Before I really get into the reason I started writing down these random letters to form words that structure the following incoherent sentences that you are about to read, I want everyone to understand why I decided to write this in my Blog instead of responding in the forum thread where I first started ruminating on this topic. I am writing it here mainly because I think I’m going to offend a few people that read this and more than likely piss off the rest.
A few months ago, I came across a topic in the Lounge over at Gay Authors that got the wheels in my tiny little brain a whirling. So much did my head spin around and around, that even all this time later, I’m still thinking about the topic.
I really don’t remember who started the Topic all those months ago, and it’s really not important as it doesn’t really have anything to do with who started the topic but what path that topic got me traveling on.
To the best of my ability, the topic was “Do You Identify as Gay?”. It also included a poll of three choices…I identify as part of the gay community, I identify as someone who has sex with the same gender, I identify as something else (please explain). Or something along those lines anyway.
When I first read this topic, the results were as following…
72.41% or twenty-one posters identify as part of the gay community
13.79% or four posters identifying as someone who has sex with the same gender
13.79% or four posters identifying as something else
And for full disclosure, I identify as something else. This something else with the tagline, ( please explain), is the reason I am writing this today and the reason I have done more research about this topic in the last few months than I have in the last twenty years.
I have never spoken to the person who started the topic, nor am I judging that person or anyone that participated in this particular thread. I believe there is something deeper here in regards to my own journey then the author or other posters intended.
And let me preface this by saying, I am not attacking, judging, or refuting anyone that shared their own experiences in this topic. Nor am I discounting their beliefs or personal truths. I am only referencing them as it led me to a better understanding of my own self.
Upon first reading this topic, I believe I understand what the motivation the author had when they created the poll and the questions they proposed. And without putting words in anyone’s mouth, I believe the intention was to see how the other members of GA viewed themselves in a larger, cultural way. And on the surface, I think it was a harmless question without malice.
The post started off something like, “I’m curious to know how many people on here identify as part of the gay community versus how many just identify as having same sex attractions without feeling a part of the larger, cultural gay community”.
I first read this question more of, ‘hey, tell me how you feel about your place or lack thereof in the gay community at large’. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with the question that was put forth. I felt, and still do after all this time; it was more a curiosity to see into the lives of other individuals and to understand how they might see themselves in a grander scheme of life as it pertains to the “gay community”.
And after reading all the response, a particular comment stuck out from one user. And again, I might be paraphrasing, but the poster said something like, “I have come back to this post several times because it rather irks me. I am gay. However, I am not a member of gay clubs, sports, or other so-called gay organizations. The feeling I get reading this, is that unless I “join up”, me and the others like me, are really not gay”.
This comment intrigued me, so much so that I started doing some research into the poster. And no, I wasn’t stalking that user, but I did find out while I was stalking him that he identifies as a Dom in a BDSM relationship.
The user clearly stated that he did not feel part of the gay community because he refused to ‘sign up’. And a few posts later he added, “My lifestyle is even smaller. Mainly found in small clubs, and yes online. But even thought we have BDSM clubs, I am not a member. Though my husband and I live that way. Does that make me less a Dom? No, Not at all”.
Please understand that I know absolutely nothing about this user except what I have read in that particular topic and I am not refuting what he feels. I know nothing about BDSM except surface facts nor do I care to learn about this…lifestyle for lack of a better term. I do know that it’s not for me even though I understand that the participants feel a need to experience their life in this way and that there is a strong bond of love and trust in regards to their relationships. I feel everyone is entitled to love however they find it. And this post is not about BDSM but rather about the feeling this poster voiced about community.
Webster’s define community as: a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common. It goes on with a second definition: a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. A few of the synonyms listed: group, body, clique, faction.
When the user identified as gay but didn’t really have a connection to what most would call the gay community, preferring to just live their lives as they see fit and damn anyone that doesn’t agree with them. This statement got my little head spinning around. While this is an admirable trait, and one that I wholeheartedly agree with, it made me curious why he didn’t feel a connection to the greater gay community.
I don’t know this user and didn’t feel comfortable enough to ask certain questions regarding BDSM and why this user didn’t feel a part of the community, so instead I went online and started doing research about the subject to see if I could get a better understanding of why he might have answered like he did and more importantly, why the question seemed to irritate him.
And in my limited research about the subject, I found that most in a BDSM relationship identify first as a Dom or a Sub, then secondly as gay if they mention it at all. My understanding, BDSM is more important to how they live their truth than a label about sexuality. This seemed to be a logical reason why this user didn’t connect with the gay community.
And yet it got me thinking why I don’t connect with the gay community though I live in San Francisco, seemingly the Mecca of gaydom for the United States and maybe for the rest of the world.
I don’t have a lot of gay friends. And being gay does not now nor has ever really defined who I am as a human being. In my youth, I went to the clubs on the prowl for sex. I used more boys as dumpsters and playthings than ever made any real connections with the shallow people I met in those spaces. But that was a small part of biology, I was horny and wanted to find a release into the next willing receptacle but that wasn’t who I was or what I thought I should be. My community has always been those like minded individuals that share my same love of movies, video games, books, and historical places. At times, other gay people have fit that mold, but often as much, my friends are made up of all races, orientation, and gender.
I have found in my travels, the “gay community at large” are shallow, promiscuous, addicts, that are too self absorbed to be good friends much less good human beings. And yes, before you get all angry, there are always exceptions. But go to any club on a Saturday night, and you’ll see rampant alcohol and drug abuse in the gay community, unsafe sex practices, and old men trying desperately to hang on to their youth by any means necessary.
And if it seems like I’m judging them, maybe I am. But I don’t want to be associated with those types of humans. And it’s true, go to any straight club and you will see the same exact behavior which I think only proves that I don’t identify with them either.
To get back to the user who identifies as BDSM, he would also say, ‘my lifestyle is even smaller’. He’s proud to say that he doesn’t belong to any BDSM clubs. He simply chooses to live out his best life with seemingly little regard for what others might think. This is a behavior I can support.
Webster’s define lifestyle as: the way in which a person or group lives.
The user is living his best life with someone who loves and respects him and for all purposes; he is living the lifestyle of a gay man. The user also used the phrase, ‘join up’. And this made me think about the grander implications of that statement.
I feel that too many of our brothers and sisters are made to feel left out based on some of the marginal stigma surrounding certain lifestyles, especially if it’s on the fringe of the larger gay community. If the user, who identifies as a Dom, cannot feel like he’s a part of the gay community because he refuses to ‘join up’, then what does that say about this gay community? Is it because as humans, we tend to judge those that are different than us? If that’s the case, then we are no better than the homophobe that judges us because they do not understand us?
To counter that point, the user that started the post topic and put forth the poll answers to begin with, stated, ‘For example, I personally identify as gay and very much feel a part of the larger gay community. Most of my friends are gay, I go to a mostly-gay gym, I play in a gay sports league, I go to gay bars/clubs/circuit parties, and whenever I travel I make it a point to check out the local gay scene. What I love about being gay in the cultural sense is that no matter where you go, you already have an established tribe/community that you can find support in through shared identity. I've found in my post-college years is that we are a community that tends to protect our own, and we've created our own institutions separate from the straight world to fulfill that purpose. It's ghettoization to an extent, but after living in the stuffy confines of straight life for so long, I've found that this much smaller community offers freedom to a level and in a particular way that people who aren't a part of it will never get to experience’.
I think I could argue what the poster was referring to is not so much the ‘gay community’ but more of the gay lifestyle. Or what that perception of that lifestyle is from someone on the outside looking in. I do believe there is a certain perception of what most would call the gay community, and for a good portion of us, we would never identify ourselves in that manner.
Urban Dictionary defines gay lifestyle as: a stereotype used by social/political conservatives to describe gay men being promiscuous, drinking, bar hopping, using drugs, cross-dressing, and orgies.
Okay, I’ll be honest, the bit about cross-dressing made me laugh so hard I almost choked to death when I read it. But can you honestly say, you have never thought the same exact thing at least privately in your own brain. To most, the gay lifestyle doesn’t describe us much less define us. I have often lamented that who I choose to sleep with is such a small part of what makes me…me…that I rarely talk about it. I don’t go to Pride, I don’t participate in circuit parties, I don’t have orgies, nor do I have random encounters using phone Apps. That is not my lifestyle, nor has it really been.
So why am I writing this? It’s not to bash the author of this topic, nor the user that doesn’t identify as a member of the gay community. The reason I wrote this and the reason I have been thinking about this topic for months, is because I was looking at this through the wrong lens.
There was a time when gay individuals needed to bond together, first for safety, and then for support from a world that didn’t really accept us. And yes, having that support system truly saved who knows how many lives over the last decades. How many young people who didn’t commit suicide because they found a place that was safe for them to live their truth and find happiness within those communities? How many of the younger generation can go to proms with their same sex partner now all over the country? How many states have legalized same sex marriage? So much has changed for the gay community just in the last ten years that I never thought I would see in my lifetime. And thankfully, it has changed.
Yet I truly believe one of the worst things we can do as a community is retreat into our gay clubs, gay bars, gay sports leagues, and leave the rest of the world behind. We didn’t affect change by hiding in the shadows. We changed the country because we got out in the light and demanded that we needed to be treated first as humans, with the same rights as all other humans, then by allowing straight people who didn’t know any better that we have the same goals, values, and desires that all humans possess. Who we sleep with is irrelevant in the grand scheme of life.
My community, as defined by Webster, has always been made up of a fellowship of likeminded individuals that share my same attitude, goals, and life values. That is my community, and like most communities across the country, it’s not a gay community, it’s not a straight community, it’s a mix of beautiful humans that all strive to achieve a better life for those they love, and for those as yet unborn.
I have seen a lot of ‘gay communities’ that do not share my same values and goals. And I will not be a part of them just because they also happen to sleep with other men. That would be like saying, I will only vote for this particular person because they also have the genetic coding that made their eyes blue like mine. Eye color and genital preference is so far down on my list of priorities in those I choose to surround myself with its practically nonexistent.
If you find a gay community that shares your same attitudes, goals, and values, than great, you might have found the ideal life. But don’t get so hung up on only participating in ‘gay communities’ just because there are gay people there. Instead, create your own communities by including all people that share your values, embrace those that can bring something positive in your life and exclude all those, even the gay ones that would drag you down.
Gay or straight, all communities are made up of humans first, and most of us are a wonderful, kind, generous, honest, loving, and accepting group that can do extraordinary things when we share a common purpose.
I know that my thoughts might not be for everyone who reads them. And that’s okay. We are all on different places in our walk of life. I do know that over the last few months my perception of community changed and I believe I am a better person for it. So I thank whoever started this topic, and those that contributed to the thread as they all helped me come to a better understanding of who I am as a human and where I want to go.