Gay Men & Loneliness
Posted by lgbtcolors
Though the Neo-Nazi adorations … are more sinister than the innocuous ideals of the weight-lifting room, they are equally mindless. The offence is not aesthetic; it is entirely political. The homosexuals who adopt images of masculinity, conveying their desire for power and their belief in its beauty, are in fact eroticizing the very values that have tyrannized their own lives…The perversity of imitating their own oppressors guarantees that such blindness will work itself out as self-contempt.
What it means to be a man in today’s society is to be dominant; it means to be heterosexual and masculine. It means to be the man of the house, the corporate executive, to be on top. It means to be strong and to be seen. It means to insert your penis into a vagina because that’s what men do. The male standard is held as the human standard, and therefore categorizes anything that doesn’t fit as pathological. The punishment for those who fail to meet the criteria of what it means to be a man has been social isolation, depression, rape, objectification, internalized self-hate and family abandonment. The Gay Rights movement has attempted to fight for liberation from the male standard by creating its own culture. However, although Gay men have succeeded in creating a culture that is in some ways separate from heteronormative society, their attempt towards liberation has been unsuccessful. This is not a critique of men who have sex with men as individuals; this is an analysis of Gay men as a culture in Western society. Gay culture has adapted the norms from heterosexual society to create its own relevance. Consequently, the adaptation of the heterosexual model to Gay culture has made loneliness a common symptom of the Gay man’s oppression.
Gay men are the most loyal to masculinity. The male standard in society at-large has become the ideal among Gay men. Masculine Gay men are put at the front of the line on Gay hook-up websites. They avoid other Gay men who are too feminine for their taste. Gay men adore their heterosexual male friends, and sometimes even try to have sex with them. They are so loyal to this ideal that they even try to become it; they work out excessively to become ripped. Gay men watch and train their mannerisms to improve their manliness. They prepare and recite their words carefully so that they don’t say anything that might be perceived as Gay; they worship masculinity.
The idolization of the heterosexual masculine model in Gay culture has exacerbated the oppression of Gay men, resulting in a lack of self-worth and loneliness. The model molds boys from a very young age to not feel connection. Boys are not supposed to cry, hold hands with each other, or talk about their feelings. Because men are not trained to feel emotion, when they become adults, they still lack the ability to make connections and express their feelings, which makes it incredibly difficult to enter relationships. They are often lonely but don’t realize that this lack of connection is the problem because that’s what it is to be a man. In addition to the inherent lack of connection developed from the model at a young age, this model applied to Gay culture exacerbates the loneliness of Gay men.
The Gay men who do not fit the male standard, the ones who are left at the end of the line, are left feeling isolated and worthless by members of their own community. In addition, they search for this ideal of man in potential mates but are never satisfied because the very definition of what it means to be a man excludes any deviation from the norm. Therefore, Gay men search long and hard for the ideal man to no avail. Consequently, it becomes common for Gay men to turn to coping mechanisms to combat the abandonment and the illusion of perfection from society at-large and members of their own community. Drugs, violence, and sexual abuse are all common methods that Gay men adopt in response to loneliness.
Drugs become a way for Gay men to escape the harsh realities of their lives. For example, alcohol is used to numb the feelings of loneliness. Violence against others is one method of coping but violence towards one’s self is much more common in the gay community; when a Gay man “chooses” to have unprotected sex with a stranger regardless of the consequences, this is a self-directed form of violence. Gay men who are abandoned from a society that has marginalized them and a Gay community that has further invalidated their existence will have sex with a stranger to seek validation and connection. In a Gay culture that has adapted the heterosexual model; the definition of sex is also compromised. Gay men create an unhealthy conception of sex that is based on reciprocal gender hierarchy—top/masculine or bottom/feminine—not love.
In Gay Male Pornography: An Issue of Sex Discrimination, Gay lawyer, Christopher N. Kendall, asks several important questions:
What does it mean for gay male liberation that power is found only in the ability to emulate those sexual and social behaviors that, once accepted, ensure that sexual power is offered only to those who reject equality? And what does it mean for gay male liberation that those who do reject equality do little more than reinforce the very foundations of compulsory heterosexuality…?
It means that a Gay culture that has adapted the norms and standards of the heterosexual model is not liberatory. Gay men have a chance to create a culture that is inclusive and equal, and not about dominance and hierarchy. They have a chance to redefine what it means to be a man, a chance to not be lonely.
Kendall, Christopher N. Gay Male Pornography: An Issue of Sex Discrimination. Vancouver, BC: UBC Press, 2004, 114.
Seymour Kleinberg, “The Masculinity of Gay Men and Beyond,” in Michael Kaufman, ed., Beyond Patriarchy (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1987), 123.
Antuan Johnson, ‘13