Gay men may face a specific set of mental challenges in isolation, writes Marc Svensson.
I was recently speaking to a friend about the topic most conversations seem to revolve around these days, the current lockdown isolation. He told me he felt as if “his whole identity had been swept from under his feet” since he was furloughed.
Our conversation made me reflect on how these unprecedented times might be experienced differently for us as gay and bisexual men, compared to the general population, and even perhaps the rest of the LGBTQ+ community.
Feeling isolated is something many LGBTQ+ people experienced extensively growing up ‘being different’ from the rest of our classmates. Many of us fled our hometowns in exchange for the bigger cities, where we felt more accepted and met likeminded people.
Did our early mental isolation experiences unwittingly prepare us for our current life in physical isolation? LGTBQ+ people are more likely to live alone, and indeed much of the contact we have with our families and loved ones today might already be taking place online.
In comparison to our straight peers, we spend more of our social lives online, maintaining friendships, building relationships and chasing down hook-ups.
However, largely due to the heteronormative society we are raised in, LGBTQ+ people are 3-4 times more likely to suffer from common mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, compared to our straight peers. We are more likely to battle with substance abuse and suicide ideation.
These issues risk becoming magnified in an environment in which social interactions are reduced to the daily greetings of the Amazon delivery man.
Why is lockdown so tough on gay and bisexual men? Well-respected LGBTQ+ mental health researcher John Pachankis and his colleagues found that gay and bisexual men, particularly, experience unique stress relating to the harmful effects of the gay community’s preoccupation with appearance, social status and career: Intra-gay community stress.
Men in most cultures are inclined toward competitiveness and driven by a need to prove their manhood. They argue that a subculture composed entirely of the male sex (like the army) is likely to be intrinsically status conscious.
Within gay male culture, such competition is further exacerbated by the fact that members compete not only for social and status gain, but also for sex with each other.
To appreciate how these findings relate to the experience of gay and bisexual men in the current lockdown, we need to understand how identities are constructed.
Our identity is essentially the way we define ourselves throughout the past, present and future and includes aspects of our gender, ethnicity, sexuality and occupation. The social roles adopted as partner, friend, parent or mentor also make up important parts of our identity construct. We shape our understanding of who we are by giving particular meaning and weight to the specific aspects of our lives we value and prioritise the most.
As gay and bisexual men, our careers, social and professional status often dominate our identities, as we are less likely to raise families. With our professional identities, at best, being reduced to a working-from-home status and, at worst, being furloughed or even being made redundant in the current pandemic, we might find ourselves in unchartered territories, in which the professional identities we so carefully nurtured and constructed over the years rapidly become fragile.
Add to this the reduction in social affirmation, with gyms being closed and social distancing restrictions prohibiting us from seeking physical validation through dates or hook-ups, and you can see how intra-gay community stress is potentially being magnified for many gay and bisexual men.
A recent survey by Jacamo and YouGov, on men’s experience during lockdown, found that half reported a positive effect on mental health due to spending more time with their family and loved ones.
While many gay and bisexual men have opted out from traditional family structures and raising children, this should remind us of the importance of building strong ‘chosen families’, from within our community. In times like these, remember to nurture and appreciate your ‘chosen family’, and to be supportive of each other in all aspects of our identities, beyond just sexuality and career.
Finally, why not turn some of that nurturing attention inwards as well. Can you use the lockdown isolation as a time to reflect on and revaluate what constitutes your identity? Who are you, and what matter most to you? Your professional accomplishments? What does an attractive body that offers so much attention on apps or bars and clubs really mean to you? Or are there of other aspects of your identity that deserve more of your attention?
The crisis suddenly presents more than just the threat of COVID-19. It’s the realisation that many of us have to also reconsider the structure of our community, and our own inner self-worth.
Marc Svensson is a social psychologist and the founder of Helsa, a platform for LGBTQ+ people to learn about their mental health and match with LGBTQ+ specialised therapists.
Check out the original story here: Attitude Magazine.
Have you found the right one, or are you still searching?
Join a gay dating site where you can meet single guys from any town or city. Rely instead on Gay Dating Solutions to do the work for you! Don’t get fooled by free offers made by other sites. Gay Dating Solutions is offering a FREE 6 month promotion ABSOLUTELY no strings, request for credit card numbers, etc…it is the only site that is truly free to join!
Sign-up now: www.gaydatingsolutions.com
Download our mobile apps: https://appurl.io/jd0jaqp0
Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/GayDating101
Tweet us: twitter.com/GayDating101
Tags: #BigBankChallenge #BohemianKissChallenge #EqualityActJapan #StopAsianHate 12 Dates of Christmas 2020 Olympics Aaron Schock Adam Castillejo Adam Rippon addiction ageism Aging AhTave AIDS Aime Wichtendal Alaska Alex Morse Almost Love America's Next Top Model American Medical Association Amy Coney Barrett Annise Parker Antes Que El Mundo Se Acabe Anti-Asian Violence Anti-LGBTQ ANTM anxiety Aptima HIV-1 Arizona Armie Hammer astrology At-home date Atlanta Atlanta Black Pride Atlanta GA Atlanta Nightlife Atlanta Pride Atlanta Pride Run Atlanta’s Queer History Bicycle Tour Austin Swink Austin Texas Austin TX Backpacks for the Street Basel Abou Hamrah BFI Flare Bisexual BLACK GAY MEN Black LGBTQ Atlanta Black Lives Matter Black Love Bohemian Rhapsody Boston Boston MA Boston Nightlife Brian Sims Broadway bully Bullying California Call Me By Your Name Canada Capital Pride Capitalism Cason Crane Celebrity News censorship Chemistry Chemsex Chicago Chicago IL Chris Evans Christian proselytizing Christianity Christmas Christmas commercial Christmas movie Christmas Movies Chucky Circus of Books civil unions Cody McCook Colorado Comedy coming out commentary compatibility Confidence Congress conspiracy theory Conversion therapy CoronaVirus Court Vox COVID COVID-19 Covid-19 vaccine Cubbyhole NYC daddy Dallas Dallas Gay Bars Dallas Gayborhood Dallas Texas Danica Roem Daniel Harding Daniel Howell Date night dating dating advice Dating Apps Dating Red Flags dating rut dating tips DC Pride Dead to Me Denver Depression discrimination Disney Documentary Dolf Pasker Dolly Parton Domestic Violence Donald Trump Donna Price Drag Race drag racing Dustin Lance Black election Election 2020 Election Day Elite Employment Entertainment Entertainment news epidemic Fabio Fasoli Family family gatherings Film Finding True Love First Date First Date Etiquette first date ideas first date tips Flirting Tips Flirty Dancing Florida Fort Lauderdale Franklin Graham Freddie Mercury Garrett Clayton gay gay asian gay asian men Gay Atlanta Gay Austin Gay Bars NYC Gay beaches Gay Boston Gay Boston Nightlife Gay Chicago Gay Christmas Gay Couple Gay Couples Gay Culture Gay Dallas Gay Dallas Nightlife gay dating gay dating advice gay dating app gay dating apps Gay Dating Red Flags Gay Dating Solutions Gay Dating Tips Gay DC gay discrimination gay film Gay Florida Gay Fort Lauderdale Gay Health Gay Holiday Movie Gay Houston gay kiss Gay Love Advice gay marriage gay marriage proposal gay men Gay Miami gay midlife Gay Mountaineer Gay Movies Gay New York Gay nightlife Gay Nurse Gay NYC Gay Panic Gay Pride gay relationship advice gay relationship tips gay relationships Gay Santa Gay Scene gay seniors gay sex gay singles Gay Soldier Gay Travel Gay Twitter Gay Washington DC Gay Wedding gay weddings Gay Widower Gays Over COVID gaysian Gen Z Generation Z Georgia Gert Kasteel Ghosting GLAAD GOP Gorsuch Greater Houston LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce grindr Guy Vandenberg Gym Gays Haaz Sleiman Hallmark Halloween Hate Crime HBO Max Health HGVT HIV HIV prevention HIV stigma HIV treatment HIV vaccine HIV/AIDS hobbies Holi-date Holiday Film Holiday Movies Holidays Hollywood Holyoke Homophobia hooking up hookup hookup culture Hot Vax Summer House Hunters Houston Houston Texas Houston TX Hulu Ian Jordan Indya Moore Instagay Instagram intersex Intimacy Intimacy coach Iowa Iowa caucus isolation It's A Sin Jake Gyllenhaal James Bushe Japan Jaymes Vaughan Jayson Conner Jeffrey Newman Jennifer Tilly Jewish Jewish persecution Joe Biden Jonathan Bennett Josef Salvat Jussi-Pekka Kajaala Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg JVN Jwan Yosef Karamo Brown Kristine Stolakis Lady Gaga Lesbian lesbian couple Let It Snow LGBT LGBT Austin LGBT Travel Guide LGBT-Free Zones LGBTQ LGBTQ Asians LGBTQ Atlanta LGBTQ Austin LGBTQ Boston LGBTQ Chicago LGBTQ Dallas LGBTQ DC LGBTQ discrimination LGBTQ employees LGBTQ Family LGBTQ Film LGBTQ Film Festival LGBTQ Films LGBTQ flag LGBTQ Fort Lauderdale LGBTQ Health LGBTQ History LGBTQ Houston LGBTQ Miami LGBTQ movies LGBTQ New York LGBTQ nightlife LGBTQ NYC LGBTQ Pride LGBTQ retirees LGBTQ retirement LGBTQ Rights LGBTQ Seniors LGBTQ Victory Institute LGBTQ Youth Life Lifetime Lifetime TV Network Linda Warren lockdown London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival loneliness Love Victor Love Wins Luke Evans Male Nurse Malik Brown marriage equality marriage proposal Marsha P Johnson Marvel Marvin Cortes Massachusetts mature gay dating mental health Mexico Miami Miami Beach Miami Beach Pride Miami Florida Miami nightlife Michael Cashman Michael Henry Middle-aged gay men midlife Modern Family mormon Mr. Right Muscle gays music video My Gay Match NASCAR National Coming Out Day Nationwide Conversion Therapy Ban Neil Gorsuch Netflix Netflix Special Nevada New Year's Resolution New York New York City Nonbinary North Dakota Northern Ute tribe Norway Nurse Appreciation Week NYC NYC Events NYC Pride NYC Pride 2021 Oak Lawn Obergefell v. Hodges older gay man Omander Omar Ayuso One True Pairing online dating online dating apps online dating tips online gay dating Online trolls Open Relationship Operation Hyacinth OTP Outfest Outfest LA 2021 Outfest Los Angeles Pan-African Pride pandemic Paper Moons Pat Robertson Pennsylvania Perez Hilton personality Personality Matching personality type Pete Buttigieg Pink Capitalism Poland Politics polyamorous polyamorous relationship polyamorous relationships Pope Francis Pose power bottom Pray Away PrEP pride Pride 2021 Pride Afrique Pride Flag Pride Month Prince Harry profile pic Puerto Vallarta quarantine Queer eye Queer Film Queer Films Queer Holiday Movies Queer Lawmakers Queer Love Story Queer Santa Queer Youth racism Rafa Olarra Rainbow Wave red flags Reddit Relationship relationship advice Relationship Tips relationships religion Rep. Andy Biggs Republican retirement Ricky Martin rom-com Romantic Comedy Ryan Murphy Ryan O’Connell Samaritan’s Purse same sex marriage Same Sex Relationships Same Sex Wedding Same-Sex Couples Same-Sex Kiss same-sex marriage same-sex marriage ban Santa Claus Schitt’s Creek Score Miami Score Nightclub Scott Evans Scott Wiener Section 28 self isolation self-care Senior Gay Dating Senior Gay Men senior gays Senior Prom Seven Summits sex Sex and Intimacy Sex Education sex life sexual identity sexual preference sexual racism sexuality short film Shy Gay Guys Single All the Way single gay man Single Gay Men Single Gays Single Young Gays social distancing social isolation social media Social Security Somerville South Florida sports Stonewall Stonewall Riots straight men Super Bowl ads Super Bowl commercials Super Bowl LIV Supreme Court Switzerland Syfy Syria Tan France Television Tennessee The Boys in the Band The Center on Colfax The Christmas Setup The Eternals The First The Thing About Harry Threesome throuple TikTok Tom Daley toxic gay relationship toxic masculinity toxic relationships Transgender Travel Travis Shumake true love Trump administration Turner Free TV series Tweets Twitter Unconditional Love United Methodist Church US economy US Supreme Court Valentine's day viral news viral video Virginia Washington DC Web Series Wedding When Harry met Santa Workplace workplace discrimination World AIDS Day World Pride Young Gay Guys young gay men Youth YouTube