Regina Cates once hated men for good reasons, but here is why they are now her closest friends in the world.
I used to hate men. Maybe that is the stereotypical view men have about gay women, that we’re men haters, diesel dykes, or frustrated spinsters. But my reasons for starting out life hating men were valid.
My father was a jerk, strutting and abusing his patriarchal power causing me, my sister, my mother and grandmother to cry. I was molested by a male babysitter at age eleven who threatened to “Cut my tits off,” if I told anyone. At seventeen I finally confessed to my parents I was gay. My dad coldly said,” You are a business risk.” He then sent me to a local physician who also molested me before helping lock me up in in a psychiatric hospital.
Raised in a strict God-fearing fundamentalist Christian church in the Southern part of the United States I was taught God is angry, and male. So winning the genetic lottery of being born a gay woman was basically a death sentence since in the eyes of everyone in my life I was already, at age five, in bed with the devil.
The hatred I endured in the name of God was heart-breaking and lonely. But my persecution was not isolated to church. I lost count how many males of all ages felt entitled to yell out, “Hey, Lesbo, all you need is a good fuck to straighten you out!” Or “What a waste.” Or “What the hell do you lesbians do without the goods,” while grabbing their crotch.
Yes, there was a time I hated men, for all the right reasons. Until I learned that all men are not misogynistic, redneck, Neanderthal beasts.
My transformation from man hater to lover started when I went to work for a manufacturing plant. I was the only woman in a sea of testosterone. At first I was horribly uncomfortable expecting the guys to be the same jerks of my past. But over time as the men shared themselves with me I began to see a kinder, gentler, more respectful side of the male gender than I’d been exposed to. Within a few months I became one of the gang, their female mascot of sorts. For the first time in my life I felt genuinely accepted, and my heart began to open.
Then a big man and his little wife moved in next door to me. He was well over six feet tall, with hair to his waist, an artist who looked like a biker. Over time we began chatting. He was calm, collected, intelligent, and kind. But he was also strong and self-assured, not afraid to wear black nail polish or shave his legs for an upcoming bike race. He loved animals, melted when holding a baby, and was passionately devoted to his petite wife.
During the next seven years he became my best friend. The marathon hours we spent talking and sharing slowly healed the hate and pain of my past. He was confidence and assured me that my being confident did not mean I was a bitch. In fact, he confirmed it was my strength and self-confidence that allowed me to survive what I experienced.
We laughed, cried, built things together, shared life and weathered many relationship storms. I learned true intimacy is bearing your soul to another and having that person hold your heart safe.
Today I have women friends but the special, deeper bond I have is with men. Maybe it is our strength and determination. Perhaps it is how we think alike to solve problems. Conceivably it’s the protector-bent to our personalities.
Maybe I feel at last I’ve found the father, brother, uncle figure I missed as a child. Possibly as a gay woman I understand men more deeply because I share their appreciation of women. It could be my male friends and I just get to the heart of the matter more quickly because we just get one another.
Regardless of the underlying reasons, I am proud to be gay woman who moved from hating the worst of the male gender to loving the best of them. I am proud to have men as my best friends.
Ms. Cates’s book is set to release in May 2014. Get more information about her journey of healing here.
Photo credit: Flicker Commons/Torbakhopper (alterations with permission)
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