The Epidemic of Gay Depression and unhappiness in the modern GLBTQI world (excluding the obvious cluster of countries where GLBTQI people live in a fear and oppression regime) is a scientific fact; there wouldn’t even be the need for data to show, as we all know about it, in the deep of our hearts; we all know that most of our Brothers and Sisters are unhappy, and we experience to different degrees the same sense of being hollow, a sense of emptiness and loneliness that follows us all everywhere.
If you agree with what stated, hopefully our point of view can help you recognizing some of the issues, and even help you take action. However, in any case, remember that you are not alone, there’s nothing to be ashamed of, and you should seek medical assistance just like you would for a broken leg, if you can’t crawl out of it by yourself. Don’t be ashamed to say that you’re unhappy.
On the Gay Depression epidemic: what’s happening and how to react?
- What happened to our Community in the last 20 years
- How Social Media affected us all
- Dating Apps
- Homologation, hidden between the lines of inclusiveness.
- Being yourself
- The loss of values
- Other personal issues
- How to react
- What not to do?
What happened to our Community in the last 20 years?
Before writing these articles, I always document myself, and actually the interest in writing an article always comes from a conversion I had, a thought provoking situation. I also document myself a lot online by various sources, and if you look for references in the changes in the GLBTQI community during the last 20 years, generally you only find results related to Human Rights. Which is a fundamental part of our life of course, and the pivoting point historically for our “movement” and lives; but are GLBTQI rights the only thing that changed in our community throughout time? I think that a lot of the GLBTQI costumes and culture have changed, our way of relating to one another changed a lot, our ability to sustain an online conversation with a stranger has changed. I believe the biggest, quickest changes that happened within the community is the emotional, spiritual and relational one, and our rights have a part to play in this as well, but not in the way one might think.
Surely there are, sadly, a large number of countries (which means millions of GLBTQI people, just like you and me) where GLBTQI rights are not respected, and where people live (and disappear, and die) in anguish, fear, with nothing else but survival in mind. I am not sure that the “community” is giving much attention to these Brothers and Sisters lately, but that might be simply my feeling and lack of information. I’m not saying there are not plenty of charity organizations who try to help; I’m talking about us, the community, the 90% of people who don’t create venues, but go to venues.
Do we think about the others that much? Are we doing something or being agitated for them? Is the community really, still interested? Or is it just something to tweet about? What do we really care for, today, within our community?
The last 20 years in gay history has seen Civil Unions to become reality (and even Gay Marriage, in some countries with adoption) in several countries, homosexuality was decriminalized (and recreminalized) in many countries, big steps forward with AIDS and HIV treatment were brought on, PrEP arrived in many countries and became a cultural change cluster for many aspects of our community’s behavior, the presence of GLBTQI characters in movies, video games and tv shows became first a brave introduction, then something frequent, then something somewhat marketing related nowadays, contributing to a complete cultural shift amongst young people and children where we moved from “being gay is wired and uncool” to “being queer makes me cool and popular” (which is a very good thing we hoped for, but in my opinion is turning into something misleading).
We moved from dating websites where it was normal to chat for months with the same person, waiting hours or a day for a reply, to an instant hookup world made of dating apps, where you don’t really care about the other person anymore, but you care more for your time investment and experience. The arrival of platforms like JustFor Fans (which I use) or OnlyFans has introduced lucrative goals and marketing into sexuality of youngsters, whereas before we were all filming our smut for the excitement of exhbitionism. Now, it’s for the excitement of money associated to perceived popularity. This accelerated world doesn’t leave much space for introspection, spirituality, belief, generally especially amongst younger people, sporting cynical and individualistic thinking as something to be proud of.
Many other things happened in the last 20 years, but I believe you’re here to read about the article, and not about this specific part of it, so I’ll move on.
How Social Media affected us all
As a young GLBTQI person, before social media, you would go through a strange dynamic regarding popularity; on one end you didn’t want to be popular, because being popularly recognized as GLBTQI would have granted you abuse, bullying and such. At the same time, trying to stay safe generated a strong need to be seen and validated; pop culture reinforced this basic need, proposing the myth of success based on popularity, glamour, unrealistic beauty standards, money… you know, pop culture.
With the arrival of Social Media, all of a sudden we were online in a whole new way. Connected with everybody, and finally able to put all the colors we wanted to dress our lives with on those profile images and feeds. But then, with the increasing success of social media, we started to notice some little icons underneath the content. Followers, likes, comments. We noticed how other people’s “numbers” were different from ours, and we started to develop a need for the subconscious positive feedback that those hearts and thumbs give. Some of us started to crave popularity and validation.
The age of constantly reinforced validation begun, and with it, being GLBTQI and especially as men, sex was the perfect ingredient as it catalyzes immediately other men’s attention. Other people’s attention has became the nectar for our insecurities to feast on. After all, you’ll get much more attention if you drop a dick pick, no matter how your dick is shaped, then sharing your honest views or talking about your day. As we became more and more busy depicting our perfect lives on Social Media, the number of chats and contacts grew, and it was impossible to keep up with everybody. So we had to start and “select”, just like with too many products in the shopping cart.
We also all have been on the other side of the chat, when the person you’re talking to ghosts you or, to make sure you won’t contact them again, blocks you. There are many resources to know and be aware of how social media is not what it looks like, and how toxic it is for you. If you didn’t watch this movie, please check ito out. At the same time it’s not easy to leave social media behind, as we have the wrong perception that “everybody is there”, and that we’ll end up alone if we leave, and also because social media has done lots of wonderful things for GLBTQI people.
Initially it permitted us to be less lonely, it given us the opportunity to get to know people that today we call friends, husbands, Master. We are still waiting for those surprises to come back, we’re still hungry for more, and therefor we spend more time looking for something that might not come at all, than to nurturing and enjoying what we have achieved.
What about Dating Apps?
With the arrival of Dating apps, things changed even more. The already accelerated relationships with our online peers turned into “only within 30kms range” accelerated relationships. I hope that the reader doesn’t get me wrong. I love sex, and I have plenty of sex. It’s just that in my opinion, and it’s a shared opinion (you can easily find online various points os view on it, such as this, this and this), sex is worth of enjoyment when it’s shared, when we are in 2 ( or more *grins* ) but together, feeling each other, knowing each other, invested and interested in each other. Don’t you feel the same? Do you get to experience this with your dates? Is it something frequent? Don’t you miss it? Or maybe you’ve never experienced it and you don’t really know what I’m talking about? I wonder what’s your opinion on this, and what’s your story.
Grindr, Scruff and similar apps have filtered out even more of what we are as human beings, turning us in the best marketing offer for a flash sale where humans are, often, completely self focused sex acts. Sure, most of all fetishize quickies with strangers, cruising and such. But is there really still any of the excitement and satisfaction that we associate with cruising and anon stuff? Or is it just out of boredom and loneliness that we do it now, and it doesn’t really satisfy us? The questions I want to ask is: Can we still feel satisfied with this sort of pattern?
I believe technology isn’t the problem here. My take is that the problem is an obsession of our society (be it GLBTQI or the whole society) for commercialization, globalization and individualism.
This might feel like something little, but I believe that all of the things said about social media and Dating Apps should add a little bit to the basket of why do we feel lonely and depressed today.
Homologation, hidden between the lines of inclusiveness
There have been many changes as said also on the costumes side of things. Heterosexism has been widely identified as a problem within the community in the late 90’s; to the younger crowd it might sound funny or silly, but at the time many men described themselves as “straight acting” and so many others were looking for “straight acting” men; of course, the very presence of the word “acting” in the term gives out the problem of those years. Many people weren’t being themselves.
It’s not about sexual orientation of course, it’s about masculinity. Masculinity became an enemy, in a way, because the obsessive search for it in our partners made such that the femminine guys were left out, judged, bullied, treated differently. This very wrong situation has completely flipped in the queer world, and today we have an inverted situation. While it’s fantastic that finally queer folk can express their femininity fully, and transmit the positive and powerful message that feminine doesn’t mean less, or weak, or anything negative, we are sadly witnessing that once again we are not allowed to be ourselves.
Once again, we have to homologate. 10 years ago we were all homologating to be “straight acting”; today, we all must homologate to be “queer acting”. If you don’t align with the community’s current vision, which de-facto places femininity or non-gender and non-binary identities as the only valid ones, where masculinity is banned as always fake, always wrong, always a symptom of weakness and insecurity, then you are toxic, to be excluded and laughed at.
As a Cisgender pansexual man, who enjoys its natural masculinity and also likes to enhance its traits, I am feeling punished for something I never did. I feel like the same part of the community that I spent 10 years in my 20’s defending, is now backstabbing me with the same hurting slug they were being haunted by. “If you are not the way we like, then you’re weak and pathetic”.
This is very dangerous, as to define one’s gender, identity and sexuality as a symptom for a mental disorder, is exactly what was done to the GLBTQI community in history by those who made our lives impossibile. This applies to whichever gender you’re looking at.
Being queer, fem, trans, masculine, cis, non binary and such, doesn’t make you a better person. Being yourself without being hurtful to others, is what makes you a better person. Also, still today there are many people who are desperately trying to fit in a frame which isn’t theirs, portraying a model of toxic masculinity, and toxic femininity.
Being Yourself. Are you really?
It is clear to anyone in the GLBTQI community that a milestone to reach in ones journey is to be able to be one’s self. We struggled a lot in the years, and we fight in our daily lives with this vision and mission about being our true self. Some of us are luckier than others, and have an environment around them that promotes this kind of search and discovery; some others are less lucky, and might be more impaired than the rest of us.
Whichever is your situation, let me ask you one question: are you being your true self? Or are you being a version of yourself which suits the situation, the community, and your public image? Are you happy, when you go to sleep?
Regarding being ourselves and happiness, I believe we’ve been advertised and administered many unrealistic life goals by pop culture. It goes way beyond body shape or look goals, is’t not about body shaming, or body positivity. We’ve been advertised an idea of happiness as goal, something to be reached, like a golden pot at the end of a painfully long rainbow. We’ve been advertised the idea that being yourself means being different at all cost, to oppose tradition at all costs, to change things at all costs, being non mainstream, and today these ideals are used to manipulate how we decide to shop, how we decide to vote, how we decide to take a dose of Vaccine of not. Ironically, as stated in the previous paragraphs, now the situation is even once more inverted, and being opposed to mainstream is, indeed, mainstream.
I believe in happiness as a lifestyle, as a way of thinking. I believe happiness is the constant exercises of happiness itself, of self validation, of critical thinking and taking action to change what doesn’t satisfy you in your life, finding your own values and the cultures that represent them, and sharing love and support with all those that want to receive it. That makes me happy, that works for me. As for being myself, I feel like today’s GLBTQI society doesn’t really like too much the true self of mine. I feel like I don’t naturally align with todays necessary ways of “politically correct as a new radical-chic accessory”, and I know that my views are considered anachronistic at best; and yet, this is the true me. There is no advertising to be done to modify my true self in order to gain the maximum validation and popularity. And let me tell you: since I stopped being an altered version of myself in 2016, I am so much happier. Maybe this could apply also to you; maybe it’s ok to have your own views and values, even when they don’t align with what’s trendy today.
The loss of values
I have written the word “values” many times in the previous paragraph. Who knows me personally knows I’m all about values, and who reads our website knows that to us, you’re not a Leatherman because you bought a pari of Leather pants. That makes you simply a customer for a store, and a guy who likes Leather pants; in our culture and way of living Leather, being a Leatherman is all about values, integrity and dedication: it’s about being able to believe in something greater, that you are part of. It’s about believing and living for a brotherhood, for a set of Protocols and Etiquettes that fulfill our lives and allows to live rich and meaningful experiences, based on Domination and submission, which means Responsibility and trust.
Recently I’ve been talking long and deep with a Leather Sir who is under my training; he was asking “Sir, I want to embody your Leather vision in my household, and I feel aligned with most of what you stand for. But what if I also have my own agenda, other values, other goals? Does that make me less of a Leatherman if I don’t share exactly the same goals and values as the ones you teach?”.
The answer to that is: of course not. To be a Leatherman you must have a specific set of core values (which revolve around Discipline, Structure and Integrity, and have to do with responsibility, respect and honesty), but then of course you must find your own values, your own vision on how to implement your own authenticity into being a Leatherman. As said, we stand against homologation when it’s arbitrary and at all costs.
What is lacking today in the scene and generally in GLBTQI people’s lives, is a strong set of values to believe in, and the feeling that you should craft your experience and life to support, nurture and worship your set of values. This way, your choices and their consequences, will have a valid reason to be, and you’ll feel much stronger, happier and balanced. There is, of course, the downside of viewing a society which has lost the importance of values and belief, and the struggle with being treated as a fundamentalist or ridiculed by those who feel threatened by your strength.
Because yes, the capability of believing in something with all that you are, just like the capability to commit to an ideal, or a relationships, are strength and character factors that are largely missed today, and threatening to the image of perceived power other people have (especially online).
Other personal issues
Naturally in this article I’ve examined the situation from my point of view. I believe the only way to apply critical thinking is to measure issues based on your own experience, and then to confront it with experiences and points of views of others, so that we can all benefit fro sharing our experience. Of course there might be other personal issues that are affecting your happiness in your day to day life. Yet, I believe that community issues like some of the ones stated above add a significant weight to many GLBTQI’s people sense of solitude, sense of living purposeless, and sense of being stranded, alone, on the beach of our individuality
On this, I suggest to read the very good essay “Each gay man for Himself” by David Stuart.
How to react?
Although I’ve studied for my personal interest and passion several essays on psychology, psychiatry and hypnotism, I am not qualified or entitled to publicly give a set of guidelines on how to react to depression. As said before, though, what I can do is share with you do what works for me, and you could share, if you liked, what works for you.
- Stop trying to be liked by everybody.
- Stop having high expectations from the environment around you if you’re not willing to put your energy in voicing what you really desire.
- Don’t homologate, think with your own head.
- Don’t be afraid of being isolated, you’ll find people who appreciate you and love what you’ve got to say
- Don’t be afraid of public figure’s bullying you.
- Don’t numb your feelings with unhealthy coping mechanisms: this includes alcohol, chems, impersonal behavior, compulsive sex, etc
- Allow yourself to feel the hurt. Then, you’ll know what is hurting you and how to break the cycle.
- Don’t be afraid of ending up alone. Just because people are not online, on apps or social media, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there. There are plenty of people who have already stopped using these technologies, or have largely reduced their use, and they are ALIVE.
- Find something to believe in authentically, something that speaks to your heart and makes life worth living.
- Don’t be discouraged when it doesn’t all come easy and fast. Most real things in life are harder than snapping a pic or creating an account.
- Reach out, create groups, involve other people who believe in the same things
- Try to respect tradition and history. Most likely there is a reason you’re not grasping in the things of the past that today seem absurd. Erasing their history will just prevent future generations to learn fro the pasts mistakes, and also deprive them of rich testimonies of a different way of living.
What not to do
Just as above, I’ll tell you what not to do, based on my own mistakes, and some mistakes I’ve seen online.
- Don’t be easily triggered. People who want to silence you will provoke you hitting on your weak spots.
- Learn not to react to bullies. It’s what they want.
- Don’t let vanity metrics define your success. Be it how many people interact with your posts online, or how many people follow you, or stuff like that; that means nothing in the real world.
- Don’t believe the bad show you see on social media; it’s not the whole story. There is a series of algorithms behind the screen which goal is not to serve you a realistic view of the world. They’re goal is to keep you engaged in the platform, and sadly nothing keep us more engaged than fighting with each other.
- Don’t be bitter and aggressive towards those who respectfully disagree with you. Just because you’re tired of feeling hurt and weak, it doesn’t mean you must be feared by others; you’re not in prison.
- Don’t live only online. Bring yourself out of that screen. Real life awaits you.