Dealing with self-gaytred
A gay man’s guide to confidence in Cambridge
Buckle yourselves down guys, gals and everything in between, student media has got yet another chronicle ram-packed with self-loathing and existential angst to selfishly unload on all of you miserable readers.
Cantabs of all sexualities would acknowledge that nothing can make you feel shitter than going to a place where all of your inadequacies are exposed by an environment where there is always someone smarter, more extra-curricular, sportier, funnier and just generally better than you. But how do such universal insecurities have a special relevance for gay men?
Well, combined with Cambridge's brutal assault on self-esteem, gay men are also faced with the issues of toxic masculinity, unobtainable beauty standards and the problematic existence of apps like Grindr and Tinder helping to make a bad situation worse. We just get that extra zesty layer of being attracted to the people we compare ourselves to, for that soul crushing confusion of whether or not you want to be someone or be inside them.
This potent combination means that whilst issues with self-love and acceptance are pertinent for all Cambridge students, gay men (and presumably gay women too-if not I hate you all and your happiness) are faced with more pronounced feelings of inadequacy, not only in terms of academics, but in the realm of sexuality and romance as well.
The best medium for exploring how low Cambridge's gay community can feel is through a discussion of most people's first foray into gay culture; dating apps. Straight people complain about the swipe format of Tinder, but compared to Grindr, Tinder seems as cuddly as a puppy. On Tinder if you're not interested in somebody you swipe left and that's the end of it with no hurt feelings, it's unlikely they'll even log which of the people they swipe right don't reciprocate.
Yet on Grindr, there's an ever present location-based grid of faceless chests, blank profiles and broody, painstakingly filtered selfies where you can message someone 15 times, and the ghosting is painfully obvious. This can be an advantage. If you fancy something of an illicit nature you might not want to start up a conversation at 11am rather than let's say 11pm.
However, it does also mean if you get your heart set on someone, pluck up the courage to finally message them, build a fantasy of marital bliss/sordid pleasure, and then get rejected, it smacks you in the face – and not in the way you’d have liked.
This is standard in all cities, however, the collegiate system and Cambridge's incestuous community of gays makes it just that little bit worse. Over time you'll work out roughly which colleges people are according to their ranking on grids, and then once you've got your bearings in that regard, you'll end up able to work out who's going to which colleges to see which people and do what unspoken acts.
Being able to see which people the men you'd like to meet prefer over you can be crushing, causing you to hugely doubt your own attractiveness and self-worth. This devaluing experience, for those fortunate enough to have not undergone it, can be likened to that first week in Cambridge and suddenly realising that you're not so special after all. All the praise you got from teachers and consistent A*s you smashed out every week mean nothing when you realise you'll never reach higher than 70 per cent ever again: and to make matters worse the national chess champion of the Netherlands happens to live on your staircase.
In a similar sense, all your ideas surrounding being gay at Cambridge (whether that involves huffing coke off a strangers dick in the loo at Junction, or finding your prince charming at a boozy and debauched dinner at the Adonians) can be quickly and harshly quashed by 10+ Grindr rejections. All in all, Grindr can be horrendous for your mental health-and I envy those strong enough to avoid using it.
The worst part is, as I write this article bemoaning the psychological harm of being ghosted on Grindr, I'm actively ignoring around five people who I have absolutely no intention of ever speaking to let alone meeting with. This isn't anything personal, this isn't me making a judgement on their self worth nor is it a reflection on their attractiveness (for the most part).
And this is the essential thing to remember when being ghosted; it's not the case that you're too ugly for someone or they think you're too weird to fuck/meet. It's merely that they're not in the mood for chatting or that you're simply not their type.
Keep this in mind whilst navigating the dark and scary realm of Grindr and Tinder, and trust me, you should be able to avoid a complete disintegration of all your dearly held conceptions of your own worth.