Men – Gay or Straight – Is there a difference?
Growing up as a young man in today’s age, one very quickly learns about the supposed great divider of men.
As a straight man, you quickly learn that any form of sweetness, tenderness, delicateness, expression of beauty or care is labelled as ‘gay’, and that label is one that you never want associated with your name. As gay men, we quickly learn that by nature of being gay, everything that we are is something that society doesn't want, so we either learn to embrace our sexuality and bear the consequences, or we deny it.
Both types of men however, gay or straight, equally resort to an array of behaviours to avoid feeling this, attempting to either ‘man up’, ‘toughen up’ or adopt some other form of facade that allows them to either ‘fit in’ or ‘fight against’ what society accepts. But what if this so called great divider of men is in fact an illusion? What if both men, gay or straight, have more in common than what we would like to believe?
When a man truly lets you in and simply is himself, when he drops all the protection he carries, all the ideals, the beliefs and the many lifestyle choices he has made to identify and individuate himself, at the very core of him is a very sweet and very tender being who in fact loves dearly, feels things acutely and gets hurt by things that are abusive and not true. Gay or straight, both men are the same.
If you look at men in their early years, when they’re just little boys, we can see that this supposed divider in truth does not exist. Boys are by nature delicate, caring and expressive. They’re not afraid to dance or move, consider others or be loving and sweet. None of these expressions are considered to be gay or straight – to them it’s just who they are and how they naturally express.
There comes a time however, when this expression starts to change; not biologically, but because that part of their expression is rejected and in turn, boys then reject that in themselves. As we grow, we quickly learn what we need to do to be accepted and not feel the hurt of that rejection, and as such, yield to the forces that shape and make us into what we erroneously and dangerously call a ‘man’ today.
To soften the blow, we then adopt an array of personas and behaviours which then infiltrate throughout our lives, ones that we constantly prop up and maintain so that no one calls us gay or any other form of feminising slur. In truth however, all of this is done so that we can avoid feeling the hurt of the original rejection we felt when we were boys; the rejection that came first from others and then from ourselves, as we walked away from what we knew to be true.
So, what is the difference between a gay and straight man?
In essence, beyond who you go home with – nothing, for both have been rejected, both have rejected, and both are simply playing out the impact of that rejection in their own ways. An overly camp gay man is no different from an overly butch straight man, nor is the butch gay man any different to the effeminate straight man. Both are simply donning a set of behaviours that may look different, but are the same in what they deliver – a form of perceived protection that we enforce upon ourselves and then onto others as we all play and maintain the game that we buy into.
There will come a day when all men realise – gay, straight, bi or any other label that we may apply – that we are in fact all in this together, and as such are all getting attacked by one and the same force. The so called great divide between men is nothing but an illusion.
And so, we have a responsibility to ourselves and to our brothers to rise above this illusion and each return to the inner beauty and power that we truly are, showing all men that there is a different way.