Sometimes being gay can come with unwanted pressure to demonstrate your self-worth over tons, and I mean tons, of sex. In a way, this is sort of funny; you spent most of your school and even college years trying to hide the fact you’re attracted to members of the same gender only to eventually end up broadcasting every single detail of your last homo(sexual) encounter to anyone who dares to ask: “how was your weekend?”. However, there’s a point where this stops being amusing and starts to be worrying.
When every conversation with your friends begins with a recap of all the people they hooked up with since the last time you saw each other, it’s difficult not to begin comparing yourself with them. Sure, you’ve been busy doing different genital-free projects and spending time pursuing hobbies that make you happy, but does that actually matter if no one else but you cares about it? At least your friends are constantly being reminded that they’re fuckable in a day and age where being fuckable seems to be the currency that rules the world.
This need to establish our own worth through external validation is probably due in part to the Internet. With the toxic amounts of social media we’re exposed to every day, we’ve come to normalize things that would have seem a little psychotic some decades ago, including spending hours comparing ourselves with hot strangers we’ll probably never meet in real life. It’s as if we’re all engaging in a made-up digital competition taken straight out of a dystopian novel in which whoever succeeds in showcasing the most perfect life wins. And surely, being perceived as the ultimate playboy gains you plenty of extra points.
Of course, seeking recognition from others not only affects the LGBTQ+ community, however I believe some queer individuals might me more vulnerable to it than their straight counterparts. When growing up, many of us had to face years of self-doubt, fear of rejection and discrimination from the people around us, so it only makes sense that when we find “our people” we seek to fill the void left inside us by overdosing on the approval we were denied for so long. The problem here is that by doing this we never learn how to approve of ourselves, so we end up jumping from one person to another and comparing ourselves to everyone around us.
When a friend is telling us about their latest hook up we don’t think: “Good for them!”, but rather: “Why am I not having hook ups like theirs? Is there something wrong with me?”. The fear of being rejected within the one community that promised to be a safe haven after years of rejection is troublesome enough to make us wanna jump into bed with the first smiling stranger in the Starbuck’s line. We stop looking for meaningful and fulfilling connections in order to get a “quick fix” that probes to us we’re as worthy of love as everyone else.
Now, I’m not trying to say that queer people who genuinely enjoy casual sex are doing something wrong, or that they should change their ways. What I’m actually saying is that gays like me who don’t necessarily feel the need to sleep with a lot of people shouldn’t feel like there’s something wrong with them. Although this might be easier said than done.
There are days when you can feel ready to conquer the world, you recognize yourself as beautiful, smart, and valuable, and anyone who can’t see it has some serious damage. Then night comes, you go to a club with a couple of friends and before the third round of drinks you realize everyone is getting ready to head out with a sexy stranger… except for you. It doesn’t matter how strong you are, or how solid you think your self-esteem is, this can still be pretty devastating sometimes. When you get back home alone you’re sure enough there’s something with you that desperately needs to be fixed.
We may never fully succeed in stop comparing ourselves to others, but this doesn’t mean we should accept the idea that part of being gay is engaging in a constant competition with each other in which the only way to be a “winner” is be nailed the hardest. Instead, we should see this as an opportunity to learn and grow from each other.
What do our friends have that we find so desirable when they tell us about their sexual experiences? Are they really the people they sleep with or their adventures? Do we wish we had a different person in our beds every night or just a confident personality and the will to put ourselves out there? If you long for self improvement instead of external validation obtained via sex, that friend who’s always bragging about how many dicks they can fit in their mouth can actually be a great source of inspiration, instead of a grim reminder of how slow our sex life is. So next time you’re talking with them and feel a little behind in terms of bedroom action, try to focus less on comparing your “stats” to theirs and more on the qualities you find admirable about them, and which you can start applying to your own life right away.
Lastly, it’s important for us to realize that no matter how desirable and satisfying other’s sex life may seem, poppers are always stronger on the other side, so before you make assumptions and cross yourself as a gay failure, try to list at least a couple of qualities you find admirable about your own life. Chances are, those same friends you swear are living their best life humping like bunnies wish they could have some of the qualities you write down.