Boots and Normative Masculinity

I wrote a post on February 6 titled, “Normative Masculinity” which provided my comments about an academic research study about Western male “hegemonic” masculinity. I invited comments or questions.

I received two interesting email messages about that post, both of which asked, “do guys wear boots to appear more masculine, especially gay guys?”

I have thought about that matter a lot over the years. Readers of this blog know that I represent the intersection of a regular boot-wearing guy and a guy who happens to be gay.

As a gay man, do I wear boots to appear to others as being “more” masculine?

…Not really. I behave in a masculine manner because that is how I am. Just a guy. I like how I am, and do not like effeminate mannerisms in men. That is my preference. My partner is a masculine man, too. While the gay community is diverse, and I value what makes all of us different, I have my preferences, likes, and dislikes, just like anyone else. I am not saying that gay men who behave with effeminate mannerisms are bad or wrong. Those behaviors are not my preference. That’s all.

Yeah, I ride a motorcycle and would never think about wearing any form of footwear other than durable, sturdy, well-constructed boots with soles that provide good traction. To me, wearing sneakers (or worse, sandals) while operating a motorcycle is an invitation to injury (as well as silly-looking). But does the fact that I ride a motorcycle while wearing motorcycle boots have anything to do with my sense of masculinity? No, again–not really. I know a lot of women who ride motorcycles while wearing boots, too. And they are very feminine women — so bikes and boots go together regardless if the boot-wearer is male or female, masculine or feminine.

Some guys refrain from wearing boots because they are influenced by what some other people say or from what they see/read on the Internet — or worse — by what they *think* other people may say about them wearing boots. These guys read comments or see things about gay men who express fetish (sexual) interests with boots. To avoid having any of those observed fetish activities be linked to them, some guys bad-mouth boots because of their aversion to being linked in any way to anything that may be considered “gay.”

That type of thinking is very sad. It shows, to me, that some guys are insecure and uncomfortable with their sexuality, and therefore take on a more masculine bravado and exhibit behaviors perceived to be more masculine to cover up or hide their insecurities. Some of these guys express themselves (sometimes by writing rude comments under pseudonyms) on YouTube videos, for example, because to them, acting out in this way makes them feel tougher — an act, not reality.

Back to the topic at hand (or at my feet, so-to-speak): do some gay guys wear rugged boots to appear more masculine? Well, perhaps some of them do — particularly those who are still in the closet about their same-sex orientation. Some of these guys choose to wear clothing, particularly boots, to throw others off the track. “Hey, that dude’s in boots. He must be straight.”

That kind of thinking is all bullcrap.

I could ramble on more and more, but I think you get the point. What a guy wears is not directly connected to his sexuality. Wearing boots does not make a guy more — or less — masculine. What he wears is connected to his inner sense of style and comfort. Some guys truly like to dress up in a suit, tie, and dress shoes. They like their appearance that way. I’m a guy who likes to dress in clothing that to me is much more comfortable — jeans, boots, flannel shirts (in winter), t-shirts (in summer), and leather shirts and jeans, too. That is just how I am, the original “booted man.”

Life is short: know yourself.

Normative Masculinity

I found a very interesting academic research article titled, “Searching for the Gay Masculinity” (Full text here) which says, in part:

[There are] three types of masculinity. The first type is normative, or hegemonic masculinity. Hegemonic masculinity is the dominant form in a given society. In a Western context hegomonic masculinity is defined as a white, straight, upper middle class, college educated, gainfully employed, Protestant, father, of good complexion, weight, and height, and a recent record in sports. Although this is the ultimate goal, and the standard by which most men measure their own sense of masculinity, very few men actually fit all of these categories. Thus, most men feel like failures with respect to their gender. This sense of failure, leads to an unstable masculine gender identity.

The second type of masculinity discussed in the piece is subversive masculinity. Certain groups of men are in complete opposition to the hegemonic form. These men include those in ethnic minority groups, gay men, and men whoose religion is marginalized, such as Jewish men. These men are forced to develop a gender identity that is completely separate from that of the hegemonic form, this identity is known as subversive masculinity.

The article gives a number of things to think about. Over the next few blog posts, I will explore some of these issues.

Much research, both quoted in this article and in many other academic studies, states that “masculinity is inherently linked with the institution of heterosexuality. The concept of gender implicitly refers to sexuality and the roles one assumes within that sexuality.” Further, much research has stated, “gender is a construct of our interactions with society.” What I have said in simpler words is that boys are taught from a very young age what are considered “appropriate” gender roles and behaviors. As much as we think that today we are a much more “open” and “flexible” society, the “role training” is so ingrained in adult behavior, that while a father might say that “he doesn’t mind” if his young son helps his mother make cookies, that same father is playing sports with his son and encouraging his daughter to play with dolls. Face it; it’s reality.

Human sexuality can also refer to the way someone is sexually attracted to another. Boys are taught that they should be attracted to the opposite sex. Interactions of boys with other boys are restricted to play — usually sports — which are considered appropriately normative masculine behaviors.

Physical closeness of boys with other boys is restricted or reduced by direct intervention and sometimes by comments from respected elders (parents, family, teachers, and so forth.) It is common to hear a parent say things to a boy about what is considered “correct” behavior when they interact with other boys. Thousands and thousands of these comments and actions are demonstrated by parents and respected elders during the years of a boy’s development. No wonder when a boy becomes a man and realizes that he has a same-sex sexual orientation, he naturally becomes very confused about his personal identity. His gender identity has been applied to him over many years, and changing his own perception of his sexual identity through self-realization is a slow and difficult process unto itself — not to mention the huge external pressures applied by ongoing interaction with other adults important to a guy’s personal perceptions and growth.

This is why “coming out” is so hard for gay men. They are taught, expected, and essentially forced by society to repress thoughts, fantasies, and actions that indicate a same-sex preference. When a male identifies his sexual orientation as being male-male, he is challenging the world-view imposed upon him.

How does a gay guy reconcile these challenges, especially when confronted with stereotyped masculinity?

Check back for a future blog post about that, or comment here with your thoughts for me to consider for a future post.

Life is short: understand all of the dynamics that compose what makes you, “you.”

Men’s Confusion on Masculinity Today

The following guest blog was written by someone from Belgium who visited this blog, read many of my previous posts, and sent me an email. He brings to light interesting points about views of masculinity, women’s roles in today’s society, influence on choices of clothing, and more specifically, boots as a choice of male footwear.

In honor and respect of privacy, I will not reveal the writer’s name or contact information, but if you have comments, please leave them on this post or write to me and I will forward your comments to him.

Guest Blog from a Straight Man in Belgium

For me, a man’s sexual orientation is not important. But as a straight man (married, with 3 kids) I notice how many straight guys are in fact very insecure and confused.

I don’t see this confusion amongst women. What is masculine these days in a society where women are playing more and more a leading role? Is there still room for old fashioned masculinity? Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad that women have taken their rightful place in society, but it has left lots of men (and boys) in confusion. Not that they want to turn back the clock, but we do have to re-evaluate what being a man is about.

I wonder if the boots-are-gay-thing isn’t just an aspect of this. Women have adopted more traditional men’s wear (e.g., boots). It started after World War I, during the roaring twenties, when women in Europe demanded the right to vote. At the same time the French female fashion designer Coco Chanel invented a masculine inspired form of women’s fashion that still has its influence till now. Coincidence? I don’t think so, because a few decades later, in the sixties, gogo-boots became a huge fashion. Is it a coincidence that it started at the same time that women were massively emancipating? Again, I don’t think so.

Fashion designers are artists who just pick up the spirit of their age and transform it into fashion. So, women demanding their place in society wanted to show this emancipation by wearing powerful clothing. The fashion designers made this clothing. Boots have always been associated with power and so women wearing boots show their “girl power”. Just observe how some women wear their boots in an office and you’ll see what I mean.

But where does it leave the men?

Again, I think men are very much confused. They don’t know any more what it means to be a man. To be honest, I don’t have a ready-made-answer either. Maybe every man has to find out himself what he thinks being a man is about.

What I do know is that this confusion also makes men insecure on what to wear. Some men just play safe and stick to the suit, that always works. All the others stick to sportswear, because sports is masculine. Far searched? I don’t think so. The famous fashion designer, Dirk Bikkembergs, uses soccer as the model for his men’s clothing. Everything is soccer-based, so you’ll find lots of sneakers in his line of footwear.

Where does it leave the boots?

Well, I think lots of men stick to sneakers because it’s sports and thus masculine. Since women now mostly wear boots, some men will accuse those men who wear boots to be feminine (read gay). They get confused because “real” men wear sneakers. Ridiculous? Absolutely, but it shows the level of confusion. So, if you feel confident as a man (and I really don’t care weather you are gay or straight) wear what you want to wear, but do it with confidence. So, if you want to wear boots, do it!

And for the straight guys: women like a man with confidence. If you wear boots with confidence and style, they’ll love you for it. Because although a lot has changed, some things haven’t. Women want men with personality and for me boots are a nice way to show off my masculine personality. Trust me, it works. And now I think about it, it probably is the same in gay relationships. Don’t we all want a partner with personality?

Note from BHD: I sincerely appreciate that readers take time to send me comments or thoughts about what they read on this blog. I invite guest posts from others, and assure you that I will maintain respect for the privacy of individuals who communicate with me.

As for my footwear? I’m comfortable in my own skin (or the skin of cows). No worries, I’ll remain booted wherever I go, whatever I do.

Cities with the Most Masculine Gay Men

This was an interesting search that landed a visitor from South Carolina on this blog, “Cities with the most masculine gay men.”

I do not know if any city in the United States, or the world for that matter, has more masculine gay men in it than any other. Honestly, I do not think masculine gay men use sexual orientation and masculine behavior preference to choose the location where they will live.

Study after study shows that people choose to live in places with which they are familiar, such as where they grew up, went to school, and/or have family. In my case, it’s all three (I live where I grew up and near where I went to school, including my undergraduate university. It’s also great to have family nearby, too.)

While some people relocate to a new town for a job or an adventure, demographic studies show that most people choose the familiar, though economics causes people to choose places to live where they can find a job. For example, I have a fondness for a small town in Oklahoma where I spent a lot of time as a kid and where my mother’s family is from, but the place is dead — no jobs to speak of on my level of expectations and experience. I wouldn’t live there.

I know some gay men choose to live in states or cities within those states that are gay-friendly, or at least “gay-tolerant.” As I have mentioned before on this blog, there are some U.S. states that are downright hateful toward same-sex couples, such as my neighboring state of Virginia. But the choice of where a gay person will live has nothing to do with masculinity. It has to do with his interest in living openly among his neighbors and not having state laws discriminate against him (and his partner if he’s in such a relationship) compared with states like Virginia that have many laws that directly discriminate against gay people.

Recognizing that masculine gay men have the same responsibilities as any other man, gay or straight — then he may choose out of necessity to live closer to parents or elder loved-ones — because he has become the primary caregiver. So many adult children these days are making difficult choices about where they live so they can be closer to aging relatives in order to care for them. This is another reason, therefore, that masculine gay men may be living anywhere — choices made by other factors important to him and his values.

I have said before that masculine gay men are secure in themselves that they do not feel a need to associate in “gay-only” social circles. They have a lot of straight friends and they engage in activities with a mixed crowd — playing or watching sports, riding motorcycles, hunting, fishing, attending birthday parties or other social functions.

Because of that, you will not see many masculine gay men at traditional “gay hangouts,” such as gay restaurants and bars found in the major cities. Most masculine gay men are not interested in going to those places, because (if they’re like me), they prefer to mix with a wider circle whose friendships are based on common interests, not sexual orientation. If he does go to a restaurant or bar, you’ll more likely find him at the neighborhood sports pub than downtown in the city gay bar.

I do not think any particular city or town is more or less attractive to a masculine gay man than any other. He will choose where to live based on other, more important needs — availability of affordable housing; proximity to work, family, and friends; and activities that are interesting to him to do.

These days, as well, I should recognize that the working world is changing rapidly. There are many jobs that are “relocatable” or can be done from any location that has access to the Internet. I know of several masculine gay men who have chosen to live in rural areas, avoiding city life altogether. It’s a choice made more available today and will be more the norm in the future.

Life is short: masculine gay men live everywhere. Read this post for more about masculine gay men.

What Masculine Gay Men Find Attractive

A search appeared on my blog reading (sic): what masculine gay men find attractive?”

I found that very interesting, and a different take on the usual search for where to find masculine gay men.

So, as a masculine gay man, let me describe what I find attractive in a masculine gay man:

  • He is secure, confident, and comfortable in his own skin. He doesn’t worry about what other people think or may say about what he wears or what he does.
  • He doesn’t worry about the latest fashion or what’s in style. He wears what’s functional and what works for him, based on where he is going and what he is doing. Anything from a business suit to blue jeans, from sneakers to boots (and he doesn’t wear sandals or flip-flops).
  • He communicates well, but doesn’t try to be the center of the universe or the conversation. That is, an attractive masculine gay man does not have a “need” to be an alpha male, or an “A-Gay”. He deliberately avoids those roles.
  • Physical characteristics that are attractive to other men vary. Some like guys with facial hair, and some do not. Guys who are fit and trim are more attractive to others, as well. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but an attractive masculine man will have physical characteristics that work for him, and with which he is comfortable.
  • Many masculine gay men have said that they are attracted to other masculine gay men who do not feel as if they must socialize only with gay men. Masculine gay men prefer to socialize with the wider world.
  • Masculine gay men are capable, active, and “do-ers.” They can do various things from repairing a car, riding a motorcycle, or playing sports, to activities like watching the game with the guys, being a good uncle, or to volunteering at a community organization or church.

Masculine characteristics vary, just as people vary. Some guys have more observable physical characteristics of “maleness” than others. A masculine man is secure and confident, capable, active, and independent. A masculine gay man behaves that way as well. What masculine gay men find attractive, therefore, is someone who behaves like he does.

BTW, I am deliberately leaving out much of the stereotyping of gay men in general. Let’s suffice it to say that all gay men are not the same. Some behave in a more effeminate manner while others do not. Just like in the straight world: women are different. Not all guys like all women. Same is true in the gay world: gay men are different. Not all gay guys like all other gay guys. Our world is that much better for the variances of the diversity of our population.

Life is short: remember that everyone is different, and some characteristics that some people display are more attractive to some people than others.

Can A Masculine Man Be Gay?

Yep, it continues — the ongoing queries entered into search engines about masculine men and sexual orientation. Here is one of the latest searches:

This is yet a different twist on the age-old question that directs many visitors to this blog. “Can a masculine man “still” be gay?”

Simple answer is, “yes.” Masculine traits vary for each man. Some men are hyper-masculine — some have a very deep voice, lots of facial hair, are muscular, and walk with a kind of a swagger. There are other types of masculine men who do not display all of the most obvious (and perhaps “looked-for”) masculine behaviors. What I am saying is, it is a range.

Gay men display various behaviors that range from a few on the hyper-masculine end of the scale to a few on the hyper-effeminate end of the scale, with the scale “tilted” if you will toward gay men being a bit more effeminate than masculine in their behavior. But most gay guys are in the middle, displaying both characteristics of a masculine man as well as some softer behaviors which some people might characterize as being effeminate.

Trouble is, many television shows that include gay characters have those characters display the most “queeny,” effeminate behaviors. So the media causes many people to believe that all gay men are frilly-froo-froo effeminate queens.

That’s not the case. Just as there are gay men who are effeminate, there are gay men who look, act, and behave like any other guy. However, you won’t see him making out with a woman, enjoying himself at a (straight) strip club, or oogling women on the street. But you may indeed see him at a local sports bar cheering on the local team, or playing sports himself in a recreational league, or riding a motorcycle, sailing a boat, chasing children on a playground (e.g., being an uncle), or a zillion other things that guys do.

So the answer to this query again remains, “yes, a masculine man can be gay.” The thing is, he’s probably very good at hiding his sexual orientation.

For more on this topic, see some past posts on this blog.

Life is short: be who you are.

Gay Firefighter?

Because this blog is visited regularly by people who search for such phrases as “masculine gay man,” “gay cop” or “gay firefighter,” I am aware that many people have questions as to whether a guy can have what is considered a traditionally masculine job and also be gay.

For me, I work in an office doing work related to my profession. There are some gay men where I work — most men are straight. I figure the proportion of gay and straight co-workers is about the same as it is in the general population, though the predominant sex of those I work with is male — what I do has been traditionally a male profession. (Granted, there are excellent females who I work with, too. My profession is open to all, but in general, there are more males than females who choose this line of work.)

There are some professions, though, where the persona, bravado, and behavior of males who occupy positions in the profession do not align with perceived traits or behaviors of gay men. The perceptions that straight people have comes from stereotypes, where they anticipate feminine behavior and physical weakness.

As I was catching up on email related to the wide span of interests that I serve in my profession, I found an article written by a firefighter who came out to those he works with that he is gay. His story was on the internet (but in April 2016, it was gone). It was a good read. It affirms that gay men can have and be successful in jobs that require physical strength and are considered “traditionally male.” It also demonstrates that it is easier to be “out” at work, and not hide in the closet.

I was also made aware by the email that I received of a website titled, “Coming Out From Behind the Badge.” This is an excellent resource that provides information about and for people who work in the fire, EMS, and law enforcement communities about what it’s like to be gay and work in those professions. It also gives guidance to LGBT people on how to come out and continue to do a good job in his/her chosen field and profession.

I really wish that all that stereotyping about gay people would stop, but that ain’t gonna happen any time soon considering the political environment of the United States, and the influence that organized religion plays on people’s thoughts, decision-making, and perceptions.

Life is short: be who you are, and be honest. That’s what coming out is all about.

Are There Any Normal Masculine Gay Men?

A question like the one shown above drive occasional visitors to this blog. “Are there any normal masculine gay men?”

Hmmm… what’s “normal?” I wonder if the person asking the Internet this question has met masculine gay men who behave strangely, or what? I don’t know. Without context, I will refrain from over-analyzing the question.

Look, gay men are all different, as straight men are. Some are calm, cool, collected, have a sense of purpose, work for a living (or are retired), care for loved-ones, and “have a life.” Doesn’t matter, gay or straight.

It is hard not to let television shows, movies, and gazillions of websites affect one’s thoughts and judgments. Often, as far as “gay things” go, the flamboyant, radical, loud, frilly-froo-froo gay men are more visible in these media. Think about it — if a regular, down-to-earth guy with good style sense remodeled a room in someone’s home using moderate colors and casual furnishings — would he get as much attention compared with the gay guys who have TV shows that feature wild colors and oddball choices for furnishings and accessories? Not…

And I won’t go into what results when one enters anything related to being gay into an internet search. The vast majority of results demonstrate the extremes of gay culture.

Well, anyway, to answer this question: YES! There are “normal” masculine gay men. They don’t wear a sign; they don’t have websites or TV shows or blogs (for the most part, myself being an exception). I have already described where one will find masculine gay men — that is, not in typical places that gay people go to (bars and restaurants that cater to the LGBT community, and Pride events). Nope, you will find “normal” masculine gay men intermixed with the rest of the population — at church, in the grocery store, at the office, watching or playing sports, enjoying clubs and activities. Just anywhere. Trouble is, these guys blend in with anyone else, because they are secure in themselves and their masculinity.

Granted, some masculine-behaving gay men are living solidly in the closet. These guys have various reasons for not wanting other people to know about their sexual orientation. I will not judge. I’ve been there. I know what that is like and why some men make that choice. I’m glad, now, that I don’t have to live in the closet. As I often say, “those who know me know, but I don’t wave a flag or wear a sign.” My life and my business are my own, and I abhor quidnuncs.

Judging what is “normal” or not is a completely different issue. As I am not a shrink, I will refrain from further commentary (giggle.)

Previous blog posts that relate to this topic:

Life is short: relax and be who you are.

The Alpha-Male, Boots and Leather

A friend sent me a guest blog post which appeared yesterday, titled, “Is the Alpha-Male a Real Person?” He described his emergence through youth to adulthood, and pondered a question that I have asked myself a lot — does wearing boots (and in my case, leather garments as well) indicate anything about one’s self-perception of his masculinity?

Like my friend, I wasn’t good at “guy things” when I was a kid. Throw a ball to me, and I would miss it. When he talked about “being beamed by the ball in dodgeball,” I could so relate. Last picked for any team in physical education classes in school, picked on and bullied by others who felt a need to demonstrate their self-perceived superiority, and being interested in activities like cooking — all of these things were “me” in my teen years, too.

Also like my friend, when I was a kid, I found a pair of boots that belonged to an alpha male. In my friend’s example, the boots he found and tried on were his father’s. In my case, the boots that I found belonged to a ranch hand on a family horse ranch in Oklahoma where I spent a lot of time as a kid. The boots I found were an old pair of well-worn, dirty cowboy boots. Man, I admired those boots for the ruggedness that they presented by the the Marlboro Man who wore them.

I have said that I got into boots when I was ten, and haven’t worn other footwear since then. I just liked to wear boots. Made me feel a bit taller, and a bit more proud. I guess one could say, boots made me feel more masculine, too — though as a teen and 20-something, I continued to have doubts.

I got into motorcycling in my very late teens, and have enjoyed riding ever since. I was influenced to learn to ride a motorcycle by an alpha-male friend who was a year older in high school — the taller, leaner, graceful and athletic guy who befriended his “little buddy.” He wore engineer boots to school with a Levi jacket with the sleeves torn off, white pocket t-shirt, shoulder-length hair, and in many ways appealed to my inner sense of “coolness” as a guy. He was admired by many, dated a lot of girls, and usually was the center of attention though he didn’t seek it. Yet he took time to spend with me to take me as a passenger on motorcycle rides and then teach me how to ride when I was old enough (and helped me convince my Mom to let me.)

Becoming a “biker” meant adopting certain attire — the leather. First a leather bomber jacket, then chaps, then some vests, then I took the real plunge and got a pair of leather jeans and a leather shirt. Man, I loved how the gear felt — and used the “excuse” that I had to wear the gear for my protection when riding my motorcycle. My Mom “bought it” in that she actually bought me some leather gear for Christmas and some birthdays during my first few years of motorcycling.

As I often say, I wear leather garments regularly, not just for once-a-year events. I ask myself (and have been asked by others,) “do you wear leather because you want to project a masculine appearance?” Come to think of it, the answer to that is “yes” — but it is not the main reason why I do. I return to restating that I like how it feels, keeps me warm, protects me from road hazards when I ride my Harley, and is so versatile.

Sure, most guys do not wear leather as much as I do. And these days, there are some perceptions from some people that guys who wear leather all the time are always gay. I think that comes from perceptions still held from the campy performances of The Village People and the tune, in particular, Macho Man. One of the performers was always dressed in full leather, and they all were gay. Thus, the linking of wearing full leather and being gay stuck in the minds of many men and women who grew up when The Village People were popular.

In converse to this, there are some guys — particularly motorcyclists — who probably would like to wear leather more often, but choose not to do that because they do not want people to think they are gay, or they themselves believe that wearing leather is a “gay thing.” Thinking aloud here, perhaps I am fulfilling that prophecy by showing up in full leather at all my straight-biker events.

Regardless, I have learned that there are differences in what makes a man a man — not by the choice of what he wears (boots, leather, etc.), but by how he behaves and interacts with others. To me, a “real man” is a guy who is successful in his work and in his relationships with people. He demonstrates that he cares by the actions he takes. Fortunately these days, one’s masculinity is not questioned (much) if a man takes care of children, pays attention to his parents and elders, and is involved in community groups like the PTA or civic organizations.

Yes, I choose to wear boots and leather, but that’s a reflection of the person who I am, as well as my disdain for dressing in suits & ties or gym clothes or wearing sneakers.

According to many websites and blogs, an alpha male is comfortable in his own skin, doesn’t care what other people think about him, can and often does put his ego aside and knows that only insecure men need to protect their ego at the expense of learning and growing, has a good sense of humor, and is dominant.

By hook or crook, perhaps practice, or due to my upbringing, I have most of those characteristics: I am definitely comfortable in my own skin (and the skin of cows), I don’t give a rat’s patootee about what other people think of me (personally) or what I’m wearing, and I do not have much of an ego. I would not say that I am dominant, but in a way if you observe me in a group, I am usually in the center and serve in leadership rather than following roles. I guess the only alpha male trait that I don’t have is a good sense of humor. I really struggle with that; my humor is more like bad puns, corny jokes, and double-entendre.

But I am not self-centered nor think that I am superior to others. That’s just not me. I work hard at caring for other people, and consider most people my equal (save for the few who feel that they have to take shots at me, this blog, my videos, or my website because they have issues of their own to resolve. People who behave like that are below my standards and I choose not to associate with them if I can avoid it.)

As my friend summed up in his post yesterday, “be who you are, and be proud of who you are.” I have learned to be who I am and proud of it as I have matured and have become self-confident. I give no credence to what other people think (or sometimes say) about my wearing leather or boots. Those in my life know the man I am. I would hope they would say, “he is a caring, thoughtful man.” That’s it — my “manliness” is defined by my actions and behavior, not by the costume I wear or trying to be someone I am not.

It took a long time for me to learn that. And it also took a long time for me to learn that one can be a Man — and be gay. One can carry himself in a masculine manner — and be gay. To me, the two are not related.

Life is short: know yourself and be yourself.