You’re not a teenager anymore—you’re a man in your goddamn twenties! Some of you are even pushing 30 (30!). So the things you got away with when you came out as a little gay boy in your teens won’t fly anymore. You have to adult at life. (Or fake being an adult. That’s what I do!)
So here are 20 things every gay/bi man should be doing in his twenties in order to be a full-fledged, grown-ass, queer man.
It’s no longer college. It’s not acceptable to sleep in your own (and others') bodily fluids. You are a man. Men are smelly (even with all the various products you buy to curb your body odor). You need to clean those sheets OFTEN. And if you’re sleeping with men a lot, then you definitely need to be washing those sheets (at least before the next Grindr trick comes over).
You should lotion your body every time you get out of the shower. It helps with acne and delays wrinkles. Oh! And sunscreen. OMG. Seriously, you really need to be putting on sunscreen. The sun is the worst for your skin. It’s already too late for me. I’m 26 and look like I’m 38, but it isn’t too late for you. Your future self will appreciate it!
In my teens (and early twenties) I wasn’t safe sexually. I didn’t use condoms. I wasn’t on PrEP. (This was partly because I wasn’t fully out yet and had to be hammered to sleep with men.) I’m truly lucky I didn’t contract any STIs during this period. Now, as an adult, I’m on PrEP, and I take care of my health by getting tested every three months. You’re an adult now too. Part of being an adult is being mindful of your sexual (and emotional) health.
Life happens, and realistically, it’s tough to be safe every single time. That’s why there’s PrEP. Risks are minimal and you can put your mind at peace. PrEP is 99% efficacious. It really, really works. And while it’s expensive if you don’t have insurance, there are various ways to get on PrEP for free, including the Gilead copay program. (You can check out how to get on it, here.)
Have the confidence and charisma to call instead of text when you’re really interested in someone. If you’re in your twenties now, that means you’re part of the millennial generation. We millennials love to text. That’s what like 99% of guys do. So if you’re in the 1% of guys who actually calls, that boy you’re calling is going to be impressed!
No lies, underhanded manipulations, or passive aggression. If there’s a problem, don’t be catty. Be direct. Be forward. Be honest. Your life isn’t Mean Girls. And know that being shady and reading somebody isn’t actually a healthy way to deal with drama. In fact, it’s like the worst thing you can do.
Do you see the time that we’re living in? Now more than ever, it is really freakin’ crucial to vote. Not just for the next president, but for your local congressmen, state senators, and every other politician to hold office. We cannot resist unless we make our voices heard, and one of the best ways to make our voices heard is through our votes.
Even if you hate cooking, you should know how to cook at least a couple of nice dishes—just in case. And you should know how to cook simple, healthy dishes for yourself when you’re feeling lazy. This is literally why the Internet was created. See what happens when you type in “simple healthy recipes” into Google.
Just to make sure you can. Those things can get VERY addicting. I love hook up apps (arguably a little too much). But sometimes, they can be time-suckers. You hop on Grindr with the intent of being on it for a few minutes. Before you know it, it’s 2 o'clock in the morning, and you’ve been wasting time mindlessly chatting to headless torsos for three hours. That’s why it’s good to recalibrate yourself (and to make sure you’re not addicted) by going without any hook up apps for at least a week. Ideally a month.
Biking, lifting weights, yoga, something every single day. You’re not working out simply for aesthetics (although God knows that’s a large part of it). Exercising is the cheapest and best way to ward of depression and anxiety. It’s also a great way to meet guys in real life. I swear to God, at least half of the guys at every single gym in the world are gay. (Or at least they do some pretty gay shit the moment they step into the sauna...)
On top of whatever exercise you do, make sure you stretch to avoid [insert literally any body part here] problems when you get older. At 26, my doctor yells at me for being too tight. (Yes, like that too, but he means my hamstrings.) He thinks my tight hammies and quads are contributing to my neck and back problems.
Bad sex was fine when you were in your teens, even in your early twenties, but as you start hitting late twenties, it’s just not fun. Know what you want sexually and feel comfortable voicing it. Do not settle for mediocre sex, and absolutely stop it with pity sex. Just because you were messaging a guy on Grindr, and he came over to your place to have sex, that doesn’t mean you have to go through with it. If you see him and he doesn’t look like his pictures or you’re not feeling it for any other reason, tell him you gotta go. You’re a grown ass man. You don’t sleep with guys out of pity anymore.
When you were 19, it was kind of cute how you were afraid to talk to guys when you went out. It was almost endearing. It’s not any more. Don’t be afraid to speak to guys. Don’t fear rejection. You’ll live. And the only way you get over rejection is how...? Yup, getting rejected. It gets easier, trust me.
Memoirs, magazines, newspapers, literary fiction, PRIDE.com…literally anything. You want to stay relevant and knowledgeable of what's going on in the world for all those fancy adult dinner parties and weddings you’ll be attending soon. (Also, with what’s going on in politics today, it’s really important that you stay up-to-date with whatever bullshit Trump is up to.)
Often when you head to college, leaving the nest, you distance yourself from your family. After 18 years of being under your parents’ roof, you probably want nothing more to do with them. But after you’ve spent enough time away, you can come back and rekindle your relationship with them. Additionally, by now they’ve had some time to hopefully become more accepting of the fact that you’re gay/bisexual. (If they haven’t gotten over it, then screw ‘em. Just hang out with your chosen family and gay crew!)
College is over. Puking weekly isn’t fun for you or your friends. You could get away with being somewhat of an alcoholic in college. That’s part of the culture at many schools. But if you’re in your twenties and still drinking the way you did when you were 18, then you likely have a problem. Additionally, hangovers only get worse as you get older.
There will always be those gay men who look like Adonis. And God bless them. Boy, are they fun to look at (and even more fun to touch). Still, no one quite understands how they have the time and money to look like that. Don’t compare yourselves to them. Be healthy and content in your own skin. I’m not saying this is an easy feat, and you’re not going to love your body overnight, but at least put in the effort now to be more confident with the body you have.