Introverts in a world of rainbow extroversion

Simon Vandereecken
5 min readJul 14, 2015

I’ve always felt a bit distant from the LGBT world, felt like I didn’t fit in, that it wasn’t a place for me at all. But I came to think, thanks to the book Quiet by Susan Cain, that the main problem I have with the LGBT world is that it’s entirely aimed toward extroverts. I’ve never been the party kind or things like that (which has always sounded a bit weird to most of my friends…), but even in gay bars do I find it difficult.

Do you have any idea how incredibly difficult it is to talk to someone in those bars ? Or are you just supposed to keep on shouting over the latest pop star singer and hoping the other will hear you ? If only there were calm places where it’d be possible to just engage with people.

LGBT Parades & celebrations

“The gay man that stays clear of the pride parade is assumed many things,
his biggest offense being his refusal to join in the fight.”

Same goes for the Pride Parades, where I’ve been repeatedly targeted for not “fighting for our rights” or for being some kind of “closet-queen” because it was something I didn’t want to go to, but the fact is simply that, again, those parades are a pure demonstration of extroversion.

And while I find it cool and great for most people to be able to express their joy, the way they are, it’s really not my cup of tea at all. Being in big crowds freaks me out, sticking around with flamboyant guys slowly drains me out of energy so much that the only thing I want to do is go back to my flat and crawl into my bed.

While the extroverts may find it useful to be quite flamboyant, go march and things like that, I prefer to change minds by writing, talking, engaging with people in a one-to-one way, not in those kinds of celebrations. Thanks (again) to the Internet, I’ve found that I wasn’t the only one feeling this way (see here, and here, or even here), and even found virtual places with like-minded people (here goes to Gaybros & Gaymers) as the physical ones were impossible to find.

What I want to point out here is the fact that being an introvert doesn’t prevent me to defend LGBT rights, I only do it my own way, and perhaps in a more quiet but nonetheless powerful one (Hint : introvert is quite different from shy, even if sometimes they go hand in hand, it’s not always the case.) and it seems I’m not the only one (heck, even porn stars are ! Or have a look at Tim Cook.).

Finding love thanks to the Internet

“Perhaps social media affords us the control we lack in real life socializing: the screen as a barrier between us and the world.”
Susan Cain — Quiet

I’ve been told again and again that I should “go out and meet people”, go into those bars, those parties, … Thanks, but no thanks. First those places make me feel awkward as I’m unable to speak or hear other people, second I’m really not gifted at mixing and mingling with people when there’s like a hundred around.

Growing up and discovering I was gay, it was also easier for me to find informations in books instead of the bars, where I couldn’t relate to all those flamboyant and loudy guys. It’s through books I discovered I was not the only one, through books I understood my attraction, through books again I discovered like-minded peoples.

That’s also why I’m using the Internet and applications to find, connect and meet people. Because it gives me a space to express myself, because it allows me to start conversation in a calm and different way. While some website and apps are really agressive and, for me, present the same problems the gay places have (being pretty agressive and straight forward), I fell in love with OkCupid, which allowed me to speak about what I love and meet like-minded people. Even found my boyfriend there (kudos OkCupid !).

Being introvert also brings its troubles and fights (but well, what doesn’t?), and while I enjoy going out with some friends, it’s also difficult to explain that it can wear me out, or that I prefer having a drink at home with some friends than going to the super-fancy-nightclub surrounded by half naked bodies. But as you can see here, it’s something that is discussed more and more (want more advice on how to deal with introverts ? hint hint!).

The problem doesn’t find its roots within the internet or the apps, but definitely within the fact that we transformed every single gay place into a giant glittery beat box, where introverted ones are purely excluded (except at the cost of great lenghts and expenses), therefore killing every single space left for introverts.

Being truly inclusive

“In a universal church, there should be room for the un-gregarious.”
Susan Cain — Quiet

So I’m wondering more and more how we could all find places for everyone in the LGBT world. While the acronym grows bigger and bigger (last time I’ve checked it was something like that : LGBTQQIAAP), it could be nice to find a way to also includethe introvert part of the LGBT population by provide quiet times, or quiet places; the aim being not at all to avoid social contact, but on the contrary to provide something different, some space where it could, in the end, be possible to be more social than what we currently have. Just in a different way.

I’m still thinking about what could be achieved, but Ineeded to write this down. Because I know I’m not the only one, and I’m sure it’s possible to find a place for everyone and to allow everyone to socialize outside of the virtual circle. Maybe we can give it a try?

Simon Vandereecken

UX Designer & User Researcher • Human Jukebox • Book Eater • Human After All