A Letter to My Closeted Brothers and Sisters

letter to my gay brothers and sistersHello My Dear Friends,

I hope this correspondence finds you doing well. I hope that the sun is shining on your face and the wind is always at your back, as the saying goes. First off, I wanted to congratulate you for all of the positive progress you have made so far on your coming out journey.

You may be thinking, “I haven’t made any progress yet. I’m still completely hidden inside of my closet.” To this I say, you are not giving yourself enough credit. At the very least, you are realizing that you are not happy and completely satisfied in your closet. This is a step. It may seem small, but self-awareness is no small feat. Many people live their entire lives ignoring their internal gut instincts.

Your knowing that you wish for change proves that you have a rebel and a dreamer inside of you. I bet if you let your mind wander you imagine a life for yourself where you are not closeted. Visualization is key. Performing this visualizing has the chance to create hope within you. Hope is a powerful thing, My Friend.

Please take time to congratulate yourself on working as hard as you do. It is hard work to be closeted and still function at your job, with family, and with friends. In many ways, you are working twice as hard as the others around you just to perform the same tasks and to stay calm and centered. And all the while you may be blaming yourself for being who you are and acting as you do.

Please let yourself off of the hook for any lies you may have told friends, family and co-workers to hide who you truly are. These things do not make you a bad person. You are merely surviving in the only way you can think to at the present moment. To some extent, everyone exists as two different people; the version of themselves they know to be true inside and the version of themselves which they share with everyone else. No one else ever knows who we completely are from our core to our outside.

Lies and secrets happen. One lesson I can share with you from my personal, coming out journey is that, when it is all said and done, none of that matters. Who cares? You can’t change the past. All you can control is what you are doing right at this moment. Let yourself off the hook for being so concerned with other people’s feelings. Let yourself off the hook for living your life more to please others than to please yourself. In actuality, it means you are a kind and good person. That, My Friend, is a positive thing.

If you have experienced negative responses from people who you have come out to, brush it off. In the end, pretending to be someone you are not, simply to serve the comfort level of someone narrow-minded and backwards, will never be a path to your personal happiness. Remember that these people’s reactions say more about them than they do about you. We are not meant to mesh well with everyone in this life. Don’t pressure yourself to be an exception from this reality.

I want you to give yourself credit for feeling fear. It may seem like a burden, but it has a place in this life. Fear can make us slow down, think about our moves carefully, and be an active, thoughtful driver behind the wheel of our life. Sticking with the car metaphor – remember that fear is a rear view mirror to help you consider your turns, but it is not the steering wheel by which you should actually make your moves. I will make the suggestion that Hope should be your steering wheel, or at least one of the ones that you use.

I wish I had words to better explain the moment where my internal light switch flipped for me and I suddenly cared more about my personal comfort level with my being gay than I did about everyone else’s feelings and reactions to it. I guess I shouldn’t describe it as a moment; it was really a long transition over several years and several instances of coming out to people. You will get there. One day you will look back at these internal monsters, which feel so huge and scary right now, and they will suddenly feel like tiny, non-threatening, stuffed animals.

Remember to give yourself time to become the person you are meant to be. We all start somewhere.

Remember to feel all the emotions that come with your journey: the fear, the joy, the sadness, and the satisfaction. When it is all said and done, the memories of these feelings will make you a better partner, when you find the love of your life, and simply a better person.

Remember to feel love for yourself. One day, you will see, you are doing just fine.

Chin Up. I have faith in you.

All My Love,

Adamfingers hug in support

What Does it Mean to be a Man?

Man SignAs a gay man, sometimes I feel unsure of, and insecure about, my place in this world. A fact I have discussed many times within the pages of this blog. In so many ways I am still finding my footing in this life. I am still figuring out where I fit. Where I best belong. Who I want to be. What kind of man I am. What does it mean to be a man in the first place?

Though I am getting better at it, I am still in the habit of spending too much time comparing myself to other men. In the past, the differences I have seen between them and myself have led me to question my masculine identity. I never recognized John Wayne’s ever present calm in myself, and I never saw Marlon Brando’s handsome and stern composure reflected back at me in the mirror. Are such discrepancies reasons to feel shame?

In today’s post I am turning my search inward to explore my struggle with a seemingly simple question, “What does it mean to be a man?”

50's sitcom fatherDoes a man’s demeanor make him a man?

As a child, I suppose I began to create an image of a man from the steadfast and know-it-all fathers, cowboys, detectives and superheroes I saw on TV. These men were always calm, strong, and confident right down to their physical stance. But they were also caring and affectionate towards their wives, children and mothers.  They were compassionate, but not soft. When they smiled, or laughed, it was for good reason.

Men were pillars. They held the rest of us up with their broad chest pushed out and their fists clenched. They were always prepared for a fight if necessary. If these men had any personal doubts they handled them internally and the worry was hardly ever shown on their face. Perhaps most importantly, they seemed to feel no fear. Almost nothing rattled them. Stress was not a word in their vocabulary.

Having never felt much like a calm pillar of strength or a confident presence devoid of worry, I always seemed to miss these marks. My history of anxiety and fear related to my imperfect past and my uncertain future rattle me on a regular basis. Stress is a part of my daily reality and I frequently appear to be coming unglued. As a result, I’ve never found my demeanor to be one which other men should envy.

Rich Froning AthleticismDoes a man’s athleticism or his competitiveness make him a man?

Is it just me, or are the handsome, confident, well-built men always good at sports? As a child, I was always running away from situations that placed me in athletic environments. I never relieved stress by shooting hoops, or by calling up the guys to play touch football out back. I never felt comfortable in these environments, and worse yet they filled me with fear of looking stupid or inadequate. Sports and me always felt wrong. My mother’s compassion and hugs were always more inviting to me then a basketball coach screaming at me for not dribbling well or not scoring enough points at practice.

I never understood other boys’ competitive natures when it came to sports. Why did they always feel that they had sometime to prove? Where did their obsession with declaring themself the strongest boy come from? I never felt the need to push myself to earn these silly status points.

Though sports never interested me, my avoidance of them always seemed to leave a feeling of inadequacy within me. I barely know how to throw a football and others judge me for it. People, even my close friends, find my lack of sports trivia knowledge hilarious. They tease me about this ignorance and at times I can hear in their voices that they find lack of sports knowledge as tiresome as it is odd. It makes me less of someone they can relate to. Less of a regular guy. Does not knowing how to pronounce the Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback’s last name really make me less of a man?

Man and His FriendsDo a man’s masculine friends help establish him as a man?

I pledged to a fraternity in college. Talk about being surrounded by men and huge levels of testosterone. Most of my fraternity brothers were water polo players, swimmers, lacrosse players or simply huge lovers of weight lifting. I was intimidated by pretty much every one of them upon our first meeting. Eventually, I felt cooler being friends with so many “guys’ guys”. I felt manlier by association.

Even though I started coming out to friends long after college had ended, I was literally terrified to tell my fraternity brothers that I was gay. I felt that admitting I was gay, and therefore engaged in anal sex with another man, would by this very definition force them to view me as less masculine. I feared that they would suddenly feel uncomfortable around me and be fearful that I would always be checking them out and waiting to flirt with them. I was convinced that their rejection would crush me.

Turns out I did not give my fraternity brothers enough credit. Most of them were so unaffected by my being gay that the conversation about it was borderline boring. If their reaction was at all emotional it was because they were being congratulatory and supportive. Since they are my manly, masculine friends, even now that they know I am gay, does that make me more of a man?

Superman Saving Lois LaneDoes a man’s love for a woman make him a man?

Male superheroes like Superman are some of the cornerstone ideals of enviable masculine power. It doesn’t get much more manly than Superman. And look at the things that make him a man: his body, his voice, his saving women from burning buildings, and his girlfriend Lois Lane.

All our super masculine male role models have them; their beautiful leading ladies. James Bond had all his Bond girls. Clark Gable had that amazing kiss with Vivien Leigh. Indiana Jones got every woman he every saved with his leather whip. Even Rocky’s victory meant more when he also rescued the cripplingly shy Adrian with his love.

We all love the image of a handsome man saving a beautiful woman, his chiseled jaw smiling down at her as he leads her to safety. But there is more to the equation than just that. These women are all perfect matches for their men. They are the perfect feminine counterparts to the men’s enviable masculinity. Any man who is worth his salt has a woman to rescue. These women’s love makes the man more of a man, right?

James Dean the ManSo what kind of a man am I?

Well, Gentle Reader, my face frequently registers a look of worry across it, I’m more awkward than athletic, and I have no interest in rescuing a woman from any burning building. In fact, since I am gay, many of my most eccentric fantasies have a sexy, masculine man rescuing me. Despite these things, I assure you I am a man.

For better or worse, the concept of ‘what it means to be a man’ is a constantly evolving phenomenon in our society. Professional athletes are now gay, comic books are beginning to include physically strong, LGBT characters, and television fathers are starting to kiss other men goodnight at the end of their difficult work days. Nowadays, one man’s love, plus another man’s love, can equal a masculine man in the same way that a man’s love, plus a woman’s love, always has.

In the world of film, Sean Connery displayed a very different James Bond than Daniel Craig, just as Christopher Reeve fulfilled a different image of Superman than Henry Cavill. In our modern adaptations, both James Bond and Superman do not instantly appear to know all the answers for solving the problems they are presented with. Sometimes their foreheads even wrinkle with worry and their faces frown from uncertainty. Imperfection in a man is becoming as admirable as perfection once was.

I suppose that if vulnerability and mistakes can be a reality for even our strongest of heroes and male role models, than I can begin to accept myself for my personal and modern day version of “Adam masculinity”. Perhaps I can take all of my above listed questions and become my own, valid answer for each. Perhaps I can simply be the kind of man I am, and one day that will be enough for me.

10 Horror Movie Hunks Who Greatly Affected My Impressionable Years

As I mentioned in my earlier post – 5 Reasons Why Horror Movies are Some of My Favorite Things– horror films provide an extensive variety of handsome, shirtless men in all kinds of homoerotic situations. They are guilty eye candy for the homosexual eye. This titillating truth is just one of the many valid reasons that myself, as a gay man, loves to watch them. Of course each film’s monster loves to push his way to the front, but first he has to make it past the leading man’s pecs. I have been watching horror movies for a long time and lusting after their male protagonists for just as long. Here, Gentle Reader, is a list of the 10 Horror Movie Hunks who had the greatest effect on Adam during his most impressionable years of development as a gay man. (Warning – slight, plot spoilers may exist below)

David Naughton10. David Naughton in An American Werewolf in London (1981) – Many people may feel that David was an atypical leading man and an odd choice for my number 10, but something about him always intrigued me. He may have been smaller in stature than the other men on my list, but he was very likable and sexy in an almost dorky way. The transformation scene where he becomes a werewolf for the first time is legendary. I give him props for spending so much time in this amazing film naked. He pulled those scenes off very nicely, and his superior acting skills made me sympathetic towards his character’s unfortunate fate.

Jesse Williams9. Jesse Williams in Cabin in the Woods (2012) – Granted, this film came out only 2 ½ years ago so it did not have an effect on me in my younger, more impressionable years. But have you seen Jesse Williams’ abs? He is such a presence in this film that it is almost difficult to decide whether he looks hotter in his adorable glasses or without his shirt on. The gorgeous Chris Hemsworth is also present in this film, but for me, the sex appeal is all about Jesse in this above par horror movie.

John Sheperd8. John Sheperd in Friday the 13th: Part 5: A New Beginning (1985) – John Sheperd is not an actor who’s career reached many impressive heights after his part in Friday the 13th: Part 5, and his mediocre acting in Part 5 helps to explain why. But his body left a lasting impression on me forever. His shirtless scene in the film lasts only for a minute, but the view we get of his abs, his shoulders, and his arms, helps explain why he was cast in the first place. Otherwise, let’s just say it’s a good thing that his character barely speaks through the entire rest of the film.

Nick Stabile7. Nick Stabile in Bride of Chucky (1998) – Nick Stabile is a horrendous actor. His dialogue delivery only has one uninspired level and it always comes out sounding flat. To add insult to injury, his characters always seem to look like pouty little boys even though they are in their mid-20’s. But in Bride of Chucky his biceps are certainly not flat, and his chest certainly does not make me pout. When this film is on cable TV I do end up focusing on Nick, and I think we have established that is not because of his stellar acting.

HW-02866. Chad Michael Murray in House of Wax (2005) – I developed a crush on Chad Michael Murray during his stint on season 5 of Dawson’s Creek. Over the years his upper body held up well, and when he took his shirt off for the big screen in House of Wax, viewers were not disappointed. House of Wax was a decent horror remake with an absorbing plot and decent suspense from beginning to end. Though I liked Chad better with his longer, feathery, yellow/white, Dawson’s Creek hair, he still had something worthwhile in his presence here. Perhaps it is his intensity on screen. And his nipples. Show me a more beautiful set of nipples on an actor. I dare you.

Mike Vogel5. Mike Vogel in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) – We live in an age of horror movie remakes; some good and some horrible. Still, as a long time horror movie fan, I was thrilled about this 2003 Texas Chainsaw re-envisioning, and it did not disappoint. I loved this movie’s suspense, it’s gore, and it’s thrills. But imagine my added surprise when it introduced me to the stunning Mike Vogel. The way his sweaty body commanded the screen in that dirty wife beater filled me with extra sadness when he advantageous character disappeared from the plot. I have followed his handsome career ever since. Has anyone else seen him in the 2009 thriller Across the Hall? God was he hot in that movie, as well!

Chrisitan Bale4. Christian Bale in American Psycho (2000) – In honor of full disclosure, I find the Christian Bale of the last ten years to be extremely annoying. He has become too over exposed and every time I turn around I am being forced to hear his same gruff voice that ruined the new Batman trilogy for me. So, personally, I’m about ready for him to go away. That being said, his physique in the film American Psycho earns him any fame and fortune that life has brought him since. I am hard pressed to think of a horror movie leading man whose body ever looked this sculpted. He resembles an ancient greek marble sculpture. Patrick Bateman is the role I prefer to remember him for. Besides, American Psycho is super fun and Bale really has a great time with this insane and eccentric character. His Huey Lewis speech before he murders Jared Leto is marvelous!

Kevin Bernhardt3. Kevin Bernhardt in Hellraiser 3: Hell on Earth (1992) – The Hellraiser films are in a league of their own. So many layers of meaning exist below the plots and within the characters. Clive Barker is one of my favorite movie directors, and the fact that he is openly gay does not hurt his case at all. Though Barker did not direct Hellraiser 3, and though it is an inferior film to the first two, Barker’s presence and dark sexuality are still present and intoxicating to those who think outside of the box. Kevin Bernhardt’s marvelous body and spot on portrayal of the narcissistic night club owner J.P. Monroe is sexy for all the wrong reasons. J.P. is selfish, self-centered, and evil, but his sexual darkness feels right at home in a Hellraiser film. His 90’s hair cut, his muscles, and his large, black undies are forever etched into my brain, for better or worse.

Bradley Stryker2. Bradley Stryker in The Brotherhood (2001)The Brotherhood, directed by David DeCoteau, is one of the worst horror films I have ever seen. In fact it can barely be considered ‘horror’. It takes bad filmmaking to a new height. The film barely has any plot at all and the characters spend more time aimlessly walking or jogging around through long, pointless, slow motion shots than they do talking. There is no suspense and nothing of relevance here; except for Bradley Stryker in his black boxer briefs. Visually he has stuck with me since my first viewing of this otherwise pathetic film. Bradley has one of those unrealisticly, muscular builds that reminds me of my old He-Man action figures. His waist seems too small for how wide and beefed up his chest is, yet the disproportion is sexy as hell and breath stealing.

Ryan Phillippe1. Ryan Phillippe in I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) – There is not a single scene in any horror movie that has excited me more completely than Ryan Phillippe’s locker room, towel scene in I Know What You Did Last Summer. This places it, with no contest, at my number 1! I can still remember watching the film for the first time in the movie theater. A female friend had dragged me to see it and I was unenthused. I thought the film looked dumb and I had no interest in watching Jennifer Love Hewitt‘s gigantic breasts bounce around for 2 hours on the big screen. Most horror movies have shower scenes with busty females. I remember my heart jumping into my throat when I realized that, this time, Ryan Phillippe was the person in the shower right in front of me. And when his tight, defined body walked on screen wearing only that towel I thought my heart was going to officially explode. I remember being so excited that horror movies were finally starting to place men’s bodies center stage for longer periods of time than they had in the past. A part of me fell in love with Ryan Phillippe during that movie. Just like that, he became one of my favorite male actors’ bodies ever, and he remains so to this very day.