photo courtesy of

photo courtesy of

Dear Michael:

I feel like a gay man in a straight man’s body:  I have zero fashion sense, zero sense of style, art or whatever…my ex-boyfriend used to dress me and take care of our house.  Since we broke up I live in a messy dump and I just don’t care.  I look at clothes and have no idea what looks good on me…Help!

Stuck in Straightsville


Dear Stuck:

After reading your letter, I found it so ironic that many gay men find “straight-acting” gay men terrifically attractive (ever read the on-line personal ads?) and yet you yearn for more.  I would imagine your lack of a gay style gene hasn’t hurt your gay love life.

Let’s look at the areas you want help with.  It’s not hard to get fashion help and polish up your visuals.  You may have friends who would love to help you out.  Don’t be shy, ask for their help.  Another alternative to dressing yourself are personal shoppers.  Contrary to popular belief, they are free at big stores like Nordstrom and Macys.  However, I personally recommend that FIRST you visit some of the smaller gay-owned/operated men’s clothing stores in Hillcrest: these stores are small, gay-owned and very friendly: the staff there will help you put yourself together and you’ll be circulating your hard-earned gay dollars back into our community.

A messy house may be more about depression and feeling overwhelmed than about style.  “I just don’t care” can be about casual living, or about giving up because it all seems too much.  Casual living need not be so sloppy it’s unsanitary, but everyone has their own idea of “messy”.  If you can’t find things and don’t have clean clothes, good food to eat, etc., then your home isn’t working for you, it’s working against you.  This isn’t about having a “gay” home, it’s about having a home you enjoy and that is a comfort to you.   If you hate to clean and you can afford not to, consider hiring someone to help you.  Ask around and see who has a good cleaning person.   You can also find people to help you organize your home (look for ads in Gay San Diego or Google “home organizers”).

If you’re a slob because you’re depressed, that’s another story.  Sit yourself down and take a good look at yourself:  if you’re lethargic, don’t care about much and don’t enjoy things like you used to, you may be depressed.  Talk with a good friend, mentor or counselor about it if you are.  Casual is a lifestyle choice; chaotic and dirty, however, is a problem.  Get some help with it.

In general, Mr. Straightsville, are you happy the way you are or do you want to know more about fashion, art and gay culture?  If you’re content with not knowing Versace from Van Gogh, then don’t sweat it.  There is no ONE way to be gay…you can be super butch and decorate with leather and denin, or you can fill your home with challis (look it up) and pretty pillows.  It sounds to me like you want to learn more, to improve yourself and expand your knowledge base…to try on a bit of “gay” sophistication.  Good for you, Have you considered taking a class in a subject that interests you, be it film, music, dance, art…whatever?  Remember, no one starts out fabulous and sophisiticated, we all had to learn it.

Whether it’s psychotherapy or interior design, the most important thing about changing yourself and your life is that it is a change that you truly want, not one that you feel pressured into by friends, magazine ads or gay media.  People who want to sell you stuff won’t tell you this, but, honestly, there is NO gay style.  As gay men, we are all our own people and each of us spends our energies on things that feel right to us.  What you wear, how you spend your time, your interests, hobbies and passions are uniquely yours.

If you aren’t happy the way you are, then, by all means, go for transformation.  But, if you are happy and simply comparing yourself with others around you and finding yourself lacking, then maybe your lesson is to trust yourself, your taste and your preferences.  The only RIGHT way to be is what makes you happy…and no amount of money or clothes or classes can take you there.