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I am a lead frontend engineer at Tinkoff. This is a personal blog, views and opinions are my own.

[#non-tech] Big Gay Loneliness

This study is not scientific in any sense of the word, nor does it claim to be. Moreover, being deeply subjective and expressing not objective truth, but the author’s own deeply biased views and experiences, it should be read more like a work of fiction.

Again: my aim is to mostly talk about personal experience. Generalizing it and writing in third person makes more sense to me at this time.

Childhood and adolescense

One of the most basic needs of a child in the early childhood (up to the age of 4-6) are the need for absolute love and the need for absolute protection from parents. In the early years, a baby’s life is almost completely dependent on his or her parents. Not only is there no happiness outside the space of parental love, survival itself is quite problematic. And so the boy, who at the beginning lived up to all the hopes of his parents in terms of speed of weight gain and teething, begins to show some personal aspirations, namely to reach for non-male activities, and in general begins to behave contrary to the parents' ideas about the behavior of the heir of a valiant, though somewhat impoverished in the last 800 years, family.

Gentle attempts, usually maternal, to hand over the saber and accustom him to sleeping in the saddle lead our 3-4-year-old knight to sad reflections about how the world is imperfect because parents, so ready to cooperate and meet all the child’s needs in the past, suddenly try to deny him the opportunity to behave in the way that seems natural to him. This generates a very acute conflict in the boy’s soul: failure to comply with the parents' requirements is fraught, in the child’s fantasies, with deprivation of love, while direct pressure makes the child feel defenseless before their overwhelming will.

The ways of resolving this conflict for the little gay boy are either pretend obedience to the will of his parents, which forever leaves a coldness of distrust and resentment in the relationship with them, or open resistance to them, which also leads to feelings of rejection, pain, fear and, as a consequence in both cases, to loneliness from a very early age.

At about age 8 to 15, the trench warfare with parents for the right to be themselves is supplemented by the need to find their place in society. Boys get into packs. In the pack it is important to be in some basic parameters the same as the others, which gives the feeling of being recognized by the pack as one of their own and a great feeling of “we are together, I am not alone”.

This is where the suffering of the gay teenager is rooted. First of all, he’s been getting a lot of abuse from his peers all his life for his softness and his friendship with girls. Secondly, by vividly supporting his peers' salivating conversations about women, groping, and sex in general, he is insincere because, at best, he feels no attraction to the female sex; at worst, he is secretly in love with one of his fellow peers.

Third, there are dirty jokes about gays, fear of being labeled as one, and the realization that he may be the very queer that everyone despises. These problems and, as a consequence, the struggle with one’s deepest desires to be gay, build on the foundation of loneliness, laid in childhood by loving parents, a prison-like building, from behind the strong walls and barred windows of which a gay man later communicates with the world. This detached position of the misunderstood and despised affects his future choices and actions, his relationships with society and his loved ones.

Family and socializing

Let us leave without extensive comment the socially instilled desire of gays early in life to marry and be like everyone else, the fear of not being able to be supported in old age by an absent wife and children. Fear that friends, acquaintances and colleagues will find out the truth and turn away; fear of approaching other gay men for fear of being caught by blackmailers and burglars; misunderstanding and rejection by parents and relatives and their awkward attempts to make a gay man “normal”; failure to open up and be authentic while being accepted in the heterosexual company of friends, etc. These fears erect a 10-meter-high fortress wall around the loneliness building with signs like “I don’t need anything from you,” “stay away from me with your love,” and “the best company for me is myself”.

Gay people are often not easy to deal with, with a lot of complexes and psychological trauma, and they can be abrupt and resentful, which often makes it difficult to live together with anyone for long periods of time. The state and society are more likely to despise the gay family than to actively support it. For a gay man, the family is a highly desirable value in theory rather than one that is consciously realized in practice. Meanwhile, a human being is a paired beast rather than a solitary one; without a family, there is no one for them.

The general economic situation in the country rarely allows a gay man, once he reaches adulthood, to earn enough to live apart from his parents before he graduates and starts earning enough money. Gay men who come to town to study often live in dormitories where, like at their parents' house, they cannot bring a friend for the night.

This situation, which often lasts for years, creates a very strong stereotype of relationships: the main thing a gay man without a personal space seeks in his relations with other gays is a short-term solace for his loneliness. There is no question of a spiritual and emotional intimacy or a sense of family togetherness, and in this tragic situation there can be no such thing, since the focus is not on finding a close person, but rather on an available partner. In this way a gay man actively tries to replace his desire for deep, substantial contact. This is a contact that often cannot occur, since the partner is either random or is chosen according to sexual interest. The inability to recognize, to find, to live together with a loved one-what can make one more lonely?

The tragedy of the situation is that for a gay man forced to constantly hide himself, the ideal of building a close social circle is one in which there is no need to hide his inclinations, that is, limiting it to gay men. Straight people are usually not seen as welcome guests. The result is obvious. Suppose the author is a fan of differential and integral calculus. Is there any guarantee that he will find among the people who can’t imagine life without derivatives enough gays to make him feel completely satisfied? Theoretically, from the point of view of the same theory of integral calculus, taking an integral from zero to infinity, yes. Practically the author, refusing to communicate with professors X, Y and Z on the grounds of different sexual orientation, will only entertain the illusion of happiness.

On the other hand, one can hardly blame gays for wanting to socialize in a safe environment. And the problem of how meaningful this communication is must be decided by each individual, depending on their desires, beliefs, and environmental conditions. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. A gay family, for example, is forced to live in a segregated gay environment more than in an interest-based one, because it is often difficult to explain to non-gay people why two guys spend all their time together. It is easier to hang out in places and communities where such explanations are not required.

Standards, trust and toxicity

It’s hard not to feel lonely if the gay man you’re so eager to meet thinks that dating without sex is nothing and that such a fat/thin/redheaded mate wouldn’t be right for him. Why lonely? Because the next time our hero decides not to pick at barely dried-up wounds and won’t try to make contact with a man he likes so much.

A young gay man had built his own personal Chateau d’If before reaching puberty. And for the rest of his life our aging hero is trying to convince himself that he is fine in this prison and that walking around the prison yard under the light of the floodlights is a good enough substitute for a walk in the morning forest, which he has not had a chance to visit. And also that he, paradoxically enough, is dying to escape from the castle and walk in the forest. The fact is that in all of us lives a child, scared to death to be hurt, because he has already received too much pain and misunderstanding in life. This castle, this prison, is our protection from those around us who can always hurt us. And we build fortress walls by putting on masks: the mask of a very strong man, the mask of a sexual giant, etc. We change these masks, shuffle and never, ever let anyone see the real us.

It’s easier for us to say “I want” than the truth: “I love.” After all, this bastard, when he finds out that he is loved, will start twisting strings out of us. And that bastard would be dying to say “I love you”, but etiquette and fear don’t allow it and the bastard says quietly: “Let’s go fuck,” even though he wants to be intimate, just to snuggle up against our shoulder, maybe just to cry quietly.

Behind every locked door is loneliness, loneliness, loneliness. And it’s hard to live, and it’s scary to leave. Gay men wear a mask all their lives and are surprised that their faces don’t tan. You can’t stop being lonely without truly opening yourself up to those around you, even if only to gays, who the hell cares. Yes they’ll insult you, yes they’ll hurt you, but…

In fact, all of us gays grew up with the feeling that we were different, that we were shamefully inferior to others. Society drummed into our brains that we were perverts, that we were criminals, that God was punishing us with AIDS. Now I want to spit in their faces: I’m not afraid, I’m gay, I’m better than you, and look at me in my wig and how I don’t care about you all, you gray, tedious masses. It is scary to show oneself in public without a shocking mask that is intended to show strength and independence. It is scary just to exist without an inner mask of superiority.

This is why a gay man cherishes his solitude as a pledge of difference from others: I am different, even masquerading as you, I am better than you, wearing lace and feathers. To become like you, to begin to communicate with you as equals, sharing yourself and accepting you, is to lose the halo of martyrdom and the halo of exceptionality.

Also, loneliness is a habitual environment for a gay man. It is the gay man’s protection from a hostile environment and from his own fears.

Rid me of this…

You may be familiar with the three phases of coming out:

  • admitting to being gay (under pressure to meet the body’s physiological needs);
  • accepting oneself as gay (the elimination of psychological discomfort);
  • affirming oneself as gay in society (not with heels and makeup - this is fiction - but as an equal member of society, not the object of gossip and curiosity, but an EQUAL MEMBER OF SOCIETY).

And while a fairly large part of the gay community is on the second level (almost no one is on the third), the gay community as a whole is only on the first. We have grouped together and, as a community, acknowledged that we exist. So far, no more than that. We only partially accept ourselves as one of the existing communities in society. Because of this, we are hiding, and we have only just begun to declare ourselves aloud.

As soon as society as a whole becomes indifferent to whom its members fuck, we will dissolve into society and exist in it naturally and openly, and meetings of our interest groups will be not much different from meetings of cynologists or philatelists (also people who are very well behaved).

So the loneliness is nothing more than a consequence of the childhood disease of intolerance to the dissimilarities of modern society. You can wait for society to get better, or you can personally complete your coming out - go to the third step - and get rid of Big Loneliness on your own. You can wait for a bridge to be built, or you can swim across the river. It’s dangerous, wet and cold. And you should do it only if it is absolutely unbearable to live on your usual shore.

This is the third face of loneliness. It is the scourge of the gay man, he suffers from it. It is the gay man’s shield, he hides behind it. It is also the stimulus to further growth, the stimulus to become yourself.

Let’s call it a day.