Don’t get me wrong; I think all males are magical and amazing. Cisgender, trans, gay, straight, bi… unicorn… I don’t care males are magical. No more magical than women, queer or non-binary, but magical. Well, I guess this whole paragraph could be summed up in a single statement; every human being and unicorn is amazing and magical.
However, in conversion therapy’s exgay ministry world, the straight male was held up as a beacon of light through tumultuous waters. He was the role model of gender complementarity, head of the household, a born leader, assertive, and sometimes aggressive. He was aware of his penis and did not worship his own or others. But, if he hasn’t named it, he will. ::: manly chuckle::: all healthy heterosexual men name their penis (seriously, I had an exgay ministry leader tell me that was a fact; if you are to be a healthy male, you need to name your junk. Yes, indeed! All those caught in the cult of stigma known as exgay ministry that declared gay men as inferior (disordered or “not God’s best), the straight man was the Mr. SuperStraightMan of our heterosexual potential!
Or as reality would have it, he’s just a dude and we are all still gay.
So many ministries try to incorporate the “ever-straights” into their programs with the idea that these men were innately more emotionally/relationally healthy than us poor gay/bi/trans ones. Of course… of course! … they had issues and who knew why their sins developed in lust for women/sex/power/greed/anger/hedonism/secular music/drugs … etc … instead of lusting after other men. BUT, they could “relate” to us because we are “all on level ground at the foot of the cross.” Now, while that inspired metaphor brought good feelings, they still enjoyed the pedestal above the poor brothers who are “sexually broken in unique ways.” However, we all liked to pretend Mr. SuperStraightMan’s empathy was his “healing” superpower.
Yeah, like I said, turns out he is just another dude and we are all still gay.
Even back then, I caught on pretty quickly that the great straight man was not living up to the role he was supposed to model. One guy, obviously trying to make up for some masculine deficit, said, “Man, I don’t know why God spared me the shame of being gay, but I am just as f*cked up as you are!” I responded with a half-hearted chuckle, “no, I think you are more f*cked up than I am.” We both laughed, but I meant it, and with the side-eye he gave me, he knew it.
The truth is, it was entirely unfair for the straight guys roped into and held captive in that world. It was just as unfair to them as it was to the “participants” in the programs being told Mr. SuperStraightMan was there to help us realize our hetero potential. They were supposed to help us desensitize our sexualization of masculinity and see how we are not different from them in any way except in all ways. However, all this did was make matters worse and create all kinds of incredibly unhealthy power dynamics, emotional dependency, and cement very harmful gender stereotypes and legalistic expectations in the name of biblical masculinity.
I have learned that a healthy view of one’s gender (or nonbinary, queer, intersex, etc.) means not being worried about how others express or represent themselves. I certainly can glean wisdom from everyone. I can also find something in everyone’s life experience that I probably wouldn’t want to emulate. That’s the nature of being human, and not one of us is any better at being human than anyone else. I need other people for sure, but being humble and taking personal responsibility for my self-actualization is on me.
So while I take Mr. SuperStraightMan’s hand to help him get off that pedestal without tumbling, my faith (not some dude) is the beacon of light in tumultuous waters. All humans are infinite sources of complementarity to one another if we look for the good in others through the filter of humility. Healthy assertiveness, interdependence, and leadership is best expressed by taking personal responsibility. That is the foundation to live our best lives as we see fit and is true to our authentic self.
Let’s have the courage to be ourselves, together,