Dinner parties are a crucial aspect of gay guy society. As a way to see old friends, talk about real estate or coming-out novels, or, for the single gay guy, possibly meet a boyfriend, the dinner party is unbeatable.
If you are invited to a dinner party at the house of a gay guy (or more likely, the house of two gay guys) it is crucial not to arrive empty-handed. Always ask what you can bring. If you are told to bring something specific, bring it. If you are not told to bring something specific, bring wine. If you are told not to bring anything, bring wine. You will never be told not to bring wine.
While the dinner party is a wonderful environment for conversation, that is almost never the main reason for a gay guy dinner party. Gay guys generally throw dinner parties for one of two reasons: to show off some fabulous aspect of their lives, or to find a boyfriend for a single friend. And sometimes both.
In the first case, flattery is important, and whenever possible should be sincere. Details are what matters here: don’t say “this soup is good”, say “the crimini mushrooms in this soup are wonderful.” If you don’t know what crimini mushrooms are, say “what are these wonderful mushrooms?” Your host(s) will always appreciate food compliments. But they will appreciate complimenting their possessions at least as much as complimenting their food: on the table take a serious look at the glassware, silverware, plates and tablecloth (if any). Do any of them appear antique, imported, or campy? If so, comment on it: “These plates are beautiful! How old are they/What country are they from/Where on Earth did you find Tinkerbell dinner plates?”
The second case is more delicate. If the host(s) are smart, they will have invited a number of single gay guys and just enough couples to keep it from being mortifyingly obvious that they are trying to set someone up. In such settings, it’s considered poor form to comment on recent breakups or first dates, or how difficult it is to find a boyfriend these days, as this will only add pressure to the single guy in whose honor the dinner party is being thrown. Instead, keep the conversation to noncontroversial topics (such as coming out novels and real estate) and if you see two of the single guys talking to each other, don’t interrupt. Or, if you happen to be talking to one of the single guys and another one comes over and joins the conversation, wait until the conversation is flowing, then excuse yourself.
Your behavior during the dinner party is important, but so is your behavior afterward. No thank you note is too precious for a gay guy dinner party. Handwritten, hand-stamped and mailed the day after (even if that’s a Sunday) is the best way to go. Always comment on a specific detail (e.g., crimini mushrooms, Tinkerball dinnerware) and express hope that the same group can be assembled again soon. Never ask about whether any of the single guys hooked up in writing, though feel free to do this over the phone or email after the thank you note has been sent.
Following those simple rules (wine, complimenting details, never interrupting two single guys talking, and thank you notes) will ensure you further dinner-party invitations, and eventually you may feel comfortable giving one on your own. Have fun!