Being single and gay and dating within NYC nightlife is often layered with complexity; a complexity even Einstein would not be able to figure out. When you’re twenty-something the complexity of sex in the city is tolerable. The rose-colored glasses of twenty-something is when blinders of the truth are worn overshadowing the behaviors of others. Our twenties are often a phase in life when we are attracted and seduced by good looks and bad behavior. Bad behavior at this stage in our lives becomes acceptable experiences because it’s easier to shrug it off by saying things like, “it’s a part of life.” Although, I agree that bad behavior is often magnified when it comes to nightlife, the nightlife can bring out both the best or the worst in people.
The superficial attitudes, alcohol, drugs and horn-dogs and the loneliness flooding the streets and filling the nightclubs create a platform motivated with all kinds of intentions but all masked by “having fun.” In my opinion it can become a masquerade with a permission slip to leave your morals, values and manners at home. Although, when I was younger I remember hearing that when you’re drinking, on drugs, or absorbed with self, this is when the true nature of a person and behaviors are shown.
At forty-something I never realized how much of the bad behavior I ignored, shrugged off and convinced myself that it was just a part of life. Growing up as an African-American male, the struggle to be accepted for who I am and not judged by the color of my skin has also been a battle. Whether you agree with it or not, racial tensions still exist. Just turn on the news on any given day. Although it’s not right, to say it doesn’t or to not acknowledge a person’s experience is in my opinion far worse than the act of racism itself.
Being 40-something has its benefits. You become more aware and recognize all the behavior you once ignored and shrugged off. Although, I no longer view the bad behavior as a non-issue but rather frustrating and hard to ignore. When you’re an African-American gay man who is attracted to Caucasian men in a racially unbalanced and unresolved nation and community, negative racial experiences are likely to be increased. As a member of two communities that have been oppressed my personal experience shows me that our (gay) community has taken on the characteristics and behaviors of their oppressors. However, this is a topic too complex to resolve in a single article.
Going out is New York City is insightful in terms of a 40-something, single person dipping back into the NYC nightlife after almost a decade of being away. Sadly, I continue to notice that things haven’t changed. No matter how old you get, the nightlife scene, the art of meeting people, and the behaviors of others will never change. Age and maturity, however, change our perceptions.
In my youth (20-something) racial tensions would be a topic that I considered tight lipped and I would never share my opinions. I believed what I was experiencing was a lack of confidence in myself and a fear of not being accepted by my peers (who happened to be white).
Whether they’re gay or straight, men are a complex species and can be difficult to understand. One observation I have is: “Men” aren’t afraid of a confident person who knows their worth. Confidence, color of your skin, or self-assurance may be a challenge to others but never intimidates what I consider a real “man.”
In my experience the gay community is racially divided but no-one speaks about it! Bad behavior was easy to accept in my 20s but I’m realizing if we don’t talk about it nothing will change. We as a community can no longer be bound by sloughing things off as “it’s life.”