We look for signs everywhere in our life so that we can learn how to be balanced beings to live a productive life. We constantly examines ourselves both consciously and unconsciously to define who we are and what that means to us and those around us. We seek a balance in our thoughts and behaviors as it serves as a roadmap. And often due to the process of coming out and fully accepting our sexuality we somehow struggle with the concepts of masculine and feminine meanings and significance. Why does it seem like these concepts so often at odds with each other in our community rather than embraced?
When i examine where this conflict comes from, I always refer to the ancient philosophy of Yin and Yang. It describes us best to the principle of finding balance within ourselves. Both light and shadow, dominance and submission, the need for freedom and the need for comfort. These aspects are given feminine (yin) and masculine (yang) terminology, both not able to exist without the other. they pull strength from each other to become a complete being and maintain balance and harmony.
The concept of yin and yang is the thing we struggle with most as gay men because it encompesses so many aspects of how we see ourselves and how we live our lives. From awareness to society to self esteem, it is the one thing that we question the most. Some of us even openly categorize each other as “masculine” “straight-acting” or “feminine” and even with us gays, feminine given the bad (and inaccurate) reputation of being weaker. Are we doing that because it pacifies the notion of what strong is? What we see as weak? Dominance over submission? Or is it just about control?
These ideals of strong (masculinity) versus (feminine) weak are gaining momentum in the newer generation of gay men as so many only see a dominant top or power bottom. It creates more of some type of hierarchy rather than a classification of attributes. It’s odd that once we claim our sexuality, sometimes, some of us go out of our way to prove we’re still in step with this concept of what “real men” do and it leads some of us to shame the other.
You would think that coming out would be the greatest challenge we face but in truth it is only a step to an even greater process of acceptance and self awareness. And somewhere along the way we carry some of the stagnant ideology of what men say or do from our flawed society on to each other. It’s not the ideal or principles that I want future generations to inherit. With as much prejudice and namie calling as we’ve had to endure, I don’t want to see that being what gay means to any one.
I understand where it comes from. Because unfortunately, even in this day and age, we’re bullied. beaten, harassed and even killed for who we are. I understand how masculinity is seen as protection. But I also feel that we can elevate ourselves without knocking someone else down. Femininity is calculative and alluring. In how many philosophies see masculinity as physical strength, femininity is seen as mental strength and not to be underestimated. Even with all that, some still shame the yin to overcompensate for our yang. Some will lash out defiantly at any notion of femininity thereby degrading those of us that celebrate what is seen as feminine.
We struggle with these concepts, regardless of sexuality, within our selves and against our society. Women still have to fight for equal pay, and to have the freedom what to do with their own bodies. And men still have to conform to this ideal of masculinity, comepletely ignoring any attributeds that can be perceived as feminine because sadly, feminine is seen as weak. Most likely this struggle comes from out perceptions of social norms that dictate an archaic code of conduct. As a result a person will deny aspects of which are the most natural. When terms like effeminate are discouraged and masculine embraced when both are required to make us whole.
But to me, it takes so much strength to not only accept but also completely own our sexuality. Because as gay men, we defy and redesign the notion of what being a man means. Yet while doing so, we have to remember not to do the same to the same men fighting these barbaric stereotypes of what strength embodies. That feminine is just as valuable and strong as masculine.
The yin and yang of gay is so much more than the either or mentality we create. It is the greatest most beautiful thing we possess because whether or not we embrace both yin and yang, we have a greater understanding of both masculinity and feminine. We naturally blend elements of soft and hard effortlessly. Many of us had to declare our independence at an early age because there literally was no one else to stand up for us yet at the same time it made us find comfort within ourselves. And this is where our true strength comes from.
I advocate the concept of balance, and the yin and yang of gay not only within ourselves but our community because, more than anything else, I truly believe unity is our strength. All of us are both yin and yang. We are both domininant and submissive, masucline and feminine. Shaming one while praising another makes both weaker both in our community and within ourselves. We have to remember that one cannot exist without the other.
When all of us as a communiity can truly achieve that, we will be unstoppable.