And why this needs to stop.
If you’ve ever been around a bunch of gays at a party, a bar, or wherever then you’ve probably been a gossip, or gossiped about, and unfortunately this has become all too common.
How many times are you with a group of gays, and everyone is just having fun, then someone throws some shade, and before you know it, you’re all bashing someone you really don’t know that much about?
It’s a slippery slope.
I know I was a huge gossip in my elementary and high school years because I was gossiped about. I was the gay kid at school before I identified with being that person, and I didn’t like the negative attention I was receiving, so I tried to deflect this attention and gossiped about other people.
Unfortunately for many of us gays, we go through a second adolescence when we come out, which usually means moving to a bigger town or city, and submersing ourselves around other gays. I know I’ve felt like I was back in high school many times when I first moved to a new city, and being back in high school meant there was new people to gossip about.
Thus, the gossiping starts all over again.
I know personally this would happen a lot when I first started hanging out with different groups of gays whenever I moved to a new city. The guys I would meet would talk shit, and I thought in order to fit in I also needed to have an opinion about everyone, but then I realized we were all talking about these other men because we didn’t want to talk about ourselves.
We were unhappy with our lives, and we didn’t want to admit it, so it was a lot easier to manipulate our jealousy into nasty comments about guys we barely knew.
After all we felt like we knew these different guys because someone we knew once slept with so-and-so, or we met dude X at a party once, and he was “a total dick.”
This idea of “knowing” someone is heightened in today’s social media obsessed world, and as gay men, it often feels like an even smaller world. Many of us live in gay bubbles, and through almost one degree of separation, we all “know” each other on some level. However, it’s really easy to forget that we don’t really know these guys, we just think we do.
We live in a culture that is hyper-sexualized, drug and alcohol filled, and image obsessed. Yes, this isn’t the case for everyone, and it’s not completely different than our straight counterparts’ world, but there is an extra level of complexity. We are different, and we are self-sabotaging ourselves with these unhealthy devices into thinking that we are happy, when we are in fact not dealing with bigger issues that sit deep within us.
We think that when we come out of the closet, we are freeing ourselves of all our problems, but the truth is, this is just the beginning to dealing with all of our baggage. It’s within this concept that gossiping becomes an almost programmed feature into our gay lives.
For many of us, we were the kid that was gossiped about. We were the person that wasn’t good enough, didn’t fit in, and was straight up uncool, and it hurt. So when we finally move to a big city, and find our gaggle of gays, it feels good to be accepted, and even more so desired.
We quickly forget what it felt like to be the outsider, and again it feels good. We were an outcast if not to our peers than in many ways to ourselves. Who would want to go back to that feeling?
Our egos are delicate, and our level of competition is often off the charts because we aren’t only men, we’re men competing for other men. Everyone becomes a possible lover, or someone to take away our lover. It can be beyond challenging to find our own inner confidence in this new world that we’re all figuring out, so we often look to outside validation, and building ourselves up at the cost of someone else.
However, as we continue neglecting the conversations that we need to have with ourselves, we often find ourselves even unhappier than before. We need to start gossiping about ourselves with ourselves.
As gay men, we’ve all dealt with differing levels of shame, and felt the need to cover up what makes us different. In doing so, we often project onto others what we don’t like about ourselves, and it’s doing us a great disservice.
We need to stop being afraid to talk about ourselves, our problems, our feelings, our internal conflicts. We need to stop gossiping about others, and start talking about ourselves. This doesn’t mean we should all become crazed narcissist, but what it does mean is we need to start being honest.
Remember we talk about others when we don’t want to be talking about ourselves, and when life is good, you want to see other people happy and doing well. When you’re happy with your life, you want to talk about it, and inspire others to make positive changes as well.
Now more than ever, we need to build each other up, not tear each other down. So I challenge all of us to take a step back the next time we want to talk about someone else, and think is this a positive or negative thing that I’m about to say, and why do I want to say it?
When we finally get rid of the gossip, we start talking about what’s important, and that is a beautiful thing to be a part of.