Saturday, January 15, 2011

What I Need to Say, Part Two

(If you haven't yet read Part One in this series, I strongly recommended you start there to get the context of what this is about.  Thanks.)


Our community is filled with single, lonely gay men, young and old.  In fact, I believe loneliness is an epidemic, whether you're gay or straight, young or old, male or female.  Whether we admit it or not, all of us most want to be with that special someone in our lives.  

Back in the late '80s and early 90's, Dale and I were two single, lonely gay men. We knew countless other gay men, all in the same situation.  We carried on like it was 1999, laughing, dancing, partying, but we were miserable.  We lived for the day when that special man rocked our world, took us away from ourselves, gave us a reason to live.    


Today is no different.  All you have to do is read some of the blogs gay men write--many of them looking, many of them hoping, most of them disappointed.      

Had there been blogs back in the day, I would have poured out all of my misery.  I would have described in detail all of the nights I spent at home alone, preparing dinner for one, watching TV by myself, going to bed alone.  Only to start the routine all over again the following day.  Not a lot of meaning in a life like that.

I would have described all the years of weekends I went to the gay clubs, hoping, praying, I'd meet someone who wanted to be with me, just as I was.    


The problem is, I didn't want to be with me, just as I was.  Where did I get off thinking anyone else would?


Here's the thing about relationships (gay or straight, I suspect).  We look to someone else to give us what we don't have ourselves.  

We think we can cover up what we lack.  We work out, fuss with our hair, dress fashionably, present ourselves as cool dudes, walking on the street or in the clubs or moving through life, giving everyone attitude, as though we're pretty hot shit.  When, as Dale used to say it, we're lukewarm diarrhea.

We hurt inside.  We long inside.  We're vulnerable.  We're still kids, really, looking for acceptance.  Looking to belong.  Looking for love.  


How much thought do we give to loving ourselves?   

Oh, we think we love ourselves.  In the unlikely event someone asks us, we'd say, of course we do.  Doesn't everyone?  It occurs to us any other answer makes us look pathetic.  We'd get that look.  What's wrong with him?  He doesn't love himself?        

When, in fact, we haven't given it much thought at all.  So intent are we to find someone to love us that we have neither the time nor the inclination--nor the awareness, really--to think about finding love within ourselves.  


And some of the things we do don't send the message to us or to anyone that we love ourselves.

Gay men in general have a reputation for having lots of sex, with people they know or don't know.  In city parks, in bathhouses, wherever it's convenient. What's going on here?  Do we blame the male sex drive, or is something else happening?  Maybe a bit of both.

For sure low self-esteem--a lack of love for oneself--is at the root.  I believe many gay men think so little of themselves, they willing give their bodies and their sex to others because that's all they think they have to offer.  Giving away one's body is easier than investing emotionally, right?  No fuss, no muss.

Or is it?  

Haven't we all seen those tired old queens, who had their fun playing around decades ago, now, still alone, still painfully lonely, in their 50s or 60s, desperately trying to hold on to what's left of their looks so they can still attract the young, cute boys? It's sad, really.  I feel sorry for them.        


What about taking risks during sex?  Barebacking, for example?  

A recent article in "Xtra!: Vancouver's Gay and Lesbian News" asks the question: "Relapsing on cocaine and having unprotected sex with multiple anonymous partners, or having unprotected receptive anal sex with a partner of unknown status--would you do something like that if you really cared about yourself?"

Of course you wouldn't?  Not if you think about it.  But many gay men do.  Why?  Why do you think?


And speaking of cocaine, what about smoking, drinking, and drugging.

It's all bad for you.  The list of smoking-related illnesses and diseases is as long as your arm.  The dangers of drinking, especially excessively, are well known--from liver disease to killing someone while driving drunk.  And drugs...they're just plain stupid.  Enough said.      

So why do so many gay men indulge in them?  I think it's because they don't care enough about themselves to care what happens to them.  Because they don't believe they're worth more, they don't believe they deserve to love themselves.

Perhaps pain is involved, the pain of being human, the pain, more to the point, of being gay.       

That's what I think.  I can't come up with any other reasons.


I'm haunted by what happened to Dale.  He died nearly eleven years ago, but not a day goes by I don't think about him and how much better he deserved.      

I'm haunted by what I see in the gay community.  Not a day goes by I don't think about all those men and how much better they deserve.     

Why is getting gay men to love themselves so important to me?  After all, I'm happy.  I'm in a relationship.  I feel pretty good about myself, after all these years.  Why bother writing this?  Why try to help?    

Because the world is full of men just like Dale, wonderful, funny, vibrant men who, honestly, hate being gay.  Because they've accepted the message being gay is bad.  And they now believe they are bad.    

They demonstrate how they've accepted that gay is bad through their homophobia toward other gay men--and, worse, themselves.  Through being promiscuous.  Through engaging in risky sexual behavior.  Through smoking, drinking, and drugging when they know they're bad for them.  And in many other ways.  

When you're filled with self-loathing, you make bad choices because you don't care.   When you love yourself, you make better choices--for your life, the community, and the world.      


2011 is our year.  

I'm calling for a movement, a revolution.  We've hated ourselves long enough.  It hasn't worked for us.  We've gained nothing from it.  The time has come to love ourselves.  The time is now.          

No more living unconsciously.  No more falling into the same old patterns of self-abuse, self-medicating with substances.  No more whoring around and having risky sex.

Give loving yourself a try.         

There's nothing we can't do when we no longer accept that we're bad or worthless just because we're gay.  We have so much potential, from building solid relationships to whatever we most want.  

But the movement, or revolution, I call for is not out in the streets of our cities and towns, demonstrating and rioting and drawing negative attention to ourselves.  It's a quiet revolution, a revolution from within, as Gloria Steinem puts it, within each one of us.  All change starts there.  We must respect, love, and believe in ourselves to make the change happen.    

This is the only way we can take gay to the next level, we can lift the experience of being gay.  Until we love ourselves, it ain't going to happen, folks.  It'll be more of the same damn thing.

But when we love ourselves, we're unstoppable.  Nothing is impossible.  I promise that.     


  1. Maybe hurting yourself is a way of feeling something. At least for me the worst feeling is emotionless.
    And maybe doing drugs, having loads of sex (or for me isolating myself from the real world to the safe kingdom of books) is to feel something. Hope of happiness. Hope of closeness. Hope of freedom from thoughts.

    Every person regardless of age is a student in a world. A young gay man learning from this homophobic world is to think there is nothing for him. Because he can not fit into a life full of predetermined way of happiness.

    But where to start when a heart is frozen? How to love yourself if a ice-protection is surrounding every feeling. I used to love taking pictures of nature. Not for the pictures. But for the emotion of it. I loved to write poems. These are simple things. But they need an open heart. But my heart has been closed. To simple things. To protect myself. From everything, even from good things. A frozen heart means frozen dreams. But dreams need to be dynamic: dreams need to change, adapt by how a dreamer feels.

  2. For me, the cure for a frozen heart was to be my own best friend. I imagined myself living with my best bud who needed cheering up. I dragged him out for a walk, I bought him a vitamin-packed smoothie, and treated him to an uplifting film. It wasn't easy being my own best friend, (especially since I was so moody) but I made it my "job." Day by day my heart did thaw, and other people became more drawn to me. No bad feeling can last forever, just all good feelings must fade as well. The best is to find a home for yourself in the middle.

  3. elevencats, you have written one of the most heartfelt and difficult comments I've received on a post. I thank you for you courage and your honesty.
    The pain you feel comes through so strong, and I relate to it, I really do. I understand it. I understand how you've felt you had no choice but to shut yourself off, even from those things that bring you pleasure and happiness.
    I cannot imagine all of the circumstances gay men and lesbian women might find themselves in that could lead them to feel as you do. I have only my own life and my own pain to draw from, and of course what I've witnessed in the lives of other gay people around me. I've seen the numbing you speak of, the need to feel something, anything, even if the source of it is bad for us, for the sake of feeling at all. This is an important point you raise, and I truly appreciate your insight.
    But here's the only advice I can offer. As I suggest in this post and others, we have no control over the outside world and how people respond to us. The only control we have--the only control we'll ever have--is over ourselves, is over how we choose to respond to those who would harm us, to those who hate us.
    The world is not fair; I'll be the first to admit that. Don't forget, I've been on the receiving end of it too, as a 51-year-old gay man. I've seen my share of negativity and hate. I've taken my share of shit.
    At the same time, I've made a choice to embrace my homosexuality and my life. I'll be damned if anyone will take me down with bigotry and prejudice. And, above all, I've made the choice to love myself. What other choice do I have? To be miserable and unhappy because I can't help being what I am, and because those in judgment of me would rather I be dead? Those are not options for me. And they must not be options for you, either. How much time have you wasted feeling the way you do? Let me answer for you: too long. Now is the time to see the good in your, the worthiness, and the power.
    Above all, you must rise above the shit, love yourself, and live your life fully. I mean it. You have two choices: hate yourself or love yourself. Despite everything going on around you and in the world, you must always choose love. It's really the only option.
    Perhaps you don't have the tools to do that. Perhaps you don't know where to start. I have another post prepared to lead you through that, based on the steps I took. I hope you'll find it helpful.
    My heart goes out to you. You can learn to love yourself. If I can, you can. Do it now.
    Thanks so much for your comment. You speak for many, many other people.

  4. Doug, what a beautiful thing to share. I see you feel elevencats's pain, too. I see you've felt what we all have at one time or another. And what you decided to do about it is commendable. I could not have said what you did any better. And I could not have made a better suggestion.
    Baby steps, man. That's all any of us has. The awareness we have a problem, the willingness to change, the motivation to move forward, the belief in ourselves, and the inkling of that first baby step we can take right now. You have offered the possibility of that first baby step in so many people's lives.
    Thank you, THANK YOU, for your insight and the generosity of your comment. You will help a lot of people with it.

  5. vreau o relatie sexuala de tip gay nammai facuto panacum dar snt foarte atras de barbati va rog sa fit iseriosi astept pe adresa de messenger poinariui

  6. in lutima vreme a mfost foarte curios de aceasta orientare sexuala ma masturbez gandinduma la o partida se sex cu un barbat ma excita forte tare de aceea as dori o relatie sexuala foarte tare!!!am tot incercat prinfel sifel de metode sa dau de cineva si namreusit poate prin acest intermediu pot gasipe cineva rog seriozitata astept pe adresa de messenger poinariui

  7. snt foarte interesat de o relatie sexuala tip gay nam mai fakuto pana akuma dar sunt foarte curios ma simt atras de un barbat snt din pitesti si am 21 de ani va astept pe idul meu demessenger poinariui

  8. Unfortunately, Anonymous, I don't know what language you've written in. I've used a language translator; however, this had limited success and wasn't coherent enough for me to understand. Please comment in English, if you can. Otherwise, I will be unable to respond back.
    Thanks for your interest in my blog.