Thursday, February 28, 2008

Gay Men and Alcohol

Are most gay men alcoholics? Anon.

There is no reason to think that most gay men are alcoholics any more than most straight men are alcoholics. There have been studies of substance abuse and alcoholism in gay men -- which certainly exists -- but to my knowledge no comparisons with heterosexual men have been made -- which would have built-in complications in any case. First there's the question of how MSM (men who have sex with men) identity: gay? bi? -- some guys have sex with other guys and insist they're straight (sure) or at least are leading a "straight life" with a partner of the opposite sex. Studies dealing with sexual orientation are always tricky.

Some feel that gays are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol because of the underlying shame some feel about being gay. Internalized homophobia certainly exists -- and can certainly lead to substance abuse -- but nowadays there are a great many more gays who have absolutely no shame or guilt over their orientation. Then there's the fact that some gays might abuse drugs/alcohol not out of any shame, but for the same reasons that straights do : disappointment in life or love and all the other problems that beset humanity no matter what our orientation.

Life can be tough for all of us, and some people deal with it by abusing drugs or alcohol. In my opinion -- and based on my own observations over many years -- gay men are no more likely to do this than any other segment of the population.

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