Tuesday, May 24, 2011

10 Pieces of Advice to a Young Gay Man

As I venture deeper into my 40's, surprisingly I'm finding myself befriending people of all ages, both young and old. Yet in my soul there are things that I want to say to my friends who are under 29 who are really just starting out on life's wonderful journey.  I find that at this point of life they ask me for sage advice, but more often than not I am just willing to blurt it out.  Whether it's fashion tips, life lessons or just  a quick reality check I want to impart some of the things that have helped me along the way. 

1. The best piece of advice my Mother ever gave me:  buy (and pay a little extra) for classic looks.   Penny loafers, khakis, white dress shirts, a blue blazer, and a pair of Levis will go a lot farther, and get you into more interesting places than any of the latest fashions.  Remember to wear undershirts too!

2. Stop dating the person who you want to be.  If all of your boyfriends are of a similar "type", ask yourself why.  Is it because you find those qualities attractive, or because you find them lacking in yourself? 

3. Create your "real" family. Whether it's your parents, siblings, or friends(old or new) now is the time to redefine those relationships as an adult. These are the people who you will probably be sharing the rest of your life with. Tell them how you feel and set the rules on how you want to be treated. 

4. Don't forget the you're only young once, remind yourself that you will never be handsomer, healthier and more carefree than you are right now.

5. Sleep around, have fun and practice safe sex.

6. Remember there are no "official" rules for gay relationships....yet.  Feel free to test the boundaries of your relationships with love and lot's of communication.  Two men together doesn't have to look the same as a man and a woman together. 

7. As a gay man all options are open to you now, you can be a father, a stay at home parent, a CEO of a Fortune 500 company or all three.  There's no need to feel limited anymore, you can have it all......but probably not all at the same time.

8. Learn about the gay struggle.  Learn that we were once prosecuted, imprisoned, hospitalized, murdered, blackmailed, and marginalized for who we are. In many places we still are. 

9. Live in a gay ghetto for at least six months or your life, it can be very affirming, then not so much. 

10. Try to nurture friendships with non-gay people. It can be hard. When gay people meet each other, there's so much that just doesn't need to be explained, an instant comfort.  It's not always the same with people unlike ourselves, give them a chance, they will surprise you. 

Oh yeah, to the young man who asked for advice that got me thinking about all of this: relax and use a lot of lube.