Society likes to give us one definition of masculinity that is often more rooted in what you aren’t supposed to do than what you are.
And like a steel-framed box, there’s no wiggle room. You’re either it or you’re not. But Tobias strongly disagrees.
He believes being a man isn’t subject to society’s definition, but your own. Point blank. Period. And I couldn’t agree more.
Growing up, a man was someone who walked with his chest out and had a deep voice that resonated and carried. He spoke with surety and authority. There was absolutely no bending of the wrist. He didn’t put his hands on his hips, didn’t necessarily cross his legs in a certain way. They didn’t play with Barbie dolls, either. To be honest, I’ve never had anyone tell me what a man is, only what he isn’t.
My dad was in the navy, and thus always out to sea. Whenever people would call me gay or anything like that, I never let it bother me. Even my mom has said a few things like that sometimes, but I’ve blocked it all out. No matter what people said, I never let it get to my heart. Ever since I was young, I decided to raise my own spirit like that. Certain judgments placed on you hurt. But I was never willing to be a victim. That mainly happened at home, not in school.
There, men went fishing, played sports, wrestled, and talked about each other in a joking way. But because I wasn’t in the forefront of those things, when I would visit, they would treat me like I had a disease.
The only time it would happen outside of that was when we would visit family in the country.a. In their eyes, I was considered a little “too city,” which meant effeminate, because I wasn’t into what other boys were into. There, men went fishing, played sports, wrestled, and talked about each other in a joking way. But because I wasn’t in the forefront of those things, when I would visit, they would treat me like I had a disease.
If I sat down at a table, they would look at me and either slide all the way down or move. Thinking about now gives me a good cackle, because I never was bothered by any kind of “gay insult”. I’ve always had enough confidence to be proud of who I am. I never let anything they said or did to me get in the way of me loving myself.
I had enough faith in myself to persevere and still go on. And that changed things. I had this surge of power that I didn’t mind flexing and I let my voice be heard, respectfully. I knew how to stand up for myself. And those are the good attributes I saw not only in being a man, but a great person.
To be honest, I’ve never had anyone tell me what a man is, only what he isn’t.
I was very confident and proud of who I was, whether I was the virgin, fat, or questioning my sexuality. I had enough faith that today isn’t tomorrow, and that I’m good. No matter what came my way, I believe I would figure out how to deal with it. In my mind, I was able to deal with the world because I could deal with my mom and dad—the people who loved and hurt me the most.
At one point, I considered masculinity to be pretty much what I was told: a deep voice, athletic body, pimp walk. It wasn’t until I started exploring my sexuality and meeting other men who were gay/bi/dl that it changed. As I learned and experienced more men and women, I began to better realize where I fit on the spectrum of masculinity. I was neither super masculine nor effeminate. I was and am just me.