What We Talk About When We Talk About Gender, Masculinity, And Societal Roles

As a gay man, gender expression is golden. No matter where you fall on the spectrum of masculinity and femininity, there are endless roles that are assigned to your form of gender expression. If you are a lesbian, people expect you to be a “fem” or a “butch”. If you identify as transgender, people expect you to have an over-the-top personality matched by even more expansive body parts (See Botched on E!). Yes, I’m referring to the ass, posterior, donkey booty, etc.

For me, I’ve always aired more on the masculine side of the continuum. It has royally fucked me up. From my sense of manhood, sexual appetite, style of dress, and even my hair choices. Hell, to even my choice of underwear at times. I made decisions within myself to match what society said a “man” is. What the world deemed as masculine. It damaged my self-esteem in the process.

To be blunt, I’ve always knew masculinity was the number one on the holy grail of gender expression. For as long as I can remember, I knew If I sang along uncontrollably with Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy” (90s Baby here) as it played on the radio, I would be judged and shunned in some form. As a boy, I was breaking the code. Nevertheless, the reality is I hate rap music, not a huge fans of Timberlands (they expire way too fast for my fiscal penny), and I like to sit with my legs crossed more often than not. However, being a boy from the hood, with people who want you to be the height of what a man represents, more specifically a black man represents; strength, brute, unemotional, and all else that juxtaposes weakness, there is bound to be some inner turmoil. And there was plenty.

Fast forward a little later in life to when I came to terms with the fact that I was a boy who liked boys and the true story begins. I ignorantly assumed that everything about me would be accepted by other gay men as we are one in the same struggle. I could not be more wrong. There were so many boxes and restrictions placed on me by others as they felt I belonged in the masculine box. Whether it was due to my dark-chocolate skin, ability to grow mammoth facial hair, and the fact that I don’t vogue or sashay or twirl around the world, other gay men have always hit me with the expectations of machismo. Since when does having the aforementioned attributes quality one a homo-thug? I didn’t think so. Yet, that didn’t stop me from deluding myself into believing the only way for me to be liked up, sexed up, and loved up was to play this role of a “man”. That performance and pretending that I was not sensitive, emotional, and sometimes liked others to take charge and exert some type of dominant energy actually ended up hurting me and derailing my growth in the long run. I was not allowing myself to fully show up. Thus, no one was getting the chance to see the true me for the person I was, not pretending, often failing to be.

I used to feel like the one that was socially off and somehow screwed up because I didn’t fit into any boxes of masculinity/femininity. The fact that I abhor rap (I simply like to sing along and can never get the dance moves — my Nae Nae is a No No), liked N’SYNC/Backstreet Boys (and I still listen sometimes, sparingly), absolutely love and adore Whitney Houston (and will go into full drag performance if the “It’s Not Right, But It’s Okay Thunderpuss Remix” comes on), but that I also like to take charge in the bedroom (or wherever), be the more dominant one In the relationship, and be more of the pursuer than the pursued. I could go on, but you get it by now. The point is, I am a fusion of all that is human, be it effeminate or masculine and I no longer view myself as one or the other. More importantly, I don’t allow anyone else to place me into any of those restricted cages of societal bullshit. I’m me and if that works for you, great. If not, even better as you are just making room for those that are open enough to view me beyond my external covering. If you are going to confine me, place me in the box where there are no limits. Thought Catalog Logo Mark Thought Catalog Logo Mark

More From Thought Catalog