Matthew

Every Gay Guy I Knew Wanted to Be Someone Else...And That's Not OK.

I'm coming up on 30 years of age.

With that milestone, comes some thinking about life and love and relationships. A little self-reflection as I reach this life passage. And with that in mind, I turn my thinking to the body image issues that have come to define a good portion of gay culture.

It seems we are always striving to be someone else.

We want to be skinnier, we want to be more muscular. We want to be hairier, we wish we weren’t so hairy. All this lies in the thought that if we aren’t these things, if we don’t fall into these categories, or look a certain way, we will not find the connections we want so badly. We will be outcast, set aside, and live a life of loneliness.

The truth is, though: Everyone is different. That’s for sure. But of course, not everyone thinks this way. I look at some of my friends, and I see a lack of confidence in who they are. I've seen it consistently over the years: in boyfriends, in acquaintances, in countless others.

~~~

In New York City, every gay guy I knew wanted to be someone else. You walk into the bars, and it’s a sea of up-down looks, men sizing each other up, and deciding if you were good enough for them to deign to speak to you.

We don’t respect ourselves enough.

I think that’s the thing. Gay men put these prerequisites on each other, these pillars you have to reach. You aren’t heavy enough for me, you aren’t skinny enough for me. If you want me to like you, you’re going to have go to the gym and get that belly toned. You need to change the way you dress. 

And we don’t just do it to our partners, we do it to our friends. We constantly compete. We're constantly judging each other. It’s rampant, and in fact, it’s toxic.

What’s the goal? What are we running to? What do we get out of this? What is all this really doing for us?

I would argue it is doing very little. It’s squashing our self-esteem, it’s killing our confidence. We walk on eggshells, as that is too often the only life we know.

~~~

Think about how you are in your friend groups. Are you guys talking about real issues, really trying to understand each other? Are you arguing, debating, sharing your passions? Or do you spend more time fixated on clothes, and bodies, and the surface of it all?

Look at your relationship. The guy you’re dating -- does he love you for you, or is he constantly asking you to change things about yourself?  Is he glad you’re with him, or is he looking elsewhere?

This is, of course, a larger issue, but it’s worth beginning that dialogue. Be who you were born to be: that’s my advice to you you. If you don’t like it, then by all means, change it. But ask yourself why you are changing. And ask yourself who are you really changing for.

Is it the man in the mirror? Or is that guy you’ve been dating for three months? Or is your friends who don’t believe enough in who they are?

If you love comic books, cargo shorts, and science fiction, then love it, and don’t make any apologies for it. If you have a couple extra pounds on you, who cares? Love your body as it is.

Everyone wants to be noticed, to be loved. I think we can all agree on that. But that doesn’t mean you have to change. The guys I know, the ones who don’t worry about their bodies, they are the ones who are the most secure.

Love your body. Love who you are. Love the things you like. Change if you’re not happy. But don’t change for a guy. Don’t change for anyone but your own self.

 

 Photo courtesy of Ming Lee / Flickr.

 

Gay YouTube Comedy: More Than Just Good for Laughs

In this digital world we now call home, it’s fascinating to see the role that online video plays in our lives. Videos resonate with us. Videos make us cry, make us think, provide us looks into worlds we never knew. And at times even, they can move us into action. Online video is an incredible, up-to-the-minute way of reaching the masses, and for getting information out into the world. 

But today, I'm more interested in, online video's other purpose: To make us laugh.

With this new trend taking shape, let’s take a minute to spotlight some of the notable artists in the LGBT world who are bringing their content to the masses.

    Billy Eichner of Billy on the Street - a loud, manic, over-the-top gameshow, both lampooning and idolizing celebrity culture

 

   Sassy Gay Friend - one of the early adopters of the online video format. Second City brought gay humor to online media, and melded it with classic Shakespearean texts

 

    DWV: The hilarious Drag Queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race - Willam, Detox, and Vikki Vox - three one-of-a-kind artists who put a truly fierce spin on song parodies

 

    Day Drunk Gays - a short form online video series of four friends chatting over Sunday brunch

 

    Davey Wavey - one man who has found a way to get his musings on life, love, and dating, out into the online world

 

    Where the Bears Are - a hilarious, tongue-in-cheek sitcom following the misadventures four hirsute friends

 

    Gay of Thrones - an over-the-top hairstylist rehashes every episode of Game of Thrones for your viewing pleasure

 

These are just a few examples of amazing LGBT artists who are putting their comedic skills to good use. They are being heard and they are making news. And best of all, they are finding new avenues to get their voices out into the world.

Further, their work speaks to the larger issue of connection and communication. Online video provides a platform for artists who, you could argue, wouldn’t have the chance to display their skills on mainstream network television. But with online video, there are no limits to what you can do. If the networks don't want to hear your voice, then who cares? You do it yourself. You make it happen for yourself.

I love this. Online video is the place to bring comedy and drama into the forefront of the public conscious. Artists are putting their work out there. And in doing so, many facets of our community are represented, all bringing forth their own personal style. It doesn’t matter what you’re into, there is content out there for you.

It’s easy to watch these videos, laugh, and neglect to see the power that this content wields.

When you’re an established, out and proud young adult you may not see the true impact these videos have. Instead, think about the men and women who aren’t out. Think about the teenagers who are still struggling with who they are.

These videos, I'd argue, provide a real service, even if that’s not their direct intention. These videos give that man or woman on the other end a real respite from their daily lives. They are funny, heartfelt, and endearing. People see these lives on the screens, and maybe, they don’t feel so alone in the world.

I hope a kid watches this content and takes solace in knowing that there are folks out there like him. People see that there is hope for them. You show different lives, and maybe these folks don’t feel so alone in the world. The next phase to this online platform is to show a little more of everyday lives of gay men and women. Get the characters out of the big city, and throw them into smaller towns. But for now, these guys are making great work, and that’s what is most important.

They aren’t afraid of being who they are. They aren’t worried about what people may say. They know they will find an audience. They are putting their hearts into their work, and they are letting their voices sing.

 

Let's Be Real, Being LGBTQ in High School Isn't Easy. But You Can Get Through This.

All your feelings aren't easy, ok? Let me just start out with that. Let me tell you that right now. I was there once, and I get it.

You’re in middle school, or you’re in high school. Hormones are going, you’re nervous about everything, all that matters to you is the gossip of the school. You want to be cool, you want to be noticed, you want someone to care about who you are.

Same time, you don’t want to try too hard, and you don’t want to be an outcast. They say it’s easy, but it’s not.

~~~

There are some people who look back on their time in high school and call it the best years of their lives. They loved it. They probably aren't you. And they are not ever going to be you. But you can’t see that far down the road, and I understand that.

Right now, all that means anything is Friday night. You want to have a voice, and no one is giving you one. You have a bunch of passions, but you’re scared to let them show. And you have feelings for people. Feelings that no one else has. Feelings you don’t understand.

It’s hard. All these feelings come up that you don’t recognize. You try to make sense of it all, but it seems nearly impossible. So you go to school, you play the game, you try to fit in. It seems like the easiest thing to do, when in fact, you have never worked so hard in your life.

You say things you never meant to say. You comment on girls because all your other guy friends are. Or you hide the fact that you don’t belong in the body you’re currently in. Or you sit with the other girls, watching the football team, and you lie to yourself that is is how you’re supposed to live your life.

It’s a constant struggle. There are fears and doubts. There are miscues and wrong turns. Tomorrow might be a better day, but that’s no guarantee. Tomorrow, they may figure out your secret -- see into your closet -- and you’ll never know a moment of silence again. The rumors will start, the insults will begin. You’ll lose everything you tried so long to create.

Or at least that's what your mind says.

~~~

So, no. It’s not easy.

But this is my pledge to you, the first of many. You will get through it. You will make it out alright. Yes, they can hurt you. Yes, the bruises may go away on the outside, but they live long on the inside.

Still, I beg you to keep going. Keep pushing, keep fighting. Fight to find the community that makes you happy. If it’s in drawing, find artists. If it’s in theater, join the drama club. If it’s in construction, make friends with the designers.

But what if you’re an athlete and they don’t accept you? Or what if you’re an outcast and you don’t do clubs or activities? Talk to someone then. Talk to a therapist. Talk to a doctor. Find whatever outlet you can.

Everything’s got something they love in this world.

~~~

No. That's not easy.

You might cry yourself to sleep one night. You might look at the calendar, and wonder how you’re going to make it through another day. But you will. I promise you that. You’re going to live, and love, and be free again.

Right now, no. It’s going to hurt. But you can find a better way. You can find groups, you can find friends, you can find help. It’s never too late.Years from now are miles away. So just focus on today. Just fix what you can.

But never give up. Never quit.

This world belongs to you. You are beautiful. You always have been. And you always will be.

 

Photo courtesy of Victor Bezrukov / Flickr.