Are there any gay men out there who aren’t polyamorous, sex addicts, self-centered, and/or dealing with serious daddy issues? I haven’t met one yet and it’s got me wondering if maybe being gay isn’t so good for me.
This is a pretty loaded question, but the short answer is yes. Gay men come with a variety of preferences, strengths, weaknesses — as do we all, really. That means that while you will likely encounter some gay men who fit into one or more of these categories (which you appear to find uniformly undesirable/unhealthy — we’ll get to that later), there are also folks who don’t fit this mold at all.
Though you may not have yet met them, there are certainly gay men who practice monogamy, gay men without sexual or other addictions, gay men who are compassionate and empathetic, and gay men who have strong, healthy relationships with their fathers. If you have not met any of these men, you may not be looking in the right places, or getting to know the men you’ve met well enough.
It also sounds like you might be relatively young. Young people (gay and otherwise) tend to not have all their shit worked out yet and are often still experimenting with how they want to live their lives. Without airing all my dirty laundry, let’s suffice it to say that I was not quite the catch and/or role model in my early 20s that I imagine myself to be now.
Before we dive into this issue any further, I’d like to unpack a couple of the assumptions inherent in your question. First, that the qualities you listed are blemishes, a sign of damaged goods. Polyamory is a lifestyle choice that, when practiced ethically and consensually, doesn’t cause harm. Sex addiction puts strain on relationships, but it is a struggle for which help exists. As for being self-centered, while it’s certainly not a glowing quality, it’s hardly a mortal sin. And daddy issues? Most of us have them to some degree. It’s the extent to which we are actively dealing with our family of origin issues that influences our ability to enter into healthy relationships, not the mere fact that such tensions exist.
Another unspoken assumption in your question is that not only are gay men damaged, but they are damaged because they are gay. Or, more specifically, because they have sexual and/or romantic relationships with other men. We all have our struggles and our flaws, but it doesn’t mean we are categorically unhealthy — as individuals, as men and women, as gays and bisexuals, as genderqueer and transgender people.
If anything, the struggles faced by gay men, and others in the LGBTQ community, can be attributed largely to the oppression they face in or society. Stereotypes such as the ones your question is built on contribute to a hostile environment that does no favors for a queer person’s sense of self-worth. All things considered, I’d say LGBTQ folks are doing all right for themselves.
In case you haven’t watched a daytime talk show or episode of “Judge Judy” lately, let me tell you: heterosexual, cisgender folks have plenty of issues, “daddy” and otherwise! I know if can be frustrating to feel like there’s no one out there like you. To some extent, it’s true. No one else has your unique history, qualities, and interests. But you can find people whose lifestyles align with your own (yes, even among gay men), it just may take a little looking.
I struggled with this tension when I was coming out as queer. I had been pretty religious in the eight or so years prior and had a hard time finding people who could understand my dual allegiances. My mostly atheist and agnostic college friends didn’t get why I was so attached to a religion that opposed homosexuality, while my co-religionists told me I should maintain my chastity and eschew the ungodly culture of the gays.
But as I got older and made more connections with more kinds of people, I came to discover that there were queer folks of faith, and members of my own religion who were accepting of queer folks (and even others who were LGBTQ-identified). I was even fortunate enough to finally find a partner who, though he does not share my particular religious background, understands and supports my desire to have spirituality in my life and nurtures it in his own.
If you’re worried about developing habits you find unsavory, focus on yourself, not your sexuality. Closed-minded people want us to believe that our lives are inherently sinful and degrading. Don’t give them ammunition by turning your back on who you are. Embrace yourself and your community and work to become the person you seek to find.
-Erin Rook, PQ Monthly staff writer
Are you a lesbian puzzled by gay men? A transgender person pondering bisexuality? A straight person perplexed by queers of all stripes? PQ is here to help you through your “questioning” period. Send your questions to [email protected] and put Query a Queer in the subject line.