Loneliness and homosexuality (possibly Part 1)
Was flipping through the local gay paper this weekend and saw an obituary for a well-known gay organizer. The organizer had committed suicide; the obituary noted that depression had long been a problem.
Nothing in the article talked about loneliness, but the obit made me think about the emails I’ve received from gay people over the past two years. Many of these people have linked loneliness to sexual orientation. They’re not saying that they’re lonely because they’re gay. They are saying that being gay has made loneliness worse, or that they have a harder time finding friends or lovers, or that they’re still dealing with a hostile family or with the residue of childhood bullying.
I didn’t address homosexuality in Lonely, in large part because I didn’t see a connection between what I went through and the fact that I was gay. The vast majority of my interviewees were straight, and we were all talking about the same thing — feelings of disconnection, too much aloneness, etc.
But the obituary (combined with some of the notes I’ve received) has made me think that maybe I’ve missed something. I’m sure that loneliness will be more of a problem if you’re in the closet, because there will always be a gap between the self you’re showing and the self you really are. And one gay man I spoke to — who was very funny and smart — stressed that he was still hindered in some situations because he felt he had “backward” social skills — ie., he’d never learned to date or interact in an “ordinary” way when young. I’ve also heard from people who have had to chose between sexuality and religion, and I’ve heard of (though not from) people who have had to leave small towns in order to be fully out.
In these cases — parting with religion, or with a possibly well-loved place — I can see how sexual orientation might make your loneliness sky-rocket. Any other thoughts? This will probably be Part 1 on this issue, and I’m sure I’ll write more. Right now, I just wanted to put the idea out there. You see, usually I can generalize…I can say, “Well, if it involved loneliness and it happened to me, my observations probably hold for a lot of people.” But that obituary made me think I really missed something, that *my* experience of being gay (within a liberal family, in a big city) might in fact not be at all representative.
Thoughts welcome….more to follow….
7 Responses to “Loneliness and homosexuality (possibly Part 1)”
ADD A COMMENT
Your name will be published with your comments. If you do not want your name used, simply type in Anonymous or the alias of your choosing. I'm fine with people using made up names. Feel free to be creative!