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Michael Henry has created another incredible magnifying glass on gay culture with his latest video, honing in on an issue that is close to home for many of us. The new clip examines the reason why so much of gay culture surrounds alcohol, asking, “Why do gay men drink so much?’
The video features Henry and two friends — played by Chad Westbrook and Travis Cole — enjoying mimosas on a deck in Los Angeles overlooking a gorgeous vista. As the three imbibe, they begin to break down why so much of their social life involves drinking.
“Who wants to know why I drink?” Henry interrupts. “Well, I grew up in a small town in New York where I was bullied incessantly by all my male peers for being gay. Having your male peers be the ones to torment you and tell you you’re shit be the same-gendered person that you’re sexually attracted to is really a total mindfuck.”
Cole asks, “Should we all just blurt out the reasons why we have intertwined our gay existences with drinking?”
The trio next go through a long laundry list of uncomfortable truths about why gay men drink so much, and a lot of them make so much sense to us. They list:
- I’m ashamed of my body unless I’m drunk.
- Pride is basically a drinking competition.
- I don’t like the way I sound when I’m sober.
- Internalized homophobia.
- I don’t think I’m worth it or funny unless I have a cocktail in my hand.
- I never got love for my dad.
- I don’t know to have sex sober.
- Nobody likes me when I’m not drinking.
Henry and his friends conclude, “At the end of the day, gay men have been drinking alcohol to relax and express themselves easier for years. Sometimes to escape the heteronormative world we live in by going to clubs and parties with our friends. We can’t tell whether or not they’re an alcoholic or drink too much because we’re drinking the same amount as our peers.”
“I made this video because I feel like gay men drink a lot,” Henry tells Hornet. “I compared my week nights to my straight friends that are my age and they’re usually at home on a Tuesday night. But gay culture is vibrant, expressive, and social and we congregate at bars and clubs which have always been our oasis from a world that we feel excluded from at times.”
Henry continues, “But there came a point where I was like, wait a second… maybe I am drinking in excess, maybe some of my peers are drinking in excess. But we just want to be with our community and you know they’ll be at the bar.”
We’re loving Henry’s take here and his ability to use his talent to start much-needed conversations in our community. He is examining a real issue with lots of humor, while giving lots of insight to a problem that is staggering. A study by the LGBT Foundation found that drug use among LGB people is seven times higher than the general population, binge drinking is twice as common among gay and bisexual men and substance dependency is significantly higher.
But why? Looking at Henry’s list, one thing that clearly stands out is many of these issues we experience as gay men stem from our upbringing. During our childhoods, we were constantly labeled as “other,” either overtly by our peers or inadvertently by society around us. Just the fact that the word “gay” was synonymous for “stupid” during our youth subjected us to experience low self-esteem and internalized homophobia. This is hard to shake, and even as thriving adults in a society that is more accepting of us, we still have to face the demons that remain from the trauma of those childhood experiences.
Hopefully, by understanding the root of this, we can begin to come up with a solution. While drinking can be fun, we want to make sure we’re doing it for the right reasons. Henry isn’t telling everybody to go to rehab, but maybe lets understand why we’re doing what we’re doing so we can do it more deliberately.