I won't be naive and write that I don't know what they're talking about, because I had the very same concerns they do, particularly when I was much younger and going through a difficult, and protracted, period of coming to terms with my homosexuality. At some point, I knew I was gay--I could no longer deny it--but I hated what appeared to go along with that: the lifestyle I'd have to live because I thought all gay people did.
And what did that lifestyle look like?
At breakfast this morning, I completed a short brainstorming exercise about what I thought typified the gay lifestyle, some of the more negative aspects that didn't appeal to me, and here's what I came up with, not an exhaustive list and in no particular order:
- Sex in public places (parks, washrooms, etc.)
- Substance abuse (cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs)
- No recognition of older gay people
- Overemphasis on youthfulness and physical beauty
- STDs, HIV, and AIDS
- Growing old alone
- Older gay men hitting on cute, young guys for sex
While some of these are part of the straight lifestyle, too (if there is such a thing), others are certainly specific to gay people, particularly gay men, and it should be no surprise that anyone on the verge of stepping out of the closet and walking into a full-blown gay life might have concerns about what course it's likely to take.
So, I'm here to tell you, after over twenty-five years of being an out gay man, that some gay men live a good proportion of the gay lifestyle outlined above for some or much of their lives, but it doesn't have to be that way. You do not have to be a part of anything that makes you uncomfortable, fails to conform to your moral code, or turns you off. In short, as a gay person, your gay lifestyle can be what you make it.
What you don't often see are all the gay people living and working in your own neighborhoods, who quietly go about their daily business, just like everyone else, drawing no attention to themselves, and having little to nothing to do with the stereotypical gay lifestyle. That's the great thing about being gay--no expectations to get married, have children, or live up to a heterosexual ideal, if you don't want to.
So don't think for a minute that, because you're gay, you'll end up alone and lonely; dependent on alcohol and drugs; looking for sex in places where it shouldn't happen; invisible and forgotten when you're older; sick and dying of AIDS. Millions of gay people today live happy, productive, fulfilled lives, in committed, long-term, and monogamous relationships. You just don't hear about them that much. In other words, they live like everyone else, like you're used to seeing people live, like you want to live yourself.
If you need more proof of this, take a look at other posts in this blog, particularly those under the heading "gay relationship." As much as I can, I try to live my life as an example of what's possible for you as a gay person, and I talk about it openly right here. I never wanted to be a part of the so-called gay lifestyle, and so I wasn't. You don't have to be, either.
Together, taking gay to the next level.