Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation
The gay subculture in its ultimate glory exists in the fast lane. The boring gay married couples home alone on Saturday night watching a video or playing cards is not what we think of when we flip through the magazines or imagine a circuit party.
Gay life, at its most tantalizing, exists at a fever pitch of sex and intoxication. In a sea of beautiful men, pounding music and exotic venues, the possibilities are endless. You can easily become addicted to the ‘continuous flow.’ That flow is the availability of stimulation at almost any time. The problem is that when the music stops, everything seems ‘boring.’ How can mundane things like hanging out with friends, visiting family, seeing a movie, a dinner party, etc., compete with ‘the scene?’
For too many people I know, their foot is on the accelerator, when it belongs on the brake. They have no restraint until something goes horribly wrong, such as a breakup of a relationship, a DUI, HIV infection, loss of their job, etc. If you only hang out with other people who are part of the scene, they aren’t going to restrain you. If the people close to you get scared that your lifestyle is hurting you, are they going to have the guts to tell you? If so, will you listen?
I write often about the gay subculture because it is critical to health promotion. The lifestyle the community adopts has a tremendous influence on individual gay men’s health. The lives we choose to lead individually will determine how healthy we will be. If you eat Big Macs and fries and you don’t get off the couch, you will be fat. Gay men may hit the gym every day. But, if you are drunk on your ass or high a lot and running from party to party, you are very likely to have serious health consequences. I am not wagging a finger at you. You are an adult. The choices are yours.
My questions are: Can the community do more to promote a healthy lifestyle outside of the fast lane that will be sufficiently attractive to young men as an alternative? Can we influence our friends to participate in other activities that don’t focus on sex, intoxication and partying? Should we tell our good friends that it is OK to be bored?
All work and no play may make Jack a dull boy, but at the end of the day, the best things in life take time and effort, which can be boring. Making a relationship is not necessarily as exciting as the hunt for someone new, but it could be a lot more rewarding in the end. Financial independence, education, career development, giving back to society may not be the most exciting activities, but they are the most valuable in the long run.