I recently read an article by a gay man who had become incensed with the gay community. He was distraught with how our community has deteriorated into a group of soulless, sex and internet-addicted animals. He claimed that we treat each other as objects, obsessed with meaningless sex and fixated on a male aesthetic that is unreal, unachievable and non-accepting of any other body type except its own.
As the writer continued on about the demise of the gay community due to porn addiction, sex sites and heteronormativity, I began to lose sight of his message due to the overwhelming feeling of empathy I felt for him and his disturbing view of gay life.
Unsurprisingly, he then turned his anger and disappointment on himself. He began to talk about his own feelings of insecurity and self-loathing. He spoke of being rejected or ignored due to his age and body type. He saw his community, and his life, as a dark and empty place devoid of light and love.
It's when I read articles like this one, I recognize that many members of the gay community, and society as a whole, have lost sight of a basic truth; we are responsible for our own happiness. Modern society has us brain washed into believing that our happiness is provided by external sources. We're inundated with clever, and not so clever, marketing campaigns that tell us if we have a deep bank account, a closet of designer clothes and a perfect body, we'll be happy. So why is it a statistical fact that rich people aren't much happier than the rest of us? And why is it that porn stars, with their perfect bodies and flocks of adoring fans, are dying of drug overdoses and suicides regularly?
I feel for this man. Believe me, I understand how easy it is to become frustrated and bitter over our circumstances and look to place the blame elsewhere. But the fact of the matter is our happiness, and well-being should come from within ourselves. If we're happy and content in our own lives, we won't care when that guy at the bar doesn't return our smile. Chances are that guy is dealing with insecurities of his own.
When we work on bettering ourselves and seek our happiness from a place of honest contemplation, the actions and opinions of others won't matter. It's the inability to deal with our feelings of inadequacy, admit our vulnerabilities and overcome our addiction to external validation that created, and continues to fuel, the behaviors that this writer is up in arms about. It's the same validation he is begging for in his own life. His insecurities, blame and finger pointing are adding to the separation, judgment and infighting within our community. It doesn't incite a solution. It perpetuates the problem.
Do I recognize the problems the writer points out in his article? Absolutely. But I also recognize the countless gay couples in loving relationships, raising families and living happy lives. I see all of the beautiful parts of our community and the amazing strides we have made in recent years. And I certainly don't turn a blind eye to the darker parts of our community in need of our attention and assistance. I do, however, worry that our community has been victimized by so many political, religious and psychological attacks that some of its members, like the writer of this article, may have lost sight of the reasons why we became a community to begin with. Remember, our community wasn't just fashioned out of a shared sexual identity. It was also created on similar interests, emotional support, common goals and even physical protection.
One reader posted a comment below the article citing the need for a revolution within our community. I agree with the idea of a revolution, but not in the way he proposes. I think it starts within us and encompasses a spiritual, psychological and emotional healing. I also think this revolution is one of connection, not separation, one of self-discovery, not judgment, one of ownership, not finger pointing and blame, and one of love, not fear.
If we're able to find happiness, purpose and validation from within, we're then able to shift our lives for the better and begin to view the other members of our community with the compassion and love they deserve. People express their need for love and acceptance in different ways. Some of these ways aren't always healthy. They may even seem self destructive and morally ambiguous. But I'm here to tell you first hand, insecurity and shame run deep. And sometimes we need a little help finding happiness and purpose in our lives. So let's be each other's helping hand instead of each other's judge and jury.
So how do we take responsibility for our own happiness and deprogram years of unhealthy external influences? I think it starts with being brave enough to admit to ourselves we've got some things to work on. For me, it started with that admission and then went on to include journaling, meditation, yoga, therapy and some incredible self-help books. As you can imagine, the solution isn't a quick one and it will take a little work, but I am here to tell you it will be one of the greatest investments of time and healing you'll ever do for yourself.
This community's fight for equality and real acceptance is far from over. But we don't stand a chance of reaching our goal if we destroy ourselves from the inside out. We need to help the hurt and betrayed members of our community find their way out of the dark by being role models of light, love and fearless living. But we need to start taking responsibility for our own happiness and stop blaming the outside world. We have an opportunity, right now, to heal our community by healing ourselves. Let's not squander it.