After last year’s identity crisis of a New Year’s resolution list, 2020’s are gonna be easy, Mary. Personally, I’m just gonna try to make it through the year without getting deported by executive order.
Our challenge: Survive the catastrophes
with some self-care and pride intact.
Every generation before us has dealt with the end of the world, but the social media landscape that has devoured our daily life affects us in ways that are unprecedented. There are already eerie similarities to the apocalypse of our previous generation, when a plague left us reeling with survivor guilt and fear for decades, as the government and homophobes were happy to watch us drown.
For my generation, our challenge is going to be not just surviving political and environmental catastrophes, but doing so with some semblance of self-care and pride.
Nobody takes shame to an art form
like gay men
What I noticed most in 2019 was how gay men around me dealt so differently with the question of “what am I doing to help all of this?” For some folks, the magnitude of hopelessness and shame can leave us feeling stupid for trying to do small things, like decreasing single-use plastics. Or, we internalize it and lash out at others trying to do their part (I saw this most during our brief flirtation boycotting Equinox and SoulCycle).
The thing about shame is that it’s really just fear. Nobody takes shame to an art form like gay men and nobody makes dumber decisions than people who are afraid. So this year’s resolutions focus on small ways that we can self-care and ease a bit of that daily stress.
1. Read The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man’s World by Alan Downs.
Required reading for most gay men I know. Written by a therapist after spending way too many hours talking to our crazy asses. Try to find it at a gay bookstore if your city has any left. You’ll be surprised your oldest anxieties are shared by pretty much every gay man you know.
2. Watch your meat intake.
We watch our diet for our looks and bottoming, why can’t we tie it into environmental stuff? Did you know that 4lbs of beef has the carbon footprint of a flight from NYC to London? So that’s why Greta’s been yelling at us on TV.
3. Get your news from PBS.
Facebook is where most people get news, & they’ve made it perfectly clear they don’t care if it’s accurate, or if the algorithms are purposefully fucking with your mood for you to buy shit. The world’s too big to worry about all of it all of the time. Stop giving cortisol-flooding clickbait your attention and let Judy Woodruff filter for you what happened today (if only for her outfits!).
4. Wean your freaky shit off social media.
A man I’ve never met randomly messaged me on my Facebook business account, and right there on the chat were graphic images of both of us I did not remember sharing. Apparently at 2am on a cold NYC night 10 years ago, I was drunk-sexting with some dude a thousand miles away (cuz, 2009). Knowing what we do now about the toxic mining of our data and privacy violations, I cringe to know that’s out there.
I’m not saying to quit using onlyfans, and Grindr (although they just told us that they own all our messages and pics), but to be aware that gay men have historically been exploited for intimidation in dark political times and who knows what these corporations have planned for our dirty pics. Now, if you’re an exhibitionist, or a cash slave, live your life queen.
5. Use social media for good causes.
One thing social media is good for is raising money, and as part of their atonement PR strategy, Facebook actually gives non-profits a really sweet deal for donations (at least for now). For your birthday this year, consider picking a cause or organization and using the fundraiser feature. I continue to fund an entire film series with this strategy (shameless plug, take a look at Fathers, my sci fi series that imagines AIDS never happened.)
6. Support LGBTQ immigration orgs.
There will be a time people will ask you what you did while children and queer people were dying in detention camps. There’s frankly not much we can do against an administration where cruelty is a lifestyle, but by donating to places like @immfamtogether, we will at least be able to say we knew it was happening and did our small part. My family was helped by a web of trans and gay immigrants when we first arrived, so I know what value our LGBTQ immigrants have for all of us.
7. Buy back someone’s Medical Debt.
Our insurance system is so broken you can actually pay folk’s medical debt for a few dollars. Gay men and the medical industry are deeply intertwined; this debt and pharma abuse go back to the AIDS crisis. RIP Medical Debt, which helps folks buy medical debt for a few bucks is a great org to support in 2020.
8. In Case of Emergency Plans.
Many of us live alone, or away from our immediate bio-family, have you discussed the emergency plan for your city with your chosen family? In case of an earthquake, floods, or fire, do you guys have a meet-up spot? Do you have your emergency supplies and food ready?
9. Talk to your chosen family about your end of life rituals.
As I get older and losing more friends, one thing that’s painfully clear is how disconnected we can be from our chosen family once they pass. Many of us have never met one another’s bio-family and can be shut out of funerals and memorial services. This year, take the time to talk to your close friends about the kind of music, plans and rituals you’d like to have to honor your passing. It may be a dark convo, but it can also teach you something new about one another.
10. Join a Credit Union.
Didn’t want this list on too heavy a note! Our largest banks back some of the worst human rights and environmental abuses using our hard earned cash. In 2020, ditch the big banks and join a credit union in your city. They offer the same protections and most will even refund your ATM fees, and you’ll know the money’s not being used to beat down some protester somewhere.
If you haven’t checked in on South Park the last couple of years, it’s the discussion of cancel culture we need right now (again). Legalized Cocaine, PC Principal, Mexican Joker, all brilliant reminders that they are still a beacon of the culture, that the pendulum of political correctness swings every generation…Ya deserve an uncomfortable giggle right now queen.