One night when I was in college, I was babysitting some kids in an affluent neighborhood. After the kids finally settled down to sleep, I went downstairs and turned on the television. I browsed through several channels until I stumbled upon a documentary following the lives of gay men in the process of coming out.
There was one story about a gay man who came from an ultra religious, Mormon family. The day he came out to his family, they kicked him out of the house and told him to never speak to them ever again. The man moved from his hometown in Utah to the West Coast, where he met a wonderful boyfriend who helped him find a job and a place to live.
This man was only 24 years old.
When I hear stories like this, my heart sinks to the bottom of my stomach. I feel such sorrow and empathy for gay men who are rejected by their parents. I also get really angry. Why on earth would anyone reject someone for being gay? I don't give a crap about ancient scriptures in these scenarios because we're talking about REAL men's lives and REAL, honest feelings.
It's no wonder that many gay men grow up to become adults with a handful of fears.
We have fears like getting rejected after coming out. The fear of not making any friends in the gay community. The fear of never having a boyfriend. The fear of never having a husband. The fear of contracting a deathly, sexual transmitted disease. The fear of being scrutinized for going to a gay club without any friends. The fear of your partner cheating on you with a hotter, younger, older, or sexier guy. The fear of living the rest of your life by yourself. The fear of being fat. The fear of being too skinny. The fear of never gaining enough muscle. The fear of having a small penis. The fear of never having sex with another man. The fear of being a bad top. The fear of being a bad bottom. The fear of feeling like a slut. The fear of looking for men to date on Grindr, Tinder, OkCupid, Scruff, Adam4Adam, and Craigslist for the rest of your life. The fear of dying alone. The fear of gay bashing. The fear of living an unfulfilled life. The fear of never getting anything right. The fear that we'll never live up to anyone else's expectations. The fear that we'll never live up to our own expectations.
What the fuck? Why do we have so many fears?
We have these fears because we're scared that if we actually get what we want, our lives could actually be pretty amazing.
You can follow these four simple strategies to handle your biggest fears as a gay man once and for all:
1. Clarify what you're actually fearful of. Most of us don't verbalize what we're scared of because we're too fearful to say it out loud. The goal isn't necessarily to overcome the fear overnight, but to simply become aware of what the fear is.
Sometimes we make up fears in our heads and then we realize we don't have to be fearful when we surround ourselves with supportive, empathetic, and compassionate people.
2. Catch the thoughts that go through your head. You know how we have what seems like a million fears? Well, those are fables that we tell ourselves which aren't actually true. When you pay attention to these thoughts and realize that they're JUST thoughts, you'll learn to detach yourself from the outcome whenever you think your fear will lead you to a bad place. The best way to practice this strategy is through meditation, yoga and mindfulness practices.
3. Make up a big, ol' drama! What's the worst that can happen in any given scenario if your fear comes true? You'll get rejected by a dude, he'll never talk to you ever again, you'll be alone for the rest of your life, you'll die before you ever get the chance to get married, you'll never experience true love, no one will ever talk to you ever again, and life will suck forever. That was pretty exaggerated right? Try that with your fear. Then pay attention to your current circumstance. I bet you're nowhere near jumping off a cliff or drowning in a dark sea of poison.
4. Acknowledge why you're scared, and brainstorm how you can handle your fears realistically. Once you get clear on what you're scared of, notice the fearful thoughts in your head, and exaggerate the worst possible outcome, take a few moments to acknowledge that your fears are legitimate. Fears are real and they shouldn't be denied, however fears shouldn't hold you back from solving your challenges or keep you from getting what you really want.
After you acknowledge your fears, it's time to think of some ideas on how to face your fears. A few ways to face your fears include asking for help, reaching out for support in your local community, reading a book to show you how to tackle your challenges, or getting some additional education from a mentor who has also faced your fear in the past.
Handling fears as a gay man can seem like a tall mountain to climb. Yet that shouldn't hold you back from becoming the best man you can be. You deserve to live a life that's full of peace, happiness, and joy. This doesn't mean that all fears ever go away. Even some of the most successful people on the face of the planet still have fears. But when we acknowledge our fears for what they really are and make the choice to face our fears in constructive ways, we can actually live in the state of contentment and happiness that we desire to have.
Max DuBowy is the author of the Ultimate Guide to Self Care for gay men who are ready to break from stress and anxiety. Are you ready to be confident, make friends and love yourself unconditionally? INSTANTLY DOWNLOAD A COPY OF HIS FREE GUIDE HERE.