As cliché as it may be, the gay man’s experience can often resemble the one that is parodied so poorly in the movies. Whether it’s an endless series of drunken nights at the same bars or a movie montage of catty, champagne-fueled brunches, filled with gossip and sex talk, queer men can sometimes get stuck in a loop. After all, many gay men do not have life events such as parenthood or the pressure of marriage to take them out of the party game. So the party goes on and far too many of us get to live out what should have been our high school and college glory days, but with big fat bank accounts and a better wardrobe.
At the age of 33, I still found myself in the thick of the gay olympics of drinking and being “fabulous.” Every weekend was filled with events that centered around alcohol, and every Monday came with bank statements of expensive ride-shares because I was too drunk to drive. I thought I was exciting. I thought I was cute. But in reality, I was stuck in a Groundhog Day of the same weekend, over and over, and I desperately wanted it to stop.
After every Sunday Funday came a Mopey Monday, typically filled with vicious arguments with myself. I felt angry that I could never follow through on a promise to only have one drink. I would feel embarrassed that I might have done something I otherwise wouldn’t have without copious amounts of vodka. And I felt inadequate because I couldn’t perform the way I wanted to at my job. This fabulous life was taking a huge toll on my self-worth, and after more than 10 years of the same behavior, I knew it was absolutely impossible for me to just “cut down.”
After one particularly rowdy weekend with my gaggle of gays, I woke up with a vague memory of taking a cab home. In my mid-30s, I had my first blackout moment, and I knew that the acceleration of my drinking was a sign. I can never have a drink, because one drink will never be enough.
It was a reality that I had been tiptoeing around for some years. My father died by the bottle after struggling and failing for decades to quit drinking. I always had him to compare myself to as proof that I did not have a drinking problem. He was scary when he drank and lost control of his whole life due to alcohol. I was just a more bubbly version of myself when I drank, I reasoned, and my entire environment mimicked my own behavior.
But upon further evaluation, I realized that my father was much like me when he was my age. Alcoholism is a progressive disease, and my own was written all over the bathroom walls of the gay bars I frequented. I couldn’t just cut down. I have done that before, and I always found myself completely wasted when I didn’t want to be. It was going to be zero drinks or a life of too many, and I walked into an AA meeting because my life was more important than that.
To the outside, I may not have personified what people think one might look like with a drinking problem. I didn’t have some horror story of a rock bottom, and I didn’t need a drink every day. But I was the classic binge drinker, and my bottom was the realization that my actions were drastically different from those of the man who I wanted to be.
I cringe thinking of the countless things I said I was going to do, but found myself too hungover to actually do. Alcohol made me extremely selfish, because I believed I deserved to let loose and the repercussions were not my fault.
Drinking made me a shittier boyfriend, because too many times I would snap at him because my head was pounding. Drinking made me a shittier son, because almost every holiday I was a little foggy from the night before. Drinking made me a shittier pet owner, because of the countless walks that I didn’t take my dogs on because I was too tired from the night before. Drinking just made me a shittier person, and that’s a damn good reason to quit.
This essay isn’t a judgment on gay men or observation on anyone’s behavior but my own. I would venture to guess, however, that there are so many who are going through a similar internal struggle. To these men, I say that giving up drinking isn’t a sacrifice, but a tremendous opportunity to be a better version of yourself.
If you have never thought you might have a problem with alcohol, none of this probably makes sense. To the normal drinker, please enjoy one for me. But if you have ever questioned the hold that alcohol might have over your life, you owe it to yourself to choose you over the party.
After all, you can have a lot more fun in life when you stop regretting so many drunken decisions.
TYLER CURRY is a writer based in Austin.