Sex and the Single Gay Men: A Valentine’s Day Rapprochement

Attitudes - "Single Gay Man" Trucker Hats

There’s a lot more to being a single gay man than a dating site acronym

I’ve been at war with Valentine’s Day since I was old enough to understand what it means to be single. I’ll also admit to being insecure over the central theme of the date itself: being loved.

In my early twenties, I concluded that the unattached had much to celebrate; Carrie Bradshaw taught me that! The Sex and the City heroine made solo existence enticing, even seemingly preferential at times. I couldn’t help but wonder, though, when the gay parallel to New York City’s most famous fictional single person would manifest. Women have a framework for discovering the importance of being strong, independent individuals: it’s called feminism. We don’t really have a homo-parallel, though, that allows gay men to realize self-empowerment.

When we accept the fact that we are gay, most of us aim to find out what that means by finding another person to, well, be gay with.  We quickly attach ourselves to whoever will have us. In the process, we spend little time unearthing the beautiful complexities that are our own uniqueness. Often, we allow other people to mold our personalities and shape our futures. In the Midwest especially, there’s a certain way that religious guilt, lagging cultural awareness, and rural isolation combine with inner strife to create havoc. We look to ease the tension by hooking up with other people. Our boyfriends will be our saviors, even if we barely know them. Let’s be honest, though…Grindr isn’t exactly a gay emancipator!

I’ve long identified as a feminist, and for years, I hailed its mantra as the focal point of my pride as a single, gay man. Something was always off, though, and it’s a deep-rooted issue I’ve just recently begun to examine.

The simple fact is that gay men face a distinct set of issues that women, gay or straight, do not. We are marginalized differently, many of us having our dignity defrocked because we don’t live up to societal standards of masculinity. Our sexuality develops more aggressively, with pornography and casual sex being far more normalized than most of us want to admit. The social circles we form can get convoluted by body image wars, alcoholism and drugs, and a constant one-ups man ship in pursuit of chasing an Adonis like perfection. Oh, and did I mention the fact that we can’t really talk about any of this openly for fear of retribution from the religious right? There is so much inspiration to be drawn from feminist writings and icons, but we need our own movement of empowerment.

What feminism can’t offer to gay men is something that only we can give ourselves: love. Women didn’t need a movement to find love; they needed to get beyond pigeonholed roles, actually! In a world still hostile to us, and where we are often our own worst aggressors, we do need a movement toward self-reliance. We need to get secure in our identities as single people before we aim to couple with someone else. We need to celebrate our uniqueness, appreciate our success, and value our worth when we do. We also need to see examples for how we can stand strong as individuals first and lovers later on. Television shows like Modern Family and The New Normal, which are fantastically helping mainstream gay families, are great steps forward. The time is nearing for the next wave, though, when single gay men are celebrated in popular culture as the multi-faceted, ever-evolving beings that we are! Will Truman started this on Will & Grace, but focused too much on his co-dependent attachment to his straight best friend, Grace Adler.  Neither was particularly empowered by their status as a single person. We need to get beyond the fag hag motif. We have to liberate ourselves!

This year, I’ve decided to pull out from the war on Valentine’s Day. Instead, I’ll focus on learning to love myself and doing what I enjoy. Maybe I’ll even write a treatment for a TV show that is the gay answer to Sex and the City. What will you, a single, self-respecting individual, do with your time and your talents?  Your answer might just change the world—or at least your world!


Bite Back @ Valentine’s Day

As written for the BITE issue of Naked City.

Solo is Sensational

There’s nothing that bites more than being single this time of year. More than a simple day to force consumerism on the romantically entangled, Valentine’s has evolved into a full-on season. Even if you’re coupled, the Cupid hype can gnaw. The ruby-red pressure begins to mount as soon as the New Year’s Eve confetti is swept up. Nearly every store caters to the narrative that you’re nobody till somebody loves you– and is willing to spend lots of money on you. But you ARE somebody, and this February 14th, you should take the bite out of Valentine’s Day by biting into your own bliss!

It’s time to do that one thing you’ve always wanted. Is there a restaurant in town that you’ve been craving? You should go, and take yourself as your very special date. There currently is no local ordinance that prohibits an individual from dining alone on St. Valentine’s Day.  Is there a movie you want to see, but all your friends are on a date?  Go see it alone! The U.S. Constitution protects the right of single, adult individuals to publically assemble. Are you in the mood to dance? Venture out to a club, and sashay your sexy, solo self to the rhythm of the moment. While a legal Kansas marriage consists of one man and one woman, there’s no amendment banning single-sex dance floor movement…at least not yet!

Many are afraid of being alone in such situations, though, and that’s understandable. Several will cite fears of what other people will think of them if they are seen in public sans-partner. Others will claim personal uncomfortability with such bold public displays of self-solidarity. Why do we give other people so much power over our own satisfaction, though? And if you can’t sit down with yourself for dinner, what makes you think someone else will want to dine with you? Biting questions, I know.

The answers may be more tender than you think, though. Strong individuals make for stronger relationships. The more you know about yourself, the more you have to offer to someone else. Even if you’re partnered up, personal development is paramount. You have an identity and interest outside of your relationship that deserves cultivation.

Some of this language may seem supercilious, but isn’t the box we allow Valentine’s Day to put us into even more absurd? We’d all be a lot more fulfilled if we stopped waiting for someone else to make us happy and just acted upon the whims that bring us joy. Romance doesn’t define our existence. In fact, it’s the light that shines within each of us that is most attractive. If we don’t take time to fuel it, that radiance will dim.

So, bite back at forced romance, and get intimate with yourself this Valentine’s Day! Regardless of what your Facebook relationship status reads, V-Day is pretty much an over-hyped hassle for everyone. There’s bound to be something you’ve always wanted to do for yourself that you never have. There’s nothing that bites more than not doing what makes you happy!