Growing up in a small village in Scotland with 600 people is tough. Especially when you don't fit into the norm of what they expect a young boy to be. I liked singing and acting. They liked rugby and beating the shit out of me. I won't labor on it, because High School is the best time of our lives, right?
As I became older I flew the nest to my next port of call: University. Not a large population of people, but enough for me to come to terms (to a degree) with who I am and some self-discovery along the way.
Then came another leap -- South Korea. A place where I quickly discovered homosexuality is hidden and reviled more than salacious stories of celebrities that fill our news columns daily.
Then, the day finally came. I was accepted into Grad School in NYC and I couldn't have been happier. After ten years as an out gay man, I would become a fish in one of the most thriving, accepting, diverse and supportive gay communities in the world. It would be a far cry from Scotland, England, Korea, but I was ready. I wanted to make it work.
But despite my cheery disposition about the whole thing, I realized pretty fast that making it work here could be the hardest of all. Even harder than Korea. Which is really hard.
The most recent date I went on was a total bust. It started off well, a nice hug, a warm smile. But it was pretty evident that as we began to walk, there was absolutely no chemistry there. Mainly because he had such a heightened sense of self-worth that couldn't even allow him to ask any questions. Not one. Well, he mirrored mine -- which is like the biggest sign of failure in every sense of the word. The most awful part was that he used me as a way to walk. He liked to walk. We walked all the way from Harlem through Central Park. I walked four miles. And with every step my mind was telling me to stop and just walk away, because I could have got more conversation from an unhappy looking runner than from him. Blood from an actual stone is the only term I can use, but when the stone did bleed, he was an interesting and smart man. Some things just aren't meant to be, right?
It wasn't until we neared the end of the park he seemed to perk up. Obviously, he was happy to be released from the prison that is my toxic personality but also because he had reached his daily goal of 15,000 steps. Round of a fucking applause for him. He said something that summed up what my life in this great city of diversity and culture could become: "Every time a guy you date hugs you, you'll either want to hold onto him forever or instantly let him go for the one you're looking at over his shoulder -- or the one he's looking at."
Huh? Then it clicked: That's why he hugged me when we met. Why didn't I see that coming? Did you?
He went on to tell me that when he arrived he was nice -- nicer than he is now, and a guy from this city knew he was an out of towner because of it. Chivalry and manners really are dead. It seems to be that in Gay Male Land working out fast food from our diets is officially over and working in fast sex and even faster relationships is officially in.
Even the couples are looking for more. The dating apps are filled with men married to men who want that third, fourth fifth...not because they don't love each other or find one another attractive, but just because (insert bullshit reason here).
I am most certainly not the first, nor will I be the last to feel this way. But my main question is: Where is this diverse and accepting gay community that people led me to believe existed here? We are now in a world where we have over 100 choices at our fingertips and still, we want more. Younger, fitter, healthier and sluttier more. And the Gay Community wonders why we suffer so much with all of the over-sexualized versions of us we see on TV and in film. The Average Joe doesn't stand a chance. We are giving the world what is now expected and feeding into a stereotype that is slowly become less stereotype and more fact.
However, despite these abrasively depressing truths, which I didn't want to believe but now see are true, I refuse to give up. Like the men on these apps who hope for more, I hope for something much greater: The One. I'm also pretty sure that there are others out there who feel the same as I do. I refuse to accept the NYC side effect of refusing to settle for less, because I honestly believe that I can find my more -- without hugging him and looking over his shoulder at what else is on display.
To the young men who are dealing with their sexuality, don't feed into this world that has been constructed through media representation and fueled by the community itself. The only way that this will change is from within our group. Coming to terms with your sexuality is difficult enough as it is without adding these additional pressures of washboard abdomen muscles and giant...well, you catch my drift. Be strong, be you and have hope for the one. And to the different man who told me that I wasn't beautiful inside because my outside wasn't up to scratch: Fuck. You. My inside is a rainbow.