Recently a young man posted something on his timeline that touched my heart and made me feel compelled to respond. He is in his early thirties and came out publicly, and to family and friends that he is gay. Almost immediately he lost friends and some family members who no longer wanted much to do with him both male and female persons who had all thought because he was so handsome, virile, and confident was heterosexual. Some of them were very vocal in their criticism, others simply had nothing to do with him. Still others offered him their support, love, and continued friendship, but their relationships changed anyway despite their willingness to stand by him. He has started to reflect on his situation, his sexuality, and his life and fell into a depressed state. He thinks he’s a failure both as a person, and as a man.
Failure as a person means conforming to the norm and giving up being an individual. Failure as a man means never understanding what it means to be a man in the first place. A man is many things but I’d like to think first and foremost he is someone who, although will seek counsel, makes his own decisions. He is a loyal and true friend in time of need. Someone who although afraid will stand firm against great odds to do what he believes in his heart is right. He has integrity, honesty and loyalty. And knows he is an imperfect being who trusts God, Providence, karma, or what his faith dictates to guide him. A man has compassion for those less fortunate than he, even others who are not like him in thought, word, and deed. He is someone so secure in his own sexuality that he in not threatened by those with varied tastes. But most of all Jason he is someone who never stops seeking to Improve, and define himself–as an individual–and what a man really is.
Nowhere in the definition of what a man is, does it refer to his anatomy. Although our culture had taught us through cognitive and intangible methods that anatomy suggests manhood and requires a set of testicles, and the size of those balls determine the size or degree of the man, it goes against nature where courage, strength, and fortitude are traits associated with men but are possessed by some but not all, and are inherent in women as well. And what of the man who loses his testicles to disease, injury, or time? Are they no less men, or lesser men because in some unwritten testimony of other men, that they used to be, and can no longer be because of their anatomy? Absolutely NOT. History has shown us that is not the case. And even gender alone does not define what it is to be a man–today. We do not live in a cave, where males dominated females with brute strength and only the strong survived, and procreated. Our society, our culture, our civilization has evolved. Women and children are no longer chattels of men, and are not lesser beings simply because of anatomy.
A man should not be considered less a man or queer because of his sexuality. His preference for males over females as a partner should not dissuade from association, those with a preference for the opposite sex, nor convince us that he thinks different from other men. His value should not be defiled by notions that his preferences make him deviant. He is a painter, a writer, a soldier and warrior, engineer, doctor, lawyer and judge. He is in every facet of our society giving his all as any one of the so called normal men would. Sadly he still has to remain secretive about his identity and sexuality because of archaic notions of some unwritten construct that was formed out of a primitive time. Where he to come out of the closet and announce to all his friends, family, and the world that he is gay he sets himself up as a failure as a man? How insane is this construct? Shall we join him in abandoning it with those past beliefs that warned men not to sail too far or they run the risk of falling into an abyss, or that the color of one’s skin designated his superior or inferior qualities depending on the pigmentation, or if born without a penis, you were less rational and intelligent. Can we come to a consensus of reasonable people that a man is who he says he is, and claims to be without making him drop his trousers and show the size of his balls, or even if he has any at all? And what then of his sexual preference for males instead of females? Does it really define his masculinity?
A man is and that is all.
And I like men–real men that is, who don’t let others define him.
Rudyard Kipling perhaps defined coming into manhood best in his poem to all sons when he said (something like): “when all around you others have lost their heads, and you keep your own–then you are a man my son.”
Be a man accept yourself for who you are, and the rest of the world will follow.