Friday, May 9, 2014

A few thoughts as a young gay man approaches college...

I'm not going to to attempt to shower wisdom on the pitfalls of collegiate life or the post-high-school graduation blues from the viewpoint of a young straight guy or a young woman - I've never been either one of those people, so don't have first-hand data on those experiences.

That said, I have been to college once as a young and closeted gay man, and a couple of more times since - and each time, the culture has shifted at least as much as my viewpoint. The world is a better and more treacherous place these days.

With all that said, young padawan, let us contemplate what this college thing means for your future - for if you think you are just going off to party (and slut away merrily) away from the beady eye of parental units, or grind through 4 years of tedium to get an entry ticket to a profession, or to achieve independence from your parents rules (and/or prove you are an adult), or to find a meal ticket, or even to seek intellectual nirvana - you're wrong. College is all of those and more - and less.

As a bonus, the decisions you make between eighteen and twenty-five will both haunt and bless you for the rest of your days. You have stepped out of the kiddy leagues and directly into a barely buffered real world - and despite college administrators best efforts what you do, choose and act upon matter at many different levels. You have run out of folks to blame for your foul-ups.

Don't let fear of leaving the nest stop you - go, if you can pull it off, for a residential school that's far enough away that it's inconvenient for family to visit without warning... but close enough that family or friends can swoop in to rescue you if (heaven forfend) you need bail, fall majorly ill, have some kind of catastrophic meltdown or find yourself stuffed into a hospital for major care.

HINT: You cannot walk on water, you are not knife or bullet-proof, you are not immune from falls from tall buildings, you cannot take on the entire soccer team after the third pint of stout (the fun way or the one that puts you in the hospital - though those may be the same activity) and you are responsible for your own safety before anyone else begins to be responsible for your safety.

About that hint? It's true for me, too. And everyone else. It's just that not very many folks realize that much before they hit 25 or had a number of exciting or unpleasant learning experiences (or ones that are both at the same time). Most of my comments are going to be based on "don't do what I did, young padawan - learn, and go forth and make glorious NEW AND ORIGINAL mistakes!"

An awful lot of you are going to already be out when you hit the college yard. For those of you who aren't, I'll refer you to my last pondering on such a matter. Come on out of that closet as fast as you can, try and avoid the "shout it from the rooftop" and the "sleep with anything that moves" phases, and try and maintain some dignity - it'll be useful later.

Drinking. Our community revolves around it - bars, barbecues, art openings, etc. A lot of us have exciting tales to tell about waking up next to guys far older, uglier (physically, spiritually or both), or kinkier than we would have chosen when we were in our right mind. Don't let this happen to you.

Quickly learn your limits and *never* drink enough that you aren't in control of yourself. If you set a drink down and it's out of sight for even a moment? It's a dead drink - you never know what happy little additives that folks wanting to see you naked in a sling might have dropped in there. Dump the drink and start fresh.

Never go out drinking alone. It's a neat way to make bad choices. Find a trustworthy wing-critter and hang out together until the hottie newb proves to be safe'n'sane. Leaving a phone # and an expected time to be home (a deadline, if you will, to check in) with a friend before a first date is a really fine choice.

Crazy stuff happens. The trick is letting it happen for *someone else.*

About that slutting around? Play safe, and play selective lest exciting blood-borne friends follow you home and right into major medical care. Quality, not quantity (yes, quantity is tempting...but there's no prize for boinking or getting boinked by the greatest number).

Remember "play stupid games, win stupid prizes." Don't get stupid - confrontation is for *special* occasions, and should not involve "fighting fair." There is no shame in running from the ungentle giant you've just peeved by pointing out his fashion and practical faults to his girlfriend. There is no shame in failing to point such things out, either.

More than likely, nobody is coming to save your bacon until well after the pain begins. So don't set yourself up for misery. 

Above all, your mileage may vary. You have our best wishes - now be good to yourself and to those you encounter while keeping brain fully engaged.



Old NFO said...

GC, hopefully folks will follow your advice... "play stupid games, win stupid prizes." Goes across ALL spectrum s...

On a Wing and a Whim said...

Ah, yes, getting through the "I'm out!" and the "I can sleep with anyone!" phases with dignity intact. Good advice for everyone, no matter what box they felt stuffed into.

Right up there with "the loudest members of your community aren't necessarily the ideal members, nor are they the only option to model yourself on."

Ah, back when we were too young to know adults' virtues from their vices, and recognize all the consequences that came along the way...