Being a gay man does not make me feel less manly or more feminine. All it does it make me more appreciative of what it means to be a woman in our society.
Granted, I have three very important women in my life — my ex-wife and two daughters — who provide me with a road map for understanding women and appreciating the connection that women and gay men share. But ever since I came out as a gay man, I discovered I had more in common with women than I ever thought possible and my respect for women has intensified even more. A couple ways that I relate to women below:
• We are sexualized. Gay men and women both have to endure being treated as a piece of meat. Society sees women as sexual delicacies for men to devour and gay men as sexual deviants who exist to show straight boys what not to do. What this really means is that the desires of women and gay men are not considered as legitimate as those of heterosexual men. That, of course, is archaic thinking that needs to stop.
• We're both considered weak, but are actually very strong. For all the mockery, demeaning behaviors and not-good-enough messages (i.e. "that's so gay" or "you throw like a girl") that are thrown at us, we sure know how to stand up and prevail. Our fights as women (lesbians included) and gay men show that we have the strength to overcome any obstacles that hold us down.
• We don't fit gender stereotypes. One of the highest hurdles I had to cross coming out of the closet was the belief that my masculinity was at stake because I was gay. Boy was I wrong. I'm a 6'4, 280 pound guy who is built like a linebacker and you're going to tell me I'm not masculine enough because I'm more attracted to men than women? Fine. Let's go rumble. Likewise, women are constantly criticized for either being too feminine when they are not aggressive or too masculine when they are. Instead, we should judge people on their own merit and not let our perceived notions of gender color our expectations of how people should and should not behave.
• We have trouble with confidence, self-esteem and self-love. Ninety percent of my clients — gay, straight, male, female — have one thing in common that freezes them up in life: low self-confidence. When you are a woman or a gay man, you are constantly being told that you aren't good enough and that is enough to wear anyone down. In response, we need to fight even harder to prove to the world that we have a lot to offer and that we deserve to be taken seriously.
If I've learned nothing else from women since I came out of the closet, it's that you are only not good enough if you allow other people to treat you like you aren't good enough. This goes for straight men as well, who are often in closets of their own struggling to assume their roles as tough guys.
Funny how if we stripped down to our naked truths and were just humans, there would be no closets to come out of because there would be no need for closets to hide in.
Ready to break out of stereotypical man vs. woman assumptions? Tired of playing to please? Give yourself a complimentary life coaching session if for no other reason to say, "I'm worth it!"
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This article originally appeared on YourTango.com: "Why Being Gay Makes Me Appreciate Women"