Put This In Your Bowl Of Soul Soup And Eat It
I try to cover every facet of the human experience we gay men face every day and gravitate to discussing the interpersonal relationships as well as our own internal processes. The process allows me to understand why some of us the things we do to each other and to ourselves do. Because my nature is that of the eternal inquisitor, I try to as succinctly as possible relay those topics in a way that allows thought and discussion all the while leaving the reader to make their conclusions. But I don’t know everything. I am nowhere near that. I still have trouble programming my DVR and walk into walls at least twice a week so I don’t pretend that I know what’s right for everyone, or sometimes even myself.
When I was talking with a group of friends on iMessage today, one of the contributors to the conversation asked what is good for the gay soul. To elaborate, he wanted us to discuss what are the quintessential things that we gay men need to know about the world and how that will affect us. Will it challenge our beliefs or strengthen them. I don’t think I’ve heard of it used that way before. I mean I’ve heard the incessant almost never-ending modifications to the book Chicken Soup For The Soul, but never has there been a gay friendly version of that. I asked myself in all the things that I’ve learned and tried to encapsulate all of that into a coherent train of thought, which is hard for me sometimes because I ramble.
One of the first things I learned about being gay is to truly accept people as they are in this world. That no matter how much I can’t stand how other people treat each other, that I do not always know the reason behind it. I can’t change the way in which they choose to treat other fellow human beings. I can’t change how people sometimes treat each other in this community. Even with all that, I can’t allow their behavior to affect how I treat others. That I alone am responsible and accountable for that. I hope that the respect and civility I show will at least let people consider how they treat others. So the Serenity Prayer, basically. I may not be religious, but at least I can find some validity to treating other people well.
To truly accept myself. All 6’4 177 pounds of me. The uncooperative curly mop of hair. The obscenely big clunky feet. That I am not the standard of beauty or attractiveness that some gay men are accustomed to nor ever will be. That I mess up and get things wrong. That I can be too generous and never tell someone no. To accept that the first two things people will always see first is my race and possibly my sexuality. That some people just do not like me no matter what I say or so. And there are some people I don’t like either. That sometimes I will make the same mistake twice. That I will always reach out to help someone when I can. I’m different and that’s okay. Self love is best love.
To laugh at myself and not take things so seriously all the time. I love to laugh and it often can change my perspective if only for a moment is worth it. Gives me a moment to assess almost any. Do you know how embarrassing I am when I try to flirt with a guy? Awkward faces and inaudible stuttering. Even my walk becomes that of a hermit crab. Completely inhumane and just weird that is sometimes accompanied with rejection. I laugh at that (after some time has passed of course). It’s what has made the whole experience of dating at the very least, a lot more entertaining.
When to let go of unhealthy relationships. This includes those of every variety. From long-term friendships to work colleagues to lovers. toxic relationships have a way of affecting every other facet of your life, most of the time we don’t realize it. That one bad relationship makes us skeptical and so guarded that we eventually don’t allow the good things come in. If someone is bringing more negativity to your life than positive attributes than what’s the point of continuing them?
To know that as people are different, their perceptions are different too. The way that I romanticize love in relationships is not how every other gay man sees the world. But when I fully came out I learned very quickly that this is not the way everyone else thinks. Some men don’t want to be wooed and swept off their feet. The only love affair they are interested in is comprised of splitting the hotel bill to have a one night stand in. And that is okay to be that way. And it’s okay that I want to be someone’s Prince Charming. Accepting that what they hold as their own truth does not necessarily men I find the same meaning.
See all of these things don’t just relate to a philosophy of gay life, regardless of sexuality. Simple little things that I remind myself of when I think of my interactions with others in this world. And this is simply my process. It’s not advice, it’s the rules I made for myself as I”m sure everyone else has their own. I think it’s important for each of us to know those things about ourselves to live the most authentic, self fulfilled lives. And if you don’t like it, then get your own bow of soup.