Why Does Being Called ‘Gay’ Bother Me?


When I first started speaking and doing honest videos about my experiences with depression, molestation and suicide attempts seven years ago, being called “gay” was one of my biggest fears. Imagining my authentic and vulnerable sharing being met by derision and mockery kept me silent for too long. By the time I got such a comment it actually made me laugh.

stop being so gay!

Click to enlarge image.

My podcast, Real Men Feel, has now gotten it’s first “gay” comment. An important threshold has been crossed! I have yet to decide how or if to respond. I’m finding myself particularly triggered by this one. I think it coming from someone with my own name is making me want to fight back as opposed to laughing it off, or thanking him for being a scholar and a gentleman. What would you do? You can watch it here if you like. (Note: since this was first published he has gone back and deleted his comment and my reply asking him to be on the show.)

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Being called “gay” is the put-down that goes back the farthest and was the easiest to throw at anyone when I was a kid. Anyone or anything not seen as tough, macho or in proper alignment with being a man (which was never clearly defined), would be labeled as “gay”. In elementary school, I was in the school band, chorus, and plays, but by the time I was in high school I stopped doing all of that—even when I had a genuine interest in continuing. It was all over peer pressure and my fear of the judgment of others.

Begin called “gay” has never struck me as sexual. I never took it as though they are calling me a homosexual. It wasn’t like kids went around screaming, “You’re attracted to men!” at each other. The hurling of that term, “gay”, was saying I wasn’t a man. I wasn’t enough. I wasn’t right.

“That’s so gay.” “Don’t be gay.” “You’re so gay.” Anything being called “gay” was the ultimate dismissal of it. As a kid, there was no acceptable response. When I first began hearing “gay” as a put-down I don’t think I was even aware of what homosexuality meant. Maybe for a boy who knows he is gay today, a response of, “Yes. I am gay” might shut bullies up, or perhaps it makes the torment increase. When I was growing up, continuing to act in whatever way was being ridiculed only guaranteed more ridicule and mockery.

The same day that the Real Men Feel episode got the “…don’t be so fucking gay” comment, another viewer posted positive comments on three other videos. This reminds me of advice I received five years ago when one person kept posting negative comments on my videos about my experiences, and I took them all very personally. A friend asked me, “Why do you focus on the one negative comment as opposed to the dozens of positive ones?” I had no answer. That woke me up to the fact that any comment attacking me was outnumbered by dozens of comments thanking me.

Other people have pointed out that “gay” originally meant carefree, happy, joyous, and lighthearted. Some European friends say that is still the primary meaning there and that they didn’t realize this was somehow a put-down in the US. So over the course of the 20th century, American masculinity decided that being happy, joyous and lighthearted was not something a true man should have anything to do with.

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Recently I noticed someone shared a Real Men Feel show link on Facebook saying “for my sensitive male friends.” Sensitive is another word that makes me bristle a bit. I was often called sensitive growing up and it never seemed like it was a compliment. My own wife was told by a friend that I was sensitive before she met me, that always struck me as some sort of warning to her, but she failed to heed it.

Being called sensitive is right up there with the notion of “nice guys finish last.” I can’t remember where or when I first heard that but it was embedded in my mental programming at an early age it seems.

So what the hell is so wrong with being sensitive? Nothing. Yet, for whatever reason, that adjective is not one I like being used on me. And does my being bothered by being called gay mean I really do have some sort of internalized homophobia? That is more difficult to answer. I can see that possibility. I’m not homophobic to the point of treating others differently, but there is still some societal bullshit in me that wants to make sure nobody thinks I’m gay. I don’t know what I can do about that, but one thing I can do is dedicate an upcoming episode of Real Men Feel to this notion of internalized homophobia. I even replied to that other Andy Grant (#NotMyAndyGrant), inviting him on to the show.

Any change starts with awareness and open discussion. Perhaps in time, my new natural response to being called “sensitive” or “gay” will be a heartfelt, thank you.

Originally published at GoodMenProject.com. This resulted in the Real Men Feel show on March 7, 2017 being about internalized homophobia.

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About The Author
Andy GrantAndy Grant is a best-selling author, award-winning speaker, Transformational Energy Coach, Akashic Records Reader and suicide prevention activist. He holds certificates in Positive Psychology, the Enwaken Coaching System, Akashic Records, Infinite Possibilities and Reiki, as well as other leadership programs and energy work modalities.

Andy teaches workshops ranging from energy tools to ebook publishing, and is the founder of Real Men Feel, a movement encouraging men to come out of the emotional closet. He also facilitates monthly men’s groups and is a contributor at the GoodMenProject. As a survivor of multiple suicide attempts, Andy knows how low we as human beings can feel, and he is committed to helping people realize how magnificent life is meant to be. Learn more about Andy at TheAndyGrant.com

It’s Okay to be Human

It’s okay to have everything, but still want more.

It’s okay to spend years learning how to walk a spiritual path, but still display non-spiritual emotions when something knocks you off your path.

It’s okay to be enlightened, but still express strong opinions.

It’s okay to be calm, but still show anger.

It’s okay to be happy, but still feel sorrow.

It’s okay show courage, but still admit to being afraid.

It’s okay to love, but still feel hate.

Why?

It’s part of being human.

It’s what we signed up for.

This experience is what we wanted.

So, embrace the totality of who you are, even if you think you don’t know who you are yet… or even if you’re redefining what it means to be you.

It’s okay… because you’re here. Completely, fully here. Right now.

All of you.

Embrace your experience and love it.

Because it’s okay to be human.


About the Author

Appio Hunter, a.k.a. The Emotion Emancipator, is a personal development coach, energy worker, author, and inspirational speaker. He holds certifications as a Happiness Champion and Infinite Possibilities Trainer.

Appio is a self-described crusader for joy. His work blends multiple disciplines to show everyone how they can embrace their personal power and experience clarity, emotional freedom, balance, inner peace, and joy every day. He is also co-host of the weekly podcast Real Men Feel along with his good friend and fellow coach Andy Grant. You can learn more about Appio at AppioHunter.com.

Am I A Man?

Hi, I’m Andy and I’m a human male. That may be quite obvious when you see or hear me, but for a long time, I didn’t feel like a man. I questioned my manliness, my masculinity, and wondered why I never felt like a “real” man. I was sure if the true me was known that my mythical man card would be taken away.

I was an emotional child, a scared child who lived in dread of being picked on, pointed out, or even noticed. A hard look in my direction was often enough to bring on tears. I was anxious and on edge, which would eventually exhaust me into deep sadness and depression.

I was raised by a single mom, which made me feel like less of a man from the start. My mother always said I was such a good boy and somehow just knew what she wanted. I didn’t act out or get in trouble. This was in nursery and elementary school, my acting out came later.

I was afraid of being called on in school, not for getting an answer wrong, but for getting it right and being ostracized for being smart, or coming off as a teacher’s pet. I was afraid of being noticed on the playground. I was afraid of being made fun of at the bus stop. Without realizing it, fear ruled my life.

At the age of 20, while in a mental hospital, I remembered being molested by a neighbor when I was five years old. It was a bit of a relief to discover there was a reason for those years of not feeling safe. But it brought new worries and concerns: Since I was sexually abused by a man, was I gay? Since I was molested will I become a molester? Those fears and more played over and over in my head, but I never dared speak of them.

I thought real men were tough and stoic. So I pretended by being quiet, keeping to myself, and having few friends. I drank my way through high school and college—which seemed a very manly and accepted thing to do—but most nights, I ended up thinking my friends were just using me. I isolated myself in my room, under a bed, or literally in a closet on multiple occasions, crying.

This was no way to live, let alone being a man, so I tried to stop. I tried to stop living and attempted suicide multiple times in my teens and early 20s.

It was only years later that I began to see and respect my strengths: My resilience, my true toughness, my bravery and courage, my willingness and authenticity in feeling. I saw that the more I opened up and shared, the more others did too. My vulnerable risks were always rewarded. I began to think, maybe my willingness to feel is what really makes me a man? Hiding, resisting, and denying may appear to be traditional manliness but it is another aspect of fear.

What if the bravest thing you could do was cry? What if you felt strong enough to admit that you don’t have it all figured out? What if real men feel?

Originally published at GoodMenProject.com

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About The Author
Andy GrantAndy Grant is a best-selling author, award-winning speaker, Transformational Energy Coach, Akashic Records Reader and suicide prevention activist. He holds certificates in Positive Psychology, the Enwaken Coaching System, Akashic Records, Infinite Possibilities and Reiki, as well as other leadership programs and energy work modalities.

Andy teaches workshops ranging from energy tools to ebook publishing, and is the founder of Real Men Feel, a movement encouraging men to come out of the emotional closet. He also facilitates monthly men’s groups and is a contributor at the GoodMenProject. As a survivor of multiple suicide attempts, Andy knows how low we as human beings can feel, and he is committed to helping people realize how magnificent life is meant to be. Learn more about Andy at TheAndyGrant.com