Thursday, August 12, 2010

Real Men are Illusions. Macho is the New Gay.

I remember a story my friend Chuck told me that happened in Facebook. He saw a former classmate from high school, and like any decent person who wanted to catch up, decided to add the guy as a friend. A few days later, Chuck received a message.

The message said that the classmate couldn’t add Chuck because the former had developed a“slight homophobia”. Chuck was first shocked, then angry, then mortified. He couldn’t believe that he went out on a limb to give this guy an opportunity to be Facebook “friends” and the guy gave him the electronic equivalent of a slap in the face. So, like any other person addicted to Facebook in the Philippines, he decided to update his status.

“I just added this guy from high school and he said that he can’t add me back because he developed a slight homophobia. I’m regretting the fact that I added him in the first place.”

A wave of sympathetic comments flew in from the “let’s get this guy and destroy him” to the “it’s good you’re being a class act by not going down to his level” type. I even threw in an insult or two. Besides, what is a “slight” homophobia?

(It reminded me of this piece a spoken word poet once performed, lamenting this generation’s lack of conviction when speaking. He said that every idea we posit is really an invitation towards a shared disbelief, and that every sentence we speak is really a question. I thought if the classmate was going to “develop” homophobia, he might as well have the balls to admit that it is definitely more than a “slight” one considering that he just insulted a decent gay man who tried to be polite.)

The number of sympathetic comments wasn’t a surprise, but it got me to thinking (as Carrie Bradshaw would have said): Is our generation moving away from and is in fact consciously rejecting traditional macho culture?

This reminded me of another conversation with my friend Mike. Now, Mike is a gay man, but outside of the fact that he likes Mariah Carey and having sex with his boyfriend, no one can tell he’s gay. That’s because he is a complete slob. (In case he’s reading this, he’s also very very intelligent. Love you Mike! We’re still friends right?) He confessed that he doesn’t take a bath everyday because he thinks it’s a waste of time. His longest run was two weeks, and he was only forced to take one because his roommates could no longer stand how he smelled. In fairness to him, he was suffering from depression then, but the not-taking-a-bath-regularly-thing kind of stuck.

I remember telling him that I used to think he had a gray pallor every time we went out. At first I thought it was a skin condition. I didn’t realize it was a thin coating of dust. I received a rather painful punch on the shoulder for my mouth.

I also told him that we’re already being marginalized for wanting to sleep with men. Why would you want to be gay, and then keep that aspect of traditional macho culture that makes straight men, well, icky? In case people haven’t realized it yet, straight men have been trying to look gay for the past several years (under the guise of the politically-correct term “metrosexuality”). Why be marginalized on both fronts: one, for wanting to sleep with men, and two, for looking like a dirty straight man?

I asked if he was insane. I got another punch in the shoulder.

There was this guy (whose name escapes me at the moment) who decided to jumpstart a movement that was a response to the feminist philosophy. He wanted men to re-take their manhood because he believed that the current cultural and social landscape has emasculated them.

Emasculated them. What a joke. (The first time I read about it, I thought the writer was being satirical.) The whole movement was an ironic WTF blip in the whole of human history. No one could take it seriously. The very concept of a real macho man is isolated, silent, unmoving: a lone wolf. How can they possibly do that as a group? By sharing their feelings of emasculation? Isn’t that what they were trying to stop in the first place; all this touchy-feely stuff? How does that work?

In the (admittedly upscale) school I used to go to, a guy can get teased by his other guy friends because he keeps on wearing pleated slacks. My older brother (who, it may be argued, is too straight, considering the number of girlfriends he had) is even more brand-conscious than I am. I know another guy, not gay, who will kill you if you touch his hair. These all used to be very “gay” characteristics. (In fact, you would have gotten beaten up and bullied for exhibiting them not too long ago.) The former macho men are now encroaching on what used to be regarded as “faggot (bakla)” territory; so much so, that it has actually become unfashionable to look like, well, what we used to call a guy’s guy, a macho man. Acting tough is now a liability: in all probability, people will laugh at you rather than applaud you.

And this general encroachment has had a ripple effect, and is starting to impact other aspects of our culture, particularly where the heteronormative and homosexual perspectives collide/intersect. There are examples now, like that of Chuck’s classmate, where straight men are publicly skewered for declaring homophobic beliefs. It’s still okay to be homophobic, our society says, you just can’t admit it.

(I mean, just look at My Husband’s Lover and how Filipinos have embraced the ideas it espoused and the themes it has embraced. That’s one huge effing leap for mankind.)

This made me realize that the homophobes, ironically, are now in the closet gay men used to occupy. And the idea is the very soul of karmic retribution. The world is moving towards a new direction, and if more gay men bravely step out of the closet, then we’ll have more space to stuff the homophobes in.

Featured photo taken here.


  1. Precisely why I detest labels. Although I must agree that sometimes using labels as a means to make certain concepts approachable, or easily comprehensible, makes them an indispensible tool. But too often, people get fixated with them.

    The human experience is as varied as our individualities. To be boxed by a mere label is an oversimplification of the essence of a person. And to pass judegment based on something as superficial as a label, gravely discounts the other facets that could make someone valuable to you.

    Being that homosexuality is as kaleidoscopic in spectrum as heterosexuality, what then is the purpose of these labels? Tools for discretion? For social injustice and exclusion? If that is so, your title is most appropriate. Let them experience the same stigma they enforce. Myopia deserves a pair of magnifying lenses to be perused.

  2. Enjoyed reading this, but you took the word "slight" out of context. The guy who rejected the friend request was using a play on words. The common expression is "developed a slight case of the fever/flu/etc." So his using homophobia as a medical condition is appropriate. It's insulting, sure. But he is using a clever twist as far as language is concerned.

  3. whatever tickles your pickle, as the saying goes.

    circles don't need to be tangential all the time. thanks, but no thanks - you do your thing, i'll do mine.

  4. @everyone: wow, I must have some of the most intelligent readers ever.

    @anonymous, yes, I probably took it out of context. blame it on the rage. :-p

    @red: i agree with everything you just said.

    @eternal wanderer: i agree with the first part. at the risk of sounding unintelligent, the second part just flew over my head. oops, there it goes. :-)

  5. ive been hearing so much about you. even the superstar bloggers talk about you. and discovering you found your way to my simple abode, aba naman, nakakagulat!

    salamat sa pagdaan, at lubos akong humahanga sa angkin mong kakulitan

  6. @anteros: wow, thank you. your words are much appreciated.

  7. fab 5- those guys in the show queer eyes right?

    homophobes, ironically, are now in the closet --- true

  8. I LOVE THIS POST. This is made of WIN.

  9. WINNER!!! :D

  10. Correct me if I'm wrong but I get the impression that you are arguing your point apropos of the "straight narrative", that is - having accepted that there is a class of macho men, the real men, and then there is us. I think making such a distinction is one of the things that fosters homophobia in the first place.

    The statement "Being open-minded about gays doesn't make you any less of a straight/macho man," which seems to be the implication here, is too loaded and counterproductive.

  11. @khanto: yup, I'm referring to queer eye. :-)

    @narnian and jepoy: thanks!

    @drew: valid argument. thanks for engaging in the debate.

  12. I LOOOOOVE LABELS! Hermes, give them to me!

    (Ayaw mo ng labels, Red? Akin na lahaaaaat! Yeah, I'm just a pretty girl, tee-hee-hee.)

  13. Coming out should be done only to satisfy something intrinsic. Doing it for all the wrong reasons, say just so there'll be more space to stuff the homophobes in, is counterproductive. We do that, we're no better than them.

    We all strive for acceptance, and it's something that is learned. It may take some time but it'll happen.

    Nice read. :)

  14. @mark: I completely agree. Coming out is never required, and you do what needs to be done to be able to live your life. But it is easier to come out today, in its most general sense, than it used to be several years ago.

    As always, I appreciate people who engage in the discussion.

  15. @joel: as always, your irreverence is refreshing. :-)

  16. Alas! A blog that has sense, and a blogger with lots of common sense to share! <3 worth reading...


  17. You kept me glued on my computer. :) You are wonderful.

  18. May I speak in Tagalog? because my brain is bleeding (not just my nose, hehehehe =P)

    you know what, I had a boyfriend who became a gay. maybe I was not aware that he had tendency to be a gay. actually, he claimed that he was bisexual. whatever! that's why every time I see two men walking together, I suspect that they have relationship. hehehehehe

  19. I love this post. I'm a little jealous that you're such a good writer. Thanks for reading/comnenting on my post. Yeah, beer. Dos XXs. By the way, how did you come across my blog anyways?

  20. @tsokolate: hahaha. well, I wouldn't know. it's possible for them to be friends pa rin naman. :-)

    and i'm sorry about your boyfriend. that happens. it's particularly annoying if it happens to you.

    @struggling girl: thanks! random blog-hopping. it's my chat roulette. :-)

  21. LMAO This is a great article. It is very true that straight men are encroaching upon gay men's territory. All these metrosexuals running around with their manicures and $25 a bottle hair product.

    And you're right, men can't be macho in a group setting, it'd be like having a room full of Clint Eastwoods, all standing there strong, stoic, and silent with the exception of the occasional murmur of 'Go ahead, make my day.' (Since I've never actually seen a Clint Eastwood movie, I might be off on the quote, if so, forgive me, but you get the idea.)

    It's a sad statement on society that homophobia still exists. Yes, it's gone underground, but in some ways that makes it more insidious. You can't fight what you can't see.

    Anyway, I'll stop babbling now. You have a great blog. I'm voting for this post. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  22. I enjoyed this.

    Our society today is much too obsessed with labels.

    There are gay qualities and there are straight qualities, but that's not to say they only belong to gay men or straight men, respectively.

  23. @Raven: Thanks! And I appreciate you taking the time to comment. :-)

    @David: re:labels, I agree. We do tend to make a lot of false generalizations.

  24. I was smiling all the way while reading your post. I’m straight but I got several gay friends and they don’t make my skin hair stand up. I think it’s because I’m exposed at a very young age that there are boys who likes to play Barbie instead of GI Joe. You see, three of my cousins are gay. Sadly, one is still hiding at the deepest recesses of his closet.

    Your last paragraph is a food for thought.

  25. @Blogus: :-) Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it and found something worthwhile.

  26. Good post. I am off to read the others, but think this would be a good nomination for your contest.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog, also! : )

  27. I love this whole thing...but the last paragraph is positively GENIUS. I am now officially an avid Fickle Cattle follower.

    Oh, and in case you happened to be wondering...I figured out my Flickr password! But I'm glad you got some amusement out of my predicament haha.

  28. @erinie: Hahaha. Good for you. And thanks!

  29. Woah! This is simply amazing (ang panget, parang Smart)...pero, anyway...mag Tatagalog ako ha..wehe..I totally get the point...funny...may ganitong experience din ako...may guy na nandiri sa isang gay friend ko and all my classmates were so over him for his homophobia...hahaha...takot na sila maging overt ngayon...hahaha

  30. I love reading your post! Very intriguing and thought provoking.


  31. @Hi Me!: Hahaha. Dapat lang di ba?

    @Jaclyn: Thank you. I appreciate that. :-)

  32. Love the last paragraph. Let's stuff them in, lock them up, and throw away the key. :)


  33. Great post. Thank you for your refreshing perspective.

  34. Oh and labels? In US society, people are obsessed with labels. People, animals, the environment, name brand, off-brand, technology - everything is categorically and summarily divided into labels. Breaking down the notion that we don't have to categorize everything and just accept things as they are is the big quest of our time.

  35. I'm nowhere near as insightful as you are, so I don't have any intelligent response. Even still, I love your posts and your honesty.

  36. i love the line where you say if more gay men would come out of the closet there would be more room to put the homophobes in there!

    that friend request guy was an idiot. Gay men are awesome!

  37. I love this line:

    "It's still okay to be homophobic, our society says, you just can't admit it."

    It reminds me of the recent incident with that Ateneo student who wrote that Tagalog is language "para sa kalye".

    I remember tweeting something similar to what you wrote:

    "It's ok to be snooty. You just can't declare your snootiness publicly."

    If you dare to cross that line and out of stupidity, ignorance or courage - express with all honesty what you think about --- be prepared to be stoned to death ( electronically ) by the electronic lynch mob in Facebook and Twitter.



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