Everyone has heard about the seven deadly sins — lust, sloth, gluttony, etc. — but they’re sooooo medieval and way too much fun to take seriously as “sins.” Instead, we’ve come up with seven modern gay sins that are truly toxic. So join us in these seven circles of hell, but fear not — alongside each sin, we’ve offered a penance to help even the worst sinners work their way into Purgatory.
(NOTE: we’ve used the word “gay” for humor and brevity’s sake — and because gay men came up with this list — but all of these sins easily apply to all queer and non-queer folks; Hell doesn’t discriminate!)
Here they are…
1) BAD LOVEMAKING
Kissing like a piranha, smelling like a porta-potty… there’s a million ways to kill a boner, and in a culture centered on sexual identity, being bad in bed is downright unforgivable.
It’s one thing if you’re inexperienced, nervous or physically incapable. But if you give toothy blowjobs, never reciprocate or have all sorts of neurotic sex-rules, then folks would rather you went celibate than subject anyone else to your bad lovin’.
PENANCE: Improve your bedroom prowess by spending an evening with a skilled sexpert. Many guys would be delighted to teach you how to shag like a pro — just be upfront about what you’re trying to learn, locate a patient guy (perhaps an older dude) and then block out an entire night so you can take your time. And if you’re unwilling to learn, at least think about why you’re willing to let fears kill your sex life.
2) VOTING REPUBLICAN
Supporting anti-LGBTQ politicians is like spitting on the graves of queer activists — it’s offensive to both the dead and the living (and this includes supporting legislators who uphold marriage equality while opposing transgender protections). Yes, 18 percent of LGBTQ people voted Republican in the last election, but if security and economic progress come at the expense of our social standing, they’re not worth it. There are other leaders who can offer us security without throwing our rights or fellow queers under the bus.
PENANCE: Volunteer at your local LGBTQ community center, donate money to progressive politicians or work closely with poor, sick or elderly queers — take time to learn about the issues that affect them and contrast those with the policy stances of conservative, right-wing candidates. You’ll learn a lot.
3) BEING AN “-IST”
Being racist, ageist, classist or ableist isn’t just unsexy and ignorant, it’s downright cruel. While you don’t have to befriend tokens just to prove how woke you are — though you might learn and grow a bit if you did — actively hating others just creates bad blood. Hang out with whoever you like, but the instant you start hating “those people” for being lazy, gross or whatever, you’re the one who’s being lazy and gross.
PENANCE: For two months, volunteer for an organization that serves the community you dislike most. While there, talk with a someone from that community and really listen. Share your experiences on social media, taking time to reflect about anything that surprised you or challenged your beliefs.
In a culture that prizes style over substance and authenticity over perfection, it’s a cardinal sin to mis-represent yourself, especially when tricking or making friends. Considering how many of us have lived in the closet, lying about your true self seems wrong. You don’t have to be 100% transparent or vulnerable all the time, but continually lying puts you into a entirely different closet, full of darkness and shame.
PENANCE: For the next month, confess some of your recent misrepresentations on social media and accompany them with a selfie that best represents your true self. In these posts, share your thoughts about how you see yourself, how you think others see you and any additional insecurities that rise to the surface. Do your best not to self-hate. Rather, take this opportunity to examine why you deceive others about who you are. And if social media feels too revealing, jot these thoughts in a journal and then share them with a close, trusted friend who will give you real-talk about being more authentic.
Who doesn’t love reading someone to filth for their flaws, especially when they truly suck? But if you negatively criticize anything and everything all the time, it won’t make up for not having a sense of humor or a soul. While your “jokes” may get laughs, non-stop dissatisfaction is a fast track to bitter loneliness. Don’t do it, gurl.
PENANCE: Measure your happiness by how much joy and gratitude you express. Either take the #100HappyDays challenge (where you post positive thoughts on social media for 100 days) or write out a list of things you’re truly grateful for and ways you can express that gratitude without expecting anything in return. Who knows? The fresh air and sunshine just might melt your coal black heart.
We get it — you’re busy, indecisive, socially anxious or have an addiction (maybe all four!) — but GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER. You have people depending on you. Climb our of your bed, out of your head and commit to actually doing something rather than fading in and out like a Victorian ghost.
When you constantly flake, you damage other people’s trust and your own reputation, showing a lack of respect to them and you. You also end up missing out on intimate relationships and great memories. Flakes work best for pastries, cereals and snow — not people.
PENANCE: Hang out with a friend who you’ve repeatedly flaked on. During your time together, fess up to your flakiness, ask why they put up with it and ask how you could do better. Write these things down and then hold yourself more accountable.
If you’re a perpetual home-body, force yourself to go out from time to time, even if just by yourself. You’ll gradually conquer your agora- and commitment phobias. And if your neglect extends to basic things like feeding and bathing yourself, please seek professional mental help.
7) EXTREME NARCISSISM
It’s normal to pride yourself and others on certain physical characteristics and accomplishments, but the world is not your own personal meat market or temp agency. Reducing everyone to how well they serve you diminishes their other talents, personalities, or potential.
While viewing others as inferior may inflate your ego, one day someone will see behind your mask and your ugly little flaws will come screaming out, no matter how perfect you think you are.
PENANCE: Go look in a mirror for fifteen minutes and write down any flaws or self-critical thoughts you have. Then ask yourself whether anyone else shares your flaws, what they mean to you and whether they’re horrible personal failings or just common human quirks.
If you’re used to bossing others around and getting your way, go hang with a friend and let them do a majority of the talking and decision-making, doing your best surrender control especially when things don’t go your way. Breathe and consider this article’s advice if you find it especially challenging.