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The Silent Epidemic in the Gay Community

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by confuseduser99, Mar 3, 2017.

  1. confuseduser99

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    BEFORE YOU COMMENT: Read this article. It's long, but 100% worth it: The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness - The Huffington Post

    This article struck a chord with me. Gay men in particular are among the highest population cohort to commit suicide. The article argues that while the gay community has made such great strides in the legal and social aspects of society, we have made our own community an intolerable, harsh, and cutthroat one.

    The author points out that many of us gay men are unmarried (the author is in his 30s), or not able to be in stable relationships. instead, gay men are likely to have more risky sex (as in, having more sex with a higher number of partners), abuse drugs and alcohol, and face higher levels of mental illnesses like anxiety.

    Here is a quote that really hit home for me:

    “It’s like you emerge from the closet expecting to be this butterfly and the gay community just slaps the idealism out of you... All of a sudden it’s not your gayness that gets you rejected. It’s your weight, or your income, or your race. The bullied kids of our youth grew up and became bullies themselves.”

    I largely agree with the viewpoints of the author. Gay men in particular are really nasty to one another. We judge each other, discriminate against each other (based on body shape/type, race, etc.), and use each other.

    What is the Empty Closet community's views on this?
     
  2. OGS

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    I read this article yesterday and found it really interesting. I have to say it hasn't been my experience at all, but it really did throw some light on some of what I've seen here on EC and made me feel even more fortunate to have had the experience I've had instead.
     
  3. Chiroptera

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    I think that an important question to think about when discussing the problems LGBT community faces is: Are these problems caused/increased by the prejudice, violence and fear we need to face everyday?

    In my opinion, yes. Our life is a constant fight for acceptance. It is ridiculous, but we need to fight just to have a normal life. And that is really stressful, and may explain why we are more likely to face problems.

    In resume: The problem isn't inherently related to being gay - The problem is the prejudice.
     
  4. guitar

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    I can only speak anecdotally, but it's been my experience that a lot of gay men don't marry and only date casually. This isn't to say it doesn't happen, I know quite a few happy gay couples. Sadly, they seem to be very much the minority. Maybe I just don't meet many gay couples (especially those that are married), but I know an awful lot of single and lonely gay men. Many of whom have mental health issues with anxiety, depression, substance abuse, etc. (the former 2 usually go hand-in-hand). It's an issue that I find myself grappling with as I approach my 30th birthday: will I be alone, and for how long? Will I find someone to marry?

    John Goode wrote at the end of one of his Foster High books that one of the possible reasons for this is the social stigma about being gay, coupled with most gay men not dating until University or later. This is in contrast with straight people; for it seems a much higher percentage of straight people start dating in highschool, thus enabling them to experience actually having relationships, and allowing it to be a normal part of their lives. He put it much more eloquently than I can, but it's definitely worth checking out - at the very least as an interesting hypothesis.

    I also think in general women are more predisposed to want long-term relationships. In conversations with a lot of my girl-friends, and some casual research on the subject, it seems that women will "put up" with more from their partner (such as laziness, being out of shape), just to maintain a relationship and sense of security. One study I'm aware of, for example, found quite a few gay men who had sex with 100+ partners, vs. lesbians who it was extremely rare to find a number that high. The overall average for gay men was much higher as well.
     
    #4 guitar, Mar 3, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2017
  5. MisterMissy

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    I was just having a discussion over some of these issues with my grandmother. That gay men tend to have far more partners and very little steady relationships. That it's more about the sex oftentimes than the intimacy. And the safety risks that being an openly gay person bring upon one's self.

    But, I can't help the way I am, none of us can. And yet it's somewhat disheartening to hear that this can be what a lot of the gay community is like, because I crave a meaningful, intimate, monogamous relationship. I always have. That's what I need and that's what I want. Which, if so many other gay men are having trouble finding who they need in their life, I guess that means it's going to be quite difficult to find someone who needs all the things I do. Nonetheless, I'm gonna go out there and try my best to find him, because I need him and he needs me. And we're gonna need the support in this crazy messed up world.
     
    #5 MisterMissy, Mar 3, 2017
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  6. photoguy93

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    I related so much to this. In my own life, I have amazing friends and a great family - however, in terms of my relationships and love life, I am alone on a fucking island! I've been thinking about it more recently because I've developed a friendship with a guy I have actually started to get some feels for (booooooooo) and since I know he doesn't feel the same back, I can only imagine it'll end at some point. Anyways!

    The article listed some great points but I really connected to the in-group discrimination section. I think that the cause of this loneliness can be partially placed at our doorstep.

    So many guys are either out for a quick romp or won't talk to anyone without visible abs and a ten foot dick.

    I handle it by totally ignoring the community and guys. I don't go to Pride, I could care less about it - I don't do anything with the community, frankly. It's hard to do so when you feel lonely and disconnected ---- so, it's a vicious cycle.
     
  7. HighQualityLog

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    I read this article earlier on another site, and it was quite interesting. It hit so many nails on the head. Besides the usual type of challenges we associate with being LGBT+, there is so much more than comes along with it. With gay men, this includes the need to fit in spaces both with and without other gay men. It is very true that gay men can be really unkind and judgmental to one another. Some of us make snide remarks about one another based on weight, race, and other factors. You feel stuck. It made me think about how growing up gay made me think the way I do sometimes and what challenges I faced.
     
  8. Chip

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    So much of this resolves back to shame. Gay men have a tremendous amount of self-hatred as a result of all the negative stuff we get from media, religion, culture, and so many other places. And this impacts self-esteem, which, in turn, causes us to put up barriers to intimacy... "If I don't let anyone in, I can't get hurt, so I'll just have random hookups, and dress provocatively so that people will pay attention to me, and I'll get my validation from that. Then I'll numb the resulting loneliness and unhappiness with drugs, alcohol, compulsive sex, compulsive exercise, or workaholism."

    It's no accident that all of these factors that are high in gay culture... suicide, drug use, various acting out behaviors... are all byproducts of shame, which at its root, is the deeply held belief that we aren't worthy of love and belonging.

    We feel lonely because we don't believe we're worthy of people to love us. So we isolate, engage in empty sexual experiences to (momentarily) gain connection, and if we do get into a relationship, many of us can't allow anyone to get really close, or we do the opposite and cling so hard that we push the other person away. And then the cycle starts again, and we replace loneliness with numbing.

    There are, of course, plenty of people who aren't on this merry-go-round. But that requires doing one's self-work, diving into the dark places of shame and self-loathing and working through them, and coming out the other side. And then finding others who have done, or are doing, the same work. These folks exist. It takes time to find them.
     
  9. guitar

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    Chip, on that note, even a LOT of straight men struggle with that, particularly intimacy. It's why men gravitate toward humor: it's a deflection from the fact that we suck at intimacy.
     
  10. mnguy

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    I was just going to post this article link since I hope everyone would read this so I'm glad it's already been posted. It is long, but worth it so maybe read it a little at a time if you don't have time to read it all at once. It explains a lot about my experience and by the sounds of it, most gay guys. Even today where we can get married and are more accepted, young people experience the same problems us older guys did and continue to experience. It covers a bunch of different aspects of gay life and problems we face coming out, socialization, depression, anxiety, loneliness, worthiness, suicide, drugs, sex, trauma, etc.

    It was really interesting and maybe someday we can get better, but all men and society needs to get over the impossible and harmful hyper-masculine standards we're told we have to live up to. Since I've become more aware of the danger of this message I see it in so much of the advertising, movies, TV, video games. Do you think the pressure to be more "manly" has gotten worse or better over the past decades? I wonder if the march to inclusiveness has sparked a backlash of aggressiveness.
     
  11. John C89

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    Reading this made me depressive and hopeless...even more :frowning2: :frowning2: :frowning2:
     
  12. pinkpanther

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    The pizza by yourself on a Friday night does right a bell. :slight_smile:
     
  13. OGS

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    I've spent a lot of time thinking about this article since I first read it, not because it struck a chord with my personal experience, but because it didn't. It doesn't represent my experience, nor really that of most of the gay men I know.

    To be honest, if I had read this back before I started here on EC I would have simply dismissed it. But I've seen so much here on EC that seems to match it so exactly. Indeed, I am a bit embarrassed to admit that before reading this article I was sometimes a little dismissive of those accounts on EC. My gut reaction was--where are you finding these awful gay men and why have I never met them?

    I've been an active member of the gay community since I wandered into my first gay bar after my first Pride Parade. Twenty-five years later I still have friends I met in that first trip out. From the first moment I felt welcomed in and found what I was looking for--which wasn't a date or hookup or even a boyfriend, it was my people. There were about 15-20 guys in that first group and they brought me in and showed me the ropes. There were brunches and parties and cheering on friend's sports teams and concerts and book clubs and evenings dancing. And we picked each other up when we fell down and cheered each others accomplishments. And, yeah, some of us slept around a fair bit and some of us didn't and there were boyfriends and breakups, and then more dancing.

    Even the dating didn't have the air of desperation that I hear so often now. I actively dated for about five years and to be honest... it was wonderful, and not just because it brought me to my husband. There were lots of sweet guys and kisses under the stoop. There were guys who sent flowers, guys who wrote me poetry, laying around all day reading one guy's comic book collection, the guy who sheepishly brought out the play he'd written. There were movies and dinners and ballgames, the guy who messengered me a care package when I was sick with the flu and he couldn't get out of the office and the guy who spent all day baking the saddest looking cake for my birthday. I suppose there were jerks, but I didn't date them.

    And over the years we all sort of coupled up and moved out of the 'hood and now most of us are married. And we're more likely to have brunch together than we are to go out dancing but still from time to time dancing happens... And I can't even think of it all without smiling. I grew up in the suburbs of Utah thinking I would be alone for ever, wondering if maybe I was the only one. And then I found them. And they were beautiful and courageous and kind and it was everything I hoped. Most gay men I know have more close friends than the straight people I know. My gut reaction upon discovering, or surmising, that someone is gay is still--oh, good, they're one of us. I've felt that way everywhere I've ever travelled and because of it I've always sought out the community wherever I go.

    And so I'm left wondering what's different. And part of me thinks it's generational, part of me thinks it's technological. We didn't have the apps, we had the internet but it wasn't really a factor. I remember back in the day someone trying to pick me up online and thinking--why would I do that when there are hundreds of guys live and in person just a few blocks away? We were all in--if you didn't screw up your courage and go where the guys were, well, you just never met them. I'm sure there were a lot of people who just weren't up for all that, and I imagine they were very lonely, but we didn't meet them. And it was us against the world, and on some level I'm sure that wasn't healthy, but it generated a very real esprit de corps which I think most men of my generation and beyond still feel.

    And so if this is where we've come to we need to be open about it. But we also need to be open about the fact that it's not how it is for everyone and it's not how it needs to be for anyone.

    Just my thoughts...
     
  14. John C89

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    I can see this happening between straight couples either, not the same way, but similar.... dating apps can be good for hook-ups, but I tend to think they are changing/ruining the old-fashioned style of relationships, especially monogamic ones....whenever problems arise, you just break up, and go to the ap for the next 'perfect one'. Still, relationships are made by good stuuf and challenges, and in the end of the day, I tend to believe it's an important component for contentment with life..... reading this article break my hopes into pieces....especially bc I didn't even started to accept myself and recognize I'm trully gay.....this is the type of stuff makes me fearful and very depressive about being gay :frowning2: