Nice piece ! Great topic.
At 34 and having been out (to myself — which is probably the most difficult part — and to others) for the past 14 years, I can’t help but feel that being gay isn’t a lifestyle in and of itself but there definitely are one or more gay lifestyles.
Just as there isn’t a single culture or lifestyle that is inherently linked to skin colour or ethnic origin, living one’s homosexuality can take many different forms. I totally agree that being gay is not a choice : who would choose to be discriminated against, bullied, mocked just for who they are? But the way one lives their life as a gay adult is, in my view, a question of lifestyle. Do you go to bars to meet like-minded people? Do you spend endless hours (s)texting on hook-up apps? Do you go to clubs whatever your age because they’re a fun place to go out and dance and just plain enjoy yourself?
Sure, many gay men will identify with these assertions (I speak of what I know, gay women’s lifestyle choices are a bit of a mystery to me as I don’t know many lesbians). But I also know many will not. Many gay men, like you maybe, do not enjoy these things and will want to embrace a much more traditional lifestyle. I am not talking of the church-going traditional, just your plain middle class, no frills, dog-in-the-garden, neighbours-and-friends-over-for-dinner-once-a-month traditional.
Gay people have long not had the choice of living a gay lifestyle: if you didn’t live among your own, you were exposed to discrimination, violence and mockery. Civil rights activists in the late 20th and early 21st centuries have made incredible progress in the conditions in which we live in order to make homosexuality something much more mainstream.
We don’t NEED to embrace a gay lifestyle (or fit into any of the stereotypes that used to be those of gay people) anymore in order to lead a happy, successful and balanced life. I hope we’ll be able to keep it that way for the years to come and for the future generations of LGBTQ youth.