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Sebastian Sharp for NEXT MAGAZINE: Similar to many other aspects of gay life in New York, as we move through different scenes in the city our experience is often influenced by body issues—both our perception of others and of ourselves. Go out to a dance club in Hell’s Kitchen, and it’s easy to feel ugly in comparison to the hot actors and well-dressed out-of-towners. Head to a Saturday night circuit party, and it probably won’t take long to feel like an Olive Oil surrounded by Popeyes. Hitting up a loft party in Brooklyn? Get ready to feel bad about your haircut and wish your beard didn’t seem to grow in like a poorly watered Chia pet.

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Since the beginning of time (probably), gays have congregated based on sexual preferences and body types. The difference between now and say, the ’70s or ’80s, however, is that young gays seem to not even be aware that they’re doing it. At a time when so many other forms of discrimination and segregation are disappearing in society at large, it’s easy to feel like it’s less of an issue.

But, if my experience in gay New York tells me anything, it seems to be an issue that’s actually getting worse.


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  1. tragic club is tragic club …. any where world wide really sad when you go back and see the same people just older …. still doing the same thing ….

  2. Humans — gay, straight and everything else — have always and will forever find ways to “discrimiante” and “segregate” based on personal preferences and “ideals.”

    That’s instinct and evolution. Is it right? Perhaps not, but it’s how we’re made.

  3. gee…when I was young, I felt like an outsider, like I didn’t fit in…and I thought I was the only one who felt like that…but I didn’t try to push 4 and make it go into 2. I didn’t hide behind anger, bravado, disdain, or intellectual superiority..i stayed eclectic and mingled….cause I didn’t really know how to do it another way.

  4. Sadly, all parts of society have an inherent trait that leads to discrimination of others or segregation from others based on an arbitrary list of qualifications. A sign of maturity is when you can push those aside and allow yourself to experience others for what they offer as themselves and not what you ‘feel’ or ‘think’ they should offer.
    I have had the fortune to have visited over 100 countries and experienced many different peoples and cultures. I won’t say I haven’t fought with my own desires to seek ‘perfection’ based on whatever I perceived, was told or taught and more – I was lucky to have an aunt who pushed me past that and told me to enjoy the diversity and differences and to learn from them. It doesn’t make me better just because, but I know I have and continue to meet new, interesting and different people wherever I go. If I had continued cutting myself off from others with a list of ‘acceptable’ qualities I would have missed some of the best experiences in my life – both in bed and out of it!
    We can’t stop it in the overall picture, but we have to power to stop it in our own picture. Although, it would be nice to see the media (which influences more each day) pay a little less attention to groups who flaunt these positions in their daily, weekly and yearly existence. i.e. – just how many of us are actually influenced or impacted by circuit parties? Our community is much bigger than that.

  5. When I was young–I was “coming of age” back in the late 1970s—I felt sort of out of place in both the hetero and “gay” worlds when it came to how I looked—I thought I was an “ok looking” guy–but I was never certainly a “hunk” by the definitions of either the straight or gay world–I did date girls and that was my main focus–but I did have an attraction to guys too–even though I tended to downplay and not really recognize that fact.

    Even though I had “things” with other guys on a sexual basis—they were situations that were never planned and they “just sorta happened.” I liked what I did do with other guys–at that time it was confined to doing some mutual jerking and sucking and not much more.

    Since they tended to be one off, situational man on man sex occasions–I put it off as just being young and horny, along with being drunk and or high—and not something that I didn’t really seek out—I just left them as that.

    Any thoughts I had about seeking other guys on a formal basis was quashed because when I looked at “the gay world” as I put it—I was turned off the by various “gay scenes” that I found—I surely was not interested in dressing in drag or any of the other things that gays did.

    I was very much put off as well because the focus on physical appearance–having to be a “perfect specimen” was even more pronounced in gay world than it was in the heterosexual, straight one.

    I already felt as though I did not “measure up” when it came to attracting ladies–and felt that as a “regular looking guy”—I would have even less of a chance if I did start hanging at gay clubs and such.

    I did OK in getting with ladies–once again mostly by chance more than by design since I did have very real feelings of inferiority in the looks department.

    As with many things—my perception of myself was less than what others perceived me and heck–today even though I am older and have a few too many pounds on this aging body-I actually have more people–ladies and men– say I am a good looking guy and I do have more confidence in that regard and enjoy being with both men and women.

    I still am intimidated by the thought of going to gay bars, because being both older and heavier—I don’t feel that I am not “worthy” of going to such places because I think that with far too many gays—they are rather superficial and tend to place a higher value on perfect looks than quality of character and personality.

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