Everything To Sea’s Communications Specialist Eddie is out, proud, and a true activist for gay awareness. In this post, he writes about what it’s like to be gay in a hetero-normative world, and how experiences like naked sailing with other enlightened guys can be a positive force for gay men.

Let’s dispel age-old stereotypes that depict gay men as bitter and catty to one another. Instead, let’s work towards something better. Let’s create a safer space from a world that continues to be our biggest bully.

When we look back on our childhood and everyone else started noticing how ‘different’ we were, who was the first person to point that out? Chances are it’s one of the boys in our life, be it a classmate, a senior jock, a teacher or even our own father. Our culture likes to think of girls as the perpetrators of meanness, but boys have been scientifically proven to score higher in the mean department.

Mean girls? More like mean boys

A 2014 study by the University of Georgia followed a group of boys and girls from middle school to high school and they found that, at every grade level, boys engaged in so-called relationally aggressive behavior more often than girls. Boys are also said to be more physically aggressive than girls, especially between sixth and eighth grade.

Sure, as gay boys, we are more likely to be on the receiving end of aggression in our formative years. But more often than not, this type of behavior first becomes learned, and then, sadly, internalized. Even when we mostly interact with other gay men growing up, we might end up unleashing this behavior onto one another, whether online or offline.

In a 2018 article published by Vox, John Pachankis, an LGBTQ mental health expert at the Yale School of Public Health, notes that gay culture is often “status-focused, competitive, hierarchical, and exclusionary”, which has a negative impact on gay men, particularly when interacting in online spaces such as Grindr.

He explains that these traits are common among men generally, but in the gay community, they become amplified in a group that both socializes and sexualizes together. This means that if we’re not careful, there’s a high potential we’ll simply model ourselves after our bullies at school, just with a rainbow-flavored twist. Some men harness their differences and it becomes a source of strength for them.

But not everyone can find pride in what society often deems negative. It takes balls to say you’re “the oldest gay in the village”. What about the others? How can men heal themselves from decades of negative scripting?

A safer space, surrounded by nature

It’s no secret that being in nature is a healing force. Don’t let the idea of a gay sail, with an abundance of male nudism, deter you or make you feel like you have to look or act a certain way. At Everything To Sea, we welcome men of all shapes and sizes with all kinds of self-expression. We enjoy one another’s company in a judgment-free zone, where being natural to yourself, rather than conformity, is the norm.

In fact, the concept of a gay sail where clothing is optional aims to liberate gay men from the confines of our modern society. Specifically, this manifests in the confines of gay culture, where it seems like gay men socialize best in dark settings, which are often sleazy or claustrophobic.

But it is possible to explore different ways of socialization. What better way to do it than basking in the astonishing beauty of nature? Open-minded, open-ended, and open to the world. At Everything To Sea, the world truly is “your oyster”. You can come as Everything That You Are, and be welcomed with open arms.