Here’s another TOUGH LOVE installment from your friend Nick Delmacy. I don’t write these list articles to be judgmental, only to shine a light on things we all need to work on as evolving Gay men of color. A lot of the things I write apply to me as well and are reflections of deficiencies and shortcomings that I’m working on in my own life.

This go around, we’ll focus on the decline of responsibility by Gay men 25 and over, especially men in their late 30s and 40s. There comes a time when we need to grow up and follow the example demonstrated by the generation that came before us. Excuses are easy. You can blame the declined economy or a homophobic society, but at the end of the day they are all just manufactured external reasons to avoid looking within self for the culprit.


All across the country right Gay men in their late 20s, 30s and 40s are living with someone that is not their boyfriend or husband. Some stranger that they have to awkwardly introduce to their date as they tip-toe through the house trying not to disturb. To make matters worse this is seen to be the norm. I’m not talking about the men who own sprawling mansions and rent out the East wing to make a few bucks on the side. I’m referring to the guys in cramped homes/apartments living with as many as two roommates just to pay the $600 per month rent on time.I could throw a rock randomly in a Gay Club/Bar and I GUARANTEE that I will hit a man with a roommate. Roommates and Gay Men go together like porn stars and the shattered expectations of parents. Speaking of parents, if you’re still living at your parents’ home to “get back on your feet” and its been over a year, we better not EVER see you in a mall or club or any place where you’ll have to spend disposable money…EVER. You need to be cutting back and saving every penny possible.

To make matters even more worse you’ll see these men using odd things like old found milk/mail crates as furniture. Not in a cool “Hey, look at our creative decor” kind of way. They use them because they have nothing else to sit the Living Room television on. And that’s if they even have a television…Often times they’ll be using their laptops as the sole “television” (YouTube videos, yay! Great date night, huh?) As a man in the gay dating scene, there are few bigger turnoffs than seeing that the object of your affection sleeps on an air bed or just a single cheap mattress thrown in a bedroom corner without even a frame, let alone a headboard.

Get your weight up. I know, it’s easier said than done. However, you must be focused on getting your shit together and the comfort provided with having a roommate doesn’t help that. It’s a crutch in many ways. If at 30 years old you can’t afford $500-700 in rent/mortgage, you need a new career (or a career in the first place, being a cashier at H&M doesn’t count).  Think about it, at $800 per month, that’s less than $10,000 a year in rent. If you’re a 30-50 year old man that can’t earn $10k in TWELVE MONTHS you should be embarrassed. That’s BELOW both the United States and United Kingdom’s poverty line! You are literally a poor gay man…that likely STILL goes to the club every week and buys the latest name brand clothing and electronics. This is a big part of the problem, Gay men feel the need to live above their means while attempting to give off the outer appearance that they are not in fact poor.

Undoubtedly, the “Hey, I live in New York City” excuse will be tossed out there. True, some cities have a higher cost of living. However they also have lower income housing. Your desire to live in a Manhattan loft near central park with two roommates is a choice. There are just as many great apartments you could afford without roommates in Brooklyn and Queens. So the solution for you: Move to a place you can afford independently. It’s so much more liberating.

Maybe I’m old school. I just remember older folks past 25 years old (like my parents, aunts, uncles and older cousins) not even considering something like a roommate at this age. To be honest, instantly after their college years they shunned the notion of a roommate. Not only for the odd perception it gives to others, but also for the self-pride in finally having their own place…to walk around naked or be as messy as they wanted. If they got lonely, they got a pet (or a relationship). They rarely lived above their means and always had enough furniture to look like an “adult” lived there. Even if their place was a tiny one bedroom apartment in a seedy part of town, they were proud of it and worked hard to be able to do better in the future.

We’re in the midst of a generation of Gay men who see poverty as not only the norm, but something to be proud of on some level. If someone is going through a rough patch, that’s understandable…those are not the people I’m talking about. We’ve seen many people with great jobs suddenly wake up to be laid off in Obama’s failed economy. When you have to still pay that mortgage on time, a roommate is a quick relief until they get back on their feet. However, those people are RARELY comfortable with a roommate and work hard EVERYDAY to change their situation. Learn from them and work just as hard to change yours as well.

Maybe it’s the circle of gay people that I’ve been around but a lot of them seen to not only be devoid of reliable transportation, they also are not in any rush to change this or find an alternative. These are the gay men that require you to pick them up for any and all dates. These are the gay friends that constantly need a ride to work or to the club. These are the gay men that are too good for buses or subways but are not too good to bum rides from friends/family/dates…without even offering money for gas (especially given these high prices in Obama’s failed economy).

Like the previous entry, these gay men don’t even see that there is a bad thing. When they don’t perceive something as a problem, they won’t work towards fixing the situation. This is why you see so many online profiles demand that guys “be mobile,” in their profiles. The problem is so widespread that it has to be a prerequisite to dating! I’ve personally been in situations where a guy initiated setting up a date, it was planned and at the last minute he said, “Hey, I’m not mobile so you have to pick me up. By the way I live on the other side of town and don’t expect to be spending the night at your place so you’ll have to drop me off at the end of the night as well.”Okay, that last part wasn’t actually stated, but it was definitely non-verbally implied.

This is not to say that people without cars shouldn’t date. That’s the opposite of what I’m saying. In many cities its actually very inconvenient to have a car. Also, there are environmentally conscious folks who prefer to not add to our tremendous carbon footprint. The reality is that If you don’t have a car, especially in cities like New York, you can still get around. Options like public transportation, taxi cabs and rental cars are perfectly fine modes of transportation for people without cars.

Admittedly, owning your own vehicle is definitely more convenient for a spontaneous rendezvous, quick encounters or errands. However, the notion that being car-less means you are this helpless butterfly that can’t actively travel without the generosity of others is just plain lazy.

Again, the solution is to get your weight up if the excuse is a lack of money or credit. There are car dealerships that offer vehicles for low down payments and people with bad credit…they have ridiculously high interest rates but at least you’ll be self-reliant again. Alternatively, you can finally shed your ego and embrace public transportation. It’s there for a reason and your tax dollars actually pay for a portion of its’ existence. Making use of taxi cabs can be expensive but at least it will get you around more quickly than the city bus and you’ll give yourself an excuse to not worry about drinking and driving when hanging out with your alcoholic equivalent to Noah’s Arc.Lastly, rent a car for the long term or just for a short weekend. Many rental companies have rate specials and you’ll always get to drive something new and no more than 2 years old. To cut down on the rental car rate even more, use your own car insurance instead of paying up to $25 dollars a day on insurance from the rental car company. Many insurance companies also have what’s called a non-owners policy for people that rent cars often yet don’t own a car themselves.

So far I’ve mainly focused on all of the destitute gays of the world…or “financially challenged” to be more politically correct. I’ll turn now to many of the older gays that are actually kind of well off. These gay men can be seen sipping wine and listening to gospel music while wearing a tight shirt/blouse on any given Sunday. These men demonstrate their disposable income by going on cabin trips and gay cruises several times throughout the year. Like a game of “Where’s Waldo,” they can be spotted in the publicity photos from ALL the gay pride party promoters all over the country. They have nice new (leased) cars and the all latest tacky overpriced clothing, one size too small of course.

What these men don’t have are investments in anything. All of their income goes to material objects and disposable experiences that do not grow in future. Honestly, this actually applies to lower income men as well. Many Gay men of color are obsessed with Keeping Up With the Grace Joneses. Gay men obsessively watching reality show Housewives and emulating their perceived lifestyle, even if they can’t afford it. This isn’t to say that gay men shouldn’t “live a little.” If you got it, flaunt it. However, you should only do so if you are also devoting large percentage of your income to investments in not only your retirement, but also your present self.

Whatever your income is, devote up to 40% of it to investments. That means 60% goes to your bills/expenses, 10-15% goes to your retirement savings (such as a 401k), 15% goes to building on your emergency fund (car repairs, medical, family) and the remaining percentage going towards your personal financial or career goals (stock trading, graduate school, starting your own business, etc). Ideally you want to start small…enough to get the ball rolling. Soon enough you’ll train yourself to go without certain non-necessities as you see your overall finances and personal value increase as time goes on. Ideally you want to invest money in ways that it will provide long-term security or a high future rate of return.

As we’ve seen in Obama’s failed economy (seeing a theme yet? We can’t keep blaming Bush forever, folks, Barry’s not imperfect), anyone’s financial stability can change overnight. It’s extremely wise to not only have cash tucked away for the future but also have money put towards bettering yourself to be prepared for whatever curve balls the future throws. Always wanted to learn to speak Spanish? Invest in that goal and you will feel a sense of accomplishment and create more personal value for yourself in a country with an increasingly growing Latino population. Also, being laid off from your great job hits not as hard if you’ve got a nice sized nest egg to fall back on until the new gig comes along. Imagine if you’d bought stock in Apple back in 2001 instead of going clubbing and disastrous drama-filled cabin trips every week.

Start with small goals. Once you reach one of them, start a new one. The satisfaction of accomplishing the small goal will greatly improve your confidence. Also, it’s wise to “diversify your bonds” as the GZA once famously stated on “Chappelle’s Show” regarding investments. It’s wise to put your savings/investments into more than one place in order to protect yourself in the event that a single investment has a negative performance/outcome.