Back at the end of high school, I remember how beautiful the day was when I asked a girl to be my girlfriend for the first time. The rosy moment was dampened when I was informed that some of her friends had thought I was gay. I laugh about it now, because of its ridiculousness but it highlights a whole can of issues about being a guy.
You have to understand, I grew up surrounded by women, let me tell you, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. I remember coming home from school on a regular basis to Pride and Prejudice playing on the tv. It was my sister’s favorite movie at the time, and she played it every day. Now whether she watched it or not is an entirely different story, but it was always playing. She would get mad at me if I turned it off or changed the channel, so I ended up learning to enjoy it. Though it makes for a great story, it doesn’t actually work toward my “man points” when I can name all the major characters from all the Jane Austin movies and quote some of the lines. I have stories and anecdotes all throughout my life like this, ones that without context make me sound very strange or somewhat effeminate. I have struggled with that balance, at times hiding these things that I might be part of my past or who I am just because it doesn’t make me out to be a tough guy.
With that, there is a lot of pressure to forgo things that are seen as girly, a lot of pressure to act tough and harden your skin. As a guy, you’re supposed to take it, shoulder it, carry it, deal with it. That’s what you grow up with, pressure to stay strong and stern. It shows in our relationships, girl talk about their feelings, how they’re doing, and confide in one another. Guys, at least in my experience, don’t talk much about feelings and emotions, and there’s a struggle to finally divulge information to one another. There are many things are left unsaid, hell, my father and I don’t even end phone conversations with I love you (I know he does so that’s not a problem). The point is there is a barrier to connecting with one another on that level. It permeates our activities and even if something crosses that line if both people aren’t willing the event will leave a hole in the friendship. It’s seen as strange to act that way and only when special times arise are you actually allowed to connect on that level.
I just remember watching the show Scrubs back in the day and relating a lot to the main character JD. He was a bit more effeminate and was treated as such because he was in touch with his feeling and acted with some “girly” mannerisms. The thing I liked about him is that he was unabashed at showing that part of himself, unafraid of going in for a hug, talking to people about what they meant to him. Sure some of his likes weren’t really tough or strong, but that didn’t really matter, he was who was he was. It was a very different type of strength that he showed, a strength of character.
The point being that we’re not all wood working, car fixing, super outdoorsman like Ron Swanson, nor should we be. Just because I know how to cook and at somepoint want to be completely and incandecently happy with someone doesn’t make me strange or gay it just makes me different. There are things I do like fix electronics, and being handy around a house that would be considered much more manly but what I find is that these labeles we give things only get in the way of us being who we want to be and limiting outselves.
After many years being this way I’ve come to accept these differences in perception of who I should be and am okay with how I am. I just hope that these labels and pressures don’t drive people to the edge and that that people know its okay like both westerns and flowers but what do I know, I’m “just a guy”.