In this week’s Hola Papi!, the advice column by writer, Twitterer, and prolific Grindr user John Paul Brammer, a reader writes that his BFF is so amazing and great but has one problem:he’s too hot.
And our dear, dear reader is finding himself going unnoticed by the men around them when out, and his self-confidence is taking a hit. Thank goodness for Hola Papi!
If you want his advice, just email him [email protected] your question. Just be sure to include SPECIFICS, and don’t forget to start out your letter with Hola Papi!
This has plagued my self-esteem for the past year or so. I’m at your typical NYC gay bar/rooftop/club/sausage hangout on a Saturday night with my best friend in tow. We do everything together, and he’s truly the best kind of company: he’s hilarious, he makes me feel energized and we can be our goofy selves together. Thing is, every time we walk into aforementioned gay hot spot, all eyes land on my friend, who we’ll call Scott.
Scott’s not my type sexually, but I definitely consider him very attractive with his icy blue eyes, square jaw, and glorious brown hair. I don’t consider myself sexy by any means. I’m probably a 7 on a good day, but Scott just oozes sexiness, charm and wit that it’s hard for me to be around him and have all the boys gravitate to him immediately. He gets hit on all the time while these men act like I don’t exist.
The fact that it’s always just the two of us brings this sense of competitiveness within me that I hate. I’m always comparing myself to him. I can’t help but feel down and even inferior to his extremely good looks. This only happens when we’re out meeting guys. Otherwise, I love spending time with him where I don’t feel like I’m invisible. How can I stop comparing myself to him whenever we’re out meeting guys? I accept that he’s better looking than me, but surely I can stop feeling so inferior to him?
Hi Ho Silver! Thank you for writing in. Though I must admit, I’m a bit disappointed. I was kind of hoping for a letter from Scott.
Kidding. I’M KIDDING! You are all equal in the eyes of Papi. Mostly because I have no idea who any of you are, and I get paid regardless of whether or not you like what I have to say. It’s the most beautiful dynamic I’ve ever had with men, truly.
Anyway, back to your problem. It immediately reminded me of this guy, Juan Pablo. I don’t mean myself (I am also Juan Pablo). I’m referring to a Juan Pablo with hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers who are strictly there to look at his face. This Juan Pablo has beautiful tattoos, ridiculously ripped forearms, and scruff on his chin that I’d love to sand myself down with until nothing remained of me.
Perhaps it’s that we’re both gay and we’re both Mexican and we both have the same name that makes it so tempting to compare myself to him. But when I do, Silver, let me tell youit does not feel great! Looking at him, I can’t decide if I want to be him or hook up with him, but I do know for sure that looking at him makes me feel worse about myself. Because when I see him, I see things I lack.
We gays tend to do this a lot: define ourselves in the negative, by the things we don’t have. Why? There’s no clear consensus, but it probably has something to do with being invalidated so early and often in life, which in turn inspires a drive to compensate with accolades and praise.
So with that in mind, the key to overcoming your issue is not winning a race against Scott, as I think you already know. You can have all the gay eyeballs in the room on you, but you ultimately won’t feel satisfied if your only metric for self-worth is dependent on strangers approving of you. Or, at least, you won’t feel satisfied for long.
They key is being mindful of your need for validation (which we all have, and is not an inherently unhealthy thing!) and managing your response to it when it crops up. And it will crop up. A lot. The high rates of eating disorders and anxiety in the gay community (and among heterosexual women as well) tell us that living under the tyranny of male approval is a one-way ticket to stress.
Were I a hacky self-help guru (and let’s be clear, I do plan to become one if I ever spin this shit into a talk show. Papi has bills to pay) I would tell you that you just need to be more confident and that it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
And there’s wisdom in that. Confidence, which is really just an attitude shift, can work wonders. And you know what? Your insides do matter a lot, your intelligence and your personality, your skeleton, your endocrine systemall great and important!
But the fact is, we do live in a world that values and rewards Scott and Hot Juan Pablo for having extremely symmetrical faces and square jaws. People really do get special advantages for their outsides. I have some of those advantages, in fact. And I bet you do too. So how do we cope?
It might sound a bit unorthodox, but I have a voice in my head whose job it is to remind me to not “compete” with other people. Whenever I’m stalking Hot Juan Pablo’s Instagram, or whenever I feel bitter that my hot gay friend always gets way more likes on his selfies, the voice pops up and says, “That has nothing to do with you.”
It’s my way of saying “no thank you” to the frequent requests to measure myself up to other people, my way of reminding myself that I’m on my own journey that isn’t more or less worthy than anyone else’s, and my way of saying, “mind your own damn business” to myself.
In all likelihood, these people I’m comparing myself to aren’t even thinking about me. But if they are, guess what? That has nothing to do with me. The good things about me, the things I like about myself, are not commodities to be compared and contrasted to others in order to determine their worth. If I think about them that way, I have lost something very important, and I have devalued myself.
I’m also not a big fan of this “scale” everyone is always talking about, upon which you have placed yourself at 7. Someone’s 7 is someone else’s 10, and someone else’s 4. It’s different for everyone, and putting people on a scale implies some consensus has been reached when in fact it’s way more subjective than that. Everyone maxes out at 6 in my world, for example, because that is as high as I can count.
And didn’t you say yourself that Beautiful Chiseled Blue-Eyed Scott isn’t even your type? Is your opinion less valid than someone else’s?
The other thing, Silver Medal, and I wanted to save this point until the end, is that when you find someone you really like and who really likes you, be it romantically or platonically, all that competition stuff won’t really matter. Because, well, that person won’t be a prizean object you won like a teddy bear at the county fair or something. That person will be a human being with a real connection to you.
All this to say, Silver, you don’t have to worry. You are someone else’s gold. Or, better yet, be your own gold. Or, best yet, devalue gold completely and create a moneyless gay utopia where we have no concept of currency and no need for rare metals or heterosexuality.
Just a thought!