By Manoel Reichel
I call bullshit on the belief that loneliness in our gay community is caused by gay culture. Loneliness is the symptom of a choice to belong to a toxic subculture of which is the minority in comparison to gay culture as a whole.
Yes, looking forever young while spending time swiping left or right does exist and if you’re not white or masc4masc, god help you. But I’ve found that inserting myself among those most aesthetically desirable, and vacationing to the likes of Lindsay Lohan in Mykonos is not gay culture and has contributed nothing of substance to my life or to what gay culture actually is.
For the longest time, I CHOSE to associate within these confined stereotypical cliques because I felt I didn't deserve autonomy over my own body and that my worth is based on how attractive you found me. The worst defeating belief of it all: that this is all there is, that this is gay culture and in choosing to belong I had invited loneliness in.
This summer I’ve become interested in finding spaces that are socially positive, that is recovery oriented, that reject HIV stigma, and that support equal rights legislation. It's required me to let go of false beliefs I had that kept me in the very subculture I loved to hate. But the hardest thing it's required from me is a sense of self-worth—and in doing so I’m stepping into an unfamiliar place, a place where I can keep my clothes on, where I have a voice to say no, and the consent to say yes.
It hasn't been easy, and I still have days I leave my self-worth behind and stick to the same old places where I draw an invisible line around myself and choose to not go outside of it. But when I do step outside of that circle I know there’s a gay culture I can be proud of with spaces I can go to and people I can turn to that bring out the love I love to love.