8 Things Gay Guys Should Start Saying to Each Other (More Often)

Guys, we deserve better. We deserve to treat ourselves and each other with more kindness. More love. There are so many gay men who treat other gay men with love and respect. I definitely want to acknowledge that.

But we, as individual gay men, can make our lives and lives of other gay men even richer, pleasant, and vibrant by choosing our words wisely and speaking from the heart. Here are 8 things I'd love to see gay men say more often to one another:

1. I'm proud of who you are.

Seriously. I'm not just proud of what you DO. I know you'll always do great things. But I'm genuinely proud of who you are as a person. The way you run your life. The way you treat others. How you show up in the world. Even if your plans don't turn out the way you wanted them to (or if they do), I love you just the same.

2. Come join us.

Whether you're at a party, the bar, or in a casual group gathering. If you see a guy standing alone, invite him over. Include him in the group. You felt alone in a room at one time or another in your life. Take it upon yourself to be inviting.

3. What do you want from life?

Anything and everything. A gorgeous car. A cuddly boyfriend. An even cuddlier dog. A trip overseas. What do you REALLY want out of life?! It's so interesting to hear what people say. It might be a little awkward the first time you ask another gay guy, but go with it. Plus, "what do you do?" is such a lame question.

4. How can I be a better friend?

I don't know if I've ever said this to a friend. Perhaps in a different way. Maybe it was just long ago. But this can strengthen a friendship like none other. We're usually there for our friends in good times and bad, but are where there in the way our friends need us? That's pretty important information to have.

5. I'm a strong person, but I'm hurting right now.

Like, really hurting. That breakup was devastating. I've cried at least three times since yesterday. Or I haven't cried at all because I feel completely numb. I just found out my mom has cancer and I really don't know what to do or say. I just need someone here for me. A strong person, in fact, can tell another person that they're hurting. We need to lean on each other more.

6. I'm afraid of opening up.

It's scary. It can feel risky. Vulnerability isn't easy. And it's bullshit that most gay men think that just because we're gay, it's easier for us to open up. It's not. It's time to throw open that other closet door. The door to vulnerability. Admitting that opening up scares us is the first step to having stronger, more authentic friendships.

7. Can you get off your phone?

I'm so guilty of being on my cell phone too often around my friends. I swear I'm getting better at putting it down or away! Don't be afraid to call out a friend whose nose is in the phone and not in the conversation. Friends deserve more than multitasking.

8. Anything positive or encouraging.

I know, we all have our snarky defense mechanisms -- we're human, after all! But can we let go of negativity toward ourselves and each other? Many gay guys I know are full of positive energy. Let's spread that energy around -- the bars, the beaches, and beyond. It's infectious.

What do you think? What could we as gay guys say to each other more often?

Josh Hersh is a life coach and entrepreneur, and the founder of The Thoughtful Gay Man. He is a contributor to Medium, where this post first appeared.