August 28, 2015 at 2:14 pm EDT | by Michael Radkowsky
The curse of being gay?
being gay, gay news, Washington Blade

Being gay often does make life harder.

Dear Michael,

 

I’m a 26 year-old gay man, working in D.C., good at my job, acceptable looks, have some friends, date occasionally, but I’m not happy. I don’t really like being gay.

 

I haven’t told any of my friends about my feelings because I know they are really un-PC, right? There’s the “It Gets Better” campaign, gay marriage, gays in the military, the total uncoolness of homophobia, etc. Being gay is supposed to be terrific, but I don’t think it is. It makes my life difficult.

 

My family is pretty conservative Southern Baptist and while I am out to them, they make it clear that they are disappointed in me and disapprove of my being gay. Most of my friends are superficial. They put a lot of energy into the gym, clothes, and hooking up, and also act really bitchy, like they’re on a reality show trying to get laughs. I’d like to hang with gay guys who have more serious interests but can’t find them.

 

I’m tired of the gay dating scene being so hookup-oriented and I’m sick of the stereotypes. People act surprised that I like to play basketball and have no interest in “Project Runway.”

 

I don’t know how to be really happy about being gay when there is so much baggage attached. Am I the only guy struggling with this?

 

Michael replies:

No, you’re absolutely not the only guy struggling to make peace with being gay.

Yes, being gay often does make life harder. We live in a predominantly heterosexual world with a lot of heterosexism and homonegativity. So most everyone who isn’t straight has to figure out how to feel OK with themselves.

Some of your concerns may be easy to remedy, so let’s start with those.

If you don’t like the guys you hang out with, why are you spending time with them?

True, there are a lot of superficial horndogs out there, but there are also guys who are thoughtful and interested in more than casual hookups.

How do you think you might be able to meet them?

Dating/hookup sites can sometimes lead to good friendships and serious relationships, but what about looking for real-life connections through pursuing your interests? You may meet like-minded men by doing what is enjoyable and meaningful to you.

As far as your family goes: It is heartbreaking, and unfortunately not an uncommon experience, that they are putting limits on who you must be in order to be loved by them. It seems to me they want to shame or guilt you into recanting being gay. As if sexual orientation is a choice.

I’m not suggesting you should be angry at your family. I’m raising these points to help you consider how your family’s judgment has likely infected your own sense of self-worth.

Given your family’s background, it may be a big leap for them to adjust to your being gay.  The best you can do is to be loving toward them, hope they will open their minds over time and make efforts to educate them.

Of course, for you to have a chance at ultimately influencing your family, you need to do everything you can to feel good about being a gay man. Start challenging your negative feelings by finding positive role models. There are many in our history. Inspire yourself by reading about the long struggle for gay equality. Find yourself a gay-positive therapist to work with. Join a gay men’s support group to broaden your network and bolster your sense of who you can be.

Finally, as far as gay stereotyping goes, I agree with you, it’s tedious and insulting. Right now your work is to pull yourself together and feel good about who you are. When you’re more solid, you’ll recognize that other people’s ignorance has nothing to do with you and need not interfere with your living a full and satisfying life.

 

Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with gay couples and individuals in D.C. He can be found online at personalgrowthzone.com. All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to Michael@personalgrowthzone.com.

7 Comments
  • Of course he should be angry at his family. What kind of mealy mouthed b.s. is this? They are bigots, and he’s internalized their hatred.

  • Lots of options to socialize with other gay guys who share an interest with you in DC. TeamDC is an umbrella org for gay sports groups. I’m sure you can find one or more that will interest you. The Gay Men’s Chorus or the Different Drummers are good if you’re musically inclined.

    There are also numerous accepting churches that can help you deal with your feelings from your evangelical upbringing. They can also help you with educating your family.

  • I really hate the idea that because you are a gay man, you need to segregate yourself within the confines of gay friendships, hookup lifestyle, and trying to live up to all the negative stereotypes.

    Yes, it is hand being a minority, but it doesn’t have to be. First, surround yourself with people, gay and straight, who will support and improve your life; people who are positive and actually care about you. Second, don’t be afraid to pursue your passions and interests regardless of what gay or straight folks expect. Life is too shot for that, so don’t short change yourself. Third, family is not defined by blood. There is a huge difference between relatives and family. Family are the people who love you unconditionally, who want to see you grow and be happy. If your relatives are so retrograde in their thinking they cannot see past the small facet of your Sexuality, then they do not deserve your attention no matter how painful it is for you to distance yourself from them.

    It’s easier said than done, but know that you deserve love and respect. You are in control of your life, so don’t let anyone keep you from being happy.

  • I’m a gay guy in DC and I know what you’re talking about. I have non-gay interests and non-gay friends and it makes it hard to meet guys beyond the bitchy, superficial, hook-up kind of crowd. I can say Different Drummers is a good organization, but I don’t know anything about the sports ones since I’m not interested in sports. I am, however, planning on running with FrontRunners soon, though.

    Us normal guys are out there! Just get past the stereotypes and talk to people… Sometimes we just seem stereotypical and in an effort to fit in with forget to express our more unique interests.

  • I know what you’re talking about. I have non-gay interests and non-gay friends and it makes it hard to meet guys beyond the bitchy, superficial, hook-up kind of crowd. I can say Different Drummers is a good organization, but I don’t know anything about the sports ones since I’m not interested in sports. I am, however, planning on running with FrontRunners soon, though.

    Us normal guys are out there! Just get past the stereotypes and talk to people… Sometimes we just seem stereotypical and in an effort to fit in with forget to express our more unique interests.

  • I’m a bisexual man with a prefetence for men so I have lived an almost exclusively gay lifestyle for over 20 years. I’ve always preferred the company of straight men (presumably because I don’t do show tunes) and to make matters worse, I secretly desired a straight boyfriend. Armchair gay pop-psychologists cut from the same cloth as those who used to deny the existence of “real” bisexuals are quick to conclude this is due to inner homophobia. I’ve discovered a workaround. My advice to anyone who cannot contort themselves to fit into one of the available provincial pigeonholes is to move to a place where the lines are less black and white and people are more tolerant. Outside the USA was necessary for me but things have changed a lot in the USA over the past 15 years so that might not be necessary today.

  • My name is Mark. At 26 I had a lot more brakes then you. My parents excepted me I had a good job, an apartment and I Hand met my first lover. Fast forward I have been in a 30 year relationship and we just married last March. We reached all of our dreams and are retired. It will get better, Michael gave you a lot of good advise. You have to make it work. I sometimes write a column for a local paper. Its funny when you take a public stand for what you truly believe not everyone agrees with you, at my age that’s supper hard to take. But I’m not giving up and hope you won’t give up rather. I know one day your dreams will come true too, just give it a little more time. GOOD LUCK!

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