Introverts in a world of rainbow extroversion

I’ve always felt a bit dis­tant from the LGBT world, felt like I didn’t fit in, that it wasn’t a place for me at all. But I came to think, thanks to the book Quiet by Susan Cain, that the main prob­lem I have with the LGBT world is that it’s entire­ly aimed toward extro­verts. I’ve nev­er been the par­ty kind or things like that (which has always sound­ed a bit weird to most of my friends…), but even in gay bars do I find it dif­fi­cult.

Do you have any idea how incred­i­bly dif­fi­cult it is to talk to some­one in those bars ? Or are you just sup­posed to keep on shout­ing over the lat­est pop star singer and hop­ing the oth­er will hear you ? If only there were calm places where it’d be pos­si­ble to just engage with peo­ple.

LGBT Parades & celebrations

“The gay man that stays clear of the pride parade is assumed many things,
his biggest offense being his refusal to join in the fight.”
About.com

Same goes for the Pride Parades, where I’ve been repeat­ed­ly tar­get­ed for not “fight­ing for our rights” or for being some kind of “clos­et-queen” because it was some­thing I didn’t want to go to, but the fact is sim­ply that, again, those parades are a pure demon­stra­tion of extro­ver­sion.

And while I find it cool and great for most peo­ple to be able to express their joy, the way they are, it’s real­ly not my cup of tea at all. Being in big crowds freaks me out, stick­ing around with flam­boy­ant guys slow­ly drains me out of ener­gy so much that the only thing I want to do is go back to my flat and crawl into my bed.

While the extro­verts may find it use­ful to be quite flam­boy­ant, go march and things like that, I prefer to change minds by writ­ing, talk­ing, engag­ing with peo­ple in a one-to-one way, not in those kinds of cel­e­bra­tions. Thanks (again) to the Internet, I’ve found that I wasn’t the only one feel­ing this way (see here, and here, or even here), and even found vir­tu­al places with like-mind­ed peo­ple (here goes to Gaybros & Gaymers) as the phys­i­cal ones were impos­si­ble to find.

What I want to point out here is the fact that being an intro­vert doesn’t pre­vent me to defend LGBT rights, I only do it my own way, and per­haps in a more qui­et but nonethe­less pow­er­ful one (Hint : intro­vert is quite dif­fer­ent from shy, even if some­times they go hand in hand, it’s not always the case.) and it seems I’m not the only one (heck, even porn stars are ! Or have a look at Tim Cook.).

Finding love thanks to the Internet

“Perhaps social media affords us the con­trol we lack in real life social­iz­ing: the screen as a bar­ri­er between us and the world.”
Susan Cain — Quiet

I’ve been told again and again that I should “go out and meet peo­ple”, go into those bars, those par­ties, … Thanks, but no thanks. First those places make me feel awk­ward as I’m unable to speak or hear oth­er peo­ple, sec­ond I’m real­ly not gift­ed at mix­ing and min­gling with peo­ple when there’s like a hun­dred around.

Growing up and dis­cov­er­ing I was gay, it was also eas­ier for me to find infor­ma­tions in books instead of the bars, where I couldn’t relate to all those flam­boy­ant and loudy guys. It’s through books I dis­cov­ered I was not the only one, through books I under­stood my attrac­tion, through books again I dis­cov­ered like-mind­ed peo­ples.

That’s also why I’m using the Internet and appli­ca­tions to find, con­nect and meet peo­ple. Because it gives me a space to express myself, because it allows me to start con­ver­sa­tion in a calm and dif­fer­ent way. While some web­site and apps are real­ly agres­sive and, for me, present the same prob­lems the gay places have (being pret­ty loud and straight for­ward), I fell in love with OkCupid, which allowed me to speak about what I love and meet like-mind­ed peo­ple.

Being intro­vert also brings its trou­bles and fights (but well, what doesn’t?), and while I enjoy going out with some friends, it’s also dif­fi­cult to explain that it can wear me out, or that I prefer hav­ing a drink at home with some friends than going to the super-fan­cy-night­club sur­round­ed by half naked bod­ies. But as you can see here, it’s some­thing that is dis­cussed more and more (want more advice on how to deal with intro­verts ? hint hint!).

The prob­lem doesn’t find its roots with­in the inter­net or the apps, but def­i­nite­ly with­in the fact that we trans­formed every sin­gle gay place into a giant glit­tery beat box, where intro­vert­ed ones are pure­ly exclud­ed (except at the cost of great lenghts and expens­es), there­fore killing every sin­gle space left for intro­verts.

Being truly inclusive

“In a uni­ver­sal church, there should be room for the un-gre­gar­i­ous.”
Susan Cain — Quiet

So I’m won­der­ing more and more how we could all find places for every­one in the LGBT world. While the acronym grows big­ger and big­ger (last time I’ve checked it was some­thing like that : LGBTQQIAAP), it could be nice to find a way to also include the intro­vert part of the LGBT pop­u­la­tion by provide qui­et times, or qui­et places; the aim being not at all to avoid social con­tact, but on the con­trary to provide some­thing dif­fer­ent, some space where it could, in the end, be pos­si­ble to be more social than what we cur­rent­ly have. Just in a dif­fer­ent way.

I’m still think­ing about what could be achieved, but I need­ed to write this down. Because I know I’m not the only one, and I’m sure it’s pos­si­ble to find a place for every­one and to allow every­one to social­ize out­side of the vir­tu­al cir­cle. Maybe we can give it a try?

 
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Simon Vandereecken

Freelance UX Designer living in Brussels (Belgium), with a deep interest into philosophy, personal growth, self improvement, books, music, ... well in many things ! I use this website to write thoughts going through my head as well as ideas, observations and reading notes. Feel free to get in touch ;)

 
  • Koen Van den Eeckhout

    Thanks for the great piece Simon, which I only now dis­cov­ered.

    Being tru­ly inclu­sive, to me, means accept­ing, appre­ci­at­ing and sup­port­ing every­one the way they are. Whether it’s LGBT or straight, black or white, dis­abled or not, male or female, intro­vert or extro­vert. Every soci­ety or com­pa­ny should work towards this form of inclu­sion as a whole, not just focussing on one of the­se aspects.

    That being said, the ’gay com­mu­ni­ty’ is def­i­nite­ly not (yet) inclu­sive, in my opin­ion. Well said!

    • Hey Koen, thanks for your com­ment :) I’ve recov­ered this post from my Medium account, that explains why it’s com­ing back now. But I total­ly agree with what you think, imho it’s just that the gay com­mu­ni­ty is too focused at the moment, but there’s still work to do and time to do so :)