Today, coming out as gay isn’t as difficult a task as it was in the past, and yet it’s still one of the difficulties that gay men “in the closet” still have to face. in this article, I will attempt to count down and discuss briefly the top 10 difficulties that face gay men.
10. Sex Education
It’s awkward enough to be in a sex education class for both girls and boys but while it is the most certain way we get to learn about the birds and the bees, as a gay kid you’d probably cringe at the thought of what to do if you were playing for the other team as your classmates crack jokes about pubic hair and STD’s. As we figure out our sexuality, we tend to explore, and by explore, I am referring to gaining “experience”. Sounds fun, but there aren’t any materials out there that teach us what to do or how to protect ourselves and we have to rely on the internet. Sure there’s gay porn but we’re bound to see some things in it that we may want to stay away from but would not know better. We have to do our own research. In addition to that, the terms in the “gay lingo” might sound confusing to someone new. Of course, during the first sexual encounter, most guys wouldn’t know what to do except take hints from a porn flick he just watched online, and just “wing it” or make it up as they go.
Gay men are exposed to a lot of risk factors, health problems and diseases not discussed in any sex education book. Indeed, gay men are warned of the dangers of HIV all the time, but what if you’re a gay teenager and you are sexually active, but you are not out to your parents? You absolutely have to go to the doctor and talk about these things without having any parent in the room, and if you’ve heard about the dangers, you would really have to talk to your doctor or you might die. You would have to do a routine anal pap smear because as a gay man, you are 17 times more likely to get anal cancer, that is if your role is a bottom. Then there’s HPV, and a whole ton of mouth diseases if you’re heavy into oral sex. Where do I even begin? You would absolutely need to learn how to take care of your body and be mindful of your personal hygiene. You wouldn’t want anything that smells bad anywhere near your mouth, or anywhere in your body for that matter.
8. Legal Documents
So you want to file tax papers, get medical insurance, apply for a credit card or get married? All legal paperwork would be a headache if your partner is of the same gender. I know of a gay couple who literally has to bring their marriage certificate everywhere they go. They told me that it’s the most convenient solution especially when they travel to places where gay marriage is unheard of, or when faced with bigotry. Ever try to book a hotel room without others giving you that look of disgust or they just snicker and giggle? Or try going to a hospital and see the nurse’s reaction when she asks for the spouse, and you have to explain that you’re a gay couple. Some companies even charge more for services they would normally provide for a straight couple.
7. Coming Out
If you thought that coming out was a one-time thing and you’re out your whole life, you’re wrong. As we move forward, we meet new people all the time, and coming out proves to be difficult most of the time especially when bigotry shows it’s ugly head. There is no safe place for you, where you can be sure that the person you’re talking to will surely be accepting, or open-minded enough to accept you and not act all shocked because of what you just said. Since society’s norm is being straight, usually, the first thing that comes to people’s minds when you mention you’re gay is your sex life. You either ignore it or try to explain politely and correctly informing them, which in many cases is a rather difficult thing to do, and may just ruin the conversation or provoke an assault either physical or verbal towards you, even if you are trying your best to be polite. Coming out is something you do almost all the time, during weddings, funerals, birthdays, or any other given situation where social interaction is required. Especially at weddings, when everyone is asking when you’ll get married and who is this nice-looking gentleman you’re with. You have to watch your pronoun genders and look at people’s faces, trying to see who is accepting and who are disgusted by what you just said. Then, there are the usual questions that follow, like “how did you know you were gay? When did it happen? Have you had gay sex before?”Some people would even try to set you up with a girl, saying that they only mean well, that you should try it out and see how you feel about it. Now try to imagine coming out as bisexual. There is something about admitting that you find the vagina and the penis equally appealing, and a large percentage of people would put you in the gay category instantly.
6. Going to Church
For atheists, this might not apply, but there is a huge percentage of Catholic, Christian, or of similar faith homosexuals who go to their respective churches and attend mass every Sunday, or whichever day of the week their religion has set as Holy. I had a transsexual friend who walked out of the church in the middle of the sermon when the priest started preaching about homosexuality being an abomination, that God never intended a man to lay with another man, et cetera, et cetera. We’ve all heard this before. And you can only imagine the look that these faithful church-goers gave my friend when they saw her walking out of the church as the priest blasted homosexuality on the microphone. My transsexual friend told me that she believed in God, but she also believed that God loves everyone equally, regardless of sexual orientation. Personally, I would prefer to believe in her God than the version of God that the priest preaches about.
I have a few friends who have known they were gay since they were 10 years old but never admitted it to their parents because they are certain that it would disappoint them, especially if they are an only child. It would shatter the hopes and dreams of their parents having a grandchild. To resolve this, they find a lesbian who is willing to go through a fake marriage. I was surprised to see a wedding invitation from my gay friend 3 months ago. I thought to myself, is he going to marry his long-time boyfriend? And to my surprise, when I opened the envelope, there was a picture of him and some girl I’ve never seen before. During the pre-wedding dinner, I saw his boyfriend and his “fiance’s” girlfriend at the same table. They pretended that everything was normal, pictures were taken, dinner was served, and there was no conversation about his sexuality, even though about 80 percent of the attendees were gay. After the marriage, they part ways and live their own lives again. There are some gay men though, who have to go through with making a baby for their parents’ satisfaction.
Yes, it still exists. A lot of gay men who apply for a job are not employed because of their sexuality, even though they are highly qualified. Then there are the movements who continue to assault the gay community and literally want us dead. At the office, when people are divided into gender groups, it’s the most awkward thing for a transsexual or an openly gay cross-dresser. Although many people today are learning to accept homosexuality, there is still a big percentage of those who are just “pretending” to accept it just because everybody else does, but deep inside that person’s mind resides disgust. There are still government officials who push laws against homosexuality. There are still many countries known for their people beating up other people up just because they are gay.
There are plenty of reasons why a child is bullied, but the worst just might be because of his sexual orientation. I’ve had classmates from when I was 7 years old who have been bullied until we were 16 just because they were gay. Imagine going to the same school year after year being bullied for almost ten years. Imagine being slammed into the lockers, played pranks on, coming home with your uniform wet with soda, being spit on, called names, you name it. But these are the strongest people I know. They’ve held on and most of these guys I knew from elementary and high school are now successful people. A few weeks ago, I read about this 8-year-old boy who came out to his mom as gay, and his mom smiled and hugged him, and told him that it’s okay and that she loves him no matter what. The kid got so excited that day that when he went to school, he proceeded with telling his classmates that he was gay, hoping it would elicit the same reaction he got from his mother. Unfortunately, his classmates were less accepting. They began to call him names, they bullied him and made him cry, to the point that he decided to end his life. Imagine, and 8-year-old boy committing suicide because of bullying. It’s a serious issue, and if you know someone who is being bullied for any reason, be a friend and help.
It’s bad enough to be discriminated against when applying for a job and they don’t pick you because you’re gay, but rejection, believe it or not, also exists within the gay community itself. Sure, everyone wants to be accepted, but the world’s perception of the gay man is a lean or well-built muscular guy, which leads to various problems like drug addiction, steroid abuse, and eating disorders, and gay men have to go through all of this just to be accepted more by other gay men especially on dating apps like Grindr. Surely you might say that everyone has preferences, and most gay men would prefer a muscled beefcake over a dad bod, but sometimes it’s just the way of rejection that discourages someone enough to drive himself into thinking of changing himself drastically by any means just to not get rejected again, even if it means starving himself to death or injecting steroids and hitting the gym 7 days a week just to get that well-chiseled physique that nobody can say no to. This is when the saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” comes into play, but sometimes, even that isn’t enough.
1. AIDS / HIV
It was the dreaded disease of the past decades, and it still is, because there is still no cure, as of the date of writing this article. Although the treatment for HIV is now more convenient with just one pill a day so it doesn’t incubate into full-blown AIDS, the disease should not be taken lightly. This is the main misconception. With the advancement in medical technology, and the knowledge that HIV can be controlled and an infected person can still live a full long life, more and younger gay people do not use protection. What’s even worse is that aside from the straight community, the gay community itself is also stigmatizing AIDS/HIV, which leaves the HIV positive young men nowhere to run. In April 2018, a promising HIV cure has been developed by a university in Hong Kong, which has proven to be effective in completely eliminating the HIV virus from infected mice, and the next stage of trials would be with larger mammals such as monkeys. It would still take a few years for human trials to even begin, and imagine the red tape and politics that it would go through from pharmaceutical companies and governments who profit off other treatment methods for HIV. It would probably cost you an arm and a leg to get that cure. The best thing for us to do is protect ourselves and prevent the spread of this disease. Use condoms, and read about PrEP.
In closing, I would like to reiterate that indeed, things are better for the gay man today than they were in the past, but our struggles are not over. We keep fighting every day, trying to be accepted and understood better by a world that has just recently opened its eyes and mind. Let our struggles of today mean something for the future generation.