Saddened by "the epidemic of gay loneliness"? Take heart in all the blessings provided to LGBT people. Read more below.
Recently articles have emerged that concern me. They talk about “minority stress” and an epidemic of loneliness among gay men, despite recent gains in equality and acceptance in pop culture and society at large.
But worst of all, these articles suggest that we cope with our stress in isolation. The trouble — as described in these articles — consists of our pressures. Our pressure to overcome traumatic events, our pressure to keep our trauma to ourselves, our pressure to cope with stressors that, sometimes biologically, our nervous systems are not prepared to handle.
That bleak picture, though thoroughly researched, is incomplete. I’ve been researching peace for for nine years as part of my documentary film A Chance for Peace, and one of the main lessons I’ve learned is that we can’t know something without first knowing its opposite.
So I’m here to put fear aside for a minute and majorly stress an epidemic of love among gay men — because, although “love” and “gay” may be an unpopular pairing at present, it’s a message worth spreading.
1. I am part of a historic political movement.
Whether or not you are active in the LGBT fight for equality, you are aware of the message of the movement. On June 26, 2015, we made history when the Supreme Court found bans on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional. In the history books, our success will not be a story of war and recession, but one that says #lovewins. We changed the law of the land and remain united in our message. June 26 should be marked as a holiday so that every year we can celebrate what it means to be relentlessly loving.
2. By knowing shame, I appreciate differences and beauty in myself and others.
Gay men are confronted with shame early in life. Before we can even identify it by name, it’s there haunting us. But in that unlearning we must go through a healing process few are afforded. It’s not easy, but with each brick we lay in the road to wellness, we learn that not only is shame pointless, but that behind that shame is someone who can see the beauty in anyone and anything, someone who can have fun to the fullest; and someone who knows love truly, because we have gone through the difficult process of learning to love ourselves.
3. I live in a global community without borders.
Social media hasn't just brought us Grindr and the Scruff, it’s also brought us GayBnB and MisterBnb. Traveling teaches tolerance, and when teaching anything there’s power in numbers. When we invite other LGBT people into our homes and navigate our cultures together, it gives us an opportunity to reflect on where we came from. What can we learn from Thai Buddhism about accepting transgender people into society? How can we elevate our spiritual identities to what Native Americans refer to as “two-spirit”? It’s in this close contact with other LGBTs that we can contextualize our experience from a global to a local level.
4. I am an ambassador of diversity.
I genuinely believe that we are here on this planet at this time to contribute to the beauty of diversity. LGBT people come in many colors and creeds, and we’re in every country, determined to bring something different to the conversation. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve traveled to a country where I was warned residents were unkind to LGBT people and ended up having multiple kind, curious souls politely ask me about what it means to be gay. Live that rainbow! Some folks out there are listening.
5. I am a cultural influencer.
Some of the leading industries in the world are led by us. The fashion industry, art, TV, film, design, social media; we’ve even coined the term “gayming” for gay gamers forming bonds through creative storytelling and problem-solving. Our contribution to popular culture, tech, and the creative industries is nothing new. It’s the visibility we achieve that pushes us forward, inspiring other sexual and gender minorities to live up to their full potential.
6. I am sexually liberated.
Let’s be real. LGBT people have brought free love to the next level. We have shed the taboos of so many kinks that it’s almost not even kinky anymore. Whether you are into it or not, the visibility that we have given to sex and its many modalities has given men and women of all backgrounds sexposure — I couldn’t help myself — to how we can learn to explore and enjoy one another’s bodies.
7. I create safe spaces for my brothers and others.
I can’t tell you how many times I day I hear "This is my circle of gays" — and I love it! Through the challenges that our LGBT ancestors suffered in fighting for the freedom to gather socially, we have come to appreciate, create, and truly nurture safe spaces. Having gone through oppressive and frightening experiences ourselves, we’ve learned the value of holding space for another individual in a way that is welcoming, nonjudgmental, and supportive. True, these spaces may not seem like they’re everywhere. Bars and clubs still dominate the gay social scene, but guess what? It costs you nothing to create a safe space. If you feel one is lacking for you and your peers, that’s your call to action to create one.
8. I can’t wait to have kids.
I want kids. I know it’s not every LGBT person’s dream, but it’s mine. And I seriously cannot wait to proudly walk down the street with my man and our baby, pushing a stroller, demonstrating that family is not just one thing. Love is love, and the kids of queer parents I know are awesome! Lessons taught to them by their parents about love, support, freedom, creativity, kindness, and strength are taught from the experience of knowing what it’s like to fight for these qualities on a daily basis. These children are going to be the leaders of a generation built on a foundation of hard-won love and tolerance.
9. I also have a “chosen family” — and they make me a better person.
The term “chosen family” is often affectionately used to define the close members of our peer group that act almost as surrogate parents and siblings. Ultimately, these are the people that come to define us. We are, after all, the people we surround ourselves with. When we find our chosen family, be it big or be it small, we are telling the world around us how we want to love and be loved. When you get to define yourself with your chosen family, that’s freedom. That’s love. And freedom and love, though mutually dependent, are not often found together. Cherish them.
10. I am a mentor — and you can be too.
Now more than ever, young LGBT people are concerned. Our country seems to be on the brink of turning back years of progress the LGBT movement has made since the 1960s, when we were still considered mentally ill. We are living in a political climate that is asking itself, What does peace look like? How do we create peace? But we’ve been creating it! Young queer people are activated, and they need us to support them. Are we going to step up and allow articles to paint a future for them based on fear, anxiety, and loneliness, or are we going to lay a path down that, brick by brick, paves the road to a more loving and tolerant future?