How Gay Men Can Heal Our Wounds Together

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There’s a vision in my head. Gay men, together, releasing a big sigh, acknowledging that we’ve been wounded. An acknowledgment that we are wounded by society, our families, our government, communities of faith, and each other.

Because of these wounds, we tend to turn on one another. Often becoming critical and stand on the defense, anticipating that “one of our own” will hurt us. Many of us are so in the depths of our own wounds and surrounded by fear and anger, that we try to scratch and claw our way to feeling better. Sometimes that comes out in the form of belittling or discounting another. Cutting each other down. Anything to try and console the wounds. Anything to lessen the pain.

In this process, we end up wounding the gay men who we could be turning to for support.

Can we, as gay men, just admit this one thing? We’ve all been wounded and all wounded one another. And we don’t have to pretend any longer to have everything together.

We aren’t broken, but we are wounded.

And it hurts like hell. May we let go of thinking we are or need to be the best, the most successful, the hottest, or the most intelligent. What we need most is to be able to forgive one another and stand firmly by each other’s side.

Look at all of the shit we absorb from anti-gay politicians, fanatical fundamentalists of faith, and intolerant families. We have been through a lot and are going through a lot, both as individuals and as a loosely connected community. We are bombarded with hostilities, some of which are easy to point out, but many of which wreak havoc at the subconscious level. We live with a mix of anger and being afraid of fellow gay men.

What if we could know and, more importantly, feel that our gay brothers had our back?

To communicate that we are truly sorry for how we’ve wounded each other. I recently saw Marianne Williamson on the Oprah Winfrey Network, talking about how we as a nation have to take responsibility for the atrocities we’ve committed throughout our history. This act isn’t about blame. It’s about taking responsibility and seeing the light of reconciliation. So it is between gay men. It is a step toward healing our wounds.

The truth is that we cannot fully heal in isolation alone. Our DNA craves to heal through community. It takes looking at each other and ourselves, as honest as we can, and saying “Brother, I’m sorry”.

To be able to stand and hear how we – how I – have wounded a gay brother. Am I open to hearing where I was wrong, when I said the wrong thing? Can I accept responsibility for how my actions or words hurt a gay brother of mine?

I’m afraid too many of us are waiting for all gay men to believe and see eye to eye on everything. This will never happen! We are so diverse, with incredibly varied backgrounds and life experiences. And no one will, 100 percent of the time, treat us the way we desire and deserve to be treated.

What I envision and hope to see more of among gay men (and the larger queer community) is daily moments of forgiveness and grace.

To be able to look into each other’s eyes and say, “I am wounded and I know you’ve been wounded too. It fucking hurts. It sucks. It’s led me to say and do things I am not proud of. I am so sorry”. To physically be with one another, whether in a caring embrace or a simple look of “I get you. I see you.”

It’s up to those of us within the gay community, whose hearts are softened, to lead the way and demonstrate forgiveness. To be vulnerable. To reach toward reconciliation without expecting anything in return. This isn’t a grand gesture, done in the spotlight with cameras or press. This is the real work of community. Of wounds being healed, alongside each other. One person at a time.

There’s no doubt this could get messy and ugly and maybe a little unsettling. And it needs to go much farther and wider than just between gay men. We gotta start somewhere. I firmly believe that for gay men and the queer community as a whole, this is a path forward. We must take responsibility for the ways we wound one another.  We owe each other that much.

Photo credit: Jae Schaefer

Written by

Josh Hersh

Josh Hersh, life coach and entrepreneur, works alongside thoughtful gay men to help them craft a life bursting with joy, love, and purpose. He also works with time-starved freelancers and solopreneurs to boost productivity and grow their business. He founded The Thoughtful Gay Man, whose mission is to create a world where every gay man lives empowered and from the heart. He currently lives in Chicago with his boyfriend, Sergio.