Considering the fact that homosexuality was a criminal offence for most of the 20th century, gay men being shallow makes sense. We had to constantly be on our game, picking up who’s really interested or who might just be a cop. Or who might be keen for a gay bashing. It’s not like we were able to freely date anyone. But since we’re now a fifth of the way through the new century, where homosexuality is decriminalised through most of the western world, why are so many gay men still shallow?
When one questions shallowness among gay men, it’s almost impossible to not mention Grindr. It’s by far the shallowest place to be. You may find a diamond in the rough, but most of the men there are looking for simple, meaningless sex. And, perhaps, this is because Grindr transcends societies. In other words: It is used in countries that still criminalise homosexuality.
Unfortunately, the hook-up way of using Grindr bleeds into western culture. It’s not only seen in the discreet profiles, but even the ones who sport superficiality. Using the best angles, utilising the best pickup lines, showcasing abs and sharing specifications rather than their personal self. When they ask how you are at the beginning, it’s more a way of assessing their chances than really wanting to know. In the back of their minds, they hope you’ll just say “horny”.
But even I know that not all gay men are shallow – even on Grindr. I’ve met plenty of guys who want more than just sex. And, since the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the western world, same sex couples have grown significantly. But with our still-high chances of facing homophobia, even today, it makes sense why we find it hard to open ourselves up. Many of us gay men have built up protective walls to deflect bullying and rejection. And this defense acts as an unwanted offense against potential relationships.
This also comes from internalised homophobia, which is still running rampant today. When you feel disgust for yourself, thanks to the cruel words of society, it’s easy to not feel worthy of relationships. In fact, that’s one of the many myths of being gay: that gay men will not find meaningful relationships. When you tell yourself something over and over for long enough, it becomes truth – but only to you. And this can lead to seeking relationships purely to prove to ourselves (and the world) that we are worthy of love. But these relationships remain shallow because we’re not in it for them – the person we are supposed to be loving.
But perhaps the most prominent reason why gay men are still shallow is because finding gay relationships is not as easy for us. We could download other apps that are more focused on finding long-term love, like eHarmony, but the pool is limited. And it’s not like we could hit on every man we meet in public. How do we know if they are gay? Or, at least, not homophobic?
The only thing we are good at is giving suggestive glances to ascertain possible homosexuality, but that comes from centuries of discreet hookups. And suggestive glances don’t usually lead to love. So our only best bet is through friends. But if we’re always going to be told to date a gay guy just because he’s gay, the hope is low.
As I’ve noted, being shallow in the gay community is a defense mechanism for all the homophobia we’ve endured through the centuries. It’s going to take a while to dismantle all those walls we’ve built. But there are already so many out there who have done just that, which brings me hope that even I might find love in the near future.
To stop being shallow, one must learn to go deep. This means putting ourselves at risk of drowning in heartbreak. It sucks to have your heart broken, I am sure of this, but life is more about the journey than the destinations we seek.
If we spent our whole lives fearing all the situations we may face, we’d never get out of bed.