"What is your story about masculinity?" you ask. "What does it mean to be a man?"
Why should I tell you? To heal the community? Shall I, as William Blake puts it, tear up the garden of desire and fill it with churchmen saying "Thou shalt not?" Should I fall into the trap of sharing my stories and risk contributing more bricks into the edifice of the orthodoxy of men?
Because there is a Church of Men. You have to move through its pews orthogonally, like a rook sliding over the black and white squares of a chessboard. Here's our saints in the stained glass windows: Crafty Odysseus and Telemachus, the good son. The Magician, the Lover, the King, the Trickster, the Wounded Healer, and the Siberian Shaman.
In the special niche for the opera queens, gym-dandies, and the leathermen, the stained glass windows show ancient Greek aristocrats, samurai lovers, and The Native American two-spirits. Here's the icons of gay male martyrs, starting with the Sacred Band of Thebes and ending with Oscar Wilde, Alan Turing, Harvey Milk, and Matthew Shepherd.
At the altar is our holy of holies: the erect penis with its foreskin whole and testicles packed with the seeds of life; the cock, the dick, the boner. Our pride. Our pleasure. Our bodily vehicle of grace. Our pointer pointing out desire and informing ourselves and our interactions.
But if you jump over the pews, if you step on the cracks between the tiles, the next time you try to enter, you'll find the church doors closed behind tangled briars, and you'll have to be satisfied with catching snatches of hymns being sung by the people inside.
The mainstream hedges and censors the male narrative with taboos to keep it safe for women, children, the old, the uninitiated, and the naive. If I name my power as a man, what will the mainstream's response be but to tell me, "you must acknowledge culture's authority by only talking about manhood and manliness a certain way -- a precisely specific and controlled way -- and in certified safe spaces." The mainstream will take my stories of manliness and maleness, but box them up into neat packages, conferences, and performances so I may be sold pieces of myself -- for the greater good, of course.
So forget you, and forget the mainstream. I'll share my stories with you -- that's what this blog is for -- but you can't have my definition of what it means to be male.
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