GerryNorth-e1342602124661111111111I’m presently reading Velvet Rage – I highly recommend for all gay men – which highlights the subject of gay shame and our constant need for validation from the world. Coming out in a straight-rewarding world is difficult for most of us. Then comes the next task to prove to everyone (family, friends and colleagues) that we are worthy individuals. This need to over-prove ourselves can result in us wanting it all.

We want the perfect body, the perfect boyfriend, a glamorous apartment, beautiful cars, highly acknowledged career, the right to have children (even if it means using a surrogate Indian donor), a holiday home, the best art, eating at expensive restaurants and enjoying five-star overseas holidays.

I like all these things as well, except having children, but I don’t really need to have all these things to prove to the world that I am worthy. And that is the point raised in Velvet Rage; we can free ourselves of the need to replace shame with achievement.

For some of us the global financial crisis has given us a chance to realise we can be more austere and still enjoy the world. Maybe the pursuit of material objects does not in the end make us happy – drive the new car for two weeks and it loses its gloss and excitement.

Let’s face it, we can enjoy the world with less and not be so hungry for recognition or possessions. Imagine a world where you did not work so hard, had less of a mortgage, rode a bike instead of driving a car, spent more time with friends, donated money to an Indian woman so she could look after her own children better, volunteered to do charity work, planted some trees, took less expensive holidays and got to know the locals more and took stock of why our bodies need to be chipped out of stone and expect others to as well to be a worthy boyfriend.

Imagine how much more relaxing it would be to enjoy life at this level of peace. The first step to achieving, what appears to be an impossible notion, is to be conscious of what drives us to be such high achievers. Without conscious awareness we merely unconsciously replace shame with the need to have it all and prove we are successful and thereby worthy.

I really like the expression: “Acceptance is home.” Accepting our authentic selves as gay men, recognising from the core of our being this is us and it feels home, is one step closer to knocking down any walls of shame. When we knock down walls of shame we also move closer to not needing to prove to the world we are worthy.

We don’t need it all, we just have to re-evaluate our lives to see if we can do with less and we can. In doing so we create a better and more sustainable world. And at the same time make our selves much, much happier. Take care.

Gerry North is a couple’s counsellor and can be contacted at [email protected] or

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