Sunday, 10 May 2015

Gay Shame - why it still exists

Im gay -  I've been out to friends for 30 years, to family for 25, though everyone knew.  
It's 2015 but I still have to be discrete when travelling. I live in Sydney Australia, 
I know I can't wave the rainbow flag in many parts of the world.
Last year while travelling to the place my parents where born in the Greek part of Cyprus, 
it was exciting being there for their first ever Gay Pride.  
The northern Turkish occupied side of the island nation only a few months prior decriminalised homosexuality. I was shocked to find a massive demonstration protest march close by the gay pride crowd. These people where mainly religious church groups and conservative families. 
Massive banners saying gay people spread disease, separate the sexes, 
abuse children and have psychological problems. 
The protest crowd was fanatical in a way you won't see in other parts of the western world, 
but Cyprus is on the outer  edge of Europe only 50 km away from the Middle East, 
all through history part of its population was Muslim. 
A few blocks away was the Cypriot Gay Pride march. This was an incredible display of persistence
and unity.  The protesters where trying to do something so powerful -
They tried to make them feel Shame. That day it didn't work ! 
Despite political, legal, social progress, gay men on a personal , especially older ones 
still feel some sort of Shame for several reasons. 
Shame is a complex emotion we either create  within ourselves or absorb from society, family or our actions. Gay men don't talk about the shame we've  endured all our lives, it's a strong yet invisible 
emotion that's a touchy subject in the publicity driven Pride era. 
The shame starts when we're young, surrounded by maleness, our dads want us to become men,
male siblings might be competitive, the boys at school get aggressive. We feel compelled to prove our selves. Boys are taught you're not a man if you're gay, so we hide, don't feel comfortable in our skin, we can't accept ourselves, we hide in shame.  Many times shame is created through silence, it's all those things people don't say or ask. 
If people are cornered they say they accept us, with  the usual line of  "My best friend is gay." But if they're still uncomfortable, they don't ask us  "Do you have a partner?"  Or "Hows your love life?" 
Yet we are compelled to ask them about their lives. We secretly shame ourselves by pandering to
the whims of straight people in the quest for acceptance. 
If we sense we're not accepted by the energy or vibes people give off, we start to feel ashamed,
being discrete or cautious, this is how we're controlled. 
On the holiday last year to Cyprus, the only relative  who asked about my personal life was one 
Aussie born female cousin. At 49 everyone knows I'm gay, but they never ever ask about my life 
yet if I didn't ask them about their lives, there would be no conversation what so ever. 
When traveling to regional areas within Australian, I always find the gay population living in Shame or secrecy, sneaking around being annonymous There's not much Pride outside urban areas.
Back in the cities, Its funny all these obviously gay or camp friends claiming no one knows they're if it's no ones business yet everyone knows but they just don't care, again there's
an aspect of shame in not being open or honest. 
Gay men feel shame through a lack of  emotional acceptance on a personal level, even though society, and the law accepts is. Then we continue the cycle of shame by abusing each other on a sexual level
by treating each other as pieces of meat to be consumed for our narcistic desires of the flesh. 
Technology has helped gay men create even more shame. Casual sex may be a 24 hour all you can eat cyber instigated  buffet, but dating apps such as Grindr have made the whole process so instant, fast we've  become deeply impersonal , consumable, disposable. 
Even though mutually  consensual sex means less demand for prostituition, casual sex can still
feel exploitive for both people. Narcissim has little room for other people's emotions.  
Yes every day we see those gay couples walking down the isle, eager to tie the new knot, yet most couples I know in Sydney are all in opening relationships, that means more casual hook ups. 
I know this is a grey area, I'm not trying to pass judgment, I want to bring things to light from my own experiences. Gay men need to openly face each other ask ask if they are truly proud of the way they treat each other on the casual sex scene, or are they silently shameful ? Even though many are fighting 
for marriage equality, there is still home work to do in the dark corners on those saunas, sex clubs, or dating apps. We want full equality from society, yet our sexual interactions bind us in shame. 

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