Dear Straight (and lonely gay) People
It wasn’t that long ago that I was an openly ‘out’ gay man with barely any gay friends.
I used to think that once I escaped the loneliness of the closet, I would finally be free to socialise with other gay men. Little did I know, coming out of the closet was only just the beginning. Without the right connections, the gay scene is not an easy community to assimilate into.
I am what many would consider a ‘late bloomer’. I came out of the closet when I was 23, relatively late for someone of my generation. Like most millennials, my introduction into the gay scene was via Grindr. It didn’t take me long to realise that gay apps aren’t primed for forming friendships.
For the longest time, the isolation that defined me as a closeted gay man continued to haunt me as someone who was out and proud. I still vividly remember how shocked my straight friends were when I told them I had no gay friends to attend Pink Dot with 2 years ago. An irony really, considering how I was already running Dear Straight People back then.
It took me a while to navigate my way into the gay scene. But it didn’t take long for me to realise that many of the gay men in the scene were just as lonely as I was. It was a true revelation for someone like me, who used to observe them (with a tinge of envy) from the outskirts of Instagram.
As my gay friendships deepened, I started to understand why complaining about the gay scene have become the national pastime of gay millennials. Most gay guys enter the scene in their late adolescence. Many of them grow up within the gay clubs and bars of Neil Road as well as the shady confines of the gay apps. In an environment dominated by alcohol, sex and drugs, friendships are grey and appearance is king.
It should come as no surprise then that the social climate for the contemporary gay man is a breeding ground for petty drama. Maybe it’s because bullied kids tend to grow up to become bullies themselves. Or maybe it’s because pop culture glorifies shade-throwing drag queens. Regardless of the cause, homosexuals just aren’t very nice to one another.
With Pride Month upon us and Pink Dot fast approaching, now is perhaps a good time for the increasingly jaded gay population to ponder over this matter.
The general consensus gleaned from research on this issue found that gay men tend to have weaker support networks and are more likely to be depressed or suicidal than their straight counterparts. This study in particular, concludes that openly gay men are more prone to suffering from anxiety and depression compared to those in the closet. If there’s one takeaway we can conclude from all this data, it’s that the gay scene doesn’t do any favours to its inhabitants.
As I find myself nearing the big 3-0, the divergence between my straight and gay friends becomes more apparent. All my straight friends seem to be settling into a life of marriage, kids and all-around wholesomeness. My gay social circle however, seem to be stuck in a never-ending high school that revolves around appearance, parties and Instagram. In such an environment, gossip is rife and scandals are aplenty.
Almost every gay person I know can recall with vivid clarity all the mean things other gay men have said or done to them. A friend of mine had his reputation smeared online when a troll spread false malicious rumours via the gay apps that he was riddled with STDs. As for me, I’ve had anonymous strangers randomly message me on Grindr just to tell me that I’m ugly or that my teeth needs fixing.
Suffice to say, the current gay social landscape doesn’t afford us much protection.
While the gay clubs and bars (and its accompanying drama) will always be a mainstay of the gay community, the issues arising from the gay apps are a lot easier to address.
Gay dating app Taimi, which recently launched in Singapore, promises to be that solution. Promising a judgement-free zone designed to help gay men build meaningful connections, it’s evident that the team behind Taimi is well aware of the loneliness afflicting many gay men.
I’ve had a go at the app myself and Taimi is definitely not your regular dating app. A cross between Facebook and Tinder, Taimi is a dating app that functions like a social media platform. It allows you to create an interactive feed, share Instagram like stories and join thematic groups to connect with others who share mutual interests. In fact, the app has so many features (ice breakers, video calls etc) that I feel like a dinosaur trying to find my way around it.
It’s a bit too early to see if Taimi will be able to combat some of the issues afflicting the online gay scene. But it’s heartening to know that the company takes a tough stance against online harassment and discriminatory behaviour.
Only time will tell if Taimi will indeed live up to its lofty aspirations. But I guess we won’t know until we start migrating from the hook-up apps dominating the current landscape for apps such as Taimi, which promises a gay scene that is less isolating and discriminatory.
Download Taimi Here
This post was brought to you by Taimi