I don't go to bars or clubs anymore. I rarely enjoyed myself when I did.
I didn't feel like I belonged.
Especially as a shy gay man, it didn't feel natural. I didn't look like a naturally born, Greek God that so many men aspire to be when they jaunt into a club.
I never fit the Abercrombie archetype.
In a dazed, hungover state, I wondered if enjoying my gay identity could be realized in other venues.
The answer is yes, yet why do so many of us have aversions toward gay bars or clubs in general.
Here are my thoughts:
Alcohol, Drugs and Substance Abuse
You're a natural, calm, holistic kind of guy. You may enjoy a drink here and there, but drinking doesn't consume nightly ambitions.
The same thoughts go for drugs. You never want to touch heroin, cocaine, poppers or anything else vulnerable.
Many guys at clubs are high, stoned and drunk. Communicating with these people isn't fun unless you're at their level. If you're sober, they're definitely not at your level psychologically.
Also, cigarette smoke makes many of us cough.
Drama, Objectification and Gay Privilege
It can appear like everyone who goes to gay venues is in a Mean Girls clique.
You're a drama free kind of guy and don't want to talk smack about anyone. You don't believe gossip is a good thing to participate in and you're right. It doesn't feel good to talk poorly about other people.
If you're with a group of guys and they're talking about people you don't know about, you feel left in the dark. But you laugh along anyway and think about your escape plan.
It's known that older, single gay men hang out on the sidelines of clubs to look at younger men. As a younger gay man myself, it feels weird to have a bunch of guys stare at me. I don't like being the center of attention.
There's nothing wrong with looking but it's awkward when you enter a space that's a breathing ground for physical attention. It just makes me want to look at the floor and pretend like no one is looking at me.
... and when you don't get any attention, it makes you feel unattractive and worthless. This makes me angry because every gay man is making an instant sweeping judgment about your appearance from the moment eyes are laid on you. If you're not up to someone else's standards, you're not worthy and this makes you feel like garbage.
Netflix, Gay-App Cruising, and Online Dating
Home is a comfort zone. No one judges you and you feel at ease. There's no need to impress anyone unless a guy texts you asking for a d^ck-pic. At least it's still safe to be at home and just watch reruns of Game of Thrones or Law and Order SVU.
Cruising online can feel lonely if you're not getting what you want, but at least you don't have to deal with the loud noise that's normally found in a bar or club. You set the noise level to your own liking.
Yes, gay venues tend to be a safe space and it's a birthplace of the American gay revolution. I acknowledge that. It's played a significant role in our collective, cultural history.
As a gay man and an advocate for mindfulness, I believe it's incredibly useful to understand and acknowledge that bars and clubs don't always provide a space for collective acceptance, peace, and understanding.
If you're questioning why you feel like you don't belong or you're simply done with "the scene", you should know that you're not alone. There are thousands of gay men out there who feel the same way.
Max DuBowy is a writer and executive mindfulness coach for gay men who want to break from stress and anxiety. Are you ready to transform your thoughts, develop inner confidence and love yourself unconditionally?