I must start this with a disclaimer. Judge me by these words if you wish, but only after reading all of them.
I want to tell you the stories of two people I know that “manned up.” You see, I’m not a misogynist, but that is the word we use today, just like swastikas are the sign of a genocide that began thousands of years after the sign was created. I have no fear of either, so yeah, if you have a problem with that, man the fuck up.
I cannot tell you both of the stories I want because one person hasn’t disappeared in the sands of time yet, but I will tell you one of them and perhaps tell it a little bit better.
I had some friends who had a loft style apartment in a rundown building in a rundown neighborhood. They’d have parties and we’d be all sorts of classy with her bringing out fancy cheeses and homemade guac. He’d put on some classic music on the record player. Note that I did not say classical. There’d be chips and cheap beer. Fancy magical cocktails with fresh limes and oranges sipped out of mason jars. It was a magical place of enjoyment and mingling and peace amid loud music and raucous conversation. It was there that I met these two gay guys.
The first one was really annoying. He had this way of getting uproariously drunk and telling people how great they were. He had such a big heart, but with his Creole-like drawl and lisp he just sounded whiney. He had this air about him of a tortured soul who loved everyone and thought they were all better than him. It’s too bad that he was so annoying. There was no mistaking that he was gay. If you missed any of the mannerisms and the lisp, he had no problem telling you he was.
My reaction to him helped solidify my wife’s belief that I hate gay people. I knew she was at least mildly interested in girls. I am still Facebook friends with one of the girls she kissed the night I met her and I agree, that girl was and still is hot(and intelligent and funny and all sorts of awesome). Come to think of it, I can, right off the top of my head name four of my female Facebook friends she’s kissed. Perhaps her own questions of sexuality made her take my reactions in a negative light.
The second, let’s call him Barney, had a serious lisp. He was a short guy with a small frame and walked very lightly. There was no mistaking that he was gay. He had flair. Everything about his personality was a little over the top. He was the epitome of flaming. There was absolutely no way to miss it. When I let it slip to my wife how I felt about this guy she had a near meltdown. He was one of my favorite people on the planet.
It was this night that my wife confronted me and told me she thought I hated gay people. That was one of the most humbling conversations of my life. I could not imagine what had given her that impression. I hate lots of people. I love lots of people. I guess what irks me the most, even to this day, is that the only gay people I hate for being gay are those pretty pieces of shit at that club in Ibiza who were literally grabbing my junk while I tried to get through the crowd to get drinks for my friends. Other than that, there are plenty of gay people I hate for who they are. There are plenty of straight people I hate for who they are.
Come to think of it I don’t even hate those gay people in Spain for being gay. I hate them for the same reason I hate the guy who stuck his hand up my girlfriends skirt on our way out of the club on my 21st birthday. I hate them for the same reason I hate the guy one of dearest friends ran into in some strange city in Canada. I hate them for the same reason I hate those guys in that hotel room who still wear a uniform and “fight for freedom” when they shouldn’t be allowed to breathe. Not that I questioned who I was or had any of the serious effects of sexual assault or rape that my friends have dealt with, but I get it. I got it before Spain. If I didn’t get it, I would never have been in Spain, engaged.
Now, the difference between Barney and the other guy is very simple. They were both flaming. Barney was this giant bonfire that people could sit around and talk about anything. He was this source of warmth. If you’ve ever sat in front of a fire on a cold night and just stared into it, perhaps you can understand this, but it really sounds funny to say. There is such a thing as a fire that understands you. It burns on its own and could never deny its self, yet it understands you and lets you know it. The other guy was a little propane torch that ran around the party thinking it was cool and lighting people’s cigarettes while enjoying making people feel as uncomfortable as a drunk with a flamethrower should.
So, let’s get on to manning the fuck up. A little over a year ago, Barney posted on Facebook that “today” was the last day of his radiation treatments. This was earth shattering to me. I hadn’t seen him in a few years and thought maybe I missed something on Facebook and felt like a jerk for never saying anything and not even knowing. As I looked back through a few weeks of his posts, there was not a peep. As friends began to comment, I realized I wasn’t the only one who didn’t know. He walked that path alone. No crying and whining about cancer before or after that post.
When I say “man the fuck up” that is what I mean. I don’t mean hide your feelings, anyone who’s read my blog knows I don’t. I mean live your life as you want. Be seen as you wish to be seen. When I say “man the fuck up” I mean you should get up and walk on two legs, roll on wheels if you have to, crawl if that’s all you can manage and move through this life as you wish. Do not let this life stop you. Do not let it stop you from being a flaming gay man. Do not let being a flaming gay man stop you from being all you are. You are more. You are a member of the human race
Be a man. And that has nothing to do with testicles or walking with a swagger and picking up girls at bars. I mean man as in mankind. I don’t care if you object to the use of the word man as this symbol of strength. I just told you how this little flaming gay man is the epitome of man. The other story I want to tell, but can’t, is about a girl. They are both worthy of the title man, even though she is gorgeous and feminine. The problem is not that we use the word man, but that we use it as a gender. Man is a title. Earn it. Don’t give it away to people who don’t deserve it either, tell them to “Man the Fuck up”