If society says that most men are incapable of intimacy, Brian, an early-twentysomething from Queens, would be proof that society doesn’t have a clue. Instead, he shows all of us that real men feel; they hurt and yearn to be loved and appreciated like everyone else.
When I was 13, I went to an almost all-white school. All the kids expected me to know all about rap, dress super nice, have jordans and be good at basketball, but I wasn’t good at any of those things. My mother didn’t indulge in clothes. She bought me what I needed. On top of that, I was short and skinny. So, I didn’t live up to any of their expectations, and that made me feel like a fuck up and a failure.
Toward the end of middle school, a group of girls said they showed some pictures of boys at our school to their friends and that they felt I looked better than all the other guys. That was the first time I remember anyone calling me attractive. I didn’t pay that much attention to it, though.
I still hung my head low. I wasn’t really satisfied with how I looked or felt like I was turning heads until I was 16, when I grew nearly three inches every year in high school. When I think back, I guess it is my smile. But that was the first time I felt I was acceptable and attractive.
When I think about the standard of male beauty, specifically men of color, I think of a guy that’s huge with muscles and tattoos who has threatening look. He needs to have abs, be 6’3, play football, and be built like The Hulk. That’s what society wants in black guys. Some might say that’s not true, but when a girl thinks of a guy that’s tall, dark, handsome, no one says they actually want a guy that’s small, shrimpy, and weak because that’s what has been idolized for men of color.
When I think about the standard of male beauty, I don’t fit it…. A lot of times I feel like I’m knocking myself down because on social media the guys who go viral and who everyone wants, don’t look like me.
When I think about that standard of beauty, I don’t fit it. Yeah, I’m 6’2 but growing up I was always short and skinny. It’s only now that I feel like I kind of fit it because I got tall and I go to the gym and have put on a little weight. But I still feel like there’s more to go. It’s hard because I want to be bigger, but I’m genetically a skinny guy. A lot of times I feel like I’m knocking myself down because on social media, the guys who go viral and who everyone wants, don’t look like me.
Growing up, a man was tall and handsome with a chiseled face and strong jawline. He also had status. So, if you were on the basketball team, you were instantly popular. If you had the best sneakers, you were cool and popular. Nowadays, masculinity is materialistic; you can almost buy yourself into being a man. For example, when a guy wants to get or impress a girl, the first thing he does isn’t work on his personality or confidence. Instead, he goes out and buys new clothes, sneakers, or maybe even a car. But I think there’s more to being a man than that.
I believe the right people will follow you once your intentions are clear. I don’t have a lot of friends. I’m not antisocial, but I don’t text a lot of people–maybe only two people. But once I feel you are genuinely for me and you have my best interest in mind, that’s when I will keep you in my heart. I’m not perfect, but if you’ll accept me, I’m good.
Nowadays, masculinity is materialistic….when a guy wants to get or impress a girl, the first thing he does isn’t work on his personality…he goes out and buys new clothes, sneakers, or maybe even a car.
For me, learning to be a man has been a gradual process. In high school, I just heard what people said–and so I did that. But in college, I started to learn more and search for it. Social media changed that a lot for me because I felt I began to see what girls really, really liked, which was confusing. One minute I’d think one thing was what being a man was, but then it would keep changing. That’s when I realized it’s better to have your own understanding.
So, I had to dust off my own definition and figure it out for myself. There isn’t anything to really figure out–it’s nothing spectacular. I learned I’m not going to get every girl I want or succeed at every opportunity I strive for. That’s life. I’m still learning and growing. I’m not successful yet. And when I do become successful, I’m not going to achieve one point and that be it because I’ll still keep raising the bar for myself. I’ll keep trying to be and do better.
For example, when I was younger, I was arrogant. I was a short, small punk that would run my mouth. I’ve toned down a lot. Many people don’t believe I used to be that way. But when I accepted that I was that, I could change it. I was always a person who chatted a lot with a comedic personality. But I started to think that as you grow older and mature, that’s something you need to curb. I’m still curbing it because I want to be a better listener. I feel you need to be listening 75% of the time, and only talking 25% of the time. So, that’s my goal, and it’s helped me think a lot more before and when I speak.
Listening is such an important quality. When you listen, you put yourself in a better position to become a better communicator. I like the fact that when you really listen, you can not say a word but the other person will think you’re the best conversationalist because humans crave appreciation and importance. When you really listen, you give them that–they feel heard. I want people to come to me and experience that, and vice versa.
I stopped focusing so much on being a better man, and, instead, thought about being a better person. I am a man and I am that in every shape, way, and form. Everyday I strive to be the best person I can possibly be because I think that’s an even bigger part of masculinity. Once you’re a better person, everyone benefits from it.
I stopped focusing so much on being a better man, and, instead, thought about being a better person…I think that’s an even bigger part of masculinity.
As a homosexual living in an age in which homosexuality was a crime, he was prosecuted and forced to undergo data chemical castration.