This comment was by Tom and originally appeared on the post “Why People Think My Boyfriends and I Are Gay“.
I am an officer at a prison where macho is important. But just like the saying “only real men can wear pink” some of my fellow officers about fifteen years back decided that it was cool to show that they were real men confident in themselves by giving other officers full body hugs. They especially liked giving them to those of us who were not comfortable with them. They’ed catch me off guard and did this many times. Eventually I stopped fighting it. This thing spread so that lots of them do it now.
A dozen years after this started I spent a week with some people on vacation and I grew to greatly admire one of the men we were with. He was an athiest but he reminded me of what Jesus would be like today: nonjudgmental, patient, kind and content and confident in himself, never said a bad word about anyone ever. At the end of the week, as we went our seperate ways he gave me the warmest hug I have ever received. I never really knew what to do with my hands during a hug before but he made me feel so comfortable and good that it just seemed so natural. I loved it so much that I replayed what happened in my head so that I would remember how he did it, then I watched hug videos on Utube (there are many videos of how to give a proper hug) so that I could be confident giving them. I think what let me be so accepting of his was that I knew he was not judging me and that he was so full of love that I opened myself up and just enjoyed it for the first time in my life at the age of 49. From the videos I chose to follow the examples showing men giving the warmest hugs to other men not the ones that do it half way. Then I practiced giving the to my kids who love them. Now I love the hugs even though I seldom find opportunities to give them to other men, a 180 degree change.
A few weeks ago at the prison one of my fellow officers chewed me out like you wouldn’t believe because he thought I did something that I did not. Pissed me off so bad I was shaking. Later he made up a lie as an excuse for why he did it. I told him that I didn’t believe him. But that was his story and he was sticking to it. I had worked with him for 19 years and while he was still defending his lie I just walked right up to him and gave him a big warm hug. By doing that I was saying I don’t care anymore what you did, we are still a team and I love you anyway. It surprised him, caught him off guard, and he stopped with his excuses. That took the fight right out of him like nothing else could have and we’ve been good ever since. I think he respects me more too.
You know if hugs can find acceptance between prison guards then there is hope they might one day be accepted by men virtually anywhere.