Undoing the stonewall
I remember, at one time, when my life was hard I called a friend. I called David Ritchie and asked how I could be better. A man from the cloth and a man, who though my age, excelled in wisdom and insight. So I pleaded with him, asking him to just help me. Meaning, please take some of this horrible burden called "life" away from me. And the advice he gave me was frustrating. Frustrating so, because I knew he was right, and his rightness was at the expense of me not being who I knew I should have been.
His advice was to me was to challenge my idea of what it meant to be a man. Me, challenge what I thought it was to be a man? Me who lives in Brooklyn and who at the time was vegetarian? Me who has studied Foucault and whose homegirl-genderless-peoples are Eve Sedgwick and Gayle Rubin? I'm the one who had to challenge what I thought it took to be a man.? He was right, and yes I did have to do such things.
What David could see that I couldn't was that I had subscribed to the idea that men, with their rock solid phallus always in hand and in mind, were bronzed in stoicism. "Men" were meant to be strong, and men were meant to be tough as heroes. Yet, David's thoughtful response, and kind insight undercut that convention by asking me to communicate more, listen even more, and be humble even moreso. That tough exterior of stubborn ridiculousness that I had been building was more my heroic downfall than it could ever possibly redeem me.
This is just one of the many experiences in my life that I am so blessed to have had when it comes to this convention of "man." There is this "gold standard" that is taught through society and channels of narrative which is called masculinity. And it's been translated in the modern world constantly to the themes of strength, power, and ego. Yet, there's so much more that is missing.
One way we differentiate persons is by their thumbprint, no? We say that each homo-sapien-sapien's thumbprint is carefully constructed and constructed uniquely. This isn't a validation of individuality, this is an acknowledgment of diversity. And within this diversity, how can it not be understood that there is diversity and difference within our society enough where there are failings within binary appropriations?
It's not enough to say that I'm glad that gay marriage is finally being brought to the forefront of equality, but more so, whether it's explicit or not, I'm thrilled that the benchmarks of gender are being challenged. I don't have a father in my life. However, I've had so many men, some my age, some older, who come from so many walks of life, who through experience, kindness, correction, and wisdom have been my father figures. Men, (Not just one father DAVID TYREE), many who have been able to teach me that it is not enough to want to be a man, but that it is necessary to be thoughtful, mindful, and patient with a humanity that is more diverse that either being one or the other. A humanity that is bettered through the value of being you and I. From there is where we'll learn and from there is where we will continue to grow.