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Loneliness is a phenomenon that belongs to life, to existence and something which we all recognise. Urban loneliness through the collective psyche of cities are reputed to be teeming and tactile beehives with different cells waiting to be discovered. But these cells and the journey of discovery one hopes to find in these often prove more elusive than we might imagine. A megalopolis like Delhi with its pot pourri of communities and crowds of mutual strangers with varied sexuality is the place where gay and bi men can come together with others for cruising and interacting. But at the same time and for the same reason it is the place confirming his engulfing loneliness. The present paper endeavour to study the various facets of gay and bisexual loneliness through the lens of space place epistemology and critically underpin why loneliness is chronically inveterate in the gendered identity of gay and bisexual men. Studies document a widespread epidemic of loneliness, people talk increasingly about socio economic and political bubbles.
The word loneliness or lonely is a feeling invoked by isolation, the emotional space differentiating from solo, alone. It creates a diverse feeling of dejection because of want of company or society, sad at the thought of being alone, infused with a feeling of solitariness. John T cacioppo and William Patrick in their seminar work on loneliness define loneliness as a feeling of nothing, it is a void, a black hole, an abyss, a hunger for wanting. This empty space is like a hunger for others, for others to be close to us, for others to love us. Urban Space and LonelinessSpace primarily comprises of two quintessential factors basic to the fundamentals of any humanoid existence i. e. time and place. Disturbance of any factor out of two will disturb the continuum of nature. Taking the ontology of space and place through the lens of urban loneliness is a self inflicted misery. It is very subjective and varies from individual to individual. Cities are full of people, they are busy beats resonating the overwhelming hustle bustles of daily life. Cities offers a paradoxical dichotomy of the spatiality of cohabiting, fostering of new social circle but produce a wide chasm leaving people islanded amid a crowd. The dynamics of loneliness contingent with urban space is multifarious.
The micro existent nature of the people have brought into themselves is a reason largely responsible for urban loneliness. Pressurised work environment, fear of being incorrect, the prevalence of insouciance creeps into any individuals personality traits. People build a shell around themselves of a make belief world. A Place they love to stay, their own utopia where they are not judged, albeit they are their own judges. Anyone who coincides with their thought process and philo gets a ticket to the inner sanctum and becomes a part of his self evolved utopia.
Urban life in big megacity like Delhi produce a socio psychological spaces and spatiality of impersonality, anonymity and indifference. Strong sources of identification at times are eroded by the nature of social life in the city, marking it as impermanence, isolation, lonesomeness and differentiation.
On the idea of loneliness, the social circle, process of socializing, the diverse speech language and the idea that language is a game at which some players are more skilled than others. This has a vexed relationship between loneliness and speech. Judith Butler asserts that “language is a kind of performance which has the power to produce political effects and injuries, it is best understood as a scene as injury rather than its cause”. In this context the injuries include speech failure, communication breakdowns, misunderstanding, mishearing, episodes of muteness, stuttering and stammering, sudden rage, feeling like a fragile wallflower, word forgetfulness, inability to grasp a joke.
All these phenomenon has a direct semblance with loneliness, forcing a reminder of precarious imperfect means by which we express our interiors to others. In a way they also undermine our footing in the social landscape casting us as outsiders, poor or non poor participants. · Some scholars asserts that urban spaces are not the only factor contributing loneliness, at times loneliness are generated solely by individuals and his choice/ fault which makes them a loner, the so called pastoral fetish villainising urban space. · Baldwin ( 2006) in his book Liquid Modernity enunciate that it is possible to feel lonely in large crowds, in busy social network, in families, in superficial relationships and in functioning households. Loneliness through the lens of urban space of Gay/Bisexual Men. A megalopolis like Delhi with its crowd of mutual strangers, is the place where the gay and bisexual men can come together with others and at the same time and for the same reason it is the place that confirms his loneliness.
Gay/bisexual loneliness is a real tangible force. The root cause of a sense of loneliness in gay and bisexual men is social unacceptability. It is not just that being gay or bisexual is not accepted or policed by the heteronormative society but they are also excluded within the rigid hyper masculine act like man box culture, institutionalised by certain gender performance and norms. Performativity in this notion is a stylised repetition of acts, an imitation or miming of the dominant conventions of gender (Butler. J ). The act that one performs is in a sense an act that’s been going on before one arrived in the scene, involving impersonation an ideal that nobody actually inhabits. Ironically some of these norms are propagated within the queer socioscape. In a culture where a certain types of masculine, muscular perfectly groomed guys are the sexual ideal, there is hardly a space left for other gender non confirming people to feel comfortable and henceforth drawing the boundary of alterity in many ways. Gay and bisexual men also comes under a lot of pressure to conform to these stereotyping gay male identities in order to fit into the scene. The end result of this normative pressure is that the gay/bi scene rather than providing a supportive context for vulnerable gay/bi men can actually reinforce or exacerbate loneliness, insecurity, substanceabuse, negative feeling of sadness intensifying the precarity of self destructive behaviour. Being a gay man means that out of the every other gay men out there, their pool of selection in terms of people who are potential partner is very small, a lot smaller than than the straight people out there. This is the reason why lot of gay people are single. Incisive to the fact that gay guys are generally attracted to attractiveness more so than personality and deeper values than that. It makes it hard for gay guys to be in a relationship that is monogamous.
There are so many gay guys looking for relationship but they don’t get it easily or afraid to get into with someone comparable. Gay men have problems because too many guys think they are ordering a man out of a catalogue where all the boxes must be checked or it’s a deal breaker. Multiple shades of grey, differentiated family relationship, emotional webs of guilt, shame, anger, failure to communicate, refusal to acknowledge one’s identity manifested with self hatred are some of the traits embedded in the loneliness of gay and bisexual men. The constant inner inhibitions and the self doubt of i am unwanted, why the way you are? Why the way you feel you do? Is my life worth saving? What should i do when there is no one whom i can call my own and with whom shall i share my questions? are some pensive questions which gay and bisexual men are plagued with. Like a typical straight heteronormative bond, a homosexual bonding does not come easily, it takes time and lot of expectation. At times loneliness is accentuated because of the minority status whose effect is magnified by the status remaining hidden. Not only do they have to do all these extra work and answer their internal quandary, but they have to do it without being able to talk to their parents and friends about it. Gay and Bi men does not feel like their sexuality is the most salient aspect of their life, for majority homosexuality and bisexuality at times didn’t have to mean a lifetime sentence to respectability, that gay liberation could mean the freedom to lower your standards as well as raise them.
The underlying fear of being alone and lonely, and all the resentment that comes with that is very much in the loneliness of gay/bisexual men. In so far, he wants to be a gay or bi, he cannot tell anyone about it or show it; even if he does the others can’t be bothered to listen, and even if they do, they still can’t really understand it. Part of him is not social. To this extent he is lonely. Even as we celebrate the scale and the speed of the societal progression, the rate of loneliness, depression and substance abuse in the gay community remain stuck in the same place they’ve been for decades. The constant feeling of low self worth, something unfulfilled, feeling of vacuity, mood disorder, the unremitting melancholy is deeply inveterate in the identity of gay and bi men. Even after coming out of their metaphorical performativity of closet as a space, millions of gay men still feels the same isolation. Gay and bi men are primed to expect rejection not only from the mainstream society but within the queer community which create and recreate their own idealistic gay shibboleth. Gay and bi men are scanning social situations for ways in which they do not fit into them. They often struggle to assert themselves, they replay their social failures on a loop. At times the gendered metaphorical closet space acts as a stressor. Micheal Hobbs entails, being in the closet acts a small stressor with outsize effect, “Being in the closet is like someone punching you lightly on the arm, over and over again. At first it’s annoying.
After a while, its infuriating, eventually it’s all you can think about”. Minority stress doesn’t fully explain why gay and bi men have such a wide arrey of various issues. While the first round of damage happens before they come out of the closet, the second and maybe more serious and severe comes afterward. The lie mannerism operating in the world as a lone agent forces them that if they are having sex with someone, then you are having intimate moments which ends up being a crutch. The excruciating stressing out and the compulsive need to have sex is like trying to wring it out to get something out of it that wasn’t in there- social support or companionship. The urge to fit in only grows more intense. The key stages in identity formation for gay men, all led up to coming out, that once they were finally comfortable with themselves, they could build building a life within a community of people who’d gone through the same thing. At times Gay and bi men are not very nice to each other and their mutual meanness is almost pathological. All of them are deeply confused or lying to themselves for a good chunk of their adolescence. Gay and bisexual men talk about the gay community as a significant source of stress in their lives. In group discrimination does more harm to their psyche than getting rejected by members of the majority. Rejection from other gay people, though feels like losing your own way of making friends and finding love. Being pushed away by their own people hurts them more as they look for the emotional support from them and they need them more. The challenges of masculinity gets magnified in a community of men.
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