Brent Almond challenges what it really means to be a “manly man” with this gay man’s list of the most masculine things on the planet
What makes a man? You can’t swing a dead duck without hitting someone spouting off about what constitutes REAL manliness. Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson ruffled feathers (and riled up his gun-totin’ fan base) with his bewilderment as to why gays would choose anal over vaginal sex; Green Bay Packer Aaron Rodgers—after having
broken up with fired his longtime boyfriend personal assistant—officially denied the long-swirling rumors that he was gay; and yet another NFL player (okay, just a punter), Chris Kluwe, surmised his release from the Minnesota Vikings was due to him publicly supporting same-sex marriage. His story included a locker room rant by special teams coach Mike Preifer, who reportedly suggested, “We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows.” Nice.
Also making its way around the Internet (again) is a list of The Top 20 Manliest Stuff On Planet Earth, which dutifully meets every ultra-macho stereotype. I’ll let you read all twenty on your own time, but they range from the almost cool (working lighter cufflinks) to the silly (poker room-scented “Man Candle”) to the downright disturbing (M2 Browning machine gun). As the list counted down to the most overblown, overcompensating thing “on the planet,” I felt a migraine coming on from my constant eye-rolling.
I’d had enough. All of this gay-bashing and chest-thumping had gotten to me. You think those things are manly? You should try being gay.
So, now—because 21 is even more manly than 20—I present to you:
The Top 21 Manliest Stuff on Planet Earth: Gay Edition
When it comes to camouflage, the Duck Dynasty guys have got nothing on the gays. LGBT activists are sometimes chided for comparing their plight to the Civil Rights Movement—a criticism due to gays and lesbians’ ability to “hide it.” Damn straight we do. It’s what allows us to not only keep ourselves safe in hostile environments, but also fulfill our evil agenda of infiltrating every corner of society. Our numbers span all genders, races, religions, and cultures. We are secretly educating your children, preaching your sermons, and checking your prostates…so watch your backs.
#20: Doing Hair
Behind every powerful straight man is a stylish—and styling—gay man. A good ‘do can make the difference between mediocrity and the miraculous.
#19: Attention to Detail
Whether it’s matching our belt to our shoes, running a corporation, or spell-checking an article about manliness…some call it being anal, we call it getting shit done right.
#18: Wearing Pink
Real men aren’t afraid of anything, certainly not a color. Pink is hot and cool, loud and soft, sexy and playful. Worn with confidence, it says “Fuck you, khakis and pinstripes, I’m secure in my masculinity, enjoy being the center of attention and don’t take myself too seriously.” And no, NFL players during October don’t count.
#17: Sports Anthems
#16: Loving the Ladies
There’s a reason most of the biggest gay icons have vaginas. It’s because gay men respect and identify with the plight of the fairer and historically downtrodden sex. Judy, Evita, Tina, Hilary, Taylor: these ladies withstood some serious man-mishandling and became more powerful in spite of it.
noun: the quality of being able to grip something firmly (seriously); the quality of being determined; the quality of continuing to exist. See also: gay
Sodom & Gomorrah. Auschwitz. AIDS. Chick-fil-A. Any and every kind of adversity has been thrown our way, but God sees fit to keep making more of us. There’s a good reason “I Will Survive” is our jam.
While we can now get married in some places, raise kids, get elected, and host awards shows, it still takes some balls to hold hands, hug, or smooch our honeys in public. Also known as “shoving it down your throat.”
#13: Being the Bad Guy
Without a scheming, sinister—and often sissy—villain, the greatest movie heroes wouldn’t look nearly as heroic. They may never save the day or get the girl, but they get all the best lines, steal every scene, and win most of the Oscars.
Examples of these campy criminals lurk in every genre:
Superhero: Loki, General Zod, The Joker
Sci-fi/fantasy: Emperor Palpatine, HAL 9000, Ming the Merciless
Horror: Norman Bates, Buffalo Bill, any version of Dracula
Action: Alan Rickman in Die Hard, Robin Hood, and the Harry Potter films, nearly every Bond villain, that bitchy iceberg in Titanic
Even kids’ movies aren’t safe: Captain Hook, Scar from The Lion King, the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. And does anyone believe Ursula from The Little Mermaid and Cruella De Vil aren’t drag queens?
The gays have always been about exploring (I’m pretty sure Lewis & Clark were more than just traveling buddies). Who do you think moves into trendy neighborhoods (long before they’re trendy), refurbishes all the homes, plants all the gardens, opens all the cafes and boutiques, and generally makes it livable for yuppies and hipsters? In cities across the country, gays are live-in urban planners, going bravely into uncharted territory and giving it the manliest of makeovers.
#11: Talking Trash
Also known as “reading,” “throwing shade”
All those years watching Turner Classics and reruns of Dynasty and Good Times taught us how to verbally disarm and destroy any opponent. And unlike most athletes and their fans, we know words with more than three syllables.
Any dimwit can use a gun, but gay men rely on their pop-culture filled minds and razor sharp wit to leave no topic untouched, fire with precision accuracy, and deal deathly blows to the ego of even the toughest target. Bitch.
#10: Being a Straight Ally
A sign of a true man is sticking up for those being picked on. And it’s also pretty hot. The ladies love it. The gay dudes love it. That’s a lot of ego stroking right there, but the true hetero hero doesn’t let it go to his head.
One such straight ally is former UK rugby player Ben Cohen. Rugby is the king of macho sports. It has all the violence and physicality of American football, minus the pads, helmets, and bazillion dollar paychecks. Ben has parlayed his fame (and unquestionable manliness) into becoming one of the biggest advocates for the LGBT community. Inspired by his father’s death while protecting an attack victim, Ben started the StandUp Foundation in 2011, which works to educate against homophobia and bullying. Ben has proven he can be a world-class athlete (he was part of England’s 2003 World Cup winning team), show genuine support for the LGBT community, and still be secure in his masculinity. And did I mention the manliness?
Loyalty is a highly valued trait among the manly elite. The Boy Scouts list it in their Scout Law. Cop shows and westerns regularly employ it their story lines. Sports, the military, patriotism, religion—pledging allegiance is key to the success of each.
And while we gays can be fickle at times, we’re fiercely loyal when it counts. Beyond pop stars and brands of booze, we extend our devotion to anyone who supports and accepts us. When our relatives, churches, and governments reject us, our true friends emerge. And though much progress has been made, many of us still rely on the love and support of our chosen families. Our loyalty has to be earned, but once it is, we always have your back.
#8: The Hummer
This is the one item to appear on both lists, but only the name is the same. If you’re hoping for a comically oversized, poorly designed, gas-guzzling, environment-killing mini tank to drive your (very likely) tiny penis to the 7-11, then you’re on the wrong list. If you’re looking for mind-blowing head from someone who knows how to work your equipment (very likely) better than you do, this is the place.
Yo Dorothy, who’s the real king of the forest? That would be Bears. (Lions live in the plains of Africa, dumbass.) They’re the fiercest, most ferocious beasts in North America; and the gay variety look great in flannel and wear their furry pelts and beer guts with pride. Also super cuddly.
Fred Astaire is considered one of the best dancers of all time. And dancing, while not among the manliest of stereotypes, found Astaire displaying an unequaled amount of physicality. But how does the old saying go? “[Fred Astaire] was great, but don’t forget that Ginger Rogers did everything he did, backwards…and in high heels.”
No offense to Ginger, but let’s see her try working a dance floor after a full body wax, covered in a thick layer of paint, strapped into a corset, falsies, and a 2-foot high wig, her junk taped between her legs…and in platform thigh-highs. Drag queens endure an insane amount of pain and torture merely for our entertainment.
And for the uninformed, drag queens sparked the modern day gay rights movement. Love them or loathe them, they are our Suffragettes, our Black Panthers, and our Che all rolled into one. But with a lot more glitter.
#5: Being a Dad
I was going to focus on the extra burdens involved in being a gay dad—the insane expense and medical frustrations of surrogacy or the hoop-jumping, social workers, attorneys, and mountains of paperwork needed to adopt. I also considered talking at length about the social stigmas of being a gay parent and raising a child <gasp!> without a mother.
But in the end, fatherhood is an infinitely challenging and rewarding endeavor, regardless of how it comes about. Being a dad—an active, involved, nurturing, protective, positive, disciplining, example-setting, comic-book reading, hair-braiding, ball-throwing, hugging-and-kissing-as-long-as-they’ll-let-us dad—is the manliest job on the planet.
#4: Getting Married
I had a friend joke recently “…now that being gay is cool…” Huh. I guess we’ve made it, and can all coast into an existence of peace, respect, and equality.
Don’t get me wrong—I couldn’t be more excited that 17 states and DC now recognize same-sex marriage, but there’s still plenty of places and people vehemently opposed to and working against men (or women) marrying each other. I came out nearly 20 years ago and, while I had it easier than prior generations, there was still little-to-no support of my relationships from my family, the church, the law, or society in general. Many of those have changed for me and my partner of 16 years (Thanks Mom, Dad, and the State of Maryland! Not holding my breath, Baptists and Catholics!), but the fact remains it takes a lot more cojones for two men to double ball-and-chain each other. And without a bride, no one’s daddy is paying for shit.
#3: Getting in Touch with Your Feminine Side
As long as I can remember, the biggest insult you could hurl at a man was to call him a “fag.” Whether the goal is to infer someone is in fact homosexual, or merely to question their masculinity, it’s all about putting them in their place. A place of being less than a man.
Underlying “fag” (and its peers, “queer,” “sissy,” and “pussy”) is the implication that to be gay is to be less than a man. To be submissive, effeminate, womanly. So when you call us a fag, we should take it as a compliment. Being likened to a female is far from insulting. Gay men may not be attracted to women sexually, but I believe this allows us to have greater appreciation for their non-sexual strengths and characteristics, and to assimilate those traits into our own lives. Using gay slurs says more about a homophobe’s feelings about women (and fears of being gay themselves) than it does about us.
#2: Gay Sex
But, wait, you already talked about hummers.
Yes, yes I did. But this…THIS is what it all comes down to for the haters: Sodomy. Prison sex. Men having anal intercourse with one another. It strikes fear into the hearts of even the toughest athletes, the most powerful politicians, the deadliest hunters. And they should be afraid. But not because gays are going to take over the country and run rampant through the streets in rainbow-colored thongs, burning down all the churches and replacing them with gyms and rest stops (although that does sound kinda fun). They should be afraid because it’s the manliest form of sex ever invented. It’s rough and it’s romantic. It’s painful and pleasurable. It’s all sweat and hair and muscle and cock and absolutely ALL MAN. It’s the one thing that makes all gay men gay, and it’s not going away. So be fearful, be intimidated, and be in awe of our manliness.
#1: Coming Out
The last couple of years have seen a steady stream of celebrities come out of the closet to varying degrees of fanfare, shock, and “I told you so’s.” And with each new outing I notice more and more comments from supporters to the tune of “Why is this still news?” “I’ll be happy when this is no longer considered newsworthy.” or “He’s gay? Who cares?”
I agree with some of the sentiment behind those statements—that in an ideal world everyone would be so accepting that a person’s sexuality is of consequence to no one, anywhere, ever. But that is still far from reality for many. Declaring one’s homosexuality (or having it discovered) is still met with imprisonment and death all over the world. Throughout the United States, LGBT citizens are still mocked, bullied, and beaten for being true to themselves. And many young people continue to be rejected by their families or peers because of their sexuality, contributing to an alarming rate of teen suicides.
But even if someone isn’t facing physical or emotional harm, declaring yourself as something other than the accepted norm takes extreme courage. Whether it’s the ever-increasing number of young people coming out, those who find themselves in sham marriages to the opposite sex, or former homophobes who’ve publicly changed their mind—usually due to discovering someone they love is gay—all of these require the utmost bravery, character, determination, self-confidence, and yes, manliness.
* I’ve all the respect in the world for our lesbian, bisexual and transgendered sisters. But all of the examples mentioned in the intro were aimed squarely at gay men, hence my focus on them. Plus… write what you know.
Credit: Original Photo—Wikimedia Commons; Photo Illustration: Brent Almond; Credit: Photo—Wikimedia Commons (1, 2, 3, 4, 5); Credit: Photo—Jesse 1974/Flickr; Credit: Photo—Waiting for the Word/Flickr; Credit: Photo—Gay Marines on Facebook