Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Come On, Gay Men

The two issues that concern me most about the gay male community are substance abuse and promiscuity, both of which I've written about in other posts and attribute to low self-esteem, self-loathing, and internal homophobia.

My concerns are two-fold:

1).  We deserve better.  So why do we care so little about ourselves that we engage in conduct which is harmful--physically, not to mention psychologically and spiritually.

2).  Perception.  I worry about how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us when we have a reputation for drugging and whoring, yet some of us continue to perpetuate that through their actions.  

Whatever you might think of Michael Lucas, described by Advocate.com as a porn entrepreneur, you'd be hard-pressed to argue with his words in an opinion piece dated February 17, 2011.  Titled "Gays Need a Drug Intervention, Lucas's comment comes after the recent, highly-publicized drug bust on Atlantis's "largest gay cruise ever."

Lucas writes in part:

What makes this episode particularly unfortunate was the fact that the mainstream press caught wind of it, and the likes of CNN and the Associated Press aired our dirty linens at full mast. This endearing display of what it means when gays “party and play” comes at the same time we’re trying to convince straight society of how deserving we are of marriage and the right to adopt children. These drug-bust episodes only give comfort to our enemies, who seek to portray gay people as irresponsible, self-indulgent, and drug-crazed party boys.


Yes, these people are self-medicating away the pain from childhood scars left by bullying, abuse, and homophobia. Clearly, the only time they feel free is when they’re high on drugs. But enough is enough. We should tell our friends who do drugs that either they have to quit or we’ll have nothing to do with them anymore. We should tell them to get therapy, get sober, and get a life.

Some of the comments following the opinion piece give me pause--for example, Lucas is hardly one to talk about how the image of gay men is besmirched by drug busts on cruise ships, when he personally perpetuates the image of gay men as sex-crazed whores via the porn movies he produces and performs in.

Whatever you may think of Lucas, however, the fact remains drug abuse is a problem in the gay male community, and his going on record to say he's concerned and something must be done is, in my opinion, better than keeping quiet and turning a blind eye.  In other words, his comments are valid and need to be addressed.  

For some time, I've wanted to write on this subject and related ones, but I couldn't find the right context. That Michael Lucas publicly blew the lid off the prevalence drug addiction in the gay male community finally presented me with the opportunity I needed.  

In 2007, well-known comedian, actor, author, television producer, educator, musician, and activist Bill Cosby and psychistrist Alvin F. Poussaint wrote a controversial book titled Come On, People: On the Path From Victims to Victors.  In it, Cosby and Poussaint called upon African Americans to lose the victim mentality and to take responsibility for themselves.

Specifically, they asserted that if African Americans want to see a reduction in poverty, the incidence of broken families, crime, and a lack of education, among others, they must stop feeling sorry for themselves, stop thinking someone else is responsible for the situation they're in, and start making the changes they want to see in their own lives.  No longer should they rely on the good will of those sympathetic to their cause, Affirmative Action, or anything that gives them an advantage over anyone else.  They must do for themselves what they want and expect.

When I heard about the subject of Come On, People, the thought that first came to mind was, this applies to gay men, too.  Of course, the issues we face are not the same as those of African Americans, but, without question, we have our own issues, resulting in a similar victim mentality that has negatively impacted our life experience for decades.  

It's not difficult to understand why we have a victim mentality, given what Michael Lucas aptly describes as "...the pain from childhood scars left by bullying, abuse, and homophobia."  I went through it too, which I've written about in other posts here, so I understand how easy it is to get caught up in feeling society doesn't value you because of your sexual orientation; how, as a result, you've lost all sense of your own self-worth; and how you feel that if nobody cares, why should you, thereby opening a door to making choices clearly not in your best interest.  

But, I'm telling you, this isn't good enough.  It's not good enough for me, it's not good enough for you, and it's not good enough for our community.  And I want you to open your eyes and see that.  

At this point in your life, you may think you don't deserve any better than what you have. You may think you need to keep taking drugs to medicate away the pain.  You may think you need to keep sleeping around with multiple partners because no one will ever love you the way you want to be loved.  And you may think it's all right to have anal sex without taking the necessary precautions.

But you are wrong.  You are dead wrong.  And the time is right now for you to give your head a shake and realize that.  The time is right now to acknowledge you have a victim mentality, and that victim mentality has screwed around with your head and your life long enough.  

In my research on the Internet about what to do when you have a victim mentality, I found this article. I've read through it in detail and believe it could be helpful to anyone looking to get out of the rut of feeling powerless in his own life, feeling like the victim of everyone else's judgements, but, worst of all, the victim of your own judgements.  Check it out.

In the meantime, I'm compelled to say this as a much-needed slap upside the head:  Come on, gay men.  Come on.

Now is the time to do something constructive about the situation so many of us find ourselves in.  Now is the time to clean up our collective act.  Now is the time to respect and to love ourselves.  Now is the time to take responsibility for own lives.  Now is the time to take those first steps toward what we want most--whether it's to be clean and sober, to respect ourselves, to go back to school, to change jobs, to find someone to love us--whatever the case may be.

Now is the time to take gay to the next level:  to be everything we were meant to be, to never allow our sexual orientation, how others feel about us, or, worse, how we feel about ourselves, to stand in the way.  We need to get up on our feet, brush ourselves off, put the victim mentality behind us, and start living the way we were meant to live.  

Now is the time.  Now is way past the time.  

(To read all of Michael Lucas's opinion piece, click here.)


  1. Hey Rick - LOVED the article on victim mentality. Thanks for sharing!

  2. While drug abuse is a huge issue for all parts of society, and not just gay men on cruises, I agree that this is an issue worth talking about! Many young people are drawn to risky behaviours, and for some it can absolutely ruin their lives. We need more positive gay role models to look up to. Unfortunately Michael Lucas does not quite fit the bill. Rick's blog, and John Corvino, columnist, 365gay.com, provide better examples to follow.

  3. @Wendy: Thanks for your comment and support. You know I appreciate it.

    @Doug: You pack a lot of great points in so few words. Thank you for that.
    Your point about positive role models is an important one. I know they would have made a huge difference in my life, especially when I was in my twenties and trying to figure out who I was.
    And I so appreciate the shout out to my blog. Thank you for your kind words.

    Thanks to both of you once again.