The gay-listThe Gay Boy Next Door Thursday, March 3rd, 2011
Social Chaos: The Gay Boy Next Door
A few months ago, I met a handsome man at a bar. I recognized him as one of the better-known, more beautiful men of Hillcrest and decided to approach him. We talked for a while about his passion for music and his desire to break into the industry. We both shared big dreams, but aside from his obvious beauty not much was sparking for me.
Regardless, I was determined to broaden my social circles and break my preconceptions of his crowd, so I stuck around and introduced myself to his equally pretty friends. They were all very nice and we eventually moved on to Rich’s for a drink.
But as sweet as they all were, by the first dance I knew I didn’t fit in. “Slower, like this,” my romantic prospect whispered to me as nicely as he could while holding my hips to correct the timing of my movement. A bit embarrassed, it became clear to me that we were metaphorically and literally dancing to different beats.
We parted ways and I struck him and his entire friendship circle off my list of potential dating material.
Unfortunately this ruled out many of the more attractive men in Hillcrest, but recently I met a lawyer at one of my HRC monthly mixers that renewed my hope and interest in dating. He was charming and quipped about the evils of his business, even joking that he was responsible for the near extinction of my favorite animal, the polar bear. Being the classic Jane Eyre archetype that I am, I was naturally intrigued by this flirtatious friction and exchanged business cards with the gentleman.
I only met him for a few minutes, but I could tell that he was a quality catch. Whether or not he felt the same way about me would remain a mystery and I turned on my computer to do a routine background check (aka stalk him on Facebook) but was disappointed the moment I found his profile. Some of the first pictures visible were of him with my “dance instructor” and his crew.
“Seriously? Why do they all know each other?” I whined to my roommate. “It’s like some gay A-list secret society slash mafia conspiracy!” He gave me a sympathetic slash depressed look. We then spent the evening debating the characteristics of the “plastic” social class and sharing all the bitter angst we had accumulated since our days as losers in high school.
But as frustrated as I was about the situation and the seeming impossibility of striking unmined boy gold, I couldn’t pinpoint exactly why I felt upset. After all, what did I care if two beautiful men with presumably bright futures were friends or possibly more? Aside from the residual high school feelings of resentment, there was no legitimate reason for me to be so bothered.
My confusion continued until just recently when I received a message on Facebook from a private group inviting me to become a member. It was, quite literally, a secret gay society of powerful, beautiful and influential men. I was in disbelief.
“This stuff actually exists!” I exclaimed as I turned my laptop to show my equally surprised roommate. “It’s like those Harvard clubs you hear stories about!”
I suddenly felt measured against a standard I didn’t even know existed. While naturally humbled and grateful for the invitation, and certainly compelled by the group’s mission, I was unnerved by the implication that I had passed some unwritten criteria for membership. It was as if my personal worth was now defined by what I could do for, and how I could be more like, this in-crowd.
That’s when it hit me. I am not upset that good looking, successful, smart, talented gay men are all connected. It makes sense that these men attract each other. What does scare me, however, is the fact that there is no competing group that offers alternative definitions of success and value within our community.
There is no group of models competing with rich men competing with politicians. Instead, our LGBT community is relatively small, freshly removed from hetero-centric society, and has internalized a structure that creates only a single social status and standard that reigns above everyone else. This means that our little gay world often feels as simplified as an episode of Project Runway, and you’re either in or you’re out.
We have prominent subcultures, but their influence is generally limited to the LGBT community itself and this works to reinforce our unconscious worship of the gay A-list and its regulations. While this state of affairs is clearly a byproduct of our position within the larger population and not the fault of any one person or group, looking back at my night at Rich’s makes me feel partially responsible for its continuation.
After years of being an awkward wallflower at school dances, I allowed a small gesture by a beautiful man to undermine the pride I should have felt for just being myself and dancing. Maybe I wasn’t timed perfectly to his beat, but I was enjoying mine. I compromised my self-esteem and happiness by conforming to his standards.
I’ve since learned that caving to these pressures offers very little personal fulfillment. At the end of the day I don’t care which guys I’ve impressed, lists I’ve been on or shoulders I’ve rubbed, as long as I’ve been true to myself. Men and social statuses are in and out, but I am, and always will be, me.
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