes, they made the place from the movie real) and while I had a gay old time, it did stir up some long-standing anxieties I have about my appearances.

Before people were calling me “papi” on Grindr, I was a kid being regularly mocked for his looks. People really went out of their way, it seemed, to point out everything wrong with me. My weight, the shape of my head (?), my duck-footedness, my skin, I could go on. It’s stuck with me into adulthood. I struggle with “having a body.”

I never learned how to access that effortless appeal that I envy in the beautiful people around me. Putting on a sexy outfit, fixing my hair, taking a selfie, it all feels so effortful when I do it. I feel obvious and pitiable. On a place like Fire Island, where people go to see and be seen, it’s like I’ve been dropped into a hellish funhouse with those wacky mirrors. It makes me want to close my eyes.

This is, of course, something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. I feel awkward, I clam up, and nobody on vacation wants to spend their time working me out of my shell. Quite understandably. Meanwhile, it seems like everyone else is going home with someone, or bragging about getting a guy’s number, and I start to wonder what’s so uniquely hideous about me.

I managed this problem on the island by murdering every single thought in my head for three days straight. Seriously, when a thought of any kind came up, I drowned it. This isn’t a long-term solution, but on vacation, it works like a charm. Unfortunately, Fire Island isn’t the only place where I experience these anxieties. After many years of suffering, I think I’ve learned a few tips and tricks. If you’re open to comparing notes, I’ll share mine.

First, after careful observation I’ve all but confirmed that I seek validation from people I am least likely to get it from. If someone I consider “out of my league” reciprocates my interest, I look elsewhere. If you’re fundamentally unhappy with who you are, then this behavior makes sense. You’re not looking for connection with another person. You’re looking for a balm for the pain. Getting positive reinforcement from people who owe you nothing can soothe the bad thoughts for a while, but leaves you chasing it from someone else after you get it.

Second, it’s easy to assume that absolutely everyone around you is comfortable in their own skin, and you’re the lone outlier. This isn’t the case. My good pal on Fire Island pointed out to me that a lot of the ripped guys at the pool parties experience thoughts a lot like mine, that they are also seeking validation and feel dissatisfied with their bodies. I’m not saying other people being miserable should make you feel better, or that everyone is equally self-conscious. I only mean to say you’re never alone in these feelings and it’d be a mistake to assume they’re unique to you.

Third, I’ve found that I tend to separate my appearances from the rest of me. In other words, I objectify myself because I feel insecure specifically about my body. I don’t want to hear that I’m smart, or thoughtful, or talented. I want to hear that I’m hot. But the thing is, IG, it’s nice to remind yourself that you’re a package deal. The things you like about yourself, the things that make you feel confident, those are inseparable from who you are. Think of the things about you that make you feel powerful. Try to bring that feeling with you to more of your daily life.

Finally, remember that comparison is a thief. It wants nothing but your time and happiness. I often think to myself, “what’s mine is mine.” I don’t need as many Instagram followers as anyone else. I don’t need to have bigger muscles, and I don’t need as much attention on the dating apps. I have what I have, I am who I am, and it’s up to me to make the most of it. Is it always easy? No. But for my sake, I’m going to do my best.

Overall, IG, you should feel empowered to let your friend know you’re on a journey to improve your self-esteem and to cool it with the horny memes. If this is your bestie, he should understand you have needs and he should want to see you thrive. I get the sense you’d like to get to a place where you can meet him on his level without being anxious about it, so communicate that to him. Maybe he can even offer advice of his own. Do we still ask our friends for advice? Is it just robots and advice columnists now?

I’m kidding. Please keep asking me stuff. It’s my job, and I like to think I’m better at it than any AI in the game right now. To sum it all up, I guess my advice would be to focus on personal growth instead of basing your self-worth on sexual attraction.

Wow. I’m so good at this.

Con mucho amor,

Originally published on July 14, 2023.

This column first ran in John Paul Brammer’s Hola Papi newsletter, which you can subscribe to on Substack. Purchase JP Brammer’s book Hola Papi: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessonshere.

‘My Friend’s Hot-Guy Obsession Is Making Me Insecure’