Being the 'Perfect Gay Guy' Feels Impossible When You Have Depression
When you’re a gay guy there’s this stereotype you have to be happy. At all times. Always.
After all, gay does translate to happy when you dig into the dictionary. It’s an expectation, an image that’s hard to keep up.
From TV to movies to books and magazines, in the land of gay you’re expected to be like Kurt from “Glee” or an overzealous host from “Say Yes to the Dress” or some other fashion forward show I know nothing about.
You smile, have biting humor and wit, are always fashionable at all times and carry yourself in a positive and presentable way. Growing up, that was only one type of gay ever portrayed. Peppy, spunky, sassy, funny, “so fierce!” and fashionable all at the same time! There’s this extreme pressure to be that, to be everything you think you’re supposed to be. Everything everyone wants you to be.
I should have on my gayface (the teethy Ken doll smile) at all times, not my bitchface (the furrowed brow and straight mouth). There’s no room for anxiety. “You’d look so much cuter with a smile,” I’ve been told. There’s no room to be sad. “Why are you so quiet?” There’s no room to be anxious.
When you stray from this image suddenly you’re not so sellable, not so cute and not so funny. Friends turn away when you stop providing laughs, when you stop providing advice, when you stop being an idea.
Gay guys don’t “do” anxiety or depression, aren’t obsessive compulsive or struggle with body image. They’re cute and fun and likable like Care Bears and puppies.
There didn’t seem to be room for me. Anxious, depressed, artsy, geeky gays didn’t exist as far as I could see. I was shown a very specific ideal of what I should do and think and say and be, and it wore me down like a stone caught in the waves ’til it was beaten to a shiny stone everyone wants to pick up.
As much as I tried to be that shiny stone, it just wasn’t something I was capable of. But I realized over time I didn’t want to be that shiny stone everyone wanted to pick up. Dealing with depression and anxiety was hard enough without trying to make myself the perfect little gay I thought everyone wanted.
I’m not that. I’ll never be that. And I’m OK with it.
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