Ignacio Labayen de Inza is a chemsex specialist advisor and works online on hook up apps giving advice on safer drug use. This month he writes about the importance of kindness.
Oscar Wilde said around 120 years ago: “In a world where you can be anything… be kind”. Every time I think about it, I find it tragically powerful: the idea that someone who had lived so many unkind and horrible experiences from others could say something like this.
Obviously that was precisely the reason: because during the last years of his life everything became hell for him and he missed kindness very profoundly; because he saw everything… but that.
Oscar Wilde was gay when being gay in this country was punishable in hard labour prisons – in fact, he was sentenced and convicted because of it to two years hard labour, the maximum penalty. He was also someone who was bullied by an abusive man who he deeply loved, someone who used him and took advantage of him as much as he could, who was the cause why Oscar Wilde lost his reputation and position, his family, his health, his money… everything!
Oscar Wilde was also rejected and ostracised by a society that years before had put him on a pedestal. He was admired and imitated, everybody wanted him at their parties, the theatres were full of people who went to see his plays… but one day things changed, and he was treated horribly by practically all of those who before adored him. Then, all of them only said really nasty things about him, insulting and rejecting him, ostracising him, as though he was a monster. He only got unkindness… and then, that is when he talked about kindness as the most precious thing.
Kindness is the key, I absolutely agree with him. We are all starving of it; we miss it terribly when we don’t have it; if we know about gratitude, we appreciate it deeply when we get it; we are constantly in need of it. That is why there is something called ‘Stockholm Syndrome’, suffered by those who are kidnapped towards their captors when they show just a little kindness. That is why in those experiments developed by the Nazis with Jewish babies, none of those who had everything that we supposedly need to live, except for tenderness and kindness, survived. They gave them food and washed them, gave them medication if they got sick… but everything was in silence; they didn’t talk to them, no warmth at all. Nobody comforted them when they were crying, there was no kindness apart from attending to their practical needs… and all of them died very quickly.
Unfortunately kindness is forgotten too many times; we know how much we need it, but we forget very often how much others need it. Ironically, this is particularly remarkable in the gay community. We all know very much about rejection and how much hurt we feel when people are unkind… but we are sometimes terribly nasty to each other.
This is the reason why when someone is gentle and shows kindness, people appreciate it so much. As an example, I have noticed that sometimes there are people on Grindr who remark on their profiles that today is their birthday. Normally when I see them I say ‘Hey, Happy Birthday!!’, which is what I would say to someone who is in front of me when I know about it. This is not just another day like any other one, it is a celebration of being alive. I am talking about the day when the sun saw you for the very first time; the day when the world opened its arms to you; the day when life and you joined together.
A few times those ‘Happy Birthdays’ lead to conversations and, when kindness is present, sometimes those conversations are about the real needs of someone who might be promoting his profile with something like “I SUCK YOU!”, for example.
It’s interesting, in those conversations the words sucking, cock, dick, giving head, or blow job, are not even mentioned, and when that person sees kindness, he feels free to talk about what he is actually looking for, which might be about not spending his birthday alone.
This is what I mean when I say that kindness is the key: it’s the key to connect, to find intimacy, to communicate effectively; in real life or online, anywhere where we interact with others.
It doesn’t matter if it’s with someone who is in front of you, on the other side of the Grindr chat, on the other side of the phone, on the other side of the table or on the other side of the bed.
Kindness is present when there is forgiveness, when there is support, when there is compassion, when there is love. Kindness is present when someone sees it and then he feels that he can share with a complete stranger that he just wants somebody to spend his time with, to celebrate his day.
More than once I have gone for a beer with a guy who just needed to hear from a kind person: Happy Birthday! And I still remember them, while I have forgotten most of those who I have had sex with.
You can write to Ignacio at firstname.lastname@example.org