Sam: Well hey there! So for those of you who don’t know, Dean recently moved a few hours away from me, and I’m LOVING IT! He’s in town tonight, and we’re currently chilling on my couch. We thought this would be a great time to start a conversation with one of our favorite subjects — masculine stereotypes and pop culture.
Dean: Thanks, Sam! Your place is totally fetch!
Dean: All right then! So, Sam, let’s talk. How often do you share your love of pop culture with others?
Sam: Well, I don’t have very many male friends, but I am definitely not bashful about my love of Carly Rae Jepsen’s album, E•MO•TION, which is loved by virtually EVERY gay man.
Dean: So, what do other guys say about this passionate love for Carly and her emotions?
Sam: I don’t normally get much flack for it, but occasionally I get a laugh about it or something. I usually just shake it off. Most people honestly know I’m like a walking BuzzFeed article. But some people who don’t know me throw me some shade.
Dean: Such hip speak.
Sam: I know, I know (dusts off shades). But it’s funny — because everything which I used to throw shade at toward myself I now LOVE! I used to not care for pop culture in general, but now I unashamedly love it. What about you, Dean? I know you love some 1D. #ComeBackZayn
Dean: #ZayniacForLife. Yeah, I do love me some 1D. I’m a fan of boy bands in general: NSYNC, BSB, BTR, etc. I usually get a few rolled eyes and shakes of the head when I talk about this. I have a 1D bag, actually, that I used to carry music in, and it always draws some interesting attention and glances.
Sam: I need to borrow that immediately.
Dean: No. Not sorry. But anyway, I honestly used to be bothered by all of that — by the negative attention to things I liked.
Sam: You weren’t fitting a mold.
Dean: Yeah, I have always enjoyed fashion and the “not so masculine” things about life. I’ve been cooking since I was 8, and I have always enjoyed art, music, theatre, literature, and every other non-athletic thing pretty much. I was the skinny kid with a book and a good GPA. Not quite Mr. Manly Man.
Sam: I was the home-schooled turned private school turned holy crap I’m going to public school kid! I was quiet then but have started to turn around on that. Growing up, I wasn’t athletic. My dad made me work out, and I hated it. I didn’t do sports and didn’t have guy friends really. I was friends with mostly girls, and we talked about fashion shows and such. I had a lot of “girl conversations” simply because I was around them so much. It didn’t seem out of the ordinary not to like manly things. My friends and I had common interests.
Dean: I know how that goes. I was raised by my sisters, pretty much. I didn’t connect with my brothers obviously and didn’t have any guy friends until high school. So, how do you think this plays into the typical stereotypes given to gay guys and the homosexual community in general?
Sam: Well, I feel like people are always going to go where they feel most comfortable. For example, if you’re a Christian and you’ve only known the Church, chances are you’ll feel more comfortable going to the church picnic. Whereas someone who was not raised in church would NOT feel comfortable at the church picnic. I feel like it’s similar.
Dean: Yeah, for guys who felt like the only norm was the female world, they’ll always lean back toward that. It’s as if the stereotype was a way for people to —
Sam: Affirm themselves, maybe?
Dean: Yeah, that makes sense. Someone who grew up separated from the typically “manly” things who then finds himself separated even further by his attractions will cling to whatever is around him to define himself.
Sam: It’s not just gay guys, though. It’s ALL guys. Especially in the Church! I have a friend who is straight, getting married, and he LOVES Disney! One time, we had a chick-flick movie night! We got pizza and watched sappy movies together, and we actually got crap for that! Because we were two guys hanging out doing that. And I feel like that’s actually hurtful to guys everywhere. If it had been two girls doing that, no one would have said a thing. But instead, those around us had placed this expectation on us to act a certain way — simply because we’re guys.
Dean: I get that. I have known guys who have avoided things not “manly” enough from fear of what others will think. Like the color pink, for example — it’s amazing the number of guys who REFUSE to wear anything pink simply because they believe it’s a “girl color.”
Sam: (Jumps off couch, runs to closet, brings back pink shirt.) This shirt is the first pink thing I ever owned! Buying this shirt was super liberating! My mom used to scold me about this shirt growing up. She was afraid of my being perceived as something bad. Now, she is over that. But at the time, it was a major concern for her. When I bought this shirt, I was on a church trip and my best friend at the time just told me to get it and not care about what others think!
Dean: I remember protesting the senior shirts at my old school because they wanted to have pink shirts. I refused, not because I disliked the color, but because I was afraid of people thinking I was gay for wearing pink. And I was still way hidden in deep fear. Now, I have several pink things and proudly display them! Especially with having a daughter — pink is now a part of regular life.
Sam: I literally own a pair of pink boxers now.
Dean: Awesome. All right, time for closing comments. Go for it, Sam.
Sam: For the record, Dean and I both have pink phone cases. Life is so much easier when you stop caring about what people think. My life kind of blew up in 2014, and I got into counseling. My counselor is a wonderful, old, wise, Christian man, and whenever I expressed concern whether people might perceive me as gay or treat me differently because of it, he always responded with the same question: “Who cares?”
Now, that may sound harsh, but it was actually super helpful. He helped me understand that liking pink or Carly Rae Jepsen or anything else that doesn’t fit inside typically masculine stereotypes is OKAY.
I’m not trying to put on any masculine front; instead, I’m choosing to be masculine on my terms.
I wear shorter shorts that show off my legs and make me feel masculine. I make plans for my future real estate business, and that makes me feel masculine. I rock out to female-oriented music, and that makes me feel masculine. Basically, YOU define what makes you feel masculine in your own way. I feel more masculine saying “YAAAS” and “SLAAAAY” around a group of guys than I ever would talking about the local sports team with them.
Be yourself and love Jesus, and you’re good to go. Thoughts, Dean?
Dean: Like you said — be yourself and love Jesus. I’ve learned to accept that people will stereotype me based on my likes and dislikes. But that’s their choice. If they refuse to look past my love for a certain TV show or style of music to see who I really am, then I’m not the one with the issue. Maybe that’s harsh, but it’s true.
Love what you love and remember that, in the end, what matters is your walk with Christ. Now get in the car, loser, we’re going shopping.
Do you wrestle against any masculine stereotypes or “gay” stereotypes? How confident are you in your masculinity and your ability to buck the culture of masculine stereotypes?
* Photo courtesy drh, Creative Commons.