By others’ standards, it seems there’s very little a gay man can ever get “right.”
As gay men, we’re not supposed to be a perfect combination of features. Though this arbitrary list of characteristics varies greatly depending on whom you ask, one thing is certain: We are not, under any circumstances, supposed to feel good about our body or our appearance.
Even the new(ish) groundswell of memes encouraging gay men to love themselves implies that you shouldn’t love yourself too much. “I’m a work in progress,” is about the nicest thing we, as gay men, are allowed to say about ourselves. If we love ourselves even a little too much, and dare to say, “I’m really happy with all of who I am,” the vanity police step in to keep us in line.
So here’s my question: What if a gay man does think he’s all that?
What if, stay with me here, a gay man decided that he was enough? What if, somehow, a gay man decided he liked all of who he was? What if he looked in the mirror and thought he was just ravishing? What on Earth is wrong with that?
It’s as though we believe there’s a finite amount of confidence out there, and if one person collects some, it lessens our potential to find some for ourselves. Loving oneself in no way attacks another. Truly loving oneself does not come with comparison or a hierarchy of greatness. Only insecurity does that.
I even catch myself keeping my own self-love in check, like some kind of awkward secret, so as to avoid the eye rolls or character attacks that are bound to pop up if I make any positive remark about myself. It’s as if I don’t want to stand out in the sea of gay men reciting “I’m a work in progress.”
These days “being vain” seems to be just one more way to condemn a gay man for how he chooses to show up in the world.
It’s insecurity, not confidence, that is so detrimental to ourselves and our relationships.
Let’s stop asking gay men to be “the perfect amount of confident” and give one another the space to find our own confidence. A gay man who is self-assured and grounded in his body and his beliefs has the power to live authentically. He has the strength to trust his instincts and intellect as he moves through the world. He celebrates his successes and good fortune, and in the face of setbacks or failure, he never forgets his worth.
By shifting the way you talk about yourself and others, you can change the dialogue around confidence. Being mindful of not knocking others’ confidence will not only have a positive effect on your own self-concept, it will also have a positive effect on those around you.
It’s no wonder we struggle to feel confident in so many areas of our lives, our bodies, our relationships, our intelligence, our contributions to the world. It’s frustrating and stifling to feel like your voice doesn’t matter, like you don’t measure up to arbitrary and ever-changing standards, or like everyone else’s preferences and needs come before yours.
What if you could feel confident in every way? What if, instead of wondering how it would feel to be good, worthy, and deserving enough, you already knew? What if you truly believed that losing a few more pounds or squeezing into a smaller size has nothing to do with how amazing, powerful, and valuable you are?