Ask Your Daddy is an advice column for LGBTQ readers with questions relating to sexuality, morality, coming out or navigating relationships. And always remember, the best advice this Gay Daddy has for you is that if you have an urgent issue or are in need of regular counseling, seek out a therapist who can offer you individual care in person.
This week, Kevin responds to a writer who asks, “What is masculinity, anyway?”
This is what a Metrosource reader asked Daddy:
I realize this is something of a rhetorical question, but … what is masculinity, anyway? Is there anything about it that’s set in stone? I was at a barbecue at my boyfriend’s parents house the other day, and when my bf went inside to help his Mom with something, his dad looked up at me from his grill and asked, “So which one of you is the man?”
I just sort of looked at him and said, “We both are. That’s kind of the point.” I keep getting (straight guys mostly, but sometimes gay guys too) asking me if I’m the bottom because I’m the prettier one, or the less masculine one. What’s up with any of that? I don’t really expect you — or anyone — can answer that. But I’m sure you have an opinion, and I’d like to know what you think.
Not-so-Masc Mark in Shreveport
You’re absolutely right. I have no certainty what constitutes masculinity in a hard and fast way (no puns intended).
But, we can talk about the concept broadly. And, by the way, your response to your boyfriend’s Dad was absolutely spot-on. Homosexuals bond because they want to be with someone of the same sex, not because they want to be with a feminized or more butch version of themselves.More From Metrosource
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Masc or Mask?
As you’ve discovered, there are things one should and shouldn’t do in our society that telegraph your identity. Some of these might be things you didn’t notice about yourself that someone else picks up on — like your walk, your voice, or your mannerisms. Others, like the way you dress, how you cut your hair and even the music you listen to — are “tells” to nosey people that you might be more in society’s margins than mainstream.
But I’ve been saying this for a very long time: there’s no reason whatsoever that straight men should have a lock on what it means to be masculine. I believe the most masculine trait of them all is to be true to your own vision of yourself. And, if you think about people like Ezra Miller and Billy Porter and Sam Smith, you know that they’re helping to expand the notions of what it means to be a man, and what it means to be masculine in Western societies.
You Do You
We may not yet live in a reality where tuxedo dresses and men in heels don’t generate headlines around the globe. But we do live in a world now where people who want to do those things can do them without ruining their careers. They don’t have to think, “I wish I could.” They do it.
That’s where you are. You call the shots as to what you consider masculine. If that means Dockers and a button-down from Banana Republic, then so be it. But… if it means a leather harness, or something frilly and beautiful, the world is expanding in those directions as well.
I’d say: choose your surroundings in terms of safety. Assess the situation. And at every moment you get the opportunity, you turn it up as loud, sharp, and bright as you want. You do not owe people their comfort in conformity, and they don’t owe you approval of your choices. That’s the beauty of America — at least for the moment.
(Last year, Corey Camperchioli made a very incisive — and funny — film short on this very topic, by the way. Read about Femme here.
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Last modified: November 22, 2019