This article was published on October 26th, 2015
Heterosexual people’s lives are pretty straight forward. Go to school, get a job, find a girl friend, get married, have kids, retire, and enjoy having grandchildren. It’s been this way for generations. It’s engrained as the ideal North American lifestyle path that every man shall follow for a successful, happy life. At least that’s what we are told and meant to believe. But wait, what if you’re gay? That doesn’t work at all.
Gay men don’t follow the same path at their heterosexual counterparts. Essentially, there is not template for gay men to follow. While you think it might be obviously for a gay man to come out, find a partner, settle down, and live a great life with dual-incomes, it doesn’t exactly work that way.
Some gay men never come out of the closet, fearing retribution or rejection by friends and family. Some guys aren’t interested in finding a life-long partner or want to settle down in a relationship. Other gay men have no interest in investing in real estate or creating an estate to pass on. Without a model to follow (or to rebel against), for gay men, finding their way through life can be incredibly difficult and pose challenges along the way. On the flip side, gay men often have stronger character, are independent thinkers, and are creative problem solvers.
Young gay men often feel alone, scared, and lost because they aren’t able to follow the same path as heterosexual men. They face separate challenges of coming out, dating, bullying, and relationships. Their struggles are tougher. Young gay men who finally figure out they are gay, and accept the heteronormative idea of what a traditional man’s life is like, often has a harder time coping and adapting.
For men who realize they are gay when they are at an older stage of life have completely different challenges to face. A young gay man merrily goes along, creating his own template and expectations of life, throwing away the ideals of a heterosexuals life path into the trash. Whereas men who are further along in life feel confused about how to proceed on who he is, how it will impact his life, and what changes need to be made. Many men at this stage discard their old identify and create a new one. It’s a huge challenge. Going from having a planned out life to creating a new path in an incredible change, and it’s not easy.
Gay men have to find their own way through life, developing valuable skills and taking pride in their accomplishments along the way. But the awareness of this lifelong challenge is daunting. When gay men become aware of their altered path, they often feel alone on their life path and that they want to give up. Suicide, drugs, and alcohol are common coping mechanisms used to overcome the overwhelming feelings of stress and confusion.
The great news is that many gay men do find their way and create their own life path. Their paths are usually much more vibrant and very unique to their own personal needs, compared to their heterosexual counterparts, because their plans take into account the challenges they face along their journey. It may seem scary, but in fact, it’s beautiful and full of wonderful experiences many heterosexual men don’t get to understand.