The Inferiority/Superiority Meter: Our Fragile Egos in Overdrive

Most of us deal with it every day of our lives, straight and gay, but because we gays are just a teeny weeny bit more concerned about our appearance, we tend to suffer with it the most. It’s the Inferiority/Superiority Meter or I/S for short, which can twitch quicker than a dick coming down from a Viagra high.

You know exactly what I’m talking about. One moment you feel like Hot Shit, on a scale of one to ten, a thirteen; a microsecond later, you just feel like Shit. A minus five.

Sure, there are some ugly sons of a bitch who have the ego of the Empire State Building (I used to say the World Trade Center), and some hunks men and women would give their right ball or tit for who are quietly comfortable about themselves, and never realize what a powerful tool physical beauty can be. But I think they’re in the minority. For most of us, our personal I/S meters are fluctuating constantly.

Of course, for gay guys it’s often set off by our environment, i.e., how we feel we are being perceived (not necessarily the reality) by the men around us.

You’ve been cruising some hot guy all night and by his looks and body language you think you have the deal almost clinched when he gives you that stomach wrenching dead glance just as you’re moving in for the kill. That’s when your Oscar winning acting skills help you save face and you walk by unperturbed.

Ah, but inside, you feel like Shit.

Or the glow after you’ve had terrific sex with some fuckin’ hottie who, though he’s had his fun, and you yours, still goes on to tell you how fucking hot you are. Or having all eyes suddenly turn on you when you decide to take your shirt off in a bar. You feel like Hot Shit, like you’re a porn star par excellence, jerked off over by millions of adoring fag fans.

That is, till one homely queen snickers at your unabashed exhibitionism.

While external forces (a hot, cruisy stare, a stranger’s disparaging whisper) will trigger the twitch of the Inferiority/ Superiority Meter, its roots are deep seated in our respective psyches. Many folks reflect on their high school years with nostalgic fondness. Me? When they had a class reunion a few years ago, all I wanted to do is go back and pull a Carrie on the whole fucking bunch, bolt the catering hall doors and saturate the place with gasoline. My adolescent years were pure hell: I was the shortest guy in my class, unathletic, the last to be picked for teams, a nerd, not interested in girls nor them in me, and hairy as hell to boot. Fast forward to my early twenties when I started hitting the scene in L.A. where I was going to college, and discovered guys accepting, desiring me, simply for what they saw. Shallow, sure, but also deeply elemental.

Yet, for most of my adult life, no matter how successful I was in my career and in getting men, I never really outgrew the feelings I had when I was fourteen. It was classic manic-depression on some level I guess, or what I like to more glamorously refer to as the Marilyn Monroe Complex. The bitch goddess seemingly had it all, yet could never abandon or move on from her fucked-up childhood (raped by step-daddy, etc., etc.).

Am I alone in this? Aren’t so many of us fixated on how we look in that next mirror or glass door reflection or check the scale three times a day, or spend money on clothes we don’t need to look good? Or throw that $40. T–shirt we wore just once in a Salvation Army clothes bin if we think it did nothing for us?
It wasn’t until much later in life that I realized we all have our strengths and weaknesses, and that confidence in oneself comes from within and is not dependent on other people to make it happen.

Only then can we dump our respective I/S meters on the top of the junk pile.

And move on.

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