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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Archive for the ‘Forum’ Category

[FORUM] What do you think of Michael Hobbes’ article “Together Alone”?

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This weekend, I’ve been thinking a lot about Michael Hobbes‘ very recent Huffington Post article “Together Alone: The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness”. I know I’m not alone in this, having seen this article shared by several other friends and in at least one other discussion group.

Hobbes’ question is simple: Why, despite significant legal progress in the past decades, are the lives of young gay men (probably generalizable to young queer men) still marked by so many signs of trauma?

[T]he rates of depression, loneliness and substance abuse in the gay community remain stuck in the same place they’ve been for decades. Gay people are now, depending on the study, between 2 and 10 times more likely than straight people to take their own lives. We’re twice as likely to have a major depressive episode. And just like the last epidemic we lived through, the trauma appears to be concentrated among men. In a survey of gay men who recently arrived in New York City, three-quarters suffered from anxiety or depression, abused drugs or alcohol or were having risky sex—or some combination of the three. Despite all the talk of our “chosen families,” gay men have fewer close friends than straight people or gay women. In a survey of care-providers at HIV clinics, one respondent told researchers: “It’s not a question of them not knowing how to save their lives. It’s a question of them knowing if their lives are worth saving.”

I’m not going to pretend to be objective about any of this. I’m a perpetually single gay guy who was raised in a bright blue city by PFLAG parents. I’ve never known anyone who died of AIDS, I’ve never experienced direct discrimination and I came out of the closet into a world where marriage, a picket fence and a golden retriever were not just feasible, but expected. I’ve also been in and out of therapy more times than I’ve downloaded and deleted Grindr.

“Marriage equality and the changes in legal status were an improvement for some gay men,” says Christopher Stults, a researcher at New York University who studies the differences in mental health between gay and straight men. “But for a lot of other people, it was a letdown. Like, we have this legal status, and yet there’s still something unfulfilled.”

This feeling of emptiness, it turns out, is not just an American phenomenon. In the Netherlands, where gay marriage has been legal since 2001, gay men remain three times more likely to suffer from a mood disorder than straight men, and 10 times more likely to engage in “suicidal self-harm.” In Sweden, which has had civil unions since 1995 and full marriage since 2009, men married to men have triple the suicide rate of men married to women.

All of these unbearable statistics lead to the same conclusion: It is still dangerously alienating to go through life as a man attracted to other men. The good news, though, is that epidemiologists and social scientists are closer than ever to understanding all the reasons why.

Hobbes’ answer, that young people are traumatized firstly by the stresses of growing up in the closet in often very difficult circumstances then by entering a gay community that insensitively allows the imposition of new restrictions and rules, all without much recognition of these psychological shocks never mind treatment of said, is one that convinces me. I have say that I think I recognize some of the symptoms in my own life, certainly in the sort of cultivation of emotional distance from any potential stressors Hobbes describes towards the end.

What do you think? Have you read this article? What are your opinions on the issues it describes?

Written by Randy McDonald

March 5, 2017 at 11:56 pm

[FORUM] What are your favourite strategies of political protest?

Please, discuss. I’m interested in hearing your ideas.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 4, 2017 at 11:59 pm

Posted in Forum, Politics

Tagged with ,

[FORUM] What are you doing about the current crisis, in the US and elsewhere?

We’re only nine days into the Trump Administration, and already it feels as if we’re on the bring of something.

What are you doing? (What am I doing? Watching, for wanting of knowing what to do.)

Written by Randy McDonald

January 29, 2017 at 11:59 pm

Posted in Forum, Politics

Tagged with ,

[FORUM] What sort of a difference do you think #womensmarch has made and will make?

All weekend, my Facebook and other social media feeds–Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter, G+, probably even LinkedIn–have been filled with images of people taking part in their local manifestation of the Women’s March. I’ve seen images of people marching in protest of the new president in dozens of communities around the world, with photos coming from as close to home to me as Toronto and as far away as Antarctica. It’s quite heartening.

My question tonight is simple. Do you think that #womensmarch is the beginning of something big? Is it your sense that it might lead to new mass movements of decided heft? Is that your experience, so far? Or do you think it might not be all that, in the end, if not for others then not for you?

Please, discuss.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 22, 2017 at 11:59 pm

[FORUM] Any recommendations for someone visiting Montréal next weekend?

Any recommendations for someone visiting Montréal next weekend? #toronto #montreal #montréal #travel #tourism

Somewhat embarrassingly, the last time I was in Montréal was in the summer of 2003. What can I say but that, sometimes, it’s ridiculously easy to get caught in traps, to be bound up in tight patterns and not have the imagination to look outside these at the wider world. At least I’m doing it now.

Friends, readers, others: What would you recommend to someone going to Montréal? What attraction stands out particularly for you? Are there tricks I might be well-advised to learn in advance? What are your favourite memories of Canada’s second city?

Please, discuss.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 7, 2017 at 11:59 pm

[FORUM] What are your plans for 2017?

Discuss, please.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 1, 2017 at 11:59 pm

Posted in Forum, Non Blog

[FORUM] What will you be doing Christmas Day?

Among other things, I think I may venture out to Pacific Mall. Why not? It’s been years since I’ve been.

What about you? What do you have planned for tomorrow?

Written by Randy McDonald

December 24, 2016 at 11:59 pm