I had never heard of Darren Young, until my Google Alert for Coming Out, filled the computer screen with stories of his coming out. I'll admit I'm not a fan of the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment). I am a fan of a big, muscled, brut of a man, saying "I'm Gay!" Not because he is a superstar in his field, nor, because he's ripped and handsome. I'm a fan because he took the stand to be authentic, risking a potential hit to his career. Yet, when he uttered the words, "I'm gay and I'm happy," during a TMZ Interview, it got my grey matter churning and thinking, "How cool and inspiring is this for a masculine, male athlete from one of the most brutal sports to come out?" It's cool when anyone, celebrity or otherwise, takes the risk to come out.
Over the past few months, the trend of athletes taking a stand and leaving the dark closets behind, has almost become daily news. Brittney Griner, Jason Collins, and Robbie Rogers, to name a few. With all this momentum, it almost seems a shame to not recognize the empowering effect this movement is having on young and older men alike, athletic or not!
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Traditionally socialized to be masculine, manly, men, we guys, especially gay guys, take it personally, right down to our core cellular memory if we aren't butch enough. Same goes for our lesbian sisters who've been societally endowed with being sugar and spice and everything nice. Regardless of our birth sex, we just don't roll the way of the sexual normative. Then, when someone like Darren Young comes along, who has no shame in wearing God awful skive shorts into a ring in front of thousands of screaming fans, you gotta give him even more kudos for saying, "I'm Gay!"
This line in the sand stance that many a gay male athlete is taking, even in the face of Russia's Pootie-Poot Putin's anti-LGBT dogma, does create a super hero effect that doesn't require a rainbow cape. If anything, boys and men of all ages should unite in chest pounding revelry of "We are gay men, hear us roar." After all, what is more masculine than sports? Ok, maybe working on cars, digging ditches, or downing shots of Jagermeister. At the end of the day, each of these things is a simply stereotype of what a man should be! So I ask you to ponder, "What makes a man, a man other than his penis?"
Where in the rulebook of mandom, does it state that manhood is attained by...
- Consistently pursuing women as possessions
- Grunting and releasing bodily gases in public
- Never succumbing to asking for directions
- Coveting the BBQ more than your first-born
- Scratching your genitals in public
Instead, I would rewrite the masculinity rulebook as follows. A man's masculinity is defined by his ability to be
- Vulnerable without quivering
- Truthful beyond belief
- Feminine without regrets
- Confident minus the size of his (Fill In The Blank)
- Intimately conscious of his own responsibility to himself and others
During headline news moments when masculine, studs, of all body types, ethnicitys, ages, and sporting abilities take a risky stand to say, "Do you have a problem with me being gay?" each of us guys, gay or straight, should take note, and accept the gift they've given us. And what is that gift? The ability to see ourselves as men, in our gender, in our own way, without feeling our masculinity is threatened by being exactly who we are: unique men with unique gifts to contribute to the world.
Now, I'm going to go lift some weights, do a 20-mile ride on my bike, and follow all that up with a Cosmo! Got a problem with that?
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