Advice Column: Confined to an Island of Loneliness
I‘m a 22-year-old, gay, Afro-Caribbean man living in the US Virgin Islands and I’m at my wits’ end in trying to find friendship and companionship.
No visible community exists here and I doubt an underground community exists either. I lack confidants who can truly understand me. Online attempts to find “friends” have been disappointing.
Here we face the same cultural and societal issues as African American communities do in the states: lack of education, poverty, homophobia, rigid masculinity norms, etc. As a result, the men (and women for that matter) here stay very closeted. I’m sure very few of the men who are attracted to men here even identify as gay or bisexual. And that is likely the reason why no queer community exists here.
So here this leaves me, isolated and lonely having no one to identify or connect with; no one to be my special friend.
I’m at a point where I’ve realized that what I need most now is emotional and physical intimacy, but I’m at a place where this is most unlikely to be found.
I’d love to move to a city with thriving communities like DC or NYC, but I lack the resources to do this. How do I cope with this loneliness?
Signed, Confined to an Island of Loneliness
Let me say thank you for thinking enough of our website to seek advice and I hope I can help. My advice is based on you stating the need for companionship and a break from the isolation and also on your desire to move to another country or thriving metropolitan area.
Understand your situation is not unique. Many homosexual men in the Caribbean and in rural communities around the world share your same problem. So do take some solace in knowing that you are not alone.
I am sure there are other homosexual or bisexual men on your island but due to the homophobic attitudes throughout the Caribbean; being down low, in the closet and underground may just be a way of life for survival’s sake.
Good news is you are young and life has many options and directions for you to go. I am a firm believer there is good and bad in everything and this situation is no different. For many of us, isolation can be maddening; however isolation also has its virtues.
You stated “I’m at my wits’ end in trying to find friendship and companionship.” So what do you do?
First Step: Change your mind set and look at your situation through a different lens.
Let me explain…
Growing up, I was in a perpetual state of isolation. Yes I went to school but every day after school on the weekends and during the summer months, for the most part I was alone. At that time, I didn’t realize how being isolated was going to benefit me later in life.
Human beings are social creatures, so yes I also craved companionship and friendship and through out my late teens and twenties this led to me making bad decisions out of desperation of wanting a circle of friends and happy relationships like the ones you see in movies and TV.
There are so many men out there who don’t know how to be alone, who don’t cherish their personal space and don’t understand the benefits that can come with solitude.
They bounce between circles of friends and from 3 month “relationship” to the next 3 month “relationship”. They attempt to occupy their time and space with mess and frivolousness because they are scared to be alone and face their own reality.
Being able to look yourself in the mirror and examine who you really are and if you are truly happy with your life can be very difficult. However this process may be a little bit easier if you are isolated, alone and can focus your thoughts.
Once I cut ties with my so called “friends” and was alone again, I understand how valuable my solitude was. It allowed me to clear out, focus and re-shift my life into the right direction.
Friendship and companionship are supposed to add joy, happiness and enhance your already happy life. You are responsible for your own happiness not the people you will meet outside of your physical being.
So let’s pretend you are already happy with yourself and love yourself (I hope you do). So now what do you do? What are you going to do to get yourself out of this situation?
Second Step: TAKE ACTION!
Use your quest for companionship as a catalyst to become more mobile. Meaning come up with a plan to break out and away from your island and live abroad. Currently you are alone which means you are free from distractions, which also means you have hours of free time to come up with a plan and figure out how to implement and work your plan.
Don’t just visualize yourself living somewhere like DC or New York City, but also think about Canada and other countries in Europe where it may be easier to obtain citizenship or work visa status. Or what about other islands like Trinidad and Tobago, which is closer to you and there is a more visible gay and social scene? Believe me, America is not all what it is cracked up to be and all countries have their problems.
Believe me, you will have plenty of time to for intimacy and explore your sexuality once you make your move.
Once you have a plan in place for your quest to live abroad, make sure you are available mentally and physically. This means getting out of the house and networking and socializing with men and women on your island. By not doing so, you may be missing out on meeting people who may be able to help you in your goal by providing information and insight to assist you.
View your solitude and isolation not as a burden but as your sacred space that allows you clarity. Understand you are deserving of loving, fruitful, long lasting friendships and relationships; but you have to be available to receive them into your life.
What do you think? Please feel free to share your words of encouragement and advice for our young Caribbean reader.
Until Next Time…Ocky
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