Unmasking My Messy Masculinity

I was raised in a society where men were supposed to be into beer, sports, fighting, boobs, guns and cars. A culture of tough guys who don’t cry or express feelings. A world in which being feminine was weak and gay was anything deemed too girly. I got called fag for being weird and awkward. I was punched, kicked, and even had a group of dudes try to sexually assault me, because I wouldn’t acknowledge them as the bad asses they wanted to be.

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Well, luckily, I resisted, I spit back at the toxic masculinity. I embraced my feminine side, and I never thought my penis meant I deserved shit. I befriended the outcasts, the artists, the poets and the messy girls who became my friends and muses. I found myself lonely at, the U of Toledo, after being banned from the campus ministry group for my appearance and bad habits. I wandered past the Gay and Lesbian Student Union, they had coffee and, though I was straight, it became my safe place. I was always welcomed and I soon became very close to a lot of the community there. I met some guys who I started taking improv classes with and they saved my life, quite literally, and showed me I didn’t have to fit in anyone’s box.

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As I grew I felt less and less “manly” though I was a large guy who would occasionally throw a punch to defend someone. I took a shaky vow of non-violence in 1997 while with a group of wacky rebellious world changers in Philly. Again through these men and women I learned more about how to be myself, not some robot based on traditions and biblical interpretations. I also learned to challenge my religious ideals that I never fully grasped in the first place. I mainly began to discover radical love. This Love was a time bomb set to wreck anyone who thought love was a controlled substance. This was free, addictive and very dangerous once you realized its power to change yourself and others. It still is a beautifully magic thing we call being a good person.

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In the years since I’ve become less and less the American male and more and more a real person with real feelings. I’m a contradiction, a hypocrite, a heretic, an addict, an alcoholic and a messy man. This is the reality of being honest and trying your best to see everyone as they are not as they “should” be. I befriended and loved drag queens, strippers, prostitutes, drug dealers, shoplifters, hustlers, punks, street swindlers, and all types of creative, weirdo, vagrant, trashy lovers. These are my tribe.

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I was a man of the clothe and a man of the flesh. I loved Jesus but I loved doubt just as much. My struggles were with ideas and labels and what men are supposed to be. I realized none of it matters. Who I live or who I choose to be is not important because love covers us all and we weren’t created to fit into social constructs. We were made to love and to be bold. I’m not gay, I’m not straight, I’m not anything really, I’m not trying to fit into someone else’s identity or tell anyone what they should be either, I’m just a lumpy mass of poetic words and colorful dreams. So, basically, I’m a fucked up child, born in the mid 70s, raised on rock n roll and a late Gen X misanthrope, dead set on destruction. I’m in a, completely unstable, co-dependent relationship with this miserably beautiful thing we call humanity. It’s a love/hate relationship.

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