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Easy on the Alcohol

01/28/2011

Anybody who’s known me for more than 15 minutes, knows I’m a cocktail fan. Big time. I even have a blog about marketing and cocktails called Marketini. (It’s the first link under blogroll over there on the right. Check it out.) So before I go any farther, and all my friends begin rolling their eyes, let’s get one thing straight: I’m not against drinking. In fact I love it!

But, as with all things, there’s a limit.

Drinking can present problems in gay culture because we tend to gather at bars. I see this as having to do with being part of a semi-hidden minority, and a consequent craving for the comfort of being among people like ourselves. The world we live in now is much more accepting than it once was. There is less to fear.  Still, after a day of being like everyone else, there is something so nice about melting into a crowd of gay men, relaxing your guard and being yourself. As my friend Brian put it, “Sometimes you just need to be in a room full of queers.

But there can be danger in this – especially for those of us who come out late.

You’re newly out. Maybe you don’t know many gay men. Maybe you really want to get into the scene and make up for lost time. Where do you look? Where the guys are, of course. And where are there lots of guys? At the bars. And what do you do at a bar? Among other things, you drink. And when you’re new to the party – maybe feeling a little scared, out of place, or simply clueless – nothing files the down rough edges like a couple of drinks. Or more than a couple.

Don’t get me wrong here. As I’ve said, I love to knock back a few drinks and socialize. Since I’ve been out, I’ve had a lot of fun hanging out with friends, and making a few new ones, at bars. But I have to watch it. It’s easy to get into a pattern of staying out to all hours and coming home blitzed. I know because I saw it happening to me.

I noticed myself wanting to hang out and drink with the boys when I could – with a little more effort – do something different, perhaps less alcoholic, and have the same benefits. And that’s really the point. If drinking – or drinking to excess – is your default choice for being with gay men, it may be time to reevaluate and try something different.

It’s really about self-esteem. Those of us who were taught that being gay meant being something less-than-good, have to challenge that view and honor ourselves as worthy men – whole, normal and deserving of every good thing in life. Abusing alcohol is a great way to dishonor yourself. And isn’t it about time to leave that behavior behind?

If the town where you live is big enough to have a gay bar, it’s big enough to have other options – church (works in my life) and civic groups, a gay book club (I belong to one), volunteer activities. It’s there if you look.

So, find yourself a few gay-social options to balance things out, and then by all means head out to the bars now and then. Have a good time. Hoist one for me!

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Kristy permalink
    01/28/2011 6:54 AM

    Cheers!!

  2. 01/28/2011 9:56 AM

    Great observations, as usual! Facebook is a good “peek” into this phenomenon. There are some otherwise lovely guys whose posts/links/pix are nearly 100% alcohol-focused. And the sad thing is these are nice guys who’ve already had a get-out-of-jail-free moment — or two. And that luck/good fortune’s gonna run out eventually, either for them or someone else.

    • 01/28/2011 10:08 AM

      I agree on the FB pix. It amazes me what people put out there for all to see. And it’s a fine line I have to walk with the Marketini business and cocktail pix from the deck-ette. It’s one of the motivations for writing this post. Balance is required.

      As you say, the luck – fortunately this includes the bad kind as well as the good – always does change. And nobody’s immune. But it’s not always about something sudden and terrible happing while drunk. Over the years, I’ve seen a lot people slide into sort of a boozy twilight. Not necessarily gutter drunks, many still functioning, holding down a job, but unable to have a social interaction without getting loaded. And seems to be a real danger for gay men. You see guys like that hanging around Tribe all the time. Not really even talking to anybody. Just sitting or wandering around, blasted.

  3. nanci Reese permalink
    01/29/2011 6:27 PM

    Dear David,
    I am glad you updated with being moderate w/ the alcohol. You said a newly out may drink to excess cuz of low self esteem. Almost every recovering alcoholic I know has/had low self esteem. AND any reason is a good reason to drink, rain, snow, sun, happy, sad etc.
    I am curious- what is you gay book club reading?
    I took about 4 writing classes w/ a gay teacher and the books we read were primarily GLBT. 2 courses were short stories and 2 autobiography. Great teacher.
    Love,
    Nanci

    • 01/30/2011 2:54 PM

      True about the universal low self-esteem with drunks. That hits everybody – just especially gay people who’ve been taught they were lass than others.

      All the books the group reads are gay-themed. Some of them not so hot in quality, which makes me wonder if the focus should be on gay guys talking about books of any kind and how they apply to life, instead of limiting it to “gay” books.

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