It’s a rule in society that if you’re a ‘sensitive’ man, who doesn’t like sport, have more female than male friends, and not dating anyone, you’re homosexual. There’s no other explanation for it. You’re GAY. This is forever how you’ll be labelled, just because you don’t meet the requirements of how a “real man” is supposed to be.
I grew up exactly as the man I explained earlier. I didn’t conform to the ways a ‘real boy’ was supposed to be. I was shy; more sensitive than the other boys; not into sports; my voice sounded different; I walked different, and I had more female than male friends. This made me a target for relentless bullying throughout my child- and teenagehood
I was constantly called “moffie”, “bunny”, “skeef”, “skyns”, and “meisie”. All terms children at school used to refer to gay men. I remember that whenever girls and boys were split at school to perform different activities, I would be told by my peers to go with the girls because I’m a “meisie”. If I didn’t want to play touch rugby with the boys, I would relentlessly be called a “moffie” and laughed at. This is exactly why I do not like the term “moffie”, because it just brings back so many memories of hurt; sexual harassment; and sitting alone during break time because boys didn’t want to be my friend or to avoid my female friends out of fear of being called a “moffie”.
The dictionary defines homosexuality (n) as: “the quality or characteristic of being sexually attracted solely to people of one’s own sex”. Nowhere does it say anything about the way someone speaks; the way they walk; the way dress; what gender their friends are; what interests they have; what personalities they have. YET these stay the frameworks society uses to label you as homosexual.
I am not sexually attracted to men, but when I tell some people this they vigorously try to find ways to get me to say I am. I remember this one specific afternoon when I was at a party, this guy asked me if I was gay. When I said no, he then proceeded to ask me if I was sure and whether I wasn’t perhaps bisexual. I again said no. He then asked if I don’t have sex with men, like some heterosexual men, according to him, often tend to have. I again said no. And when I asked him why he thought I was gay, his answer was “because of the way I speak”. Apparently I sound gay. Not because he thought I was sexually attracted to men, but just because of the way I annunciate my words.
The sad thing is that even my family thinks that I am gay. I know this by the subtle hints they throw my way. Like my uncle asking me if he should set me up with a boyfriend because he knows of “lekker outjies” in his neighbourhood; my cousin asking me if one of my male friends I brought to a family gathering is my “sexy friend” implying that we have sex; or my family saying there is always a gay cousin in families, subtly looking at me when they say it. Isn’t your family supposed to accept you just the way you are?
I am not one of those men that make it obvious that I like women by objectifying them and engaging in conversations with other men who do. Women are more than just their boobs and vaginas. They have a heart; they have a mind, and they have a soul. Does it make me gay if I appreciate that more than her physical features? Obviously I am attracted to someone physically before I am to their personality, but I am more attracted to the latter. That’s what makes me love her. I love her body, but I love her personality, her heart, and her soul, more. Because without that she would be an empty vessel. So would I.
Society’s idea of what a man should be and how he should act, is so problematic! Like what is a “real man” anyway? And if this written piece can reach someone who thinks they’re not “man enough” just because they do not live up to the standards of the ideal man, then I’m happy. Because you ARE a man, regardless of whether you’re ‘sensitive’ or gay.