Are We The Boys We Want? A Masculine Guy's Perspective

Recently a few blogs have been discussing the video/poem posted by Yolo Akili entitled Are we the kind of boys we want? In between spoken word rhymes black gay men talk about what they look for in a man and answer whether or not they would date themselves.

So would I date me if I saw me walking down the street? And started to cry each time we meet (oops that's Dionne Warrick). Anyway, I'm not sure if I would. On the one hand, I'm 5'10 with a medium build (damn am I on Adam for Adam?) and a handsome guy if I do say so myself, so I'd definitely catch my eye on a physical level. I'm creative, smart, very giving, easy going and have a wicked sense of humor. But on the other hand, I can be moody at times and very reserved emotionally. Plus my intellectual curiosity can sometimes get the best of me, and I can be over analytical about things and get lost in my own head. I think I would need someone who is earthy, more outwardly emotional and straight forward to balance me out. So...I'd love to be close friends with me, but I'd don't think I'd date me.

With that said, this emphasis (or let's be real) obsession with masculinity in the black gay community is problematic. So many guys are in search of the straight-acting gay holy grail, that they're willing to dismiss anyone who doesn't fit that criteria, no matter how good they may be. And what the hell does straight-acting even mean really? My dad is one of the most masculine men I know, but he watches soap operas (The Bold And The Beautiful to be exact). One of my roommates in college was straight but was a theater and dance major. Another straight guy I know hardly ever drinks hard liquor but loves daiquiris instead, while another guy loves Patti Labelle, but he is straight (hard to believe but it's true:). My point being, straight men don't always "act straight" so why should we as gay men expect that of each other?

While I personally feel I sway between the masculine and feminine, my overall aura/energy is more masculine, so I do feel qualified to speak more from that perspective. I can say from personal experience that masculine guys do feel pressure from fem guys to be the "man" in the relationship. I've had men expect me to always pay their way when going out(and their bills-so didn't happen!) and go to work everyday while they play the woman's role. I don't get why we would want to imitate straight couples, when clearly isn't working for them! Even in my current relationship, there was pressure at beginning for me to be more aggressive, to take charge and play more of the alpha male role. But I made it clear that that's never been who I am. I can be aggressive when it comes to pursuing things I want, but being some controlling, wannabe homothug is so not the business.

I like to lift weights. But I also love to read books. I like Ice Cube, Naughty By Nature, Biggie, Nas, Jay-Z, Marilyn Manson, Metallica, Slipknot and loads of other hip hop and hard rock. But I also love Madonna, Janet, Mary, Beyonce, Diana, Whitney and the rest of the diva brigade. I like Entourage, Menace To Society, Goodfellas, Diehard, American Pie, The 40-Year Old Virgin, Wedding Crashers, Friday, Family Guy and any other assortment of gangster, gross out and/or action flicks. But I can laugh my ass off at and appreciate films like Paris Is Burning, Changeling, Mean Girls, Bring It On, The Notebook, Waiting To Exhale  and Clueless.

I'm not some rough piece of trade that doesn't know that two plus two equals four. And I'm not a super femme queen who's sole purpose is to get their life in the club every weekend. I'm a whole human being, and so are other black gay men, be they more naturally masculine or feminine in nature. True, in any relationship each person is inevitably going to fall into some traditional roles. You may have an eye for interior design that your man doesn't. Or you may be more mechanical than he is, so you fix things around the house. But to resign ourselves to these cartoonish hypermasculine and hyperfeminine roles will only lead to disaster.

What's important in any relationship, be it gay or straight, is that the individuals in it are not trying to fulfill some fantasy for the other person, but are being loved and appreciated for who they are. On a side note, it would be interesting to find out if this same thing goes on in the lesbian community (i.e. an obsession with femininity). It probably doesn't, since women are allowed to cross gender norms in their appearance and personal interests in a way men aren't, regardless of their orientation.

Anyway, watch the video below, and tell me what you think.


I loved this. I am tired of feeling like we need to fulfill these standards just to be happy. It is really destructive to one's self esteem. You end up trying to regulate your behavior just to fulfill a "role."
And I've noticed that highly effeminate men are very stringent about it. I know guys who DO want to play the role of a stereotypical "woman" in a relationship.
Personally, I feel that no one, straight or gay, should be relegated to a role.
Speaking for myself people automatically presume that because I'm little, lighter complexioned, and have a penchant for calling my friends by feminine pronouns that I'm supposed to be the "girl" in the relationship. NO!
My personality is very fluid...sometimes I can behave in a very butch manner. Or sometimes I, especially around my "gurls", can be a QUEEEEN!
People being themselves in relationships is what is important. And if all you are seeking is a fake maybe you are not ready to deal with someone on that level? I could go on about this but...It is so daunting!
To me the video was more about the unrealistic expectations that gays have of it other rather than self esteem.
Oh that first dude is JUICY!!! OMG!!!
Anonymous said…
"To me the video was more about the unrealistic expectations that gays have of it other rather than self esteem." I agree with this statement.

Recently I've suffer from this pressure,I hate the way I sound gay in a stero typical way, I have noticed how some people become offened by my voice. I have seen examples of "some" men who would refuse to have a "faggot" serv them at businesses and embarrass them by vocalizing this.

AM I wrong to want to avoid this? By turning it off and on, masculine/and my normal voice?

I do have a fem aura Im not going to be able to get rid of.. Im offened when I meet females in a professional situation and they say,"Girl" or use "she" in refering to me. I like being a man.

I never had a desired to be a girl,and have always been comfortable with the way I was, until the last few years.

Does anyone have any advice for me?
K. Clark said…
@Anonymous: Sorry it took so long to respond, hopefully you'll read this. You don't have to change anything about yourself. If you're naturally effeminate, then just be yourself. As far as women you work with calling you "Girl" or "She," just let them know that it makes you uncomfortable and you would like them to stop it. If they persist, then inform your supervisor. Hope this helps.
Lee Smith said…
Sadly it seems that black gay men/same gender loving men/men who have sex with men obsess about physical attributes because we seem to bring little else to the table. A six pack, hard eight, and a juicy-juicy do little to propel and maintain a stable, healthy relationship. I believe we should spend an equal amount of time and effort developing our minds, spirits, and hearts as we do working on our bodies and buying others' names to adorn our bodies. Seldom does the community celebrate the professional, academic, and civic achievements of the men in our communities. So to your point, I would date me....however, the men like me tend to date white men....