I’m awoken at 8AM by the dog coming into my room and licking my face. This is her way of saying “come play with me, everyone else has left for work”. Normally it would take a lot more than this to scrape me out of bed on my day off. Alas, I can tell by her absolutely putrid breath that she has just finished licking-clean her 7 new puppies.
So I get up and begin my day as I always do. I have my coffee, cigarette and breakfast and scroll through the news websites and check my email. My Inbox tells me that no-one has replied to my employment inquiries, and that Twitter has found some people I may know. Amongst them is @SingleGayLife.
I Follow them and amuse myself with the Tweets. And after I have done all my housework, I sit down with my tablet and watch Loose Women (stop judging me! It’s a current affairs show and I am a journalism graduate).
The Loose Ladies are discussing Angelina Jolie putting hubby Brad Pitt on a diet, and go on to talk about how we let ourselves go a bit once we’re in a comfortable relationship. This occurs just as I hit the prompting article on the Daily Mail’s website. This coupled with @SingleGayLife, reminds me (as if I need reminding) how pitied I am within the gay community (and sometimes the straight one, too) for not having a boyfriend.
Yes, heteros, it is that bad. Within the gay community, having a boyfriend is often portrayed as the ultimate achievement. I love that us single guys have @SingleGayLife to vent our frustrations. But the very idea that there is a ‘market’ for such an outlet just goes to show that some of us need a sense of comradery in the face of those who treat us like we’re invisible if we’re not an 18-year-old, superslim, tanned, 6foot, blond-haired male supermodel. By the way, do these types even exist? If they do, where exactly are they? Are they part of an exclusive hot-members-only club? Can I get a guest pass? Or is there some Hogwarts-like tunnel with an entrance hidden behind a statue of Liza or Judy?
I know. I sound as bitter as the sugar-free coffee I now drink in a bid to pre-empt Christmas weight gain. Any attention I get from guys is solely down to that fact that I am 24 which is just about young enough to be acknowledged as worthy. Because at 5’7”, pale-skinned, dark-haired, neither slim nor muscular, living with my parents and earning minimum wage part time, I am hardly what the gay community considers to be a ‘catch’. It’s just irritating to me that people are sympathetic to my ‘plight’ of being single. I have an acquaintance who I see about once a week and her first question to me is usually “got yourself a man yet?”. I want to reply with “still married? You can’t have that long left, surely?” But I don’t. Like a true British gentleman, I’m far too polite.
The truth of the matter is, I like being single. I know that’s what every single person says. But I really do. For one thing, I grew up in a house with 4 siblings and two parents with an endless string of visiting relatives. Then at school and college, I was surrounded by people. In my first year of college I started my 7 years (and counting) in retail where I was constantly surrounded by customers and colleagues. I worked in retail at university and I lived in halls of residence with hundreds of other students. For the rest of uni, I lived in a student house with an average of 6 flatmates. You see, I have never actually been alone. Solitude to me is a privilege that I have yet to establish as a routine luxury. Don’t get me wrong, I fit in a social life as much as I can. I don’t want to spend life hidden away from the world. I can best portray this seemingly contradicting outlook with something once said by Greta Garbo, a Hollywood actress from the 1940s. She was famously misquoted as saying “I just want to be alone”. She later corrected this: “I never said I wanted to be ‘alone’. I said I wanted to be ‘left alone’. There is a world of difference between the two.” Got it one, Greta!
So why do say many of my homo brethren fall into this idealistic sociological
hamster wheel? I like to picture gay men around the world who go out on the scene and cringe when they see those fake-tanned, bleach-blond guys that have less body mass than an x-ray. But I like to think that they too, are polite enough to not be openly rude about it. At least not here in England. I’ve seen those types, those ‘Barbie Boys’. I just want to give them a great big hug and wash off the tan, shave off their peroxide-burnt hair, wipe off their make-up and tell them they don’t need to try so hard. The Prince Charming they have painted themselves up for can’t actually see them beneath those layers of product. Even if they did, it’s a gay bar on a Saturday night. I doubt they could establish one from another #ArmiesOfBarbies
These days, in my mid-20s, the meat market of the gay scene has just become something I do every few months when I need a system update. And I find myself lambasted for that. A few months ago, some friends invited me out. I asked where they were going and they said that they were off to the local gay club. They said it with a tone of confusion – perplexed as to why I would think that we’d be going anywhere else. For this I was accused of being self-superior. Actually, I was just wondering why they’d want to go to a place where the lot of us would be ignored for not being perfectly boyfriend-ready. And possibly even vindicated for not having a boyfriend, because that’s seems to be the ultimate fashion accessory. Unfortunately for some, that particular accessory cannot be found on a rail at Topman #FashionVictim.
I’d be lying if I said I don’t ever want a relationship. I already know that I don’t want to get married or have children. But to just try a relationship and give it a good faith effort would be interesting. But in the meantime – why am I pitied and shamed for not trying hard enough to find one? As I say, I’m no Taylor Lautner. But I do cycle a total of 100-120km a week to work. I jog and swim on my days off. I eat healthily. I finished my education. I have a social life. I’ve done everything possible to ensure that I’m a well-rounded person. Surely that’s trying hard enough? Yet we continue to receive these constant media messages channelled through the gay community. These messages that that tell us, in spite of our best efforts, we’re still not good enough. Because in theory, if we were, we’d have a man by now, right?
See now, I don’t want to work in retail forever. It’s just a placeholder job until I can get something more suited to my Journalism degree. I know the best place for me to flex it would be London. So my income is going into savings to facilitate a move there when I can finally get a placeholder job in the capital. This will hopefully give me more scope to kick-start a career. But so many of my friends, gay and straight, find this topic of conversation dull. Chatter invariably turns to ‘how to trap myself a man’. In all honesty, this subject arises from them and even from me. This idea of ‘you have to get yourself a relationship. Someone young, hot and utterly and hopelessly in love with you” is actually an ideal that has migrated from the straight community. Well, I reject this idea. Just as much of the straight community have rejected us for centuries.
So, any lonely gay men out there who are a bit annoyed because they have so much love to give. Please know that a boyfriend isn’t the only goal you should be setting for yourself. There are so many other things to be getting on with. Careers, health, friends, financial security, the list goes on. I don’t know if blogging about this out loud will alleviate the pressure on me or any of us to get hooked up. I should doubt it will. But at least I can say I tried. And at least my income is all my own. That’s a small victory, isn’t it?
Anyway, I’ll have to end it there as one of the puppies has just escaped from the pen. So do excuse me, I have to lay a trail of dog biscuits and lie in wait #BestDaysOfMyLife