A date is a pre-planned social activity with someone you've just met that is expected to end in the bedroom (it might not).
When you're single, the date is often used as a "job interview" to see if you are compatible enough for a relationship.
But there doesn't have to be an anticipation of a relationship. I have dated guys when we both had permanent partners. The date is an enjoyable event all by itself:
You get to know someone for the first time
You go to new places and try new things (or see the old places through new eyes).
And the bedroom is far more erotic, because it might or might not happen. Far different from the sure thing of the hookup.
Since I moved to West Hollywood in 1985, I've gone out on a date about once a week when I'm single, and about once a month when I'm in a relationship. That's about 400 first dates. Here are my favorites:
1. Fred the Ministerial Student. Dinner at a Chinese restaurant -- almond chicken and fried rice. Flushed with anticipation. Incredibly nervous. In the 1970s, you didn't come out randomly, so I wasn't sure that it was a date, or even that Fred was gay, until we got back to his apartment.
2. Dr. Bertan, the most conservative professor on campus. It was just dinner at the Cafe Etoille, browsing at the Different Light, and a stroll through West Hollywood, but after spending all year trying to land him, it was quite a triumphant moment.
the Thug on My Sausage List. A drive to the south side of Los Angeles, which wasn't nearly the war zone the media depicted. I met his mother. He cooked dinner. We watched tv. Cozy, homey, domestic. And he had a Mortadella+.
4. My second date with Raul. I invited him over for dinner with Alan, who monopolized the conversation and cruised him extensively. I thought he he had gone to the Dark Side and went to bed alone. Then he climbed into bed with me:
"Man, that Alan...talk, talk, talk, I mean, it was interesting, but come on, man! I'm on a date!"
5. My first date with my Celebrity Boyfriend. I had lived in West Hollywood for 1 1/2 years and met several celebrities. I had lunch with Michael J. Fox. But here was a guy I had watched on tv and read about in teen magazines, inviting me home! I tried my best to play it cool, but inside I was a screaming fanboy.
6, Ryan: The Worst Date in West Hollywood History. Everything went wrong, from rain to missed connections to a towed car. At the time it was awful, but I enjoy telling the story.
6. Troy, the nastiest guy in the world. He tricked me into the date, which was just dinner at an Indian restaurant and watching tv. But it was memorable because of the sharp contrast between his nice "real self" and his snarky online persona.
7. Victor, the slim, smiling twink from Brazil. Dinner at a Brazilian restaurant, a walk along the beach, then back to his place for dessert, where he turned out to be the drag queen Miss Chita Taboo.
Well, I couldn't back out when he was already naked. Besides, he was very nice, very eager to please, and a Bratwurst+.
8. Tom, the Log Cabin Republican twink. Going undercover at his country club was a riot. I got to meet his parents and his high-society friends while spinning tales about "my wife" not feeling well. Unfortunately, the closeted act started wearing a little thin by the second date.
9. Sam, the son of Mr. Blowfish, my old high school speech teacher. We spent the day together, touring Mount Vernon, Iowa, where he was a professor in the heart of the straight world. He was very lonely, and very attentive. First and only time I did anything in a professor's office.
10. Ari, the linguist who wouldn't shut up. Dinner at an upscale hot dog place, shopping at a gay clothing store, cruising, and then back to his apartment. Memorable because we supposedly had everything in common, but he was actually intensely boring, talking nonstop about obscure grammatical structures of obscure languages. Nice in bed, though. #6 on my Sausage List.
11. Austin, the high school boy who cruised me while I was jogging. He said he was a sophomore. In college, I assumed. So I made a date with him. Then internet sleuthing revealed that he was actually a high school sophomore, 14 or 15 years old!
Of course, I didn't go through with the romantic part of the date. But I did take him to dinner. Then I dropped him off at the Zone, a LGBT youth space, where he met a guy his own age. I'm proud of the way I handled the situation.
12. The Rich Kid, leader of the Gang of Twelve, who had all known each other forever and dated each other on and off. Dinner at a very expensive restaurant, then to his family's summer house. Used to being in charge, and it was fun hearing about the Gang of Twelve.
13. The Satyr, a chubby bear in his 60s, who knew everybody and had done everything, and had a gigantic Kovbasa+. But what made the date memorable was meeting his roommate/ assistant/houseboy Chad, a cute Asian twink. We dated for several months.
14. My second date with Scott, the youngest guy I've ever dated, a 22-year old theater major with a professor fetish (I had just turned 54). Dinner at an Indian restaurant, Chicago on DVD, and a lot of "Take me, Professor!" Good for the ego. Except my name isn't "Professor."
15. Andy, who had cerebral palsy, my "penance" for chickening out on the Gay Psychic Angel. I thought I was doing him a favor for dating a disabled person, and he thought he was doing me a favor by dating an "old guy."
See also: 15 Simple Rules of Gay Dating.