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Friday, 5 July 2013

Mail: The 27 Year Old Guy Who Feels Left Out

About 2 weeks ago, I received an unexpected write-in from a guy living in the United States.

His Email:
I stumbled across your blog recently and honestly it was difficult to read at times. I felt like I had written it! I want to thank you for sharing your experiences, because it's made a lot of us feel a lot better about ourselves. I'm 27, I live in the USA and my journey has been similar to yours.  

I started (seriously) noticing my attraction to guys in High School, and eventually found my way to gay porn. I started using the internet to chat with guys, but again most of these conversations and interactions revolved around sex and porn. Probably why gay culture is so screwed up, our first experiences revolve around sex, lol. 

At university I started talking more seriously with guys and at 18 I had my first experiences fooling around with other students. It almost felt like I was taking baby steps out of the closet. But then the next year many of my straight friends joined me at university and I fell right back into the closet. I was lucky enough though to make a connection with another guy J. We grew up in similar families and similar areas, and J is out of the closet so he was a great resource to talk to about being gay and what it means. 

We were also very sexually compatible and would meet up regularly for fun. I always held him back from full on intercourse though, because I want to be out and happy and in love (or at least lust) when I give that to someone. So basically I fell into a stasis where my secret encounters with J kept me satisfied, but my "straight" life became increasingly unfulfilling.  

This feeling became magnified as my peers and I bounded towards true adulthood and our 20s. My friends (gay and straight alike) started entering into meaningful relationships that involved not just sex but true companionship. It felt like everyone around me was falling in love and I was too fucked up and closeted to have the same thing. But then again, this was university and there was plenty of homework, parties, stress, and fun to distract me from all these thoughts.  

After college I moved to the big city! New York! A true gay Mecca. I lived alone for my first few months in New York and cautiously explored the gay scene. Unfortunately I ran into many of the same disappointments you did. I went to Splash, the biggest and trendiest gay club in New York. It was everything I thought it would be except... I was alone. Everyone there seemed to be having the time of their lives with their friends. No one asked me to dance or bought me a drink. I worked up the courage to ask another lonely guy to dance and he said no. This pattern repeated itself at a few other bars and eventually I retreated back into my closeted life and the sleazy hookup scene.  

Soon after I moved in with my straight friend G. At this time I started noticing that some of my closest friends, especially G were noticing cracks in my armor (glass closet). They would prod about why I hadn't pursued a relationship. G even asked me point blank, in the most understanding way possible if I was gay. But I wasn't ready to admit it and denied it vehemently.  Part of me wishes I had just said yes!

Eventually I started to feel the need for a fresh start. Subconsciously, I think I wanted to get away from the friends and family in New York who knew the "old" closeted me. I took a job in Los Angeles, another gay Mecca and moved to California, where I have been since 2010. Living here has presented a whole 'nother set of issues. Los Angeles is an open, accepting city.  I don't have a single friend here who would have a problem with my sexuality. My best friend here is an amazing woman who I know would be a particularly good person to help me work through my feelings. In fact, the vast majority of my straight friends are like this. But I'm still not comfortable with who I am.  

A lot of it has to do with residual homophobia. And with my fear over the reaction of the religious, conservative community I grew up in (and my parents are still a part of). There's that fear that when I come out, not only will I have to deal with rejection, but with the knowledge that I'll be a topic of discussion for friends, family, etc. "Did you hear ___'s son is gay?!" "Did you hear ___ came out?" It's terrifying!

And then there's the fact that I haven't had a lot of great experiences with gay culture. Much like yourself I tire of spending days on hookup sites. I'm tired of going to bars by myself and seeing everyone around me have the time of their lives while I drink a beer alone. I want MORE. I don't just want sex, I want someone to do mundane, simple things with.  

But now I have the added fear that I've waited too long. I'm 27, closeted, and I've never had full on intercourse. People are coming out in their teen years these days, and when I look at gay men my age (or even younger!) I feel like they have years and years of gay experience (social and romantic) that I don't. This is all magnified because I spend all my time in New York and Los Angeles, where I am bombarded with happy, out gay men who are living fabulous lives. I wish I could go back to 18, come out of the closet, and fast forward to the part of my life where I have my shit together, haha.  

I'm still struggling with all this and taking baby steps but when I found your blog I couldn't help but think WOW, someone else feels this way too. I hope all my rambling makes sense. Any advice on where to go from here? Thanks for sharing what you've been through. 

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My Reply to Him:
Firstly, thank you very much for such a deep email. It gives me great consolation to know that this little white space of mine unconsciously provides a sense of solace to other guys such as yourself, and for that, it keeps me motivated to continue this documentation for the future generation of guys who might find themselves on a gay and invisible journey.

I have always told myself that one day, I would like to live in gay Meccas' such as New York or Los Angeles where it has so much to offer a soul-searching gay guy like me. From London to Paris, New York to Vancouver, I've always given myself the thought that maybe one day I might get out of where I originally came from and give myself a chance at living an exciting gay life. I wouldn't mind living with my "good-looking boyfriend" in a town house or an apartment just as I dreamt of.

However, after listening to your story, I am saddened by the realisation that maybe the whole dream of moving to these places for a better life and finding my happy ending, is just a self-conjured fantasy. That, maybe the real issues and problems of unhappiness doesn't lie in the place, but rather at the core of me and how I perceive my life.

I think what you're looking for is genuine companionship, as in someone to share your life with. You have been quite lucky in terms of being able to locate a couple of guys in which you can test out sexual waters with while you were 18 and in college/university. Although there might not have been full intercourse, but I feel that the broadening of one's mind through light sexual encounters is already a very powerful experience in helping a person understand, and come to terms with what they are genuinely attracted to in a no-longer-theoretical manner.

You have definitely taken the baby steps. But I have a feeling that the deeper issue that has been the backbone of your struggles, is that you're still not mentally in a space whereby you have found that inner peace by realising that there really is no way to change what has become of you and the different parts that make up who you really are as a whole.

It stems from the baggage, the story that you hold on to which ties in deeply with the way you were being brought up, the place where you come from, the background of your life. I can't help but wonder if the absence of genuine unconditional support from the most crucial foundation of your life that is of utmost importance to you, such as your family, community and also your religious background to be the real element in which will give you the confidence and closure to moving on? To allow yourself to be comfortable in the immutable, as-a-matter-of-fact circumstance of being attracted to guys in the 21st century? 

The baggage that we carry is understandable, however you must also know how to start taking care of yourself. In the sense that you have to now realise that genuine freedom from yourself is what you truly deserve. Part of the most crucial task of ageing in life, is learning how to make tough decisions and do what's best for ourselves. Your own cup has to be full before you can influence others who genuinely love you to see you for who you are. 

I once heard a phrase and an intervention session on television in which one person asked the other: "Who will you be without that story that you're holding on to? Who will you be, and what will you be doing?"

If you think about it, what gay guys are going through here, is all just attraction within a complicated minority of other gay guys. How long more would the world want to publicly decry, if not castigate people over human nature that wasn't even their choice to begin with. The principle here would be that if they refuse to accept the reality that is slowly turning over a new leaf on our world, then you should definitely free yourself now and rise above stupid people who will never get it because they're mind is stuck in a space where it doesn't have enough emotional intelligence to perceive and understand things from the shoes of others. Will it be worth to short change yourself with torment over other people's narrow-mindedness?

Bear in mind that you don't have to come-out to everyone. Because the support and acceptance of only the handful of people whom you really care about and genuinely love is what matters, such as your friend G. This is probably the key towards helping you to move on to a happier and more accepting life. The feeling when someone accepts you for who you are, is one of the most liberating in the world, and once you experience that, it generates more positivity and courage for you to carry on and be comfortable with yourself.

Don't be afraid to fail and to lose people along the way. Don't be afraid to take the necessary risks and make a change in your life, even if it means everything will come crashing down and you collapse. Because in life, what goes down must come up and I have a very strong feeling that your happiness and well-being, the rainbow after the rain will truly come to life only and if only you're ready, and you've decide that it's time to let it rain.

Funny thing is like you, I too suffered from the realisation that younger gay guys are now not only blessed with the privilege to come-out at in their teen years, but they are also more attractive and luckier in their sex and love lives. This makes me wonder occasionally as to where I stand as a guy who just came-out in his mid-twenties, never having experienced real romance, love-making and every other nice things that seem to come so easily and effortlessly for other people. What is going to happen to me?

I once found myself sitting at a dinner table with my close friends feeling the same way as you did. About how everybody was falling in love, everybody was so lucky and everybody's life was insanely comfortable to the point where they never really have to yearn for experiences and things. I have to admit, I'm still working on that and trying to free myself from internal incarceration.

I wish I could say some things, or give you some words of encouragement to make you feel better in regards to your invisibility at gay establishments and also your search for companionship. But I'm afraid, I am not at all in a position to do so because I've never exactly experienced any real romance or know the gay jungle board game enough to provide survival skills.

But I will say this, is that if you genuinely believe in the existence of true companionship and unfaltering love, then only allow yourself to feel more than a day of rejection at the bars. We are all meant to be our own person someday, and the aforementioned guys, are not meant to be the ones who will at the end of the day, make the summit with you when you blossom further into your 30s and 40s into an attractive man in mind, in soul and in body.

To end this email before it gets any longer, maybe what you're feeling is a wake-up call in trying to get you to deal with the situation at this age before you grow any older. Think about it, would you really want to carry this into your thirties or wait until you turn 40? I actually think you need to identify and sort out a couple of things within yourself at this stage in order for you to be able to move on to true acceptance that will secure your emotional freedom. 

It will also jump start the process of a positive change that will perhaps bring about the search for what you want? But do it only when you're ready or when you think the people from home are ready. Unfortunately, I can't tell you how or when to be ready. You have to go through a process that you cannot rush. You will know when you know. Have I said too much in this email? Does it help at all?

All the love and support in the world, M

Being the anonymous writer behind Gay & Invisible who is also lost himself, it dawned on me that I am probably the last person on Earth to be giving anybody any advice or input on life, love, and acceptance. Reading back what I wrote, I suddenly felt so foolish. Anyway, I don't expect my words to solve problems, but I do at least hope that this will help make him and any other similar guy out there feel better about themselves.

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