There's a reason we forge the best friendships ... because we experience the same bullsh*t.
Being a gay man does not make me feel "less manly" or "more feminine." But I will say — being a gay man does make me far more appreciative of what being a woman must be like in our society (e.g. NOT easy).
Granted, I have three very important women in my life — my ex-wife and two daughters — who give me a road map for understanding women and appreciating the connection that women and gay men share (Hell yes, we have the best friendships!)
But ever since I came out as a gay man, I realize I have more in common with women than I ever thought possible. As a result, my respect for women has intensified exponentially. Here are a few (frustrating) ways I truly relate to women:
- We're relentlessly sexualized. Gay men and women both endure being treated like a piece of meat. Society sees women as sexual delicacies for men to devour and gay men as sexual deviants who exist to show straight boys what not to do. What this really means is that the desires of women and gay men are not considered equally valued or legitimate as those of heterosexual men. That, of course, is archaic thinking and needs to stop!
- We're both considered weak (despite being incredibly strong). For all the mockery, demeaning behaviors and not-good-enough messages (i.e. "That's so gay" or "You throw like a girl") regularly thrown at us, we sure know how to stand up and prevail. Our relentless perseverance as women (lesbians included) and gay men show that we have the strength to overcome any obstacles that try to hold us down.
- We don't "properly" fit into gender stereotypes. One of the biggest hurdles I had to jump while coming out of the closet was the belief that my masculinity was at stake because I'm gay. Boy, was I wrong! I'm a 6'4, 280 pound guy built like a linebacker and you're going to tell me I'm not masculine enough because I'm more attracted to men than women? Fine. Let's go rumble.
Likewise, women are constantly criticized for either being too feminine when they're not aggressive or too masculine when they are. Instead, we should judge people on their own merit and not let our perceived notions of gender color our expectations of how people should and should not behave.
- We struggle with confidence, self-esteem and self-love. 90% of my clients — gay, straight, male, female — have one thing in common that freezes them up in life: low self-confidence. When you're a woman or a gay man, you're constantly told that you aren't good enough, and that is enough to wear anyone down. In response, we feel compelled to fight even harder to prove to the world that we have a lot to offer and that we deserve to be taken seriously.
If I've learned nothing else from women since I came out of the closet, it's that you are only not good enough if you allow other people to treat you like you aren't good enough. This goes for straight men as well, who are often in closets of their own struggling to assume their roles as tough guys.
Funny how if we stripped down to our naked truths and were just humans, there would be no closets to come out of because there would be no need for closets to hide in.
Ready to break out of stereotypical man vs. woman assumptions? Tired of playing to please? Give yourself a complimentary life coaching session if for no other reason to say, "I'm worth it!"