Friday, November 29, 2013

Thought for the Day, #67

Next to accepting themselves and overcoming self-loathing, the single greatest challenge most gay men experience is finding a partner.

In my reading, I read these quotes from Andrew Holleran, well-known writer of the seminal Dancer of the Dance, published in 1978:

A friend of mine told me that a psychiatrist in New York once told him that whenever anybody walked into his office and said, "Oh, I want a lover and I can't find a lover," he'd say, "Oh, stop it.  If you wanted a lover, you'd have a lover."


In the end, the people who don't have lovers fundamentally at some level don't want one.  And so don't bitch about it.

Quotes taken from "Andrew Holleran," Something Inside: Conversations with Gay Fiction Writers, Philip Gambone, p. 179.

What do you think?  Is there some truth to Holleran's assertions?


  1. Okay, I'll bite (but only briefly...I could go on and on after a nudge like that). I wonder what the psychiatrist's relationship status was at the time he made that remark. And one must also consider the times. The '70s were known to be a time of sexual freedom when relationship may not have been as valued. I wonder if there was also some other judgment behind the psychiatrist's statement. Homosexuality wasn't entirely removed from the DSM until 1986 so he may have viewed his client as disordered from the outset.

    To be sure, there would have people then and now who didn't want commitment no matter what kind of front they put up. However, to generalize the statement to all single people is ridiculous. In the movies, dream it and it shall happen. In life, well, not so much. Luck (some who succeed would call it fate) plays a role in any kind of good fortune. Perseverance, optimism and effective communication are also factors and these are things a single person can reflect upon and look to improve.

    The comment blames the single person. When I read it, I hear my mother's voice rather than some unnamed psychiatrist. "You're just not trying hard enough. Are you eating too much? Don't you have friends with friends? You're not still wearing those shoes with the worn out soles, are you? I read in Ann Landers once that people judge based on your footwear. Why don't you give women a try?"


    1. RG, I didn't look at this quote like you did at all.

      What I imagined was a psychiatrist in an office, in a large centre with a big gay population, seeing one gay man after another, each complaining about the same thing: being single and wanting to be in a relationship. That would have been me twenty-plus years ago, although I would never have gone to see a psychiatrist about it. Eventually, he got so fed up that he began to give out the advice in this quote, which he probably believed, perhaps, as you point out, because he was already partnered himself and didn't understand why it was so difficult for his patients.

      At any rate, the minute I read this quote, I knew it was provocative. Which is, in part, why I decided to use it as a "Thought for the Day," I also decided to use it because I’ve heard from a number of gay young men, particularly in emails, who are single and really want to be in relationships. I thought that this quote, at the very least, would prompt them to think about why they’re still single, and to ask themselves if there’s anything they’re doing to prevent themselves from getting what they want most.

      I know, as you put it, luck or fate has been very good to me in the relationship department, and I never want to take that for granted or assume everyone will be similarly blessed. That said, I also think, at some level, there is truth in Holleran’s quote. I’m sure you'll disagree with me, but, while luck and fate definitely play a part, I also think we have some control over our destiny in this regard, for example, in how we see ourselves, and, as a result, how we project ourselves into the world and what choices we make.

      I know for a fact that, when I not only accepted my sexual orientation but also knew, without a doubt, that I deserved to be partnered and happy (there was a lot involved in this for me), things started to happen. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked myself why it didn’t happen before then, when I tried so hard to make it happen. And, in my case anyway, I believe the answer is, to some degree, because I got in my own way. Not to mention, I still had some fundamental things I needed to accept, learn, and change about myself.

      The bottom line is, I want every single gay person, who wants to be partnered, to find the love of his life. I’m not some relationship guru with all the answers–I wish I was. But if I can say one single thing, based on my own experience, that helps a gay man look at himself or his life differently, and that, in turn, helps him achieve what he most wants, then it’s all worth it. I know how love has transformed my life, and I want everyone else to know what that’s like too.

      Thank you for biting and sharing. I appreciate your interest and the chance to converse with you about this.