I don’t know about you, but for whatever reason it’s difficult for me to welcome new gay men into my life. Put me in a room full of women and I’m a social butterfly. The next day I’ll most likely have every single one of their numbers. But place me in a room full of gay guys and I fall into a shell. What’s the deal?
I think I’ve figured it out. First of all, I know I’m not the only gay man who has issues with finding new gay friends. That’s not to say I don’t have any whatsoever, but finding new ones are difficult. The friends I do have I’ve known forever and they earned my trust long ago. As we get older and more aware of what human behavior actually is (in all its ugly ways), we tend to be a little cautious when meeting new people. But for gay guys, it’s become a little intense. Here’s how I’ve managed to see it:
#1) Don’t assume anything.
It’s hard to make friends when you assume a man is doing, thinking, or being something he isn’t. Not every smile means he wants to f**k you, not every touch is supposed to be flirtatious, and not every conversation topic is an innuendo. One of the major issues gay guys have when trying to make friends is the un-knowingness of it all. And believe me, it’s a hard one to crack.
When you’re with a group of straight girls, straight guys or lesbians, you’re clearly not going to have any of these assumptions. With gay guys, some are going to be cruising while others will be schmoozing. It’s just what we do. You never know what you’re going to get, so the only to enter it is with a neutral attitude. Keep a healthy pair of eyes and ears to yourself and don’t assume anything until proven otherwise.
#2) Be willing to overlook minor personality flaws.
There are many guys who rarely give second chances when it comes to people. A dude slips up and says something weird or offbeat, and they’re instantly off your radar. It happens a lot. We allow one stupid thing to become the baseline of an entire judgment of character.
Obviously there are some cases, which I’m still on the fence about. If a guy enters a conversation and he instantly starts saying racist comments, it goes without saying that I’m probably going to think he’s a racist. And I won’t want to talk to him the rest of the night. But sometimes there are people who might seem like a diva, slut, complainer, or anything else, when really he was just nervous and trying to get people to think he’s funny. The flaws worth forgiving are insurmountable when compared to ones that aren’t. Don’t put them in the same boat.
#3) Be hesitant in marking territory right off the bat.
I have to admit I’m 100% guilty of this. We’re men and there’s nothing to be ashamed about seeing another guy and leaning over to your buddy to say, “He’s into me. Back off bitches,” in so few words.
Me and my other single gay friends unwillingly create tension when a new guy enters our circle. I can’t tell you how many men we’ve sworn was ours until he proved one of us wrong. It’s kind of dangerous to mark a man you haven’t even gotten a chance to know yet. Your friends feel like they have to walk on eggshells and the man might get a bit uncomfortable before he has a chance to introduce himself properly. Let the vibes happen and allow them to fall where they fall. Just because he’s new doesn’t mean he’s yours.
#4) Find one interesting thing about them & don’t be fake about it.
I know it’s hard to believe, but there is something interesting about everyone if you dig deep enough. My grandmother once told that she never met a boring person in her life (I beg to differ). But in many ways, she was right. We all have unique personalities with totally different intentions from the other. We’re big, we’re small, we’re complex; some are cultured while others are curious. We’re lawyers, doctors, garbage cleaners, dog walkers, bartenders, librarians, and everything else.
The only reason why someone wouldn’t be interesting is because you’ve already decided that they themselves weren’t worth the effort to investigate. There are some instances where someone can turn you off so much that you just give, and that’s okay, but it’s worth it to put in an extra five minutes with people to find out at least one interesting fact. One fact because a million if you keep the conversation flowing.
#5) Stop being scared to tell your girlfriends you want to go to a gay bar.
Some of us are lucky to have girlfriends who are willing to go to gay places with us, but unfortunately there are many who aren’t. I’ve seen straight girls in bars looking sad and alone in the corner, on their phone, typing away. I ask them if they’re okay and they give me a monologue on why they feel awkward coming to gay bars or how there are no straight boys here or how “I hate it when he asks me to come to these places,” to which I want to grab them by the weave and scream, “How do you think we feel?!”
I used to hang with a bunch of girls who refused to go to gay bars with me. I was younger then and thought going to bars solo was pathetic (Now I go all the time!). It’s interesting because, to me, it’s a testament on how selfish a friend is. A night of going out is a night of going OUT. We want to have fun and gay guys will always have fun at straight places, but not all straight people will have fun at gay places. I say if they’re too stubborn about it, ditch them and find someone else who wants to go out and experience a piece of your world for a change. It’s a constant straight-fest 24/7/365. Don’t ever feel scared to put your foot down.
#6) Don’t alienate yourself.
Just because you know only one person at a party doesn’t give you the right to alienate yourself. Too many times we expect people to approach us since we’re the “new” ones, but think about it. They’re on their home turf. You are the visitor, which means you need to make an effort because they don’t have to.
It’s fine to be a bit socially awkward at times. Everyone has those moments, but purposely alienating yourself for no reason at all is going to make you feel worse. You know you have the skillset to at least say hi, so what’s keeping you from doing it? Fear of judgment, which leads me to the next point…
#7) Leave the judging for Judge Judy.
No one is in a place to judge anyone for any reason, but gay guys have somehow made it a part of our culture. In a way, it’s how we socialize – not because we’re gay, but because we’re men. Men judge. But straight didn’t have our fortune of observing from an early age, which makes us the Kings of all judgment.
LGBT people are naturally observant because the second we know we’re different, we try to figure out why. So, we question people, we second-question people, and we make pretty accurate judgment calls because we’re seeing things the rest of the “normal” world might not have noticed. This is the genesis towards creativity for any person who is forced in a place to observe, but never should it be used as a tool to degrade or judge. It keeps us a part more than we think, and it insights fear on both sides.
#8) Don’t try to be extroverted when deep down you know you’re introverted.
In other words, your personality (no matter how outgoing or shy) is good enough and should never be “changed” in an effort to make the kind of impression you want. Mind you, there are plenty of ways your personality can be enhanced or brought out, but the last thing you want to do is change it completely to please your assumed ideas.
I do this all the time. In many ways, I’m a deep introvert. I think a lot! I enjoy being in my thoughts, but for whatever reason when I think of introvert, I think boring, awkward, and Debbie Downers. I assume no one wants to be friends with an introvert so I opt to try and become as outgoing as I can. Most of the time it works, but it’s a matter of time before someone sees through it. When you’re not being genuine to yourself, trust me, people see it. Not only that, but the world around you becomes a project rather than an experience. Let it go. Be yourself and everyone will like you way more than you think they will. The same can be said whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert – neither one is bad! They both need each other for balance, so stop tilting yourself towards an imbalanced state of mind.