• Prelude to a Gay Wedding: Beyond Skin Deep

    June 23, 2013

    535910_10200807671332340_306206481_nIn a recent post, I asked Dan and Joe why they think more gay people don’t seem to be seeking a lifelong relationship with just one person, be it called marriage or something else. There are plenty of folks who are, for sure, but even in states where gay marriage is now legal, the altars aren’t busy with gay couples taking their vows. Why? Joe and Dan seem so happy in their life together, that I wondered why, to the extent the stereotype is valid, do many gay guys settle for brief, sexual relationships that seem almost terminal from the start. And why are they terminal from the start, if that is the reality and not just a perception?

    Joe and Dan both seemed rather passionate about the topic, so I asked them both to write out their thoughts on the matter. Last time we heard from Joe. Now, it’s Dan’s turn.

    DAN:

    I think it’s less a stereotype and more a reality. But like I said before, you have to ask why this is so. It’s not enough to just write off gays as not wanting or being capable of maintaining long-term relationships. There are reasons, I think, that gays tend to struggle forming solid relationships.

    I think many of us who are gay go through a “phase” when we come out and are new to the community where we hook up as much as possible to compensate for the years of “closet life” and not being able to share affection with another human being. Most gays in the past didn’t get to go through the experimentation and dating phase of the teenage years, and so they go through it later in life when they come out, sometimes in the 30s or even later. I went through my phase, just as Joe went through his, but some gays never leave theirs. They get stuck in it, which is why, at least in Atlanta, that we have so many forty- and fifty-somethings still wearing Abercrombie, going to bars, and expecting to meet “Mr. Right” every night. It’s the only thing they know, because they were never shown anything different. They’ve never had examples of anything else, and often they’ve been told they can’t have anything else.

    We gays often are a community of skin-deep individuals, and relationships cannot be just skin deep in order for them to last forever. We learned from a young age to hide what we really feel and think, to bury the most intimate parts of ourselves because we were taught that it was bad to be gay, and many of us in the gay community have never unlearned that, so we stay very surface level in our relationships, even with other gays. We tend to define ourselves by what we have rather than who we are because, unfortunately, many of us don’t know who we are “the identity crisis Joe talked about”or we don’t like who we are because we’ve internalized all the rejection we’ve received in the past. So we focus on stuff we have instead. This can include having a good body, having a BMW or other flashy car; having more clothes and accessories than any man or woman will ever need, having lots of beautiful friends that can name-drop with the best of them, on and on. All of these things cause problems in straight relationships too, but I think they are a particular problem among the gay community, and they keep us having lots of sex but little depth or longevity in our relationships.

    Mobile apps like Grindr have only made the problem worse. It’s so easy to meet someone right now, have sex right now, and then never see the person again. You can have fun and never have to get to know yourself or the other person. I have friends who do this, and I feel so bad for them because if it begins with sex, it isn’t likely to end in a “forever” relationship.

    Having said this, I realize it’s especially tough in the gay community to meet other gay under healthier circumstances. Besides gay bars and parties, and mobile apps and websites like Grindr, where are gays to go and interact and get to know each other in a healthier way? I encourage my gay friends to check out accepting churches, outdoor clubs, etc., where the focus is less on meeting someone quickly and more on sharing a common purpose or goal with people you get to know over time.

    I really don’t want anyone to think that I am putting down the gay community in any way. I embrace it, love it, and participate in it in ways that I deem appropriate. At one point in my life, before I met Joe about two years ago, I was the guy in the tiny bathing suit bar tending the annual Joining Hearts Pool Party at Piedmont Park in Atlanta, but for me, that was just fun; it was not a life. I knew that I was not going to continue doing those things the rest of my life. Now I’m preparing to get married in a Methodist church right around the corner from my old bar-tending spot, and I am completely okay with that situation!

    I think as gay marriage spreads across the US, our community will slowly become more like the straight community, with lots of single people, divorced people, and married people. Just because we can get married in some states now doesn’t mean that all gays are going to suddenly run out and get married. There’s a lot of work we need to do to build healthier relationships first, but I do think that as more and more twenty- and thirty-somethings commit, become leaders in the community, and demonstrate healthy, loving, married relationships, the trend will spread. Hopefully, Joe and I are a part of that. Our wedding ceremony at the church will be open to anyone who wants to attend, whether they have received an invitation or not. We want people to see what is possible for them too.

    Posted in: Gay Marriage, General, Joe and Dan, More Gay Stuff

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