Gay men are steeped in shame.
There is no gay man in this culture who has not been invited to indulge in a great amount of shame creation and subjugation. No matter our backgrounds, our subculture is one that invites shame.
America is both sex obsessed and sex phobic.
This makes for disturbing and horribly stupid thinking and behavior around sexuality and its expression.
Gay men raised in American culture are heavily influenced by the parents who raise them (who also are as confused, angry and uninformed as the children they rear).
As a gay man, I am keenly aware of the need and lust for acceptance by people who will never understand my “choices” (yes, I still have contact with people who subscribe to this bs)and will use the lack of understanding to create distances where there should be love.
These same people will use misunderstanding and a refusal to change as the reason to not accept me.
While I no longer permit the longing for acceptance by folks who look like me to worry or menace me, it still hurts.
It is hurtful to have people dismiss you and the person you love simply because they can.
According to the brilliant Brene’ Brown shame needs the following three things to survive and thrive: secrets, silence and judgement.
We all know gay men are notoriously adept at these three deadly and provocative means of personal and communal annihilation.
I have often heard gay men talk very passionately about not wanting someone in their business (secrecy).
I am often looked at as if I’ve grown an extra head when I ask people : what business ? Are you up to something ?
I have had (gay ) friends school me in the art of deception (another level of secrecy) and ways of being “slick”.
My gay male friends are unimpressed when I state:If what your doing is legit then what do you care if somebody knows about it ?
I get antsy when people around me keep secrets.
Secret keeping is something we learn and (if lucky ) master when we first discover that we are “different”.
Some gay men have shared with me what a wonderful experience they had coming out and more pointedly how supportive and open their families were on the “big day”.
My retort is always: Unless you never left your house, at some point there was a reason for you to “pass” (as a straight male) in an effort to keep a job, enter a social club or just to keep the peace in a social setting.
I am assured that these incidents were out of their hands and that they opted for the deadly and always productive choice of silence.
When we don’t understand the significance of being silenced, we have lost a significant battle.
Silent and unseen equals a painless existence.
Silence is a way of sanctioning foolishness and straight up stupidity.
Being quiet doesn’t invite or insist on change.
Gay men are wonderful at silencing each other as a means to release shame and its hold on us. We are often are worst advocates and biggest bullies.
Opening countless gay mags, I am made to believe that unless I have a glaring six pack, a huge monster cock, all the latest fashions and am anything other than 25, I better keep my lips zipped and quietly fade into the background.
We must speak our shame (as it pertains to aging, waning sex appeal and sexual interest, disappointment, flat out anger and resentment) and identify where we can assist each other in building up resistance to it.
We must not encourage or turn a blind eye to those of us who sexually act out as their one and only shame eliminating tool.
It is time we come out about our shame.
This article originally appeared on Anthony Carter’s Blog
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