The quaintness of small town life is a double-edged sword. You’re always running into people you know, they always know what you’re up to and life just seems… smaller. Some people love this, some people don’t. Add into the mix your gay persona, however, and it can get pretty complicated. It’s impossible to keep everyone from knowing your status (before you’re ready for them to know), disapproving people may be more in your business, and your dating pool feels like the smallest one around.
But the good news is there are ways to survive being gay in a small town. Check out our suggestions below to help you get through it!
Keep Focused on Life Goals
When you come out, sometimes all you can think about is getting into a relationship. It’s a normal enough response, especially when you’re younger. But instead of driving yourself boy crazy, focus for now on all the other goals of your life: learn new things, study for college, find out who you are as a person. Not only will these activities help distract you from what you may not be ready for right now, but they’re all qualities that’ll make you more attractive as a partner in the future.
Take Care of Yourself
Being gay in a small town can produce all sorts of negative emotions: depression, anxiety, a general lack of care for yourself. And while these reactions are valid and you should respect them, you also don’t want to let them consume you. Do what you can to recognize your feelings and where they’re coming from, then proceed to make sure you take good care of yourself. Give yourself emotional breaks from the day when you need them, ensure you’re feeling okay mentally, take care of your body by eating the best you can and working out. And while it may give you instant gratification, also avoid drinking too much. Those are paths that’ll make it that much harder to turn things around in your favor later on.
Come Out When You’re Ready
This is especially important for younger guys, but ultimately applies to everyone. While you may hate keeping such big secrets inside, it almost always is better to wait until you’re absolutely ready to come out than to do it prematurely. Before you come out, make sure you have the resources necessary to combat any and all negativity that may result from the people you tell. Make sure you live in a safe, stable space (usually your own place or apartment you share with gay friends or allies). If telling people like your parents, make sure you’re financially independent. The fact of the matter is, when you’re coming out in a small town, you need to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Make sure all of your self-care strategies are in place so you can receive as little damage as possible if your announcement turns sour.
It’s not a necessary step, but is greatly preferred for plenty of small town gay guys. In the end, small towns are small towns because little ever happens. If you want to be a successful gay man (or just successful in general), chances are you’ll want to move away when you can. This usually means to the big city, whichever city that may be. If you’re younger, study hard and get yourself to college. If you’re older, save up some money and/or start looking for new work in a different area. There are many ways to get out of a small town if you need to. Make sure to keep your options open!
Get Yourself Online
Another problem with small town life is you may feel isolated, either in general or as the only gay person around, so don’t lose sight of the bigger picture. Get yourself in contact with other gay men online and, once you’re out of your town, in real life. There are plenty of forums and chat rooms for virtually all things gay, but a great hub to check out is Hardline Chat. With the welcoming, all-encompassing design and members, Hardline has the ability to hook you up with just about any kind of gay interaction you can think of. Everything from dating to casual sex to friendship, Hardline will have you covered!
Have you or a friend had to survive being gay in a small town? Tell us how you coped in the comments below!