The Bodies of Men

The well-muscled gay man’s body today seems, by contrast, like something decorated, embellished. This is ironic because, in a way, this body seems clearly to be an attempt at recuperating masculinity, a visible sign of adequacy and power and legitimacy to be displayed proudly by those who, as children, may have been taunted for being too thin or too weak or two clumsy… Gay men’s bodies are the bodies of men who do not want to feel shame before their fathers.
— Daniel Mendelsohn, The Elusive Embrace.

This thought has had me cutting the other gays in my city a little bit of slack lately. It’s easy to look at all the crap of gay men’s behaviors and become cynical, but I try to remember that a lot of what our culture is is shaped by years of pain, and crippling feelings of shame, and bullying, and toxic relationships to others and the self. And that now, even though they are pushing 40 and still wearing Hollister and puka shell necklaces and are still tanning and still bleaching their tips, that they never really got to do it in junior high, and they deserve a chance to; that my disdain serves nothing.

When I picture them as the teenager that I was, I want to collapse into tears and hug them, now.

Also: this line from Ryan O’Connell’s piece in Hello, Mr. “Whenever you get intimidated by other gay people, just remember that they, too, were once a frightened 13-year-old boy masturbating to Ryan Phillipe in the shower.”

I’m just glad that we all made it here, in however many pieces we are.