Yes, male asses are beautiful.
So is what we can learn from kintsugi.
Very few gay men seek out and then read articles about loneliness unless they’ve come to the realisation that they’re lonely. The stigma and shame we feel is real, and it takes a lot of courage to even engage with the subject.
I’m proud of you for opening this article. I recognise and admire your courage. Now that you’re here, let’s start getting you connected to yourself, those most important to you and to your community.
* * * * *
I knew this headline would get some attention!
Let’s have a chat about perfection and how the quest for the unattainable can stop us feeling like we’re worthy of love and belonging.
The quest for perfection
I’m noticing frustration within some of you with the hollowness of contemporary gay culture. For all the celebration of diversity and promotion of inclusion, many of us don’t feel enough to be seen within the gay community. We don’t feel sexy enough. We don’t feel thin enough. We don’t feel buff enough. We don’t have the financial means to go jet-setting to Puerto Vallarta, Miami or Ibiza for party weekends.
So we watch. We watch those perfect people with their perfect bodies live perfect lives with their perfect friends. We watch and compare what we see on social media with our lived experience.
We resolve to strive toward the type of perfection we see before we allow ourselves to be seen by others. Until we’re perfect, we don’t feel that we belong to a community that espouses inclusion, celebrates diversity and encourages us to be authentically ourselves.
We watch perfection and then wait to be perfect ourselves.
Waiting to be perfect is no way to live.
Introducing some Japanese philosophy
Enter kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing ceramics by mending the areas broken with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver or platinum. Kintsugi is more than a repair technique, it’s a philosophy: breaks and repairs add to the value of an object rather than something to disguise.
Indeed, because it’s been broken and then repaired, the ceramic is believed to hold more value as it tells a story. The ceramic has been used for its purpose, had been damaged through its life, was repaired and can now continue to be used.
The story it tells is of a life of use, a life lived and useful life still to come.
For the gay man experiencing loneliness
The philosophy of kintsugi can teach us about the power of authenticity and authentic connection.
In the ceaseless quest for perfection, the quest to be enough and the quest to belong, we can want to cover that which we want to hide. We can want to cover our cracks, our scratches and dents.
We are ashamed of our cracks. We fear the judgment of others – and ourselves – if we reveal our cracks to the world.
My friend, it’s our cracks that make us beautiful. Our cracks tell the story of our life. They are powerful.
Your cracks make you who you are.
Aiming for the perfection we see in our social media feeds is like lusting over piles and piles of white plates, bowls and mugs at Ikea. They’re undoubtedly pretty in their perfection and are very useful. But they’re made to be cheap and disposable. They’re made to be easily replaced by an exact copy.
Show me someone who has worked through that which damaged or broke them and proudly owns their scars and I’ll show you someone who has increased value in themselves, who is beautiful, interesting and unique and is not afraid to say that living their life has made them who they are in that moment.
We have a choice
We all have been broken, chipped and – sometimes – smashed into a million pieces by life. This will happen when we’re living our life. But it’s the choices we make after we’ve been damaged that makes all the difference:
We can stay hidden while we wait and hope to be perfect enough to join the world; or
We can allow ourselves to come back together with the help of experts to regroup and heal. We can then choose to show the world our unique beauty through our cracks.
One is the choice of waiting for connection until we’re flawless and perfect. The other is authentic connection.
I know which choice I’ve made and want to continue to make.
Like trying to repair your own cracks, dents and scratches, making changes within yourself by yourself is possible. However, when it comes to loneliness, this completely misses the point. My experience shows that when we’re focused on connection and putting our authentic selves into the world, we find that the changes we want to make are so much easier when we have a team around us.
Let’s keep the conversation going in the upcoming episode of my podcast for gay men ‘Connection over Coffee with The Loneliness Guy’ in Ep. 27, available from Thursday 19 August 2021.
Thank you for reading this post. I hope that you’ve found it helpful.
I’m now asking for YOUR help.
Sharing my work really helps it reach more gay men and helps us all to de-stigmatise loneliness and promote authentic connection for gay men globally.
You may not feel lonely and have just the right amount of authentic connection in your life, but sharing this article could really help a friend or relative who may be quietly struggling with the thoughts and feelings of loneliness and disconnection.
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~ Thank you ~
Important notice: All views expressed above are my own and are intended to support, challenge and inspire gay men to consider the issue of loneliness and increase awareness of the need for authentic connection with themselves, with others and their communities as an antidote to chronic loneliness. They are not intended to, nor should they, replace the advice of a licensed helping professional. Please consult the Resources page if you feel that you need the services of a licensed helping professional where you are in the world.