Gay Men and Keeping Up Appearances
Today a guest post… and a different perspective than what you typically hear from the four lesbians at Queercents:
My name is JJ Jordan. I’m a twenty-something gay guy in Houston, Texas, who has been publishing a popular blog for several years. I, like most of my friends, have spent most of my Friday – Saturday – Sunday nights partying, clubbing, dancing, drinking, and wasting money. But over the past few years, I have started trying to self-examine a bit more when it comes to my finances.
I’ve been lucky — my online businesses have been successful and I’ve managed to earn a good living. However, I’d probably be rich (really rich, not just rich in appearance) right now if I’d learned earlier that I must live on far less than what I make, and invest the difference, if I ever want to achieve financial security.
Most of my friends are in the same boat – actually, most of my friends are in worse shape (simply because they haven’t stopped to think about their situation.) I have several buds that earn far above the national income average, they drive Lexus and Mercedes cars, and live in trendy downtown lofts or townhouses. But, many of them owe thousands of dollars in credit card debt – just keeping up with the interest payments on those cards keeps them from getting caught up financially.
Many of them are leasing those luxury cars and financed those upscale homes with risky adjustable interest mortgages. Many of them can’t sleep at night because they don’t know how they’re going to pay the bills. And they worry about how they’ll look to the rest of their friends when everyone discovers they’re really broke. You know how gossip spreads in gay bars!
Of course, this situation is hardly unique to gay males. It affects everyone: lesbians, straight men and women, and everyone in-between. But, I’ve been watching it in the context of my gay male friends for the past couple of years, and I believe that gay guys are particularly prone to the “keeping up appearances” syndrome. Gay men just seem to really, deeply worry about what their peers think of them – whether it’s how they dress, their physical appearance, or their financial situation.
In the case of finances, keeping up appearances can be very dangerous. Instead of truly striving for financial security by avoiding consumer debt and paying down mortgage debt, many gay men feel compelled to “show off” their relative “wealth” by purchasing cars and clothes and homes and trips and all kinds of things they can’t afford. I’ve done it myself, and you probably know others who’ve done the same thing. You may even be doing it right now.
My particular weakness, before I decided to make a commitment to improvement, was paying for club cover and drinks for all of my friends. A simple night out would usually cost me a couple hundred dollars – and remember, I’m in Houston, not LA or NYC – club cover here is usually no more than ten bucks.
If you’re in this predicament – first, you have to acknowledge it to yourself. Face up to the fact that you simply can’t afford to continue your life this way. You already know it’s true – now you just have to admit it to yourself.
The next step is to be honest with your friends – most of them will probably be relieved to hear you say it, because then they can admit to the same thing. Just let them know how much you value their friendship and explain that you’ve been trying to create an impression that isn’t really reality. You’re not rich. Big deal. Most people aren’t. But, if you ever want to be rich, you’ll need to start right now by making a commitment to stop “keeping up appearances.”