We do it all the time: most of us because we feel compelled to live life a little differently. Sometimes we do it because we feel like we should set a neater, more picturesque example for our friends, for our family, and for our neighbours - one that society might have an easier time understanding. One that isn't as provocative or controversial. One that doesn't invite as much shame.
Well, some of us deserve that shame simply because we continue to shame others. Here are the four worst ways that gay guys shame other gay guys, and why they should stop...
And what is a slut? Someone who has sex often or with multiple partners? We, the gay community, tend to ascribe the same connotations to promiscuity as the rest of our boxed-in, closed-minded society. That is to say that promiscuity is dirty, immoral, and suggestive of weak character. I call it bullshit.
There are certainly plenty of religious gay guys. But many of us feel abandoned by God, or by members of our religious communities. For that reason and others, many of us are agnostic or atheist. Whatever your beliefs, there's nothing wrong with them.
But the fact of the matter is this: the concept of your body as a temple is steeped in religious mythology. The truly devout believe that marriage is the foundation of society, and that sexual intercourse should be saved for your spouse. This is because sex is seen as the ultimate sharing and binding of a couple's love for one another. Promiscuity is chastised. Nudity is blasphemy.
Even though many gay guys don't hold these beliefs, many of us still have the deeply ingrained idea that a monogamous relationship is a sign of maturity. A sign of character. Even though these ideas stem from religious concepts and ideals (in which most of us probably don't believe), we still use them as excuses to shame other gay guys and conform to society's wishes.
Sex is only unhealthy when it interferes in other aspects of your life or when it's unsafe. But don't let anyone else tell you how to live your life, how many sexual partners you should have, or that they're of a higher moral calibre simply because you have a more potent libido. Don't let anyone shame you for doing what feels right for you.
We tend to associate Grindr and other dating apps with sex. To many of us, it's simply known as a 'hook-up app'. And it's true that many of us use the mobile application to find other gay guys for convenient sex.
Following growing reports of attacks and robberies related to app hook-ups we should probably be a little bit more careful about meeting up with people who we haven't met and know nothing about, but people have the right to make their own choices and take their own risks without being chastised for it.
If you don't feel like playing it safe and grabbing a cup of coffee first, then it's your risk and the consequences are your responsibility.
On the other hand, if you're not looking for a hookup and would prefer a monogamous relationship, then go get one. You can use Grindr for that, too. Only want friends? Believe it or not, people do use Grindr to make friends.
Use it for whatever you like, or don't use it at all, but don't judge others because of their choices and preferences. If anything, growing up gay should have taught us all not to judge. But we do anyway.
We're getting there, but we still have a long way to go as a community.
This is one of my favourites, if for no other reason than its sheer audacity. You won't hear older, more mature gay men telling younger guys that they haven't grown up, that they cannot handle adult relationships or responsibilities; no, instead, you'll hear gay guys who are typically in their twenties spout off this nonsense to anyone who will listen (thankfully, not many do).
There's a distinct irony in a college-aged kid describing any other human being as immature or childish. If you don't like the way other people are leading their lives, then that's fine. But bury your words. They're insulting, they're demeaning, and they're wildly inaccurate.
It's true that many gay men did not experience adolescence in the same way as their heterosexual counterparts. Adolescent homosexuals tend to be more repressed because they don't always feel comfortable with expressing themselves on the most basic level.
Labeling people as damaged, mentally incapable, or immature does not repair the damage that has been done. We are who we are. No one should be blaming themselves. And no one who doesn't feel comfortable with society's definition of a typical lifestyle should feel at all inclined to conform to the standard. We're all different, and we should do more to celebrate those differences.
The world is changing, and we should change with it.
This is the big one. HIV is a significant barrier for many people who try to understand the gay community, and it accompanies the greatest stigma. Most of us probably have at least one friend or acquaintance who has HIV. Have we asked them about living with HIV? Have we asked them what it's been like? Have we asked them how they feel? This is the most terrible reason that gay guys shame one another.
We shun those who have it, we use unfortunate, misleading language when we remind others that we're "clean" in our social networking profiles, and yet we still live in a society where unsafe sex is common. How can any of us chastise an entire group of people who are HIV positive, but fail to slip on a condom ourselves?
Newsflash: we are not invincible. Practise safe sex, and don't shame those who have made the mistakes we're all prone to make from time to time. The vast majority of us have at one point or another taken the same risk while being sexually active. There is an enormous disparity in the way the gay community treats those who are HIV positive.
We shame one another constantly. It's sad, it's damaging, and it's maddening. So what message should we be sending to one another instead? Here it is: you do you.
Be yourself. Make your own choices. Let other people make theirs. Don't judge people for their actions, mistakes, or beliefs. You. Do. You. Be happy! Be healthy! Be safe!
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