Self Obsession, is it a gay thing?

I’m so vain, I probably think this story is about me… Vanity and self-obsession is something that I think just snuck up on me and I can probably tell you the actual night it happened.

 I had only been out for a few months and my entire sheltered experience of being gay was based on my weekends at The Meridian Club (which was in its death throes at the time) and Heaven Night Club. My new found gay friends decided it was time to take me to Oxford Street in Sydney. I was excited to say the least.

It was a Saturday night that I walked into The Shift Night Club. It was loud, dark and packed to the rafters with sweaty, toned and muscular bound alpha males. My poor little brain and eyeballs almost exploded from the rush of adrenalin and hormones. Later that evening this really hot guy that I had been swapping looks with walked up to my thumping heart, smiled and said, ‘You know, you’d be one of the beautiful people if you where just a bit taller.’ I was completely devastated.

The very next day I joined a gym, got a better haircut and went shopping.

As I immersed myself in this new found gay culture and my body shape changed along with attitude, my desire to be one of the perceived beautiful and popular became a major focus in my life. Before I knew it I had moved to Darlinghurst and was headed to an emotional place, where only acceptance of others would fulfill me — it was not going to end well and it’s something I still struggle with on a regular basis.

I find it very interesting that usually when I try to make positive changes in my life it takes a tremendous effort, but for some unknown reason in this instance, I could change my whole personality and attitude in only a few months. It shows what can be done when you’re so driven and absolutely committed to something you want.

When I was recently gathering statistics on the Gay and Lesbian social and spending habits, it became clear to me that I was not alone in my obsession and constant struggle for acceptance and that it had spilled over to a need too also have the best, latest and coolest stuff.

Surveys show that Gay and Lesbians tend to be more focused on luxuries, leisure, entertainment and travel than their heterosexual counterparts. Gay men in particular spend up to a massive 600 per cent more on clothes and grooming products than the average Australian male…  Oh my god that’s me!

What does this say about us (or me in particular) and is it just a gay thing? I have a sneaking suspicion that lots of straight people are just as affected. If you look closely it actually seems that self obsession, vanity and the need for acceptance of others is something that our western society encourages and is most certainly a popular and emotive advertising tool. 

I was wondering if there is some good I can get out of all of this now. Looking back, although I’m still ‘somewhat’ vain; hang out at the gym; shop like some crazy person; and drink wheatgrass juice when I have time to grow it, I think that vanity can actually be a good thing in that it drives me to stay healthy. If I can just rid myself of my ego, which desperately needs others to validate me, I’ll be on the golden path — because how I look and what I own is not who I am.

PS: I still wish I was a few inches taller :-)

PETULA CLARK

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