Why Are Gay Men So Afraid Of Themselves?


Why are gay men so afraid of themselves? It’s as if we all wake up in the morning and stare into our mirrors and are repulsed by what stares back at our beautiful faces. We all put on different masks to hide our insecurities: whether they be fear of intimacy, of society, or even ourselves. We’re all just trying to hide the fact that there is a deep current of unhappiness within our community. We compartmentalize ourselves into groups- masc., fem, top, bottom, verse, twink, bears, otters because it’s no longer enough for us to be human and homosexual, we need to faction ourselves even more just to avoid the terrifying prospect of rejection.

I recently spoke to a friend who was in a relationship with a man who came with a slew of rules. My friend was told not to comment on his boyfriend’s facebook activity, tag pictures of him, or be seen in public with him alone too often. His boyfriend was still in the closet and therefore so was the relationship. I found it so absurd that my friend, a proud out gay man, would allow himself to be pushed back into the closet because his partner wasn’t ready.

Why are all of us so afraid to show the world that we’re struggling to make it through? We shrink away from our own bodies, and allow ourselves to hate our shapes every time we eat a slice of pizza, or indulge in a beer after a long day of work. We log online and see this media perpetuated idea of handsome in which we’re told we are required to have 2% body fat, abs of steel, and an airbrushed, chiseled face in order to have anyone love you. You have to be complex, but just vapid enough to not intimidate other men. You need to be funny, but serious. Put together, but fun. You need to be able to throw back a few shots with your gay besties, but god forbid you drink too much and stumble all over the place. You’re not allowed to be human; you need to be the love child of Brad Pitt and Ryan Goslings sans any personality. Boyz hate personality!

You need to be masc., not fem. You need to be able to pass for straight; otherwise boys won’t want to bring you around because you’re too obvious! One question I would love to pose to the gay community at large- why the hell are you so afraid of people knowing your lover is gay? I don’t care how many weights you lift, how deep your voice is, or how into a-typical straight boy things like muscle cars and sports, if you’re putting my penis in your mouth- you’re not “straight acting” so shut the hell up.

Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves? I’m honestly fascinated by the deep undercurrent of homophobia that runs rampid through our tribe. Young teens are taking their lives all the time over bullying, and their peers making them feel ashamed for being whom they are. I get it, it can be terrifying to be different because we know what an asshole society can be. However, we need to stop perpetuating the self-hate because it’s just making it more difficult for people to be comfortable with the idea of homosexuality being more prevalent.

Put down that copy of GQ you hold close to your heart. Go out and grab coffee with a boy who doesn’t look like he’s cut directly from marble. Make love to a sweet man who is attentive and kind to you; do this with the lights on. Look into his eyes. Let yourself feel loved and love yourself.

Read another essay from Shawn Binder in Thought Catalog Books’ new anthology, Boys, here.

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