But I’d rather live telling the truth than be judged for my mistakes /
Than falsely held up, given props, loved and praised /
I guess I gotta get this on the page
If I can be an example of getting sober, I can be an example of starting over /
If I can be an example of getting sober, I can be an example of starting over…
My father always wanted sons, and was fortunate enough to have 3. Unfortunately, he did not know how to communicate with us.
I remember when I was little, between the ages of 4 to 6, he took me to the park and tried to play catch with me. I could not do it and gave up quickly, eventually refusing to play. When I was age 14 or so, I brought this up to him, and asked why he never tried to play with me again. He told me that I had refused to play, that I, the 4 to 6 year old, was responsible for the fact that he, a grown man, never played with me. I was as contemptuous as a 14 year old can be. My father was a clinical psychologist with a school for emotionally disturbed children; I had watched him for years pour time, energy, and love into helping the worst-behaved children imaginable. “Big psychologist,” I said. “Lets a 4-year-old tell him what to do.”
Later in life, my mother would tell me my father could not stand our squeaky high voices as children; men are supposed to have deep voices as he did. [Big psychologist.]
At any rate, my father was entirely more skilled at ignoring us than just on the field of play. Sometimes I would sit beside his armchair as he watched television after work, and say, “Dad.” No response. “Dad.” No response. “Dad.” No response. Talk about feeling invisible and unimportant!
But over time, I discovered that he would talk about sports, even to me. He had attended the University of Oklahoma during the Bud Wilkinson era. Oklahoma was a mighty football power. My father was fond of saying he carried me as a baby to the football games. Somehow that baby knew how to bond with my father the way the 4-year-old never figured out.
I would watch the Oklahoma-Nebraska game with my father on Thanksgiving Day. And he would actually talk to me…if I talked football. I had no interest in sports of any kind, especially not football. BUT if I talked football, I was no longer invisible. My father would talk to me. I became Oklahoma’s #1 fan. I learned about quarterbacks, and the virtues of the running game over the passing game, how Oklahoma recruited those lanky farm boys because they were speedy.
And eventually, I branched out. My brother was going to dook university (they spell it “Duke” but they pronounce it “dook”), so I picked the rival university, North Carolina. And the sport was basketball. I learned about the 4 corners, and the mascot, and Dean Smith. And my father would be a regular Chatty Cathy about it to me. When I went away to Carolina, my dad would come visit and we would go to the football game, as if I were important to him. I’ll never forget the game at dook, where they pulled the Statue of Liberty play (which was downright obsolete) and won the game with that trick play. Dad was there, and told me about how Notre Dame had used that play to beat Oklahoma.
So here’s the thing: I’m stuck with this legacy. Somehow I got caught up in the whole sports thing. I have tried to give it up, but it seems that I get pulled in deeper and deeper with passing time. I now follow women’s basketball, women’s soccer, men’s soccer, wrestling, lacrosse, tennis, and on and on. For a while I followed professional teams, not just Carolina and Oklahoma. I lived in Eugene, OR, and started following the Ducks. I follow baseball—baseball—the most boring spectator sport in the world outside of golf. And I actually started following golf when Tiger was at his peak.
Can I seriously blame my father for this addiction? Is it possible that when I went to Carolina, the other boys would have dragged me to the games anyway, and I would have gotten caught up in game day, the excitement of thousands of people jumping up to cheer a spectacular play, the joy in singing, “Go to Hell dook.” My friends and I went to Keenan Stadium in the pouring rain one year to mock the football team which seemed destined to go 0-9, only to see Carolina upset mighty Florida and go 1-8. How ironic.
But no, by the time I arrived at Carolina and was seduced by the band playing, and the crowd cheering, and the fall chill, and the spiked soft drinks, I had been prepped for years by watching sports with dear old dad. I had started to learn the rules some of which seemed arcane to the casual observer. One memory I would like to bury is standing up and shouting, “Touchback, touchback, we want a touchback.” Seriously. I suppose I didn’t have to tell you that.
Have there been positives to it? I mean my life rises and falls on Carolina, Oklahoma, and Oregon sports fortunes. Not so good. Why must I be depressed if they lose? And there are aspects to college sports that violate all my principles of social justice. Why are the students not paid when the universities make millions? There is corruption galore within the sports programs. And often the objective seems to be violence and injury, even in the women’s sports. I engage in shouting, “Kill them. Destroy them. Mangle them.” These are not my values. And I always wonder, would these students be my friends? Would I want to be their friend?
Knowing sports did not really help me meet people at the local gay bar I hung out at in New York City. If I tried to talk sports, I was looked at as a freak. Not saying there aren’t many gays in sports or who are supporters of sports, but not at the gay bar I attended.
And yet, if I am stuck in conversation with a straight man I have just met, often I can break the ice by talking sports. Hell, I have used it to bond with women who play sports; recently a graduate assistant at the center who plays soccer complimented my knowledge of the women’s game (well, I have to be knowledgeable about it—Carolina has won 22 of the women’s soccer national championships since its inception—most recently this year).
Men and talking sports: it’s big business in America. Worldwide.
So why does it feel like a trap to me?
I wonder what my life would have been like if my father had talked to me about art?
Poor dad. If he hadn’t been such a Freudian, I might not blame him today for who I am. LOL.
When I was in Social Psychology Class in grad school, we talked about gendered environments (perhaps there was social psychology jargon for it, but I think gendered environments speaks clearly). These are environments that are specific to one gender: for women, it might be a ballet class, or a beauty parlor—environments where feminine clothing might be de rigeur (such as tutus or tights) or in which a man might not know what is expected and what the script is to proceed. For men, it might be a locker room, or a barber shop. It seems that the first time visiting a new barber shop, I have felt intimidated, overwhelmed by a testosterone heavy environment, feeling I was being scrutinized for signs of failed masculinity: boy, you’d be better off at a hair stylist than a barber shop. Barber shops separate the men from the boys, a consideration that does not necessarily take into account age or thickness of beard. [I would mention gendered environments for other genders, but am less familiar with what, say a transgendered, asexual, or intersexed environment would be like. Well, not quite true. I have been to drag shows in SF and to transgender bars in NYC.]
The barber shop in Indiana, PA, had antlers hung on the walls, and magazines about hunting, fishing, cars, and athletics available to read. One entered, checked out who was ahead of one in the queue, and silently took a seat, usually picked up a newspaper (preferably the sports section), and silently waited until a barber waved one into a recently vacated barber chair. Then one engaged the barber in tales of hunting, golfing, hair loss, or boss problems. The barber shop I go to in Macomb has pictures of fish on the walls, and the wallpaper is of deer. The rest of the ritual is the same. My barber is a beekeeper, and thankfully I can talk to him about gardening. Also, his daughter Is a lesbian, which allows for some latitude in the conversation. Sadly, I have never been brave enough to tell him I am gay. Why would I?
There was a barber shop in NYC that I attended which was a huge place with more than 10 barber chairs; it was rarely busy, and even though it was many years ago, the $5 haircut was a bargain. Women told me that at the time, they had to pay $50 or more for a hair trim. And women could not resist: a few pioneers came into that strongly male environment and asked the all male staff if they could work with women’s hair. Is it so different? Suddenly, the price went up, and there were lines around the block. I no longer went there (my bargain haircut was gone).
There is a plaque in Macomb for an African American barber shop that no longer exists. I have been told that white barbers often refuse to work on Black men’s hair; Black men in Macomb must make other arrangements. And I know that when I went to a barber shop in Chinatown in NYC, the barber refused to work on my beard. So it isn’t just gender we’re talking about. As in most aspects of American life, it is racism as well.
* * * * * * * * *
Be that as it may, this is a story about a gendered environment I avoid as much as possible: the world of cars. I had a flat tire the other day, and had to deal with it. I felt humiliated every step of the way for not being knowledgeable about cars in general, my car in particular, and for being too talkative. Was the gendered environment a contributing factor?
When the dispatcher asked me what color my car was, I gave him the official Ford version of my car’s color: KIWI. There was silence on his end of the line, and I meekly and weakly added, “Green.” He said, “Green.” The mechanic who arrived to deal with my flat was about my height, but he must have had 50 pounds more of muscle than I. He was no nonsense and took care of business quickly and without much comment. He asked if I had a spare, and was surprised when I told him the car came with a compressor (which was useless in this instance), and not a spare. I felt foolish and let him check the trunk (which I knew did not contain a spare—I’m not that car ignorant), but I did ask if it might be under the car: people at my office who did not believe I did not have a spare told me it might be there. One person at the office asked if I knew how to change a tire: “Sonny,” I told him, “back in my day I had to change many a flat tire.” Okay that was rude, so I thanked him for his offer to help me if I needed it.
The mechanic informed me he would have to go back to the garage and get a replacement tire. I told him I had tried the compressor and it had not worked; he said he would rather have a spare than a compressor any day. I asked if I could ride with him back to the garage so that I could pick out a set of new tires. He looked very uncomfortable, as if he was not used to having his cab space violated by a passenger. Then he said, “I have to come back anyway.” He removed a crumpled shirt from the passenger seat, and I swung up into it from that first high step that truck cabs have.
On the way back to the garage, I tried to engage the mechanic in conversation, mostly my concerns about flats, and having to buy tires. I asked if the flat had a nail in it. He said, no. I asked what the tires might cost me. He said he was not a salesman. I got the impression I should be silent, so I was. I didn’t want him to think I was a Chatty Cathy (but I am).
So at the tire place, he took the garage entrance and told me he would meet me in the showroom, which is stark. Tires provide the only decoration; the chairs and tables in the waiting room are minimalist; there is a TV and a vending machine. There are unadorned utilitarian desks and a service desk. It lacks any hint that a decorator had ever set foot in it. [I want to say “gay decorator” but god knows, I have no sense of style, so let’s explode that stereotype.] There is a large sign hanging in the middle of the room, saying: “Intermediate: 70,000 miles” and “Premium: 80,000 miles.” A salesman greeted me before the mechanic joined us: if I had known the script, I would have said, “Let’s wait for the other guy.” I explained to the salesman that the guy had come to my house, and I had come back with him to pick out new tires. He asked what make car I had; I told him; and without another word, he walked out the door. He did not say what he was doing or if I should accompany him. After a few minutes, he returned and said he did not see my car. I told him it was still in my driveway, that I had come with the mechanic to get a tire to replace the flat. By then the mechanic had returned and informed the salesman that I wanted a set of 4 new tires. Without asking another question, the salesman calculated what a set of 4 would cost and told me a price for the Premium 80,000 mile type. I asked about the original tires. He asked what kind they were. Since I shamefully did not know, I indicated that the mechanic did. When the salesman heard the brand, he told me they did not carry it but could order it for me. Of course, I needed at least one tire that day, so I asked if there was a cheaper option than the one he had quoted. He calculated again, and gave me the price for a 40,000 mile type. I pointed to the prominent sign and said what about the 70,000 intermediate type? He said they did not have those for my car. It was 40,000 or 80,000. I was feeling a dearth of information, but I was also feeling pressured to make a decision, so I went with the longer-lasting tire, forgetting of course that they would probably outlast the time I would keep the car.
The salesman asked me: “Hydrogen?” I said, “Hydrogen?” He said, “Do you want hydrogen?” I was tempted to say, “Sure, can I get a glass with ice?” or “Sure, can I snort it?” But I played along and asked, “What do you mean?” He said, “Do you want hydrogen?” This time I waited him out, and he eventually told me that filling a tire with hydrogen reduces the moisture level or something, but what convinced me to go with it was his statement that it was only $5 per tire. I agreed, and was pulling out my credit card to pay for all this, when he abruptly walked out of the showroom into the garage without a word about where he was going, why, or how long he would be gone.
I stood at the front desk for a while, feeling foolish, but eventually took a seat on one of the stark utilitarian chairs. Eventually the salesman returned to the showroom, did not glance at me, but sat down at his desk and started talking to the other salesmen. I tolerated this for a while, but finally summoned up the courage to go up to him and say, “What’s going on?” He told me the mechanic was preparing my tire. Eventually the mechanic entered the showroom and summoned me to the truck. On the return trip I ventured one question: “Should I tell the dealership service people my tires have hydrogen in them?” He said, “No need,” and we rode the rest of the way in silence.
When I had my new tire, and returned to the showroom, the mechanic took my car key and was walking toward the garage when I asked how long it would be. “Half hour,” he shrugged. Thankfully when I returned ½ hour later, a female salesperson took over. She explained things more fully, and when I asked her if I needed to tell my regular mechanics about the hydrogen, she said, “They put green caps on the valves to indicate hydrogen.” “ Did you put green caps on?” she asked the mechanic. I felt I had stepped in it again.
Here’s my point (I can hear you saying, “At long last”)—I was in an environment unfamiliar to me and for which I did not have a script. Nothing was done to ease my passage through these unfamiliar waters, and a lot was done that resulted in me feeling ignorant and “not a regular guy” for my ignorance. I have never thought of cars as much more than transportation—witness my ownership of a Ford Focus, the most dressed down, cheapest car I could find—and have never joined the obsessive car culture, which I suppose, includes knowing that hydrogen is the latest fad for making tires more expensive. Maybe this culture is designed to make more money off us ignorant suckers, and is not about hypermasculinity including knowing car and tire jargon. And maybe not.
And here’s the thing, in the gendered environment of the university, where male professors are talkative (not necessarily the strong silent type), and in the gendered environment of the counseling center, where male counselors are sensitive communicators, some visiting men feel intimidated not knowing the script or what is expected; they sometimes fear they might be asked to share emotions or do other really unfamiliar things. I try to be aware of how difficult an unfamiliar situation can be, and try to smooth the way as much as possible, sharing as much information as I can.
In the broader perspective, the whole concept of gendered environments is from sociology or social psychology or other similar fields of study, and most people are not familiar with it. So it is not fair of me to expect a barber shop or a tire shop to be anything other than what it is, or for me to make assumptions about what the thoughts of the people there are about me.
It seems that a simple trip to buy a tire can be seen as an intersection of 2 very different subcultures to us social constructionists, and a profoundly complicated experience.
- Burt Sorkey
Back in the 70’s in the rip-roaring-radical town of Berzerkely, CA, I made the acquaintance of a number of women who labeled themselves “Radical Feminist Lesbian Lawyers.” My “in” to the group was a bisexual liberal lawyer who hung with my college roommates. I was permitted to be around this group of women as long as I did not speak unless spoken to first and as long as I was respectful in my use of language. I once mentioned a 7-year-old girl and was told I must never use the word “girl.”
“But,” I said, “she is only 7.”
My liberal friend condescended to instruct me. She said:
Man * Woman
Boy * Woman Child
Guy * Woman
Bloke * Woman
Fellow * Woman
Freshman * First Year Student
Chap * Woman
Dude * Woman
I got it: it is about respect. At that time male bosses might refer to their 60-year-old secretaries as their “girls.” A correction in the language was necessary. Language is important and can be used to oppress. It has taken me a long, long time to accept that many modern feminists no longer feel a need to fight this particular battle. I still find it difficult to say “girl” to describe a young woman.
But the strongest lesson I learned from feminists of that era was separatism. Some of the women at my acting school at that time decided to have a group for women actors only. I asked if I could participate and was told, “No men.” I said, “But I’m one of the good guys.” I was thinking, “How much of a threat could a 100% gay man be?”
[Digression: when my high school class graduated, and my friends and I went to Myrtle Beach, SC, to celebrate, the young women invited me to accompany them to the beach, where they indulged in a bottle of wine. No one had ever openly stated that I was gay (especially not I), but for some reason they felt safe having me be the only guy there while they got drunk. I thought how eager the other guys on the trip would be to take my place. I was special. * I grew up jumping rope with and hanging out with these female friends, not playing baseball with the boys. I think you can forgive me if I thought I was as much if not more a part of the female crowd than the male crowd. In Latin class, where the boys sat on one side, and the girls on the other, I sat with the girls. It was mostly to look at the boys, and I was dull-witted enough not to figure out that that was why the boys and girls were facing each other, not the whole “cootie” thing from grade school.]
One of the women [back to the female only acting group] explained it to me this way: “Some of us feel so damaged by the way we have been treated by men, that even the presence of a man who is an ally and no threat whatsoever is enough to call up certain feelings and behaviors. The mere presence of a man within our group has the potential to disrupt the healing process we seek.”
I got it. I got it so well, that for the next 20 years I became a gay separatist. I moved to San Francisco (not too far—just across the Bay) to live near the Castro District—the mostly gay male district that would elect Harvey Milk as a San Francisco Supervisor. And I did as much as I could for the next 20 years to spend as much of my time as possible exclusively in the presence of women and gay men. At the time, I felt that even being around a man I considered to be an “evolved straight man”—a heterosexually oriented man who nevertheless could hang with gay men without feeling threatened or acting superior—would bring up in me feelings that I wished to purge from my soul, feelings of being inferior, feelings of being wrong somehow. [There are still mental health professionals who strongly aver that gay men have made a “mistake” in the target of their affections; that somehow we’re just too stupid—that our brains are too muddled--to realize we’re supposed to be attracted to women—I kid you not.]
At the time I was growing up [back to the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s], the network news on TV would not mention “homosexuals” unless it was to refer to a “homosexual murder,” the implication being that the only activity homosexuals engaged in other than perverse sex was murdering other men. The New York Times, a respected reading pastime for intellectuals, refused to use the word “gay” for decades after it came into common usage. In California, a man could be arrested for holding another man’s hand in public or giving him a kiss, held for 3 months without trial in a prison for the criminally insane, given unorthodox treatments that were really torture, then made to register as a sex offender which label would ruin his life—for holding hands.
I knew the following as a 5-year-old: I’m different. I like boys. And I don’t want to change.
But I knew that was bad. And I still didn’t want to change. So I was doubly bad. [Abomination.]
You know what: the gay bars in NYC (my next stop on the perverse train) were run by the Mafia. Since my choice of whom to love made me a criminal, and since the real criminals provided the safe space, the message to me was clear: one transgression leads to another. Straight society has no use for you; you might as well embrace the underworld of the night life—“city lights, painted girls/in the day nothing matters/it’s the night time that matters….I, I live among the creatures of the night” [“Self-control” written by Giancarlo Bigazzi, Raffaele Riefoli, Steve Piccolo]
Oh, yes, I could have been gay and still been righteous on every other level. I could even submerge myself in gay culture and still behave like the straights. But why would I want to? And why would I want to hang out with any straight man, no matter how evolved when the message I got from that was: you’re different, you’re inferior, and your choice in sex partners is strange, wrong, or just queer? And why be monogamous when it did not bring any of the rewards it did for that evolved straight male? So when a friendly straight man would wander into my local gay bar and would sign up to play pool, I would put down my cue stick and walk away from the table.
And from hanging with gay men, and talking to gay men, and walking with gay men, and sharing my soul with gay men, I eventually learned how to be a man. A man. A proud man. A gay man. A proud gay man.
And then, and only then could I start talking to straight men again. And enjoying their company. And feeling their equal.
You know what? I still hesitate to join a men’s group until I have some assurance that the men are all evolved—every one—a strong sign, or a direct question: “Is this group for gay men as well?” And I still wonder if my opinion will be valued by straight men about relationships—what do you know about men and women together? What do you know about being strong, being the head of a household, being the rock in the time of crisis? [I love to cry, and I do it unabashedly now, because guys, “Real men do cry.”]
[It isn’t so hard to know these things. Every oppressed group knows everything there is to know about the dominant group—because the signs signals rules behaviors and privileges of the dominant group are apparent on every street corner in every school in every novel in every TV show. You think I don’t know how men and women interact—I observe it every day in the office in everything I read in every movie I watch. On the other hand, what do straight people know about gay? I hear over and over again that gay men flaunt their gayness all the time. But when I talk about my life experiences and gay culture and my feelings as a gay man (not that often—certainly not as often as I hear people talking about their marriages, their spouses, their children), it’s usually news to the straight people around me. For instance, do you think they know what it’s like to lose half your generation half your friends to AIDS before you were 40? Do most of the people who know me know that is what I have lived with for half my life?]
But here’s the new thing: some of the best times of my life are now spent in the company of the men and women at CSMMD, talking honestly and openly, and respectfully about what it means to be a man, and how to be a better man. Not a small part of it is utter and total commitment to social justice, and defining that concept as it evolves and changes.
I used to think I was primarily “gay,” that “gay” was the strongest component of my identity, that “gay” made me fundamentally different than straight men—because I liked jewelry, listened to Broadway show tunes, liked to garden, and bake, and did not participate in sports. Until I realized I was socialized as a man first, that most of my behavior was male-identified, that my actions more strongly resembled straight men than women. Whereas that might seem obvious now, it was a revelation and a shock to me. Remember I jumped rope with the women-children, not the boys.
AIDS was a large part of what brought me out of gay separatism into the fold of inclusivity. When gay men were overwhelmed with the deaths of scores of friends (at the height of the epidemic gay men in New York would say, “In the 80’s I went to a party every weekend, in the 90’s I went to a funeral every week”), emotionally exhausted, financially strained, lesbians came in and ran the AIDS organizations. Then when I was in Eugene, Oregon, half the volunteers at the AIDS organizations were straight. And I realized in order to survive, separatism was no longer working, and it was time to join in again. You know what, I discovered straight men need my help as much as I ever needed theirs. Time to join hands and work together, make changes together, make a better world together.
Not that I will ever gainsay my wonderful wonderful years as a gay separatist.
In October, I had the fortunate pleasure to deliver a TedX talk at the 2012: The Future Revealed Event sponsored by TedX Columbus. Now I admit, both here and in the video, that I knew very little of TED and TedX when my initial invitation arrived. But after an initiation of sorts, I stand convinced of the power and importance of this worldwide network.
When I was in graduate school at IUP about 10 to 12 years ago, the women who put on the Vagina Monologues asked for men to write their own monologue about what the world would look like without violence toward women. Only about 4 of us showed up to the workshop. We decided for each of us to write his own monologue. When we showed those monologues to the organizers of that year’s Vagina Monologues they liked them so much they added them to the end of the show. Each of us men would read his monologue.
I have been searching for months to find my script, unsuccessfully. For the sake of this blog, I have reconstructed the monologue as best I can, but it is nowhere near as good as the original:
“When I was a child I used to like to string acorns together to make bracelets and necklaces. I would tie a towel around my waist, put on my acorn adornments, and dance the hula. I loved jewelry.
“I used to cry a lot. I enjoyed crying. I watched Judy Garland movies in which she lost her man, and I cried. I would get nostalgic and cry. I would get happy and cry. Often I did not know why I was crying. I just enjoyed it.
“I knew boys were not supposed to cry, but that did not bother me. I preferred hanging out with girls. Boys seemed like ruffians to me. At school they forced me to play baseball one day. The boys in the field were calling, ‘Easy out. Easy out.’ I ran away crying. Later a teacher tried to persuade me to return by saying the boys called, ‘Easy out,’ to every batter. I didn’t care. I jumped rope with the girls. They never tried to humiliate me or anyone. They never called, ‘Easy out.’ And they never told me I wasn’t good enough or I was in the wrong place.
“When I was 12 I realized that people would not like me if I continued to cry so much. So I deliberately set aside crying. I dried up the tears and steeled myself to live a life where I would never cry. I succeeded too well. I set aside my love of jewelry. I don’t buy jewelry for myself now. Sometimes I cannot resist buying a piece of jewelry for my female friends. But not for me.
“What the world will look like when there is no more violence toward women.
“You will be allowed to be you. And I will be allowed to be me. “
We performed the piece 3 nights in a row. Men came up to me afterward to tell me how old they were when they discovered they had to set aside crying for good. Women told me they cried at my piece. My supervisor at the counseling center told me my piece moved her more than any of the women’s monologues. Of course, she said, that might be because my monologue was new to her and she had heard the others many times.
- Burt Sorkey – CSMMD
I found an article on MSN.com that showed a man’s willingness to wear a dress in public in support of his young son’s preference for wearing dresses. I was amazed at the father’s sensitivity and willingness to confront conformity for the sake of his child’s identity and integrity.
I sent the URL to everyone at CSMMD in the following email:
“OMG, people, have you seen this article?
“I wonder what my life would have been like if my father had had this kind of courage.”
As soon as I sent this email, I thought, “It’s not just that my father wouldn’t wear a dress, he COULD NOT wear a dress.” There are smaller acts of bravery he might have been able to finesse, but we are all creatures of our times; and the time (1950’s) was just not right for this act.
But “the moving hand writes, and having writ moves on…” The email had been sent. And to my amazement, 2 men responded as follows:
“Great article. Thanks for sharing. The question you ponder prompts me to reflect on my own parenting.”
“Ditto…this article is definitely something that causes me to consider my own thoughts on masculinity. I hope I have that kind of courage for my son/daughter one day.”
My first reaction was “oh no, what have I done?” Was it my intention to influence “straight” men to wear dresses? Did I really consider an outcome when I forwarded the article? No, not really. I realized some of my activism is bluff. Dare I ask the world to change? Am I prepared for that change? (Not that I think I was in any way responsible for these men’s choices; they are obviously thinking men who consider their options with profound deliberation.)
Both of the men who made these statements are men who (most would agree) are “masculine” in appearance and mannerisms. And yet they are both gentle men who are sensitive and kind (in my opinion). And they are apparently unafraid to consider very unconventional behaviors to model their love for their children. The times they are a-changin’.
By the way, perhaps for another blog, in my experience, “sensitive” has been a code word for “gay.” Men used to be considered unemotional, hard, immoveable objects. Sensitive meant “feminine” and soft, both considered characteristics of gay men. I got described as “too sensitive” well into adulthood and even now hear it occasionally.
* * * * * * * *
Males in dresses. There were 2 articles that accompanied the main one with the URL above. I read through the comment sections of all the articles. Some people suggested that if a man wore a dress, he should wear a “man’s dress,” a kilt. Some suggested that the Bible tells us that men should wear men’s clothes and women should wear women’s clothes, which is odd, because during Biblical times manly Roman warriors wore leather and metal skirts to fight, and togas and tunics to be citizens. Didn’t Jesus wear a tunic similar to a dress?
Isn’t it all just fashion, that changes radically with the times? When I lived in New York City, I used to love walking through the Metropolitan Museum. The portraits of men from the 14th to 16th centuries showed increasingly larger and larger cod pieces as the fashion of the day—jock straps worn on the outside of the outfit originally to conceal, but later to emphasize the male genitals. How disappointed their partners must have been when they undressed. It might look ridiculous to us now, but who knows when the fashion will come back into style?
Why do we get so churned up over fashion? I know I am righteous about men wearing pony tails. How absurd can you get? They should wear their hair bald, like me.
* * * * * * * *
I remember when my mother nearly succeeded at suicide. I was standing in the kitchen with my father. He told me he did not love my mother, and began to cry. I had never seen him cry, and had come to accept that he was a rock, a stone, a pillar. Seeing him dissolve into tears was the scariest moment of my life. Who could I count on now in a crisis?
If my father had worn a dress, back when I wore a towel like a skirt and danced the hula at the Bath Club, would I have felt validated, or felt my world turned upside down?
But that was then, and this is now. Now a man would not be thrown into jail for wearing a dress, and many people would just say, “It’s a fashion statement.” And men, real men, honest men, true men, might recognize the need to support their children by validating their behaviors rather than trying to force them to change into something which they are not.
- Burt Sorkey