There was this story that broke out in Greece last week, right, there was this kid in some small town up north and he went missing about a month ago. He was 20. So he went missing and they were trying to find him for several weeks, and the things that came out while they were trying to find him were that he used to be bullied really badly and the code words that were used for the reasons why he was bullied were that he “wasn’t masculine enough” and he was “too quiet” and he didn’t live up to the “manly” ideals that a 20-year-old guy should live up to, behaviourally. Then last week he was found dead. At the point when I’m writing this it’s not yet known whether someone killed him or whether he killed himself, but I believe the narrative doesn’t change that much either way.
So when they found this kid dead, there was an uproar in Greece and everyone stood by his side on TV and on the internet, which are the places that matter now, in our century, and of course there were some oddball idiots who wrote things against him still, but they were just a small minority that was quickly dismissed. And everyone’s uproar concerned “bullying”, a word which is now used in its English form in Greek, because there’s no Greek equivalent, or so my sister tells me, and everyone was up in arms about this phenomenon and wanted it to stop. Right now. The fact that the kid was implied to be gay and that’s why he was bullied is not something that’s said out loud, because even now, with incidents like this, it’s not something that can be brought up explicitly in Greek society, and even the biggest supporters of Vangelis, because that’s the kid’s name, are not fighting a fight for gay acceptance, they are fighting a fight for those men who are “not masculine enough”, or “too quiet”. But it’s fine. Societies advance at their own pace and for now in Greece we’re going to have to use codes.
And this story kinda hurt me when I read about it, first on my sister’s Facebook, who unfortunately is only one of about three Greek “friends” I have on there, because hey, I was that quiet kid in Greece once that was bullied to the point where I had to change schools and I therefore now hate all of Greece because my brain may be able to process things in a more advanced way, but my soul works on a more linear level, which I haven’t been able to develop yet, I’m sorry. So anyway, I caught glance of this on my sister’s page, and then I kept clicking through and reading more and more articles and views and message boards and comments sections and it didn’t get any less hurtful and I kinda loathe people who write on the internet about reading stuff on the internet that brought them to tears, so I’ll leave this here.
And then, with all that, I thought, well, what the hell am I doing as a grown, out gay man spending all my time pretending to be straight with my baseball caps and lanyards and basketball shorts. How am I helping anyone to feel comfortable with themselves, if they’re insecure, if they’re not out, and what is the message that I’m giving out. Are they only going to be accepted, is their only hope to stay alive, first literally and then metaphorically, in a grown up society if they’re acting more straight than the straight dudes? That’s kinda fucking lame.
I think about masculinity a lot and what it means and how it's qualified against being a homosexual male. The truth is that I’m not comfortable around really effeminate gay men who squeal and cackle and prance. But the truth also is that I’m not comfortable around really masculine straight guys who yell and growl and shout at sports on TV. I think this happens because I’m quiet and introverted and those groups are both loud and extroverted and I feel they suck out my energy when I’m around them. I don’t want the effeminate gay guys to act more masculine though, that’s not my problem.
Now, in any case, masculinity is a big thing even outside the small towns of Northern Greece. You may not be bullied explicitly for not being masculine in West Hollywood in LA and in Soho in London, but the predominant behavioural ideal right now is heteronormative. Via Sean Cody. And yes, I exclusively use porn sites to study and determine social norms. Heteronormative males are what the majority of us jerk off to and what the majority of us want to be. I think it’s a little awful, that this is the principal ideal.
Furthermore, this obsession with masculinity and the dismissal of any alternative sips into the slang used by gay males. We often use female pronouns to talk dismissively about others when we want to degrade them, or even gently mock them. When you’re mad at your friend and you text your other friend and say “she’s a bit crazy, that one” you attempt to diminish them by taking away their masculinity. I think it’s all connected. I may be mad.
Then there is the go-to gay slur from one gay male to another, of course, about being a bottom. Everyone is always fucking accused of being a bottom. Nobody uses the term “top” dismissively. Nobody leaves anonymous comments on websites accusing people of being tops. This takes us full circle, back to cultures where being a bottom equals being gay, but being a top means that you’re just a guy who likes to fuck. When I came out to my Dad, his first question to me after he nearly had a heart attack was “Are you gay or are you a top”. I was like, Dad, girl, you trippin’? (Do you see what I did there? I took away my Dad’s masculinity by calling him a girl!!!!) (I didn’t really, I wouldn’t do that; he still has most of the money).
Anyway, why does the world think like that? Why are effeminate men berated? Actually, why are women still perceived as less equal? Is this gay issue ultimately a sexism issue? I don’t get it. I don’t know what to do. As an out gay man, I don’t want young kids who are not out to be scared. I certainly don’t want them to get bullied and disappear and kill themselves. But I also don’t want them to think that they can only fit in by acting the way society tells them to. Laugh at me all you want. I think I have a social responsibility. And I think that every gay man does. Is the solution to move all my social media presence from bro to fembro? Or is this a knee-jerk reaction? I don’t know yet. But I’ll figure it out. And you should too.