Femmephobia in the Gay Community

So I was reading comments on a Facebook post (I know that’s a recipe for disaster) about a young gay man who was overtly feminine. Well the article wasn’t about his personality but that didn’t stop the haters from spewing their internalized homophobia. In an hour of the posting there were at least four comments about how he was a disgrace to the LGBTQ community and that he was making the “normal” gay men look bad. I was just disgusted and reminded about how much internal homophobia there still is.

Sure I get it. Most of us had to hide who we were for a very long time. We were told having feminine traits was unacceptable. A man loving another man that’s not masculine. Men are macho, drink beer and are womanizers. Society has set this idea of what is and isn’t acceptable for men, as they have with women. If you don’t fit that mold you’re made to feel less. As to not stick out like a sore thumb you go inward hiding who you. The only thing that does is stunts your growth.

Bottom line gay men who look down upon guys who are feminine have deeply rooted misogyny. I’ve always wondered what is so wrong with a man having the traits stereotypical for a woman or man who wears a dress and/or makeup? Why does society tell us that it’s wrong and ugly? Who wrote the book on the rules and guidelines for masculinity and femininity. I have yet to find that book. So why do so many people feel trapped by this to the point they have to prove to the world their masculine by shunning anyone who might break a hole in their false image.

I look at our gay youth and I’m just awe inspired at their courage to be whoever they want. Most of them never had to endure what we did and we should be happy for that. They’ve not had it thrown down their throats that they must conform to the rules of manhood. They can be just as fabulous as they were born to be. Guys who are femmephobic are so jaded and bitter that they must take it out on others. To feel good about themselves they have this great desire to tear others down. The only person that looks bad is them but they don’t care. They don’t even see the elephant in the room.

That kind of hatred is dangerous and toxic. Growing up it was always known that men don’t cry. I would compare myself to other boys and I always felt different. I didn’t like the same things that most boys did. I wasn’t into sports and I loved musicals. When I came out of the closet it was the most freest I’ve ever been. Those chains no longer tied me down but sadly for so many they still are even years after they’ve come out. I can remember a date that I was on in my early twenties and the guy just gave it to me about how much like a woman I was. He went out of his way to shun me. I felt horrible but he was the one with the problem.

It’s so easy to forget what is out there until you’re faced with it head on. I learned this when I started to perform in drag. I had guys who’d tell me that they wouldn’t date me because of it. I even had other gay guys question why I dressed up in drag. Personally I think drag queens are the best part of our gay community. So many don’t see it that way. To get up on stage in heels, makeup and a dress takes nerve in this world. I mean getting on stage is nerve wracking enough. I love anyone who says fuck you to the social norms. Drag for me blends gender and art. So many gay guys look down upon drag queens when in reality they were the ones fighting for equality early on. We have them to think for a lot of the strides we have made today. How a person dresses and/or acts has no relation to who they are inside. How someone dresses doesn’t make them a bad person. A bad person is someone who does bad things including making others  feel less. There’s no strength in belittling someone else for who they are, what they wear and who they love.

I can’t imagine what my transgender brothers and sisters must endure on a daily basis. They’re at the forefront of this battle. So many are judging them for who they are deep within. It’s not surprising that so many transgender people try to end their lives, not to mention the countless murders of trans folks. All because of gender. Misogyny is what it boils down to. From the beginning of time women have been treated less. Like being a woman makes you less of a person. Who the fuck came up with that rule??? I think being a woman is one of the best things in this world. I mean women bring life into this world. If it weren’t for women we’d all be fucked. So anyone that tries to step out of the social norm is instantly an outcast. I mean that’s why people have such a problem with being gay. We’re breaking the rules thus for breaking the ceiling in their hate filled house. I learned this a long time ago with my father. People like this gain a false sense of control by grasping onto an ideology. They’re not confident with it because it’s not real so in order to stay safe they must convince as many people as they can that their way. They will stop at nothing to stop the cracks from breaking them free. They don’t care who they drag down or who they hurt in the process, as long as it keeps them safe and secure.

Life is too short be whoever you want to be. That’s how I approach life. If it’s not hurting anyone and the person enjoys it then more power to them. For the longest time I was embarrassed by my feminine side, as I had been brainwashed into believing that it was an abomination. I now realize that’s the best part of me. I love my sensitivity and the fact that I’m not afraid to cry. It’s taken me a long time but I’m finally proud to be fabulous and I feel bad for those who don’t feel it themselves. They’ve hidden those beautiful traits for so long that the lack of has become a part of their personalities.

Anyone who doesn’t fit that mold is labeled a loser. Guys on this post called him disgusting, not apart of the community. They just continue to spew. They’ve internalized the homophobia cast upon them and in return are doing the exact same thing to others who have the traits that they were scolded for. These types of guys are stuck in the past and are going to be left behind. The youth of today are free from those chains that held us down for so long, at least most of them. They can be whoever they want to be without the fear of judgment.

Our youth have broken the mold of what it means to be gay. They’ve colored outside the lines. There is this young boy who I quite admire. He’s proud of his fabulousness and he’s constantly encouraging me to be proud of mine. To this day I still struggle to be me. Here he is at ten years old (or around that age) and not afraid to be himself. It’s so refreshing to watch his journey. Thankfully he has a wonderfully, loving mother who embraces who he is and encourages his exploration. I mean this kid is already a fashion icon. There are so many young boys just like him. I wish I was able to be like that when I was a kid. I’m not one of these gay guys who are so stubborn and stuck in their ways that they feel like they’ve got to prove that way is wrong. While I’m sad I couldn’t embrace my fabulousness that early I’m proud and happy they have the chance to. That’s all we can hope for, that the next generation will have it easier than we did.

So I’m just disgusted when I read these types of comments because it reminds me of what I went through. I’m very thankful I didn’t let that poison turn me into the person who shunned and judged me. No one should be judged or made to feel less for who they are or who they love. If a man wants to wear a dress who cares. The last time I checked wearing a dress isn’t going to cause the end of the world, though some act like it will. Neither will wearing makeup. Life is tough enough, be what you want to be. There is no normal or a mold that you have to fit in.

One of my favorite poems speaks to all of this:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Marianne Williamson

We are ALL meant to shine. Who are you not to be? Be fabulous, wear it proudly. We’ve earned that right. So if you want to sashay down the runway, do it! I can tell you that you’ll probably enjoy it. I’ve hid for so many years and not just my femininity. It causes great internal damage. Playing small doesn’t serve the world, it doesn’t help anyone especially yourself. When you’re authentic and free that liberates others. So by being fabulous you’re giving another human being the courage to do so as well.

In the end, I feel sorry for these guys. So lost and stuck that they don’t even realize it. They’re the one with the issue and the only ones making our community look bad. We’ve been put through enough, it’s our time to shine.

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Outreach is the KEY in preventing Suicide! Be Someone’s Light!!!

Suicide-by-Heart-jbieberluver94-21933234-900-602So this isn’t an easy topic for me to talk about but I feel it is something that needs to be said. I have been wanting to write about suicide for a while and something happened recently that has brought it to the forefront of my mind. I started to write about it today but stopped myself as it was just too much. Then I heard that the country artist Mindy McCready had killed herself and then I had to write this.

I found out a few days ago a friend of mine tried to commit suicide. Instantly my heart dropped to the ground when I heard the news. I felt very helpless over the situation and felt like there was more I could have done to help this person. I knew that the person’s situation was very dire and that help was needed. I also knew that the person was suicidal. Anytime someone talks about suicide I take it very serious but in this situation there wasn’t a lot that I could do as he/she had no phone and he/she lived over an hour away. I also didn’t know where he/she lived. I really wanted to rescue the person but knew that I was in no place to do so.

All I could do was offer my support via facebook and let the person know that I was there, and hope that they were okay.

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My friends situation reminded me of how blessed I am to have the family that I do and how different my life would be with out them. I am also reminded that many are not as fortunate as I am when faced with a difficult situation, so many don’t have a place to turn to when they are knocked down. For some suicide feels like the only rational solution to bring them relief from the pain. Their pain is so severe and no relief is in sight.

Hearing the news that my friend attempted to kill him/her self was a chilling reminder of my own personal experience with death. I have never tried to kill myself but I have came close to heading down that route. It gives me the chills to even admit it. Having suicidal thoughts at various times in my life were the norm, it brought a sense of relief to the pain. I know that probably sounds crazy but it is the reality of it all.

Personally I believe anyone who tries to, especially those who succeed, kill themselves have lost their light. There is nothing connecting them to this earth, no beacon to pull them out of the darkness. The one thing that has kept me tied to this earth was my nieces and nephew. During some very dark moments in my life those three beautiful children kept me safe. When everything else was dark, dismal and hopeless, they were my sunshine. I can’t imagine where I would be without them. Honestly I wouldn’t probably still be here.

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My last biggest bout with depression, after a very bad breakup, was probably the deepest depression I had ever suffered. After I moved back to Michigan, I literally felt like I was going to die. I am so grateful that my Mom and sister talked me into coming back home, and that my sister and her husband opened their home to me. I have suffered from depression for a big part of my adult life but this was the first time I wasn’t sure I could get back up, nor did I want to.

I felt so broken and defeated that I was ready to give up. It was the closest to suicide than I had ever been before. Previously I had thought about it but this was the first time I had a plan. I felt so low that I couldn’t even see or feel my niece’s and nephew’s light. I felt so alone. You get to a point in your life when you continue to suffer over and over, that you begin to think there is no end or relief in sight. Death begins to be the only solution for the suffering and pain. The pain blocks out any reasoning, rationale or relief. All you can see and feel is the pain.

Suicide-Statistical-Map1The only thing that kept me from doing anything was knowing the suffering and pain that would come to my family. As much pain as I felt I could not inflict that grief upon my family. As low as I was, I knew what my suicide would do to them and I could not lay that burden on them. They were my hope and I held onto them.

So many don’t have that option. Mental health is still seen as this taboo subject. Getting help is buried in so much red tape that it gets in the way of true healing. With depression comes isolation and irrationality. You get trapped in this pitch black jail cell, with no way out. There is no release only pain.

I urge anyone who knows someone that is suicidal to take it serious, it is a desperate cry for help. For many that is the only way ask and get help. So when you get that SOS signal please don’t ignore it. You could be the difference between life and death. If you see someone drowning, you would rescue them… so why isn’t the same done when you see someone drowning mentally???

Light House in Stormy NightBe a shining light for someone who needs it. You could be their only lighthouse. A beacon out of the darkness. The only hope they can see. If you see someone deeply depressed, take action… Show them love and kindness, and be firm. Don’t wait until it is too late.

Do whatever it takes. If you have to call the police to keep them safe, do it!!! Sometimes people need intervention to get them out of bad situations, especially if they are in an abusive relationship.

There is help out there, as well as some very caring individuals. You are not alone.

tumblr_mcq5jsn8IW1qck0geo1_500There are some great organizations out there for those who are struggling with suicide and/or depression. One of them is The Trevor Project which offers support to those who are struggling in the gay community and need someone to talk to. The Trevor lifeline is open 24/7 and is free to call 1-866-488-7386. 

They have trained counselors around the clock that offer help to those in crisis, feeling suicidal, or in need of a safe and judgment-free place to talk. It’s free and confidential. While it is geared towards LGBT youth, anyone can call and they will gladly talk to you.

They also offer online chat on select days/times for those who are not suicidal. As well as Trevor Space which is a social networking site for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth ages 13 through 24 and their friends and allies. The Trevor Project also has a program called Ask Trevor. Ask Trevor is an online, non-time sensitive question and answer resource for young people with questions surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity. You can browse the published letters or submit your own letter.

Make sure to like The Trevor Project’s facebook page as well.

LogoAnother program for those who need someone to talk to is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255). If you feel like you are in crisis, no matter how big or small, they want you to call. They are also available 24 hours a day. They also have information like finding a therapist, as well education material. They also have a program for youth and veterans. As well as a facebook page.

The numbers listed above are also available for friends and family of loved one’s who are suicidal. They can help you with resources in your area for those who suffer from depression and/or suicidal.

How To Be Helpful to Someone Who Is Threatening Suicide

  • Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide.
  • Be willing to listen. Allow expressions of feelings. Accept the feelings.
  • Be non-judgmental. Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or whether feelings are good or bad. Don’t lecture on the value of life.
  • Get involved. Become available. Show interest and support.
  • Don’t dare him or her to do it.
  • Don’t act shocked. This will put distance between you.
  • Don’t be sworn to secrecy. Seek support.
  • Offer hope that alternatives are available but do not offer glib reassurance.
  • Take action. Remove means, such as guns or stockpiled pills.
  • Get help from persons or agencies specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.

http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/GetHelp/Someone

The main thing is to be aware of the person’s feelings and what they are going through. Those having a crisis sometimes perceive their dilemma as inescapable and feel an utter loss of control.

“If you experience these feelings, get help! If someone you know exhibits these symptoms, offer help!”

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Both the Trevor Project and The Suicide Prevention Lifeline are for those in the USA. For those who live outside of the United States a great resource is the International Association for Suicide Prevention and Befrienders.

When you are drowning in the pain and darkness of it all it seems impossible to see past the grief and suffering. There is help out there, as well as hope. You are not alone. You are loved and of value. If you are surrounded by darkness, get out… Search for the light. Trust me I know how it is to be up to your neck in muck. It is a scary, unsafe place to be. You are worthy of love and help. There are kind people in this world. I know it may not seem like that is the case, especially if you are surrounded by negative people but there are true angels out in this world. Hold on. I believe in you. You matter.

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