Think about the last time you tried to change a person in your life. Maybe it was your husband, partner, boyfriend or parents. Think about the last time someone tried to change you.
How did it go? How did it feel?
The truth is, we can't change other people. This is an idea we as gay men would be wise to embrace. If the way another gay man acts is getting you down, upset or sends you into a fit of frustration and fury, it's time to change your thinking.
When we let another person's actions determine our level of happiness, we're setting ourselves up for a world of hurt. And many gay men are feeling that hurt. It doesn't have to be this way.
Let's be the love our community needs us to be.
If we want to live happier, more joyful, heart-centered lives, we need to talk about what that looks like, together. What do we do differently? What do we do more often in our day to day lives? How do we treat gay men with whom we don't always see eye to eye? It's time gay men treat each other as brothers instead of adversaries.
These two questions are useful for us to explore together:
What kind of gay man do I want to be? What kind of gay men do we want to be?
Seriously, guys. This is the stuff our hearts and minds need to explore and focus on daily. Not on who hurt me yesterday or who might hurt me today or tomorrow. Let's have fewer "stop doing this" discussions and more "here's a better way to live" conversations. Let's imagine. Let's laugh. Lead by example. Let's paint a future that's hope-filled, love-soaked and one we gleefully run toward.
You can talk until you're blue in the face about how certain gay men are the worst. You can build a "logical," crusader-like case, but it will likely fall on deaf ears. Guys who need to hear it are not listening. The Internet is packed full of articles, mostly by gay men, lecturing other gay men about what they need to stop doing or saying. How is that working for us? Are we a happier or more tight-knit community because of these rants? I'd say no.
If we are trying to banish toxicity with brash lecturing, we're doing it wrong. If we withhold love until we're shown love, we, as gay men, are screwed. Let us overwhelm toxicity with pure, sweet love.
What we need to do is invite our fellow gay men into a better way of living.
I don't want to drag anyone kicking and screaming into a life of brighter possibilities, overflowing hope or life-changing peace. If someone wants to bask in negativity, self-absorption, superiority or bitchiness, that's up to them! But I want better for them. And I know it's on me to demonstrate the path of love.
Can we, as gay men, rally around a simple thing called kindness? Can we start there?
Can we smother cynicism, negativity and complaining with love, joy and encouragement?
Can we blanket the spaces gay men go with an invitational spirit, gestures of love and a hopefulness that gets noticed? That causes others to say, "I want that too."
What we need is more gay men demonstrating that love is a better way to live.
I'm not saying this will happen overnight or that every gay man will live this way. But that's the world I imagine. All I ask is that we try. Together. To let go of trying to change other gay men and instead be the reason they want to change.
There's no detailed road map, five-step plan, or quick-fix solution. But I have hope and love. We have each other. And these will take us a long way.