Thursday, March 24, 2011

Kick Ass

WTF.  I thought things had gotten better for gay men since I was young and single, but I see they haven't.  It's time to get real, guys.  If there's ever been the need for a kick in the ass, it's right now.

Back in the day, I was not pretty and I was not hot.  I may have had youth on my side, but that was fast waning.  Thirty was just around the corner, and I was still single.  You know what that means.  My currency as a gay man was about to plummet, just like the stock market in fall 2009. I dreaded turning three decades old.  I thought that was it for me, I'd be alone and lonely for the rest of my life.  And I was only thirty.  Unbelievable.

Meeting someone I might want to spend my life with?  What a joke.  Oh, it's not for a lack of trying, believe me.  I put myself out there as much as I could. There weren't many places for me to meet other gay men, so I spent plenty of time at the clubs, hoping someone just like me would be there, someone who was looking for me as much as I was looking for him.

You know what I met instead?  Attitude.  Lots and lots of attitude.  From punks who I see now were so insecure about themselves, they covered it up by being nasty and bitchy. There's nothing worse in the gay community than a cute, young, gay asshole who thinks he's so much better than everyone else. Scratch the surface, and they're nothing but scared little kids.  Not worth the time of day.

In David Michael Connor's March 23 commentary on titled "The Trouble With Happy Endings," he writes Dan Savage's It Gets Better project sends the wrong message to today's gay youth.  School and "torture" may end, Connor writes, but " gay men can have a tendency to act just like those bullies in high school--maybe not physically, but the emotional effects can be the same."

Single, Connor will be thirty-three next month.  He lives in the gay village in Washington, DC but has no friends in the neighborhood.  He thinks he's probably unattractive to other gay men because:  1).  his face is pock-marked from bad acne when he was a teenager (you can't tell from his picture); 2).  he's not straight-acting (that is, he doesn't try to butch it up for the benefit of others); and 3).  he's not athletic or muscular (read: hot).  (Unfortunately, he admits to being "snarkastic," "always on the defense," and he has a few bad habits not helping his case.)

My point is this:  What the fuck is wrong with us?  We take all the crap in school only to give it out to our own after we graduate?  Have we learned nothing about how it hurts to be treated like shit?  Do we really think by being decent and pleasant and humane to another gay man, we'll have "Fatal Attraction" on our hands?  Really?

I'm worked up about this, yes, because I can't tell you how many times I was on the receiving end of the exact same bullshit.  All I had to do was glance at some of these fags, in the bar, on the street, at the mall, and I knew from the dirty looks I got they didn't have the time of day for me--a lower life form, no better than the fifty-somethings who trolled the clubs or public washrooms in malls to pick up boys.  Man, they thought they were such hot shit, but I wouldn't rate them lukewarm diarrhoea.  How I'd like to kick their sorry asses today.

What occurs to me, if you want to treat people like that, is it will come back to you.  I promise. You put out that attitude, you get it back--somehow, someway, someday.  You will.  You may just find yourself over thirty years old, alone, and wondering what went wrong, why you're not so appealing anymore, why all the boys aren't clambering for you.  And you'll get no pity from me.  

To those of you victimized by these fools, don't despair.  I was in my early thirties when I met my partner, Chris, and we've been together nineteen years. But the door with Chris behind it didn't open until after I began to see my self-worth, stopped trying so hard, obsessing about being alone, and realized I didn't need anyone in my life after all.  I really didn't.  I was all right all by myself.

And to those who continue to victimize the rest of us, by thinking your shit doesn't stink, go clean your pants.  My footprint's on your ass. 


  1. You know Rick, I love your heartfelt commentary...but I reaaally love it when you get mad! I think well placed, well managed vitriol is what makes change happen, it's what makes little old black ladies refuse to sit at the back of the bus in the 50s, its what made those angry men bust out of the paddy wagons at the Stonewall Inn, and it's what motivates people today...I dearly hope some pretty, young things read your post, and absorb your message. Just like the Queen Bee girls in high school learn, beauty is fleeting, character is forever.

  2. Sarah, I thought this might come across as over the top, but I was willing to take that chance. I'm usually so controlled, trying to see the positive in everything (at least lately), but I'm so fed up with how some gay men treat other gay men, especially since it happened to me, too. I know firsthand how they feel.

    And it's not getting any better, which really pisses me off. Like David Michael Connor wrote in his article, you can only go so far trying to improve your own circumstances. Then you're at the whim of what the gay community deals out. And, sometimes, it's not very nice and has the same effect as being bullied by someone in high school. This has to stop.

    As I write this, there are wonderful, vibrant, funny, and sexy older gay men out there (anyone over thirty?), who are all but ignored by some other gay men, both young and old. It's like straight men going through male menopause--older women are no longer interesting to them; they have to go after the young chicks. So the young want the young, and the old want the young. Whatever.

    What's up with our fixation with youth, especially the gay community? If we're lucky, we get to be old, and become the best versions of ourselves, who we're really meant to be.

    If I may presume to speak for older gay men, enough is enough. Get your heads out of your asses, guys, and see what really matters. Yes, youth is fleeting, but real love, the only thing that has any meaning, is forever.

    Whew! I think I'm done. I hope I am.

    You have no idea how much I appreciate your support and encouragement. Thank you so much, Sarah.

  3. Brava Rick!

    Unfortunately, it's like that with Lesbians too, in terms of popularity at least.

    As someone is officially 'old', at 31, I'm a pariah.

    As someone who is 31 and completely comfortable in her own life, I also can't give two flying fucks.

    However, you've made very valid points.

    It's always amazing to me how a segment of marginalized individuals can make such concerted efforts to further marginalize. It's so sad.

    I hope that we can permeate the ignorance and really express more understanding and equity among all humanity, not just the LBGT community.

  4. Heather, I'm so disappointed to learn many lesbians have the same hang ups with age. Wow! I had no idea. I didn't mention it in the post because I didn't think it was true, because I thought our sisters were more evolved than that. But thanks for letting me and my readers know. (Come to think of it, doesn't our culture have a problem with aging, too?)

    One of the things I enjoy doing--yes, that's the word, enjoy--is holding up a mirror to the gay male community and demanding it take a look at what we do to each other. What I don't think many realize is, when we do it to others, we do it to ourselves. It's only a matter of time before we get back what we give out. Ah, karma.

    I think part of "elevating the experience of being gay" is exposing the skeletons in our closet, those things that are not so pretty about us, and urge us to do better. Sure, we have pressures on us from society in general. But the only way we're going to improve is if we tackle our own issues, from the inside. Call me an instigator, I guess, but we deserve it.

    Thanks for your interest in what I write and for your contribution to a greater understanding of each other.

  5. I'd say you were pretty lucky not to have been accepted by those superficial guys. You might not have met Chris otherwise. It's better to know upfront who you are dealing with. At least they didn't pretend to be nice to hide their true characters : ) Anyway, why waste your time worrying about what the shallow and insecure people think.

  6. Amen, Doug. Although, at the time it happens, it's pretty crushing, because we all want to be accepted, and we might think if our own don't accept us, who will?

    But you are quite right. When I look back at who I could have ended up with--even those who did pay attention to me, for a short while anyway--I'm so grateful things didn't work out. The love of my life is light years better than any of them were. He has so much more character and substance. I ended up with a quality human being, the best possible person for me, not some egotistical flake. And, for that, I am grateful.

    As always, your comment is insightful and appreciated. Thank you.

  7. Hi Rick, I found your blog through ChaoticGRRL and Neal.

    I do notice that kind of attitude in the gay bars, and yes, it is a pain. But at this point I'm not particularly ready for a long term thing and it really doesn't matter if I hook up on a night out. I'd rather be by myself in the corner sucking on bottles of Alpine and watching everyone go by rather than hook up with a creepy old guy who I have nothing in common with just to get laid.

  8. A different form of ass-kicking. This time me doing the ass-kicking to myself.

    How I dream my life will be in 20 years time

    I have my doctorate degree in education and I am a school teacher in Tartu, additionally giving guest lecture series to young teachers at the university.
    I live in a flat with my lover of ten years, a wonderful man who did not give up, who insisted that I need to be by his side and that together is the only way both of us can live a full life. I love the fact that I met a man who already had a child, because I had always wanted to create a family of my own. Being a step dad to a person that is a shining light in our days is more than a dream come true. Our child learns from us but truth be told we learn from him every single day.
    Yes, I have seen hardships in life and gestures of cruel people, some being closest to me but I have never given up on love. And I have understood that I am a gifted person: I have a gift to concentrate on something I want and I have a determined heart . I have the desire to always make the seed become a flower.
    I had a wish when I was young: to write a book about the waves that have always lived inside me. I started writing this biography when I began studying at the university. I have opened myself in form of writing as I had never before done to anyone until I met my partner. This is a story how I learned who I am and how I found myself to be lovable. This creation is a mixture of poems, short stories, articles, videos, daily thoughts colored with pictures taken by me. Pictures are important not because they remember things that happened but because they contain the emotions I had. The reason itself why I need to take pictures.
    I am happy because I have known love, pain, laughter, anger, desire and most importantly the energy of life. This is what I discovered: I started understanding why we learn how to control our gifts. It is because it gives us the opportunity to create this happy place whenever we need it. Same for pictures: you have to know the techniques but the main is to know how to give an evergreen fragrance to my emotions that I need to heed to.
    I dreamed of a lovable work, a lover and a child. This is what life gave to me. It did not just happen. It happened because I did something with my life sometimes even not knowing where it would lead me to. I flourished when I understood I could be in love with my life even as a gay man. I needed to enhance myself in every aspect of my life, I needed to learn how to exist and how I can change what is changeable. Also understanding what I needed to change because of myself.
    It is how I became me. And now in the beginning of my forties, I can truly say that I feel like a child. So full of life and always needing to show the people around me how I feel. I learned to speak, not only with words but also with my emotions.


  9. That's lovely Elevencats, I hope it comes true for you.

  10. @A Strange Boy: Welcome aboard the self-esteem express for gays and lesbians. It's great to have you join us.

    One of the things I used to do night after night at the clubs, when I was much younger, of course, was people watch. Beyond enjoying the music (which, in my opinion, was much better then than it is now), watching the different archetypes was both fascinating and engaging. I learned so much watching people.

    And, if I may say so, I'm proud of you for thinking enough of yourself not to hook up with someone just for the sake of not being alone. Good for you. A young gay man with self-respect. You should be proud of yourself, too. Never compromise yourself.

    I hope you stop by often to take a look at what we're discussing. I'm afraid the post you read is not my representative self. I was pissed and I needed to let it out. I think you'll find I'm usually much more agreeable. I invite you to take a look at what else I've written here. Let me know if you find something else that interests you.

    @elevencats: I LOVE the vision you have for yourself in the future. It's filled with beautiful images--being fulfilled in your career teaching; believing the only way to live a full life is with your partner; being parents together (remember, even if he doesn't come with a child, you can still have a child together in other ways).

    In particular, I love your vision to be a writer. Let me tell you, I don't think I've done anything more worthwhile in my life than write, and, when you think what you have to say might just be helpful to someone else, well, it doesn't get any better than that.

    If you're not writing your life story now, in one way or another, you should start. The best place to start is with a blog. Please read my post "Why I Blog." You will understand why I feel so strongly about this opportunity.

    I see a lot of idealism in your vision, but, honestly, there's nothing wrong with that. Youth is about idealism. Reality can often be different, but, if you don't dream in the first place, you'll never reach the heights you were intended to. Reach for the stars, elevencats, and never settle. I pray you will be as happy as I am as an older gay man with a life partner. I live a blessed life, indeed.

    (I also love the way you used the idea of kicking ass as it applies to yourself. Nicely done. Sometimes, we need to do that, don't we? Gets us on the right path.)

    My thanks to both of you for your comments and contributions to this discussion.

  11. About my story: yes, it is a dream-like state where all is perfect. Sometimes I need it. I wrote it when I had to study something really hard and unpleasant, I just did not find the strength, everything was in a haze and then I took a peace of paper and wrote this story. By writing that, I regained the energy needed for studying and something hard became easy.
    I understand that these ideas of mine will most probably not come true. They will come true but in a different form. In a way that I can't anticipate. I think in life we get what we get not what we want but this does not mean that what we get is bad. What we get is in a way perfect just for me.

    I think that when I read a book I can only understand what I know. For example, when Virginia Woolf describes the dawn of a new day I can only know what it is when I have seen how the sun rises from the sea. I write because in that way I can document everything I feel at the moment. Later, after life has given me some lessons, I can come back to what I have written and understand it for the first time: "But the added benefit of keeping a blog was, it helped me to sort through all of the things floating around in my mind for a long time.  It focused my attention and my writing on subjects that were a part of who I am, but it also helped me to differentiate between what I thought was important and what really was.".
    I often feel like I am rewriting myself, the same thing in a row, week in week out. Nothing has changed. Until I suddenly discover that I am writing something new. It means that I have understood what I wrote and now have new questions to put on paper. ("I know, I know, frequent readers may get tired of the same message, but my hope is something I've written that didn't resonate with a reader in the past will resonate with him today, because I've put it in a slightly different form, or used different words or examples, thereby encouraging him to take those first steps toward self-acceptance and self-love.")
    Thirdly, I write because I often do not understand what I write (read: what I feel). I used to just write them in a document and never posted them anywhere. I reckon it is caused by my nature: I keep my emotions within and I am not comfortable about sharing my emotions. I feel like that my problems are only my responsibility and therefore I should not burden others.

  12. Elevencats, we have an expression in the West (perhaps you've heard it). It goes: Can't see the forest for the trees. In other words, we get so caught up in the immediate details of what's going on around us, we fail to see the bigger picture.

    I suspect that's what you're talking about in your first paragraph. To your credit, you've sat down and written your vision--so you don't get lost in the trees, so you keep your focus on achieving the life you want most. That's an important and worthwhile thing to do.

    You often criticize yourself for not being bright, but you're a lot brighter than I was at your age. I wasn't thinking about whatever happens to me may not be what I want, but it will be what's best. It took me a while to get that message, but I see it's true. Everything happens for a reason.

    From your comments, starting with the first one some time ago, I learned you are a thoughtful, sensitive, and insightful young man--great traits to have if you want to be a writer. I hope you will continue with your interest because words are powerful and have the potential to change lives.

    Thanks for reading my post "Why I Blog," and for reflecting back at me what I wrote, which obviously applies to you, too. If nothing else, I hope my blog inspires you to write about anything and everything, in an effort to understand yourself better and to help others understand themselves.

    Thank you so much for your comment. I really appreciate hearing from you.