As a gay life coach, I have the privilege of hearing firsthand about issues that my clients are working on. Over the years, recurring themes emerge. One topic that has surfaced repeatedly, and which I have observed myself, is that of judgment in the gay community.
As gay men, people who saw us as “different” or “other” may have subjected us to harsh and unfair judgment. Without knowing us personally, those who judged us may have assumed the worst of us, attributing false characteristics based on hatred and fear. Judgment comes from a place of ignorance and unknowing. It is at the root of homophobia, which many of us are all too familiar with.
How does it feel to be judged?
Most would agree that it feels terrible, leading to feelings of low self-worth and confusion. Because of our experience of being unfairly judged by others, we as gay men need to take extra care to ensure that we don’â€™’t perpetuate this cycle by the judging others in our own community.
Clients have shared with me that in some cases, members of the gay men’s community in New York can be particularly harsh, and at times even vicious, in our judgments of one another. The differences in the world at large can be found mirrored in the gay community those with money and those without, those who are open and those more secretive, those who vote Democrat and those who vote Republican, those who identify as bi- versus gay not to mention the many different cultural and ethnic variations that we each bring to the mix. And as in the world at large, we can either find ways to celebrate these points of difference, or we can let them divide us.
Consider the following coaching tips to avoid judging others:
Be aware of what you say.
The most insidious kind of judgment is that of which we are unaware. Sometimes we get too used to talking in certain ways with our friends and family, and we lose sight of unhealthy patterns that may creep in. During the next week, make a point to tune into your own thought process, and notice the way in which you talk about others particularly about other gay men. If you find negativity or a judging tone as part of your thoughts and speech, make a conscious effort to change this pattern. For example, if you find yourself saying that all gay men who disagree with you politically must be crazy, stop yourself and recognize that you are passing a judgment.
Call others on their judging statements.
This is a tough one because people generally want to be agreeable with others, especially those they like. But if you shine the same light of awareness on the speech of your friends and loved ones, you may catch judging language from them as well. When this happens, in a calm and non-confrontational manner, simply point out to the speaker that you feel his or her statement may be judgmental, and encourage a more open approach. Sometimes others may be unaware of how their personal viewpoints tilt into judgment, and once it’s pointed out, may speak more carefully in the future.
Make a conscious shift.
After spending a week or so observing your own speaking patterns and those of others, you’re ready to make a more permanent change. Make an effort to speak inclusively when discussing segments of the community that may differ from your own. Before you know it, you’ll be treating those in your community with the same respect that you want and deserve for yourself.