By Thomas Whitfield
Broadly speaking, our society places more value on individuals who are entirely on one side of the gender spectrum or the other, and even more so if you’re on the masculine side.
Research has shown an association between gay men who highly value strict gender roles and internalized homophobia. As LGBTQ kids, we were told that the things we like or want to do are “wrong.” We’re praised for acting in ways that meet gender norms and degraded for things that don’t. When we’re told to hate parts of ourselves as children, we grow up to hate them in ourselves and others.
On the spectrum, I think I’m closer to the masculine side. Writing this, though, I wonder if it’s because that’s who I really am, or if the parts of me that aren’t have just been shunned away?
First by society, then by myself.
I identify as nonbinary, but to the world I look like a feminine gay guy. Men only want to fuck or fetishize me and won’t be in a relationship with me. The gay male world has an obsession with masculinity and muscles while it shames femininity and slenderness. I feel stigmatized, and the odds are against me for me to truly be loved as myself. I fear I may have to change who I am in order for me to be wanted. I have to butch up. – Gay, nonbinary, 25
I could go on for hours discussing this with you, but I’m going to bottom line it. 1. Change who you are and cross your fingers. But I can’t imagine pretending to be someone you’re not is ever going to lead to a satisfying relationship, and it may only make you hate yourself. 2. Love yourself more; treat yourself like a precious object, because you are one. How we treat ourselves tells the world how to treat us. There is no guarantee I can give you that you (or anyone else) will ever be in a “successful” relationship, but I can guarantee that loving yourself more will only lead to more happiness. 3. If someone is fetishizing you and you don’t like it, stop fucking them.
Every time I see a guy walking around in heels, I get sick to my stomach. I feel like an asshole even writing it, but IDK. Some of my friends agree with me, so maybe it’s not terrible for thinking. It’s like, man up—it gives gays a bad name. – Gay, Male, 32
Some people reading this agree with you, and others want me to tear you apart. I often notice when male-presenting people are wearing heels, and if I’m being honest, in the past it has bugged me a bit. Then one day I realized that it was upsetting to me because I didn’t feel free enough to be whoever I wanted. This didn’t mean I wanted to wear heels; it meant I was jealous of their fearlessness, something I didn’t have. Take a moment and reflect on why it’s so upsetting to you. What do you think it would say about you if you were to wear heels? Maybe you’re just mad because you know you don’t have the guts to wear them even if you wanted to.