Forget what other people say, you do you!

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Gareth Johnson
16 March 2024

A wise old gay man once said: “Forget what other people say, you do you!” Actually, maybe that was Oprah, but it’s still good advice.

It sounds simple, but the reality of just living authentically is a bit more complicated.

Growing up queer, we instinctively edit ourselves – doing our best to blend in with the world around us. It’s a survival technique.

Maybe everyone does that to some extent, whatever their sexuality, but it’s a habit that seems particularly hard for LGBTQ people to relinquish.

Even if we’re comfortable with our sexuality and not having to hide that anymore, we often find that we’re still editing ourselves to try and fit in with our perceptions of what being a gay man should look like. Am I doing this right? Am I attractive enough? Am I funny enough? Am I sexual enough? Am I gay enough?

It’s exhausting.

Your Looks

One thing that you learn as you get older is that there is always going to be someone younger and hotter than you. There is always going to be someone with a bigger dick than you. Life is not some kind of beauty pageant where the only option is to win every time.

But how we look is intrinsically tied up with our self-esteem. You have to like what you see in the mirror. Sure, we all have things we wish we could change or improve, but that’s why we try and eat healthy and get to the gym when we can.

The easiest way to be a bit happier about how you look is to stop comparing yourself to people on the internet. Sure, there’s a lot of influencers and porn-stars who look incredible and seem to be living their best life. They work hard to project that image to the world. With the right right lighting and a few filters, you’d look pretty awesome as well. But what people post to their Instagram doesn’t necessarily reflect their real life – it might have no connection to reality whatsoever. Those guys are cute to look at but they’re not the bar against which you should be measuring yourself.

Are you feeling healthy? Are you getting some exercise and eating good food? Then you’re on the right path. If you need to give yourself a bit of a self-esteem boost, buy some new underwear. Everyone feels better in new underwear.

Your Personality

While increasing representation of LGBTQ characters in films and television is awesome, it does create a slightly unrealistic perception of what gay men are actually like. We’re not always great at being the funny best-friend who is sassy and super-stylish. Most of us aren’t very good at giving people makeovers or learning choreography.

It’s okay to be a bit introverted. It’s okay not to have a witty comeback or bitchy put-down for every interaction in your day.

If you’re trying to make a good impression with people, or just want people to enjoy hanging out with you, a good starting point is to bring positive energy to a situation. Be a bit upbeat and positive – look for the good in a person or a situation. Don’t automatically try and suck the joy out of whatever is going on. You don’t have to be false or pretend to be something you’re not, but just looking for ways to make the people that you’re with feel good about themselves is a really good starting point.

Your Mental Health

We don’t need to go over the statistics again, but queer people are – in lots of ways – a bit of a contradiction. In terms of mental health, we’re very resilient but also have higher than average rates of substance abuse, anxiety, and self-harm.

The reasons for this duality aren’t difficult to understand – we’re good at coping with stuff, adapting to situations, and dealing with stress. However, if our support systems crumble, it can leave us really vulnerable.

The thing to remember is that you’re not invincible. Sure, you look good and you smell great but life comes at you fast. If you feel like things are starting to go off the rails, talk to someone – get some help. Don’t try and ostrich it out.

Okay, that’s enough life-advice for today. Bottom line, gay men are awesome. Carry on.

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