Sunday, February 2, 2014


-M A S C U L I N I T Y-

Imagine being a boy. Imagine liking other boys. Imagine that as far as you can see, there is no one else like you. Imagine all the other boys liking girls. Imagine how you feel as you realize that who you want, you simply cannot have. Then imagine being told that what you want, is wrong. Imagine being told by your teachers and parents that a boy plays sports. Imagine you hate sports. Imagine kicking the soccer ball into the wrong goal. Imagine being teased every day. Imagine trying to fit in by being more of a "boy" and trying to hide your lisp, all through grade school. Imagine talking to your friends with your hands in your pockets to ensure they won't move in a feminine way, as you talk. Imagine an older boy kissing you. Imagine the next day, and how invisible he makes you feel by not acknowledging you in front of his buddies. Imagine this happening over and over again. Imagine being gay.

What a difference a summer made. Courtney & I in the background? LOL
Every gay boy has his first crush, and it's almost always on a boy who is on the path to heterosexuality. I remember mine like it was yesterday. He was the only perk in the Hell that was middle school. It was the first day of sixth grade and there was something noticeably different about most of the boys. Many of them had grown an inch over the summer, while others, proudly showcased dirt above their upper lip. There was one boy in particular, who seemed a lot different. I recall the adrenaline rush as well as my nervousness around him. Damn....His voice, deeper. His eyes, sharper. His chest, harder. However, none of those attributes competed with the wet dream that were his lips. So red, so wet, so full for a white boy.
And when he smiled...
God that smile... 
His name was Ryan Francis. 

I went to an all boys private school. It was a recipe for disaster as I entered middle school and started to enjoy the locker room. (Besides the smell) Everyone started talking about girls around sixth grade, well, almost everyone. There was Courtney, yea, he and I would discuss the latest developments on Dawson's Creek. I didn't know it then, but now I realize why he and I clicked. 

Ryan probably looks like this guy today, at least in my head
I remember, the way I felt around Ryan, especially in phys ed. To watch him on the basketball court, to see his chiseled arms in the locker room. To gaze into his grey eyes in English class, then quickly look away. I noticed the way his straight, dark brown hair, would flirt with his eyebrows. When he laughed, I always dropped my pencil, because my hand would start to shake. It was overkill, how his dimples sat in that olive toned, smooth skin. I loved how he and the other jocks would run around with those lacrosse sticks.
I knew it then, at age eleven and a half, that I liked boys. Not only that, I knew what kind of boys I liked. You see, I wasn't too attracted to Courtney, he was too, well, too much like me. I liked him as a friend. Who else would talk to me about Katie Holmes and that horrid dress she wore on the finale? To those who claim we aren't born this way, let me be a testimony. 

It seems that in the gay world, the desired poster boys are hand delivered from the straight world. You know, it's either the hot White jock or the big bad Black thug. (A lot of White men enjoy the fetishism of the Black man but that's another blog entry.)
Society holds the sweaty super hero with a cape high on a pedestal. Batman and Superman are what we see on TV growing up. Just like heterosexual girls, we are subliminally told that this is what is desirable. This is masculine, this is desirable, therefore this is what you as a gay man will strive to be and what you will desire from others. As far as gay men in my generation, we didn't grow up knowing gay was even normal. We certainly didn't see hot openly gay men on the covers of magazines. We didn't see the Prince kissing another Prince in a Disney movie. We grew up in a heterosexual world, lusting after the boys that the heterosexual world put on pedestals for the heterosexual women.
Programming: The baby-faced alpha male
For me, I unfortunately grew up with boy bands like The Backstreet Boys. They were the symbols of what was hot. So in the gay community, similar images popped up, such as semi-muscled twink types with baby faces. Then there was L.L. Cool J, a hot and tempting bald headed Black man who licked his lips and made panties wet with his almond shaped, bedroom eyes. It was no surprise that for the Black gay community, their symbols of sexy consisted of masculine, thugged out and cocky men who were bad but so smooth with it. (Hand delivered from Black Entertainment Television) There weren't a lot, if any, images close to what my softer, chubby friend Courtney looked like when I was a kid. Nothing against him, it's just that I didn't have any reason to wet dream about anything other than what I was exposed to. You know, the macho models with the chiseled abs on the underwear packets my mom bought for me. I loved when my mom bought me new underwear. #LOVED.

I digressed. Sorry.

It was no surprise that the first males I was attracted to were heterosexual. Sorry Boys Scouts of America, but I was attracted to my troop leaders son, Garrett Wilson. (Call me) Like most gays, I grew up surrounded by a different world. I was a palm tree in a forest of pines. Being the minority and not finding Courtney to my liking, the frustration only mounted. I grew up being told that boys play sports, boys like girls and boys don't use the word "honey" unless they are talking about the stuff bees make. (I called my female teacher "HONEY" and my eleven year old self was sent to the head masters office)
Let's just say that I frequently went home with a letter for my parents to sign. SMH

I grew surrounded by what I thought boys were suppose to be like. My classmates played lacrosse and danced with girls at the mixers. This standard was often reiterated by my father, who was a big scary Methodist preacher. So I tried to be what I thought boys were suppose to be. In the process, I hung around a lot of these, "normal" boys and became attracted to them, because after all, they were what I was exposed to. I didn't have a lot of gays around me in high school, I was outnumbered by all the straights. If there were gays around me, I didn't know, because most of them didn't want anyone to know. Naturally, I began to be attracted to the heterosexual male. Not only that, I followed the social norm of being a "boy" and I wore the FUBU, the Timberlands, the Rockawear, the hoody. My mother always reminded me, "This is what the boys are wearing these days." I never wanted to wear what she bought, but I knew I had to. She was a school teacher so she knew what got kids teased. I lived in fear every day of my life. Fear of who I was.

I practiced my trade walk and mean mug in the mirror at home. It was tiresome, because I never got it right. The "switch" of my hips would reappear no matter how rehearsed I was. Masculinity was of utmost importance in the world I existed in, especially in my urban neighborhood. The boys on the block would tease me. You couldn't switch up and down the street if you wanted to go home safely every day. I couldn't be myself. I started to hate myself and beyond that, I hated the guys who I thought I was attracted to. 

One would assume that my White private school and the Black urban neighborhood I lived in were a paradox. They weren't. They both hated who I was and dictated that I was to become someone else. I felt no safer at school than I was in my front yard. I was harassed by the older kids in the locker room at school, and chased down the street in my neighborhood. Masculinity was a means of survival.

Sorry Dawson, "No Fats, No Fems" Aww don't cry

As I went through college, It became a game of finding the downlow trade. I found myself wooed by what I couldn't have. When dealing with the clubs and gay websites, it seemed that "No Fats, No Fems" was a tagline. I often wondered what a rainbow had to do with the gay community, especially since the masculine male was the only thing that got any praise. I had grown to like the alpha male, the "unclockable" male who seems straight but really isn't. That never worked out well because the hot guy on the promenade didn't wink at me, though I swore he did. He was looking at the female behind me, and I blushed for no reason. Guys like him, even if he DID fuck me, wouldn't acknowledge me if he passed me the next day. I damn for sure wasn't allowed to acknowledge him. It didn't matter how beautifully my locks blew in the Atlanta wind, I wasn't a female so his frat brothers had to believe the lie. The lie that I was a stranger to him, never in his bed. So I put masculine guys on a pedestal while they put me in a closet. Where they do that at? EARTH. Even after the humiliation of being invisible after these "downlow" encounters, the challenge, the chase, captivated me. 
But why? 
Dennis Rodman: "DOWNLOW? Yall still doing that?!"
Why was I so attracted to these so-called masculine men who clearly didn't even love THEMSELVES?

I didn't know it then, but I was attracted to my own self hatred. I was spoon fed expectations and those expectations became qualities that I forced on my partners. 

As I roared through my twenties I SLOWLY opened my eyes and finally realized that the Ryan's of the world are simply unattainable. I put down the act, let the lisp go wild and I traded unavailable lacrosse jocks in for conversations about dramas. Don't get me wrong, a hot jock with a lacrosse stick will always get my corn to pop, but it's not all that I am after. I give the Courtney's of the world a chance now, because after all, a boy needs his pillow talk.

Clarity only comes after a blurry cloud of confusion. I lived many years lost in a society that told me who to be, what to like and what to hide. I know now that manhood is expressed in many ways. One doesn't have to dress up in it, if they already have it between their legs. I know who I am now, and this is my version of manhood. Hate it or love it, I am skipping my way down the yellow brick road to the beat of my own drum. Alongside me, Courtney. Because why strive for the Ryan's of Emerald City, when you can have Courtney who has been riding with you, all along.


  1. Feel for u bro.
    This is exactly how growing up feels for all of us. You r lucky to have found love in Courtney. You r luckier than most of us.

    1. Courtney was supposed to be a metaphor at the end of the blog. I lost touch with him after middle school. :(
      I am going after genuine connections these days, like what I felt with my Dawsons Creek buddy.

  2. Speaking as a white bisexual man, my experiences were a lot different than yours, but I can really empathize with where you're coming from. In particular what you wrote about looking at the men who attracted you, and looking away when they realized you were watching. And I hear what you're saying about the sports: I wasn't interested in athletics for most of my life (and for the most part, I'm still not) and there were so many awkward moments where I wished I could just fit in with a lot of the other guys and mesh with their interests. *le sigh* I'm just rambling, so suffice it to say I enjoyed your essay and the perspective you brought.

    1. Sounds like our experiences aren't so different than you think. I think the common theme is fitting in and that's the struggle most adolescents had. Thanks for reading.

  3. Wow!!!! What an excellent blog entry. You basically described my feelings growing up gay. The only difference is the school. I went to a co-ed public school in the south. So instead of being around guys, I hung around the girls. I related to girls a lot more. They had more fun. I never really found a lot of guy things fun. Although I do like sports, at that age, I was way more interested in laughing and having fun.

    I remember my Sophomore English teacher gave us a time capsule assignment. We had to write a letter addressed to our future selves. The letter consisted of endeavors and goals we wanted to accomplish. He reported that he would not read them. But he would hold them in self addressed envelops (that we provided) and send them to us in 5 years. I remember wanting to write about being more masculine, having more male friends, and starting over when I got to college. Well, in fear of my Mother or another family member opening the letter, I wrote something extremely generic and safe. I still struggle with my feminine ways that pop up every now and then. Nevertheless, I have come to accept myself a lot more. I am, who I am. We are, who we are. But it took YEARS of work just to get to this place of acceptance. Like you said...we're fed all these things that a man "should be". Especially "us" (obviously feminine boys). Our parents saw it in us before we even knew what it was. Society saw it too. That's why they called us names. It's also why an extra effort was made to "make" us more masculine.

    Looking at it from a parent's perspective, I'm sure it was scary for them too. Who expects to have gay children? I don't think any parent aspires to have a gay child (although I could be wrong). So when they made us try to be more masculine (thinking they were protecting us) unknowingly, they were teaching us to hate our authentic selves. It's such a catch 20/22. Do you let your child be who they are and be ridiculed? Or teach them to self deny and hide to exist peacefully. Damned if you do and damned if you don't. It's so hard being gay. But thank God we made it.

    Again, such an amazing blog entry. Thank you times a million. You've also got a new subscriber. :-)