Perspectives: mask-ulinity
MASKulinity = ILLusion

May 26, 2006 Print version   

If I wanted to be with a woman, then I'd be with a woman...

As a same-gender-loving man, I've heard that line about as often as I've heard the question:

Are you a top or a bottom?

Interestingly, both the statement and the question are borne from a collective idea of what masculinity is. However, there IS no generally accepted definition of masculinity. Ultimately, in the gay community, masculinity is code for how a man demonstrates himself AS a man. Masculinity IS the demonstration OF a man, for too many of us. And there are so many stereotypical ways that we define what a man is: the bass in his voice, a pimp in his stride, an affinity for sports, an aversion to "the arts", an attraction to pussy and/or azz, the ability to stifle emotion... take your pick. Any one of these characteristics can, and has, been used to define masculinity, especially for Black men.

Therefore, the whole masculinity issue is an inescapable discriminating factor for gay men in general, but especially for black gay men.

For oft-cited historical reasons, black men are viewed as the epitome of hyper-masculinity. And because masculinity is associated with strength, we Black men are the unfortunate benefactors of a lie, passed down through the generations. We're stereotyped to express masculinity, absolutely. And any deviation from that demonstration of masculinity renders us "weak" - or what they gays have termed, "feminine".

For many of us, if a dude is not "masculine" enough, then dude is undesirable. We forget - or don't care - that a man is a man, if he considers himself as such... and that MASKulinity really is an illusion...

MASKulinity = ILLusion

I wanted a hardcore thug nikka - a Timz wearin', constant swearin', hood-type brotha; a dude with a permanent grip on his nutsack, and a swagger that made me ponder, "I wonder how HE'S packed?!" His particular vernacular should be laced with lingo that requires its own dictionary... I wanted a MASKuline dude who knew how to outgangsta the gangstas in his own crew... I wanted those "DL" bruhs whose hardcoreness necessitated secrecy; whose image was more important than their truth... THAT'S what turned me on... it wasn't the Blaines and the 'Toines and the Hollywoods who snapped and read a bitch within an inch of embarrassment...nor a guy who refers to his male friends as "sistas"... I didn't want the "femmes" - they were the targets, punchlines, the victims, the OBVIOUS... their femininity was a liability to me...

So, it was the hip hop heads who got my dick hard and my azz wet... it was the "thugz" who were the catalysts for my puberty... and they became - eventually - a measuring stick for my own masculinity: a dude who wasn't "hard" enough or "hood" enough to avoid the occasional suspicion; who was too country to be urban, and too corny to be smooth... but then who became too miserable to mask the ILLusion of MASKulinity: that it is only a distraction from the truth of a righteous man... MASKulinity IS a distraction from the truth of a worthy man...

So, ultimately, thankfully, MASKulinity turned into a fallacy... and the fantasy of thug lovin' became reality enough for me...