This week in my Queer Men Thrive group, we discussed our history with alcohol and drugs. I was impressed with how open the men were in discussing alcoholism and substance use difficulties. As a community, we tend to gravitate towards these means of entertainment. Many times the use of alcohol and drugs is not just for fun; we are all trying to deal with past trauma and use substances as a way to forget, momentarily.
Some of the men (including myself) have struggled with alcohol. When we come out, the mainstream gay culture revolved around clubs, raves, and parties where you are expected to partake in alcohol and drugs, almost to fit in. This pressure can push many of us to overindulge. If you think about the Stonewall Riots, bars were intentionally a refuge for queer people to escape homophobia for a night and be themselves. Fifty years later, bars and clubs have been replaced by apps. We didn't think this replacement meant men were drinking less, but men were hooking up more or socializing less in person. It still boggles my mind to go to a gay bar and see everyone scrolling on Grindr on their phones while plenty of people is around them, in real life!
The last topic brought up was that we use substances because we feel unlovable. We think we aren't cute enough, attractive enough, friendly enough, etc. We almost feel invisible in a queer culture that idealizes impossible beauty standards. We overindulge to numb the pain of not feeling good enough. The men discussed strategies to love ourselves more because we deserve love and respect just like anyone else.
Another powerful session, and sadly only 3 weeks left with these men.
My next group will be starting in late March. If you or someone you know may be interested, reach out to me.
Remember, the past is the past; you deserve to be loved no matter your mistakes.