(Originally published on 13/04/2016)
When you are born male, the world has certain expectations respecting what your behavior should be like: masculine, virile, strong. When you are born a homosexual male, society usually gives you two options: you’re either a cartoonish specimen of femininity, or a “discreet” more “refined” gay man, resembling the appearance and behavior of a heterosexual man. The alpha man. But many of us are neither a caricature nor the alpha male.
How is a man supposed to behave? Who set the rules of feminine and masculine behavior? That can be an endless discussion, but the point here is that even in the Gay community we can find a spectrum of endless rejection and malicious critique towards the men who are more on the feminine side, and while there are some gay men who prefer their boyfriends to be less masculine than themselves, some others would rather stay away from any kind of relationship or social interaction with a man whose expression, physical features and behavior are feminine. It’s just as if there was something really bad about femininity, almost derogatory, that these men rather stay away from feminine men, not just for a relationship, but also for a simple friendship. Which makes me wonder, what is their concept about women? Do they see women as weak and inferior beings just because of their biological feminine attributes? Because when these masculine, both straight and gay men, are choosing what names to call you or which insults to throw at you, one of their favorite ones is to call you “girl”, clearly used with a derogatory connotation, placing the female gender as inferior to the masculine one, which only so much resembles the incredible inequalities and misogyny that live in society today, including, oh yes, the very much diverse LGBT community.
“We are men and we like men”
Well, yes, but there is something in the box for everyone and if there’s something this world can offer is diversity.
I myself have run intro criticism because of my own femininity. Sometimes, they would ask me on dating apps “are you fem or discreet?” as if one was positive while the other negative. Day versus night. Good versus evil. It would really take a long time for me to reply to that question, because I had no idea as to what, in the minds of these guys, constituted male femininity. Is a feminine man the one who has a delicate voice? The one who is flamboyant? The one who is delicate? The one who colors his hair? The one who wears skinny jeans or the one who screams YAAAAS QUEEEEN when they’re playing Gaga in the nightclub? What are the rules for being feminine and what are the rules for being masculine? Where is the line erased between the two? Where? I soon went to realize that, no matter where the difference between those two ended or started, being a feminine man was going to be quite a challenging experience in the misogynistic and fragile world of masculinity. A world with a system so ingrained, that has even taken over the ideologies of people from other genders.
I’ve had to face these critiques for being too “finito” a Spanish slang for a delicate boy. And I would like to highlight that word as it is the one with which I’ve been referred to since I was three. Finito when I speak, finito when I walk, finito when I eat, finito when I sleep. My delicacy made people tell me things like: “Edua, you should try to be more masculine to be more accepted everywhere you go” or even some friends would receive comments from other “friends” in the gay community, such as: “I mean, Edua is very handsome, but you should tell him not to be so camp because he loses his attractiveness”. But these comments are not exclusive of men, some women also took part in telling me how being a feminine man could even bring CATASTROPHIC -dramatic emphasis, please- consequences to my career.
Sometime ago, a friend of mine took me to meet one of his old friends at Cabrera 7, a little restaurant in the bohemian neighborhood of La Roma in Mexico City. His friend, a woman in her mid thirties who, according to her, was immersed in the Mexican cinematographic industry (in reality she worked making TV spots for colitis medication) didn’t hesitate to tell me that my career in the Humanities and Social Sciences would take me nowhere, even when she had only met me, a 19 year old, two hours before. She told me that by writing I would never earn a penny and that I could also not be able to be a model because I wasn’t masculine enough, furthermore, I would be delusional to think I could ever be on Mexican television being the way I was, that’s right, my capital sin: feminine. There I was, nineteen, at this restaurant listening to a woman who had barely seen me for a bit over two hours, telling me that my professional life would be miserable because of my nature, because of who I am, because of being fem. I remember I got very upset and I had a face like…. excuse me?
Men should not be measured on how masculine or feminine they are, nor be put to think that being feminine is derogatory. This only creates stigma and, in many cases, internal rejection and frustration. If you were to ask me, how masculine do I think I am, I will say a zero. I was born male, and I have masculine attributes in my body, yes, but I am not masculine, I don’t feel like an alpha macho and I say it proudly. I don’t try to achieve a more masculine look, it isn’t necessary. Hopefully, some men in the gay community will soon let go of this belief that masculine is superior to feminine, allowing us as a community to break free from the oppression, stigma and misogyny that has infiltrated into, what is supposed to be, the most friendly and embracing community in the world.
Ignoring the malicious critiques, I was able to outgrew them, and far from the disastrous future that many of those people predicted for me, today I study Communication Science and Journalism and I am the main presenter of a news show on regional television at the most important network of the country. Don’t ever take seriously the critiques of people that go throw life hostages of their own prejudices. Those men and women who by 2016 have not yet awaken, it is time for them to be notified about the fact that, in this world, you can be whatever you want to be and that, in this world, masculine and feminine don’t have to represent a constant duality dividing society nor poison the already attacked gay community. Hopefully, one day, you’ll be able to log onto your favorite dating app, walk down the streets, or talk in public as a male without having people measuring you on a scale of opposites, where the most masculine is awarded appraisal and success and the most feminine gets nothing but persecution and ignorant rejection.
This problematic does not only mirror the other gendered problems in society, but tells us that we still have, even today, quite a few things to change.