Credit: Ryan Shea

When it comes to navigating your way up the chutes and ladders of the gay community, something that may get knocked down a peg or two is your self confidence.  There are many different facets in which this can happen, as this community tends to be its biggest worst enemy when it comes to putting others down out of their own insecurity, however there are ways to avoid these sorts of things and come out smelling like roses, or good cologne.  No matter what, you always make sure your self worth is high and in tact.

Over the past six years of dealing with the ins and outs of the bear and gay community in New York City, I have had my share of insults, gossip and just stupid bullshit that I used to let affect me way more than it should have.  I came into it naive and thinking that my personality and humor would easily win me friends, but it actually became a hindrance which I never saw coming, nor has ever been an issue for me before.  I tried getting in good with one group, who wound up having some bad seeds in it who spread awful things about me, and then another group of guys had one that was hella insecure and wrecked my relationships there as well.  Was I completely innocent in any of the situations?  No, or not that I can remember.  However, I went into both situations with an open mind and heart and was sort of shocked at how I was treated in both.

This is where the confidence in me starting to shake, which is something that I have never felt before.  I came out of the closet at a young age, but was never insulted or felt threatened mainly because we all grew up with each other, and came from a somewhat small school which although conservative was ahead of the times with treating everyone equally.  I’m very lucky because I know people don’t always get that, so it was very odd to come into a community of peers just like myself, who grew up with the insecurities inside them about looks, not fitting in because they weren’t straight, and so much more, just to be treated how I thought I would’ve been in my formative years.  It’s just confusing.

Not to mention how dating apps can be absolute torture for many, who get insulted based on their race, HIV status, weight and more.  Of course, most of the guys who do this are stupid shitheads who hide behind a “guillotine head” photo or no photo at all.  I wrote all about that a little while ago.

The name calling, drama and so much more can literally feel like a grown up version of the movie Mean Girls, as the “You can’t sit with us” mentality can range from the bar to the event to the online app, and so much more.  Can the words and names drag you down?  Yes?  Should you let them do that and wreck your confidence? God no, and it took me years to figure that out.

Maybe it comes with age and this whole wisdom thing, but when you are put through the wringer in this community, a lot of times you realize what is right and what is wrong.  That pertains to everything in life.  If these sort of people do anything that can elicit a negative reaction in your life, they aren’t worth being there.  No matter what.  Why surround yourself with people who are just going to be that toxic?  I prefer to be around people who are “Team Ryan”, just like I am as each of their individual cheerleaders, as they are the ones who really are down for you and will be there for as long as you want them to be.  The ones who spew negativity will never be, as they allow their stupid insecurities and anger dictate how they are to other people.  Instead of wanting to be their friend, date them or whatnot, pity them.  Pity the fact that this is how they choose to live their life.  It won’t get them far.

I read all of these “self help” things a lot online and in book stores, and it gets so complex to where you get confused as to even where to start when you are regaining your self confidence.  It really is simple.  Find what makes you happy.  Find who makes you happy in your life.  Find what you can do with your own life that will give you inner happiness and exude that to the people who are on your team.  No matter what, find your happy when you are gaining your confidence back.  It’s there, trust me.