When Masculinity Becomes Toxic

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In a world where our fight for our rights is becoming urgent, it’s sad to see gay men trying to enforce outdated ideas about masculinity. In this month’s post we’ll be exploring toxic masculinity and its impact on our community.

We’ve all seen it, straight guys in large seminar rooms insisting that their ideas of what it means to be a man are the only valid ones. But what about us? Is banning more feminine appearing men, and even trans men, from events any better? We’ve fought hard for our rights, and like it, or not, that includes our right to decide what being a man means to us.

As the generations progress people are becoming more fluid. Gender roles are being challenged. Yet for some, it feels like how they define themselves is under attack. “Masculine” gay guys have criticized those that don’t fit their mold for a long time. They seek to legitimize themselves by distancing form femme men. Why did we fight so hard for our right to be ourselves just to oppress others who don’t live up to our artificial standards of masculinity? “… it is easy to feel insecure over our masculinity, to fall victim to internalized homophobia that leads to idolizing often repressive and toxic versions of masculinity, and to shame and oppress femininity and “femme” men.” – Jeff Leavell

Our ability to define ourselves as we see fit has been one of our most powerful wins. We’ve formed many identifiable groups with on our culture. That’s made it easy for us to find like-minded souls within the community. But, when we attempt to enforce those boundaries we weaken our power as a collective. It’s great to define yourself. Embracing an identity can be an important part of your journey. However, when you begin to see that identity and the community that has formed around it, as superior you risk becoming an oppressor.

When our community fragments, we all loose. Even Pride events aren’t exempt from the splintering. People split off into their identifiable groups, barely tolerant of each other. I’ve seen it descend into bullying of people that don’t fit into someone’s narrow view of what it means to br worthy. “Femme” guys are just as guilty of this as anyone.

Why does masculinity, even among men who aren’t traditionally masculine, become toxic? Because we use our assertive masculine energy to enforce ideas. Define yourself however you like. Relish your right, and obligation, to do so. But, if you aren’t able to embrace others at the very opposite end of the spectrum, then you’re expressing your own form insecurity. The pioneering spirit that is one of the best traits of masculine energy is being expressed by men who are at the fringes our community. Embracing them is appreciating masculinity in its bravest form.