A space to post my thoughts and musings about anything. This includes but is not limited to community, politics, current events, dating, GLBTQ issues, favorite things, and stuff that would make your dead relatives blush. I am not afraid to go there, as some can attest.

September 16, 2010

Building Self

A few weeks ago, I received the news that the EFN Lounge in DC had closed..  I wasn't surprised by it because on my previous excursions, the bar was basically dead except for Fri nights and the occasional Saturday night.  Not too many businesses can survive on that.  When I got the news, my next thought was "Freak out from a sub-group of the folks I know on Facebook and Twitter in 3...2...1..."  Sure enough, it happened, I watched as the "Oh my God it's closed, what do we do?!" status updates began.  A friend of mine and I talked about the situation, and yes, we started to make fun of it and the collective reaction.  As I predicted, for many of these folks it seemed like going out to "Bear Happy Hour" at the EFN Lounge was their only Friday night activity, and it had just been taken away from them.  With the way they acted, it was like the only thing they could do now was sit at home and stare at the wall.  For me, I was just laughing and shaking my head at them.


Something that I have had trouble understanding is how there are members of a community or group, such as those who are gay, straight, bisexual, a gamer, sports fan, bear, twink, Christian, furry, etc. end up in the mindset that they should build their entire identity about who they are around one of these communities.  Mind you it's not entirely bad.  However, you always have those folks who take it too far and ultimately they start to limit themselves.

The perfect example are the subcultures within the gay community such as the bears, twinks, leather folks, etc.  As someone who has observed them over nearly seven years now, I am just blown away by how much some of the folks who consider themselves part of one or more of these groups isolate themselves to that group only.  You've got events and bars that exclusively cater to these groups, and for many folks, that's the only time they show up to these events.  If these events don't exist, it seems like they don't leave the house.  On top of that, their entire social group is based only on others who belong to the same community.  I can't tell you how many times I have gone to a social gathering thrown by a person, and seen the same group of folks again and again because they basically hang out with one another exclusively.  It never seems to change.  It's the same folks seeing the same people and doing the same activities over and over and over again.

Based on these observations and others for the last decade or so, I've come to a theory that for some people, they focus on a certain label that could be applied to themselves and they try to build their entire sense of self around it.  They act like how they think people would expect them to act so that this label can be justified.  The question I have is that is this the actual person, or am I just looking at what they want me to see?  More often than not it seems, I'm seeing the act, and I find I don't care for it.  There's actually a really good term for it I learned a few months ago.  People who get heavily into one activity to where it becomes their entire life could be called a "lifestyler."  It doesn't apply for those things that are completely natural (such as your gender) but if you're a sports fan, and you work sports into every single conversation, including at inappropriate times, you're a lifestyler.

Perhaps this is why I have felt I don't always fit in under any one label, and I'm okay with that.  Look, I'm a guy who is a sports fan, Christian, a geek, a console gamer, bi, a singer, an actor, furry, a roller coaster enthusiast, foodie, cook, and lover of beer and wine.  The way I see it, all of those things and more are just pieces of a puzzle that make up who I am.  You can't apply any one label to me, and I won't build my entire sense of self around just any one element.  I think it can lead to a much richer and way more interesting life.  I see the folks who stick with the one label, and they only attend an event if it's for Christians, bears, geeks, etc. and that can be severely limiting because if there's no event that caters exclusively to their label, they don't go.  All they're doing is closing the door on opportunities to do something different that is a chance to grow and discover something new.  That's why I laughed at the reaction to the closing of the EFN Lounge.  God forbid that some folks should actually do something else rather than hang out at a bar with the same people they have seen there for several months in a row.  There's way more to do in DC than just go to the same bar all the time people.

I suppose it's behavior that I'll never understand.  In the meantime, I'll go on ahead and plot my next excursion, I got word of a bull roast coming up in Glen Burnie that sounds like a lot of fun...