Masc 4 Masc

INTRODUCTION

Good evening beautiful people! I hope you all are well! I want to give you all some love and light on this Monday. This has been quite the year so far, but we are almost there. 2021, HERE WE COME! From the global pandemic to civil unrest and other crises occurring within other countries. It has been A LOT. I want you all to take a deep breath, because we are going to get through this. Just think, when you have your grandchildren, you can tell them about how you lived through so many impactful moments that transformed the culture. You are amazing! God knew you could handle this! We got this!

THE MASK OF MASCULINITY

Now, let’s get into the blogpost. I have been having internal dialogue about this topic for a long time. As if my life could not get even more complicated, I am struggling with the idea if I am masculine enough for another guy. The question first hit my mind when I found myself attracted to men, who embodied feminine energy. What I mean is, these men had no problem with wearing female attire, makeup, wigs, etc., but they still identified as men. However, it could also be men who do not feed into the “hypermasculinity box” that was placed in society, that I also find myself attracted to.

HYPERMASCULINE BOX

Terms such as “femme, bottom, stud, masculine and top” are used within the LGBTQ+ community to distinguish queer folk from one another. Unfortunately, we have been conditioned to play into the heteronormative structures that this society was built upon. The world has convinced us to believe that in order for our relationships to be valid, there must be a man and a woman, and if we do not have that, then their roles must be replaced. Sadly, many same-sex couples fall victim to this falsehood and attempt to conform to the boxes. Some men are forced to take the role of “the man”, and their partner assumes the role of “the woman”. The same goes for lesbian relationships, where one woman feels the need to compensate for the “lack of a man”. We do not have to fit into these stereotypes in order to have a relationship. It is okay to be with someone who does not fit into the gender norms. It is okay for you to not fit into the gender norms. This does not only apply to the LGBTQ+ community, but to the entire population. The boys who like to play with dolls. The girls who are fascinated by space and the stars. The boys who love the color pink. The girls who want to play football with her older brothers/cousins. The boys who enjoy painting and reading instead of sports. The girls who want to be firefighters, doctors and judges. We have qualities about ourselves that deviate from the gender norms and social constructs. We are all unique and we should not have to water down parts of ourselves so that we could be more palatable for others. We are who we are and that is a hard pill to swallow. For so long, I have heard phrases such as, “Men don’t cry. Man up. Put some base in your voice. You walk like a girl. You sound like a girl. Are you gay? You look gay”. All of these words have followed me from childhood to adolescence. I am sure that many of my peers have heard some form of those words. Whether you were a boy who was forced to stop crying by your father or the girl who was forced to wear a dress, even though she wanted to wear jeans. You could have been the person who chose not to conform to either gender. All of these phrases are detrimental to the growth of a child. Sure, it “gives you tough skin”, but I would much rather develop resilience through hard won battles instead of mean-spirited comments. So, when you see your son dance to Doja Cat, don’t hit or chastise them. I had seen a video on Instagram where the woman recorded herself slapping a young boy for dancing along to Doja Cat’s “Say So”. I felt so sick to my stomach watching that because I was that boy. I would feel so embarrassed when I was caught dancing to/reciting songs that were labeled as “girl songs or gay songs”. I couldn’t help it. It is not my fault that Call Me Maybe was a bop LOL. All jokes aside, I would feel so humiliated and ask God what was wrong with me. Why couldn’t I be masculine and strong like the guys in my school or in the movies? What I did not realize at that time was those guys were struggling with masculinity as well. There were times in grade school and high school where homosexuality was hinted at in the films/videos that were shown, and I would hear comments like, “Eww. Pause. Catta (Philly term for gay)”. I thought that my brain was able to filtrate those comments as stupid and unnecessary, but subconsciously I absorbed it. I recognized that through these years, I had suffered with internalized homophobia.

SIDEBAR: I apologize for the lack of Black lesbian couples. It is so difficult to find Black queer couple vintage photos. Unfortunately, Black people were still fighting for equality and recognition as human beings, so they possibly lived in fear and were not able to live in their truth as Black, queer people. To all of our ancestors who were not able to live as their true selves, we honor you today with our pride in who we are.

According to Psychology Today, “Internalized homophobia is what happens when we take the biases, prejudices, and hatred towards gay folks reinforced by society (aka societal homophobia) and turn these biases inward back on ourselves. Internalized homophobia can show up in the form of self-hatred, shamefearanxiety, and depression for many gay clients, whether we are out of the closet or not” (Easton, 2020). Now that I think about it, I think that is why I hated myself in my childhood. I honestly believed that I would go to hell for being gay and that all the bad things that happened to me were from God so that He could punish me. I thought that my life was going to be a series of disappointments, sadness and pain. At 12 or 13 years old, I actually believed that. All of the words that I would hear people speak about homosexuality or the look of disdain that they would give when it was uttered or highlighted. I would feel ashamed if I were caught watching a TV show or movie that included LGBTQ+ culture. I still flinch at times because of past experiences with people who have called me out for being queer. I started to believe that homosexuality made me weaker, softer and less worthy. Also, as a Black young man, queerness has not been accepted within our community. I believe that it is rooted in sexism and the fact that many enslaved African men were brutally raped/sexually assaulted by colonizers. Hence, terms such as “bucks” and “breeders” were coined to label Black men as hypersexual beings. Black men were repeatedly abused and mistreated for their sexual prowess, so queerness in a way, became vilified due to the colonizer’s actions. Also, sexism is included within homophobia due to us living in a patriarchal society that looks down upon anything that exudes femininity. There are some men who despise queer men due to their anger towards women. Then, there are some men who are on the down-low, meaning they do not disclose their sexual orientation, but they do engage in same-sex intercourse. However, they will not live in their truth and they are unable to enjoy the romance and freedom of being in a relationship with a person of the same sex. I wish I knew these things when I was younger. It would put so much in perspective and spare me of needless suffering. But, through a lot of prayer, therapy and work, I have been able to chip away at the rocky foundation, also known as lack of self compassion, and start to rebuild. By speaking loving and accepting words to myself, I am able to remedy the ailment that I have been dealing with my entire life. The ailment of being misunderstood, mistreated and mislabeled. I was not a faggot, weirdo or waste of space. I was a Black, queer boy who was simply trying to find himself. Despite the pain, I am grateful for the scars because it has given me empathy that I cannot even begin to describe. Maybe God intended for these life experiences to give my life more emotional depth. Maybe.

LEFT TO RIGHT: STORME DELARVERIE, MARSHA P. JOHNSON & BAYARD RUSTIN

I am going to wrap this up, but I wanted to say that we should like who we want to like. It is okay if we or our significant others do not fit into the gender norms/constructs that society has created. Men should be able to get pedicures and manicures without embarrassment. Women should be able to dress however they please without the fears of being mislabeled or misgendered. We all should be allowed to be who we are. I am going to remind myself that I am masculine enough. I am man enough. I am enough. You are as well. Your presence is a gift and anyone who does not feel the same is missing out, because I think that you are pretty amazing. I love you all so much. Thank you for coming to my TED Talk LOL. God bless you all. Talk to you soon. I hope you have a great week!

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