Friday, July 29, 2016

The 'Perfect' Gay Relationship

I, as a gay man, don't like to admit to the world that our community is the same, in many regards, as the rest of society. We don't seem to have problems with self image (HA! That's been well addressed by other blogs and websites, so I won't comment on it), education, jobs, relationships, etc. Because our lovely, glittering little section of society was tossed into the gutter and held there for decades, we began to learn how to put on a facade so that the world's perception of our community would be what we wanted it to be. That's totally fine, I understand that if you have a President in the White House who restricts funding for HIV/AIDS research, we want to hold our heads up high and continue to dance while we wait for leadership that understands and appreciates us. Or going back earlier, if a friend got beaten by a mob, we were required to have a stiff upper lip and not let the world see us bleed. I understand the context of our stoicism, and what caused it. I certainly still have a hard time talking to my parents about my relationship and its problems, or talking to any member of my family, really, about being gay and what that means in America today. I'm not trying to castigate them or say that they're terrible people, because they're not. I just know how hard it can be to let the majority of society see our flaws. Our community has been villanized for so long that I think it's become ingrained into our collective mindset that we are somehow less than the rest of society. But why are we still doing it? It has gotten to the point, I believe, that we are starting to turn on ourselves, simply as a means of maintaining conformity in a nonconformist community, and I daresay that individuality is starkly frowned upon. If a gay man isn't ripped, perfectly tanned, and enjoys going out and drinking every weekend, then they are a less desirable mate.

Admittedly, an attraction to muscles makes sense. Who wouldn't want to run their hands all over Channing Tatum or Tom Daley? It's an evolutionary byproduct. We want the fittest mate possible in order to better protect and provide for our family group. (That is just conjecture at my part, and I say it because it makes sense. I have no scientific evidence to corroborate that position.) But the point still stands. Muscled men are hot. I think they're hot, my boyfriend thinks they're hot, every gay man thinks they're hot, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I would even go a step further to contend that objectifying people isn't wrong, but that's a topic for another day, as is body positivity. The fact remains though, that we have a very carefully crafted image that we send out into the world. That we live in the world of beautiful men, where the day is full of lounging by the pool, and the nights are full of raucous partying with beautiful people. Drag queens who are more beautiful than any woman strut around, and alcohol flows in abundance. Nothing ever goes wrong. No single substantive thought will be heard, and everyone can relax in vapid, stupid emptiness. Why? Why don't we attack the large issues of the day? Or, hell, even start to look at other issues that plague society at large to see how they affect us, and indeed, if it's a problem in our community? Take for example, domestic violence. Nobody wants to talk about this, even in straight society. It's a nasty, icky topic. Nobody likes to think of their sister, mother, or daughter getting beaten or harmed emotionally by some prick they thought was a nice guy. But it's a reality that needs to be dealt with. In my home State, 1 in 3 women will experience domestic violence, and 1 in 4 men will experience domestic violence. I wonder what would happen if we turned our focus to issues like that, what we'd find.

But wait! We're men! Men don't experience domestic violence. If they do, then they're cowardly and weak, or they're just lying. If you have ever said that, or secretly hold that mentality, then you, sir/ma'am, need cognitive re-calibration. My brother experienced domestic violence at the hands of his ex wife, and he is a big bear of a man. Did he defend himself? Absolutely not, because we were raised never to raise a hand to a woman. Ok, stepping back from being passionate, the fact remains that we, as gay men, can experience DV at the hands of our lovers, boyfriends, and spouses (it's still really cool to me that I can say that now). I'm not going to go over the list of resources that are available to you if you experience DV, because I'm confident that if you are in a violent relationship, you have the necessary mental capacity to get out when you're ready. But that's the thing of it, isn't it? We don't want to shatter the illusion of our perfect little society. I suppose that people in straight relationships go through largely the same thought process in some form or another, but gay men are particularly prone to that. We must have the perfect clothes, the perfect car, the perfect home, the perfect fucking everything, including our relationships. But what if your boyfriend is a colossal dick that beats you or can shatter your self confidence with a few words? What then? Go and cry on the shoulder of a friend until you feel drawn back to the abuser? Probably. It may seem like I'm trivializing the process a little bit, and I may be, however, it's part of the cycle of violence. What I hope I am conveying is that I am sick to tears of not hearing about the real issues facing our community. I know, I know, transgender people can't pee in South Carolina, and religious liberty laws are getting passed around the Country. But these nitty gritty issues are what we need to face down. We can't keep teaching the baby gays (those who have just come out or are growing into maturity) that it's ok to have flaws, as long as we don't see/hear/speak about them. Yes, getting beaten by a stranger after leaving a gay bar is horrible. But getting beaten by a lover is worse. It's a betrayal, not only by the abuser, but also by the whole of our community. 

The baby gays and mature gays hide their flaws (HYPOCRISY ALERT: I try to hide my flaws, like how skinny I am, or that I am a major introvert, or that I enjoy the kink lifestyle.) and it can be deadly. But we don't hear about it. 1 in 4 men will experience domestic violence, regardless of sexual orientation. It floored me when I found that last year, only two men checked into the shelter for which I work. Two. 49 women checked in. There seems to be a slight... disparity. The reason is that men are supposed to be tough, hyper-masculine creatures that can defend themselves and never have to talk about their emotions, but that's beside the point. We must start talking about this and studying what is really going on, because these men that are getting abused are our fathers, brothers, sons, and friends. Our community has faced enough from society, and we must deal with this internal threat. 

If you or someone you know is stuck in an abusive relationship, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or visit the NDVH's website. 

Well, that's all for today. Be humble, don't stumble, and I'll look forward to seeing you again soon.

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