Monday, March 31, 2008

"I'll Show You a Real Man!"

Children are precious, they really are. They are the future of the world, right? But as we also know, they are very impressionable. So when I see a child regurgitating what they have been taught, I never know if I'm supposed to laugh and think it's cute, or should I be concerned at the things they are putting out.

Yesterday, during my evening walk, I came across a young boy. He was probably around 6-8 years old, definitely younger than 10. From a distance I could hear him roaring. I initially thought that he was playing some animal safari game or pretending he was a lion. As I was passing him, he reached over to a huge stalk of flowers/field weeds and grabbed this huge stalk, uprooted it, lifted it over his head and roared again. I chuckled. Then, the young boy throws the stalk on the ground and yells, "I'll show your a real man!!" He then jumps on the stalk and starts to stomp the stalk to death as he continues to roar like the Incredible Hulk.

As I am walking away, I immediately stopped laughing. But I did turn around to observe. His father was sort of encouraging his beastly behavior. I began to think: why is it that this young boy think that being barbaric and beast-like is the definition of a "real man?" He was clearly equating super strength with being masculine as he uprooted the weeds. But he also connecting aggression and violence to being a man.

Sure he is just a child. He doesn't know what he's doing. He's just playing. I don't believe that. I believe that he is doing what he has been taught, whether it be by television, movies, or his father. At such a young age he was being taught "gender roles" as defined by most of society. It's happened to all of us. Many young boys used to role-play "Power Rangers" because fighting off the bad guys was masculine in the 90s--of course they always made me the female Pink Ranger though. I've said it before on this blog: are we really this far behind? I honestly don't feel like I'm taking the child's behavior beyond what I should be. This is very legit and very alarming. I don't want the future generations of men to think that to be masculine means you have to have super strength and be aggressively beast-like.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Be A Man!

In my US History class we are currently learning about imperialism.  In our discussion about the social psychology of imperialism we discussed "manliness;" it was very important to display the qualities of being a man.  They had to accept the "code."   It was really the middle class' attempt to embody the benefits of being male.  Which is why organizations like the "Boy Scouts" were created, to instill the military virtues that made men, manly men.  I then came across a poem by Rudyard Kipling.  The poem "If" was written in 1895 by Kipling to his son.  A great example of the "code" and the qualities that the middle class was trying to embody:
If

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

I began to think, "Are we still trying to enforce this code on men today?"  Is there still this pressure to be like this?  Kipling set the bar pretty high!  But really though, has anything changed?  I still remember when I was growing up and if I feel and scraped my knee, the first thing my dad would say is, "Stop crying!  Be a man!"  I still hear fathers say that.  Or why is that when athletic teams mess up, the coach is quick to call the team, "pussies," "sissies," or "girls?"

I feel that in the past 100 years very little has changed in terms of what we demand of men in our society.  Why are women unable to live by the standards that are set forth for men to achieve?  God forbid a woman is successful, strong, independent, and free, because she must be a lesbian!  One hundred years people!  Let's get with the 21st Century!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

I Brought It Home! Presentation In My Hometown

I'm a little behind on this post, so I apologize, I have been too busy with midterms and figuring out where the heck I'm transferring to in the fall. But amidst the craziness in my academic schedule, I have found time to actually continue bringing about messages of truth, love, and inclusion to areas that don't always get word of that. I am referring to my recent presentation I made at Merced College (in my hometown) last week.

The day before the presentation and film screening, there was an article in our local newspaper, the Merced Sun-Star, that discussed the film briefly, but also focused on the different events Vince and I have been a part of including the Equality Ride and beyond.
Documentary illustrates deep-rooted homophobia. Putting a human face on homosexuality, religion and marriage is easier said than done. Vince Pancucci, 21, and Vincent Cervantes, 20, can speak to that statement. And they will -- in depth Thursday evening at Merced College's film night. Read article.
A year ago, the Sun-Star did a feature article on us and the Equality Ride. The article that was written in 2007 received lots of criticism and harsh Letters to the Editor. This year, surprisingly enough, there was a lot affirmation coming out of the article from people in the community. Granted yes, that were comments that suggested that reparative therapy is the only solution to homosexuality and that we should be ashamed. I cordially responded with my experiences with "ex-gay" therapy and how these programs tend to do more harm than good. I even made reference to the article written by Peterson Toscano, where he outlined the different ways that conversion therapies do harm. After the article and presentation, Letters to the Editor rolled in to share their belief that homosexuality is wrong and not in God's created intent for humankind. None of which I have replied to.

The night of the presentation could be summed up in one word: amazing. The film, "Tying The Knot," was great. The dates, events, and court cases are outdated now, but the film gave a good look into the struggles that same-gender couples have to encounter on a day-to-day basis. Vince and I gave our presentation after the film. We discussed our "ex-gay" experiences (why we chose to do it and the harm that it caused), our coming out experience at Azusa Pacific University, and our experiences in activism (Equality Ride, Right to Serve, "ex-gay" survivor movements, etc.). We kept our presentation short and concise with the intention of allotting a good amount of time for Q&A. Which was the best part. I was impressed with the questions that were asked. The questions ranged from why we compare the gay rights movement to the civil rights movement; to the scriptures; to what we hope government will do; and so many more.

After the event ended, many stayed around to just converse with Vince and I. I was overwhelmed with joy and happiness by the number of married same-gender couples that came up to introduce themselves to us. I would have never known that there were queer families in Merced. It was shocking. I also met with several retired pastors in the area who at one point used to preach that homosexuality was sinful, but have recently come to new understandings about what the Bible really says about homosexuality. One of them will start blogging soon about his new understandings.

All in all, I was surprised and really, really happy with the outcome of the event and how everything came about. I am keeping in contact with many of the people I met, so that together we can build up the LGBTQ community here in Merced. It was a blessing. Thank you all for your prayers on this!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Nostaligia

It has been a while since I've posted, but that's been intentional. I often find that I'm the type of person that takes on more than they handle all at once. For the past couple of weeks, I've been working on getting major items off checked off my to-do list.

I spent this past weekend at Azusa Pacific University with my best friends. Being on-campus all weekend definitely made me feel a variety of emotions. I've been to APU on short little visits, just to say "Hi," but never to actually stay an entire weekend. I had an amazing time with my friends, it really felt good to get away from Merced and to be surrounded by some of the people that mean the most to me. But the entire time I was there, I couldn't get over the butterflies that were in my stomach of being back at APU. It felt like a thousand eyes were watching me at once and whispering, "He's the one..." When I gave my name for my coffee order at Starbucks, the barista replied, "You're famous." That was awkward. But perhaps the most awkward was when people asked if went there and I gave the open-ended response of, "I used to." Part of me was afraid to say anymore.

By the end of the weekend, APU once again felt like my home though. It was like the good ol' days of going to my friends' apartment and laying around being random and silly. I truly mean it when I say I miss what I had while at APU.

But on a different note:

This Thursday (March 6), Vince and I will be the guest speakers at a film screening here in Merced. The film is "Tying the Knot," which will focus on the inequality of marriage. Following the film will be us, we will be sharing our ex-gay experiences, experiences with activism, etc.

For those of you in the area:
Merced College, Room V-140
Thursday Night, March 6
7:00pm-9:00pm

I will post a review of how everything goes down. Keep us in your thoughts and prayers. We are a little nervous about this one, as Merced as a reputation of breeding some "interesting" people.