Claiming Our Place as Menby Raymond Rigoglioso on 11/03/15
This week I have been putting the finishing touches on the curriculum for Celebrating Gay Manhood, the weekend program I'm offering at Easton Mountain November 13-15. As I have created this program, I have continually asked myself, "What does it mean to be a man? How is it that we are men, yet we so often feel outside of the world of men?"
Then last night, I went to the gym. Amid the testosterone-driven posturing of the muscle-bound (presumably) straight guys, and the grunts and groans, I felt that familiar mix of fear and otherness: I am a guy of medium stature and trim build. I'll never have their strength. And while I may not outwardly appear gay, it's just a veneer. Right below the surface lies a lived experience that profoundly differs from the majority of men.
This is the familiar intersection that Celebrating Gay Manhood explores: when gay men meet the world of straight men. And so I asked myself, "What power have I given away to straight men?" It became clear: I allow my fear of violence to perpetuate a belief that I took on as a child: I am less than them. And I know that's a lie.
The fact is, I do something different than these men. I fill a different purpose and social function. I have full access to my masculine, and I love being a man. I have a strength that most men will never need to summon. I have a close relationship with the feminine, which makes my life rich. I can't imagine being afraid of or not being able to express my feelings.
It takes courage to feel like a strong man around straight men. It's not something gay culture teaches us. And yet most of us encounter heterosexual men--and this familiar intersection--every day.
Celebrating Gay Manhood grows out of my own desire to claim my place in the world of men as much as it does my wish to help other gay men do the same. The teacher teaches what he needs to learn.
I can personally attest that the pathway to embracing manhood and masculinity lies not in avoiding or denying what makes us different, or trying to emulate a model of manhood that doesn't fit who we are. Rather, it comes when we acknowledge and honor what makes us different. Celebrating Gay Manhood will provide such a context, in a loving, supportive setting that challenges you to discover your own answers.
I hope you'll join us.