Thursday, June 21, 2007

Loneliness

Kengo Biddles recently blogged about a journal entry of his where he talks about the loneliness he often feels. His post really struck a chord with me, especially when he wrote
You know, the teen-years were rough, but I don't remember feeling like this -- this stone-cold gaping maw of all-consuming loneliness.


I expect this strikes a chord with many others as well. Feelings of isolation and loneliness seems to be pervasive among gay people. I'm sure there are some exceptions; however, you see gay people speak of the loneliness they feel regardless of

  • Religious preference
  • Activity in a church
  • Single or married
  • Choice of lifestyle

I too experience these feelings of loneliness as expressed in a poem I once wrote titled Alone. My wife looks forward to times when she can be alone;however, I dread the times when I am left alone. Although, the fact of the matter is, I've never really been alone my entire life. I've always had parents, roommates, companions, or a wife and children around me. And yet, I often feel isolated and lonely.

Why is it we feel alone so much of the time? If we discuss why we have these feelings then, perhaps, we can figure out what to do about it.

Why is loneliness so ubiquitous within our gay fellowship?

14 comments:

Abelard Enigma said...

I have a theory I've been formulating in my little brain.

It seems that, in general, women have more of a need for social contact than men. This is evidenced in the types of activities that women engage in both in and out of the church. For example, at the fabric store where my wife teaches quilting, they have a girls night out on Friday evenings. Women pay $5 and then bring whatever it is that they are working on to the store (sewing, scrapbooking, jewelery making, etc. ). It's an opportunity for them to socialize while they are working on their project (and pay $5 for the privilege). I've never seen anything equivalent for men.

My working theory is that gay men have more of a need for this type of social contact then men in general. But, in our society, men don't have as many social opportunities. We don't have enrichment meetings, boys night out, etc. We don't have our own visiting teachers (separate from home teachers). Also, a lot of the male social opportunities that do exist don't appeal to many of us ([ahem] watching/playing sports). I suspect a woman who was in a situation where she wasn't able to socialize with other women would have similar feelings of isolation and loneliness.

What I haven't worked out is who can best satisfy this social need?

* Anybody (male or female)
* Other men
* Other gay men
* People of all ages
* People close to our own age
* People with similar interests
* Etc.

iwonder said...

You've become quite the prolific poster recently.

We don't have enrichment meetings,

I've always been a fan of "manrichment". I think the church should start Manrichment for gay men, whether married or unmarried, where we can start to fulfil our need to socialise, scrapbook, sew, swap recipes for casseroles, share tips for getting out those nasty stains, the best technique for achieving large blooms on our prize roses, and of course, fashion tips.

Sounds fun, eh?

I actually do think that Manrichment, or something thereunto is a good idea, whether you're gay or not. And I don't mean Elder's Quorum Activities where you watch a basketball game and eat nachos and chili and talk about hot supermodels. No thanks!

MoHoHawaii said...

Would it be possible for you to participate in a gay social group, like a hiking club or a men's chorus?

These activities are good clean fun (completely nonsexual) and might give you a real feeling of acceptance and social validation.

I really like the gay outdoor adventure club I belong to. It's a lot of fun and definitely fills a social need. It's "nicer" than any straight male equivalent would be.

Just an idea.

Abelard Enigma said...

I've always been a fan of "manrichment"

I like that! Once, when I was in the EQ Presidency, we were discussing ideas for EQ activities and I suggested we do something similar to Homemaking meetings (as they were called then) but for men. I just got some odd stares.

Would it be possible for you to participate in a gay social group

Probably not at this point in time. My wife is having a difficult enough time adjusting to being married to a gay man. Going off and socializing with other gay men might be more than she could handle right now.

Kengo Biddles said...

I think that before the mohosphere developed it was a lot easier to tell ourselves that we're completely alone, that there's no one else like us. I think that's a large part of it.

I think we're all so quiet about it, partially to protect us from ignorant people, and partially to protect ourselves from the temptation of other Moho's.

I like the idea of manrichment, but I also think that it's something that we have to handle very, very, very, very, carefully. I've heard of way too many EG groups that have become dating circles. And I'm sorry, but that's not something I want to see.

I think that's why I prefer to meet Mohos with Miki in tow; so we can be ourselves, but not necessarily be tempted because I'm well anchored.

I'm getting better at meeting others, and I have to say, I would meet AtP, Beck, or even you, Abe, without the slightest compunction. So I think part of it is finding our happy medium, and remembering our covenants in the process.

Beck said...

We just need to all meet on your new deck in your backyard and have that great Texas barbecue you promised to make! :)

Now, wouldn't that freak your wife out...

Kengo Biddles said...

Only if we show up in color-coordinated rainbow splendour, Beck. But if you're game for a roadtrip, I'm about ready ...

playasinmar said...

"I've never seen anything equivalent for men."

You may never have seen it but it's there.

Bars.

And Kengo, why, oh why, do you think we can't control ourselves around each other? Afraid of that pent-up need for male companionship will lead us to an uncontrolled orgy? Or just a date?

Maybe if we didn't resist any and all opportunities to be around other men we wouldn't need to fear losing all control when we meet one.

Kengo Biddles said...

Playa, It's not that I don't think we can't control ourselves, because I know many of us have, and do. But I also know of people who haven't controled it, some more publicly than others.

I took the same tack with girls that I was dating, or women in my ward. I avoid situations that could lead to trouble. From my standpoint in my life, there's nothing else to do but be careful.

You have to decide for yourself, and I think that you're doing the best for yourself.

I don't think "that pent-up need for male companionship will lead us to an uncontrolled orgy?" I think that if we're desiring to hold to the teachings of the LDS Church and covenants we've made, we need to be careful.

That's all I'm saying. Maybe I'm too careful in your opinion. It works for me, you have to do what works for you.

Abelard Enigma said...

We just need to all meet on your new deck in your backyard and have that great Texas barbecue you promised to make!

You got it!

Of course, like Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof, I'll have to come up with some sort of elaborate story to explain why ya'll are here.

Let's see, you're all in town for a chimney sweep convention and ...

Abelard Enigma said...

You may never have seen it but it's there.

Bars.


Ah!

I don't think I would fit in very well in that kind of environment.

Besides, I live in a semi-dry part of Texas - no bars (restaurants are allowed to serve beer and wine - that's it). Although, we do have a wine vinard - go figure. Each year the local Priest goes out for a 'blessing of the vine'. I keep telling our Bishop that he should follow-up with a 'cursing of the vine' :)

Gimple said...

Loneliness is a tough subject for all of us. I agree that by just blogging all of us come together. It has also been nice to meet a few people and develop great friendships with them. I'm totally up for the bbq. Can anyone say MoHo road trip? Huzzah!

Abelard Enigma said...

Can anyone say MoHo road trip?

Ya'll are welcome anytime! It could be part of the "Get Buff and Quit Looking at other Guy's Stuff 2007" tour.

Maybe we could make it a manrichment BBQ. We could do croquet, swimming, scrapbooking, etc.

And, boy, let me tell you. You haven't lived until you've been to a Texas BBQ! Depending on the time of year, we could even do a crawfish boil and/or deep fried Turkey (we'll deep fry anything and everything in Texas).

Foxx said...

I think that loneliness is not without its appeal.

If you're alone, you don't have to rely on anybody else. Nobody can let you down, and you can't let anybody else down. If you're alone, you can focus on yourself and avoid such distractions as relationships, platonic or otherwise. You can also be the exception to the rules. You're a loner, a vigilante, a mercenary, an underdog. America loves an underdog.

I went through a period of years where I surrounded myself with tons and tons of people, but I never felt less lonely. Often, I would watch as I distanced myself from everybody else physically and emotionally. I would find myself finding a quiet corner in the midst of a buzzing party, or avoiding conversation. I noticed that I judged myself as better than everybody else for myriad reasons (mostly because I was above their pettiness).

Unfortunately, this was exactly contrary to what I thought I wanted. On some level, I liked the perceived elitism, and perhaps the control I had over my life or my relationships. It left me with that gnawing feeling of loneliness that I wanted more than anything for to be gone.

Growing up, most gays know they're different in some way. I can recall back to elementary school where I knew I was "weird," and I liked it. In Junior High, I was interested in "individuality," or being different. In High School, I felt the repercussions.

Different can get you attention, but it might not get you the kind of relationships you need as a human being.

So I guess my point is that growing up different may lead one to behavior that supports self-isolation in exchange for attention, possibly inhibiting the feelings of community and closeness that people need.