This is another one of those posts that I’m always afraid of because it forces me to re-examine myself in light of it. I was at work and, as usual, I was observing everyone just to see how they interacted with one another. I work in a food place in the Financial District of San Francisco, so I see a lot of posturing and men with very forceful personalities (it never ceases to crack me up.)
Looking at these men forced me to think about how I express my own masculinity. The thing is, I’ve never identified as ‘male’ or ‘female’. Depending on context I show both forms of expression. However, it made me think of how often I am incredibly uncomfortable with other men. I remember telling my roommate that when I see large groups of Men I get really uncomfortable and try to escape the situation because I never know how it’s going to go. But, of course, I have this incredible infatuation with dank masculinity. I mean, these men reek of it. In watching them, though, I see myself fetishizing masculinity, and in that I realized that I was attempting to masculinize myself.
I saw masculinity as power. I saw those faces that taunted me and called me faggot and I thought, “if only I could be more like them.” It’s this inward turned homophobia that astounds me about myself and other masculine-fetishistic queers.
It also makes me want to pick it apart.
Going back 15 years I encounter my father, a man trying to express his love for his son but unable to fully show it. His main form of expression was anger. That is the one emotion I most fear, and the one I saw as most masculine. Moving forward in life, it was always this anger that I felt from people because of my queerness. It was an anger turned hatred that showed itself in the grand performance of bullying by straight guys, their faces snarling, spewing vitriol. I don’t know. It is always that anger I saw. On the flip side, my father is also the most compassionate person I know, and was the first parent I told about my sexuality.
Anger is the fuel for self-hatred, for bigotry, for negativity. And that’s what I see, sometimes, when I look in the faces of other queer men, some who hate on femme queers because they don’t act man enough, even when they’re femme. I have been that person. Like I’ve said, I’m definitely not the straightest acting of the bunch. And let me just address that whole straight acting thing here: I DESPISE IT. Why do we think we need to express ourselves in terms of ‘straightness’. Why is it necessary? Anyway, this passing as straight makes no sense to me because we AREN’T straight. Expression isn’t about being one way or the other, it’s about being a multitude of things. That’s why I love the queer community so much, to see that range of expression ranging from feminine to masculine and stopping all along the path and mixing it all together to create your own sense of personality expression is beautiful.
It wasn’t until I met this gay couple through a friend of mine after moving to the Bay Area that I really started to reframe my ideas of the oppositional relationship binary of masculine-feminine. These two gay guys were expressively femme, to me. And it shocked me. But I remember that moment being the clincher in changing my perspective on this issue. Maybe two femme-identified people could be together and love one another.
So I go on Craigslist because I love reading the missed connections and looking for. And it never ceases to make me lose myself laughing when I read the “Looking for straight acting blah blah blah” in every single post or the “Bisexual here looking for hot action blah blah blah”. Now, maybe they are bisexual, but it seems like there’s been this reach for something approaching the straightness factor. There’s something just atavistic-ally attractive about these men that have hurt us for so long, and maybe just maybe if we can get even one to love us back it’ll make up for the years of torture that we suffered at their hands.
But, what I think we have to remember that self-love isn’t just some foolish word that therapists throw around. In coming into this sort of mental awakening where I’ve allowed myself to challenge how I think about things I’ve seen, I realize that in letting go of anger which in turn shunted off the self hatred I was able to love myself more and see that the bitterness I had pent up inside towards those people that hurt me and who I so wanted to be harmed me more than it affected them.