Gender and sexuality

We need to stop focusing on the physical in order to yearn for something deeper — something real.

All men struggle with their masculinity. One of my straight friends recently told me he feels pressured to conform to the mainstream masculine culture even though it makes him extremely uncomfortable.

I myself am gay, and tried to purposely involve myself in this culture since gay men are, in some way, often found to be excluded from it.

Both of these instances, no matter our sexuality or intent, are what define hyper masculinity — the exaggeration of stereotypical male behaviour.

The expression of masculinity is in no way related to the expression of a man’s sexuality, but it has everything to do with the expression of gender. The only difference between straight men and gay men when it comes to expressing their gender is the intent behind it.

After hours of conversing, my friend realized he wanted to freely express his feelings and emotions without being labelled, while I believed I wanted to do the opposite.

Many times I feel like less of a man merely because I’m gay, while my friend feels like more of a man because he’s straight.

When both gay and straight men approve of the prevailing masculine culture it allows them to live an internalized and destructive homophobic life, rather than a life that is free from labels and stereotypes.

Men unduly welcome mainstream masculinity and agree that being feminine is not only shameful, but something that should be chastised.

As men, we also monitor other men’s masculinity. We present our masculinity while attempting to discreetly restrain our femininity.

Joey’s love of hockey and whiskey is okay, but Joey better hide his Hannah Montana poster before his buddies come over.

Veer away from a built up masculine ideal and you could easily become grouped with the females — a total outrage, I know.

For me to be free from being assumed as gay was to feel superior within the gay community — to be completely accepted by society.

The humiliation I felt for being gay stopped the moment society validated my ability to conceal it.

I thought earning the approval of mainstream masculine culture was a means for betraying the gay men who question traditional gender roles.

It was difficult to unlearn that type of internalized homophobia because it is difficult for me to be seen as a minority.

Understanding your sexuality and expression of gender is an ongoing process and yet you still reach a point where it’s challenging to validate your desire to be accepted.

Why does the masculine culture chastise men who express feminine behaviour? Aren’t the men who are brave enough to be vulnerable and are strong enough to show emotions manlier than we will ever be?

Vulnerability in men is attractive; men who are willing to not care about what other people think are beyond sexy.

And yet the irony in all of this is that I was not that kind of man. In fact, I tried hard to be the complete opposite.

Your partner will require you to support them.

Your partner will require you to empathize, to feel and at times to be vulnerable.

I know damn well that you all do this on a regular basis with your family, partner or best friend.

But once you welcome the masculinity set out by society, you in turn become less of a man. I’m not saying as a man you need to act less manly.

I’m saying you need to cultivate certain qualities that are internalized within you, regardless of their masculinity or femininity as society defines them.

You need to start conquering tasks that are of importance to you, take action and develop your inner strength.

Once we are able to recognize the characteristics of being a man — not necessarily masculine characteristics — that we value the most, we can begin cultivating these qualities to lead us to a more holistic life.

We need to stop focusing on the physical in order to yearn for something deeper — something real.

We need to redefine our perception of what it means to be a man.

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