Category Archives: PERSPECTIVE

WHAT I MISS FROM INSIDE THE CLOSET

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‘The Closet’ can be a terrifying, lonely and suffocating place. It’s a metaphorical cage that represents suppression, oppression and even depression.  Looking back on my own experience those three things were certainly true but amongst the darkness there were a few positives that I can now say I truly miss.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not always doom and gloom inside the closet. As you start to push open the metaphorical door and peer into the light beyond the crack exciting things start to happen. You realise that there is an enticing world out there with endless possibilities. Although you might not be ready to spring out of the shadows in all your rainbow glory, you start experimenting and testing the waters. The sense of curiosity, compounded by the guilt you feel for doing something ‘immoral’ can actually be quite exhilarating. I remember the thrill that came with kissing boys in the back of my car in deserted carparks or sneaking guys out of my bedroom window in my parents house. Sure most of these highs were then followed by lows and feelings of shame but during those stolen moments I felt ecstasy that I have found hard to replicate in my later years.

It’s the feeling of doing things for the first time, things that you are told are wrong but which feel so right – these are the times I miss from my youth and from inside my own closet. Finding moments to hold hands with a boy at a party when nobody was around and then letting go as soon as your friend walked into the room then desperately waiting for that friend to leave so that you can do it again.  Receiving messages on your phone from your crush and then telling your mum it was from your boss when she gets too nosey. Smiling at a stranger in the change rooms at an inter-school swimming meet. Once out of the closet these situations don’t hold the same sense of danger. The fear of getting caught is removed but it is the fear of getting caught that makes your heart beat faster and electrifies your senses.

When I first started experimenting with boys and going to gay clubs I felt as though I was doing something that was on the fringes of society. For someone who had been brought up in a somewhat conservative environment, being gay almost became an expression of rebellion for me. The cover ups and fabricated stories allowed me to be part of one world at night and then return to the normality of heterosexual, conservative life by day. It was fun, for a time.

After a while though the thrill of breaking the rules diminishes and you are left with the realisation that you cannot be happy and in the closet forever. For the short period of time, in the beginning of the long walk out of the closet, every experience is brand new, every man-to-man touch is a blessing and every moment, no matter how brief, spent out of the closet is a relief. These are feelings that can never be replicated again. This is what I miss from inside the closet.

Image by Damon Baker 

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WHY GAY MEN ARE SO MEAN TO EACH OTHER

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I could have entitled this post ‘Why people are so mean to each other’ because the reason is common across all sexualities. For the purposes of this post though, I’m going to focus on the gay experience. Why? Because the factors at play that cause us to tear each other down are often stronger in gay men which can make us meaner than most.

Why do we look at the success of other gay men and find reasons to justify why they’re not deserving of it? Why do we make fun of fellow gay men who are different from us just for being themselves? Why do spread rumours, leave hurtful messages on social media and ostracise others from within our own community? The simple answer is insecurity and what is insecurity? Insecurity is the fear of not enough.

When we see people doing something for which we negatively judge them it’s because it stirs something within ourselves that we do not like. Do you discount someone else’s success by spreading rumours that he slept his way to the top? Chances are you are insecure about your own ability to achieve your goals. Have you purposely excluded someone from your friendship circle because you think that he’s not good enough to be your friend? Chances are that you yourself don’t feel worthy enough to be loved by others. Extreme action is in itself a reflection of its opposite. I will repeat that for emphasis. Extreme action is in itself a reflection of its opposite. The loudest people are often the most afraid, the most confident often the most anxious and the most popular are often the loneliest.

Many of us gay men have been made to feel insecure through our formative years because of our sexuality. Once we are liberated we have the option to overcome that insecurity. For some though this insecurity becomes internalised, covered up; it is left unaddressed and surfaces as bitchiness, meanness and what can only be compared to adolescent behaviour (because adolescents are often the most insecure!).

Where does this insecurity originate? It comes from the fear of not enough. I’m not good enough. Rich enough. Handsome enough. Fit enough. Masculine enough. Popular enough. Smart enough. Loveable enough. Seeing good, rich, handsome, fit, masculine, popular, smart and loveable people awakens the insecurity within us. We tell ourselves that these people are flawed to make ourselves feel better because we are afraid that if they succeed then by law we must fail. This is the power of scarcity, a function of modern society which convinces us that we will never be or have enough. We have been misled to think that in order to get ahead we have to aggressively force our way past others but the universe doesn’t operate with that same limited mentality. The universe is abundant. There is enough oxygen for everyone, enough money to be made, enough opportunity for all those that seek it. Just because someone else has a boyfriend or an apartment or a dream job, does not mean that you cannot have those things too. When you look at the world from a place of abundance then the fear of not enough vanishes and with it your own insecurities.

Something else happens when you see the world from a perspective of abundance – you actually begin to see people differently too. People’s successes do not cause you shame or jealously but act as an example of what can be achieved. Instead of wishing failure on your fellow gay man, you honour his achievements which in turn actually empowers you to go after your own. It’s rather quite simple.

So if you’re ever the victim of a mean gay then now you know that he himself is actually suffering. A person who sees the world from a secure, abundant space will never be threatened by another’s triumphs nor will he find reason to be mean to his gay brethren.

Image by Sven Banziger 

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THIS IS FOR ALL THE GAY MISFITS

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This is for all the gay misfits. The queers, the fags, the queens, the tattooed nerds, the freaks and geeks, the quiet types. This is for all of the homosexuals who don’t fit into mainstream gay culture (because what even is mainstream gay culture?). This is for the guys that are too modest to take shirtless selfies, too alternate to attend circuit parties or too private to share the details of their sex lives.  This is for the gaymers, the ravers, the early night-into-bed tamers. Boys who like boys but don’t work out their bubble butts. The pooftas and fairies who don’t brunch over Bloody Marys or want to take drugs and kiki until Tuesday.

This is for all the gay misfits. You’re alright too.

You feel that you’re the only one who doesn’t fit into the gay stereotype? Well rest assured that you are not. There are others out there that feel the same, who aren’t comfortable in large social gatherings, whose friends are mainly straight or girls or who have very few friends at all but are content with the ones they do have. It may be harder to find these mythical creatures because by nature neither you nor they congregate at gay bars. Give it some time though because after a while they do come out and your paths will cross and you will bond over your love for Seinfeld and sudoko.

Know this in the meantime, it’s ok to be different. You can love Kylie or kickboxing or prefer eating a la carte instead of eating ass. You might vacation in Morocco over Mykonos or practice golfing instead of gyming but either way there’s a place for you in the world and there are people who share your same passions no matter how obscure they may be. Don’t be fooled by what you see as gay culture in popular media. There are plenty of people for whom that lifestyle works but if you’re not one of those people and it doesn’t make you happy then don’t try to conform.

To the sissies, femmes and awkward lads and to the muscle men and pretty boys. Be true to yourself. Your character need not be governed by your sexuality nor do you have to change to satisfy other’s expectations of you.

This is for all the gay misfits and we are all gay misfits. You’re alright too.

Image by Darren Black

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DAY 7 OF 31: CHECKING IN

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Today marks the first week since I started my challenge of updating my blog or Youtube channel daily. When I started this challenge I knew that it would be difficult, not because I don’t have anything to share with you, but because I want to make sure that what I do share with you is enriching in some way.

It’s crazy how many thoughts go through your head throughout the day but often when you try to collect them or put them into words, they fall through your hands like water. I guess the purpose of this post is to admit that tonight, I don’t have the mental fortitude to put my deep musings into words. Often I find it exhausting enough dealing with my own internal monologue and to have to relive those one man scenes again tonight is proving difficult. I do however have some interesting posts in the works for the coming days such as ‘How looking back over your shoulder at boys is the most fun you can have with two eyes’ and ‘Why gay men are never content in their relationships’ so make sure you come back again tomorrow.

Thank you for your continued support and don’t forget to email, tweet or comment below with any topics or questions you would like to me cover.

Image by Julia Hetta

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WHY COMING OUT IS SO HARD YET SO REWARDING

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Today we observe National Coming Out Day and to mark the occasion, here is a list of 8 reasons why coming out is one of the hardest things you will ever have to do and yet the most rewarding.

  1. You have to publicly reveal to your friends, families, co-workers a secret about yourself that you feel ashamed of… yet once you come out that shame begins to fade away
  2. You have to publicly reveal to your friends, families, co-wokers a secret about yourself without knowing how they may respond… yet their responses may pleasantly surprise you
  3. You have to reveal to people a part of your identity that may be at odds with their personal beliefs… yet their beliefs may actually make them more tolerant
  4. The first people that you come out to are often straight and can’t empathise with your experience… yet straight allies can make for the most powerful allies
  5. You may live in an environment that does not make it safe for you to come out… yet when you’re old enough or independent enough to remove yourself form that environment you will find people to help protect you
  6. You feel trapped by your fears, insecurities and worries while you’re still in the closet… yet when you come out you realise that the things that frightened you the most never happen
  7. You feel like you’re always pretending while you’re in the closet… yet when you come out you can be your true self
  8. You feel like a coward for not having the courage to come out… yet coming out is one of the bravest things you will ever do

Image by Exterface Studio

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GAY TEENAGERS AND THE MISSED YEARS

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Last night I watched a beautiful Dutch film called Jongens (Boys). It was the story of two teenage boys and their relationship and it made me reflect on my own teenage years. Watch the video below then check out the trailer for the film here.

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THE MOST POWERFUL GAY ADVERT…AND IT’S FROM A BEER COMPANY

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Guinness, the 256 year old Irish beer company has just released a powerful advertisement featuring legendary Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas. The former Wales captain came out of the closet in 2009 and the following year was voted the UK’s most influential gay person.

The advertisement is particularly powerful for several reasons. The first because it’s an advertisement for a beer, a product category which is normally more comfortable using stereotypical notions of masculinity to sell more units as opposed to openly gay men. The second reason is that it’s for an internationally recognisable Irish brand. With Ireland legalising gay marriage only four months ago, this short video is another sign of how progressive the country is, particularly when it comes to gay equality. But the third and most poignant reason is that Thomas mentions how his teammates were the ones that helped him in his ‘darkest hour’ and how when he needed them the most they were there for him. Sports seems to be the last frontier to conquer when it comes to homophobia but Gareth’s story is an example of how there is hope for change.

Watch the ad below:

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MY GREATEST FEAR HAS ME CRIPPLED

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It’s been so long since my last post. 92 days to be exact and the longest time since I first started this site. While I wish I could blame it on writer’s block, this is certainly not the case – I’ve had so much that I’ve wanted to share with you. On the surface I blame my job for my lack of writing as it consumes so much of my time and energy but this isn’t the cause either. What I’ve come to realise is much deeper than effort or inspiration, it is something that has affected me throughout my life and permeates all facets of my being. What I’m referring to is vulnerability and the repercussions of not giving into it.

Vulnerability is the ability to put yourself out there, wholeheartedly, in the scary big world, for all to see, and without control of the outcome. It’s the strength to forfeit expectations and honestly live in the moment. I’m certainly not the first to discuss this topic, researcher Brené Brown does a far more eloquent job at explaining the concept in this widely watched Ted Talk, but this is the first time that I’ve realised how debilitating the fear of vulnerability can be.

But first, how does this impact on writing? Well, my writing can almost be seen as a metaphor for my life. When I write I ruminate over every word and every sentence, making sure the end product is perfect. If I don’t think that the final product is perfect, particularly in the eyes of others, then I won’t push publish on WordPress. If only you could see the unfinished posts that are sitting in my drafts. This translates into the real world too. I can’t start a project or move towards a goal until I know that everything is in faultless alignment. Such obsession with perfection is evident in my personality traits whereby I do my best to portray the well put together image of someone who has their life together, who is successful, confident, unfazed by other’s opinions and certain of his future. How far from the truth the reality. Like a vicious circle this in turn influences my writing because a post about how I’m afraid of vulnerability will shatter the illusion that I’ve worked so hard to create. Herein lies the power of this particular article.

I work in the communications industry, a profession where my day-to-day task is to control ‘messages’ that brands want their customers to receive. I’m great at my job and skilled at creating the right perception for my clients amongst the public, probably because I’m so good at doing it for myself. Using these same skills, I have crafted a life that avoids vulnerability at all costs. I’ll dismiss people before I’ve had a chance to properly meet them to avoid them doing the same to me first. I’ll do the same to guys I find attractive. I’ll create stories about how I shouldn’t approach them because they’re probably stupid or an asshole and I’m better than that anyway when in actuality it’s fear of rejection which in turn is avoidance of vulnerability. I’l be loud and boisterous amongst people who I don’t find intimidating but when I’m in a crowd of people I deem ‘superior’ in popularity or status I’ll purposely ostracise myself. As I’ve become more aware of this concept of vulnerability I’ve also become more aware of how it affects others, particularly gay guys. Have you ever noticed how some gay men love to tear each other down? How they’ll look at someone else’s success or someone else’s relationship and pick at all the flaws? “Oh he makes a lot of money but I bet his boyfriend is cheating on him”. Why do we do this? Because we’re jealous and too afraid to admit that we feel less successful in comparison or worse, that we fee we are not worthy of being loved.

This particular post is a personal first step towards vulnerability, a step closer to honesty and wholehearted living. I want to share more with you, dear reader, in the hope that we can overcome our shame together. You see, shame is a component of vulnerability. Avoiding vulnerability is a protective mechanism against exposing one’s shame. If I’m not open then you can’t see the darkness inside of me. Both Brown and Alan Downs, author of The Velvet Rage have explored this concept of shame. Downs looks at shame particularly in the gay context and how it affects ours lives. Personally I think you need not even open a book to understand the by-product of shame in the gay community. In my opinion, many mainstream gay mega parties are a perfect example of shame avoidance. These gatherings are a coming together of men who are hiding from their shame (either consciously or subconsciously). They mask their vulnerability behind hard bodies of muscle and supress their emotions through excessive drug taking and sex. In my eyes, the act of taking off of one’s shirt in this environment or similarly in a gay club is an overt expression of vulnerability avoidance. The act says, ‘don’t try know me for me but judge me only on what you can see of me on the surface’. Of course I am generalising and I’m sure I’ll be accused of stereotyping or internalised homophobia but I only offer these observations and musings as my own opinion. Whether or not you agree with me or Downs or Brown is not the point, the point is that we are open enough with ourselves and each other to discuss our shortcomings. That is what vulnerability is truly about.

I hope that I can continue to write stories and post articles that you find thought provoking. Perhaps some will be inspiring, while others purely entertaining. You may agree with what I say or my words may have no resonance. Either way my intention is to be more open so that you and I can share strength and embrace vulnerability together.

Image by Giuseppe Attanasio 

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10 IRISH MEN YOU CAN NOW LEGALLY MARRY

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As the votes are being counted in Ireland’s referendum on gay marriage, it appears that the country has chosen ‘yes’ to marriage equality. To celebrate the occasion here is a list of 10 hot Irish men that you can now legally marry:

10. Colin Farrell 

9. Chris O’Dowd

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8. Daniel Day-Lewis

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7. Jack Reynor

6. Niall Horan 

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5. Cillian Murphy

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4. Michael Fassbender

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3. Jonathan Rhys Meyers 

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2. Pierce Brosnan

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1. Jamie Dornan

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MODERN GAY PHILOSOPHY: KNOW THYSELF

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During my weekly Saturday philosophy class, I came across the following story by Rudyard Kipling, the English poet and writer who, in 1894 famously penned The Jungle Book. The topic of the lecture was ‘Know Thyself’ and the debate that ensued centred on the idea  that the unexamined life is not worth living (Socrates). Kipling’s fable perfectly explains where we must begin our examination in order to truly find ourselves.

Once upon a time, or rather, at the very birth of time, when the Gods were so new that they had no names, and Man was still damp from the clay of the pit whence he had been digged, Man claimed that he, too, was in some sort a deity. The Gods were as just in those days as they are now.

They weighed his evidence and decided that Man’s claim was good — that he was, in effect, a divinity, and, as such, entitled to be freed from the trammels of mere brute instinct, and to enjoy the consequence of his own acts. But the Gods sell everything at a price.

Having conceded Man’s claim, the legend goes that they came by stealth and stole away this godhead, with intent to hide it where Man should never find it again. But that was none so easy. If they hid it anywhere on Earth, the Gods foresaw that Man, the inveterate hunter — the father, you might say, of all hunters — would leave no stone unturned nor wave unplumbed till he had recovered it. If they concealed it among themselves, they feared that Man might in the end batter his way up even to the skies. And, while they were all thus at a stand, the wisest of the Gods, who afterwards became the God Brahm, said, “I know. Give it to me!” And he closed his hand upon the tiny unstable light of Man’s stolen godhead, and when that great Hand opened again, the light was gone.

“All is well,” said Brahm. “I have hidden it where Man will never dream of looking for it. I have hidden it inside Man himself.”

Image Credit: A Troy Dunham art piece created with photographer Jeff Eason (Wilsonmodels)

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